Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Birds and Tourism - Turkey 2001,
Central Anatolia and the Aegean Coast, May 15th - June 1st 2001
This was a holiday to the Western half of Asiatic Turkey which was intended to combine some of the well known (and a few lesser known) tourist sites with an element of bird watching. Fortunately this combination was not difficult and many of the areas visited yielded both good birds and interesting locations.
We were hoping to keep costs to a reasonable level, so decided to make our own arrangements wherever possible. The cheapest flights that we found were to Istanbul via Vienna, with Lauda Air/Air Austria. Onward travel from Istanbul was by the rather enjoyable sleeper train to Ankara. This was the most difficult part to arrange from the UK. Turkish Railways have an excellent website which does not, at the time of writing, support online reservations. Bookings need to be done in person and it took a dozen or so e-mails before we found a Turkish travel agency willing to help us. We finally made contact with Timeks Tourism (Lamartine Caddessi 30-A-2, Taksim, Istanbul) who agreed to obtain the tickets (which cost about £20 pp including Timeks' commission) for us. They also obtained rooms for us in Istanbul at a reasonable price, compared with prices on the Internet, including an excellent rate for the wonderful Pera Palas Hotel, which we used for out last night. They are situated about 3 minutes walk from the Taksim terminus of the Airport-Taksim bus. The bus staff will provide directions -ask for Lamartine Caddessi (pron. Jadessuh) and we would have no hesitation in recommending them.
[ A word of caution - unofficial and very well dressed taxi drivers, speaking excellent English, patrol the international airport, around the baggage reclaim and customs areas. One polite young man offered to take us into the city centre for about £40. We turned his offer down and caught the bus instead, which cost us less than £2. A longer licensed taxi ride back for the outward journey, from Pera Palas cost about £6]
The train to Ankara was fun and provided (perhaps surprisingly) some bird watching opportunities, as it crossed Western Anatolia in the early hours of the morning. The accommodation was quite comfortable and the shared toilets/showers clean. We took some food with us 'just in case', but there is a dining car so this was probably unnecessary. Bottled drinking water is advisable. The beds were a little short for CC (a 6-footer) but we slept reasonably well.
We picked up a hire car in Ankara (most companies expect you to pick it up at the Airport, which is surprisingly difficult to get to from the Railway Station - check in advance, you may well be able to get them to deliver it to the station, or there may be a city centre office.) and the car hire company kindly led us through a maze of underpasses and major junctions to the start of the road to Cappadocia.
Driving in Turkey can be fun. Most roads away from towns are quiet and well made. Driving standards are perhaps a little more relaxed than in, say north western Europe and some interesting manoeuvres are attempted. Road signs can also be a little quirky. We were pulled over by the police four times; three times for routine checks (keep passport and driving licence to hand) and once for a blatantly illegal piece of overtaking. At all times the police were courteous and efficient. The officers who stopped us for CC's 'transgression' seemed genuinely pleased that we were visiting their country (visas from three previous visits may have helped) and were, under the circumstances, rather lenient. Spot fines are the norm, so try to have a few million lira handy - the equivalent of £30 - £50 should cover most minor offences. Or you could try and stay within the law!
Apart from the last two nights in Istanbul, and the sleeper train, we did not have any pre-booked accommodation. We had found a few places on the 'net that looked promising but decided to leave it to chance. Of the areas visited, only Demirkazik is likely to prove problematic, because there is limited choice, although there were plenty of vacancies at the renowned Safak Pension in Cukurbag.
Typically we were paying about £10 per night B&B for the two of us, with only Selcuk and Istanbul being significantly more expensive.
Similarly, eating out was cheap by British standards. Turkish cuisine is excellent and varied and for the first 12 days we seldom spent more than about £12 on a meal for two with wine, with several meals being considerably less. If you're squeamish and offered meze in a candle lit restaurant, avoid the interesting looking mushroomy things. They're brains.
Where to watch birds in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus - Welch, Rose, Moore, Oddie & Sigg. Pub - Hamlyn
A Birdwatcher's Guide to Cyprus - Green & Moorhouse - Pub - Prion
The Lonely Planet guide to Turkey
The Cadogan Guide to Turkey - Facaros & Pauls
AA Explorer Guide to Turkey - good road mapItinerary
Istanbul - a few hours between the 'plane and the train
Istanbul-Ankara sleeper train. A couple of hours birding possible from the train before arrival in Ankara. Species included White Stork, Ruddy Shelduck, Hoopoe, Roller and Bee-eater.
Ankara to Cappadocia (about 3-4 hours on good roads)
with several hours at Kulu Golu en route.
Accommodation - Paradise Pension, Goreme. Cheap, friendly, a little bit tatty, good bar (Flintstones!)
Kulu Golu is well worth a visit and any photographers should ensure their cameras are handy. We got recognisable pictures of Little Bittern and Black Winged Stilt from CCs £30 35mm with no zoom. Turn off the main road at the traffic lights and follow the directions in the guides mentioned above.
The lake appears different to the guidebook descriptions, and much good birding can be had on the approaches in the flat farmland and around the barns and gullies. We didn't see any of the Black-necked Grebes that are seen by most observers, but Slender-billed Gulls were very easy. There is a causeway across the lake that neither guidebook mentions but the track on the other side was hard to follow and we ended up retracing our route. A really good site, worth a full day.
Morning - Goreme open air museum.
Afternoon - drive to Mavi (aka Mazi) for underground city, via Ayvali.
Accommodation - as above
Good Golden Oriole site - track to the Nazar Church, about 10 minutes walk from Paradise Pension, towards the open air museum - take the signed track to the church. Where the track turns uphill there is an obvious stand of poplars. Two visits here produced brilliant views of Orioles, which are probably a rather common bird in the area.
Ortolan site - about 1 mile out of Ayvali towards Mavi, the road passes through some olive groves. There are plenty of common birds here, although British birders might be more interested in the Lesser Grey Shrikes which were obviously breeding nearby. Whilst watching these and failing to catch a decent view of a possible flycatcher, a bird which we could not immediately ID came steadily closer. It eventually resolved itself into a delightful male Ortolan - our first ever and the only one of the trip.
