Yoav Perlman of the nubijar blog fame and fantastic Israeli birder and hobby photographer will be joining BirdingBlogs.com. Having followed Yoav’s blog for the past few year, I am really excited to see and read what he shares on BirdingBlogs.com because he is bound to be a fantastic compliment to the team.
Before Yoav starts to blog here, we thought it might be nice for him to introduce himself through a bit of an interview. So, here goes:
How and when did you start birding, Yoav?
I started birding when I was eight years old. My big brother, Gidon, joined a youth bird club in Jerualem where we grew up. As I was an annoying little boy I had to follow him everywhere, and that’s how I joined the bird club too. Very soon both of us started birding very seriously, luckily we were adopted by some of Israel’s best birders at that time who lived in Jerusalem too, and we learned so much from them. Back then in the 1980’s, Jerusalem was much smaller than today and had lots of wildlife inside the city and on its outskirts, so it was the perfect place to begin my career as an outdoor person. Right by my doorstep I had breeding species such as Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis) and Cretzschmar’s Bunting (Emberiza caesia). My brother is still in the business; he’s the co-director of the Jerusalem Bird Observatory.
How did your birding evolve after childhood?
I started professional birding work at 15, when I was guiding the youth bird club in Jerusalem and started working in different surveys. After the compulsory military service I travelled and birded in Asia for 18 months. This was one of the most amazing periods of my life, birding 24/7 for so long. I saw so many good birds, met so many amazing people and almost got myself killed in various ways. When I got back to Israel in 2000 I continued working for the IOC. I ran a couple of ringing stations for some years and did more survey work and some guiding in Israel. My MSc research was on the ecology of Nubian Nightjar (Caprimulgus nubicus), and since then I became involved in the conservation of the nightjars and their threatened habitat.
How would you define yourself – birder, photographer, ringer, twitcher?
First of all I am a birder, but I really enjoy bird photography as well. I am really into hardcore ID and enjoy looking at notches and emarginations, studying subspecies and variation. I don’t define myself as a professional photographer because I can’t stand sitting in a hide, wasting precious birding time. I’d always walk around or drive around rather than sit in a hide. Because Israel is so small and because I don’t pay for my petrol, I twitch heavily, and I’m a serious Israel lister. I enjoy ringing very much. I wish I could ring more but I don’t have enough time for this.
What’s so special about living and birding in Israel?
Israel is an extreme migration country. Migration is so visible everywhere, almost year-round. For birders this is amazing because you feel the rush of migration almost every time you’re out. In addition, Israel is so small and has so many different habitats within its small area, so birding is really varied and exciting. Israel is not Colombia but it’s one serious birding hotspot in WP standards. Further, Israel is horribly underbirded – we have only about 30 good birders in Israel, like birders who are able to identify tricky birds. So it’s relatively easy to find your own good birds if you know the rarity hotspots. Though in Israel rarities could turn up anywhere – garden birds I’ve had in the past included Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni), Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla), and multiple Red-breasted Flycatchers (Ficedula parva).
How do you combine birding with your professional life?
I have arguably the best job on this planet. I am the monitoring and research coordinator of the Israeli Ornithological Center, which is a branch of the largest NGO in Israel, SPNI. I do lots of fieldwork myself, so this takes me out quite a lot during some parts of the year. Further, I have endless freedom and flexibility in my job; luckily my boss is too busy to read my blog so he doesn’t know how often I take off birding or twitching instead of work. ((Dale: this is such a magic sentence!))
Do you bird overseas or only in Israel?
After my Asian Odyssey, I returned to East Asia several more times. Asia is fantastic, and I enjoy returning there every time. In 2009 I visited Kenya for the first time, and fell in love with Africa. Since then I’ve been trying to return to Africa every year. At the moment my two kids are young (Uri 4.5 and Noam 2.5), so I cannot disappear for too long each time. But I hope that as they grow up and my wife Adva loves me a bit less, I will be able to travel more extensively. Travelling with a proper camera is great fun and allows me to enjoy the aesthetics of wildlife in the places I visit apart for just birding there. I have a big gap in American birding – I was one short semi-birding visit to the USA, so I’d really like to start exploring that part of the world in the near future.
And finally, why join BirdingBlogs.com? What do you expect to accomplish here?
Since BirdingBlogs was launched, I have been following it closely and thoroughly enjoy reading the different material posted by the top-notch authors. This is quite a privilege for me to join this talented team. I think I can add to the geographic variation in BirdingBlogs, and I hope to promote birding in the Middle East to wider audiences in the world by posting images and tales from the field.
Thank you Yoav, you have now gotten my birding juices really going – I really really wanna get to Israel. Just imagine all those raptors moving through in migration time. Steppe Eagles!!! Pallid Harriers, Steppe Buzzards, aaaahh
Looking forward to your posts, Yoav!