Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wild visitors to the safari park

Ramat Gan Safari park and zoo is close to Tel Aviv and pretty much surrounded by urban buildings and suburbs and yet its habitats are wonderful for a range of visitors: gardens, parks, ornamental vegetation, flat open savannah type country, small lakes for the hippos and a wide range of trees. We took many pictures of the animals in the collection from dwarf mongoose to Siberian tiger but none of these will be included here- this is a blog strictly for the wild stuff.. and these are always delightful surprises.

My 'bird of the day' at the park was the glossy ibis.. Plegadis falcinellus, over 30 foraging around the hippo's lake and a dozen or so more up in the tree tops by the car park , others flying about between trees here and there so I really could not tell how many there were in total. These are wintering birds and common passage migrants in Israel and these had stopped off for the easy forage. Our vehicle acted as a convenient hide but these birds were so preoccupied and at ease that Avremi could photograph openly through the car window. This one is a non breeding bird: when in breeding plumage they attain a high gloss with iridescence similar to that of a European starling in spring.

Above (not far from an ibis) and below: spur winged plover Vanellus spinosus: a very common and numerous plover in Israel. Third pic: bathing, 4th pic: taking off.

Also around the hippo pool were pelicans.. not sure if these ones were part of the collection or not as these are wild in this country- similarly with the mallard ducks. Cormorants, a few white storks stalking about and a pied kingfisher perched on a handy waterside tree were wild, however, and great to see. Probably other water birds were about if I could have stayed longer to find them.

This egret, below, was foraging on the grassy area around the children's swings and allowed me to approach within about 20 feet of it. I should have altered the setting to get a sharper shot but here it is.. I think it's a little egret, Egretta garzetta according to the bill though its feet were not yellow, unless cattle egrets can have bills like this- those are usually yellow. Cattle egrets Bubulcus ibis, were very common around the grounds, perched in many high trees- all free flocks, as at the Jerusalem zoo.

Ring neck parakeets (Psittacula krameri) are feral in many park areas in Jerusalem both in the coastal vale and in Jerusalem (Mamilla park, Gan Sacher, our valley and many residential areas) and probably many other town parks up and down the country. These are a few individuals of a large and noisy flock around the coati enclosure. Lower pic.. I particlarly liked the way the sun shone through the spread tail feathers of the flying parakeet.

Small feral Mynahs were also spotted briefly, foraging on the grass but regrettably we did not get a picture. Akiva had noticed these before on a trip to 'Superland park'.

Blackcap song in central area of zoo, sunbirds and blackbirds also about. A hooded crow acting like an oxpecker on one of the elands in the safari area.. the eland was not at all bothered as the crow stalked over its back and flanks and pecked off flies. By the zoo area lake a few night herons were perched.. again a question whether they were part of the collection or free birds.

This trip was thursday and it is now saturday night.. I have not had the time or energy to enter this till now and I may have forgotten a few birds. If I remember I shall add them.

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