Mavi underground city. We chose this instead of the better known cities because it was less likely to be overrun by tourists. When we arrived there we had it to ourselves. It has few concessions to safety, is inadequately lit (take a torch for each party member) and is only partially explored. At one point we climbed up a vertical 'chimney' for about 40 feet (possibly more) with only smooth hand and foot holds cut into the rock. One slip could have resulted in serious injury. We can only suggest that visitors to the area avoid this at all costs. There are a number of ways to injure and even kill yourself in this wonderful site. Safer to visit the tour bus underground cities nearby (e.g. Derinkuyu). No doubt in the future the 'city' will be made safer and more accessible. An exhilarating and fascinating experience, despite the wounded head, dented shin (still bruised 4 weeks later!) and ruined camera (CC fell on it whilst denting his shin).
[Another warning: After exploring the underground city, our guide took us up the hillside to look for some Roman & Lycian graves. On the way we called in at his lodgings were he offered us the chance to sample some controlled substances. We declined, although we were unconvinced that they were what they were claimed to be. He then showed us an oil lamp 'found underground'. It looked authentic enough and he offered it to us as a 'gift'. We politely but firmly rejected this offer. Ten minutes later, on the bare, trackless hillside an official looking gentleman appeared from goodness knows where. There seemed to be some non-verbal exchange between the guide and the 'official' and he walked off in a different direction. Whether this was some kind of scam, or pure coincidence I could not say, but it's worth bearing in mind that the penalty for attempting to take antiquities out of Turkey can be severe, and anyone who's seen 'Midnight Express' should think twice about any involvement with drugs.]
Goreme to Demirkazik (Cukurbag) with several hours at Sultan Marshes.
Accommodation - Safak Pension, Cukurbag. This has the reputation as being the best place to stay locally, because of the guided opportunities provided by the owners. NB - it is on the main road, south of the Demirkazik turn off, opposite a sign to the Aladag Millipark - if arriving from the north, keep on towards Camardi village, do not turn off into Demirkazik village.
We had not intended to stop at Sultan Marshes but they looked too good as we drove down from the mountains. We followed the road to Cayirozu and did a few hours birding around Canal 2, where there were incredible numbers of frogs. We saw a large grebe for about half a second and got good views of Little Bitterns and frustrating views of a ring-tailed harrier, which just might have been Pallid. Watch out for 'stumps' on the salt flats. One we saw was actually a juvenile Egyptian Vulture. We saw several more in the area, including an adult near the road on a telegraph pole. Lots of Susliks by the road near Canal 2 and a Javelin Sand Boa on the track. This small snake was entertaining because rather than slithering away, as most snakes do, it decided to remain where it was and behaved very aggressively. Although non-poisonous, it would almost certainly have bitten any fingers that were within reach.
Continuing east from Canal 2, at the eastern side of the first real village is a large Suslik town, on both sides of the road. We saw our only Masked Shrike of the trip here.
Morning - guided trip into the Aladag range.
Afternoon - Eregli marshes.
Accommodation as above.
Gavit Safak offers a wide range of services to the birder, in particular the chance to see Caspian Snowcock. Everyone who comes here says it's one of THE top birding locations in Turkey. We were just unlucky. We heard the Snowcocks - for three hours - but didn't even get a glimpse of them. We also missed the Radde's and Alpine Accentors, Red-fronted Serins and Wallcreepers that everyone else sees. In fact the only bird that we saw at altitude that we didn't see lower down was Shore Lark. Gavit explained that it was unusually windy (in fact it was bitterly cold and very exposed, until the sun climbed over the mountain tops) - as he put it - "Chance".
Gavit took us up the mountain on a wooden platform attached (possibly) to the back of his tractor. There was little to hold on to and I think this may have been the second most terrifying experience of my life. Anyone considering this should wear (from the beginning) gloves, warm clothes (as many layers as possible), boots and a hat. We didn't have hats and our ears were very cold. Gavit actually lit a fire, which we huddled around for about an hour, listening to the mocking calls of the Snowcock far above.
We opted to walk down the steep gorge referred to in most book and trip reports which cover Demirkazik, which was a reasonably easy 3 hour walk (with plenty of stops to search for Wallcreeper). We were unlucky, but I would certainly go again. Gavit knows another Snowcock site, which may be easier to reach (by 4WD). Anyone worried about the tractor ride might do better to ask him about this site.
Crimson-winged Finch - these were easy to find around the bottom of the gorge, just down the road from the Demirkazik Mountain Lodge (easily driveable). A bird was singing from roadside plants on the bend just before the entrance to the gorge (very obvious) and another was located in the fields just the other side of the gorge. Snowfinches and Alpine Choughs are abundant here and Golden Eagle could be seen from the first wide section of the gorge, about 3 minutes from the road.
Other observers don't seem to have mentioned the Marmot colony at the bottom of the gorge - look in the area of large boulders to the left, as you face the gorge from the road. These delightful mammals seem quite abundant here.
Eregli Marshes are mentioned in the guide books. These may be worth a look if you have a robust vehicle with a high wheelbase, but we decided that a patch of mud at the edge of the last village before the marshes (Tatlikuyu) looked a dodgy prospect for our Fiesta and we didn't fancy the long walk. The track shown in guidebooks running east from Bogecik might be a better bet. Exploration of the mountains around Demirkazik would probably have been a better use of the afternoon, with a lot less driving.
Morning - birding around Demirkazik.
Afternoon - driving to Egirdir.
Accommodation - Sunrise Pension, Egirdir (right at the end of the island)
Easy birding from the main road (unexpected Ringed Plover near the bridge) and the fields around Demirkazik, to the lower section of the gorge. Possible Bimaculated Larks below Demirkazik village, as reported by other birders, but no indisputable sightings.
The drive to Egirdir in the Turkish Lake District is a long one on some extraordinarily straight, flat roads. If I needed to do it again, I'd break in Konya, which seemed to have some wetlands just to the east of the city. A good test of stamina but you wouldn't want to fall asleep at the wheel. We arrived at the Aci Gol crater lake, west of Eregli at the start of a torrential downpour. Don't expect much in the way of signposts - it is just behind a petrol station on the north side of the road, shortly after the road starts to climb from the plain. Should be worth a photograph or two on a sunny day and there might even be some birds about.
