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A Report from birdtours.co.uk

Southern and Eastern Turkey, June26th - July 18th 2004,

Author

Kasper P Hendriks, Leiden, August 16, 2004

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis by Wesley Overman

Contents

A: GENERAL

Introduction
Participants
Writing Credits
Strategy
Hotel & Food
Car Rental
Reading & Maps
Target Species
Itinerary

B: LIST OF PLACES VISITED

1: Alanya surroundings
2: Mediterranean coast road (along Gazipaşa and Anamur)
3: Göksu Delta and surroundings
4: Tarsus Delta.
5: Aladag Mountains: Demirkazik
6: Between Sivas and Erzurum
7: Gelinkaya, Sivri Kaya, Ovit Dagi Gecidi and surroundings
8: Between Savşat and Ardahan
9: Hills east and valley south of Ardahan
10: Aktas Gölü and surroundings
11: “Small Mast Lake”
12: Between Igdir and Doğubayazit
13: Işak Paşa Palace and surroundings
14: Between Doğubayazit and Van Lake area
15: Van Lake area, including Erçek Gölü and Van Hills
16: Bulanik Area
17: Nemrut Dagi near Tatvan
18: Nemrud Dagi and surroundings, between Siverek and Adiyaman
19: Birecik and surroundings
20: Durnalik and surroundings
21: Cyprus: Bellepais Monastery and surroundings
22: Konya-Karaman-Eregli triangle
23: Kulu Gölü
24: Akseki and surroundings

C: LIST OF BIRDS OBSERVED

A: GENERAL

Introduction

After successful birding trips to Spain in 2002 and Eastern Europe in 2003, 2004 saw another successful birding trip by Ben Wielstra, Wesley Overman and Kasper Hendriks. Turkey was the main area visited, but a pit stop at Cyprus was made, too. The fourth member this year was good old Frank van Duijvenvoorde.

The trip can be entitled as a great success, probably a result of the many days of obtaining information in advance. A list of target species was made, supplying the places to find them. Many reading about good places has been done as well. Through EBN and EBN NL, quite some recent information got available. Turkey visiting guru Remco Hofland has been consulted few times as well, for which we’d like to thank him very much!

Most target species have been found, including sometimes hard-to-find ones such as Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus caspius, Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi and even Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes. A total list of birds observed can be found within this report, as well as a list of places. Additionally, small maps have been added where appropriate.

This trip report will be presented on the world wide web from about September 2004 onwards. It will have bigger maps, which will be printable as well. Hopefully, photographs of birds made during the trip by Wesley Overman can be added too. In due time, find it all at http://home.planet.nl/~hend0845! Any questions not answered within this report? Send me an email at kphendriks@hotmail.com.

Participants

The usual crew comprises Ben Wielstra from Rijnsburg (21), Wesley Overman from Zoetermeer (21) and Kasper Hendriks from Leiden (21). Frank van Duijvenvoorde from Katwijk aan de Rijn (between 50 and whatever) was added to the list.

Writing Credits

The texts in this trip report, as well as the sketched maps, have been produced by Kasper Hendriks. Ben Wielstra has kept the systematic bird list up-to-date during the trip, which has later been used for the making of this report. No rights reserved. Copy this report as many times as needed without any permission.

Strategy

Because others had found out that a period of two weeks was way too short to cover the whole of southern and eastern Turkey, a total of three weeks was expected to be necessary to visit all the places on our wish list.  A flight between Amsterdam and Antalya was booked through Corendon, a fairly young Turkish travel company, at a total cost of €1135.40 for the four of us. When arriving at the airport, a tax of €10 per person had to be paid.

Hotel & Food

Nights were, except for one, always spend in hotels from various qualities. Expect to pay between €3 and €9 in most cities after haggling. Breakfasts were sometimes included and mostly used to beat down the prices more when not used. The only seriously expensive hotel had to be visited at Cyprus, for no inexpensive hotels were present.

Food in Turkey is very standard. Breakfast is almost without exception bread with some Turkish cheese, olives, tomatoes and cucumber. Tea is always served and coffee can be asked for. Diner is mostly some meat with salad and bread. For vegetarians, the best option is to ask for a cheese pizza (pide). Otherwise, ask an English speaking Turk once to write the words “I do not eat meat” down and show this at the restaurants. I did, and at most times it worked properly.

Shops always sell bread, which costs very little. We ate it with cheese and cucumber. Otherwise, we ate lots of biscuits and some bananas and melons.

Car Rental

Thanks to a tip through EBN, car rental was arranged at arrival, instead of a booking in advance. This indeed turned out to be a very good choice. Since our flight arrived at night and driving through the dark is seriously dissuaded in Turkey, we had some hours to negotiate with the various small offices from the various car rental companies present at the airport of Antalya before sunrise. Very important for future visitors: make sure you do not walk past these small offices, for going back inside the airport may take up to half an hour (luggage checks and stuff).

We found Hertz to be the most inexpensive of the three companies opened at night. Unfortunately, the guy from the company tried to trick us in many ways, and we had to be very sharp. For instance, he showed us a diesel-engined Fiat in a leaflet, so when we tried to fit our luggage outside and had made the decision to rent that car. We went inside to sign the contract and again asked him whether the engine was a diesel, but now he said it was a petrol engine! We seriously laughed at him and his excuse was that we had asked about the car pictured within the leaflet, and that that one was a diesel-engined car. How stupid is that?! Also, we had made the agreement that we would rent a car with two extra chauffeurs. Just a sec before we signed the final contract, he wanted to charge us for the second extra driver!

However, we rent a Hyundai Starex SV Van for a total amount of €1080 for the three weeks. This included two extra drivers, unlimited kilometres, CWD (collision damage waiver) and LIS, the latter being optional but very important. It means that wrecking another vehicle is no problem for you! Booking through the internet will mean you pay approximately twice this price!!! The car is powered by a 2.5L diesel engine, built from plastic in 300 B.C. and giving an immense power of ±5bhp.  In total, we drove about 6700km without any problems.

Reading & Maps

Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik & Finding Birds in Eastern Turkey by Dave Gosney

Unfortunately, these small booklets by Dave Gosney are still necessary to find the best places within Turkey. The booklets are now and then seriously dated and cost way too much (€8.50). What irritates me most, though, is the fact that these booklets make it virtually impossible for decent birders to publish about these spots. In my opinion, reports should be free from charge and available to other birders as much as possible. But, just like former visitors, I am compelled to refer to these booklets. But, extra places are described within this report.

A Birdwatchers Guide to Turkey by Ian Green & Nigel Moorhouse

A nice book to get an overall idea of the birds to be found within Turkey. You’d better have a copy! We especially used the book for tips on accommodation present in remote areas. Maps are not very helpful, though. But, the general text that opens the book is, as well as the chapter ‘selected species’ at the back.

Various trip reports can be found on the internet. Most useful sites are www.birdtours.co.uk and www.osme.org. You will need them for recent information.

Buying useful maps is not an easy thing. Detailed maps of the eastern parts of Turkey are not available. The best we could find was a map by Freytag & Berndt. It shows the whole of Turkey on one side with a scale of 1:2 000 000 and the western part of Turkey on the other side with a scale of 1:800 000. Some searching through the internet found us a reasonably detailed map at http://www.adiyamanli.org/MapofTurkey/turk_map.htm. We printed most of it and took it with us. It turned out to be convenient at some times, especially in the far eastern parts of Turkey.

Finally, the best friends in route planning when still at home are surely www.multimap.com and the superb route planner of BP at www.bp.nl.

Target Species

In advance, a list of target species has been made. In this list we included all birds seen in Turkey new to the list of at least one of us. Species market with an asterisk, *, have indeed been seen. In the following of this report, you will find more about them.

Note that the famous site for Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus at Cizre has not been visited, thanks to mister George Wanker Bush. Of most other birds missed, it was never certain whether they were present at the time of our trip at all.

A total of 54 target species has been observed. Ben and Kasper had the time of their lives, with both a total of 51 new species, followed by Wesley with 50.

Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewicz *
Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus caspius*
Chukar Alectoris chukar*
See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis*
Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus*
Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan
European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus*
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus*
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita*
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes*
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus feldeggii
Grey-headed Swamp-hen Porphyrio   poliocephalus caspius*
Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo
Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursorius
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus*
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus
Armenian Gull Larus armenicus*
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis*
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei*
Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis
White-throated Kingfisher Halycon smyrnensis*
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis*
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti
Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata*
Asian Short-toed Lark Clandrella cheleensis niethammeri*
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg*
White-spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos*
Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis*
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus*
White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis*
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina*
Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka
Cyprus Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca*
Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii*
Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe   xanthoprymna*
Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis*
Upcher's Warbler Hippolais languida*
Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum*
Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon*
Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus pallidus*
Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
Ménétries's Warbler Sylvia mystacea*
Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax*
Rüppell's Warbler Sylvia rueppellii*
Bright-green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus*
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus   orientalis*
Caucasian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus   lorenzii*
Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula   semitorquata*
Krüper's Nuthatch Sitta krueperi*
Eastern Rock Nuthatch Sitta tephronota*
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus*
Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus*
Pale Rockfinch Capospizza brachydactyla*
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis*
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis*
Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus*
Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguinea*
Desert Finch Rhodospizza obsolete*
Mongolian Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes mongolicus*
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus
Cinereous Bunting Emberizza cineracea*
Grey-necked Bunting Emberizza buchanani*
Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberizza caesia*
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza  melanocephala*

Itinerary

A short day-to-day report of our journey follows. We found out roads are of various quality. The maximum speed in Turkey amounts to 90 km/h outside the cities, but at many times it is not even possible to reach this speed as a result of potholes as big as craters. At other times, driving through the mountains makes travelling very slow.

Since Turkish people are amongst the most friendly in the world, if not the most, drinking tea is a time-consuming business as well. Especially outside the main cities, one tea-drinking invitation a day is standard. People are very interested but speak hardly any language other than Turkish. Some speak little German, French or English, but presenting a bird book explains much more.

On the map below, the route has been drawn. The numbers are referred to in the rest of this report.

Day 0: Saturday, June the 26th

Left Amsterdam for Antalya at 21:30h. Arrived at 02:00h local time.

Day 1: Sunday, June the 27th

Started by renting a car at 03:00h and started driving eastwards at 05:00h. Short stop behind supermarket “Metro”, north of Alanya (place 1). Driving towards Silifke along the coast, passing Anamur (place 2). People, beware! This road is terribly slow, mainly because of the endless turns and slow trucks. Try to avoid it and drive via Karaman if you do not wish to visit it specifically. We ended up in Silifke at the end of the day, and checked in at one of the few hotels opposite the autogar. We paid a total of 40 million TL or €22.25 for the four of us. Shower and toilet at the room. Room clean. Food obtained near the autogar, but very basic. A short trip into the Göksu Delta (place 3). Unfortunately we noticed that at sunset is at 20h, so not allowing much time to visit in the evening. This later turned out to be very inconvenient many times, because temperatures forced us to bird in the early mornings and evenings.

Day 2: Monday, June the 28th

Early start at the nearby Göksu Delta (place 3), birding from 05:30 to 13:00h. Drove towards Tarsus (place 4) and birded for several midday hours, although extremely hot and humid. Started driving north towards Demirkazik (place 5) at 18:00h and arrived at 21:00h. Our car turned out not to be built for steep highways, not reaching speeds over 80km/h at some parts. We stayed at the famous Şafak brothers pension and paid €50 per person for the pension and a drive up the mountain next morning. Quite a sum! But, the pension was very proper and breakfast and many in betweens were included.

Day 3: Tuesday, June the 29th

Again an early start, this time at 03:00h. Drove into the famous Aladag Mountains behind Demirkazik (place 5) with Cávit Şafak and his Lada Niva 1.7i. Many new birds were added to our lists. Stayed in the mountains until 14:00h, had a late breakfast at Şafak pension and left at 15:15h. We drove north towards Kayseri and heading for Sivas, we ended up at a motel, belonging to a petrol station in Gemerek along the main road. Paid just 20 million TL or €11.15 for the total, but rooms and toilets were extremely dirty.

