Counting sheep has never been so hypnotic: drone video

Getting sleepy?

A viral video of sheep herding in Israel is drawing the ohs, ahs and maybe a few yawns as it revealed the massive and mesmerizing pack migration from one pasture to another.

Photographer and drone pilot Lior Patel spent seven months filming an estimated 1,000 to 1,700 sheep from high above as they made their seasonal pilgrimage over a 4-mile (7 kilometer) tract of land called the Peace Valley region of Yokneam, according to a report by art and design site Colossal.

The bird’s-eye view captures the unique patterns in which they move with and throughout the group. Guided by shepherds and a few border collies, the sheep appear to move through the land like a well coordinated flock of birds or, whilst feeding, like ants milling around a crumb.

“Sheep in fast motion. For the past seven months I have been following a large herd of sheep, from winter pasture to the movement and arrival at the summer pasture,” Patel wrote in the video’s caption on Instagram, drawing in more than 124,000 viewers since it was debuted last week.

Vegetable farmer Michael Morgan, a k a the “king of cabbage,” and South African herder Keith Markov are responsible for the flock, which fluctuates between 1,000 and 1,750 sheep each year, Patel told Colossal. Shepherds Mustafa Tabash, Mahmoud Kaabiyah, Eyal Morgan and Dan Goldfinger are also credited with managing the group during the biannual trek.

sheep herding in Israel
It took the herd seven months to travel an estimated 4 miles (7 kilometers) to complete the trip.
Lior Patel
Sheep herding in Israel
The 1,000-plus strong herd is managed by one farmer and five expert shepherds, along with the aid of a few border collies.
Lior Patel
The ingenious footage has drawn hundreds of thousands of viewers already.
Lior Patel

Fans of Patel’s work used words like “masterful,” “innovative” and “magical” to describe the footage. “One of the best vids I recently saw, impressed,” said one of them.

Another follower compared the herd to a flowing river delta. “Reminds me of fluid flow,” they noted. “There is even an eddy formation on one of the first scenes!”

Patel’s video has garnered even more acclaim on Twitter where Israeli political analyst Arieh Kovler shared the clip for his nearly 87,000 followers.

“Entrancing and relaxing,” wrote Kovler, whose sheep tweet has picked up 77,000 likes so far.

Sheep herding in Israel
“The first challenge is to understand the elasticity of the herd,” said drone pilot Lior Patel.
Lior Patel
Sheep herding in Israel
Each rapid-motion clip contains between four and seven minutes of footage.
Lior Patel

Each rapid-motion clip contains between four and seven minutes of footage, Patel told Colossal. “The first challenge is to understand the elasticity of the herd during the movement, its dispersal during grazing, and how it converges into one tight pack towards exit/return from pasture and crossing roads and paths,” he explained.

It’s a rare glimpse at animal behavior as we’ve never seen before — made ever more possible thanks to drones. Another migratory phenomenon made headlines earlier this year, as drones spotted a herd of elephants snuggling while they slept in the brush while making their 313-mile migration through China, where the pack of pachyderms are being tracked — and even escorted by police, at ties — as they make their epic tour.

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