Turkey

11th September 1982 - 25th September 1982

11th September.

A mid-morning departure from Heathrow with a Wingspan group of 4 people, with an hours delay in Frankfurt we arrived in Istanbul around 5.30 pm, then drove to our hotel on the European side of the city. New birds for me will be in bold. Mainly common birds for the city seen, including 12 Hooded Crows and 10 Alpine Swifts.

12th September.

From the hotel in Istanbul we saw 3 Palm Doves and 6 Alpine Swifts. After breakfast the minibus arrived with driver Kadir, who spoke no English, but made up for this in lots of other ways.

We set off, crossing the Bosphorus to the Asian side, then stopped at Little Camlica Hill, where we spent the whole day. There are two hills overlooking the Bosphorus and Istanbul, a big and a little, the big one has a car park and a large terraced restaurant on its summit. Little Camlica is much more natural, as you walk up from the road, through mixed woodland to its grassy summit.

There were lots of birds in the woodland as we walk to the top of the hill, also in the trees surrounding the summit and in the scrub on the southern side, there were only a few birds flying over as it was a little early for the start of raptor and stork migration, and, each day can be different.

During the day we saw 4 Hobbies, 4 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 4 Spotted Flycatchers, 9 Hooded Crows, 2 Jays, a Magpie, Blue and Great Tits, a Swallow, a Nightjar, an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, 2 Red-backed Shrikes, 2 Wheatears, 5 Levant Sparrowhawks, 4 Turtle Doves, a Buzzard, a Roller, 3 Whinchats, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Collared Flycatcher, a Golden Oriole, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Redstarts and 2 Balkan Wall Lizards.

Returning to our hotel in Istanbul there were 500+ Alpine Swifts flying above the city.

Photo: right: Balkan Wall Lizard.

Photo: below: View from Little Camlica Hill across the Bosphorus and Istanbul.

13th September.

We left the hotel and drove to Kartal on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, south of Istanbul. Here we boarded the ferry to cross the Sea of Marmara to Yalova, during the hour and a half crossing we saw 14 Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Yelkhouan Shearwaters. Then we drove south to Bursa, on the journey we saw a Hobby, 20+ Jackdaws, 10+ Hooded Crows, 15+ Palm Doves, 12+ Pallid Swifts, a Buzzard, 6 Swallows, a Wheatear, Collared Doves, a Roller, 2 Red-rumped Swallows and 2 Short-toed Eagles.

Our mid-afternoon arrival in Bursa left us time to visit the lower slopes of Mt. Uludag before the light faded. As we meandered up through the mountain range we stopped to look at a flock of low-flying hirundines, there were c120 House Martins, c15 Red-rumped Swallows and 3 Crag Martins. In the  scrub and trees alongside the road there was a Firecrest, we continued to the park entrance where in the pines were a flock of c40 Crossbills, nearby we saw our first Kruper's Nuthatch, which gave excellent views. Also in this area we saw a Wheatear, a Pied and a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Mistle Thrushes.

14th September.

An early start from the hotel in Bursa to Mt. Uludag National Park. Firstly, we returned to the spot where we saw the Kruper's Nuthatch the previous evening, seeing at least 6 birds feeding in the trees and on the ground only a few yards from us. We continued, the road winds up through miles of densely pine-clad slopes, until the ski village is reached, where the pines give way to an open plateau. Crossing this area we saw 40+ Water Pipits and a flock of 50+ Mistle Thrushes, then reached the high cliff-face of Mt. Uludag. Here we saw a flock of c40 Shore Larks now split and known as Asian Horned Larks, then we saw a flock of 60 Red-fronted Serins fly in, landing close to us, then a flock of 40 more joined them.