Day 4: Wednesday, June the 30th

A whole day of driving necessary! Finally some sleep and started driving northeast towards Sivas and Erzurum at about 08:00h. Birding along the road turned out to be very productive, especially between Sivas and Erzurum (place 6). Turned north 25km before Erzurum at 18:00h, heading for Sivri Kaya. Made a stop of an hour at Gelinkaya (place 7) for some birding. Drove further north and arrived at Sivri Kaya (place 7) at 21:00h. The last hour of driving had been in the dark, which was very unpleasant, mainly because of people and animals strolling along the roadside. With many effort (because of the dark and the absence of a proper flashlight, so bring one!) found the famous Mustapha Sari, who lives in a small farm up on the hill on the eastside of the road in Sivri Kaya, just a few meters south of the minaret. Mustapha’s friend offered us a place to sleep inside the wooden teahouse, which is one of the most northernmost wooden houses along the main road. Next day, be also received a good breakfast there and paid 30 million TL or €16.75 for the total sleeping and eating.

Day 5: Thursday, July the 1st

Early start at 04:30h for a rough drive with our hired car into the mountains east of Sivri Kaya (place 7) with Mustapha. Back down at 06:30h and breakfast. Some birding down the river just north of Sivri Kaya until 09:30h. Then drove back south a little towards Ovit Dagi Gecidi for an hour of high mountain birding. Drove north towards Rize and further along the coast. Arrived at Savşat at 18:00h and settled at hotel Sahan in the middle of the town. After haggling paid only 25 million TL or €13.90 in total for a very proper room! Ate something next door and went to sleep at a reasonable time.

Day 6: Friday, July the 2nd

Left Savşat at 06:00h.  Drove eastwards towards Ardahan (place 8). We visited the pass of Çam Geçidi at 2640m. Arrived at Ardahan at 09:50h and scanned for raptors in the wooded hills just east of Ardahan and checked also the valley south of Ardahan (place 9). Round midday we headed for Aktas Gölü (place 10) on the Georgian border. Here we drove past a suspicious military control post and parked the car to have a walk on the south side of the lake. Getting back to our car and driving along the military post, we were stopped by the militaries, which turned out to be customs officers. They said we had passed the border, but we had not noticed! After a cup of tea, we headed south again and passed Çildir Gölü on the east. We headed as fast as possible towards Kars, because it has just an hour before dark. We ran into a very nice small lake, 35km north of Kars (place 11). Although we wanted to arrive at Doğubayazit by sunset, we had to stop at Igdir at 21:00h, because of the many vehicles on the road without any lights, which would inevitably turn out into an accident. As other days, it had got dark at 20:00h already! Igdir turned out to be quite an unpleasant city, with much noise on the street and many vague drunk figures. Some good hotels are available along the main road through the village, but we checked in at the dingily hotel Tuncer for 20 million TL or €11.15 in total. The hotel was so filthy that sleeping on the beds was hardly reasonably possible.

Day 7: Saturday, July the 3rd

Early start, driving towards the by now famous Işak Paşa Palace (place 13) at Doğubayazit. Underway, birding turned out to be excellent (place 12), so we took our time for that! Therefore, we arrived at the Palace at 07:45h and watch the birds until 10:30h. Although the heat was abysmal, we found all target species and more. After this nice experience, we headed south towards the Van Lake area. The area in between (place 14) also turned out to be pretty, but less attractive then north of Doğubayazit. Driving went on easy and we arrived at the north of Van Lake area (place 15) at 15:30h. At 17:00h we drove further south towards the Van town and checked in at hotel Arslan. This turned out to be reasonable and we paid 25 million TL or €13.90 in total.

Day 8: Sunday, July the 4th

Started the morning at Erçek Gölü (place 15) and its surroundings. Headed for the Van Hills (place 15) and ended this place by a visit to the South Van Marshes at the start of the afternoon. The rest of the day was spend driving north, towards the Bulanik area. We checked in at a reasonable hotel, Serhat, in Malzgirt, where we paid 26 million TL or €14.50 in total.

Day 9: Monday, July the 5th

Once again an early start. With some effort we found the river Murrat near Bulanik (place 16) and spent the whole morning strolling along the river and its surroundings. Left for Nemrut Dagi (place 17) and arrived there at 12:30h. Harsh wind made bird finding a tough business, but we enjoyed the fantastic scenery and stayed until 15:30h. Drove westwards in the direction of Diyarbakir. The road, which is the road towards the east in Turkey, turned out to be tediously slow, caused by the many turns, the slow trucks and the bad blacktop. At a lot of places, parts of the road had even disappeared into the near gorge. Tired or sick by the heat and the lack of a good sleep, we drove into Diyarbakir to find a hotel. Diyarbakir turned out to be enormous, as it forms the capital of Kurdistan. We checked in at, once again, a terrible hotel in probably the busiest street of all and paid only 20 million TL or €11.15 for the four of us. Good hotels are present, though.

Day 10: Tuesday, July the 6th

We did not leave too early, and had a hard time leaving the city. As we finally found the right direction, we headed for Çermik. Our, apparently dated, map, showed this was the way towards the famous Nemrud Dagi. But, instead, we should have driven directly towards Siverek from Diyarbakir. From Siverek, the road goes westwards and we ran into a small and rusty ferryboat that could sail the whole population of Turkey at once. At least, that is what the captain though. We were probably ripped of, but we paid about 15 million TL or €8.35 for this 5-minute crossing. At noontime, we could start to discover the very impressive area of the Nemrud Dagi (place 18). We drove up the famous mountain and visited the attraction, being a set of heads cut out of stone. A considerable fee had to be paid, but tickets were valid the day after as well. Strangely, we were more impressed by the birds along the very steep road upwards than the stony heads! In the evening, we drove down and checked in at Pension Karadut, which is along the road between Narince and the mentioned attraction of Nemrud Dagi. We had a diner here and enjoyed the view meanwhile. The cost for this perfect pension was just 30 million TL or €16.70 in total.

Day 11: Wednesday, July the 7th

From 05:00h to 08:00h, we birded along the road to the top of Nemrud Dagi (place18) and tried to obtain better views of the birds seen the day before. Afterwards, we drove to Adiyaman and further towards Birecik (place 19). The temperature was extremely high, and the wind felt like standing next to a huge wild fire. Luckily, the excellent motel Mirkelan near the large pump, just west of the river Euphrates, provided rooms with air-conditioning. There was a price for this, though. We paid 60 million TL or €33.40 per night for the four of us. After a cold bath, we fought the heat and went to the most famous sites around the city till dark. The air-conditioned room made sleeping possible.

Day 12: Thursday, July the 8th

Started at 05:30h at the Main Wadi (place 19) and visited most other places again in order to find the last species missed the day before, and also to obtain better views of species already seen. Visited Halfeti, but this town turned out to be only very depressing and hardly any birds could be found, probably also because of the scorching heat. Spent the night once again at the perfect hotel Mirkelan.

Day 13: Friday, July the 9th

Again visited the Main Wadi at 05:30h and then drove south along the river Euphrates towards Syria to find some ‘new’ places not described by Gosney. This turned out to be pretty good! We drove towards Gazi Antep and further towards Durnalik (place 20) later that morning. We arrived at the start of the afternoon, but the weather made bird finding hardly possible. When we arrived it was very hot, and after an hour or so, a hard wind started to blow and even rain started to fall. We decided to drive to Tarsus (place 4) again, in order to do some better birding there in the morning to follow. We took the highway, which was very fast. Arriving in Tarsus and after some searching in the dark and heat, we found the hotel Cihan, which also had air-conditioning. We paid totally 50 million TL or €27.80 for a perfect room.

Day 14: Saturday, July the 10th

In the morning we drove to the Tarsus Delta (place 4) again and saw quite some more birds than last time! Temperature was extremely high again, though. At the end of the morning we headed westwards towards Silifke and Tasucu, for we would travel to Cyprus by the ferryboat in the forthcoming night. We took the highway, which was very fast and cost only little. At 15:00h, we ordered tickets and tried to stay at the ticket office as long as possible for it was air-conditioned and the temperature and humidity outside was terrible. We paid a total of 307 million TL or €171 for this return voyage by the normal ferryboat! Ben and Kasper visited some places in the Göksu Delta while Frank and Wesley went for a cold drink nearby. A small dinner was obtained within the summer village, south of Tasucu and even a shower was offered by the owner of the lokantesi. At 21:00h, we tried to get on the ferryboat, as said by the people at the office that afternoon. But, we could not enter the gates to the ferry before 22:30h. Customs office took about half an hour. We settled on the ferry and tried to get some sleep on the wooden benches. The ferry should leave at 00:00h and arrive at 05:00h, but left only at 04:30h because of another ship in its way in the harbour!!!

Day 15: Sunday, July the 11th

Day started at the ferryboat towards Cyprus (place 21). The idea was to arrive at 05:00h and take the ferryboat back towards Tasucu at 12:00h; it is possible to find the target species of the isle on one morning! But, the ferryboat arrived only at 09:30h and customs took us another hour and cost €10 per person. At 11:00h, we took a taxicab and did some birding above the Bellepais Monastery (place 21). We went back at 17:00h or so and the taxi driver took us to a ‘cheap’ hotel, costing not less than 120 million TL or €66.75 for one night! The taxi itself cost 12 million TL or €6.70 per ride. Luckily, the hotel was air-conditioned for the temperature was again extremely high. The price did include a breakfast, which we got the evening before on our request.

Day 16: Monday, July the 12th

Start at 06:00h at the hotel. Same taxi as day before took us up to the Bellepais Monastery (place 21). We visited the same track and saw mainly the same birds. Little disappointed we decided to take the taxi to the ferryboat and try to arrange a return voyage by the fast boat. We managed to do so, and paid two strange taxes at two places (totalling €15 per person) and passed customs quite quick. At 09:30h we sat down and the ferry turned out to be air-conditioned, which was just perfect! At 12:30h we passed customs at Tasucu, Turkey, and took the car. As quick as possible, we tried to leave the hot and humid coast and drive inland. In the afternoon, we reached Karaman, a very attractive little town with many Dutch Turks and nice people. Unfortunately, birds were calling and we drove towards Eregli (place 22). At Eregli, we found easily found a good place to sleep through the ever so nice Turkish inhabitants. The hotel cost 60 million TL or €33.35 in total, including a diner with cold drinks and friendly people.

Day 17: Tuesday, July the 13th

The morning was spent birding within the Konya-Karaman-Eregli triangle (place 22). All lakes turned out to have dried up totally, but some nice birds were found. Also, a very poor family invited us for a drink. They were living in a small house of mud and rocks. We were offered a glass of milk, which was not emptied by all of us for understandable reasons. Suddenly in a hurry, we drove towards Konya and from there towards Ankara. All roads were pretty good, especially between Konya and Ankara. About 100km south of Ankara, we visited the extremely nice Kulu Gölü (place 23) and afterwards went for a room at the city of Kulu. We checked in at hotel Atay and paid 40 million TL or €22.25 in total. The hotel was very good and tidy.

Day 18: Wednesday, July the 14th

At 06:30h, we arrived at the Kulu Gölü (place 23) and this time visited some more spots over there than the evening before. At 10:00h we left, got our stuff from the hotel and headed south towards Konya, Seydişehir and finally Akseki (place 24). We realised we had plenty of time until the flight back and took things dilatorily. We found two hotels, both at a cost of 40 million TL or €22.25 totally per night. After we randomly checked in at the hotel Duruk we took a shower and a nap and at the end of the afternoon visited some famous spots near Akseki.

Day 19: Thursday, July the 15th

From 06:00h we visited some spots around Akseki (place 24) and observed most target species for the site. By now, we had seen virtually all target species of this trip and the birding got more and more relaxed. Until the evening, we searched nearby spots. The night was spent at the same hotel as the night before.

Day 20: Friday, July the 16th

At 06:00h we started at the same place as the day before, just north of Akseki (place 24), in the hope to find more species. We failed and found less. Some other places around Akseki were visited, but at 10:00h we decided to leave. We drove towards Alanya (place 1) again. You will know why as soon as you read the list of visited places section! The night was spent in one of the many cheap and dirty hotels, especially made for the numerous beach-going fat Germans and Dutch. We paid 45 million TL or €25 in total.

