Turkey

13th May 1996 - 26th May 1996 

13th May.

A birding holiday with Keith Vinicombe, Mark Ponsford and Richard Crosley a friend of Keith's, we had arrived at Antalya Airport yesterday afternoon, then were taken by bus to our hotel apartment in Alanya where we only had time to dump the luggage and find a place to eat.

It took a while for the hire car to be delivered, but eventually it arrived and we could make our first local trip, new species for me will be in bold. We headed northeast from Alanya to Akseki making frequent stops, on the way seeing Red-rumped Swallows, Rollers, 12 Little Egrets, 3 Squacco Herons, Great Reed and Cetti's Warblers, Bee-eaters, 2 Glossy Ibises, a Graceful Warbler, 2 Long-legged Buzzards, a Short-toed Eagle, Nightingales, a Red-backed Shrike, a Sardinian Warbler, Black-headed Buntings, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Crested Larks, 12 Night Herons, Crag Martins, a Marsh Warbler, 8 Wood Sandpipers, a Little Ringed Plover and an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear.

At Akseki we followed the old road through the village and up through the mountains as far as the radar dome, here in thick pine forest we saw 3 Kruper's Nuthatches, Coal Tits, Chaffinches, Serins, a Mistle Thrush, Woodlarks and a Persian or Caucasian Squirrel. I didn't bring a camera on this trip, instead I brought some sound recording equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

Kruper's Nuthatch calls, alarm and contact calls,

distant song near end, Mistle Thrush and Chaffinches in background.

 

We returned to Akseki to visit the old cemetery, which was overgrown in places and had lots of trees, we saw 2 Rollers, Turtle Doves, Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Masked Shrikes, 4 Olive-tree Warblers which was a new Western Palearctic bird for me, and several Black-headed Buntings. On the drive back, near where the old road meets the new D695 we saw Eastern Orpean Warbler, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Cuckoo, Greenfinch and a Cretzschmar's Bunting. In a gorge about 20 kms south of Akseki there was a Ruppell's Warbler and 2 Tawny Owls.

Kruper's Nuthatch - Nigel Tucker
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14th May.

An early morning drive east of Alanya, inland on the road to Gumuskavak seeing Yellow-legged Gulls, Roller, a Collared Pratincole, Swallows,  2 Alpine Swifts, 9 Grey Herons, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Serin, Nightingale, Red-rumped Swallow, a Chukkar, White and Grey Wagtails.

Back at the apartment we loaded the car for our trip east, leaving some stuff in the rooms, then drove along the coast to Anamur, on the way seeing a Kestrel, a Buzzard, a Collared Pratincole, 3 Levant Sparrowhawks, Swifts and Alpine Swifts, Black-headed Bunting, a Short-toed Eagle, Corn Bunting, 2 Woodchat Shrikes, Crested Larks, Jay and a Long-legged Buzzard.

In Anamur we saw a White Stork, lots of Yellow-legged Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Marsh Frogs, Bee-eaters, Nightingale, 8 Graceful Warblers, Great Reed Warbler, Turtle Doves, 4 Glossy Ibises, 3 Squacco Herons, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Common Sandpipers and 3 Rufous Bushchats (variously called Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and Rufous Bush Robin).

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, song - Nigel Tucker
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Rufous Bushchat, song - Nigel Tucker
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15th May.

All morning spent at the Goksu Delta south of Silifke, an area of fields with some being worked and others overgrown, also marsh and pools with reedbeds, the day started calmly with the wind increasing especially around midday. Here we saw 6 Rufous Bushchats, 6 Black Francolins, Crested Lark, Great Reed Warbler, White Stork, 5 Marsh Harriers, Black-headed Wagtail, a Pygmy Cormorant, 2 Little Bitterns, Graceful Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Reed Warbler, Short-toed Lark, Common and Little Terns, Spur-winged Plover, Little Egret, White-winged Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Marbled Ducks, Black-headed Bunting, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Kentish Plovers, a Little Stint, 5 Spur-thighed Tortoises, a Tawny Pipit, 13 White Pelicans, Coot, Moorhens, 3 Purple Herons, Spoonbill, Mallard, Teal, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, 3 Ravens, a Hobby, Collared Pratincole, 2 Cattle Egrets, 6 Squacco Herons, Swallows, martins and Swifts, Alpine Swift and a Red-backed Shrike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later, we drove from Silifke east to Adana then south to Karatas, seeing Calandra Lark, a Hobby, a White-spectacled Bulbul, 2 Collared Pratincoles, Short-toed Lark, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark and Black-headed Bunting.