During the day we also saw 20 Chaffinches, 6 Goldfinches, 50+ Coal Tits, a Kestrel, 20+ Willow Warblers, 35 Swallows, 100+ House and 2 Sand Martins, 2 Crag Martins, 3 Short-toed Treecreepers, 2 Jays, 16 Wheatears, a Short-toed Eagle, 6 Ravens, 10 Black Redstarts, a Booted Eagle, 4 Spotted Flycatchers, a Blackbird, 8 Crossbills, 8 Firecrests, a Robin, c20 Swifts, 30+ Hooded Crows and on the way down a flock of 60 White Storks circling and descending, looking for a suitable hilltop to spend the night.

Mt. Uludag

15th September.

From Bursa we drove west where there are two massive lakes, our first stop was along a minor road leading to the northeast corner of Lake Apolyont. We saw 10 Crested Larks, an Isabelline Shrike, 5 Red-backed Shrikes, 3 Whinchats, a Black-eared Wheatear, 6 Wheatears, 17 Yellow Wagtails, a Blue-headed Wagtail, 40+ Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 5 Whiskered Terns, 8 Squacco Herons, a Pygmy Cormorant, 2 Kingfishers, 4 Moorhens, a Little Grebe, a Short-toed Eagle, a Kestrel and a Red-footed Falcon.

We continued west to Lake Manyas where, because the water level was so low, the tower hide was closed, but there were plenty of passerines in the woods and the ground was carpeted in tiny frogs, amongst them we found a Common Tree Frog. From the reserve we explored several different parts of the lake seeing, 30+ Spotted Flycatchers, 8 Great Tits, c20 Blue Tits, 2 Red-backed Shrikes, 200+ Willow Warblers, 3 Hobbies, a Redstart, 25+ Chaffinches, 2 Syrian Woodpeckers, 100+ Yellow Wagtails, 2 Blue-headed Wagtails, 20 Grey Herons, 48 Spoonbills, 7 Little Egrets, 6 Dalmation Pelicans with a White Pelican, c600 Mallard, c20 Teal, a Short-toed Eagle, 2 Buzzards, 5 Kestrels, 4 Lesser Kestrels, a Kingfisher, 2 Wood Sandpipers, a Little Ringed Plover, a Night Heron, a Woodlark, 8 Bee-eaters, 40+ Crested Larks, 80+ Wheatears, 60+ Whinchats, 1000+ Black-headed Gulls and 30+ Armenian Gulls.

Pygmy Cormorant.

Common Tree Frog.

16th September.

A return to Lake Apolyont, where we spent the whole day. We concentrated our efforts along the western side of the lake, a superb area of reedbeds, water meadows, rush-fringed lily-filled pools, open water and farmland, where we saw the highest numbers of birds anywhere on the two lakes. We saw 40+ Grey Herons, 300+ Little Egrets, 2 Night Herons, 8 Squacco Herons, 15 Spoonbills, c140 Glossy Ibises, 6 Black Storks, a White Stork, 10 Cormorants, 500+ Pygmy Cormorants, 14 White Pelicans, 50+ Great Crested Grebes, 35+ Little Grebes, 100+ Coot, 3 Moorhen, 72 Garganey, 19 Tufted Ducks, a Pochard, 8 Green Sandpipers, 18 Lapwings, 20 Snipe, 60 Greenshank, 8 Ruff, a Wood Sandpiper, 21 Redshank, 20 Curlew, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Little Stints, a Jack Snipe, a Common Sandpiper, 21 Whiskered Terns, 2 Common Terns, a White-winged Black Tern, 5 Kestrels, a Buzzard, 2 Short-toed Eagles, 2 Hobbies, a Pallid Harrier, 8 Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine, a Lesser Kestrel, 7 Kingfishers, 20 Yellow Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 4 Wheatears, 10 Crested Larks, 20+ Willow Warblers, a Red-backed Shrike, 10 Spotted Flycatchers, 58 Bee-eaters and lots of corvids and hirundines. 

17th September.

