A little back story: In the spring of 2013 Joey and I ran a large experiment together in the Czech Republic. In the middle of this experiment, there were record rains. Prague flooded, the towns near us and our field sites flooded, a state of emergency was declared, people put up sand bags, and most of the nestlings in our experiment died (see story here). It rained for 10 days straight without letting up. Joey and I then go home in July to run a large experiment in good old dry Colorado. Many of you will recall that the end of this experiment was cut short by bazaar and record breaking rain falls in Boulder. It was called the 1000 year flood, a rare event to put in the record books. We are now in Israel and it has rained for a week straight. People comment that this is the wettest winter they can remember. It is flooding in the south as all the water runs down the mountains into the desert. Lighting, which is rare here, is an almost daily occurrence. A few days ago we woke up to a surprise snow fall, something that has not happened in Ami'ad since 1992. The children were ecstatic and played in the snow for a few hours until the rain melted it all. They kept asking us if we wanted to play in the snow with them- we did not.
Given all the rain, and lack of field work- can't catch swallows in the rain, and they aren't laying any eggs- Yoni advised us to head south. So south we went to one of the jewels of Israel, Ein Gedi. Ein Gedi is an oasis in the Judean desert near the shore of the dead sea. It has a long history (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ein_Gedi), but currently it is a natural reserve, the highlights of which is two wadis, or canyons, with freshwater springs that form streams and deep pools. It has incredible views and is home to some amazing wildlife.
Joey and I drove south and spent the night at a camp ground on the cliffs above the dead sea. This camp ground was quite different from camp grounds in the US. We were planning to set up a tent we had borrowed from Yoni, but were convinced to stay in a Bedouin style tent/hut because of the wind. This "tent" included electricity, lights, a space heater, mattresses, and our own picnic table. Our stay also came with a complimentary breakfast. This was certainly glamping. The view over the dead sea at sunrise was amazing. Check out Joey's attempt at a time lapse dead sea sunrise video.
After a wonderful day in the desert we turned around and reluctantly drove back to the cold and rainy north.