Our destination was Akyatan Golu, a large reed-fringed lake where there were lots of Short-toed and Calandra Larks, Kentish Plovers and Little Terns, we also saw 30+ Collared Pratincoles, Bee-eaters, a Purple Heron, 2 Rufous Bushchats, Graceful Warblers, a Spur-winged Plover, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Black-headed Wagtails, a White-winged Black Tern, a Scops Owl and lots of Marsh Frogs, in fact the evening chorus was very impressive.

Great Reed Warbler, song - Nigel Tucker
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Black Francolin, calls - Nigel Tucker
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Graceful Warbler, song - Nigel Tucker
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Marsh Warbler, song - Nigel Tucker
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Marsh Frog chorus - Nigel Tucker
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16th May.

From Karatas we continued east seeing Serins, 2 White-spectacled Bulbuls, 2 Rufous Bushchats, a White Pelican, 16 White Storks, 5 Kestrels, 2 Eleonora's Falcons, Red-rumped Swallows, 2 Bimaculated Larks a new Western Palearctic bird for me, Bee-eaters, a Long-legged Buzzard, Hooded Crows, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, a Booted Eagle, a Roller, a Buzzard and Rock Doves.

We stopped at Buyuk Golu where there were 42 White Storks, 9 Squacco Herons, 2 Spur-winged Plovers, 42 Black-winged Stilts, 3 Red-backed Shrikes, Black-headed Wagtails, 5+ Little Bitterns, 2 Cattle Egrets, a Marsh Harrier, 20 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Garganey, Great Reed Warbler, Calandra Lark, 8 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Mallard, 4 Ruff, 400+ Little Stints, a Wood Sandpiper, a Kentish Plover, a Savi's Warbler, 3 Red-necked Phalaropes, 3 Curlew Sandpipers and a Lesser Spotted Eagle.

We continued east to Birecik on the way seeing a Long-legged Buzzard, a Hoopoe, 2 White Storks, 2 Kestrels and a Roller. After checking into a hotel, which was very basic, we we drove a short distance north alongside the Euphrates River to the Bald Ibis colony, a semi-captive colony located in a high sided canyon, where there were nest boxes and ledges for the birds to nest, all the adults were free-flying and fed widely in the fields and along the banks of the river, whilst also being supplied with extra food at the site, when they could afford it. At this time there were 50 adult Northern Bald Ibises and 24 chicks and juveniles, according to the warden some birds still migrated and never returned, but most remained throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The manager was very helpful and later showed us a nearby canyon where we saw 4+ Little Swifts, a Hobby, Rock Sparrows, Roller, a Kestrel, a Hoopoe, lots of Sand Martins, an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and an Eagle Owl's nest which we could see into. We saw both the adults and 3 large chicks, we sat watching for some time, during which one of the adults flew to a nearby rock, it wasn't as large as I was expecting, not the size of others I had seen and was paler, possibly a Pharaoh Eagle Owl. On the way back to the car we saw 2 Nightjars.

Northern Bald Ibis, adults & chicks - Nigel Tucker
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17th May.

An early start to visit some overgrown fields north of Birecik, the most productive part was around the scrub and bushes near a narrow stream which flowed down towards the river. We heard a Black Francolin, saw a Roller, 2 Dead Sea Sparrows, 2 Yellow-throated Sparrows now called Chestnut-shouldered Sparrow or Petronia and a new Western Palearctic bird for me, 2 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Black-headed Buntings, 2 Hoopoes, a Syrian Woodpecker, a Red-backed Shrike and several Menetries's Warblers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there we went back to the nearby Bald Ibis canyon, where I recorded more of the adults flying in to feed the chicks, during this time we also saw a Honey Buzzard, a Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 3 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, a Little Swift, Rock Sparrows, Collared Doves, a Red-backed Shrike and 2 Common Agamas.