Egirdir to Pammukale via Aci Gol (the one east of Denizli, not the crater lake referred to above).
Accommodation - Venus Hotel, Pammukale
Aci Gol was a bit of an afterthought. We hadn't really intended to stop there but as the drive to Pammukale was a short one we thought we'd have a quick look. It was not as easy to find as we'd expected - approaching from the east keep leftish as you come into Basmacki village and head for the rocky hills which follow the southern edge of the lake. There are a lot of birds around but a 'scope will be necessary for most of them. Hoopoes are very abundant. Stop anywhere that looks promising, but especially by the freshwater springs just below the road (there are several) because these hold terrapins and snakes to vie with the birds for your attention. A group of pelicans took a lot of effort but we were satisfied that they were Dalmatian after a good hour's grilling. Even more exciting was a smaller bird in amongst the storks in the marshy, grassy area a few kilometres along the road. The 'scope showed this to be a Black Stork - our first, and a bird we had not expected here.
In the evening, whilst we were sitting on the balcony of the hotel in reasonable light a bird flew past which looked very like a Nightjar. On return from the pub, at about 1 a.m. we heard several churring and saw another, again in good light, the following evening. The area around the start of the road to the south entrance to the Travertines/Hierapolis site looks prime Nightjar territory (not unlike parts of Cannock Chase).
Accommodation as above.
Morning - visiting the ancient site of Hierapolis and the Travertines. The whole area is the subject of a grant from the world bank to protect the natural travertine terraces. The plus side of this, for people who have visited the are before, is that much of the rather tacky tourist development has gone. The down side is that you are no longer allowed to walk on the terraces. An area reserved for tourists is actually concrete, and the highly mineralised water is allowed to flow over it, thus depositing the minerals and making fake terraces. Most tourists seem unaware of this deception. Water management is being undertaken which will, apparently, protect the terraces, although it seemed to us that most of the water is being channelled downhill, to the swimming pools in the village. I'm sure the authorities know best, though.
One thing that shouldn't be missed is a swim in the Sacred Pool (behind the museum). Go early or late to avoid the crowds - there are changing rooms available. Filled with collapsed columns and up to about 17 feet deep, the warm water comes straight out of the ground. It is heavily carbonated and rather like swimming in tepid Perrier.
Hierapolis is renowned for Finsch's Wheatear. We found our first one easily, near the South Gate, but they weren't particularly numerous. We wandered around the whole site and found Red-Rumped Swallows up the hill behind the Roman Theatre (there is a small spring). We saw very few of this species during the trip. Plenty of tortoises around here as well. Listen for rustling in the undergrowth.
Afternoon - a drive in the hills. We set off to find the waterfalls near Gozler but poor signposts (or bad map reading!) meant that we got rather lost. We eventually came down into Karahayit, near Pammukale, having followed an excellent road which is shown as a rough track on maps and which would no doubt take you to Gozler. This road is on the right as you leave Karahayit. A few kilometres along the road was a turn off to Eymir and several Sombre Tits and Cirl Buntings were seen at the junction. They're probably both quite common here, as there is nothing particularly unusual about the habitat. A Red Squirrel was also seen, along with a Rat Snake.
Pammukale to Dalyan, via Mugla White-throated Robin site.
Accommodation - Aydin Pension, Dalyan
The drive to Dalyan is fairly straightforward. It is necessary to go through the city of Denizli. When I did this a few years ago about 9 p.m. it was incredibly busy, but in mid-morning it was quite quiet. We saw a Tawny Owl sitting on a telegraph wire in broad daylight as we passed through Tavas on the Mugla road.
To find the White-throated Robin site, turn right into Mugla at the junction for Marmaris etc. then turn right again at the 2nd set of traffic lights in the town (if you get to a large roundabout, you've gone too far. If the road to the right ends up at a barracks, then they've put some more traffic lights up and you've turned off too soon). After a short distance this road climbs steeply up a hillside. After the first major U-turn there is an area of scrub and open grass, near a dry stream. We had good views of a female White-throated Robin here. The better known site is a short distance further, after another U-turn, near a bridge by some farm buildings. There were no WTRs showing here. CC had seen them here on two previous occasions, both earlier in the morning, when they are, perhaps, more active. Driving further on there is a large metal sign by the road. CC had seen Orphean Warblers here in 1995 and 1996. One was singing as we left the car, but stopped almost immediately. There were nomads camped near to where the bird had been singing from, so we decided not to go any closer.
We stopped in Akyaka on the coast for a late lunch. Following the road from the village to the left (south or east) there are a couple of pleasant restaurants on the edge of the marsh, from where we were able to watch Reed Warblers and other species whilst we ate.
The Aydin Pension is just upstream from Dalyan village centre. It was just about the cheapest place that we stayed and provided an excellent buffet breakfast, served on the roof with a pretty view down river. Both Scops and Little Owls were seen from our room during our stay, along with a hedgehog.
Most of the roads around Dalyan are atrocious, so drive slowly if your vehicle does not have a high wheel base.
Accommodation as above.
Morning - Around Dalyan, then public boat to the beach.
Afternoon - drive to Hamitkoy, via Koycegiz.
In 1996 & 1997 CC located Penduline Tits in the area around the rubbish tip near Dalyan (near the two low hills just outside the village). Sadly the Poplar trees where they nested have been removed to allow the road to the tip to be widened and no evidence of the tits was found.
There are many boats available at Dalyan and prices can be negotiated, but plenty of birds can be seen from the much cheaper public boats, which are easily identified. The trip to the beach passes through some wooden structures (fish dams, the dalyans that give the village its name). In earlier years, CC had seen both White-winged Black and Gull Billed Terns on the dams, but there were none present this time.
Hamitkoy is said to be the site for the two large kingfishers,
although CC has never seen either here. There are other birds in the area which
make a visit worthwhile, and the lake is pretty and photogenic.
