The geographical distribution of Common crane (Grus grus) is stretched along the northern parts of Europe and Asia. Breeding populations are found in Scandinavia, Finland Northern Germany and Sweden. Largest flocks of breeding population are known from Russia, where cranes can be found seasonally in Ukraine region throughout the Chukchi Peninsula. Breeding flights extend as far south as Manchuria but mostly in Russia. Common Crane is a long distance migrator. Migration to South last from August to October and the Northern- Spring migration is in March through May. The “Western” winter migrators are aimed towards northern Africa, Southern Europe, Portugal, Spain, and France. Intermediate stop locations are existing from Sweden and Germany to China (Caspian Sea included). The “Eastern” winter migrators stay in the river valleys of Sudan, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Eritrea, Turkey, Northern Israel, Iraq and parts of Iran. Wintering regional occupation is also in Northern India, Pakistan, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand and Eastern China. During migration they are characterized by “V” formation flights and typical noisy cry.
A sense of curiosity is motivating and revealing why discussing the involvement of a migratory terrestrial bird in an aquatic ecosystem is essential. The present paper is an attempt aimed at analyzing the role of the Common Crane (Grus grus) in the eco-system of Lake Kinneret and its drainage basin. Common Crane is commonly fed on vegetarian matters like seeds and other plant debris as well as potatoes and insects. This migratory bird used to migrate from Europe in winter, passing over Israel where it made partly practiced landing and wintering (October-March) in the valleys of Hula, Izreel and Hefer, Southern Golan Heights and in North-Western zones of the Israeli Negev desert   ). The Common Crane is considered terrestrial, mostly populating swampy and moist soil habitats in nature. Additional documentation reports  , vegetarian food resources consumed by the Crane include plant roots, seeds, and bulbs, as well as Gastropods, Frogs, Insects, Mice and Bird chicks. The Common Crane reproduces (courtship, nesting and offspring care) in northern Europe and Asia during the spring-summer time and migrates southwards from October  . The wintering Crane population in Israel during the mid-1980’s was about 2500 individuals, mostly in the Valley of Izreel. From the early 1990’s vast flocks of Crane populated the Hula Valley during 5 Autumn-Winter months. In the early 1990’s a coincidence of two independent events occurred: Peanuts culture in the Peat soil in the Hula valley and the implementation of the Hula Project aimed at hydrological and nutrient removal improvement to protect the Kinneret Water quality. The dense population of Crane in the Hula Valley was initiated in the early 1990’s independently with the Hula Project. The Hula project was implemented aimed at improvement of Kinneret water quality. The objective of the present paper is aimed at the presentation of the resulting compatibility of the occurrence of two independent events, Crane populating and the Hula Project.
Until mid 1950’s the Hula Valley was covered by Lake Hula and swamps and was not cultivated. Three rivers, Hatzbani, Banyas and Dan, joint together with several other streams, forming the Jordan River which crossed the Hula Valley through re-split three branches. The Jordan River contributes about 70% of total nutrient inputs to Lake Kinneret, of which over 50% originate in the Hula Valley region. The natural wetland and old Lake Hula were drained, and converted to agricultural use which served as an income source for regional residents. The drained area was successfully cultivated, agricultural products were economically produced and the nutrient flux into Lake Kinneret did not threaten its water quality. However, as a result of inappropriate irrigation and agricultural methods desertification processes developed and the agricultural quality of the peat soil quality was damaged, by consolidation and destruction followed by agricultural crops reduction. The result was an increase of threat to water quality in Lake Kinneret from exceeded nutrient fluxes.
A reclamation project (Hula Project; HP) was consequently implemented, aimed at reducing the nutrient fluxes from the Hula peat soil together with economical utilization of the land through a partial shift from agriculture to eco- tourism usage. During the 1990’s the Cranes used to be very active during day time in feeding and were assembled for night stay underneath Eucaliptus trees in the vicinity. Nevertheless this habitat exposed the birds to predation. Foxes, Wolves, Manguses, and Koyotes chased and preyed the vulnerable birds at night. Consequently the Cranes moved their night stay station to the shallow Agmon Lake. The water refuge gave them full protection from predators whilst raptors (Eagles, Kite etc.) are not relevant (Photos 1-4).
Photo 1. Cranes waiting for corn seeds feeding at the designated field. Photo: JNF (KKL).
Photo 2. Crane flight over the hula valley. Photo: JNF (KKL).
Photo 3. Night crane assemble at the shallow part of Agmon lake. Photo: Y. Naor.
Photo 4. Cranes landed on cultivated field in the hula valley. Photo: JNF (KKL).
The material and method background of the Hula Project monitoring and implementation was widely described and documented      . Crane monitoring in the Hula Valley, including methods and data, is given in       ). The Crain feeding program, including Field-Block-Station dedication and corn seeds regime of daily submission, is given in   ). The annual design of Crane deportation program (start and stop) and prevention of damage to agricultural crops were documented in  and  . The data of TP concentration in the Jordan river inflow into Lake Kinneret and in the Kinneret Epilimnion was taken from  . Total Phosphorus fluctuations in the Agmon outflow and drainage from Peat soil was taken from   .
