ÇUKUROVA & GÖKSU DELTA, Turkey
24 March – 2 April 2000
I. The weather
Most of the time sunny and quite warm (temp. measured in the shade!). Wind weak to moderate (29 March).
II Areas visited:
I. Old river branch North of Karatas & East shore of Akyatan Gölü(A)
II. East shore Agyatan(Ayayan) Gölü(B)
III. South shore and dune areas Akyatan Gölü(A)
IV. Yumurtalik lagoons (C)
V. Yilan Kale (Snake Castle)(D)
VI. Tuzla Gölü & Seyhan river (E)
VII. Akgöl and dunes (F)
VIII. Paradeniz Gölü and agricultural field North of the lake (G)
IX. Round trip in the mountains North of Silifke, via ruins of the ancient city of Olba, Kirobasi and Mut (H)
III. The most memorable observations per day
Day 1. Flight with Turkish Airlines (Türk Hava Yollari) from Amsterdam to Adana (changing planes in Istanbul). With a hired minibus we drove to a pension in Karatas, ca. 50 km South of Adana. 2 Red Foxes were seen in the beam light of the car.
Day 2. Most of the day we stayed at the old river branch that discharges in the Eastern deepest part of Akyatan Gölü.
Plenty of singing Graceful Prinia’s and Moustached Warblers. Also our first White-breasted Kingfisher, a species would see almost on each day of the trip. At the East shore of Akyatan Gölü we saw one Audouin’s Gull, together with Black-headed Gulls, some Greater Sandplovers and a female Pallid Harrier. In afternoon we drove to the West shore of Agyatan (also called Ayayan Gölü). At a great distance, but nicely contrasting against the mountains on the other side of the Gulf of Iskenderun ca. 3000 Common Cranes were migrating North.
Day 3. Through the agricultural field North of the lake to the South-west shores of Akyatan, with its small field and wooded dunes. 20 White Storks followed the plough. Some Collared Pratincoles and Lesser Kestrels were busy catching insects above them. On the muddy shores many waders, f.i. Marsh Sandpipers and Red Knots. Slender-billed Gulls were common and, as usual, thousands of Greater flamingos were still present. Rüppell’s Warblers were back, as were Red-rumped Swallows, Northern and Isabelline Wheatears. A Black Francolin was heard but not seen. But an Egyptian Mongoose was observed splendidly.
Day 4. Trip to the Eastern part of the Çukurova, the lagoons near Yumurtalik. On the way we saw Wryneck and Long-legged Buzzard. Most of the common Buzzard we observed in both the delta’s were of the brown phase; only a few were reddish, which is typical for the eastern sub-species vulpinus. At the lagoons there were was quite a lot of migration: 325 White Pelicans, 32 Black Storks, 13 Spoonbills and 225 Common Cranes. Also an Osprey passed by. On the wooded peninsula , guarded by some NP-employees. Our bus flushed a BlackFrancolin. Again many waders and 11 Gull-billed Terns. Armenian Gull was the most abundant gull species. Only some immature Yellow-legged Gulls (cachinnans) were present (the adults already back in the breeding colonies?). The first Red-throated Pipits. After picnic to the Snake Castle near the city of Ceyhan. Along the road several occupied nests of White Storks which were incubating already. From the ruins of the castle some Little Swifts were seen indeed, but very high up in the sky. The the Wallcreeper , still in winter plumage, we saw was splendid. We observed the foraging bird for some time from a distance of only 30 m. Also remarkable was the migration of White Storks, ca. 2000 circling on the nearby hills and of some tens of Stockdoves.
Day 5. Today we drove to Tuzla Gölü, the most western lake in the delta. A Stone Curlew beside the road was not shy at all. As last year at Tuzla we saw a lot of coulor ringed Kentish Plovers. Probably of a local project; we’ll try to discover the details. At sea there was nothing to see this time; the quite weather probably being the reason. This was the first day with some numbers of Black-eared Wheatears. In a pool near the Seyhan river we observed two (a pair?) Black-necked Grebes in full summer dress. Along the river itself, on our way to Adana regularly White-breasted Kingfishers. A pair of Laughing Doves was nesting in a palm tree at Adana airport, where we reconfirmed our tickets. In the late afternoon we drove to the Göksu delta to a hotel in Tasucu.
Day 6. The entire day we have been bird watching along the South and East shores of Akgöl. About the first bird we saw when we stopped the car was a male Cyprian Warbler! Our bird list increased considerably this day with f.i. e Pygmy Cormorant (ca. 25), Night Heron, Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Greater Spotted Eagle (juvenile), Black-wingedStilt, Little Gull, Black Tern and White-winged Black Tern. And of course we noticed some tens of Purple Gallinules that are very busy and noisy this time of the year. New in the area were the bird watchers hides of which one was destroyed already by hunters that resist the protected status of the delta.