Day 21: Saturday, July the 17th

A late start and some time for shopping in Alanya. Some cheap imitation designer clothing bought. With a lack of information for places to visit in the nearby surroundings, we drove into the mountains behind Alanya (place 1) and found some nice species. Though, no extreme birding possible here. In the afternoon, we drove westwards towards Antalya and found ourselves a small hotel just east of a small park on the eastside of the huge bay at Antalya. Paid 60 million TL or €33.35 for the four of us, but the hotel was perfect and breakfast included. Little birding was done in the adjacent park.

Day 22: Sunday, July the 18th

Slept until 09:00h and enjoyed a nice breakfast. Little birding at the adjacent park. Drove towards the airport at 14:00h and brought our car back to Hertz. Passed customs and had to wait until 17:00h before we could check in. Plane terribly delayed, left at 19:30h. Arrived at Amsterdam at 22:30h local time.

B: LIST OF PLACES VISITED

Following is a comprehensive list of the places visited during our trip. Per place visited, the following notes are presented:

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Here our target species are listed. These might not be your sub-zero species, though.

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Here the other cool species are listed. The four of us have already seen these during other trips or as rarities in The Netherlands, but we still get thrilled seeing these!

SPECIES: REMAINING
Other birds observed. Most might not be of interest to some readers, but they are included to give a total view of the species present. In The Netherlands we have seen these often, at least.

NOTES ON THE AREA
Since some areas have not properly been described before, I made an effort here. Also, additions and corrections to the literature used are included here.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION
A small tip on where to stay in the area if some sleep in needed.

This listing of the species is not always complete, though I have tried so. Names of the birds are according Duivendijk, N. van, Dutch Birding Kenmerkengids, 2002.

1: Alanya surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes  27/6 adult male(?), see notes on the area
16/7 adult male with prey, see notes area
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus  16/7 1 male, graveyard north of autogar

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus  17/7 adult and immature, see notes
Alpine Swift Apus melba 17/7 ±6, see notes
European Roller Coracia garrulous  17/7 3, see notes
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica  17/7 ±6, see notes

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Swift Apus apus 17/7 ±6, hills behind Alanya
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti 27/6 1 singing, behind Metro supermarket
16/7 1 singing and seen, same place
House Sparrow Passer domesticus - very common

NOTES ON THE AREA

Anlanya has never been known as a special birding area within Turkey, which it surely isn’t! The place has been prepared for fat and vulgar Germans and Dutchmen. Therefore, hardly any birders have searched the area recently. It was by accident that we stopped our car on the first day of our visit just north of Alanya, behind the supermarket “Metro”, in order to obtain some food and water. As the supermarket turned out to be closed, we had a short break behind it, for the area looked little promising. When strolling along the small rivulet just north of the supermarket, a sparrowhawk spec. passed by at a high speed. Some of us immediately noticed the birds black wing tips, making this a serious candidate for the much sought-after Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes. Unfortunately, the bird disappeared even quicker than it appeared and dove behind a nearby collection of large trees. After half an hour, the bird had not been found and we left.

  At the end of our trip, some time to spend was left and we decided to take a donkey shot at the aforementioned spot behind the supermarket. Although we did not expect this, a male Levant Sparrowhawk appeared within an hour, soaring in front of the hills north of Alanya. We were lucky, because the bird decided to fly in our direction and catch a prey not to far from us. We had very pretty views of the bird as it flew of with its prey and disappeared into the direction of the mountains again.

On the map below, I pointed out were we observed this bird. To reach the place, numbered I, follow the northern main road through Alanya and follow the signs to supermarket “Metro”. You will surely find it easily.

If you’d like to cool down a bit, go to the place numbered II on the map. From the Metro supermarket, take a narrow asphalt road westwards across a branch of the rivulet and follow this for several hundred meters. Turn north as soon as you have found a ‘main’ road northwards between the many small blocks of flat. You will reach a bigger road. Constantly follow the north-eastern direction into the mountains and always choose the roads that lead you directly high up into the mountains. After a few kilometres (maybe up to ten), you will reach some very high points and temperature becomes agreeable.  On the way up, we saw at least three European Rollers Coracia garrulous and two Short-toed Eagles Circaetus gallicus.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Many cheap and expensive hotels are found all along the coastline in and round Alanya. Expect many hotels to be fully booked by beach tourists!

2: Mediterranean coast road (along Gazipaşa and Anamur)

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae 27/6 1 light morph, near Bakilar
White-spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos
27/6 at any expected place, in families
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus
27/6 male singing, near Gazipasa
Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus pallidus elaeicus
27/6 1, near Gazipasa
Rüppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppellii 27/6 male singing, near Bakilar
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus  27/6 ±10, near Gazipasa
1, east of Gazipasa

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Alpine Swift Apus melba 27/6 ±50, hills near Gazipasa
European Roller Coracia garrulous  27/6 2, east of Gazipasa

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 27/6 2, near Bakilar
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius  27/6 breeding in sand next to road, Demirtas
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis  27/6 constant flying past, resting on beaches
Crested Lark Galerida cristata 27/6 abundant, at every expected place
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix sharpii  27/6 along most of the road

NOTES ON THE AREA

Stop at several places along the coastline. Everywhere can be good, but some places look extremely promising and mostly are!

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Hotels in most of the towns along this coast road, even in the smaller towns.

3: Göksu Delta and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus 28/6 3 males calling, Gosney side 3 and 4
10/7 male on path, Gosney side 4
Grey-headed Swamp-hen Porphyrio poliocephalus caspius
28/6 6 birds, from tower, Gosney side 4
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus  28/6 ±50, Gosney place 9 (nowhere else!)
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 28/6 ±20, incl. Males, Gosney side 12
28/6 few, Gosney side 9
White-spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos
28/6 few, roads to Gosney side 9 (Kurtulus)
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus
28/6 4, Gosney side 4
28/6 many singing, Gosney side 9
Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis 28/6 many, e.g. Gosney side 3,4,9 and 13
Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus pallidus elaeicus
28/6 1, Gosney side 4

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus rubber  28/6 2, Gosney side 4
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni 28/6 male, Gosney side 13
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis 28/6 8 migrants, Gosney side 9
European Roller Coracia garrulous  28/6 1, towards Gosney side 12
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra 28/6 male singing on ground, Gosney side 13
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens 28/6 2 on ground, Gosney side 9
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica  28/6 2, towards Gosney side 12
10/7 ±8, Gosney side 14
Caspian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus fuscus
28/6 ±5, Gosney side 3 and 4
Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus caspius
28/6 1 calling, Gosney side 4
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis  28/6 5, Gosney side 12

SPECIES: REMAINING
Red-crested Pochard Rufina rufina 28/6 6, Gosney side 4
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis  28/6 5, Gosney side 12
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 28/6 1, Gosney side 13
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea  28/6 2, Gosney side 13
28/6 few, Gosney side 9
White Stork Ciconia ciconia 28/6 2, Gosney side 12
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 28/6 1, Gosney side 4
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 28/6 2, Gosney side 4
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus  28/6 calling, Gosney side 4
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 28/6 ±10, Gosney side 9
28/6 1, Gosney place 13
Northern Little Owl Athene noctua indigena  28/6 2, holiday village south of Tasucu
Crested Lark Galerida cristata 28/6 abundant everywhere
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator niloticus  28/6 few, towards Gosney side 12
28/6 many, Gosney side 9
Common Raven Corvus corax 10/7 2, Gosney side 14
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 28/6 irritatingly abundant

NOTES ON THE AREA

In the morning we visited the west side of the delta, side 3 and 4 in Gosney. Very nice were the Black Francolins Francolinus francolinus, of which we could view one calling male very well. Not mentioned by Gosney (which is dated), we found the track across the beach closed. So, driving far south was not possible anymore. Beach tourists use the northern part of this beach. The southern part is hopefully destined for breeding Loggerhead Turtles Caretta caretta, which are numerous along the coast west of the delta. At least, we found about 8 individuals within the sea, about a few kilometres west of Tasucu. Here, day-trippers and swimmers use an inlet, but turtles are swimming there as well. Try to check from the rocks near the road. We observed a few big individuals as well as some smaller ones. Few European Shag Stictocarbo aristotelis were also present.

  Since the beach is not a possibility to reach Gosney side 4, we drove through the holiday village south of Tasucu, which was not very easy to find. We drove south out of this holiday village and followed a small sandy track towards the now viewable watching tower as far as possible. With a four wheel driven car, one can surely reach the tower and drive way further south than we did! Other turtles we found were numerous Spur-thighed Tortoise Testudo graeca and Hermann´s Tortoise Testudo antakyensis on the path towards the watching.

On our return voyage (westwards from Birecik), we visited the Göksu Delta for a second time while waiting for the ferryboat towards Cypres. This time, we drove north out of Silifke, into the mountains. Gosney describes this place as excellent for raptor watching (Gosney side 14). Strangely, we did not find any raptor within a two-hour search! Our only conclusion can be the time of the year of our visit. Gosney visited in August and most have been observing migrating raptors, not resident to the area.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Finding a reasonably prices hotel or pension is not too hard in nearby Silifke. Camping within the delta is also very well possible, especially at Gosney place 4. But, beware of heat and mosquitoes!

4: Tarsus Delta

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
White-throated Kingfisher Halycon smyrnensis  28/6 2, see notes
10/7 ±10, various places, see notes
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus
10/7 common round woods of Gosney side 1
Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis 10/7 many small groups present
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus  10/7 common
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 28/6  male singing, just north of Bahsis

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus brookei 10/7 1 subadult, see notes
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
28/6 1 singing
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica  28/6 common
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis  - common

SPECIES: REMAINING
European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur 28/6 calling, picnic area, Gosney side 1
Crested Lark Galerida cristata - abundant
Common Blackbird Turdus merula  10/7 2, Gosney side 1
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis 10/7 common

NOTES ON THE AREA

We visited this place twice, on our outward voyage (28/6), as well as on our return voyage (10/7). The first visit did yield the fantastic White-throated Kingfisher Halycon smyrnensis, but we were not very pleased, for we had only very quick views. So, we decided to visit the place again later and first had to Aladag Mountains and Demirkazik before dark. We would pass the place anyway, so no extra driving was necessary.

On our return voyage, we took a whole morning to search the area. We found the maps and side descriptions in the Gosney guide painfully unhelpful, probably caused by new asphalt roads being constructed in the last decade. Therefore, I drew my own small sketch, as can be found below. The letters WTK indicate the places we found White-throated Kingfishers.

North of Tarsus, a huge toll road has been constructed. The formally main road (D400) goes through Tarsus, and runs west to east. Make sure to drive this road, and coming from either side, you will find a Renault dealer on the south side of this road. Next to it, a large Petrol Ofisi petrol station can be found. Right in between these, an asphalt road runs south. Take this road south and turn left following this road, as soon as you can also follow an indistinct sandy track straight on into a vague little hamlet. By the way, following this sandy track through the hamlet and continuing straight on brings you to the picnic place described by Gosney. We ourselves found the picnic place not a good spot for the kingfisher at all, though we did find a very nice European Glass Lizard Ophisaurus apodus at the place. Best views of the kingfisher were obtained by following the asphalt road to the left, as said. A fast brook accompanies this road immediately. White-throated Kingfishers were hunting along this brook and resting on the few wires across it, but best views were obtained by turning westwards after a few hundred meters into another asphalt road and driving for a few hundred meters again, until you reach a fence on the south side of the road and some large single trees on the north side of the road, across, again, a fast brook. Moreover, a splendid Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus brookei was found in one of those trees. Note the following. The kingfishers were very shy and the way to get good views might be by just staying inside your car!

If you did not have had any good views of the kingfishers yet, follow this road further along the canal and head for the eucalyptus forest in front of you. By driving through this forest on small sandy tracks, we heard and saw about 6 kingfishers more, although views were bad. Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus and Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus were common though, and both species showed fantastic.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

A proper, reasonably priced and air-conditioned hotel can be found as follows, see the accompanying map as well. Few hundred meters east of the junction you turned south for the kingfishers, a strange garden is visible north of the road. Within this garden, a large ship has been placed. Precisely east of this garden, take the road northwards, which leads you towards the centre of the city. After the second roundabout, if my memory is correct, you will find a hotel to the right and directly after that, another to the left. We did not see any accommodation within the delta.

