Encountering Birds at the Rosh Tzippor Birdwatching Center

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 12:38 PM

The Rosh Tzippor bird park in Tel Aviv opened only a few months ago but is already attracting visitors- bird and human.

Visitors from all over Israel flocked to the new Rosh Tzippor Birdwatching center at HaYarkon Park in the heart of Tel Aviv, during the Sukkot holiday. This unique center, established with the support of Friends of JNF Australia, includes habitats for different bird species and observation points for visitors.
The Rosh Tzipport Birdwatching Park opened only a few months ago but is already attracting groups of school children, nature lovers, birdwatchers and the general public. Families from all over Israel attended Birds and Tweets, a 2-day happening organized by KKL-JNF during Chol Ha’mo’ed Sukkot. The children and their parents were invited to tour the park, learn about birds and participate in a bird drawing and painting workshop. The development of the park was made possible thanks to Friends of JNF Australia from New South Wales, Victoria and from Western Australia.
Eight-year-old Segev from Be’er Ya’akov came to the event with his mother, Adva: “Thanks to this park, people who love birds, can watch them, close to home. I really hope I get to see some rare birds today. I have this special book that helps me identify what I see”, he said. Segev told us that his dream was to spot a curlew, a large bird with a long, curved bill.
Rosh Tzippor Park includes a 1.5 acre man-made, 1 acre of green wetlands, a winter pond, water canals with varying current speeds, and a diversity of native vegetation, in order to foster different bird habitats. Certain parts of the park are closed off for visitors, in order to provide the birds with a safe and peaceful sanctuary. The lake has also become home to local fish, some species of which are at risk of extinction.
Hides for observation have been built all over the park, enabling visitors to follow the birds without disturbing them. Some of the hides are for watching the birds above water level and one of them enables to watch the birds at water level. The group instructions are done in open classrooms, built around the lake.
In one of the open classrooms, KKL-JNF Chief Ornithologist Yaron Charka provided the visitors with some background on what they were about to see: “At the heart of the urban jungle we have created a peaceful sanctuary, where birds can rest, eat and gather their strength for the remainder of their journey to Africa. There are about 10,000 bird species in the world, and Israel is located on one of the most important migration routes between Asia, Africa and Europe. If we don’t protect these birds here, they will be harmed elsewhere in the world as well.”
The Yaffe Family came all the way from Be'er Sheva; the father, Guy, the mother, Rimmi, and their 4-year-old son, Gad. “We love going on KKL-JNF tours. It’s an excellent way to get to know new places, enjoy nature and hear interesting explanations,” says Guy. Rimmi added: “In this day and age, when children are mainly glued to screens, it’s very important to have an opportunity to go out and enjoy nature.”
During this season, the park serves as a resting point for migrating birds, seeking a quiet place to stop amid the hustle and bustle of the city, on their long journey from Europe to Africa, as winter approaches. This is also an attractive green oasis for the people who live in the city, where they can enjoy and learn about nature.
Lior Koshrovsky, aged 8 from Kfar Saba, told us: “It’s very interesting to see how the birds live. I think it’s great they have such a place, where they can rest.” 
This isn’t the only lake at the Yarkon Park, there are several others, but all of them were created with human visitors in mind. This lake was planned to cater for the birds’ needs. The group spotted the following birds: pied kingfishers, white-throated kingfisher, common kingfisher, mesophoyx, Egyptian goose, grey heron, hirundo, falcon, accipiter, mallard, moorhen and a few others. The guides explained that as the vegetation grows thicker and the site becomes increasingly known among the bird populations, more and more of them will come to the park.
One of the participants in the tour is Vicky Calderon, a kindergarten teacher from Yavne, who came here with her daughter, Danna, her 2-year-old granddaughter, Abigail, and a few other family members. “Nothing beats going out to nature and seeing how things really happen,” she said. “When all your senses are triggered, it creates a significant experience for the whole family”.
At the end of the visit, the participants embarked on a hike at the Seven Mills, the historic flour mills site on the banks of the Yarkon River. Along the way, they watched some more birds, and at the end, they participated in a bird drawing and painting workshop under the instruction of ornithologist and bird painter, Dr. Haim Moyal.
And what of the hoped-for curlew? Little Segev didn’t get to see this bird that day, but he did see a lot of other birds. And who knows, maybe on his next visit, the curlew will come by to say hello. Even though this rare bird doesn’t even live in Israel, we must never give up on our dreams.