Then we went to Birecik town park seeing lots of Starlings and getting good views of 2 Striated Scops Owls roosting in the trees. We drove to the south side of the town to an area on the east side of the Euphrates River where there were 13 Northern Bald Ibises feeding in the fields, also seeing 3 Dead Sea Sparrows, a Tree Sparrow, Bee-eaters, Great Reed and Reed Warblers, a Little Bittern, 2 Pied Kingfishers and a Grey-headed Wagtail. 

Crossing the river we went to a park on the west side seeing several Bee-eaters and 6 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters flying around together, a new Western Palearctic bird for me. Also there with the Starlings was a Rose-coloured Starling and a Hoopoe.

Later, we travelled north to rejoin the eastern side of the Euphrates at Halfeti, the drive took us through very arid country and we made lots of stops along the way seeing 2 Woodchat Shrikes, Turtle Doves, Corn Buntings, 2 Lesser Grey Shrikes, Short-toed and Calandra Larks, 4 Spanish Sparrows, an Isabelline Wheatear, 3 Rollers, a Pale Rock Sparrow or Pale Rockfinch or Petronia, a male Finsch's Wheatear, 2 Desert Finches, an Eastern Rock Nuthatch, around 20 Starlings and Rose-coloured Starlings, an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and 2 Kestrels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Halfeti, in an area of shallow, rocky valleys surrounded by pine woodland we saw 8 more Eastern Rock Nuthatches, 4 Woodchat Shrikes, Red-rumped Swallows, an adult and juvenile Blue Rock Thrush, 3 Yellow-throated Sparrows, 7 Golden Orioles, 2 Sombre Tits, 2 Laughing Doves, a Hoopoe, a Syrian Woodpecker, Rufous Bushchats, Black-headed Buntings, 11 Rose-coloured Starlings, 2 Little Swifts, another new Western Palearctic bird for me an Upcher's Warbler, another Finsch's Wheatear and in the pines lots of Chaffinches almost drown out by cicadas.

Menetries's Warbler, song - Nigel Tucker
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Eastern Rock Nuthatch, calls - Nigel Tucker
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Eastern Rock Nuthatch, song - Nigel Tucker
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Chaffinch song & cicadas - Nigel Tucker
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18th May.

We started the day in the canyons north of Birecik seeing 3 Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, a colony of Rock Sparrows, a colony of House Martins which were nesting beneath a large over-hang, almost a shallow cave, Swifts and a Little Swift, 2 Rollers, 3 See-see Partridges 2 seen briefly in flight with another seen very well at mid distance, a Lesser Grey Shrike, a Hoopoe, about 52 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, 11 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, the 3 Eagle Owl chicks again, but no sign of the adults and an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then a last visit to the Bald Ibis colony, and, the river bank seeing a Little Ringed Plover, a Dead Sea Sparrow, Great Reed and Cetti's Warblers, Crested Larks and a Nightingale. In the fields to the north we saw Menetries's and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and Yellow-throated Sparrows again, and, back in Birecik a Laughing Dove.

Leaving Birecik we drove northwest to Yesilca, just out of the village stopping by a small pool where we saw 3 Rufous Bushchats, Linnets, Black-headed Buntings, a White-throated Robin, a Cretzschmar's Bunting, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Sombre Tits, a Long-legged Buzzard, a Syrian Woodpecker and a Black-eyed Wheatear, a black-eyed form of Eastern Black-eared Wheatear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continued to Isikli to explore the hills to the south where we saw 5 more White-throated Robins, which didn't stay still for long and I only managed to record a snatch of song. We saw 6+ Eastern Black-eared Wheatears of both forms, 6 Cinereous Buntings, Black-headed Buntings, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Spur-thighed Tortoise, 8 Finsch's Wheatears, 2 Upcher's Warblers, 2 Kurdish Wheatears now split from Red-tailed Wheatear and an immature Egyptian Vulture.

House Martin colony - Nigel Tucker
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Rock Sparrow, calls - Nigel Tucker
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White-throated Robin, song - Nigel Tucker
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19th May.

