Rosh Tzipor Birdwatching Centre

This beautiful park and ornithological site is situated in Rosh Tzipor (Bird’s Head) Forest in HaYarkon Park in the heart of Tel Aviv.



Geographic location: Sharon and coastal plains
Water: Faucet
Access: Special (adapted for the disabled)
Restroom: Wet
Picnic
Information center
Lookout
Marked path
Active recreation

 
Before setting out we recommend that you call KKL-JNF’s Forest Hotline (Kav LaYaar) at 1-800-350-550 or email moked1@kkl.org.il for any updates, such as closures due to extreme weather and any information that may be relevant to your route.

Identity Card

The new bird watching center in Rosh Tzippor Forest is located in the Ganei Yehoshua park in the heart of Tel Aviv, at the junction of the Ayalon and Yarkon rivers, and covers 8 acres of trees, green areas, streams and ponds. The park includes a variety of habitats that attract birds of different species. Site visitors can follow the birds without disturbing their rest through the discreet observation hides built there.
 

Region: Central Israel

 

Geograhpical area: Coastal lowlands

 

Special attractions: walking and cycling paths, observation hides, adventure playground, constructed wetlands, canals and ponds, botanical garden

 

Opening hours: The park is open all week during daylight hours.

 

Admission: Free

 

Accessibility: Yes

 

How to get there:

The birdwatching park forms part of Ganei Yehoshua (also known as Yarkon Park), which is most conveniently reached by car from Ramat Gan’s Rokach Street. Opposite building no. 74, adjacent to HaChava farm, a paved road branches off westward and, after about 100 meters, brings us to a large parking lot. The gate to the birdwatching park is on the far side. Parking is free and there is no entrance fee to the birdwatching center.

Projects and Partners Worldwide
The Rosh Tzippor Birdwatching Center was developed thanks to the support of Friends of JNF Australia.
 

About the birdwatching center

Good news for both migrating birds and Israeli and international birdwatching enthusiasts: KKL-JNF has recently completed the construction of an important ornithological site – a beautiful park situated in Rosh Tzipor (Bird’s Head) Forest on the banks of the Yarkon River, in the very heart of the hustle and bustle of the Gush Dan metropolitan area.
 
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund created the park with the help of its Friends in Australia, the Tel Aviv Municipality, and KKL-JNF Wings (Kanfei KaKaL), the organization's nationwide birdwatching network.
 
The park is now open to visitors.

A few words about Rosh Tzipor Forest

Rosh Tzipor Forest, which forms part of Ganei Yehoshua, extends over an area of about 500 dunam (approx. 125 acres) adjacent to the meeting point of the Yarkon and Ayalon rivers. The forest is planted mainly with eucalyptus and North Indian rosewood trees (Dalbergia sissoo). It takes its name from that fact that, when viewed on the map, this area has the shape of a bird’s head; of course, now that a birdwatching center has been included in the site, the label is even more appropriate.
 
KKL-JNF began to plant this forest in the 1950s. Work continued in the 1980s, and with time transformed the site into an urban woodland. Two circular 2km routes, one for pedestrians, the other for bicycles and other non-motorized forms of transport, make their way through the forest. KKL-JNF has also provided a square for events, a lookout point and an adventure park, for which Ganei Yehoshua has supplied playground equipment.
 
Rosh Tzipor Forest is home to the Seven Mills (Sheva Tahanot) site, where the most westerly of the flourmills driven by the waters of the Yarkon River until 1936 was discovered. Seven pairs of millstones found inside one of the buildings belonging to the flourmill give the site its name. On the edge of the forest is Tel Gerisa (Napoleon’s Hill), whose summit offers a magnificent view of the Gush Dan area.  

Of birds and people

In November 2016, at a ceremony held at the birdwatching center, plaques in honor of Marc and Eva Besen of Australia, who had made a generous donation to the park, were unveiled. During the event, ninety-three-year-old Marc Besen recalled meeting David Ben Gurion in Sde Boker.
“I asked Ben Gurion ‘What needs to be done to make the Negev bloom?’” he informed his audience, before continuing: “And he answered me, ‘We need birds here. If there are birds, people will come, too.’”
 
Gush Dan, however, is not the Negev and it is home to large numbers of people. But the time has come to take care of the birds, too, and this is exactly what the new birdwatching center does.
“In the autumn large numbers of migratory birds on their way from Europe to Africa arrive on Israel’s shores,” explained KKL-JNF’s Chief Ornithologist Yaron Charka. “We’ve identified a lot of birds that fly from Cyprus to the Gush Dan area during migration, and that is why it was important for us to construct a well-stocked habitat that offers these migratory birds a way station where they can rest and refuel. In Gush Dan this is especially important, because, apart from being the most densely populated part of the country, it also has more invasive species than anywhere else in Israel: flocks of Indian myna and vinous-breasted starlings, for example, can be observed in Rosh Tzipor Forest.”   