In 1996, CC saw Night Herons when walking inland along the track by the (north?) side of the river, from the bridge.
Morning - mid-afternoon - Saklikent gorge.
Late afternoon - Caunos.
The gorge of Saklikent, near the ancient city of Tlos east of Fethiye is both spectacular and beautiful. Allow a couple of hours to drive there and take waterproof sandals, because the best way to get up the gorge is to walk in the river. There are restaurants at the entrance to the gorge and just inside, at the end of the catwalk. Walking the river is not too difficult but there are occasional deeper pools which can result in stumbles and unexpected soakings. Go early to avoid the crowds. When CC visited in '97 there were lots of Crag Martins at the mouth of the gorge, but none were seen this year.
Caunos is an excellent site. Most of the remains are Roman or later. There is an abundance of tortoises - try the small pool by the larger lake - and Western Rock Nuthatches nest in the theatre entrance. We took the rowing boat from Dalyan and walked from the cemetery in front of the Lycian Rock Tombs. On the way back we were lucky to get a brief but reasonable sighting of a White-backed Woodpecker in the cemetery. Middle-spotted Woodpeckers have also been reported from this area.
Morning - drive into the hills behind Koycegiz (Agla road).
Afternoon - public boat to mud baths, hot springs and Lake Koycegiz.
We went into the hills to look for Kruper's Nuthatch, having failed to find them near Mugla. The Agla road is right from the main road near Koycegiz. It runs for a few kilometres in a more or less straight line and then starts to wind into the hills. Kruper's Nuthatches are said to be comon here and we had no problem finding them. They can be located by their call, which is rather like a quiet version of a Jay's screech (there are Jays here as well).
The public boat was one of the best few pounds we've ever spent. Birders can hire boats of their own and ask the 'captains' to show them birds. This normally results in them cruising (crashing) through the reed beds disturbing the Great Reed Warblers. Perhaps we were lucky but the boat we took went well out into the lake, towards a small island (called Paradise Island on the blackboard advertising the trip). There were several Eleonora's Falcons around this island. After this, we headed for the Hot Springs, stopping in a sheltered bay about a kilometre north east of the springs, for a swim. From here we had superb views of a pair of White-tailed Eagles, and a close up of a Pygmy Cormorant. Returning to Dalyan we were accompanied for several minutes by a Squacco Heron and had a brief view of a Nile Soft-shelled Turtle.
Dalyan to Selcuk via Menderes Delta & Karine Golu.
Accommodation - Atdan Hotel, Selcuk
We were originally intending to visit the Bafa Golu, but were unable to find the turn-off so gave up and tried the Menderes Delta instead. Heading north from the village of Akkoy we took a left turn at the Millipark sign and followed a rather rough track down to the delta. Upon reaching the delta plain we headed roughly to the right until we reached the river. There were lots of larks around here, including good numbers of Short-toed Larks, and the area had several pairs of Bee-eaters. Distant views of large numbers of Greater Flamingoes were obtained, along with lots of waders and herons, but positive identification of any but the larger species was difficult, because of the haze. Plenty of Kentish Plovers and both Little and Common Terns could be seen along the river.
We then moved north to the Karine Golu (also called the Dil Golu) were we found Dalmatian Pelicans and more waders and herons (Glossy Ibis, Whimbrel, Great White Egret etc.). It was getting late in the afternoon so we didn't spend as long here as we would have liked. There was a fish restaurant near the north western end of the lagoon, from which the pelicans could be viewed. The trout looked delicious, but we didn't have time to try them. The area is probably worth an overnight stay - it shouldn't be too difficult to find accommodation. It would probably be possible to find a fisherman who would take people onto the lagoon in a boat, which might provide really good views of the birds.
We arrived in Selcuk after dark so stopped at one of the first hotels we found. The Atdan was OK, but relatively expensive. More interesting lodgings, possibly with a view of an occupied storks nest, should not be difficult to find.
Selcuk to Istanbul via Izmir.
Accommodation - Hotel Grand Yavuz, Istanbul.
We spent the first part of the morning around Selcuk, admiring the numerous storks nests atop the columns of the ruined aqueduct which runs through the town centre. We explored the St. John's Basilica area and finally found a Syrian Woodpecker around the mosque to the rear of the walled area. In 1997 CC watched one of these birds in the large trees by the basilica/citadel entrance. We then decided to have an extra night in Istanbul and booked a flight from Izmir through a travel agent. We had a few hours at Efes (Ephesus) before driving to Izmir airport.
The tickets, on Turkish Airlines, were not too expensive, but we could probably have got a much cheaper deal by turning up at the airport. There is a desk dedicated to late bookings (this may well be true at many regional airports, and there is also one at Istanbul) and we were put on an earlier flight than the one we had booked, which had plenty of spare seats. Certainly an option worth thinking about for anyone travelling long distances within Turkey.
We had hoped to find a room in the Ferhat Hotel in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, but they were full and sent us to the Grand Yavuz. Although slightly further out from the main attractions, this was a delightful hotel which we would recommend. Our room had a superb view across the Sea of Marmara and the sight of hundreds of gulls circling around the Blue Mosque and Agia Sofia, caught in the powerful spotlights which illuminate these buildings was captivating.
Istanbul - afternoon Bosphorus Cruise
Accommodation - Hotel Ferhat, Istanbul.
Istanbul is a truly fascinating city, and a real change from rural Turkey. Birdwatching, with the exception of the renowned migration watch points, is not the most obvious activity here, but there are one or two birds worthy of attention that can be seen whilst doing the tourist thing.
The first birds of interest were also the first birds we saw - Palm Doves from the balcony of the Grand Yavuz. They were quite comon around here, but we didn't see them in large numbers elsewhere. There are a lot of gulls about - mainly Yellow-legged but JD spotted an Armenian Gull from the cruise boat and there were several Fuscus Lesser-Black Backs and a few Mediterranean Gulls on the Bosphorus. Cory's Shearwaters were also numerous here, in flocks of between 5 and 200.
Accommodation - Pera Palas Hotel, Istanbul.