5: Aladag Mountains: Demirkazik

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO

Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus caspius 29/6 ±5 heard of which 2 seen, see notes
Chukar Alectoris chukar  29/6 2 flying, down the gorge
Radde’s Accentor Prunella ocularis 29/6 male singing, but sneaky, high in mountains
29/6 female, near start of the gorge downward
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis 29/6 very common high up in mountains
Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus 29/6 many flying by, few seen well, mountains
29/6 many, down the whole gorge
Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguinea  29/6 couple of families, high in mountains

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos  29/6 1 immature, high in mountains
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus brookei 29/6 1, high in mountains
Alpine Swift Apus melba 29/6 10s, down the gorge
Eurasian Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris  29/6 common, down the gorge
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus amicorum  29/6 male with food, high in mountains
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis 29/6 female and juv., down the gorge
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer  29/6 common
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria  29/6 1, high in mountains
29/6 3 gave splendid views, down the gorge
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor  29/6 ±5, few km driving north out of Demirkazik
Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus 29/6 common, high in mountains
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax  29/6 common, high in mountains
29/6 few, down the gorge
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia  29/6 ±10, down the gorge near Demirkazik
Rock Bunting Emberizza cia 29/6 2, high in mountains
29/6 male and female, down the gorge

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 29/6 4 in total
Rock Dove Columba livia 29/6 few
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes  29/6 2+1, down the gorge
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros ochruros  29/6 very common in whole area
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe  29/6 very common
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca  29/6 1, down the gorge
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 29/6 few, down the gorge, Gosney side 2
Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina 29/6 2 males

NOTES ON THE AREA

We arrived at the famous Şafak brothers pension late in the evening, which didn’t turn out to be a problem. We met Cávit Şafak, who took us up into the mountains the next morning. Since we were with the four of us and the weather was tolerable, he chose to drive up the mountain with his Lada Niva instead of the usual tractor. After much rain, this would not have been possible, so we were lucky! We arrived (too) early. Weather was very cold. After some hours, we had not seen nor heard any Caspian Snowcocks Tetraogallus caspius, so we started to get uncomfortable. Normally, people at least hear the birds! Our problem was simple, though: a very harsh wind had started to blow over the mountains. Cávit drove down at 06:00h and we decided to wait and walk down later that morning, although Cávit told us our changes had got very ill. Irritated by the fact that we didn’t observe any Caspian Snowcocks, we walked as far as possible up the mountains by ourselves. Suddenly, only at 09:40h, we heard the Curlew Numenius arquata-like call of a bird! Very tense, we sat down and waited for a bird to show itself. After half and hour, we found one flying and saw it through the telescope as it landed. Later, we observed one bird more. It was a crazy view, seeing a chicken run over a high and snowy mountain ridge!

Although the Caspian Snowcocks proved hard to find, almost all other birds were fairy easily found, as was Wild Goat Capra aegagrus. After observing the Snowcocks, we walked down the gorge described in Gosney as side 2. This gorge is very steep and at times absolutely dangerous for people with little climbing experience (such as us). But, Cávit told us to walk back through the gorge, so we trusted him and kept walking/climbing down. Very many birds were present there as well, so we do recommend this route to anyone, especially over driving back down!

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Accommodation at Şafak brothers pension recommended. See Gosney for the exact address. One can contact the pension through the following telephone number as well: 0090 388 724 70 39. Or, just email at safakpansion@hotmail.com.

6: Between Sivas and Erzurum

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata 30/6 male singing, see notes
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 30/6 2, small lake at Nasir
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 30/6  very common, wires along the road

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 30/6 common along whole the road
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos  30/6 1 immature, between Erzincan and Erzurum
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus 30/6 1 intermediate morph, few km east of
Erzincan
Common Crane Grus grus  30/6 2, small lake at Nasir
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 30/6 few at various spots along the road
European Roller Coracia garrulous  30/6 ±8, between Erzincan and Erzurum
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops `  30/6 few, along whole the road
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca
30/6 2 males, just east of Erzincan
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor  30/6 male, small lake at Nasir
30/6 various places along the road

SPECIES: REMAINING
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 30/6 ±20, small lake at Nasir
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena  30/6 2, small lake at Nasir
Black Kite Milvus migrans 30/6 3, west of Sivas along the road
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 30/6 2, river crossing the road
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius  30/6 2, small lake at Nasir
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 30/6 2, river crossing road
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 30/6 abundant along whole the road

NOTES ON THE AREA

We followed this road, since it is the shortest from Demirkazik towards the famous Sivri Kaya. The drive was very long, but most of the roads were reasonable. Along the road, species such as Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala and Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus turned out to be very common. A great number of larks Alaudidae and wheatears Oenanthe spp. flew up along the road almost constantly. Unfortunately, only a little number was checked because of a lack of time and the busyness on the road at most places. We suspect many, if not most, of the larks to have been Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata. As we stopped at a suspect bird, it indeed turned out to be a very nice showing individual.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

It is possible to drive from Demirkazik or the not too far Sultan Marshes to Sivri Kaya within one day, but a very early start is necessary. We left Demirkazik at the end of the afternoon and had a sleep in a dirty motel at Gemerik, about 80km northeast of Kayseri. If you’d like to stop at all the promising looking places, I’d advice you to take two whole days for the mentioned drive. It is surely worth it!

7: Gelinkaya, Sivri Kaya, Ovit Dagi Gecidi and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi  1/7 5 males seen well, see notes
Bright-green Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus 1/7 3, just west of river through Sivri Kaya
Caucasian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus lorenzii
30/6 ±15, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
1/7 1, just west of river through Sivri Kaya
Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata  30/6 1 juv., Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis 1/7 female, mountains east of Sivri Kaya 1/7 ±10, Ovit Dagi
Rock Bunting Emberizza cia 1/7 male, sitting on teahouse Sivri Kaya
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 30/6  male hit by our car, survived
30/6 few along road between Gelinkaya and Ispir 

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 30/6 1, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris penicillata  1/7 ±20, Ovit Dagi
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus  1/7 1, river through Sivri Kaya
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus amicorum  30/6 female, just north of Gelinkaya
Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris  1/7 1 singing, just west of river through Sivri Kaya
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus  30/6 2 calling, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius atricapillus 1/7 1, just west of river through Sivri Kaya
Twite Carduelis flavirostris brevirostris  1/7 1 flying by, Ovit Dagi

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 30/6 1 family, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Woodlark Lullula arborea  30/6 singing, just north of Gelinkaya
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta coutelli 1/7 mountains east of Sivri Kaya 1/7 common, streams round Ovit Dagi
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea  1/7 river through Sivri Kaya
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 1/7 river through Sivri Kaya
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes  1/7 along river through Sivri Kaya
Dunnock Prunella modularis  1/7 mountains east of Sivri Kaya
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos 30/6 few, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros ochruros  1/7 common, Ovit Dagi
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti   30/6 common, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla  1/7 along river through Sivri Kaya
Goldcrest Regulus regulus  1/7 few, just west of river through Sivri Kaya
Marsh Tit Parus palustris  1/7 1, just west of river through Sivri Kaya
European Blue Tit Parus caeruleus 30/6 1, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Great Tit Parus major 30/6 2, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus caspius 30/6 calling, Gelinkaya, Gosney side 5
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus 1/7 very common near water
Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula  1/7 2, just west of river through Sivri Kaya

NOTES ON THE AREA

As we started driving north from the road towards Erzurum, we immediately visited Gelinkaya, described by Gosney. The site as truly worth a visit and must be the easiest place to observe Caucasian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus lorenzii.

When arriving at Sivri Kaya, which is a very tiny village, ask for Mustapha Sari. Unfortunately, he hardly speaks English. But, he is very friendly and is willing to show Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi (“Blackcock”) for a reasonable amount of money. And he knows the best places for sure! We drove up the mountains east of Sivri Kaya with him. The road we took was very narrow and steep and certain parts, and had even more narrowed were parts had disappeared into the gorges. So, steel nerves are absolutely necessary! But, in spite of our visit in July, which is about a month too late, Mustapha showed us five males foraging! We were absolutely relieved by this observation, because lots of stories were read about people searching for this bird for two days, and they would only see a flying bird. The birds we saw were at quite a distance, but we did not have to disturb them and had many time to have a good look. If you join Mustapha, you will be amazed by his sharp view.

  Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus was also present on one of the facing hillsides.

Near the northern wooden buildings at Sivri Kaya, we walked a small dirt track down towards the river. We crossed the river and saw the many species mentioned above by following the track north along the river for just a few hundred meters. On the track, Mustapha showed us recent excrements of Brown Bear Ursus arctos.

At the end of our visit, we had a look at Ovit Dagi as well. Place described by Gosney. Here, a glacier can be found, as well as streams and a pool with very fresh melt water. A very interesting place. Too bad thick clouds came up as we visited the place, for it is said to be a good site for Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

As we did, try to sleep at the teahouse in Sivri Kaya. The owner will not ask very much, make you a breakfast and is very friendly. Otherwise, there is a hotel a few kilometres north of Sivri Kaya. But, it is said this hotel is very expensive and employees are unfriendly.

8: Between Savşat and Ardahan

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Rock Bunting Emberizza cia 2/7 2 males and female, between Savşat and Çam Geçidi

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus  2/7 1, Çam Geçidi
Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomerina 2/7 1, just east of Savşat
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius  2/7 1 calling, just east of Savşat
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris penicillata  2/7 ±10, Çam Geçidi
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia  2/7 east of Çam Geçidi
Ortolan Bunting Emberizza hortulana  2/7 1 pair, just east of Çam Geçidi

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix  2/7 1 calling, just east of Çam Geçidi
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo  2/7 1 adult, Çam Geçidi
Northern Little Owl Athene noctua indigena  2/7 2, just east of Çam Geçidi
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 2/7 2, just east of Savşat
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 2/7 few singing, Çam Geçidi
Common House Martin Delichon urbica 2/7 east of Çam Geçidi
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta coutelli 2/7 common, Çam Geçidi
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra  2/7 2 males, just east of Çam Geçidi
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe  2/7 common, Çam Geçidi
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos  2/7 singing, between Savşat and Çam Geçidi
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus  2/7 just east of Savşat
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla  2/7 just east of Savşat
Common Raven Corvus corax 2/7 2, between Savşat and Çam Geçidi
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 2/7 ±30,e east of Çam Geçidi
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis 2/7 singing, between Savşat and Çam Geçidi
Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina 2/7 ±10, Çam Geçidi
Twite Carduelis flavirostris brevirostris  2/7 male and female, Çam Geçidi
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra  2/7 4, just east of Savşat
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus 2/7 common, east of Çam Geçidi
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 2/7 common, east of Çam Geçidi

NOTES ON THE AREA

Gosney has not described this area. The idea to visit came from A Birdwatchers Guide to Turkey by Ian Green and Nigel Moorhouse. Also, we did not read about the area in past trip reports. Still, the area is surely worth a visit and an excellent combination is possible if you are to visit Aktas Gölü or the Işak Paşa Palace after a visit to Sivri Kaya.

Between Savşat and Ardahan we encountered a high plateau, which is said to be a pass called Çam Geçidi, but is not recognizable as one. Some mountains species live here, and the weather is very cold and cloudy. Apart from the birds, we noted a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes with a remarkably light-colored fur.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Good hotels are to be found at Savşat. Ardahan should have some, too.

