One of the great pleasures of living here in Northern Israel is that we have the thrill of witnessing migrating storks twice a year as our home happens to be on their migration path! Very often they come and go too quickly to capture on film, and my zoom capabilities are limited, so the actual sighting is far more exciting than these photos! In these photos the storks are flying in a circle in preparation to continue their journey after pausing in the old cemetary, just beyond our home, for a little snack.
Yesterday I looked out the kitchen window and a few storks were close enough to really get a good look at their bellies, and cute little legs! And today again my daughter screamed out "mommy look!" Yesterday as a group passed by my kids were on the phone with my husband and he thought that something terrible had happened on account of all the screaming. I am so happy that my kids love seeing theses amazing birds as much as I do!
And for a bit of info: White Storks return to Europe in the spring for breeding, and in the fall, migrate south as far as South Africa to spend the winter. They can travel large distances as they migrate between Europe and Africa using what are called thermals of hot air. While of course the shortest route would be to cross the Mediterranean, thermals only work over land, so most storks take one of two routes over land. Some cross into Africa from Spain to Morocco, but most of them take the eastern route over Turkey and Egypt. While the route does not go directly over Israel in the map I've located, below, certainly many birds do fly over Israel, and many stop in the Hula Valley, one of our favorite locations to visit, for an overnight rest.
For those who live in Israel, or are planning a visit, there is a wonderful 3-D movie, showing the journey that the birds take, that's especially great for kids, (and if you go when there are very few people there, don't be shy to request to see it in English!) which is shown at the Hula Valley Nature Reserve, not to be confused with The Hula Valley Lake.
Come to think of it, the study of bird's migratory path is certainly an interesting thing to learn with your kids, and now that I've located this map, I will certainly be sharing it with mine!