For the birds

The new birdwatching center was built to specifications agreed upon by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and Kanfei KaKaL (KKL-JNF Wings), and planned by Lev Waxman of Sarig Waxman Landscape Architecture. This engineered nature park extends over an area of some 30 dunam (approx 7.5 acres), of which half is devoted to a variety of water-based habitats: a lake with a small island at its center, trenches and ditches, a water meadow and an area of simulated marshland. This range of habitats is designed to provide a wide variety of bird species with the conditions they require.
 
Stones and pebbles of many different shapes and sizes have been scattered on the bottom of the lake to offer concealment for fish and encourage them to breed. With the authorization of the Nature and Parks Authority, all fish species that inhabit the lake were brought from the area where the Yarkon River rises. The birdwatching park now provides an additional habitat for these freshwater fish, which will constitute an important source of food for the local waterfowl.
 
Wetland is considered to be an excellent natural purifier of water, as the natural vegetation that colonizes it serves as a medium for the growth of micro-organisms that can break down and consume pollutants and thereby improve water quality. The birdwatching center’s designers have planned a similar role for the site’s artificial marsh, whose micro-organisms are expected to cleanse the treated wastewater that will flow into the water-based habitats of the pollutants that the water recycling plant had been unable to remove.

For the people

Near the parking lot, very close to the gate of the birdwatching center, picnic tables have been provided for visitors, and toilets are housed in a structure close by. Paths at the site are well surfaced and accessible to visitors with disabilities. Drinking water is available from faucets beside the paths.

The paths lead to three large wheelchair-accessible wooden birdwatching hides constructed at water-surface level. Each of these structures can hold up to fifty people at a time, and they are fitted with windows whose heights are staggered to accommodate both children and adults, to enable parents and children to view the lake together. The rounded contours of the pavilions blend in well with the curved line of the lake and to a certain extent conceal their size. Beside the entrance are two well-shaded classrooms, while two smaller hides outside the main perimeter fence allow the birds to be observed even when the center itself is closed to visitors.

A botanical garden, too

The dry-land section of the site, which is located outside the park’s walking area and its footpaths, is designed mainly for use by small songbirds that require food and rest during their migration stopover. Its dense vegetation offers a variety of additional habitats that are expected to provide suitable nesting conditions for some of these little birds.
 
You don’t have to be a birdwatching enthusiast to enjoy a stroll along the footpaths amidst the greenery beside the lakes and pools. To give all the birds the impression of being in their natural environment, ecohydrologist Uri Moran has planned twelve different water- and land-based habitats for the park, which contains around two hundred different types of plants. Seeds from wild plants were collected by seed expert Ofer Hochberg.
 
Most of the varieties planted here are characteristic of the area around the Yarkon River and native to the soils of Israel’s Coastal Plain. The water-based habitats are home to different varieties of knotweed – including the rare Persicaria lanigera, flowering rushes (Botomus umbellatus), narrow-leaved water plantains (Alisma lanceolatum) and branched bur-reeds (Sparganium erectum). Growing underwater are the yellow waterlily (Nuphar luteum), longleaf pondweed (Potamogeton nodosus) and the European white waterlily (Nymphaea alba). The banks accommodate a broad range of plants, including purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and different types of rushes.
 
Plants that prefer light soils, such as Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), felty germander (Teucrium capitatum), sage-leaved rockrose (Cistus salviifolius) and Persian hyssop (Coridothymus capitatus) are also well represented here. Woodland trees and fruit trees such as pomegranate, carob and jujube (Ziziphus spina-christi), whose fruit will be enjoyed by birds and human visitors alike are planted along the sides of the paths. A similar tree planting approach has been adopted in other areas of Ganei Yehoshua and throughout the Yarkon River area.

Visiting the birdwatching park

Although the park is a very recent creation, its ecosystem is already displaying abundant signs of life: in July 2017, frogs were heard croaking in the water, the fish are multiplying and a handsome flock of mallard ducks, complete with ducklings, has been observed swimming on the waters of the lake.

The park is open seven days a week during daylight hours, and entrance is free.

In the future, a staff of guides provided jointly by Kanfei KaKaL and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel will be on duty in the park, and visitors will be able to book guided tours for a fee.

Acknowledgements:

Text: Yaakov Skolnik
Photography: Yaakov Skolnik and Yaron Charka
Published on August 30th, 2017