Tel Aviv is known as a “wild city” with its jungle of bars, cafes, clubs and (beach) parties round the clock, at least when not under CoVID-19 lock-down. But this post is dedicated to the nature lovers who will find an abundance of animal wildlife right in the city.
One of the best places to explore the diversity of nature is the Yarkon park that stretches along the river with the same name. Starting at the mouth of the Yarkon river we see the black-headed gulls, whose heads turn white during the winter time. They usually visit Israel as migrating birds.
Perhaps a mile to the east I saw some great cormorants high up in an eucalyptus tree. They are truly impressive birds. Just don’t stand under their tree, as they produce lots of fertilizer.
The Eurasian hoopoe has been elected to be our national bird. It was on a rainy day when I met this poor fellow who was just out getting his lunch. This bird is everything but shy. I was kneeling perhaps 1 foot away from him when I took the picture.
In the last 20-30 years the rose-ringed parakeet population in Israel has been literally exploding. Without natural enemies, this invasive species is rapidly displacing local birds. They may look cute, but are a hazard to the local wildlife. Like parrots, they can be trained to speak, but without that education, they are quite noisy birds. This one is having a feast in what looks like a rosewood tree.
Another invasive species is the common myna, whose original home is India and surrounding countries. Not too long ago they were a rare sight, but now they are everywhere. Their hairstyle is often copied by (local) human males who use pomade, wax or what not to get that special look.
Following the Yarkon river there is a bird watching place with ponds etc. to attract water birds. A little egret perched on a convenient tree trunk in the water poses for us photographers at no charge, every so often turning his head and getting into different postures so we all be happy with the photos.
At another part of the bird watching place I found this common moorhen busy looking for food. He wouldn’t rest a second, always on the move.
Both inside the bird watching place and again a little further along the Yarkon river I met with a couple of Egyptian geese. Since the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel the Egyptian goose has no problems entering Israel (just kidding). As its name indicates, this bird is originally from Egypt, but can be found in much of Africa except the desert. Like some humans, they pair for life.
Yet another common bird here is the hooded crow. They are practically omnipresent. These birds are smart and have an excellent memory. They are often seen in larger groups, but he (or was it a she?) made it worth my while by posing nicely in front of the camera. Although this bird shows little color, it is a fine example of natures aesthetics.
So far I shared with you only birds. The next animal came as a total surprise to me. After I “shot” the Egyptian couple (geese) and continued my way, all of a sudden a golden jackal came out of the woods and calmly crossed my path right next to me. I’d never seen this before. Jackals, relatives of wolves and coyotes, are extremely shy. In recent years I’ve noticed them inside Jerusalem next to where we lived, and also in Tel Aviv near the Yarkon park where I live now. You can hear their howling at night, but I’ve never ever actually seen one. The only place I caught one on camera was in the Golan heights at a distance of perhaps 100m or about 300 feet, at dawn.
Tel Aviv, a young city born in 1909, was envisaged to become a garden city. The municipality hired Patrick Geddes, a pioneering Scottish town planer, biologist and sociologist. Geddes master plan was adopted and Tel Aviv today offers not only the cultural and culinary amenities of a metropolitan city, but also many retreats in nature.
I hope to be able to share more examples of urban wildlife. You are always welcome to book me for individually designed hiking and/or photography tours. For more information and examples, follow the link here.