(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Which is being held this year for the fifth time, is organized jointly by KKL-JNF, the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, the Galilee Development Authority and other bodies. Throughout the five days of the festival a variety of bird-watching excursions are held throughout northern Israel. At Hula Lake itself visitors can tour the site by bicycle or golf buggy and use mobile “hides” to observe the birds at close hand without disturbing or alarming them.
“Observing the natural world of the Hula Valley calms and strengthens the soul,” declared Yiftah Harhol, Director of KKL-JNF’s Northern Region, at the opening ceremony. “This lake, which protects the waters of the Kinneret from pollution, has become one of the world’s leading ornithological sites.”
Many projects at the lake have been established with the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends throughout the world, including those in Australia, the USA, South Africa, Canada and Switzerland. Numerous different varieties of wildfowl – around 500 million birds– stop over at the site each year. Most of all, however, the lake is famous for the large and impressive cranes that visit it at this time of year, and over 40,000 of them can be seen at the site at present. Most of them arrive from Russia and stop over on their way south to Africa; some, however, opt to spend the entire winter in Israel.
These birds, that make their way to Israel from colder climes en route to lands where the winters are less harsh, constitute a unique natural attraction. Bird enthusiasts flock to the site in their wake, contributing considerably to the local economy.
The Winter Bird festival is being held this year for the fifth time. The event is organized by KKL-JNF in conjunction with a number of other organizations, with the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee and the Galilee Development Authority foremost among them.
Tali Omer, Director of the Galilee Department in the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, described the festival as “a magical celebration of nature,” and added: “It’s good that we’ve got an opportunity to show the general public the treasures of the Galilee region.”
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