TURKEY TRIP REPORT
10 to 22 September 2001
I took workshop in Turkey as an opportunity for some sightseeing and birding afterwards. This was my third visit in Turkey, therefore I concentrated mainly on lesser known areas. In addition, many Turkish specials apparently become impossible to see in late summer (e.g. Caucasian Blackcock, Pale Scops Owl), at least according to people who visited these areas during previous months.
I would like to thank Zeynep Koksal and Jake Allsop which I met at Kulu Golu and Jan-Joost Bouwman. Big thanks also for: Tomasz Kulakowski, Maria Wieloch, Arnau Bonan Barfull, Knud Rasmussen, Nurullah Cinar, Metehan Ozen, Andreas Hagerman, Utku Perktas, Holger Schritt, Soner Bekir, Kerem Ali Boyla, Raika Durusoy and Barbaros Demirci.
I used Gooders “Where to watch birds in Britain and Europe”, Gosney (= the gen) and many trip reports, collected at OSME site https://osme.org and http://www.birdtours.co.uk. “Lonely Planet” travel guidebook “Turkey” is very detailed for tourist areas but practically useless for birding places (e.g. Ala Dag). Many common species were not noted.
10.09.2001 Bergama (Pergamon) – Acropolis hill
Buzzard 2, Crersted Lark – many, Black-eared Wheatear several, Wheatear several, Sombre Tit 1, Sardinian Warbler 2,1, Blue Rock Thrush 1m, 1, Rock Nuthatch many, Goldfinch – several, Agama lizard 3+, Tortoise 1.
11.09.2001 Efes(Ephesus) – grounds of ancient monument
Short-toed Eagle 1, Marsh Harrier 1, Hobby 1, Masked Shrike 1i, Black-eared Wheatear 1, Rock Nuthatch many. Greater Flamingo – several, (morning, road Bergama-Izmir). Peregrine 1 (hunting, evening, Kusadasi town near the bus terminal).
12-14.09.2001 Olimpos – roadside with sparse pine forest, mostly ca. 1-2km. north of Kadir treehouses hostel before the gorge and Olimpos beach.
Short-toed Eagle 1, Chukar family, Moorhen call (creek near the sea), Kingfisher 2 (creek near the sea, seashore), Bee-eater many calls of migrants, ca. 10 on the road, Middle Spotted Woodpecker 2 (seen well in open pine forest -habitat unlikely for this species in Poland), Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 1, many calls, Masked Shrike – common (!, one seen also at café near the junction of Olimpos road and Fethiye-Antalya road), Yellow-vented Bulbul calls (1 seen at the café near the junction of Olimpos road and Fethiye-Antalya road), Rock Nuthatch common, Kruepers Nuthatch common, Willow Warbler several, Chiffchaff several, Spotted Flycatcher several, Blackbird several.
15.09.2001 Kulu Golu
Approaching the lake I met English birder with Turkish friend who gave ma a lift around the lake and to Ankara. The lake is ca. 5 km. east of Kulu town. The area is visible from above as you approach Kulu, which helps the orientation (if you stand up near your car). Lake was divided into two parts by sandy spit (concrete well at the junction is good orientation mark). Most birds were seen at the southern part. Northern part is saline with Flamingos and Avocets. We birded in S part and lower half on N lake, northern part of the N lake apparently had no birds except more Flamingos. Small muddy creek at the eastern shore made it impossible to encircle the lake by car, otherwise dirt roads make many viewing points.
Little Grebe 50+, Black-necked Grebe 2+, Cormorant ca.10, Grey Heron ca.15, Greater Flamingo 100s (ca. 1500 according to English birdwatcher I met. Many swim and up-end like swans in deep water), Goose sp. 1 (hiding in lakeside scrub, apparently flightless White-fronted Goose, injured by hunters?), Common Shelduck 1j,4j, Pintail 1+, Shoveler 20+, Teal 20+, Garganey 10+, Pochard 30+, White-headed Duck 101-140 (101 counted from one spot. Birds were dispersed all over the southern lake, some were always out of view). Long-legged Buzzard 3, Marsh Harrier 1f, 1j, Montagu’s/Pallid Harrier 1j, Water Rail calls, Coot-many, Avocet 20-30, Black-winged Stilt 2f/j, Ringed Plover 2+, Kentish Plover 5+, Snipe 3+, Little Stint 50+, Green Sandpiper 1, Marsh Sandpiper 5+, Greenshank 3+, Redshank 5+, Ruff 2+, Common Sandpiper 2+, red-necked Phalarope1j,2j, all waders together, incl. unidentified – 300+, Mediterranean Gull 1i, Black-headed Gull 5+, Black Tern 1j, White-winged Black Tern 2j, Bee-eater 5+, calls, Short-toed Lark 5+, Crested Lark 5+, Bearded Reedling 1f, calls (surprisingly, because so few reeds in the lake). Many: Reed, Sedge Warblers, Wheatears, Stonechats. Road Ankara-Kulu: Long-legged Buzzard – several, Red-footed Falcon 1m (?), many other unidentified raptors on roadside wires.
