Tatzpit Birding: Ornithological tourism across Israel”

Fascinated by wildlife and birds since childhood, over a decade of experience guiding tours supports Lior Kislev as an excellent birding guide. From The Golan Heights, Sea of ​​Galilee, the Hula Valley, Bet Shean Valley, to Eilat and Arava Valley and the Dead Sea Wildlife in Israel has no secret for him and in his custom ornithological tours, Lior will guide us through the best habitats to discover some of the best birding areas in the Western Palearctic.

(Click right button to enlarge)
© Lior Kislev

When start your fascination for wildlife and birds, Lior?
I grow up in a Moshav (village) surrounded by birds and mammals and always love them, i can remember going with my mom for searching for Lapwings that i really love when i was 4 years old!

And your interest in wildlife photography? What equipment do you use and what techniques to get your photographs?
I start wildlife photography after seen a Tiger hunting wild boar in India and i had no camera with me, that’s what brought me into wildlife photography.
I started with old Nikon full manual camera and moved to Canon d20 with 100-400 Canon lens. Now days i use Canon 7d with Canon 400 5.6 Lens.

In your website we see an extensive and excellent collection of photographs, including birds, mammals and reptiles … What is the most difficult group to photograph?
The most difficult to photograph are species that are shy and their habitat is thick vegetation where they can hide, for example Warblers, Crakes.

And your favorite group or species?
Its a hard question but from all i think it will be passerines.

You lead a project of birding trips. What is Tatzpit Birding and what services you offer? Do you work full time to ornithological tourism?
Tatzpit birding tours which i lead gives guiding services to tourist and Israeli birders all over Israel and i have 2 groups one for adults and one for youth , this groups meet a few times in a month in different areas for bird watching. Also take bird photographers and birders for private  tours around the country, every tour is planed special for the client after i see his wish list.

On your website, you affirm that, probably, Israel is the best place to see, bird migration in the western Palearctic and also a great  place for wintering birds. What is the cause of the rich diversity of birds in Israel?
The cause of this rich diversity is that Israel is located between 3 continents, Europe, Asia  and Africa so we get here species from all this continents for example,    Black Bush Robin from  Africa, Black Francolin from Asia, and Eleonora’s Falcon from Europe. Israel is also a land bottleneck for soaring birds that use thermals for migration (about 1.500.000). The numbers of all migrants in a season is more than 500.000.000, five hundred million of birds that passes in Israeli sky.
There are many different habitats in Israel: deserts ,wetlands, forest, steppe country and even one snowy mountain.

What are the birds most demanded by your customers? And, what is the main origin of your customers?
Most customers wont to see a large number of species and its possible to see any number between 60 to 120 in a day, depends on the season. Some are looking  for  birds of prey and specialities like Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, Marbeld Duck, Thick billed Lark, Lichtensteins Sandgrouse and overs that we have over here.

How birding guide, what is your opinion about the role that the ornithological tourism can play in the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems?
The main thing is of course education of people to love and save the nature.
Ornithological tourism is slowly growing in Israel and it helps to convince Farmers that have conflict with birds (Pelicans and  Cranes for example) that there is another way to do things and they can make their income from tourism and they don’t have to fight the birds. Its also gives the Israeli birders   some good reasons to show state  authorities when dealing with them about   lost of habitat and conservation.

How is conservation of nature and birds, perceived in a country like Israel? What Is the environmental awareness of the Israelites?
Conservation in Israel is good and all birds are protected by low,  but there is always a way to be more good, there are some  that deal with conservation   and the local media is very helpful when  there’s something to publish. The internet did a big thing for conservation and it helps to make awareness of the issues we are dealing with. For example, after a sad find of  electrified Eastern  Imperial Eagle the  pressure in the news websites helps protect the electric lines that where killing the birds.

What message would you send to other birders in the world, from Israel?
Keep on birding and respect the nature we love so much.

Interview by J.M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)
The images that appear in this article are the property of Lior Kislev; is necessary to request permission to the author for publication or any other use of the same.


“Birders Around The World” is an idea promoted by the Association Southeast Alive (Sureste Vivo) through the Project Birdingmurcia.

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