Flamingo Migration in Israel and a visit to Atlit

Around 500 million birds fly above Israel twice a year, and the flamingo is one of the species. And they love staying in Eilat and Atlit.

Years ago, I watched a lecture by a National Geographic photographer where he told about his simple formula to find wildlife: you must know where they eat and live. So let’s start with the first question.

What do flamingos eat?

Flamingos eat small shrimps, algae, small seeds, microscopic organisms, mollusks, and other plants and animals that live in shallow waters. They suck water through its beak, which acts as a strainer and filters out the food.

Since their food is in shallow water, the common flamingo often lives in mud areas and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. Israel has two familiar places where they can find food. These are Eilat and Atlit.

Where can I see flamingos?

In studies carried out in France, a strong correlation between the density of Brine shrimp and flamingos was found. In Israel, those shrimps can be found in Eilat and Atlit. But there are other places as well. Here is the list of the best places to see flamingos in Israel:

  • The flamingo lookout near Eilat (link to Waze), which is about 10 km to the north of Eilat Ornithological Park
  • Atlit Salt Pools (link to Waze) – we will visit Atlit later in this article.
  • Kibbutz Nahsholim – pools near Kibbutz Nahsholim cemetery and the entrance to Tel Dor (link to Waze)

These are the main places, but I have also seen flamingos in Ein Afek, Agamon Hula, and other areas.

Note: flamingos do not nest in Israel.

When is the migration season for flamingos?

Bird migration occurs during fall and spring (usually March – April and October – November). It is worth mentioning that some flamingos stay for the winter. For example, I saw flamingos at Ein Afek in December.

Can I see flamingos now?

The best way to find out whether flamingos are currently visiting is by checking Birdsbase.com. Using this link, you can see the list of recent flamingo observations.

Flamingos in Atlit

In the middle of November 2021, we headed to Atlit in search of flamingos. Here is an interactive map of the area where I marked the two points we visited (and links for the first point):

Directions for drivers: Link to Waze and Link to Google Maps
Directions for public transport: Link to Moovit

Interactive map of the area:

Offers:

  • Hotels, hostels, and appartments in this area:
Booking.com

And here are two links to Waze that mark those points: salt pools near the fortress and Atlit cemetery. You can also enter “salt pools Salt of the Earth ltd” into Waze.

Salt Pools by the Crusader Fortress

While driving on fortress Street, we saw flamingos. But this street is located behind the train line. Thus we had to drive to the south and return using the parallel road.

Note: many constructional projects are taking place in Atlit now. Thus some of the roads might be closed.

Flamingos at Atlit
Flamingos at Atlit

The salt pools in Atlit and Eilat are important birdwatching sites. The ponds are essential for an extraordinary variety of migrating and permanent birds, especially for birds that nest in the pools. You can find sterna, shorebirds, flamingos, and others in these areas.

Gulls
Gulls

Here are several additional photos from this spot:

Flamingos
Flamingos

There were probably around one hundred flamingos.

Cormorants
Cormorants

As you can see, we visited during sunset since animals are more active in the morning and evening hours.

Pools and Crusader Fortress
Pools and Crusader Fortress
Black-winged stilt
Black-winged stilt
Flamingos
Flamingos

The name flamingo comes from the Portuguese or Spanish word flamengo, which means flame-colored. And as you probably know, they get their pink color from the food (algae that brine shrimp eat). As a flamingo dines on algae and brine shrimp, its body metabolizes the pigments and turns the feathers pink.

Salt pools in Atlit
Salt pools in Atlit

Salt of the Earth ltd

From the pools by the fort, we drove to Atlit cemetery. To get to the cemetery, you have to get inside the Salt of the Earth factory area. At the entrance to the factory, there is a big metal sliding gate. It was half open, and the sign stated that you could visit at your own risk. So we drove inside. After continuing with the narrow road for several minutes, we reached the cemetery.

Atlit cemetery
Atlit cemetery

The salt pools belong to the Haaretz salt company. They were mined for the production of table salt. Salt of the Earth practically advocates the concept of sustainability. It works to balance the needs of industry and the production of salt and between the needs of the waterfowl that stay in the salt ponds throughout the year.

Common redshank
Common redshank

We did not see flamingos in this area, but there were many other birds. Here are several additional photos:

Gulls
Gulls
Common redshank
Common redshank
Little stint
Little stint
Black-tailed godwit
Black-tailed godwit

Note: I took all these photos using Tamron 200 – 500 mm on a Nikon D610. Hopefully, this will give you a distance measure.

Additional Birdwatching Places

If you love birds, check out the following places:

Additionally, see Zoos and Aquariums in Israel‎ – Full Review (Overview of 30+ places)

Summary

Flamingos, flame-colored birds, are beautiful birds, especially in big flocks. All the mentioned places are free, and you can visit them during the migration season.

What is your favorite place to see flamingo migration? Tell us in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

To find out more about birds in Israel, visit the bird category.

Stay Tuned!

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  
Did not find what you were looking for? Leave a comment below, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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