16.09.2001. Ala Dag
After the sleepless night I arrived early morning in Safak Pansiyon in Cukurbag near Demirkazik, Ala Dag mountains. Here came very big disappointment. Safak brothers told me, that they failed to see Snowcock several days ago with some Australian birders. Apparently, in summer 2001, the snow disappeared unusually high up the mountains and the Snowcocks followed. Polish birders who visited the different part of mountains confirmed it. Safak brothers were very sorry and nobody could blame them, as I know well how unpredictable the birds can be. They offered several days trip up the mountains to search, for which I had neither time or money. Apparently, I should return to Ala Dag the other year. I stayed in Safak Pansiyon with a discount and got a lift to the entrance of Demirkazik Gorge. It is spectacular and quite impossible to miss gorge which opens at the roadside, ca. 1-2 km from Demirkazik village. Gorge was steep, but footpath was rather easy. I followed the right turn in the fork inside the gorge (but not the second turn just afterwards into the narrow dead-end again to the right). The gorge had very many passerines, including Radde’s Accentor (first ones seen near the fork) and Wallcreeper. After ca. 2 hours I went from the gorge up the open mountain plateau. There was a creek to my right. There I rested and made a mistake trying “to go to the left fork of the gorge, finding some cup-shaped hollow in between” as written by Gooders. After hard climb through birdless scree slope I found, that left-hand fork of the gorge was steep with vertical walls and walking down was imposible. Apparently, left-hand fork of the gorge is much more difficult to pass. I walked a little up, and then to the right along the open flattish slope/plateau. Near the nomad camp (with concrete well) there were many Shorelarks and Snow Finches. I then followed the dirty track going along the slope and then zigzagging downslope, which brought me back just near the ski-centre in Demirkazik. Golden Eagle 1i (over the left fork), Kestrel 1m, Chukar ca.7 seen, very many calling in gorge and plateau above the gorge, Rock Dove 15+, Bee-eater – calls, Syrian Woodpecker – calls at Safak Pansiyon, Shore Lark 30+, Rock Martin 10+, Wren 2, Alpine Accentor 15+, Radde’s Accentor 3-4, including one singing. Within the gorge in the right fork, Wallcreeper 1m, Rock Nuthatch many, Wheatear 3+, Finsch Wheatear 1f, Whinchat 1+, Black Redstart many, Redstart 1m, Chiffchaff 1-2, Willow Warbler 1, Chough 50+, Alpine Chough 10+, Raven 1, Great Tit 1, Snow Finch 70+, Red-fronted Serin 25+, Serin ca.10, Linnet 3+, Rock Bunting 10+. Many Long-legged Buzzards and small falcons – road Nigde-Cukurbag.
17.09.2001. Cukurbag, early morning
Lapwing 1flying, Syrian Woodpecker – calls, Greenfinch – calls.
S of Buruducu, afternoon till dusk Agricultural area crossed with reedy irrigation canals along grit roads, which are recommended for crakes by gen. At least 4 hunters seen and many shots heard around, despite the big signs announcing that the hunting is prohibited. Better enforcement of law needed (!). Night Heron 100+, Purple Heron (?) ca.15, Marsh harrier 1f/j, Corncrake 1, Quail 1-2, Moorhen ca.20, Little/Baillon’s Crake 1 at dusk, near pale building close to reedbed edge and side track going to small pond, mentioned as “white-breasted kingfisher site” in the gen. Hoopoe 1, Bee-eater 25, calls, Kingfisher 5+, Crested Lark -many, Graceful Prinia 10+, Moustached Warbler 1+, Great Reed Warbler -many, Reed Warbler – many, Sedge Warbler – many, Willow Warbler – many, Chiffchaf – many, Wood Warbler – many, Lesser Grey Shrike 21, Red-backed Shrike 5, Goldfinch 3, Sand Martins+Swallows – 100’s-1000’s.