An early start back at the hills at Isikli, while the others headed off over the hills I took the car and found a track going around the hillside to an area I could record in without village noise. Here I saw 6 Spanish Sparrows, 2 Cinereous Buntings, Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, Black-headed Buntings, 2 Upcher's Warblers, 4 Bimaculated Larks, 2 White-throated Robins, Short-toed and Crested Larks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upland grassland with Crested, Short-toed and Bimaculated Larks, Black-headed Wagtails and Black-headed Buntings.

 

 

Joining up with the others again, we drove to Yesilce and explored another track near the village, seeing 3 White-throated Robins, a Cretzschmar's Bunting, 2 Cinereous Buntings and a Black-eared Wheatear.

From Yesilce we began the long drive west to Eregli, stopping frequently, seeing 2 Marsh Harriers, a Booted Eagle, a Short-toed Eagle, 3 Long-legged Buzzards, 3 Buzzards, 3 Griffon Vultures, an Egyptian Vulture, 2 Kestrels, 6 Lesser Kestrels, a Black Kite, 35 White Storks, 2 Black Storks, Alpine Swifts, lots of Swifts, lots of Magpies, Jackdaws, 6+ Rooks, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, lots of Lesser Short-toed Larks, a Wheatear, 8 Isabelline Wheatears, a Shelduck, 5 Anatolian Sousliks or Asia Minor Ground Squirrels, 4 Little Owls and a Nightjar.

Black-headed Bunting, song - Nigel Tucker
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Upland grassland - Nigel Tucker
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20th May. 

I had a bad dose of 'Turkish belly' overnight and all morning, later feeling a bit better and full of pills, I went with the others to Adabag where we saw 6 Lesser Kestrels, 3 Hoopoes, 12 Jackdaws, a Tree Sparrow and 2 Isabelline Wheatears. From there we went to Eregli Marsh seeing 2 Marsh Harriers, several Greater Flamingoes, a White Pelican, 12 Dalmatian Pelicans, Black-winged Stilts, a Lapwing, Red-crested Pochards and lots of Isabelline Wheatears.

Then a drive northeast to the mountains at Demirkazik, stopping at a lake near Nigde, on the journey we saw a Black Kite, a Long-legged Buzzard, 

4 Dalmatian Pelicans, an adult and an immature White Pelican, 10+ Whiskered Terns, 20+ Common Terns, lots of Coot, a Pochard, a Night Heron, lots of Great Crested Grebes, a Great White Egret, 20+ White Storks, an Eurasian Jackal, 2 Grey Herons, 2 Lesser Grey Shrikes and a Wheatear.

21st May.

I was still feeling unwell, so was unable to make the dawn trek up the mountain to see the high altitude bird specialties of this area, all of which the others saw. By midday I started feeling better and driving a short distance from the hostel found a gorge into the mountains, walking through it I saw lots of Rock Sparrows, 2 Rock Buntings, 6 Snow Finches some displaying, 4 Rock Nuthatches, 8 Chough, 4 Alpine Chough, 4 Golden Eagles, a Peregrine, 10+ Crag Martins, 3 Kestrels, a few Swifts, 2 Alpine Swifts, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Black Redstarts, a Little Owl carrying a lizard, a Stonechat, a Black-headed Wagtail and a Lammergeier.

22nd May.

An early start for the drive back west, we left Demirkazik and drove to Nigde, from there northwest to Esmekaya on the way seeing White and Dalmatian Pelicans, 25 White Storks some with very well grown chicks, 2 Long-legged Buzzards, a Black Kite, Hooded Crows, Isabelline Wheatears, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, 2 adult Greater Sand Plovers with 3 chicks, 2 Red-backed Shrikes, a male Montagu's Harrier, Black-headed Wagtails, Corn Buntings, 2 Lesser Grey Shrikes, a Roller, 5 Kestrels, a Little Owl and a Stonechat.

