By Keith Marsh from Bird Forum, Great Britain.
Within easy reach of Tel-Aviv and with specialties such as Great Black-headed and Armenian Gulls, Ma'agan Mikhael is justifiably a very popular birding site for visitors to Israel. An area of fish-ponds close to the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean coast, this site attracts a wide range of seabirds, waders and other wetland birds. The ponds are situated in an area of orchards and scrubby fields which are home to another set of species.
Great Black-headed and Armenian Gulls are winter visitors, generally arriving in Oct-Nov and staying until Apr. Yellow-legged and Slender-billed Gulls can also be seen. Greater Sand Plover and Spur-winged Plover are other specialities of the area. Kittlitz's Sand Plover has occurred several times in winter in recent years, Painted-Snipe is a possiblity and Crab Plover has been recorded. Regular passage waders include Temminck's and Little Stints, Marsh, Terek and Broad-billed Sandpipers and Ruff. White Pelican and both storks, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill can be seen, herons include Squacco and Night and Great White Egret is a winter visitor. Various ducks occur on passage and in winter.
Common, White-breasted and Pied Kingfishers are all easy to find and Little and Baillon's Crake are present. Passerines found around the ponds include Clamorous Reed and in winter, Moustached Warblers, Bluethroat and Penduline Tit. The scrub and cultivated areas around the ponds hold Crested Lark, Graceful Warbler, and in summer, Ruppell's Warbler. Yelkouan Shearwaters are common over the sea. Vagrants are frequently reported and even include Nearctic waders, White-rumped and Baird's Sandpipers being recent records.
Ma'agan Mikhael lies just north of Nasholim on either side of the Tel Aviv-Haifa motorway, about 50km north of Tel Aviv and 30km south of Haifa. Turn west (left) off the old Tel Aviv-Haifa road (Route 4, not the motorway) at the Ma'agan Mikhael signpost. A short distance from the turn-off is a football pitch, from here either turn north (right) towards a cemetery where Ruppell's Warbler occurs in nearby rocks, or, continue to a barrier from which the ponds and shore can be explored on foot. There are further fish-ponds to the north at Mayan Zevi and further north still is the beach resort of Nahsholim where seawatching from the rocky headlands can produce shearwaters and skuas.
BIRDS INCLUDE: Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe (PM,W), Yelkouan Shearwater, Northern Gannet (rare W), Great Cormorant (PM,W), White Pelican (PM,W), Black-crowned Night Heron (Su,PM), Squacco Heron (Su,PM), Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret (W), Grey Heron (W), Purple Heron (scarce Su,PM), Black Stork (PM,W), White Stork (PM), Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill (W), Greater Flamingo (W), Ruddy Shelduck (rare W), Common Shelduck (PM,W), Eurasian Wigeon (W), Gadwall (PM,W), Common Teal (W), Mallard, Northern Pintail (PM,W), Garganey (PM), Northern Shoveler (PM,W), Tufted Duck (PM,W), Black Kite (PM), Short-toed Eagle (scarce PM), Marsh Harrier (W), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (PM), Steppe Buzzard (PM), Greater Spotted Eagle (rare PM), Lesser Kestrel (PM), Common Kestrel, Chukar Partridge, Common Quail, Water Rail, Little Crake (PM,W), Baillon's Crake (PM), Moorhen, Eurasian Coot (W), Black-winged Stilt (Su), Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover (PM,W), Kentish Plover, Greater Sand Plover (Su,PM), Spur-winged Plover, Northern Lapwing (W), Little Stint (PM,W), Temminck's Stint (PM,W), Curlew Sandpiper (PM), Dunlin (PM,W), Broad-billed Sandpiper (PM), Ruff (PM,W), Common Snipe (W), Black-tailed Godwit (W), Spotted Redshank (PM), Common Redshank (PM,W), Marsh Sandpiper (PM), Greenshank (PM,W), Green Sandpiper (PM,W), Wood Sandpiper (PM,W), Common Sandpiper (PM,W), Terek Sandpiper (PM), Turnstone (PM,W), Arctic Skua (PM), Great Black-headed Gull (W), Little Gull (PM,W), Black-headed Gull (W), Slender-billed Gull (PM,W), Lesser Black-backed Gull (W), Heuglin's Gull (W), Yellow-legged Gull, Armenian Gull, Great Black-backed Gull (scarce PM,W), Sandwich Tern (PM), Little Tern (PM), Collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Common Swift (PM), Alpine Swift (PM), Little Swift (PM), White-breasted Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher (W), Pied Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Sand Martin (PM), Barn Swallow (PM), Meadow Pipit (W), Red-throated Pipit (PM,W), Water Pipit (PM,W), Blue-headed Wagtail (PM), Pied Wagtail (PM), Citrine Wagtail (PM), Yellow-vented Bulbul, Common Wren, Eurasian Robin (PM), Bluethroat (PM,W), Black Redstart, Stonechat (PM,W), Isabelline Wheatear (PM), Northern Wheatear (PM), Blackbird, Song Thrush (W), Cetti's Warbler, Graceful Warbler, Moustached Warbler (W), Sedge Warbler (PM), Reed Warbler (Su,PM), Clamorous Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Ruppell's Warbler (Su), Lesser Whitethroat (PM), Blackcap (PM), Common Chiffchaff (PM), Great Tit, Penduline Tit (W), Palestine Sunbird, Common Jay, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Ortolan Bunting (PM), Cretzschmar's Bunting (PM), Reed Bunting (W).