18.09.2001. Goksu Delta: Silifke-Kurtulus-Hurma-beach at Paradeniz lake outlet to the sea – S shore of Akgol lake and N Paradeniz lake.
I made large loop from Silifke, round the Akgol lake and back to Tasucu. Hunters seen and shots heard despite signs prohibited hunting. Much habitat damage happened and much fewer birds seen compared to my visit in late August 1995. Large areas of saltmarsh south of Akgol were ploughed or apparently bulldozed. There were birdwatching hides on S and W shore of Akgol. This would be positive (although completely unnecessary) development, if the wide dirt road was not bulldozed just along the lakeshore – ideal access for hunters and made sure, that anybody using this road will scare all the birds at the lakeshore. Surprisingly, one of the most common birds was Kingfisher – everywhere there were several chasing each other. Many migrants (esp. Phylloscopus warblers) in tall weeds, bushes etc.
Grey Heron ca.15, Purple Heron 3+, Squacco heron 3, Little Egret 40, Glossy Ibis 3 short distance E of Hurma, Spoonbill 4, Greater Flamingo 80, 3, 80,30,120 all flying away from Akgol in the evening, Teal 150, 20, Osprey 1, Marsh Harrier 15, Montagu Harrier 2j, Montagu/Pallid Harrier 1j, Kestrel 2, Quail 6+, Water Rail – calls, Grey Polver 2j, Bar-tailed Godwit 2j, Dunlin 5+, Curlew Sandpiper 1j, Little Stint 2+; Redshank – many, Common Sandpiper many, Wood Sandpiper many, Ringed Plover ca.20, Little Plover ca.20, Kentish Plover ca.20, Sanderling 10+ on the shallow pool at saltmarsh (!). Snipe 10+, Yellow-legged Gull 6,1, Chlidonias sp. tern ca.10, Turtle Dove 1-2, Bee-eater ca.10, Roller 2j at dusk, resting in reeds (!), Kingfisher 50+, Little Owl – flushed in daytime from field near Hurma, Crested lark 100s, Tawny Pipit 10+, Yellow Wagtail ca.100, Willow Warbler several, Chiffchaf several, Wood Warbler several, Pied Flycatcher several, Graceful Prinia – several, Raven 1, Lesser Grey Shrike ca.20i, Red-backed Shrike many, Corn Bunting – call.
19.09.2001. Goksu Delta – W shore of Akgol lake from the holiday village to the first birding hide.
I felt sick (vegetables eaten in Tasucu). Large flocks of ducks and Coots partially hidden in the reeds. I left Goksu Delta without seeing e.g. Black Francolin, Purple Gallinule, Spur-winged Plover, Ruddy Shelduck, all easy birds to see in 1995. I blame it to the drought and much habitat damage.
Pygmy Cormorant 3, Flamingo 500+, 200+, Marsh Harriers, Quail several, Snipe -1, Greenshanks, Redshanks, Bee-eater ca.15 + leucistic individual, Kingfisher – many, Red-backed Shrike – several, Lesser Grey Shrike – several. Mammals: Golden Jackal – 1 escaping into the reeds.
20.09.2001. Kus Golu (Manyas Golu) I visited reserve centre with the big observation tower. Lake was partially dry, with large flocks of cormorants, ducks and Black-headed (?) Gulls far on the water. Many passage Phylloscopus sp. and other passerines around. White Pelican ca.26, landed in large flock of pelicans (100s) hidden behind the reeds. Cormorant – 100s, Greater Flamingo 100s, Syrian Woodpecker – call. Bandirma harbour. Little Egret ca.20 flying, Sandwich Tern -1, Stonechat – town park, passage of ducks and gulls above the sea.
21.09.2001 Istanbul, Buyuk Camlica hills (classical site for the raptor watching at the café).
Met several birders form Holland, Britain, Sweden etc. Black Stork 2, Black Kite 2, Short-toed Eagle ca.30, Lesser Spotted Eagle ca.20, Sparrowhawk ca.5, Buzzard ca.3, peregrine 1,1, Hobby 5 always near, chasing Peregrines in acrobatic show, Syrian Woodpecker call, Red-breasted Flycatcher several, Blackcap several in the bushes. Yelkouan Shearwater -1 Bosphorus, Cormorant, Alpine Swift and Laughing Dove – many.
22.09.2001 Istanbul, shopping and resting before departure.
Yelkouan Flycatcher ca.20 Bosphorus, Ring-necked Parakeet 2 flying high over the Covered Bazaar.