We left Bursa, driving south via Balikesia to Bergama, where we visited their Acropolis and amongst the ruins saw 6 Rock Nuthatches, later we continued to Izmir. During the journey we made lots of stops, significant birds seen were 100+ Crested Larks, 18 Red-backed Shrikes, 10 Whinchats, 15 Lesser Kestrels, a Lesser Grey Shrike, 4 Woodchat Shrikes, a Golden Oriole, 9 Ravens, 60+ Wheatears, 13 Turtle Doves, 25 Bee-eaters, lots of Serins, a Short-toed Treecreeper, a Black Stork, 6 Syrian Woodpeckers, an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, 2 Stonechats and a Sardinian Warbler.

18th September.

From Izmir we drove south to visit the ancient site of Ephesus, to the west of Selcuk. A most impressive site with its magnificent theatre, paved streets with numerous columns and Rock Nuthatches.

During the journey and at Ephesus we saw 7 Kestrels, 3 Lesser Kestrels, 2 Rollers, 100+ Wheatears, 80+ Crested Larks, a Syrian Woodpecker, 37 Red-backed Shrikes, a Lesser Grey Shrike, 20+ Whinchats, 3 Bee-eaters, a Sardinian Warbler, 6 Rock Nuthatches, a Long-legged Buzzard, 56 Little Egrets, 70 Yellow Wagtails and a Spotted Flycatcher.

Later, we continued south to Lake Bafa, about 70 miles south of Izmir. Unfortunately we were only able to spend a few hours at this superb lake, only covering about 5-600 yards of the western end, but that was absorbing, seeing 3 Squacco Herons, c40 Grey Herons, 10 Little Egrets, 30 Cormorants, 45 Pygmy Cormorants, 11 Spoonbills, 500+ Coot, 13 Greenshank, 20+ Redshank, 6 Kentish Plovers, 2 Collared Pratincoles, 40+ Little Ringed Plovers, a Golden and 3 Grey Plovers, 30+ Ruff, c15 Little Stints, 9 Black-tailed Godwits, a Marsh Harrier and an Osprey. There were also lots of duck and gulls, and, as we moved forward to get better views of the waders, 2 birds grabbed our attention, 2 immature Sociable Plovers, we later learned that these were the first record for Western Turkey.

As we walked back to the mini-bus a flock of pelicans flew low overhead, 9 Dalmatian and a White. Then we drove back to Izmir.

Left and above: Ephesus.

Below: A White and Dalmatian Pelicans.

19th September.

Today we drove east from Izmir, on the way stopping to visit the fully reconstructed Roman Temple of Sardis, although we had not planned to stop here, even the brief time we allowed proved worthwhile for such a beautiful building. We continued to Lake Marmara which is surrounded by low, rolling, wheat-producing hills. On arrival we found that the water level was very low, so to view the birds we had to drive out onto the mud and birdwatch from the minibus. 

During the day we saw 60+ Crested Larks, 2000+ Swallows, 1500+ House Martins, 2 Short-toed Eagles, 60+ Wheatears, 8 Red-backed Shrikes, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 10+ Whinchats, 70+ Yellow Wagtails, a Syrian Woodpecker, a White Stork, 3 Long-legged Buzzards, 6 Lesser Kestrels, a Pygmy Cormorant, a White Pelican, c80 Mallard, c20 Teal, 100+ Little Ringed Plovers, 6 Little Stints, 35 Greenshank, 18 Redshank, 11 Grey Herons, 6 Ruddy Shelducks, 4 Little Egrets and 5 Black Storks. On the way back to Izmir we stopped by the coast just west of the city seeing 200+ Mediterranean Gulls and at least 3 Audouin's Gulls.

20th September.

An early start for the drive back to Istanbul, with an early afternoon visit to Troy, which was a bit of a disappointment, as there was not a great dealt see for the casually interested person, except for the gigantic replica wooden horse. Later, we crossed the Dardanelles into the European side and continued to Istanbul.

