Season of the Birds

Photographer: Dror Galili


Long hours of close observation of  small and large creatures have taught nature photographer, Dror Galili, how to photograph animals without interfering with their lives; to discern their tracks on dusty or muddy ground; to differentiate between the tracks of  beetles, turtles, jackals, birds, or snakes that crossed the path in their search for food or for a partner in the mating season; to never overlook small pits in crumbling dust, the work of the antlion, that built a trap for ants that become the prey of this industrious digger.

The fact that Israel is a bridge between the continents of Africa, Europe and Asia had a strong impact on the huge diversity of its flora and fauna. European and Asiatic species, for which Israel is their southernmost distribution boundary, meet with African ones, for which Israel is the farthest northern distribution boundary. Thus, every year, migratory birds fly to Israel before the cold European winter, on their way to Asia's and Africa's milder weather. Thousands of them stay and winter here, and allow nature lovers and photographers to relish their beauty and learn about their way of life.

Advanced photographic equipment with telescopic lenses, developed over the years, has made it possible for nature photographers to be genuinely present - even if from a distance and imperceptible - in the lives of birds, mammals, and reptiles. For instance, Galili built a hiding place from where he watched a pair of lappet-faced vultures for over eighty days, as they together raised their chick on an acacia tree in the northern Arava, documenting their routine life and their relationship with the environment. On the other hand, he observed a female fox bringing its cubs food - a day-old fawn, that only a short time earlier Galili had photographed with its mother not far from the fox family. Thus, numerous encounters in nature have provided moving stories, their finale often attesting to the cruel battle for survival.

But beyond all these stories, nature photography also involves concern for the fate and future of our flora and fauna. Israel is a dense and hot country which does not leave much living space for its animals that are doomed to damage and to extinction if they lack food and water resources. Most of the bodies of water in Israel were drained in the name of development, building and agricultural cultivation - from the Hula Lake and its swamps, streams that flowed and no longer exist, wellsprings that provided animals with water but were later tapped into pipes, and so on and so forth. Soon we will witness the establishment of wind turbines that will convert wind into electricity, which will increase the damage suffered by vulnerable nature. Will we know how to stop this insane race and preserve the natural resources given to us for our own benefit and that of future generations? Will we know how to "dress it and keep it?"

Dror Galili was born in Kibbutz Ayelet HaShachar in Upper Galilee two years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. For his thirteenth birthday he received as a gift his first camera - a Kodak Box camera, made of plywood and fabric. From then on, he never stopped taking pictures of nature: "Over fifty years of documentary photography, the product of close scrutiny, observation, and studying the flora and fauna of the Land of Israel, has taught me to appreciate the wealth and beauty of local nature."


Closes: December 31, 2017