9: Hills east and valley south of Ardahan

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 2/7 present were habitat suitable
2/7 many, along river in direction of Yalnisçam
Caucasian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus lorenzii
2/7 1 singing, pine forest hills east of Ardahan

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus  2/7 1, pine forest hills east of Ardahan
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 2/7 few south of Ardahan
2/7 1, pine forest hills east of Ardahan
Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomerina 2/7 2 adult, along main road south of Ardahan
2/7 1, pine forest hills east of Ardahan
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus 2/7 1 dark morph, pine forest hills east of Ardahan
Eurasian Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris  2/7 ±10, along river in direction of Yalnisçam
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca
2/7 1 male, along main road south of Ardahan
Ortolan Bunting Emberizza hortulana  2/7 male, south of Ardahan

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix  2/7 1 calling, just west of Ardahan
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo  2/7 1, south of Ardahan
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 2/7 few, river in direction of Yalnisçam
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus 2/7 1, direction of Yalnisçam
Common Swift Apus apus 2/7 common, direction of Yalnisçam
Eaurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 2/7 few singing
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 2/7 1, direction of Yalnisçam
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis 2/7 1, along main road south of Ardahan
2/7 1, pine forest hills east of Ardahan
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus  2/7 few, pine forest hills east of Ardahan
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti 2/7 1 singing, along river in direction of Yalnisçam
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus 2/7 1 singing, along river in direction of Yalnisçam
Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula soemmerringii 2/7  common, around Ardahan
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix sharpii  2/7 common, around Ardahan
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs  2/7 few, pine forest hills east of Ardahan
Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina 2/7 various spots round Ardahan
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 2/7 common

NOTES ON THE AREA

The Ardahan area borders directly to the area described at the section “Between Savşat and Ardahan”. We drove from the Çam Geçidi pass towards Ardahan, had a look just east of Ardahan at the pine forest hills for raptors and drove a few kilometres south to a river and its valley.

When exploring this area, try to drive south out of Ardahan and in the direction of Erzurum. After a few kilometres, turn west towards a small town called Yalnisçam. You will cross the river after some kilometres. The scenery is extremely green and the weather agreeable. As at many places more, we ran into some friendly locals, some of who spoke English. More about the area and about where to find the best places for raptor watching can be found in A Birdwatchers Guide to Turkey by Ian Green and Nigel Moorhouse.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Hotels are most probably present at Ardahan and surely at Kars.

10: Aktas Gölü and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus 2/7 ±5, Aktas Gölü, see notes
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus 2/7 ±20, Aktas Gölü, see notes
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 2/7 few, road between Çildir and Aktas Gölü
Armenian Gull Larus armenicus  2/7 ±500, Aktas Gölü, see notes
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 2/7 ±10, Aktas Gölü, see notes

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea  2/7 10s, Aktas Gölü
2/7 3, eastside of Çildir Gölü
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca  2/7 8, Aktas Gölü, see notes
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina  2/7 3 juv., road between Çildir and Aktas Gölü
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis 2/7 2 males, along road between Çildir and  Aktas Gölü
2/7 male, road east of Çildir Gölü
Ortolan Bunting Emberizza hortulana  2/7 1, along road east of Çildir Gölü

SPECIES: REMAINING
Tufted Duck Netta fuligula 2/7 4, south Aktas Gölü
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 2/7 ±10, eastside of Çildir Gölü
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2/7 ±15, Aktas Gölü
Little Egret Egretta garzetta  2/7 10s, shore and island around Aktas Gölü
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus   2/7 male, along road between Çildir and Aktas Gölü
2/7 2 pairs, islands within Aktas Gölü
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 2/7 eastside of Çildir Gölü
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 2/7 2, shore at village west of Aktas Gölü
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus  2/7 few, south Aktas Gölü
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 2/7 1, along road east of Çildir Gölü
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 2/7 1, along road east of Çildir Gölü
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra  2/7 many, along road between Çildir and Aktas   Gölü
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe  2/7 abundant, east of Çildir Gölü
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis icterops 2/7 1, along road east of Çildir Gölü
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio  2/7 male, road between Çildir and Aktas Gölü
Rook Corvus frugilegus 2/7 common

NOTES ON THE AREA

Çildir Gölü is described in A Birdwatchers Guide to Turkey by Ian Green and Nigel Moorhouse as a good place to see both Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus and Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus. Through our friend Remco Hofland, we understood the nearby Aktas Gölü on the Georgian border was to be a much better place to see them, though. This surely turned out to be the case. As a good start, Aktas Gölü is much, much smaller and can be viewed in total at once. The diameter of Aktas Gölü is not more than a few kilometres.

  To reach Aktas Gölü, follow the road D010 from Ardahan eastwards in the direction of Çildir. After about 30 kilometres, turn north towards Çildir and drive along the main road through Çildir and directly out of it, northwards. After about 10 to 15 kilometres, you will see the lake on your right side. This is a truly impressive view, as you are standing way above the lake and you have a vast panorama over the lake and Georgia, which starts north of Aktas Gölü. The road up to this point is very much birding fun. We had our best views of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis along this road. On the west side of the lake, you will see a very small village. Drive towards this village.

  A very important matter is the following. As we drove towards this village, we passed a military control post, see the accompanying map below. We thought this was just one of the many military control posts present in this area. We waved at the soldier and he waved back friendly. On our way back a few hours later, we were stopped. A soldier present in the small village down the lake had seen us with a camera and alarmed the others at their post. They searched the car and started to make some trouble. Luckily, a boss of the soldiers, or something like that, turned out to be married to a German and spoke with us. Within five minutes, we drank tea with him along the road and we talked about birds, optics and Germany. So, for future visitors, we strongly advice to stop at the military post and ask for permission first. Most probably, militaries will not have a problem with your presence as long as you explain your purposes.

On the map below, our most interesting observations are presented. After you have passed the military post, turned right onto the small dirt roads of the small village. Drive towards the shore. Here, we observed a few Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea. The first pelicans can we seen, but are very far away. Park your car and walk along the southern shore of the lake, eastwards, through the meadows. Here, you will surely see the nice Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg. You should walk as far as you want and as close as you want to get to the pelicans. We had nice views of about five Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus and 20 Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus flying above the lake and sitting on the small gravel islands. The distance to the birds is still considerable, though. On the middle of the lake, we observed a small and solitary group of eight Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, a species that can be seen on just a few high altitude lakes in eastern Turkey.

After our visit to Aktas Gölü, we drove south towards Kars. By following the signs, we were automatically sent along the eastern side of Çildir Gölü. On this lake we hardly observed any specialities, let alone pelicans. This lake is immense and searching for pelicans must be a huge job.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Hotels at Ardahan and Kars. Camping in the wild is dissuaded because of the many soldiers present; situation seems very tense here.

11: “Small Mast Lake”

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala 2/7 3 drakes, 1 female, 3 downy young

SPECIES: REMAINING
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula  2/7 few
Gadwall Mareca strepera 2/7 few pairs
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata  2/7 2
Garganey Anas querquedula 2/7 single drake
Common Teal Anas crecca  2/7 ±8
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis 2/7 at least 10 pairs
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 2/7 common
Common Redshank Tringa totanus 2/7 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus  2/7 large breeding colony

NOTES ON THE AREA

As we drove from Kars towards Dogir and further towards Igdir, we passed -by incident- a small lake with lots of reed. It looked very promising and it turned out to be just that. This area will not be found in other publications and implies only a small lake along the road we followed, not a vast area.

If you are travelling in this area, say from the Ardahan area towards, most logical, the Işak Paşa Palace, it is a good idea to visit this small lake. For sure it is the easiest place in Turkey to have perfect views of White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala at a close range, or one of the best at least. These birds even breed here.

You can reach this spot by driving towards Dogir and Igdir from Kars, along the D070. After ±35 kilometres, you will reach a very high television mast or something that looks like it. It is situated on a high green hill. The small lake is between this mast and the road. We observed all interesting species from the road with ease.

When driving a little further south, you’ll pass the small village of Dogir. Just after this village, there is a rocky hillside on the west side of the road. Here, we observed a single Chukar Alectoris chukar, as well as a single Northern Little Owl Athene noctua indigena just before dark.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Plan a visit during a passage as mentioned above. You can find all birds within an hour.

12: Between Igdir and Doğubayazit

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO

pelican spec. Pelecanus spp.  3/7 1 flying at considerable distance, little lake at Karabulak
Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata 3/7 some along road D975, seen very well!
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis 3/7 2, along road D975
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 3/7  common along road D975

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni 3/7 ±5, just south of Igdir along road D975
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola  3/7 ±10, little lake at Karabulak
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus 3/7 few, little lake at Karabulak
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus 3/7  few, little lake at Karabulak
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 3/7 common along road D975
3/7 few, little lake at Karabulak
European Roller Coracia garrulous  3/7 3, along road D975
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 3/7 3, along road D975
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer  3/7 common along road D975 in suitable Habitat
Rose-coloured Starling Sturnus roseus  3/7 many 100s, see notes
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia  3/7 near stony houses and ruins along road D975
Ortolan Bunting Emberizza hortulana  3/7 few along road D975

SPECIES: REMAINING
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus  3/7 6, little lake at Karabulak
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 3/7 4, little lake at Karabulak
Little Tern Sterna albifrons  3/7 few foraging, little lake at Karabulak
Northern Little Owl Athene noctua indigena  3/7 2, stony village of Karabulak
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 3/7 1, along road D975
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 3/7 few, along road D975
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 3/7 100s, little lake at Karabulak
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 3/7 common

NOTES ON THE AREA

In the morning of July the 3rd, we drove from our hotel at Igdir towards the Işak Paşa Palace along the D975. This road, by coincidence, turned out to be a birder’s paradise. As we drove out of Igdir, we observed Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni and European Roller Coracia garrulous. Also, Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata sang along the road and could be observed during its song-flight. The most unexpected surprise was a huge group of Rose-coloured Starling Sturnus roseus, just a few kilometres south of Igdir, where the road cuts through a habitat of lava. Large groups flew by as we stopped and huge groups were foraging on the ground. Few birds even came quite close to the road, and we had perfect views!

  As we drove further along the road, we observed many more species. Unfortunately, we could not take all the time needed, for we had to visit the Işak Paşa Palace before temperatures would start to get extreme again. But, behind the village of Karabulka, ±15 kilometres north of Doğubayazit, we found a beautiful lake with on its background the very impressive Ararat Mountain. We had a quick search at the lake and found some waders Charadriiformes and terns Sternidae. Also, we observed a distant pelican spec. Pelecanus spp.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Hotels at Igdir and the very touristic Doğubayazit.

13: Işak Paşa Palace and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Finsch’s Wheatear Oenanthe finschii  3/7 1 male, beyond palace, see notes
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis 3/7 2, beyond palace
Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus 3/7 few, mainly flying by, beyond palace
Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguinea  3/7 2, along road up towards palace
Mongolian Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes mongolicus 3/7 ±8, beyond palace, see notes
Grey-necked Bunting Emberizza buchanani 3/7 2 males singing, beyond palace, see notes

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus  3/7 2 adults and 1 subadult, beyond palace
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos  3/7 1 immature, beyond palace palace
Alpine Swift Apus melba 3/7 ±30, above palace
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer  3/7 common beyond and around palace
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax  3/7 few, hills beyond palace
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia  3/7 10s, around and beyond palace

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 3/7 beyond palace
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus  3/7 1, beyond palace
Common Swift Apus apus 3/7 10s, above and around palace
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe  3/7 few, beyond palace
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 3/7 abundant, around palace

NOTES ON THE AREA

Many people have visited the Işak Paşa Palace since the discovery of Mongolian Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes mongolicus at this site in the early 90’s. Ever since, it has been the only regular site for this species within the Western Palearctic. This site has not been properly discussed by Dave Gosney, probably because this site has been ‘discovered’ after the publication of this guide. A Birdwatchers Guide to Turkey by Ian Green and Nigel Moorhouse does describe this area properly. To offer something extra, I made a sketch of the area surrounding the palace and pointed out were we found the important species. In recent trip reports, I noted some people have missed the Mongolian Trumpeter Finches. This might be caused by the fact these birders did not explore the area that is a few hundred meters beyond the palace, probably caused by other trip reports only mentioning the Işak Paşa Palace as the place they observed their species. It is important, though, to visit the area that lies beyond the palace!

As can be seen on the above map, one can park their car at the palace, as well as a few hundred meters further. You will not miss very much by parking at the higher second and larger parking. From here, walk upwards a few hundred meters along the mountain ridge on your left. Along the track, Asia Minor Ground Squirrel Spermophilus xantoprymnus is abundant. A bulge coming towards you from the high mountain ridge holds some old ruins, being not more than a few stones put together. This bulge turned out to be our best place for Mongolian Trumpeter Finch. A male Finsch’s Wheatear Oenanthe finschii also appeared in front of the ridge on our left. The fields in front of you as you walk upwards hold Grey-necked Bunting Emberizza buchanani; we had two singing males at least. Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus passes by calling regularly. If you are lucky, you can see them sit on the same rocks scattered through the field that are used by the buntings as singing posts. They never sit down for a long time, unfortunately. Nice bonuses here for us included a fabulous threesome Lammergeiers Gypaetus barbatus, joined by a single immature Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Accommodation is available at nearby Doğubayazit.