We stopped at Esmekaya marsh and lake where we spent a good couple of hours, seeing lots of Mallard, 10+ Lesser Kestrels, 6 Marsh Harriers, 12 Montagu's Harriers, 8 males and 4 females, a male Pallid Harrier which we saw rob a Montagu's Harrier of it's prey and also saw it displaying, 4 Lapwings, 6 Common Cranes, 3 Cuckoos, Sedge Warbler, a flock of about 250 White Storks flying over, a Hoopoe, 5 Purple Herons, a Squacco Heron, a Red-necked Grebe, Ruddy Shelducks, Whiskered and Common Terns, 6 Great White Egrets, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Pygmy Cormorants, 2 Rose-coloured Starlings, Little Grebe, Isabelline Wheatear, 86 Red-crested Pochard, Cetti's and Great Reed Warblers, Black-winged Stilts, Redshanks, a Pochard, 3 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, a Tufted Duck, 21 Garganey, White-winged Black Tern, Spur-winged Plover, 14 Greylag Geese, 56 Greater Flamingoes, 16 Glossy Ibises, a Little Tern, 2 Little Egrets, 4 Ruff and a Fox.

From there we drove to a grassland area at the southern end of Tuz Golu, a walk across the grassland produced 2 Great Bustards and while the others continued seeing 5 more, I returned to the car to record the abundance of larks, mainly Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks, there were also lots of Isabelline Wheatears, also seen were 2 Spotted Eagles, 2 Montagu's Harriers, 2 Stonechats, a White Stork and 4 Greater Flamingoes flying over.

Later, we headed west back to Alanya.

Calandra Lark, calls & song - Nigel Tucker
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Lesser Short-toed Lark, song - Nigel Tucker
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23rd May.

From Alanya another visit to Akseki, to the mountains and forest north of the village, where we saw 6 Alpine Chough, 2 Woodlarks, a Ruppell's Warbler, 3 Rock Nuthatches, Coal Tits, Chaffinches, a Kruper's Nuthatch, a Buzzard, a Long-tailed Tit, Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes, a Roller and a Caspian or Large Whip Snake.

To the west of Akseki we stopped at a large field which, at it's centre, had a stone wall enclosing quite a big woodland, in it were at least 4 pairs of Rollers which were calling and chasing each other around the whole time we were there, also 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, a Nuthatch, at least 2 Cuckoos and a Redstart. In the field were 2 Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and a Raven flew over.

 

 

 

 

 

Calls from Rollers and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

 

 

 

 

 

                                     Nuthatch calls with Rollers.

 

Later, we found another road north of Akseki and stopped to explore the pine woods, seeing 2 Mistle Thrushes, several Kruper's Nuthatches, Treecreeper, Serins, a Redstart, Coal Tits and 2 Masked Shrikes.

Rollers, calls - Nigel Tucker
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Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, calls - Nigel Tucker
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Eurasian Nuthatch, calls - Nigel Tucker
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Chaffinch, song - Nigel Tucker
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24th May.

A lazy day in Alanya, then an evening trip to Camyolu Marsh, about 20 Kms to the southeast, seeing 7 Squacco Herons, a Purple Heron, 2 Glossy Ibises, 7 Little Bitterns, 3 Little Egrets, Great Reed Warblers, 7 Ruff, 2 pairs of Little Grebes, one with 3 chicks, a White-winged Black Tern, 2 Night Herons, an adult White Stork with 6 chicks, 30+ Spanish Sparrows, a Grey Wagtail and a Wood Sandpiper. On the drive back along the coast there was a Little Ringed Plover.

25th May.

Our last full day in Turkey, we returned to Ekseki where the others left me at the cemetery to record, although close to the village it was quite enough and the only place we found Olive-tree Warblers, I saw and recorded 2 birds, also seeing 2 Masked Shrikes, Turtle Doves, a Syrian Woodpecker, Great Tits, Black-headed Buntings, 2 Rollers and several Chaffinches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting back up with the others we returned to the main road and explored the woodland north of the Ekseki turn-off, seeing a Crossbill, a Hoopoe, lots of Chaffinches, a Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Kruper's Nuthatches, and, two of us saw a White-backed Woodpecker, which I missed!

Olive-tree Warbler, song - Nigel Tucker
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Olive-tree Warbler, song & calls - Nigel Tucker
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26th May.

A last morning in Alanya, with a visit to Alanya Castle where we saw an Eleonora's Falcon, a Masked Shrike and a Blue Rock Thrush.

© 2014  Nigel Tucker. All rights reserved.

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