This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘Hula Valley’

Running with Cranes

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 30, 2015

Agur Race, 2015

This isn’t the best photo of me but it’s probably the most recent and it’s my fastest 10K race. I’m the one in blue, on the left. Last Friday I ran the Agur (“crane”, as in the bird) Race at the Hula Valley nature reserve up north. The race coincides with the annual crane migration, and we saw lots of cranes flying overhead.

We drove up the night before and stayed at the Tel Dan Youth Hostel (I highly recommend it–clean, quiet, free wifi, kettle and fridge in the room, for 262 NIS/night). Unfortunately, I hardly slept that night. I have a terrible time falling asleep whenever I have an event the next day, but I’ve learned that I can run while half asleep.

My final time for the 10K was 01:01:11 (lots of ones), which is my fastest time yet. In my category, I The course is nice and flat, which makes it popular for people trying to run a personal best.

Here’s a video of last year’s Agur race. You can see me for a split second wearing a black skirt, bright orange shirt,  a little to the left of center, at 1:25 (if you really want to see me, you’ll have to slow the video down to .25 speed and pause it). It was really foggy that day, so the photography isn’t great.

Here’s a video of the Agur race in 2013. The photography is a lot better–lots of cranes!

I haven’t done photography for ages, partly because I was taking a break and now because I had laser surgery on Nov. 9 to correct my vision. Since the operation was PRK, not LASIK, recovery takes a lot longer, with more ups and downs. I can see well enough to run and I can manage to read but my distance vision is still quite blurry. It’s strange to think that now I’ll need glasses to do all the needlework I used to do. I can read if a font is not too small but I will probably need reading glasses at some point. At least I’m not in any discomfort, although I did have a miserable few days before the bandage contact lenses were taken out. The surgeon discovered an eyelash in my right eye. No wonder my eye was constantly tearing and so sensitive to light! As soon as the lenses and eyelash were out, I felt much better. But it will be a while before I can see well enough to take photos.


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Hula Valley Nature Reserve

Posted by Avital Pinnick on September 1, 2010


Continuing the theme of what I did during my summer vacation…

We visited the Hula Valley nature reserve three times, on the hottest days of the year. It was steamy!

Israel is situated in the flight migration path of many species of birds, including cranes. Tens of thousands of cranes pass over the region every year (unfortunately our vacation was didn’t coincide with the height of the crane migration, so I don’t have any photos). The Hula valley was originally a mosquito-infested swamp. It was drained in the 1950s and turned into rich agricultural land. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we now know that this was an ecological disaster, but at the time, when so many were dying from malaria, it was a reasonable option. Huge machines dug canals to drain the water into the Kinneret. (For additional info, see Wikipedia and Jewish Virtual Library.) Vineyards and fruit orchards were planted.

In the 1990s the Hula Restoration Project was founded;  a small lake called Agmon was created in 1994. It is part of the Hula Nature Reserve and is a rich breeding ground for water birds, catfish, turtles, and other wildlife.

Our first excursion was a night wildlife tour. We rode in a wagon pulled by a tractor while a guide shone a powerful light into the marsh and bushes and gave a running commentary. Since the light was very low, I’ve only posted a photo of a family of martens, but we also saw water buffalo, a lynx, two chameleons, a crab, jackal, and lots of birds. I recommend the tour if you have older children.

Family of Martens

The following morning we rented bicycles and cycled around the lake. The area is perfectly flat and there are paths for walkers, cyclists, and golf carts. The entire route is about 8 km. Despite the heat, there were plenty of critters to photograph.

Monarch Butterfly

These dragonflies are a brilliant red and very difficult to photograph because they dart all over the place.

Red Dragonfly

The following day we went to the southern entrance of the nature reserve. I recommend the 40 minute audio-visual presentation. Watching a bird migration film through 3D glasses while the seats move is not a common experience. After the film and displays, we walked through the steamy swamp on the boardwalk. I took photos of the bird blind,  herons, and turtles. This photo of the lake has the Golan Heights in the background. It was a very hazy day.

Hazy Day over the Hula Valley

The heron was quite a distance away but it stayed still long enough for me to switch lenses. I took this photo with a 250mm lens.


Just playing with my new 10-22mm lens. 🙂 But it is a very long bird blind.

Bird Blind

Bird Blind

I like a turtle with a sense of humour.

Laughing Turtles

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