14: Between Doğubayazit and Van Lake area

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis 3/7 few, rocky parts along road D975
Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguinea  3/7 ±10, rocky parts along road D975
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 3/7  5, on wires along road D975  

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 3/7 4, along road D975
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 3/7 few, along road D975
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 3/7 4
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina  3/7 common, along road D975
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis 3/7 5 males, rocky parts along road D975

SPECIES: REMAINING
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 3/7 few, shallow lakes along road D975
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 3/7 3
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe  3/7 common, along road D975
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 3/7 10s, on wires along road D975

NOTES ON THE AREA

As along the road between Igdir and Doğubayazit, the road between Doğubayazit and the Van Lake area is a very nice birding experience. Probably because we drove this road, numbered D975, in the afternoon, we did not see as many species as along the former mentioned part of this road.

  A few kilometres south of Doğubayazit, the road crosses a lava-covered rocky landscape. Here, we observed some of the interesting high-mountain species, including Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguinea, foraging close along the road and therefore easily visible from the car. Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina seemed to be common along great parts of this road.

  About 10 or 20 kilometres north of the city of Muradiye, the road crosses an area of shallow lakes. They look very promising, but we hardly saw any interesting birds there. Some Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus were present and, more interesting, two Dice Snakes Natrix tessellata in the water next to the road.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Not really applicable. One can bird along this road during the driving trip between Işak Paşa Palace and the Van Lake area, or make a daytrip from the Van Lake area only.

15: Van Lake area, including Erçek Gölü and Van Hills

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Armenian Gull Larus armenicus  4/7 10s, South Van Marshes
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 3/7 ±10, including juv., Bendimahi Marshes 4/7 10s, meadows round Erçek Gölü 4/7 10s, South Van Marshes
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon mimicus 4/7 1 singing, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes
Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus pallidus elaeicus 3/7 1, Bendimahi Marshes
Pale Rockfinch Carpospiza brachydactyla 4/7 ±10, Van Hills, see notes
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 4/7  2, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea  4/7 1000s, north and eastern Erçek Gölü
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala 4/7 drake with pull, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes, 4/7 1 drake, South Van Marshes
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutes  4/7 few calling, male flying, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus rubber  4/7 100s, north and eastern Erçek Gölü
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 4/7 1, Van Hills
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni 4/7 ±10, round Van Castle
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola  3/7 4, foraging, Bendimahi Marshes
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei 4/7 at least 30, Erçek Gölü, see notes, 4/7 10s, South Van Marshes
Caspian Tern Sterna Caspia  4/7 1 flying past, Bendimahi River
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus 4/7  ±300, along eastern shore of Erçek Gölü, 4/7 ±10, South Van Marshes
European Roller Coracia garrulous  3/7 2, Bendimahi Marshes, 4/7 1, south side of Erçek Gölü
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 3/7 1, Bendimahi Marshes, 4/7 1, south side of Erçek Gölü, 4/7 2, South Van Marshes
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens 3/7 3 pairs on ground, Bendimahi Marshes
Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola werae 4/7 2 males, 2 females, 1 juv., South Van Marshes, see notes
Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura armenica  4/7 3, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca, 4/7 male + 2 juv., Van Hills
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer  4/7 common, Van Hills
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor  4/7 2, southeast of Erçek Gölü along road D300
Common Reed Bunting Emberizza schoeniclus reiseri 3/7 male, Bendimahi Marshes

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 3/7 ±15, Bendimahi Marshes 4/7 ±10, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes, 4/7 ±10, South Van Marshes
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula  4/7 2, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix  4/7 calling, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes, 4/7 calling, South Van Marshes
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 4/7 ±10, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis 4/7 ±200 seen on the south side of Erçek Gölü, from the main road D300
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 4/7 2, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo  4/7 2, South Van Marshes
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 3/7 10s, Bendimahi Marshes, 4/7 10s, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes, 4/7 10s, South Van Marshes
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 4/7 8, eastern shore of Erçek Gölü
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus  4/7 ±10, eastern shore of Erçek Gölü 4/7 ±20, South Van Marshes
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta 4/7 South Van Marshes
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius  4/7 South Van Marshes
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus  4/7 2, South Van Marshes
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 4/7 ±10, eastern shore of Erçek Gölü 4/7 South Van Marshes
Common Redshank Tringa tetanus 3/7 ±10, Bendimahi Marshes 4/7 ±20, eastern shore of Erçek Gölü 4/7 South Van Marshes
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 4/7 ±20, eastern shore of Erçek Gölü 4/7 South Van Marshes
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 4/7 ±10, eastern shore of Erçek Gölü 4/7 South Van Marshes
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 4/7 ±10, eastern shore of Erçek Gölü 4/7 South Van Marshes
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus  4/7 South Van Marshes
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 4/7 2, South Van Marshes
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 3/7 2, Bendimahi Marshes
Caspian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus fuscus 4/7 1, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus 3/7  4 singing, Bendimahi Marshes 4/7 ±8, south of Erçek Gölü, see notes 4/7 2, South Van Marshes
Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus 3/7 1, Bendimahi Marshes
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 4/7 common, south of Erçek Gölü

NOTES ON THE AREA

Places mentioned above are all described in Finding Birds in Eastern Turkey by Dave Gosney, unless explicitly stated. It is generally true that all areas around Van Lake should be visited as early as possible in the morning. Unfortunately, because there are so many, we have not done this, for it would take quite some days.

At our arrival at the area, we visited the Bendimahi Marshes. Gosney’s guide seems to be hopelessly dated here! As a start, the road from Muradiye drawn does not connect to the main road along the marshes south of the bridge crossing the River Bendimahi, but north! Gosney side 4 cannot be reached without crossing a military camp, so we did not try not to get in trouble. Also, side 2 is hardly viewable for the reed has grown very tall.

A nice observation was the large-billed subspecies of Common Reed Bunting Emberizza schoeniclus reiseri. Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens was easy on the cut cornfields south of the bridge and west of the road.

An early morning visit to a small marshy lake south of the road that runs south of Erçek Gölü turned out to be a good idea. Quite some ducks were present, including White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala. A Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon of the eastern subspecies mimicus sang next to the road and could well be observed. Along a track southwest of this small lake, Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura armenica was present in the fields.

The eastern shore of Erçek Gölü itself was also worth the visit. A good number of Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei was present on the water, as was an immense number of Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea. Of course, many Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus rubber were present, too. We found the best place to watch the birds on the water and shore to be around a small river entering the large lake. It can be reached by following the main track through the village of Erçek southeast of Erçek Gölü that runs northwards for some kilometres. The water along this track after some kilometres north of Erçek holds many Caspian Terrapins Mauremys caspica.

After a visit to Erçek Gölü, we drove to the Van Hills that can be found quite nearby. We hoped to get good views of Grey-necked Bunting Emberizza buchanani at this site; it is well known for this species. We did not see it though, but instead found quite some singing Pale Rockfinches Carpospiza brachydactyla. The boss of the adjoining quarry invited us for tea, which of course could not be refused. He was surely interested in the birds, but shooting them seemed more logical to him…

At the start of the afternoon, after our visit to the Van Hills, we headed for the South Van Marshes. The side numbered 1 by Gosney cannot be reached through the small track that runs north along the Van Castle. So, we drove a perfect sandy track south of the Van Castle westwards to side 2. The area is very much visited by local day-trippers and therefore very busy. We did not find many marshes: all reeds had been cut and replaced by a rubbish heap! It shocked us a little, especially seeing all the children playing in the water amidst the garbage. Some ducks Anatidae, terns Sternidae and waders Charadriiformes were still present. We were especially very happy with the observation of a total of five Citrine Wagtails Motacilla citreola werae, foraging along a small creek that runs along the sandy track mentioned, about 200 meters from the Van Lake itself. Some Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni hunting near the Van Castle were also very amusing and could be telescoped from a short distance.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Many hotels of variable quality present in the centre of Van town.

16: Bulanik Area

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus  5/7 2, Gosney side 4
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 5/7 common, whole Bulanik Area
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 5/7  common, whole Bulanik Area

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus  5/7 2 seen, Gosney side 4 5/7 2 heard and seen, along river Murat
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra 5/7 common, along road between Bulanik and Yoncali
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens 5/7 common, along road between Bulanik and Yoncali
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides 5/7 adult and imm., along river Murat
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus  5/7 2, Gosney side 4
European Scops Owl Otus scops  5/7 1, calling in early morning, behind hotel Serhat, Malazgirt
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 5/7 few, along road between Bulanik and Yoncali
European Roller Coracia garrulous  5/7 ±10, along road between Bulanik and Yoncali
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops `  5/7 2, along road between Bulanik and Yoncali

SPECIES: REMAINING
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis  5/7 6, ditches along road between Bulanik and Yoncali
Little Egret Egretta garzetta  5/7 2, Gosney side 4
Great Egret Casmerodius albus  5/7 1, Gosney side 4
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 5/7 1, Gosney side 4
White Stork Ciconia ciconia 5/7 2, Gosney side 4
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 5/7 1, along river Murat, Gosney side 4
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus 5/7 2 singing, Gosney side 4
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 5/7 abundant, whole Bulanik Area

NOTES ON THE AREA

We followed the Gosney guide here, and also a report by Spanish birders. Gosney side 4 could be located with some effort. The petrol station mentioned by Gosney has almost gone and is a bit unrecognisable. Though, this is the key to find the good road north towards the river Murat. The sand track towards the river was very well drivable (no rain), but unfortunately interrupted by a man-made stream to carry off rainwater. We therefore walked the last kilometres to the river and also searched a few kilometres along the river Murat itself. Very nice area, but no sign of the regularly sought-after Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo. Since a network of small sandy tracks is present between the river and the main road through Balatos and Yoncali, it might well be possible to get a car to the river itself, especially if you bring a four-wheel driven car.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Both a very chic and a reasonable hotel present in nearby Malazgirt. Accommodation said to be available in Bulanik. We did not visit this city ourselves. If people ever go search for Demoiselle Crane in the future, it’d suggest taking a tent to the river and camp along it. Beware though, that from sunrise onwards many shepherds visit the river with their cattle.

17: Nemrut Dagi near Tatvan

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Armenian Gull Larus armenicus  5/7 2, flying past, Gosney side 4
Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus 5/7 few flying past, Gosney side 4
Pale Rockfinch Carpospiza brachydactyla 5/7 at least 6 singing, Gosney side 1
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala 5/7  ±10, Gosney side 4

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus 5/7 1 light morph, Gosney side 1
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris penicillata  5/7 5, highest points within crater
Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura armenica  5/7 2 juv., Gosney side 4
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris anatoliae  5/7 adult and juv., Gosney side 4
Rock Bunting Emberizza cia 5/7 male singing, Gosney side 4

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix  5/7 1 calling
Common Blackbird Turdus merula  5/7 1, Gosney side 4
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis icterops 5/7 2, Gosney side 4

NOTES ON THE AREA

The area, being an inactive volcano crater, is well described by Dave Gosney in Finding Birds in Eastern Turkey. Our visit to this area was not quite a success, which was partly our own mistake. We arrived in the afternoon (heat) and a heavy wind blew in the crater. Because of the afternoon, almost all birds were quiet, while the heat made it impossible to view the large crater lake present. So, to have a decent birding experience here, try to visit in the morning!

It is noteworthy that roads up and through the crater are very well drivable, contradictory to Gosney. It looked like they had been renewed recently.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Nearby city of Tatvan should have hotels. A campsite is present near the lake within the crater, but might be private.

