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A Report from

Sarigerme, SW Turkey 1st - 15th October 2010,

Dougy Wright

My wife and I rented an apartment in the outskirts of a small village called Sarigerme. We flew from Exeter to Dalaman. It is 20 mins drive south of Dalaman Airport. This was not a birding trip but I managed to get a couple of hours in each day!! We were there from 1st – 15th Oct 2010. Our apartment was approx 1 mile from the coast, set into a 500 metre forested hill, in a valley, overlooked a marsh, had lots of scrub around and there were low level forested hills around. Therefore a great variety of habitats! I will give a day by day account.

Day 1 – Setting up my patch!!

I awoke at 7am local time and got straight out – it was a bright sunny morning – it had poured down over night!. Jay’s, Water Rail and Cetti’s Warblers were making a right racket in the marsh. I had a quick look in the scrub and olive trees outside of the apartment and saw Spotted Flycatcher and a juvenile Red Backed Shrike. I decided to walk down to the river (on the edge of the marsh) and walk along the bank. On the way down I saw numerous Great Tits, Collared Dove and House Sparrows. On arriving at the river I flushed a Kingfisher and a pair of Grey Wagtails and spooked a Moorhen (all the species listed so far were very common and seen every day). There were lots of warblers emitting their various alarm calls and flitting about – Red Back Shrikes were everywhere! My first warbler sighting was a Chiffchaff!  I then heard the familiar call of the Bee Eater and looked up to see 12 flying over. Over the next hour or so searching some scrubland with lots of bushes (in between the river and the marsh) I then had good views of Bonnelli’s, Icterine, Willow and Oliviceous Warblers.  A Pied Wagtail was feeding on the path and Long Tailed Tits were feeding in the scrub. 3 Barn Swallows flew over as I was trying to pin down a reeling Savi’s Warbler – my patience paid off and I got my best ever views of a Savi’s. I then walked across the road where there was some scrub, building rubbish and lots of ponds (I have since found out that the ponds will are part of a golf course that is to be built!). I just had a walk around the scrub and a wet area near some deserted half built buildings. There was a Whitethroat in the scrub and male Blue Rock Thrush (tick) on the buildings. A flock of Linnets flew over and I saw a White Wagtail. It was now nearly 9:30 am so I thought I had better go and see my wife. I was about 400 yards from the apartment. As I walked back fairly pleased with my first jaunt I looked up and saw a Short Toed Eagle carrying a large snake!! I also had my one and only Black Eared Wheatear (tick) on some wires outside the apartment. Whilst lounging by the pool that day a Southern Swallowtail flew around – what a beauty!

The sun disappeared from the pool area about 4 and I had seen some water birds on the ponds (and was itching to get down there). When I got there I had a Coot, 6 Red Necked Grebes and a similar number of Little Grebes on another pond. I also had a couple of sun bathing Striped Neck Terrapins. Whilst out and about I had my first wader – 2 Green Sandpiper and 2 Crested Lark  (both then seen daily). On my return stroll to the apartment I saw another Short Toed Eagle, a flock of Goldfinch and a flock of Greenfinch. My final bird of the day was a Common Buzzard whilst having an aperitif on the balcony. Whilst drinking my wine on the balcony my wife pointed out two raptors soaring some distance away – too far for me to id!

Day 2 – Sarigerme

I was up and out about 730 am and took a scroll across to the scrub and the marsh border. It was immediately noticeable that there were much fewer birds around! The Cetti’s and Water rail’s were calling and a few warblers were tecking but nowhere near as many as on the previous day – things had moved on. New birds in the morning were a hunting Marsh Harrier (this was an interesting bird as it was a dark morph bird – it was completely chocolate brown!), Lesser Whitethroat and one scolding Wren. As I walked past a half built building (that had been started and not finished years ago by the look of it) I heard a right commotion blasting out of the inside – on investigation I found a pair of Rock Nuthatchs having a bit of a dispute. I was to see (and hear) these two every day from then on. Later whilst lying by the pool a Hobby flew over. We walked down to the village for dinner just as it was getting really dark. The previous night we had watched bats flying around a lamp light and whilst doing the same on day 2 we got a nice surprise as a Nightjar swooped down chasing a moth.

