Above us. Now.

The birds are tracked by sophisticated radar set up along the migratory routes all over the country—Eilat, Jerusalem, Latrun… The Ben Gurion offices are high-tech, dark-windowed. Banks of computers, radios, phones. A team of experts, trained in aviation and mathematics, tracks the patterns of flight: the size of the flocks, their pathways, their shape, their velocity, their height, their projected behavior in weather patterns, their possible response to crosswinds, siroccos, storms. Operators create algorithms and send out emergency warnings to the controllers and to the commercial airlines.

Another hotline is dedicated to the Air Force. Starlings at 1,000 feet north of Gaza Harbor, 31.52583°N, 34.43056°E. Forty-two thousand sandhill cranes roughly 750 feet over southern edge of Red Sea, 20.2802°N, 38.5126°E. Unusual flock movement east of Akko, Coast Guard caution, storm pending. Projected flock, Canada geese, east of Ben Gurion at 0200 hours, exact coordinates TBD. Pair of pharaoh eagle-owls reported in trees near helicopter landing pad B, south Hebron, 31.3200°N, 35.0542°E.

The ornithologists are busiest in autumn and spring when the large migrations are in full flow: at times their screens look like Rorschach tests.

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)


Photo: Sandhill Cranes by journey ej

Comments

  1. Fascinating. The things you find, pal…amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. that is so interesting and what a unique job

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love seeing and hearing the sandhill cranes. Happens only rarely for me, but when it does, I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh I’ve heard the sound of sandhill cranes coming in … and of thousands of snow geese. Wish I could post a picture here, but I might have to create a post on that … amazingly cool and fun post!

    MJ

    Liked by 1 person

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