White Throated Kingfisher at Eskiköy

White Throated Kingfisher at Eskiköy

 

White Throated Kingfisher

White Throated Kingfisher

Historically the White Throated Kingfisher was only rarely seen in the Dalyan area and the most reliable source for a sighting was at the Namnan River at Hamitköy. However, in the last two years it has been seen regularly near the rocky outcrop at Eskiköy. Here sightings usually consisted of it relocating from one area to another offering views of the bird in flight. Occasionally you could approach via the trees to the east of the rocky outcrop if it was calling consistently from that spot. This year I have found another location to the west of the rocky outcrop which to date has offered much nearer approaches and more sightings both perched and in flight, albeit brief sightings. The two locations seem to be host to around five or six birds, with two calling and flying around and near the rocky outcrop and a further three or four near to one of the canals that flow into the lake. The route to the rocky outcrop is on the website www.dalyanbiring.com, hover mouse over ‘sites’ and click ‘Eskiköy’ in the drop down menu.

From the top of the rock outcrop and looking back towards Dalyan and to the west you can see an area of marshy grassland with some standing water surrounded by trees and bushes, scoping the area revealed waders, herons, egrets and White Throated Kingfishers call from that area so it was this area that I tried to explore.

I found that it was almost impossible to get near to the open water in this area because of thick and impenetrable trees and bushes or each time you think you have an approach the land becomes water logged and boggy and further progress soon clogs up your footwear with thick mud which hampers access.

There is an area of open grassland that can be approached from a tractor track that wader and egrets frequent and I’ll explain how to find this shortly, but it doesn’t offer access to the edge of the open standing water.

Whilst exploring this area a few weeks back I was consistently hearing White Throated Kingfishers calling near a group of trees heading towards the lake/river so followed the tractor track in that direction. The track eventually petered out at the side of the canal and you can follow the path along the canal for about half a kilometer in the direction of the river. The canal itself offers good sightings of warblers and egrets and I have also had good sightings of water rail. To the right of the canal is dense bush growing out of the very marsh area although this opens up in a couple of places giving views of small areas of open water.

It is at these open places that the perched White Throated Kingfisher has been seen. The path eventually becomes impassible due to mud, horses and cattle use the path and the marshy water makes it too muddy to go any further. However, at the end of the track there has been consistently White Throated Kingfishes calling from the trees and with careful approach seen perching. The bird’s call from both sides of the canal and from the trees at the end of the track and my estimate is that there are at least three birds regular in this area if not more.

You will know you have got to the right spot as despite it been in the most inaccessible place for most people, the amount of rubbish strewn around by who ever frequents this spot is appalling. Despite that it is an extremely good birding spot.

Directions:

Leaving Dalyan on Ataturk Bulvari road and head towards the roundabout. At the roundabout, the left turn takes you towards the Jandarma and the football stadia and the right turn taking towards and Dalaman. Go straight on towards Eskiköy.

Head towards Eskiköy, and where the road bends to the right in the direction of Eskiköy, marked A on the map below. (a sign with red arrows showing sharp bend) there is a road to the left about twenty five meters further on, take this road.

Directions to Rocky Outcrop

Directions to Rocky Outcrop

You will pass houses on your right and further on the track meets another house, ‘Yeni Adet’ take the left fork here. It was B on the map above and the other route to the rocky outcrop. Previously if you took the track to your left it petered out into fields, which depending on the time of year/day can be flooded for irrigation and made your journey very muddy. However, there is now a dirt road here which loops round the hill to rejoin the original rocky outcrop track.

Once you have taken the road to the left at ‘Yeni Adet’ keep on the track and it eventually has a sharp turn to the right and you will now be on a straight track that rejoins the original track down to the rocky outcrop. About half way along the straight section there is an obvious metal gate on your left.

Rocky Outcrop Alternative route

Rocky Outcrop Alternative route                                                                       

Go through the gate and follow the path next to the fence on your left. This path should lead to a tractor track following the fence. Keep on the tractor track, which will soon split, one following the line of the fence the other going more straight on across the field. Take the one that goes straight on across the field. Keep following this track (there is a section when it becomes a single footpath, keeping straight on here it becomes a two track path again) follow the tractor track until it eventually dissipates next to the canal and follow the canal path towards the river until you can go no further. You will see the trees ahead and the rubbish! Happy Birding.

As mentioned earlier you can reach the marshy grassy area, but not actually get to the standing open water, by taking one of the two tracks off the tractor track to your right at the area when the tractor track becomes a single footpath for a while.

Recent sightings on these routes; White Throated Kingfisher, European Kingfisher, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Night Heron, Reed and Gt Reed Warbler, Rufous Bush Chat, Hoopoe, Squacco, Purple and Grey Heron, Water Rail, Red Backed Shrike, Crested Lark, Wood Sandpiper and Honey Buzzard.

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

 

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

 

Night Heron

Night Heron

 

 

 

 

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One for the Future !

One for the future !

