14th September 1988 - 27th September 1988
The start of a two week filming trip to Istanbul, to film the raptor and stork migration over the Bosphorus, with cameraman/producer Hugh Miles. This was for a TV film on migration. Knowing that I had been to the Bosphorus before, Hugh asked me if I would act as guide and spotter for this project, so, I took a couple of weeks holiday and we met-up at Heathrow. Landing in Istanbul, we were met by the owner of Trek Travel, who I had used for my tours in the past and who had made all of our arrangements. Then we met the two minibus drivers who would be taking turns to drive us around. Leaving the airport we headed for our hotel on the Asian side of the city.
Photos: Hugh, me and the drivers at the airport.
A recce day to familiarise Hugh with Big and Little Camlica Hills, which would be the main filming locations. Starting at the little hill we walked up through the woodland seeing a Short-toed Treecreeper, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, 2 Icterine Warblers, Willow Warblers and 2 Syrian Woodpeckers. At the top there was a Red-throated Pipit and a Roller, little was moving in the sky, but we did see 5 Hobbies, a Buzzard and a Honey Buzzard. Then we went to the big hill, which suited Hugh better as we could park at the summit and it was a lot more open, with views over the city, and, we saw another 7 Honey Buzzards.
We returned to Big Camlica Hill, where after setting up, settled down to await the first migrants, between 9.45am and 2.15pm we saw 6 Marsh Harriers, a Kestrel, a Goshawk, 10 Sparrowhawks, 2 Buzzards, 2 Honey Buzzards, a Montagu's Harrier, 4 Hobbies, 2 Egyptian Vultures, 22 Grey Herons, a Short-toed Eagle, 3 Booted Eagles, a White Stork and 5 Lesser Spotted Eagles.
Also seen were 10,000+ Alpine Swifts, 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, Tree Pipits, Willow Warblers, a Syrian Woodpecker, 2 Pallid Swifts and a distant flock of c80 ducks.
Birdwatchers at Big Camlica Hill.
We started today at Little Camlica Hill where there was a Red-backed Shrike, a Whinchat, a Bluethroat, Tree Pipits, Red-breasted and Spotted Flycatchers, but the only bird over the hill was a Hobby.
We relocated to the big hill where from 10.45am to 3.40pm we saw a Sparrowhawk, 2 Booted Eagles, 2 Hobbies, 46 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 60 Levant Sparrowhawks, 6 Short-toed Eagles, a Goshawk, a Peregrine and 2 Black Storks. We also saw a Wheatear and 2 Ortolan Buntings.
A lot of the birds went over very high and not in the numbers we had hoped for, but it was still early in the season.
Back to Big Camlica Hill, where there had been a slight change in wind direction, from northwesterly to a variable, light, north to southwest. From 9.45am to 2pm we saw 11 Sparrowhawks, 5 Hobbies, 4 Marsh Harriers, 2 Hen Harriers, 40 Black Storks, a Buzzard, 53 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 70 Levant Sparrowhawks, 2 White Storks, a Black Kite, 4 Short-toed Eagles, 4 Red-footed Falcons and 2 Kestrels.
We also saw 260 Swallows, a Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers, a Pallid Swift, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, c200 Alpine Swifts, a Whinchat, 4 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Swifts, Tree Pipits, 2 Yellow Wagtails, c35 Bee-eaters and 6 Tawny Pipits.
We started today with a drive along the Bosphorus, stopping at random we saw Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 6 Yelkouan Shearwaters and a Grey Wagtail. Reaching Big Camlica Hill, it was cool and overcast with a northwesterly wind, during our watch from 10am to 2pm we saw 11 Hobbies, 52 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 60 Levant Sparrowhawks, 7 Buzzards, 13 Short-toed Eagles, a Sparrowhawk, a White Stork and 12 Black Storks. We went to Little Camlica Hill, but it was the same, with only a trickle of migrants going over. In the hour we were there we saw a Hobby, 2 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 3 Levant Sparrowhawks, 2 Buzzards and 11 Short-toed Eagles.
Views across the Bosphorus.
All day at Big Camlica Hill, we started our watch at 9am finishing at 4pm, during that time we saw 407 Levant Sparrowhawks, 4 Sparrowhawks, 4 Hobbies, 32 Buzzards, 31 Egyptian Vultures, 2 Black Kites, 544 Black Storks, 33 Short-toed Eagles, 2 Booted Eagles, 77 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 72 White Storks, 25 Grey Herons and a Honey Buzzard.
Also seen were 80 Swallows, 2 Willow Warblers, 18 Ring Ouzels, Tree Pipits, a Wood Warbler and a Pallid Swift.
Back to Big Camlica Hill, but not as many birds today. Our watch started at 9am through to 3.20pm. We saw 4 White Storks, 6 Hobbies, 86 Levant Sparrowhawks, 118 Buzzards, 3 Honey Buzzards, 4 Marsh Harriers, 228 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 3 Black Kites, 21 Short-toed Eagles, 21 Egyptian Vultures, 3 Griffon Vultures, 220 Black Storks and 3 Sparrowhawks.
We also saw the Wood Warbler again, Tree Pipits, only 1 Ring Ouzel, 71 Swallows, 59 Bee-eaters and 2 Pallid Swifts.