Day 3 – Sarigerme

The next morning I took a wander over to the woods (about half a mile away). On the way I saw a Great White Egret and a Little Egret by the ponds. In the woods I found a nice spot over-looking a small valley that had a bit of boggy marsh and some scrub. I decided to sit down and see what came to me. I was rewarded almost instantly by a pair of Kruppers Nuthatch which came pretty close (15 feet). I also had my first Blackcap and a flock of Blue and Coal Tits. On the way back to my apartment I went into the scrub out the front and found a tortoise – I would say about 70 years old judging by the size of it.  My wife and I then took a stroll down to the beach where I was hoping for lots of seabirds! On the way I did see and hear many of the species I had already seen. The highlight at the beach was an adult Audoin’s Gull. The only other gull was a handful of Yellow Legged Gulls. As we were leaving the beach a Peregrine flew over.

Day 4 Sarigerme and Dalyan

I was up and out again first thing and went over to the woods. I decided to give the tree tapping woodpecker enticing trick a go again and was surprised to get an immediate response. I heard a gentle tapping noise. The first bird to respond was a Nuthatch shortly followed by a Middle Spotted Woodpecker. Other highlights that morning was a reeling Savi’s Warbler, 2 Green sand, my 2 Rock Nuthatchs and a little egret. I had hired a car for the day (mainly to enable us to get to the supermarket) so we decided to go for a ride up to Dalyan. En route we saw a flock of Hooded Crow. Dalyan was busy compared to Sarigerme and driving around the lake we saw lots of Little Egret but not a lot else birdwise. The only other heron was a solitary Grey Heron. I also found my first Chaffinch. Whilst reading in bed that night I heard a Tawny Owl.

Day 5 – Sarigerme

When I got out of the apartment (at 7am) I had a mad idea that I wanted to climb the big hill (very steep, about 300 metres high) so off I went! It was really hard work and I had to stop lots of times to catch my breath. I convinced myself that I deserved a reward for my efforts! When I was near the top and scrambling across some rocks I nearly stood on a Quail! I do not know if it was more scared than me. I also heard a Chukkar calling – however the best was yet to come. I was making my way through some sparse pine trees and about 10 yards in front of me appeared a Syrian Woodpecker – this completed my list of all 10 European woodpeckers. A just reward for my efforts. I also had 3 Kruppers Nuts, a female Blackcap, Coal tits, 3 Lesser Whitethroats and a raptor (a precipitor)  that was to quick for me!! That day by the pool we watched a Swallowtail butterfly and an Eastern Bath White.

Day 6 – Sarigerme

I wandered down to the far end of the village where there was a big rock face and found a group of about 30 Rock Doves. I also saw my first Raven and had good views of a male Blue Rock Thrush. By now the main warblers around were Lesser Whitethroats, Sardinian, Willow and Chiffchaffs in that order of numbers. I also saw another swallow that morning. I had some fantastic butterflies that day including a Cardinal, Freyer’s Grayling, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Swallowtail, Small White and Large White.

Day 7 – Sarigerme/Dalyan

It was a bit cloudy to start with so I decided to forgo my twitch and go for a run,. I ran about 2 and half miles down toward the beach and stopped near a ditch to watch two Reed Warblers fighting over territory. I also heard a few Savi’s reeling and had very good views of a Cettis. We then got on a bus to do a boat trip from Dalyan to Turtle Beach. On the way to Dalyan I saw a White Stork in a farmyard. The birdlife was rather disappointing (species wise) around the water ways of Dalyan however I did manage to see 2 Pygmy Cormorants flying (took me a bit of time to figure out what they were as they have a rather odd flight profile). There were also cormorants and Little Egrets in large numbers. There was 3 Marsh Harriers hunting over the red beds and a good number of Great White Egret. My only other new bird on the trip was a solitary Common Sandpiper. We did however get great views of a massive Loggerhead Turtle.

Day 8 – Sarigerme

I spent the morning walking in and around Sarigerme observing many of the birds that I had already seen – Rock Nuthatch, Green Sandpiper, Grey wagtail, Common Buzzard, Little Egret, Crested Lark, Raven, Rock Doves and Blue Rock thrush. On the way back to the apartment I came across a Plain Tiger butterfly (a tick for me). Whilst having breakfast I observed a dark morph Marsh Harrier hunting over the reeds – I saw this bird numerous times over the next few days. In the early evening I went down into the scrub and found a Garden Warbler and a Wren.