Day 7. Today to the other lake in the delta: Paradeniz Gölü, that still has a connection with the sea. Sand Martins flew near their nest holes in the steep banks of the connecting canal. On the lake itself not many birds this time, though a Red-breasted Merganser is not a common bird in Southern Turkey. On the beach we found again a Greater Sandplover, between the numerous displaying Kentish Plovers and in the extensive wet fields with salt vegetation ca. 165 Ruddy Shellducks were feeding. A walk through the agricultural fields with its many drainage/irrigation canals resulted in the observation of two males Little Crake; one of them in full breeding plumage. At the small rubbish dump of the village of Kurtulus we had nice raptors: 2 Egyptian Vultures, 2 Black Kites, 1 Booted Eagle and one juvenile Steppe Eagle. The latter was observed from the bus at a distance of a 40 meters! In contrast to last year large flocks of Yellow Wagtails were not yet seen, although the males of the locally breeding subspecies feldegg was present in numbers. In the late afternoon we visited Silifke Castle. Probably because of the hot weather hardly any bird was observed, though a Syrian Woodpecker was heard calling.
Day 8. Todays program was a tour in the mountains North of Silifke. Firstly in de direction of the ancient city of Olba. On the hillsides lots of Cretzschmar’s Buntings and Blue Rock Trushes were singing and we saw some of the dull looking Turkish Long-tailed Tits (subspec. tephronotus) and some Sombre Tits. In the beautiful surroundings of a valley with the remains of an aqueduct (with a pair of Little Owls) usually Red-fronted Serins were seen. Unfortunately this year we failed to do so. But a male Finsch’s Wheatear was present. And the very commonly present Rock Nuthatches were very noisily displaying and building nests. Some Rüppell’s Warbler were singing too. In the pine woods a liitel higher many Krüper’s Nuthatches were singing, and a Short-tailed Eagle was soaring overhead. In the neigbourhood of Kirobasi there was still some snow between the rocks and trees. We were able to have a good look on a male Black Redstart of the subspecies semirufa. After seeing a Griffon Vulture and two Egyptian Vultures between Kirobasi and Mut, we witnessed some rapter migration. Some Common Buzzards were followed by a loose group of 40 Lesser Spotted Eagles. They were gliding not high over us along a hill side, probably looking for a place to stay for the night. In the falling dusk we drove back to Silifke along the the Göksu river, winding through the mountains.
Day 9. The last full day in the field we have spent in the delta itself: in the morning around Akgöl, in the afternoon at Paradeniz . At the beginning of the dune are the Jandarma (military police) was checking again all visitors. Obviously to distract weekend hunters. Nevertheless we heard some shot later at the northern shore of Akgöl. To day ago Black-eared Wheatears were the most common wheatears, today Pied Wheatear had the majority. We recognized one Cyprus Wheatear, but probably more were present. A flock of 5 Hoopoes passed by and we heard the first Treepipit. Two Pallid Harriers (one adult male) were seen and ca. 10 calling Black Francolins heard (one fairly good seen too). We also heard and saw a Stone Curlew. But despite our intensive search we could not discover Marbled Ducks. At the Northern shore the hunter disturbed our observations, though we had a good view on 3 Glossy Ibis, together with Common Kingfisher, some Purple Gallinules and Marsh Sandpipers. A nice combination of species! In the reeds of one of the canals we saw a Great Reed Warbler and in a small Eucalyptus plantation a “normal” (subspec. phoenicuros) Redstart. All other Redstarts seen belonged to samamisicus. At Paradeniz we had a good view on 26 Gull-billed Terns and we ended the day with 3 Whimbrels and one Common Crane (a wounded bird?) and field full with flowering bulbs (Gyandiris, Muscaria en Bellevalia)
Day 10. Early morning in the dark on our way to Adana airport and there our last species for the list: Sparrowhawk. Curiously not seen on the days before.
IV All species per day
I & II
IV & V
VII & VIII
|Great Crested Grebe||+||+||+||+||+|
|Great White Egret||+||+||+||+||+||+||+|
|Lesser Spotted Eagle||?||+|
|Greater Spotted Eagle||+||?|
|Little Ringed Plover||+||+||+||+||+||+||+|
|Greater Sand Plover||+||+|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull||+||+|
|White-winged Black Tern||+|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||?|
|Lesser Short-toed Lark||+||+|
|Cyprus Pied Wheatear||?||+|
|Great Reed Warbler||+|
|Great Grey Shrike||+|