The last 'new birds' of the trip were found in Gulhane Park, below the Topkapi Palace. Here, near the small 'zoo' were good numbers of Ring-necked Parakeets. They were quite hard to see, but we had a drink at the Gulhane Bufe and eventually found a nest hole above the path, near the zoo.
In the late afternoon we went up the Galata Tower, from where the view is quite superb. Alpine Swifts were abundant here and came to within a few feet. Palm Doves could also be seen.
The Pera Palas is excellent. Modern hotels are no doubt better equipped, tidier and more 'international', but they will not compete with the ambience of the Pera Palas. We paid almost as much for one night here as we did for two weeks of accommodation in rural Turkey, although it was still cheap compared to, say, central London. If the furniture in our spacious room was not antique, it certainly looked the part. If you can afford to splash out, then this hotel, with its associations with Mata Hari, Agatha Christie and many other famous people, will be a memorable experience.
Herbs and spices are much cheaper than in the UK and are also light and not too bulky. Stock up if you're a keen cook. We bought some good quality leather belts in Egirdir for a couple of pounds each and leather bags were rather cheaper than in Britain as well. Belts in Istanbul were even cheaper (less than £1) but the quality generally wasn't that good. On the main road from Tunel to Taksim in Istanbul (the tram route) underwear/lingerie was very good value (oddly enough) and in the arcades leading off this road Turkish Delight and other sweets were better prices than in the tourist areas such as Dalyan & Pammukale. In the tourist areas, T-shirts were good value, although many were fake 'designer' articles. Most of these things (and much more) could be found at lower prices away from tourist areas.
In the following list, the birds English and scientific names are used. The numbers in brackets indicate the order in which the birds were seen, and, where the bird is likely to be of interest to British birders, the number of days on which it was recorded. Thus, Common Crossbill - Loxia curvirostra (121,1) was the 121st bird seen and was seen on only one day.
LITTLE GREBE - Tachybaptus ruficollis (43) - only seen
at Kulu Golu.
CORY'S SHEARWATER - Calonectris Diomedea (159,2) - common on the Bosphorus, Istanbul.
DALMATIAN PELICAN - Pelicanus philippensis (125,2) - 8, Acigol, 21st May. More than 20, Karine Golu, 27th May.
GREAT CORMORANT - Phalacracorax carbo - (3) - common, Bosphorus.
PYGMY CORMORANT - Phalacracorax pygmeus (146,1) - one only, not far from the Dalyan Hot Springs, Lake Koycegiz - 26th May.
LITTLE BITTERN - Ixobrychus minutus (30,2) - several around Kulu Golu were quite confiding. Four flushed around the road bridge at Canal 2, Sultan marshes. A stealthy approach might provide good views.
SQUACCO HERON - Ardeola ralloides (25,5) - seen at Kulu Golu, Eregli Marshes, Egirdir (north east end of the lake), Hamitkoy bridge and along the river at Dalyan.
GREAT WHITE EGRET - Egretta alba (153,1) - Karine Golu - 27th May.
LITTLE EGRET - Egretta garzetta (11) - seen from the Istanbul-Ankara train. Seen at most wetland sites.
GREY HERON - Ardea cinerea (7) - as per Little Egret, but also seen away from water. Many nesting in Gulhane Park, Istanbul.
PURPLE HERON - Ardea purpurea (124,1) - a few at Acigol, were the only ones seen - 21st May.
GLOSSY IBIS - Plegadis falcinellus (151,1) - several on the beach, northern end of Karine Golu, 27th May.
WHITE STORK - Ciconia ciconia (9) - widespread and quite common.
BLACK STORK - Ciconia nigra (127,1) - one Acigol, 21st May.
GREATER FLAMINGO - Phoenicopterus ruber (29,3) - common Kulu Golu, Acigol, Menderes Delta and Karine Golu.
SHELDUCK - Tadorna tadorna (28) - Kulu Golu and Acigol.
RUDDY SHELDUCK - Tadorna ferruginea (13,4) - seen from the train, Kulu Golu, Acigol and the Menderes Delta. Seemingly quite common where present. Noisy, and flies frequently.
MALLARD - Anas platyrhynchos (126) - not common, only seen at Acigol 21st May.
RED-CRESTED POCHARD - Netta rufina (44,1) - Kulu Golu 16th May.
WHITE-HEADED DUCK - Oxyura leucocephala (46,1) - Kulu Golu, 16th May.
WHITE-TAILED EAGLE - Haliaeetus albicilla (145,1) - a pair observed for about 10 minutes above Koycegiz Golu, Dalyan.
SHORT-TOED EAGLE - Circaetus gallicus (122,3) - near Cumra turn off on main road east of Konya, above Hierapolis, Pammukale, near Eymir and in the Menderes Delta were the only positive records. Several probables seen whilst driving.
EGYPTIAN VULTURE - Neophron percnopterus (95,1) - a pair seen a few kilometres south of Goreme, heading towards Urgup and several seen around the road to Develi, Sultan Marshes.
MARSH HARRIER - Circus aeruginosus (33) - several seen around wetland areas.
COMMON BUZZARD - Buteo buteo (99) - only two positive records, but quite a lot of buzzards seen from the car were simply noted as buzzard sp.
LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD - Buteo rufinus (47,4) - surprisingly only recorded on 4 days, but several birds seen on each occasion. Numerous along the road from Aksaray to Cappadoccia, where frequently seen on telegraph poles. We might have missed a few records.
HONEY BUZZARD - Pernis apivorus (93,1) - prolonged close up view of one whilst at the Golden Oriole site, Church of Nazar, Goreme was the only record.
GOLDEN EAGLE - Aquila chrysaetos (110,2) - a juvenile was seen on the 19th & 20th May (probably the same bird), low down in the gorge, Demirkazik.
PEREGRINE - Falco peregrinus (123,2) - the only birds seen were in the gorges of Demirkazik and Saklikent.
ELEONORA'S FALCON - Falco eleonorae (140,2) - a single near the bridge at Hamitkoy, near Dalyan and at least 4 around 'Paradise Island', Lake Koycegiz on 24th and 26th May respectively.