18: Nemrud Dagi and surroundings, between Siverek and Adiyaman

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis 6/7 few, along road near ferryboat crossing
White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis 6/7 2 females, along new road, see notes 7/7 6 females, along new road, see notes
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus 7/7 few singing, just north of Narince
Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna 6/7 ±5 males + females and many juv., along new road, see notes 7/7 even higher number than on 6/7, also near military post near entrance to new road
Upcher’s Warbler Hippolais languida 6/7 few, along new road, see notes
Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum  6/7 2, along new road, see notes 7/7 2, just north of Narince
Eastern Rock Nuthatch Sitta tephronota 7/7 few along new road, see notes, including 2   on rocks near military post at the entrance
Pale Rockfinch Carpospiza brachydactyla 6/7 few singing, high bare parts along new road, see notes 7/7 ±10, same place as 6/7
Cinereous Bunting Emberizza cineracea semenowi 6/7 few juv./female, along new road, see notes 7/7 singing male + family, along new road, see notes

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
European Scops Owl Otus scops  6/7 calling near pension Karadut
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 6/7 common within most of the area
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 6/7 common within whole area
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris penicillata  6/7 few, along new road, see notes
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica  6/7 common in the whole area
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca 6/7 white-throated male, along new road, see notes
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis 7/7 1 juv., along new road, see notes
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius  7/7 1 juv., along new road, see notes
Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris  7/7 2 females, along new road, see notes 7/7 1 female/juv., near military post, see notes
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus tephronotus 7/7 few juveniles, near military post at entrance   of new road, see notes
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris anatoliae  7/7 1, along new road, see notes
Rose-coloured Starling Sturnus roseus  7/7 ±200, just north of Narince
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia  6/7 few, along new road, see notes

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 6/7 2, along new road, see notes
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe  6/7 few, near military post along new road, see notes
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus  6/7 male flying, near ferryboat crossing
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator niloticus  6/7 3, along new road, see notes

NOTES ON THE AREA

Nemrud Dagi and surroundings can we reached from the east by driving from Diyarbakir to Siverek and from here by taking a new road westwards (towards Kahta?). This road brings you to a ferryboat that crosses the river. The boat leaves once every two hours in both directions. If I remember this right, it left from the Siverek-side at 12:30h, 14:30, 16:30h etc. By the way, how many people do you think fit a 30-meter ferryboat?

The area surrounding the famous archaeological site of Nemrud Dagi, with its heads of stone on the top of an extremely high mountain, probably constitutes the best site in Turkey to find two important specialities. These are Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna and Cinereous Bunting Emberizza cineracea of the subspecies semenowi.

A short note in Birding World volume 14, number 8, by Daniele Occhiato explains where some good places can be found. We found this quite useful, and especially scored along the ‘new road’ to the top of the Nemrud Dagi, starting from Narince. A payment for this road is necessary if someone posts near the entrance, which in mainly not the case as we noted. The road is at times horrible, but birds compensate. Above that, the scenery from the top of Nemrud Dagi is truly magnificent! For mentioned specialities, try the bushes in the shallower gorges along the road. The wheatear also favours the stony gorges at lower altitudes, even near the military post near the entrance to the old road.

We paid a late-morning visit to the Settimio Severo’s roman bridge too, but found little. The heat was probably the malefactor. Daniele Occhiato found singing males Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis over here. I assume they should be present in May, though. Surely, they are easier to discover by then. Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum was also a species that wasn’t easy to find! With a lot of effort, we had some lousy views, though, just north of Narince.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Campsites, as well as pensions, are present along the road north of Narince towards the entrance to the touristic road to the top. We found ‘Karadut Pansiyon’ a good one and had a fine meal in their garden. From the garden, we heard European Scops Owl Otus scops and Green Frogs Hyla savigny.

19: Birecik and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis  8/7 4, only seen flying above main wadi, Gosney side 2 9/7 1, same story as 8/7
Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus 8/7 male calling, Gosney side 9
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita  7&8/7 ±30 in cage at WWF breeding site, many  other individuals flying round; 1 ‘wild'  breeding pair in beginning of main wadi, Gosney side 2
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus  8/7 1, flying past, Gosney side 10
Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei  7/7 adult +3 juv., seen well in the   afternoon (16:00h), Gosney side 8
Little Swift Apus affinis 9/7 ±15 at nests, next to gravel pit on eastern   bank of river Euphrates, just 200m north   of the market at Birecik
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis  8/7 2, flying over river Euphrates past Kiyi  restaurant, Gosney side 9 9/7 4, south of Birecik along river, see notes
White-spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos 8/7 6, main wadi, Gosney side 2
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus 7/7 singing birds common in orchards north of   Birecik
Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis - small groups in reed beds all along river   Euphrates
Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus pallidus elaeicus 7/7 very common at virtually all sides
Ménétries's Warbler Sylvia mystacea rubescens 7/7 female with food, Gosney side 4
8/7 few, no adult males, main wadi, Gosney     side 2
8/7 1 male, calling, behind electricity   substation, Gosney side 5, see notes
8/7 1 family, hard to see, Gosney side 4
9/7 many, including 3 males, quite far inside     the main wadi, Gosney side 2
Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus  7/7 common in orchards north of Birecik,     e.g. Gosney side 4 and 5
8/7 few, between Gosney side 9 and 11
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis 8/7  ±10, main wadi, Gosney side 2
8/7 1 male, behind electricity substation,    Gosney side 5, see notes
Desert Finch Rhodospizza obsolete  7/7 4, just west of Gosney side 4, where main    road bends northwards from the river
8/7 regularly small groups flying by calling,   main wadi, Gosney side 2
8/7 few flying past, Gosney side 4
8/7 few, between Gosney side 9 and 11

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca  9/7 ±15, Euphrates south of Birecik, see notes
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmeus - quite common all along the river Euphrates,   singles as well as small groups
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutes  8/7 2, between Gosney side 9 and 11
9/7 2, river Euphrates south of Birecik
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides 8/7 2 ad., Gosney side 4
8/7 2, between Gosney side 9 and 11
9/7 very common, river Euphrates south of Birecik, see notes
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus  9/7 6, Euphrates south of Birecik, see notes
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei 8/7 8 immatures, flying south, river Euphrates    past Kiyi restaurant, Gosney side 9
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus 9/7  2, Euphrates south of Birecik, see notes
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 7/7 quite common, especially Gosney side 11
European Roller Coracia garrulous  8/7 2, very close views, between Gosney side 9   and 11
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 8/7 1, main wadi, Gosney side 2 8/7 3, Gosney side 4
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus  8&9/7 4, main wadi, Gosney side 2
Eurasian Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris  8/7 Gosney side 4
Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris  7/7 1, Gosney side 4
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia  9/7 few, main wadi, Gosney side 2

SPECIES: REMAINING
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 9/7 ±10, river Euphrates south of Birecik
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 8/7 1 adult, Gosney side 4
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis  9/7 1, Euphrates south of Birecik, see notes
Little Egret Egretta garzetta  8/7 1, between Gosney side 8 and 11 9/7 2, Euphrates south of Birecik
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus  9/7 1, Euphrates south of Birecik
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 9/7 ±10, Euphrates south of Birecik
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 8/7 riverbanks, Gosney side 4
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 9/7 ±10, along Euphrates south of Birecik
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 8/7 riverbanks, Gosney side 4
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 9/7 1, river Euphrates south of Birecik
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaoto  9/7 ±10, main wadi, Gosney side 2
9/7 10s, along Euphrates south of Birecik
European Collared Dove Streptopelia turtur 9/7 2 foraging, along river Euphrates
Northern Little Owl Athene noctua indigena  9/7 1, very tame, along river Euphrates, south   of Birecik, see notes
Long-eared Owl Asio otus  7/7 3 nestlings, tea garden, Gosney side 8
Common Swift Apus apus 8/7 Gosney side 4
9/7 ±20, same side as Little Swift
Crested Lark Galerida cristata 8/7 common, between Gosney side 9 and 11
Sand Martin Riparia riparia  9/7 common, Euphrates south of Birecik
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 8/7 Gosney side 4
Common House Martin Delichon urbica 8/7 Gosney side 4
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus 9/7 2 singing, Euphrates south of Birecik
Great Tit Parus major 9/7 2, main wadi, Gosney side 2
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator niloticus  8/7 1 family, main wadi, Gosney side 2
House Sparrow Passer domesticus - abundant everywhere
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix sharpii  - common at most sides

NOTES ON THE AREA

Birecik has always had the Western Palearctic sub-zero status for birding areas amongst birders. Our expectations were very high, and luckily the birding indeed turned out to be stunning. A lot of target species were easily found, whereas other needed more than a day to be found, especially Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis. It should be noted that temperatures are extremely high (up to 40°C), starting from 09:00h until dark. Really good birding can therefore only be done in the very early morning. After 09:00h, only though guys will be able to walk around.

The areas visited have all been described by Dave Gosney in Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik and references are made above. Some extra comments need to be given, though. The village of Halfeti came across very dead. We actually saw not one bird, but this might have been caused by us visiting in the afternoon. The spot formerly known to have breeding Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor, Gosney side 6, was totally empty. In 2003, these birds have been seen again though, by two Dutch birders. A species formerly breading on the west banks of the river Euphrates, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus, has not been found here since quite some years. Unfortunately, we did neither. Last but not least, the electricity substation described at side 5 has been overgrown by some trees and is hard to find. Watch out for a split of the road westwards. The substation is here at the east side of the road. To see Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis, check the electricity cables behind the nearby houses.

South of Birecik, birding along the eastern bank of the river Euphrates is very interesting. Gosney does not describe this area, unfortunately. If you have found the tea gardens where Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei breed, drive further south through the outskirts of the village and keep the direction of the river. After a while, it is possible to ascend the dike along the river southwards. We travelled along this dike for many kilometres, which was very fruitful.  The number of herons Ardeidae was impressive. Quite some ducks Anatidae could be found as well. Pied Kingfisher turned out to be easily found hunting above the pools on the landside of the dike.

Apart from birds, we observed a very beautiful butterfly, Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus, closely related to the well-known Monarch Danaus plexippus. This was in the orchards north of Birecik, Gosney side 5. Try to find it, as I found it more stunning than many birds in the area!

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

We stayed two nights in the air-conditioned hotel Mirkelam, which can be found at the Petrol Ofise gasoline station just east of the river Euphrates and south of the main road. Smaller and less expensive hotels should be found on the west side of the river, in the centre of Birecik. Though, the air-conditioning was truly needed!

20: Durnalik and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis 9/7 few in orchards, hard to see well, single   males have been observed, Gosney side 4
Upcher’s Warbler Hippolais languida 9/7 1 family, Gosney side 2
Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus pallidus elaeicus 9/7 common, Gosney side 2 and 4
Eastern Rock Nuthatch Sitta tephronota 9/7 4, Gosney side 4
Desert Finch Rhodospizza obsolete  9/7 few flying past, calling, Gosney side 2

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 9/7 2, Gosney side 4
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus  9/7 1 noisy family present, Gosney side 4
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica  9/7 ±10, Gosney side 4
Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris  9/7 2, Gosney side 4
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris anatoliae  9/7 at least 3, Gosney side 4

SPECIES: REMAINING
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 9/7 abundant

NOTES ON THE AREA

Durnalik, famous for being the best place in Turkey to see Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna and Cinereous Bunting Emberizza cineracea, was visited by us on just one single hot afternoon. Our target species here was actually Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberizza caesia, for we had somehow missed this bird at a more reliable site: Aladag Mountains at Demirkazik. Probably because of the weather, the time of the day and our short visit, we found none of these. Some other nice birds were found, though. We advise everyone to visit this area during an early morning.

Places referred to above are taken from Gosney’s Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

We only visited during a day of travel and therefore have no experience with this.

