70 Hungarian postcards to the 70-year-old Israel

The storks were flying towards us
Birds without borders

By Dar Sade - 2018-03-07

Translated from the Hungarian original: Bea Sara Goll

In the afternoon of March 1, we entered the Beit Netofa Straits under the Turan-Nazareth ridge between the unadjusted red lights and road reconstruction works on Route 77. We were already quite fed up ... especially me, by then 314 km behind the trunk and the remaining 61 in front of the hood. Even more so mum, after having done the 3000 km flight.

HaMovil intersection - Golani intersection

There was a very large flock of birds circling over us, much more organized than the situation on the ground. The front of the mass of birds was already standing around on the roadside, their place for resting overnight, and while the other wanderers were still appraising the landing strip, those on the ground have already begun the ceremony customary on such occasions. Big orange beaks combed through the tousled black-and-white feathered garments, long thin legs stalked in the crop, searching for small permanent residents.

 

In Hungary it is still snowing at below zero temperatures, but cheer up, my friends, the storks are coming, bringing along the spring!

 

Half a billion birds twice a year pass through Israel. Of the 540 bird species registered so far in the territory of the country, 450 of them count as migrants, including 170 species passing through. One of the first arrivals of both migratory seasons is the white stork. Apart from my infinite love for and interest in the many beautifully exciting world travelers, I have a strong emotional connection to storks as an inseparable part of my Hungarian heritage.

 

It is no coincidence that the Hungarian language has so many names for the white stork: eszterág, esztrág, cakó, koszta, gagó, stork, home stork ... This free bird has joined us humans, it builds its nest around our houses to be safe and to be able to secure a livelihood. It nests almost all over Europe, not just in the chimneys of houses, but also in the hearts of the people.

 

We learn from them when spring or autumn approaches. I welcome them on trips in the summer, and at home, my guests in the spring and autumn feel relieved to find our wanderers in good shape. (Hmmm ... I wonder who needs the other more; the stork us or we the stork ...?)

 

We consider the storks as a species passing through Israel, and the great flocks will only take a short break and then continue their journey. There are some well-known couples who live here all year long; the fever of the great trip does not faze them, they nest and they spend the winter here. But there are even more exciting types who drop out of the team in the autumn, stay here for the winter, and join the flock in the spring to return to their European nests. Of the latter, Baro and Tobias are most interesting to me.

 

Baro is an old male white stork, who wears a satellite tracker, and has a camera in his nest at the school of Őrhalom. Technology has revealed that Baro is regularly spending the winter in Israel, a bit further down the Naharya-Akko coast, precisely in the area framed by the 89th, 70th, 85th, and 4th roads. He arrives flying along the Lebanon coastline and at the start he completes a lap of honor somewhat more towards the south; he crosses over to the Jordanian airspace around Beit She’an–Jafit, and then departs over the Israeli or Syrian portion of the Golan Heights.

Webcam >>

Tracker >>

Tobias is a male stork who has its nest equipped with a camera in the Gemenc forest. He has not got a tracker, but his ring was identified several times in Israel, and it was found that he spent the winter here too. The readings were near the southern tip of Kinneret, in the valley of Jordan, around Kfar Ruppin, Geyser, and Hamadia.

 

Webcam >>

Readings >>

“And while I look at the geese flying low over the water that disappear at the next bend of the river, suddenly the amazement of this intimacy fills my heart, and that is - I feel - the birth of philosophy. And I'm just profoundly amazed that I have managed to have such a confidential relationship with a free-living bird, and I feel that this fact bears something extraordinarily happy as if it provided an absolution from our expulsion from Paradise.”

(Konrad Lorenz: King Solomon's Ring)

Stork in Tel-Aviv - photo: Sándor Silló

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