KESTREL - Falco tinnunculus (90) - not common. Seen near Ayvali and in Demirkazik gorge.
LESSER KESTREL - Falco naumanni (42,4) - commoner than Kestrel. Seen at Kulu Golu, Demirkazik, near Eregli Marshes (lots) and t the Menderes delta.
CHUKAR - Alectoris chukar (113,1) - several flushed whilst descending the Demirkazik gorge.
CASPIAN SNOWCOCK - Tetraogallus caspicus - heard for about 3 hours, Demirkazik, but none sighted. (112,1)
MOORHEN - Gallinula chloropus (49) - seen at wetland sites. Not as common as in UK, but not hard to find.
COOT - Fulica atra (48) - as per Moorhen
OYSTERCATCHER - Haematopus ostralegus (40) - several sightings, e.g. Kulu Golu and Menderes delta.
BLACK-WINGED STILT - Himantopus himantopus (31,3) - healthy populations at Kulu Golu, Acigol and Menderes delta.
AVOCET - Recurvirostra avosetta (32,3) - as per Black-winged Stilt.
COLLARED PRATINCOLE Glareola pratincola (16,2) - good numbers at Kulu Golu and Sultan Marshes, west of Develi.
RINGED PLOVER - Charadrius hiaticula (117) - an unexpected record near the bridge by the main road, Demirkazik turn off north of Cukurbag.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER - Charadrius dubius (36) - fairly common around lake edges in suitable habitat.
KENTISH PLOVER - Charadrius alexandrinus (148,1) - rather common in the Menderes delete area, where small flocks and individuals could be seen along the river.
LAPWING - Vanellus vanellus (12) - seen from the Istanbul - Ankara train and at Kulu Golu.
DUNLIN - Calidris alpina (51) - Kulu Golu.
CURLEW SANDPIPER - Calidris ferruginea (37) - Kulu Golu.
LITTLE STINT - Calidris minuta (34) - Kulu Golu, Acigol (huge numbers of small waders, mostly too distant to identify, but those seen well enough were all this species) and the Menderes delta.
RUFF - Philomachus pugnax (38) - Kulu Golu and Menderes delta.
WHIMBREL - Numenius phaeopus (152) - Karine Golu.
REDSHANK - Tringa totanus (150) - Menderes delta.
MARSH SANDPIPER - Tringa stagnatilis (101,1) - Sultan Marshes, 18th May. A short distance west of Develi there were wet pastures alongside a canal. There were various waders, terns and Collared Pratincoles in this area and a Marsh Sandpiper was located on one of the larger pools. In the same area was a bird which we studied for some time. We could not finally determine the family that the bird belonged to. Our nearest guess was either an aberrantly coloured or juvenile Yellow wagtail (feldegg), but the parts of the bird that we could see appeared entirely black, white and grey. Sadly most of its body, including its tail was obscured and it was rather sedentary. There were Yellow Wagtails nearby and they seemed a little smaller, but that may have been perspective.
WOOD SANDPIPER - Tringa glareola (35) Kulu Golu.
COMMON SANDPIPER - Actitis hypoleucos (50) Kulu Golu.
TURNSTONE - Arenaria interpres (39) Kulu Golu.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE - Phalaropus lobatus (41,1) - A flock of 18 at Kulu Golu.
SLENDER-BILLED GULL - Larus genei (45,2) - good numbers at southern end of Kulu Golu, also present at Acigol.
BLACK-HEADED GULL - Larus ridibundus (22) - Kulu Golu.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL - Larus melanocepalus (21,2) - Kulu Golu and Istanbul (Bosphorus).
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL - Larus c. cachinnans (6) - much the commonest gull, very numerous around Istanbul. Not seen at inland waters.
ARMENIAN GULL - Larus armenicus (161,1) - one on the Bosphorus, seen from the cruise boat, near the road bridge.
LESSER BLACK-BACK - Larus f. fuscus (160) - a few on the Bosphorus all appeared to be of the fuscus ssp.
COMMON TERN - Sterna hirundo (155) - Menderes delta.
LITTLE TERN - Sterna albifrons (154) - Menderes delta.
GULL-BILLED TERN - Sterna nilotica (23,2) - Kulu Golu (where large numbers of terns of several species were found) and Acigol.
WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN - Chlidonias leucopterus (20,1) - plenty around Kulu Golu.
WHISKERED TERN - Chlidonias hybridus (24,1) - Kulu Golu.
ROCK DOVE - Columba livia (52) - Kulu Golu, Demirkazik gorge and Saklikent gorge.
COLLARED DOVE - Streptopelia decaocto (53) - common and widespread. Incredible numbers in some of the towns and villages on the Anatolian plateau.
TURTLE DOVE - Streptopelia turtur (71) - common in Cappadoccia. Present in most areas.
PALM DOVE - Streptopelia senegalensis (158,2) - seen around Hotel Grand Yavuz and the Galata Tower, Istanbul. Probably not uncommon in the city, but not seen anywhere else.
RING-NECKED PARAKEET - Psittacula krameri (162,1) - colony near the small zoo, Gulhane Park, Istanbul.
CUCKOO - Cuculus canorus (79) - heard in several areas including Goreme and Demirkazik gorge.
LITTLE OWL - Athene noctua (90) - fairly common. Seen from the balcony of the Aydin Pension, Dalyan.
SCOPS OWL - Otus scops (66,5) - seen and heard in both Goreme and Dalyan (where very common).
TAWNY OWL - Strix aluco (134,1) - one seen on telegraph wires in Tavas, between Denizli and Mugla.
NIGHTJAR - Caprimulgus europaeus (130,2) - seen and heard around Pammukale, where it may be quite numerous. [In 1997, CC had an evening meal at the Leylek restaurant, between Ortaca and Dalyan - you can't miss it. Leylek is Turkish for stork and this is the main attraction here, but there is a small pond in the garden and Nightjars hunted moths over this pond as we dined].
ALPINE SWIFT - Apus melba (8,9) - common and widespread. Very numerous in Istanbul, where they can be heard calling long after sunset.
COMMON SWIFT - Apus apus (16) - common and widespread.