21: Cyprus: Bellepais Monastery and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae 11/7 1 light morph,  above Bellepais Monastery 12/7 same bird (?) at same side as 11/7
Cyprus Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca  11/7 few families, easily found, see notes 12/7 same as 11/7
Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax  11/7 regularly juv. seen, see notes 12/7 female and few young, see notes
Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberizza caesia  12/7 2, above Bellepais Monastery

SPECIES: REMAINING
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo  11/7 1, above Bellepais Monastery
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus 11/7 common
Desert Little Owl Athene noctua lilith  11/7 1, above Bellepais Monastery along road 12/7 same bird and same place as 11/7
Common Magpie Pica pica 11/7 few
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix pallescens 11/7 common along whole Cyprus coastline

NOTES ON THE AREA

A tactful birder will only travel to Cyprus from mainland Turkey to see just two species not found in Turkey itself: Cyprus Wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca and Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax. Other species that can be found are possible on mainland Turkey, too. Note also that both these Cyprus specialities can be found in Israel on passage. Cyprus Wheatear is easily found at a variety of places, e.g. behind the Bellepais Monastery. At this same spot, Cyprus Warbler can be found reasonably easy. Although we had about 10 skulking individuals, we did not manage to see a nice male.

As written in the itinerary section, travelling to Cyprus by ferryboat was horrible. Timetables mean nothing in Turkey, customs are extremely time-consuming and temperatures are very high. As we arrived at the island, we took a taxi towards the Bellepais Monastery and walked from there upwards against the mountains. The walking was though, but Cyprus Wheatear was easily found. No good views of Cyprus Warbler could be obtained, so we went back the next day. Again no good views of the warbler. A very tame young Red Fox Vulpes vulpes anatolica was present.

A perfect site about bird watching and other nature-related topics at Cyprus is found at www.northcyprusbirds.com. Go check it!

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Many hotels are present on the island. We had our taxi driver choose one. Maybe he just brought us to a friend, but the hotel was very good with air-conditioning. The hotel was very expensive, but expect every hotel on the island to be so.

22: Konya-Karaman-Eregli triangle

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella cheleensis niethammeri 12/7 quite some small groups, along road  between Karaman and Eregli 13/7 small groups, near Anbar along the road  south of Eregli Marshes, Gosney side 4

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 12/7 1, road between Karaman and Eregli 13/7 3, road south of Eregli Marshes, Gosney   side 4
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni 12/7 few along road between Karaman and Eregli 12/7 ±25 in colony, see notes
European Roller Coracia garrulous  12/7 5 on wires, road towards Bogecik
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus  13/7 1, road south of Eregli Marshes,   Gosney side 4
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra 12/7 ±20, road between Karaman and Eregli
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla 12/7 10s, road between Karaman and Eregli
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina  12/7 very common, even abundant at places,     especially at Gosney side 4
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor  13/7 1 adult, Eregli Marshes, Gosney side 4
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis  13/7 common breeder in village of Bogecik

SPECIES: REMAINING
Black Kite Milvus migrans 12/7 1, road between Karaman and Eregli
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaoto  13/7 common round civilisations
Northern Little Owl Athene noctua indigena  13/7 2, along road south of Eregli Marshes,  Gosney side 4
Long-eared Owl Asio otus  12/7 young calling, garden of hotel in Eregli
Crested Lark Galerida cristata 13/7 common at most sides
Sand Martin Riparia riparia  13/7 10s, Eregli Marshes, Gosney side 4
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica   13/7 10s, Eregli Marshes, Gosney side 4
Common Blackbird Turdus merula  12/7 male, garden of hotel in Eregli
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix sharpii  13/7 few, Eregli Marshes
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 13/7 100s, Eregli Marshes, Gosney side 4
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 12/7 abundant, especially near villages

NOTES ON THE AREA

Places visited are described by Gosney in Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik.

Birding in the area is quite some fun, with our main special bird being Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella cheleensis niethammeri. Along the road between Karaman and Eregli, larks Alaudidae are numerous and we made many stops to check them.  Here, Asia Minor Ground Squirrel Spermophilus xantoprymnus is abundant. Therefore, one would expect high numbers of Accipitriformes here, but we saw little. A probable Saker Falco cherrug was resting along this road in an electricity pole, but was too distant. As we drove closer, the bird had gone and could not be found again.

It is important for future visitors that, at the time of our visit, no water could be found at the Eregli Marshes or anywhere else in the surroundings. At the Sultan Marshes, this is said to be the same case. I’m not sure whether this is caused by the time of the year or permanent. At least many reeds were still present, so water could not have been absent for too long.

A good tip is that of a colony of breeding Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni near the small village of Bogecik. To reach it, drive the main road between Karaman and Eregli a few hundred meters further eastwards than were you can find a small indistinct sign pointing northwards towards Bogecik, and turn north onto a smaller road. This road is partly covered with asphalt and partly with gravel and makes a strange turn around some sort of dike. After a few hundred meters, just before a very small settlement, the birds breed on the left side of the road. We saw many fresh juveniles being fed by adult males and females. Perfect side for photographers!

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Good hotels are available in both Karaman and Eregli. Truly recommended. People here are extremely friendly and fairly western-orientated in these cities.

23: Kulu Gölü

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus 14/7 2 subad., on small island on eastside of  main lake
Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella cheleensis niethammeri 13/7 ±10, along tracks near small lake,  see notes 14/7 common, east of main lake
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 14/7 few, around both lakes

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea  13/7 some 100s, main lake
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala 13/7 ±10, small lake, see notes 14/7 ±25 drakes + same amount other     plumages, small lake, see notes
White Stork Ciconia ciconia 14/7 ±50, around whole area
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus rubber  13/7 some 100s, main lake + small lake
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 13/7 2, along sandy tracks west of lake
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola  13/7 1 flying past, small lake, see notes
Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii columbinus 13/7 1 juv., north side small lake, see notes 14/7 3 juv., same place as 13/7
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis 13/7 1, north side small lake, see notes
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei 14/7 quite common, along eastern shore of  main lake
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica  13/7 10s, all around the lake
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus 14/7 ±10, small lake, see notes
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus 14/7  ±50, south side main lake + small lake
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 13/7 4, tracks around lake
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina  13/7 10s, along sandy tracks

SPECIES: REMAINING
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna  14/7 ±20
Red-crested Pochard Rufina rufina 14/7 ±20, small lake, see notes
Common Pochard Aythya farina  14/7 few, small lake, see notes
Garganey Anas querquedula 13/7 eclipse drake, small lake, see notes
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 13/7 10s
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis 13/7 10s
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 14/7 few
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus  14/7 2, small lake, see notes
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 14/7 ±10, small lake, see notes
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta   14/7 4, east shore main lake
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius  14/7 ±15, small lake, see notes
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus  13/7 10s, mainly small lake, see notes
Little Stint Calidris minuta 13/7 4, small lake, see notes
Ruff Philomachus pugnax  13/7 ±10, small lake, see notes
Common Redshank Tringa totanus 13/7 common
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 14/7 few
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 13/7 10s, small lake, see notes
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 14/7 ±30, small lake, see notes
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus  14/7 few with juv., east shore main lake
Pontic Gull Larus cachinnans  14/7 common, mainly east shore of main lake
Black Tern Chlidonias niger 14/7 4, main lake
Crested Lark Galerida cristata 14/7 common, all around the lakes
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 13/7 ±8, near small lake, see notes

NOTES ON THE AREA

Kulu Gölü has been described by Dave Gosney in Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik. The area is relatively small and therefore easy to bird. The main lake is said never to dry up fully, contrary to e.g. the Eregli Marshes. Driving round the lake was possible at the time of our visit and we found it very much fun. Many birds can be approached quite well when staying inside the car. Beware that driving round the eastern part requires you leave the sandy tracks and drive of road along the shoreline, where you might get stuck at very dusty parts.

 Apart from driving a circle around the main lake, a sandy track can be driven around a small separate lake south of the main lake (by Gosney drawn as a part of the main lake). Here we found most waders Charadriiformes and terns Sternidae.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Some hotels are present at nearby city of Kulu.

24: Akseki and surroundings

SPECIES: SUB-ZERO
Lilford’s White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi 15/7 single calling bird, identification not 100%     certain,  Gosney side 4
Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum  15/7 1, Gosney side 1
Rüppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppellii 15/7 female/juv., Gosney side 1 16/7 1 female, Gosney side 1
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis 15/7 3, Gosney side 4 16/7 1, walled plantation, Gosney side 1
Krüper's Nuthatch Sitta krueperi 14/7 ±10, Gosney side 3 15/7 abundant, Gosney side 4
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus  15/7 few, near main road, Gosney side 4 15/7 5, Gosney side 1
Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberizza caesia  15/7 1 family, Gosney side 1

SPECIES: HIGHLIGHTS
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus  14/7 1, between village and Gosney side 3
European Scops Owl Otus scops  14/7 1 calling, heard from hotel at night
European Roller Coracia garrulous  15/7 1, Gosney side 1
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 15/7 1, Gosney side 1
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus  15/7 few, Akseki graveyard, Gosney side 2 16/7 1 family, walled plantation, Gosney side 1
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius 15/7 3, Gosney side 4
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica  15/7 ±10, Gosney side 1
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca 14/7 white-throated male, along road between    Akseki village and Gosney side 3 15/7 male with 3 juv., Gosney side 4, 15/7 1 family, Gosney side 1
Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris  16/7 1 juv., Gosney side 1
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus tephronotus 16/7 1 small group, Gosney side 1
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris anatoliae  15/7 3, Gosney side 1, 16/7 ad. + juv., Gosney side 4
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer  14/7 few, between village and Gosney side 3 , 16/7 few, Gosney side 1
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius atricapillus 15/7 2, Akseki graveyard, Gosney side 2
Cirl Bunting Emberizza cirlus 15/7 male feeding juv., Gosney side 4; according   to Birds of the Middle East this might be one of the most easterly breeding Cirl   Buntings in Turkey

SPECIES: REMAINING
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 16/7 female, Gosney side 1
Long-eared Owl Asio otus  15/7 1 calling juv., heard from hotel at night
European Green Woodpecker Picus viridis 15/7 1 juv., Gosney side 4
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor 16/7 1, Gosney side 4
Woodlark Lullula arborea  15/7 1, Gosney side 4
Common Blackbird Turdus merula  15/7 1 pair, Gosney side 1
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus  16/7 few, round walled plantation, Gosney side 1
Goldcrest Regulus regulus  14/7 common, Gosney side 3
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata  15/7 common, Gosney side 4
Coal Tit Parus ater  14/7 ±30, Gosney side 3
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea  15/7 few, Gosney side 4
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix sharpii  15/7 ±10, Gosney side 2
Common Raven Corvus corax 15/7 ±30, above hills north of Gosney side 1
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 15/7 5, Gosney side 1
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs  15/7 Gosney side 4
European Serin Serinus serinus 14/7 1 juv., Gosney side 3 15/7 ±10, Gosney side 4
European Greenfinch Chloris chloris 15/7 Gosney side 4
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis 15/7 Gosney side 4 15/7 2, Gosney side 1
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra  15/7 ±10, nice views, Gosney side 4

NOTES ON THE AREA

The descriptions of the area by Gosney in Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik are very good. Therefore, references to this booklet are made above. Because of a remainder of time, we spend two nights is the small and cosy village of Akseki. From here, we did some relaxed birding at all spots described by Gosney. Though, the area can be birded within half a day if you only want to see the real speciality, being Krüper's Nuthatch Sitta krueperi. Other interesting species can also be found in the same morning, but cannot be guarantied, or at least not in summer. These include Lilford’s White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum and Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberizza caesia. Species easily found are Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius, Sombre Tit Parus lugubris anatoliae and Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus.

The graveyard described by Gosney turned out to be hardly interesting at the time of our visit. Most important, trees and shrub were way too dense. Did not seem very good for Olive-tree Warbler, at least. If one is in a hurry, do omit Gosney side 3, but go straight ahead to Gosney side 4, the “new” White-backed Woodpecker site. Here you will find lots of species more, including all species present at side 3. Moreover, it can be more easily accessed. The place is also housing an extreme amount of Persian Squirrels Sciurus anomalus. Gosney side 1, the ‘walled plantation’, holds these animals as well. Besides, the Damla restaurant mentioned by Gosney is called Toros these days and it is just a hundred metres south of the junction with the road towards Akseki from the main road D695, instead of the drawn one kilometre.

NOTES ON ACCOMODATION

Two large ad good quality hotels are present at Akseki, both with their own restaurants. Hotel Duruk and hotel Star are both in the small centre of the town and cost the same. Strange to note that we were the only visitors in a hotel with over 30 rooms!

Full Species List:

 

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