During the journey we saw 150+ Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Kestrels, 4 Lesser Kestrels, 11 Red-backed Shrikes, 150+ Crested Larks, 100+ Wheatears, a White Stork, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, 32 Bee-eaters, a Roller, c40 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Turtle Doves, 2 Ravens, 100+ Black-headed Gulls, a Shag, 20+ Yellow-legged Gulls, an immature Audouin's Gull, c8 Common Porpoises, a Cory's Shearwater, a Kingfisher, an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and lots of corvids and hirundines.

Photos: Troy.

21st September.

All day at the Camlica Hills, firstly at the 'big' hill where by 10.20 am migration was well under way, after lunch we went to the 'little' hill for the rest of the day. During the day we saw 111 Levant Sparrowhawks, 486 Buzzards, 214 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 168 Black Storks, 44 Short-toed Eagles, 2 Kestrels, 2 Hobbies, a Sparrowhawk, a Booted Eagle, 3 Long-legged Buzzards, 12 Crossbills, 5 Spotted Flycatchers, a Red-backed Shrike, a Redstart and 4 Willow Warblers.

22nd September.

We returned to Little Camlica Hill this morning, where migration started at about the same time as yesterday, the passage was not as heavy, but contained more variety of species. We saw 127 Levant Sparrowhawks, 36 Buzzards, 93 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 45 Short-toed Eagles, 9 Hobbies, 3 Goshawks, a Black Kite, an Egyptian Vulture, a Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawks, 45 Black Storks and 2 White Storks. In the woods and around the summit we also saw a Syrian Woodpecker, 8 Spotted Flycatchers, 5 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Goldcrests, 8 Willow Warblers, 11 Redstarts, 40+ Alpine Swifts, 6 Red-throated Pipits, 4 Grey Wagtails, 2 Sardinian Warblers and a Red-backed Shrike. In the grass and scrub a Spur-thighed Tortoise was found, unfortunately this one had fire damage to its shell.

By early afternoon, migration had stopped, so we decided to leave the hill and spent a few hours along the western side of the Bosphorus and visiting parts of Belgrade Forest, seeing 50+ Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, a Yelkouan Shearwater, 2 Little Grebes, 3 Eastern Green Lizards, Chaffinches, 3 Nuthatches, 13 Marsh Tits, 8 Jays, a Great Tit, 2 Robins, 2 Buzzards, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a Sparrowhawk, a Short-toed Treecreeper, 3 Whiskered Bats, a Kingfisher, a Hobby and a Kestrel.

23rd September.

Our morning arrival at Little Camlica Hill coincided with the arrival of the Turkish Army, so we had to go to the 'big' hill. There was next to no migration today, only seeing a Red-footed Falcon, a Levant Sparrowhawk and 2 Hobbies. Around the hill we also saw a Chiffchaff, 10 Willow Warblers, a Sardinian Warbler, 10 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 10 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Syrian Woodpeckers, 4 Redstarts, 4 Red-throated Pipits and 6 Hummingbird Hawk Moths. We spent the afternoon sightseeing in Istanbul.

24th September.

We returned to Little Camlica Hill, where again there seemed to be a holt in raptor and stork migration, but there was a noticeable increase in passerines, highlights were 500+ Alpine Swifts, 27 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 3 Red-throated Pipits, 3 Tree Pipits, 2 Redstarts, 4 Sardinian Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, 9 Spotted Flycatchers, 10 Crossbills, a Red-backed Shrike, a Hobby and a Goshawk.

Later, we decided to go to Buyukcekmece Lake to the west of Istanbul, but it wasn't that productive, the best was watching a pair of mating Spur-thighed Tortoises as the male battered his mate into submission, which lasted for ages.

Later in the afternoon we returned to Little Camlica where there was a small passage of 11 Levant Sparrowhawks, 4 Buzzards, a Long-legged Buzzard, 14 Red-footed Falcons, 16 Black Storks and a White Stork.

Mating Spur-thighed Tortoises.

25th September.

From the hotel in Istanbul we had our highest count of Palm Doves, seven. We departed for the late morning flight back to Britain.

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