Day 9 – Sarigerme and Sarigerme Beach

In the morning I went in amongst the reeds, rocks and scrub – new birds found were overflying Sand Martins (6) and 3 or 4 Sedge Warblers. As I was emerging from the scrub there was a rather animated young local guy shouting at me to “hurry up, come out!”. I went over and shook hands with him and he then started telling me that I was in great danger from “pigs”. I knew there were Wild Boar around but I did not realise how dangerous they were!! Whilst in the scrub I saw Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Wren, Water Rail, Spotted Flycatcher, Grey wagtail and Common Buzzard. We strolled down to the beach in the afternoon and whilst there I had 2 Wheater, numerous Yellow Legged Gulls and a flock of Chaffinch. On the walk back there was a pair of Peregrine perched on the rocks.

Day 10 – Sarigerme

Another early morning stroll took me over to the hillside woods about a ¼ of a mile from the apartment. Prior to that, whilst having a cup of Earl Grey on the balcony, I had heard an unfamiliar call – it sounded like the noise a training shoe makes on a dry floor or a dripping tap. I suspected Spotted Crake – the Collins guide agreed with my description of a dripping tap. Anyway back to the woods – I used my tapping stick and managed to entice both Syrian and Middle Spot to see what was going on! On the way back I decided to walk around the edges of the small pools (there was ankle to knee high plants around the edges). Whilst walking around the first pool I saw a SBJ flash in front of me and went straight into the edge of the bank opposite – I was curious so I sat down and set the scope up. After about 5 minutes I saw the bird down at bottom of reeds by the water edge – a Moustached Warbler!!! It was quite active and I wanted a closer look so walked round to the other side – enroute I flushed another! I spent about 30 minutes trying to get a picture but failed – they were skulky – i think there were at least 3 birds!! Delighted I headed back (still walking around the pond edges) and nearly stood on a Spotted Crake. What a fantastic morning! I went back down to the ponds later that day but could not find the Moustached Warblers but had good views of many other birds including an obliging Cetti’s.

Day 11 – Sarigerme/Gocek Boat Trip

As per the norm I was out at 630 a.m. I went down to the ponds and managed to relocate at least 2 Moustached Warblers – again views were brief. I was rather concerned at the outset as I managed to find a couple of Sedge Warblers and started doubting my previous day’s find! Lots of good birds that morning but nothing to add to the list.

At 10 am we got on the bus to go to Gocek (a small fishing village about 30 minutes away. We were going on a 12 Island Tour – I had high hopes for a good seabird count!!! Gocek is a beautiful little village and the boat that we went out on was nice and spacious (only 11 of us on it). Seabirds were not plentiful and mainly restricted to Cormorants and Yellow Legged Gulls. I did see a few Lesser Black Backed Gulls and when we stopped for lunch, in an inlet of one of the islands a Raptor took off from a tree on the shore. I ran up to the top deck and got great views of a Long Legged Buzzard. The trip was not great for birds but the snorkelling and scenery was amazing. I did see lots of R B Shrike, Hooded Crows, Chiffchaff, a kingfisher and a few Grey Heron.

Day 12 - Sarigerme

In the morning I took a stroll around my on day 12 and flushed 6 Little Egrets and a Great White Egret. In common with every previous day I was scolded by my pair of Rock Nuthatches and had 2 more in the woods. I also had a Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Blackcap, Kruppers Nuthatch, a flock of Long Tailed Tit and numerous R B Shrike. I also saw my first Robin in the woods.  On the marsh I could hear Water Rail squealing and Spotted Crake dripping! Whilst looking down on the marsh I saw a Snipe – initially I got excited as I knew Great Snipe pass through the area n but it was a plain old Common Snipe.

In the afternoon I went into the scrub and sat down for about half an hour. I heard Garden Warbler singing and located my first Blackbird. I got a fleeting glimpse of a skulky warbler with a clear Mexican moustache and a red eye – could not get a positive id though! Gutted.

Day 13 – Sarigerme

I had a short stroll around today but had no new birds.

Day 14 – Sarigerme

Our transport to take us to the airport was booked for 1pm so I went for a stroll around all my usual haunts. I saw lots of my old friends including Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Rock Nuts, Common Sandpiper, R B shrikes and 4 Robin (a sudden influx!!!). I also found a Grass Snake. I also heard the crakes and rails performing. The last bird on my trip was heard better than seen – a rather noisy pair of Barred Warbler just behind our apartment.

All in all a great trip! I am planning to go back there birding (with 2 friends) in May 2012 to take in the Spring migration!

Dragonflies (Thanks to Steve Jones of the BGT)

Small Skimmer
Red-Veined Darter
Violet Dropwin
Migrant Hawker




Grass Snake
Striped Neck Terrapin


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