PALLID SWIFT - Apus pallidus (156,1) - a few noted with large numbers of Common Swifts, near St. John's Basilica, Selcuk.
HOOPOE - Upupa epops (16,7) - rather common in Anatolia/Cappadocia - all records were on the first seven days of the holiday. Seen from the train. Numerous around Acigol.
BEE-EATER - Merops apiaster (147,1) - not common, but easily seen around Menderes Delta. Also glimpsed from the Istanbul - Ankara train.
ROLLER - Coracius garrulus (14,6) - seen from the train, Sultan Marshes, near Egirdir, near Pammukale, and in the Dalyan area.
SYRIAN WOODPECKER - Dendrocopos syriacus (157,1) - several woodpeckers seen in flight were probably this species, but the only positive identification was near St, John's Basilica, Selcuk.
WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER - Dendrocopos leucotos (128,1) - one in the graveyard near Caunos, Dalyan. A fly by at Acigol was probably this species.
WOODLARK - Lullulla arborea (86,2) - seen near Ayvali and Demirkazik.
SKYLARK - Alauda arvensis (55) - quite common at Kulu Golu.
CRESTED LARK - Galerida cristata (56) - common and widespread.
SHORT-TOED LARK - Calandrella brachydactyla (149,1) - rather common in the Menderes Delta. Probably seen from the car on the Anatolian plateau on a number of occasions.
CALANDRA LARK - Melanocorypha calandra (27,1) - not difficult to see around Kulu Golu, at the roadside in cultivated areas.
SHORE LARK - Eremophilia alpestris (106,1) - a pair near the spring/drinking trough high on Demirkazik (Snowcock area).
SAND MARTIN - Riparia riparia (96) - common around Canal 2, Sultan Marshes and seen from the car, east of Konya.
CRAG MARTIN - Ptyonoprogne rupestris (75,2) - easily seen in the Goreme Open Air Museum and in the Demirkazik gorge. In 1997 CC noted 100s at the entrance to the Saklikent gorge, but none were present on this visit.
HOUSE MARTIN - Delichon urbica (114) - not particularly common in many areas. Numerous at altitude, Demirkazik.
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW - Hirundo daurica (97,3) - surprisingly scarce. A few at Sultan Marshes appeared to be on passage, with Barn Swallows. Also seen at Hierapolis, Pammukale, collecting mud where the tiny stream crosses the path and near Mugla. Common around Dalyan in 1996 and 1997.
BARN SWALLOW - Hirundo rustica (57) - common and widespread.
WHITE WAGTAIL - Motacilla alba (67) - fairly widespread, but not as numerous as in the UK.
GREY WAGTAIL - Motacilla cinerea (141) - seen in the Saklikent gorge and at Akyaka.
YELLOW WAGTAIL - Motacilla flava (18) - birds of the feldegg race seen just about anywhere where there is pasture and water.
NIGHTINGALE - Luscinia megarhyncos (72) - common, widespread and easily seen. Sings frequently in the daytime.
WHITE-THROATED ROBIN - Irania gutturalis (135,1) - only seen at the site near Mugla mentioned above.
RUFOUS BUSHCHAT - Cercotrichus galactotes (118,2) - one seen at a small pool to the right of the road below Demirkazik village, about half a kilometre from the river, and a second from the track down to the Menderes Delta.
STONECHAT - Saxicola torquata (60) - rather surprisingly, only seen around Kulu Golu.
BLACK REDSTART - Phoenicurus ochruros (91,3) - Mavi and Demirkazik. Fairly common at both locations.
NORTHERN WHEATEAR - Oenanthe oenanthe (83) - seen at several locations but not particularly common or numerous.
BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR - Oenanthe hispanica melanoleuca (78,7) - the most widespread Wheatear, but not the commonest in the eastern parts of the area visited.
ISABELLINE WHEATEAR - Oenanthe isabellina (89,5) - numerous in many parts of Cappadocia, around Demirkazik and the Menderes Delta/Karine Golu areas.
FINSCH'S WHEATEAR - Oenanthe finschii (131,1) - a small number around Pammukale, a well known site for this species.
BLUE ROCK THRUSH - Monticola solitarius (80,3) - quite common where present. Seen at Goreme, Demirkazik and Acigol.
BLACKBIRD - Turdus merula (16) - widespread but not particularly common. More rural then in UK.
MISTLE THRUSH - Turdus viscivorus (84) - several seen in different woodland locations.
REED WARBLER - Acrocephalus scirpaceus (102) - Sultan marshes and Akyaka.
GREAT REED WARBLER - Acrocephalus arundinaceus (58,4) - Kulu, Sultan Marshes, Acigol, and Dalyan (Lake Koycegiz). Numerous and easy to find in all above location.
MOUSTACHED WARBLER - Acrocephalus melanopogon (98,1) - Sultan Marshes, Canal 2.
CETTI'S WARBLER - Cettia cetti (103) - common at most sites with fresh water, although not seen or heard around Kulu Golu.
FAN-TAILED WARBLER - Cisticola juncidis (139,1) - fairly common along the shore of Lake Koycegiz, west of the town.
OLIVACEOUS WARBLER - Hippolais pallidus (59) - common and widespread.
BLACKCAP - Sylvia atricapilla (70) - one near the open air museum, Goreme was probably a late wintering bird.
LESSER WHITETHROAT - Sylvia curruca (108,3) - both at altitude and in the gorge, Demirkazik and around the castle at Rumeli Hisari, Istanbul.
RUPPELL'S WARBLER - Sylvia ruppelli (137,1) - in the hills above Mugla. In earlier years, CC had seen this species around the Caunos ruins, Dalyan.
ORPHEAN WARBLER - Sylvia hortensis - heard only, near Mugla.
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER - Muscicapa striata (143) - common in the pine woods above Agla, near Dalyan.
LONG-TAILED TIT - Aegithalos caudaus (142) - as per Spotted Flycatcher.
PENDULINE TIT - Remiz pendulinus (138,1) - several pairs either side of the bridge near Hamitkoy.
