The birding park in Eilat was established in the early 1990's by the "International Birdwatching and Research Center of Eilat" (IBRCE) foundation.
The park lies on what was once and industrial waste site and is an example of cooperation between the municipalities and the SPNI. Today the park is the center of the IBRCE and is one of the most unique and important birding sites in the country.
The IBRCE focuses on research and monitoring of migrant birds, eco-tourism activities as well as different bird related services to the local population (farmers, the city of Eilat) are provided onsite, as well as all other matters relating to the interaction between birds and man.
The IBRCE park is divided into two sections
A public part open to the public, featuring a handicap accessible boardwalk a set of trails and a set of well situated hides overlooking the various habitats of the part. The public area also offers restrooms and a small gift shop.
The other section is devoted to research – this is where monitoring of migratory species takes places and so this section is closed off to the general public.
The park is open daily and guided birding tours in the park or surrounding area can be booked.
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Why go birding in Eilat?!
Eilat and the Southern Arava are situated on the northern border of the Saharo-Arabian desert strip. Spring migrants arrive at Eilat immediately after crossing the Sahara, making the region a critical stopover site for millions of birds.
During the autumn migration, Eilat and the Arava are the last fueling point for these global flyers, before they continue on south, to the hardest leg of their journey – crossing the Sahara Desert.
During migration season between 500 million to 1 billion birds pass through our desert skies.
Nature conservation challenges
Migrants face a wide array of dangers along the miraculous journey they take. The migrating birds, as well as the local species are impacted by the changes and destruction caused to the natural environment of Eilat and Southern Arava. These changes are slowly, yet continuously, increasing.
The city of Eilat, established in 1948 in the north-western tip of the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba) was erected on a huge salt marsh. The Eilat Salt Marsh is a unique eco system and a natural wonder. Back in the 1950’s only several hundred people lived in Eilat. Today, there are approximately 60,000. Eilat is a flourishing tourist hub with around 10,000 hotel rooms a huge promenade, malls, commercial and industrial areas and tourist services.
News from the field.
by Shachar Shalev from the "Eilat Birders" team.
Many of the today’s touristic area and hotels were built over what used to be the Eilat salt Marsh. Vast sections of the Marsh and adjacent Acacia savanna of the Southern Arava were wiped out. The small portions that are left have been allocated to agriculture, salt production and recently for solar projects.
Today only %5 remains of the once extensive Eilat salt Marsh that used to spread over an area of 12 square kilometers!
Up until the 1970’s the Eilat Salt Marsh received regular seasonal floods of fresh water running from the mountains on both sides of the Arava Valley. The floods cycle contributed to the unique vegetation that developed locally. A wide range of desert plants bloomed and bore fruits in perfect synchronization with the peak of spring migration. The salt flats plants provided important food for species that nested in and around it, as well as for migrating birds.
This natural cycle has changed completely with the massive development of the past years. The Eilat Salt marsh is nearly gone and the local vegetation has been replaces by huge farms, fields and plantations. Migrant birds can still benefit from the resources available but for the local species the changes can be drastic.
Many breeding species, such as the Great Grey Shrike, Nubian NightJar, Dead Sea Sparrow and many others were not able to adapt to the changes in their habitat and stopped nesting in the area all together. Other species such as the Hoopoe Lark, Bar-Tailed Lark and Arabian Warbler are still around - but their population has decreased dramatically.
The IBRCE main goal is research but more and more monitoring and ecological schemes are being initiated in order to protect the small pockets of natural habitat that remain.
We welcome you to visit the Park, to learn about the birds, migration and the important role Eilat plays along the Flyway.