Up Close And Personal With The Lesser Water Boatman And The Non-biting Midge
Puddling around Israel’s winter pools, enjoying the tiny creatures that live in them and the beautiful routes around them.
If you are anything like me, you know next to nothing about the strange little creatures that thrive in this area’s winter puddles. Ranging from the Middle East tree frog and fairy shrimp to the lesser water boatman and non-biting midge, they require a very specific habitat to survive. In fact, in order to be effective, winter puddles – also known as winter pools – must dry up in the summer.
We learned all this and more, on a winter’s jaunt with Talila Livshutz, community and forests director in the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s northern Negev District. Along with winter puddles, our marvelously varied route featured vast carpets of wildflowers as well as recreational sites, monuments and a now-defunct reservoir.
Our first stop was at the Shafir Winter Pool, just south of Kiryat Malachi. Long ago, Shafir was a typical winter pool, filling with rain during the wet season and drying up in summer. Settlers planted eucalyptus trees in the water, apparently hoping to drain what they thought was a large, annoying puddle. But the eucalyptus trees, instead of drying up the water, dropped leaves full of toxic chemicals into the pool. And development of roads, industry and settlement in the area since 1948 more or less destroyed the pool and its inhabitants.
In 2006, the local council decided to rehabilitate the pool as part of an ecological park. Inaugurated six years later, and potentially filled with water all year round, the pool is now the major attraction in a large and beautiful recreational area with lush eucalyptus trees reflected in the water.