In order to prevent agricultural crop Crane damage, the birds are deported from cultivated fields at the beginning of the migration landing (October-November) and later fed by Corn seeds in a special land block dedicated for feeding site (“Crane Hula Restaurant”). The Crane’s demands for feeding capacity are presented in Table 1. There was a significant benefit to the landowners from the well-priced recreation bird watching visits which enabled continuity of the out- sourced income and hydrological management as an additional partner to ecotourism. Number of Visits is given in Table 2 and the maximum number of counted Cranes per season is shown in Table 3.
Table 1. Number of Feeding Days (per season) and total corn seeds (tons/season) submitted  .
Table 2. Number of visits per Year in the Agmon/Crane site.
Table 3. The maximum number of wintered migratory Cranes during 1967-2016 per year, (×103).
Number of visits per year of recreationists are shown in Table 2.
Maximum Number of wintered migratory Cranes stayed in the Hula Vally during 1996/7-2015/16 are shown in Table 3.
Prior to the Hula Swamps and Old Lake drainage (<1950) the major national concern of the state of Israel in the northern areas of the newly established state of Israel was channeled to demography, i.e. population dispersal and agricultural income sources. As a result, the Hula Valley drainage was designed and implemented. Seven years later, when the drainage mission was accomplished, the major concern was transferred to the search for essential ut
Long-term fluctuations of the annual means of Total Phosphorus (TP) concentrations in the Agmon-Hula outflow, Jordan River, and Kinneret Epilimnion     indicate the following: Decline in Jordan River from 0.21 to 0.14 ppm (Figure 1); Increase in the Kinneret Epilimnion from 0.015 to 0.021 ppm. The seasonal dynamics of TP content in the Agmon-Hula waters (and obviously their outflow) constantly show significant elevation during late summer-Autumn months which is 6 months after Crane northern migration. The TP annual increase of TP late summer-autumn is due to degradation and decomposition of submerged vegetation. Consequently, it is suggested that Cranes do not contribute a significant addition of TP to lake Kinneret and the Ep
The reconstruction of a lost Lake Hula  indicated approximately 175 bird species observed in the Hula Valley of which 40 are given as both present and older synonym names. Cranes (Grus grus) are mentioned in this remarkable Avifaunal record only twice   . Until the early 1990’s Cranes did not visit the Hula Valley except for a few individuals. Since then, the valley is populated annually from November through March by increasing numbers of Cranes. The
Figure 1. LOWESS (0.8) curve of monthly means of total phosphorus concentration (ppm) in the river Jordan during 1970-2006.
attractive element which draws wintering Cranes to the Valley is certainly peanut crops. Peanut became an economically successful crop suitable for the heavy-organic-peat soil in the valley routinely cultured. Peanuts are harvested in late Autumn and a lot of seeds are left over exposed on the ground as a result of by incomplete mechanical harvesting technologies. The leftover seeds are preferred by the Cranes which stay over in the valley wh
The Crane Project was implemented very successfully. The procedure is for reducing the agricultural damage by Corn seeds feeding in a fixed land site where the Crane birds were accumulated during the day time, leaving this area for night stay in the shallow lake being protected from predators. Bird watchers are visiting and the management of the Hula project removes nutrients from the Kinneret loads. This Crane project represents an efficient partnership of coexisting birds and limnological interests for the prevention of Eutrophication in Lake Kinneret.
5. Summary and Conclusions
The Cranes wintering in the Hula Valley unintentionally became a part of a multi-direction program aimed at Kinneret water quality protection. During the long and heavy discussions about the necessity for appropriate management of the Hula Valley land usage and its implementation, the Cranes were never included. The cranes followed the peanut crops and stayed routinely and the cardinal proposed principle of the Hula Project, i.e. eco-tourism, was beneficiary improved. The partnerships between agricultural development, Nature and Kinneret water quality protection are the top successes of the Hula Project. Ecological service of the Hula Valley-Kinneret ecosystem is, therefore, optimized.
The design of the HP was aimed at consolidation of the conflict between agriculture production, Kinneret water quality protection and nature conservation. Intensive research was initiated, agronomic methods were revised and implemented in a contract with the farmers and the HP program contributed to the stabilization of the Hula valley ecosystem and retarded the desertification pro- cess. The tension between farmers, water managers, nature preservation was reduced and collaboration came instead. The outcome of the HP was renewal of an ecosystem, which has become a tourist attraction including enriching the biological diversity with approximately 300 species of birds including 40 - 50,000 wintering Cranes annually, and also 40 species of water plants, and 12 fish species. The new ecosystem of shallow Lake Agmon with surrounded Safari habitats ecosystem, became a tourism attraction.
 Gophen, M. (2004) Water Utilization in a Semi-Arid Zone, the Hula Valley (Israel): Pollutant Removal, Agriculture and Ecotourism Management. In: Zreiny, F. and Hotzl, H., Eds., Water in the Middle East and in North Africa: Resources, Protection, and Management, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 207-226.
 Gophen, M. (2008) Long Term (1970-2001) Eco-Hydrological Processes in Lake Kinneret and Its Watershed. In: Zereini, H., Ed., Climatic Changes and Water Resources in the Middle East and in North Africa, Springer, Berlin, 373-402.
 Dimentman, C., Bromley, H.J. and Por, F.D. (1992) Lake Hula: Reconstruction of the Fauna and Hydrology of a Lost Lake. The Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, 170 p. (Addendum in Hebrew 24 p.)