SOMBRE TIT - Parus lugubris (122,1) - at the junction of the road between Karahayit (nr. Pammukale) and Eymir. Easily found after a few moments casual birding (we'd stopped to check the road sign and heard birds calling) so this may be a common bird in the area.
COAL TIT - Parus ater (136) - quite common in the pine woods above Mugla and Koycegiz.
GREAT TIT - Parus major (64) - common and widespread.
BLUE TIT - Parus caeruleus (76) - common and widespread.
KRUPER'S NUTHATCH - Sitta kruperii (144,2) - these seem fairly common in the hills above Mugla and Koycegiz. They will almost certainly be seen before they are heard and are by no means restricted to conifers. One notable spot high on the Agla road, where a stream causes a tight bend in the road had several of this species flitting about in broad-leaved trees.
WESTERN ROCK NUTHATCH - (77,7) Sitta neumayer - common and widespread. Most rocky areas. Common around classical sites, there is a nest in the main entrance to the theatre which has been in use since my first visit in 1996.
WREN - Troglodytes troglodytes (107) - in the gorge, Demirkazik.
DIPPER Cinclus cinclus (116) - one on the river by the bridge near Demirkazik.
LESSER GREY SHRIKE - Lanius minor (26,2) - a pair showing well at Kulu Golu, in the area where the track leaves the lakeside to cross a small rise and another pair near Ayvali, Cappadoccia.
RED-BACKED SHRIKE - Lanius collurio (19,6) - fairly widespread and not too hard to find.
WOODCHAT SHRIKE - Lanius senator (15,8) - rather more common than Red-backed.
MASKED SHRIKE - Lanius nubicus (100,1) - the bird seen just east of the village east of Canal 2, Sultan Marshes, was, perhaps surprisingly, the only representative of this species seen.
JAY - Garrulus glandarius (94) - fairly common in most wooded habitats.
MAGPIE - Pica pica (63) - perhaps less common than in UK, but not hard to find.
RED-BILLED CHOUGH - Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax (115,1) - present at altitude and in the gorge, Demirkazik.
ALPINE CHOUGH - Pyrrhocorax graculus (104,2) - much more numerous then Red-billed Chough around Demirkazik and found at lower altitudes. Look at flocks of Jackdaws seen from the car. They may well be this species.
HOODED CROW - Corvus corone cornix (1) - the first bird seen and probably the last. Common and widespread.
JACKDAW - Corvus monedula (4) - common and widespread.
GOLDEN ORIOLE - Oriolus oriolus (73,3) - rather common in the east of the area visited. Heard and seen at many locations around Cappadoccia and Demirkazik. The site near the Nazar church yielded good views and it is probably worth taking a scope for close ups. Not seen or heard further west.
STARLING - Sturnus vulgaris (5) - common in Istanbul on arrival but far less on our return visit. Present in the eastern areas but few if any in the west.
ROSE-COLOURED STARLING - Sturnus roseus (92,2) - flock of several hundred on telegraph wires, looking rather like a pre-migration gathering of swallows, by the petrol station at the junction of the road to Sereflikochisar, on the road along the east side of Tuz Golu, and a single by the viewpoint just west of Goreme.
SNOWFINCH - Montifrigilla nivalis (105,2) - quite common around Demirkazik. Birds can be seen very low down in the gorge and they seem to leave the mountainside and fly across the road into the fields.
ROCK SPARROW - Petronia petronia (74,3) - several pairs in the Goreme open air museum. There appeared to be a nest at the top of the strange pinnacle just past the main car park (there was a man offering camel rides here). Numerous in the Demirkazik gorge, including a couple of pairs near the road.
SPANISH SPARROW - Passer hispaniolensis (111,1) - one near the stork's nest at Tatlikuyu, Eregli marches was the only one noted, but we probably weren't looking very heard.
HOUSE SPARROW - Passer domesticus (2) - very common.
TREE SPARROW - Passer montanus (85) - seen at the Ortolan site.
CHAFFINCH - Fringilla coelebs (87) - present in most woodlands.
SERIN - Serinus serinus (120,3) - only recorded at Demirkazik, Acigol and Dalyan.
LINNET - Acanthis cannabina (82) - relatively common at altitude.
GOLDFINCH - Carduelis carduelis (68) - common and widespread.
GREENFINCH - Carduelis chloris (69) - common and widespread.
CRIMSON-WINGED FINCH - Rhodpechys sanguinea (119,1) - around the road near the entrance to Demirkazik gorge.
COMMON CROSSBILL - Loxia curvirostra (121,1) - single bird seen during brief search of roadside pine woods south of Camardi (nr Demirkazik).
CORN BUNTING - Milaria calandra (10) - quite common in cultivated areas.
ROCK BUNTING - Emberiza cia (81,1) - surprisingly only seen in Goreme area.
CIRL BUNTING - Emberiza cirlus (132,1) - present in the hills between Karahayit and Gozler. Seemed quite numerous in this area.
BLACK-HEADED BUNTING - Emberiza melanocephala (62,8) - widespread and fairly easy to find.
ORTOLAN - Emberiza hortulana (88,1) - one only, near Ayvali, Cappadoccia.
CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING - Emberiza caesia (129,2) - seen at Acigol and around the W-T Robin sites near Mugla, where quite common.
162 species is not bad, considering that this was only in part a bird watching holiday, and given the fact that we were in Istanbul for 4 days, where birding opportunities are limited. With the benefit of hindsight, we would have spent more time in Anatolia/Cappadoccia, and if we go back (which we surely will), then I would try to find accommodation near Kulu Golu, Acigol or maybe Karine Golu. Demirkazik will be worth a revisit, if only to have another try at the half dozen or so species that we missed. Another dozen or so species should be possible (more at peak migration times) and we missed a few easy ones. No Ravens in over two weeks!
There is plenty of wildlife in addition to birds, with lizards, snakes and tortoises in abundance. The mammals were interesting too, although we missed a few good ones. Gavit saw ibex when we were looking for Snowcocks, but we didn't get to him in time, and five days before, he had seen a wolf when guiding another party. And if you get bored with the birds, the scenery and the classical remains, there's always the beach.
Chris Cameron - e-mail me - September 2001