Today we chose Little Camlica Hill, still a light northeasterly wind and we could faintly see a lot of eagles, storks and sparrowhawks in the distance well to the south of us.
Over the hill we recorded, between 9am and 3.30pm, 3 Sparrowhawks, 299 Levant Sparrowhawks, 13 Hobbies, 2 Honey Buzzards, 75 Buzzards, 11 White Storks, 280 Black Storks, 5 Goshawks, 7 Egyptian Vultures, 3 Black Kites, a Booted Eagle, 25 Short-toed Eagles and 150 Lesser Spotted Eagles.
Also seen were 30+ Swallows, Tree Pipits, 5 Pallid Swifts, 2 Ring Ouzels, a Spotted Flycatcher and an Isabelline Wheatear.
Left: Hugh on Little Camlica Hill.
Below: Black Storks.
We returned to Little Camlica Hill, after a night of rain, thunder and lightening, in the overcast conditions we still saw, between 9am to 4pm,
2 Honey Buzzards, 6 Hobbies, 202 Buzzards, 66 Levant Sparrowhawks, 11 Sparrowhawks, 3 Egyptian Vultures, 4 Booted Eagles, 43 Black Storks, 115 Grey Herons, 11 Short-toed Eagles and 50 Lesser Spotted Eagles.
Also seen were 200+ Alpine Swifts, Tree Pipits, 3 Red-breasted Flycatchers, a Ring Ouzel, 7 Pallid Swifts, 5 Yellow Wagtails and a Wheatear.
Hugh on Little Camlica Hill.
An overcast, cool day with the wind more northerly and gusting at times. We returned to Little Camlica Hill, where between 9am to 3pm we saw 60 Buzzards, 9 Hobbies, a Montagu's Harrier, 4 Sparrowhawks, 44 Lesser Spotted Eagles, a Goshawk, an Eleonora's Falcon, 5 Levant Sparrowhawks, a Honey Buzzard and an Egyptian Vulture.
Also seen were 40 Alpine Swifts, Tree Pipits, 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers, a Quail, a Pallid Swift, Swallows, 28 Ring Ouzels, 51 White Wagtails and a Nightjar.
As the numbers of migrants over the hills had steadily reduced over the last few days, we decided to search for another site. On the Asian side of the Bosphorus we saw c10 Little Gulls and 5 Sparrowhawks flew over. We crossed to the European side and headed north, along the way seeing 3 Sparrowhawks, 2 Peregrines, 2 Lanners, 16+ Jays, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 3 Yellow and 3 Grey Wagtails, Tree Pipits and a Hoopoe.
From alongside the strait we noticed, to the north of us, distant birds crossing the Bosphorus, our driver said that the area on the opposite bank was an army base, so no go. We drove to Sariyer and found a road which took us into the hills to the west, after about 6 miles we stopped and from a vantage point, between 1-2pm saw 70+ Short-toed Eagles, 3,000+ Buzzards, 1600+ Lesser Spotted Eagles, 2 Booted Eagles, 20 Black Storks, 40 Levant Sparrowhawks and a Griffon Vulture.
Although good views of the birds it was not a good place to film from, as the flocks were flying away from us. So, we continued up the hills and found an open high point where we could view the woodland to the west and northern part of Istanbul, a place we called Sariyer Hill. Here, between 3pm to 5pm we saw 469 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 57 Short-toed Eagles, 676 Buzzards, 74 Levant Sparrowhawks, a Lanner, 2 Peregrines, a Black Kite, an Imperial Eagle, 4 Booted Eagles, 2 Hobbies, 3 Sparrowhawks, 7 Egyptian Vultures, 4 Honey Buzzards, 4 Black Storks and a White-tailed Eagle. Towards the end of our watch we saw birds in the distance circling and then descending into the woodland as the day cooled, presumably to roost.
We returned to Sariyer Hill, between 9am to 5pm we saw 1285 Buzzards, 186 Short-toed Eagles, 1795 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 31 Sparrowhawks, 16 Hobbies, 92 Black Storks, 16 Booted Eagles, a Honey Buzzard, 7 Levant Sparrowhawks, a Black Kite, 4 Griffon Vultures and 4 Egyptian Vultures.
Also seen going over were Alpine Swifts, 14+ Jays, a few Swallows and wagtails, 57 Yellow-legged Gulls, 6 Little Gulls and on the hill there were 2 Isabelline Wheatears. There were still more birds coming through as we left.
Our last day and we returned to Sariyer Hill, this time a lot earlier, we began our watch at 7.40am to 4pm. During this time we saw 1,766 Buzzards, 12 Sparrowhawks, 5 Hobbies, 3 Honey Buzzards, 455 Short-toed Eagles, 22 Levant Sparrowhawks, 357 Black Storks, 4 White Storks, 5,612 Lesser Spotted Eagles, 2 Griffon Vultures, 25 Booted Eagles, 2 Spotted Eagles, an Imperial Eagle, 14 Egyptian Vultures and a Black Kite.
We had to leave early to get to the airport, there were still many birds coming through, but it seemed as if the main passage was over, also we could see that there were lots of birds dropping into the woodland to the west.