Geyik Canyon (Deer Canyon)

 

 

I came across Geyik Canyon (Deer Canyon) after seeing a sign for it whilst driving to Pamukkale from Dalyan. Shortly after Köycegiz the road turns right and heads over the hills towards Denizli. Brown tourist signs for Geyik Canyon are soon seen on this road taking you towards the canyon away from the road to Denizli. Geyik Canyon is roughly 20-kilomemeter long. The canyon, which is surrounded with large and small waterfalls, has been drawing interest from nature, sportsmen and photographers in recent times. Named Geyik (deer) Canyon because it is on a transitional route deer take, and is home to many different types of plant species, wild animals, as well as many unique waterfalls. It is the only area in which mountain goats live, not the ones seen herded in Dalyan and surrounding areas. Known as a “hidden nature heaven” according to one newspaper report I researched, claiming the local government of Muğla has invested money in making the area an alternative tourist venue to the obvious seaside and historical sites mostly visited. Our visit suggests other than a car park and initial information sheets there, little else has been done on this front, which in my opinion is a good thing, commercialism always spoils areas of natural beauty if not carefully and sensitively approached.

The canyon itself is within the borders of Ula district’s Arıcılar village in the western province of Muğla. The meandering river that carries many tons of water during the snowmelt and ferocious storms of early spring has carved out a narrow section between the tall cliffs creating a gorge.

 

The road route from Dalyan itself has many favorable looking birding stops on the way and eventually starts to follow an enormous dried river bed (The Namnan River) probably a quarter of a kilometer wide in places and this gives you an idea of the amount of rain and snow melt water that rushes through this valley in the winter months.

Naman River

Naman Rive

We briefly stopped to make our way to the river bed which is easily accessible and still had water running through it when we went in June, Little Ringed Plover been plentiful here. Shortly before leaving this road to turn towards Geyik Canyon the road cuts through the hill side next to the riverbed and gives fantastic stopping point to photograph Crag Martins which nest just on the road side. The wind coming through the cut allowing the martins to hover motionless next to their nest sites providing a good close up opportunity for an otherwise difficult bird to get.

 

Little Ringed Plover

      Little Ringed Plover

 

Crag Martin

Crag Martin

Crag Martin

Crag Martin

When you arrive at the entrance to Geyik Canyon there is a small car park on your left. There is also a small area with a hut and a couple of tables. On the table we found faded laminated information sheets comprising of photographs of the canyon, caves, plants and waterfalls, but no directions as to where you go to enter the canyon. The hut looks like at times it provides food and refreshments but when we arrived it was deserted and looked like it had not been open for some time. There is a warning sign saying ‘Do not enter the canyon without a guide’ but we guessed that this was one for groups who may be brought up there by tourist companies. There was no obvious entrance to the canyon so we chose to follow the road leading away from the car park heading into the valley. Fully equipped with spotting scopes, tripods, camera equipment, binoculars, rucksacks with water and light refreshments we set off following the road in the now 40 degrees’ centigrade heat!

 

With no shade on the road we turned back after fifteen minutes of walking and arrived back at the car park, no obvious birds other than goldfinch. When we approached the car park a group of four Turkish walkers accompanied by an elderly man, were walking down the road towards us. They stopped at a completely inconspicuous track leading off the road to the left shown to them by the elderly man, this was the entrance to the canyon, about 50 meters down the road from the car park, we would never have known. We asked the old man, obviously a local man, in our limited, yet functional Turkish, if this was the entrance to the canyon and he said it was, he gestured with his finger to go down the steep track, get to the bottom and follow the river track.

 

The track was narrow an had a steep drop on one side with no hand rails or ropes for assistance and had a ‘tunnel’ effect undergrowth cover which provided much relief from the heat. Underfoot-loose shale made for extra caution so we decided just to venture down to the riverbed level. With caution this was not over difficult and took about ten minutes or so but emphasized that a spotting scope would be useless in the canyon and binoculars and cameras are best put away during the decent. Once at the bottom a track crisscrossed the still flowing shallow river and it would require at times wading through the water so suitable footwear would be necessary.

Shady undergrowth leading down to Geyik Canyon

Shady undergrowth leading down to Geyik Canyon

It’s one for the future and although the canyon itself may provide limited birding it looks like it would make an interesting and enjoyable walk. Like I mentioned earlier the areas on route to the canyon and the road which continues to following the Namnan river bed before you turn off for the canyon looks like it will provide good birding spots.

Namnan River Bed

Namnan River Bed

Birding Namnan River

Birding Namnan River

 

 

 

The route :

From Dalyan, drive through Eskiköy and follow the road towards Köycegiz. At the D400 turn left towards Köycegiz, and follow the road past the outskirts of Köycegiz turning right shortly after crossing the River Namnan towards Karabörtlen, you will shortly see a sign for Geyik Canyon, the route then generally follows the Namnan River bed before turning off up the hills to the canyon.

I have pasted the route from a cycle app below that we used to track the journey. As can be seen the canyon car park is about 64 kilometers away from Dalyan and took about and hour and forty five minutes to reach, with some birding on the way. My Tom-tom took us on this route when Pamukkale was typed in, so a useful piece of kit if you have it.

 

Click on the link below for Google map.

http://cyclemeter.com/2f3ff8b6fa3a304b/Cycle-20140626-1033

 

 

dalyanbirding.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Setting the Scene

As a late edition I thought I’d add a few scene-setting shots to give the locations for some of the places I mentioned a bit more meaning for those who haven’t been.

Before I saw the area for the first time last year it’s fair to say I had absolutely no idea as to what it would look like and any preconceptions I did have were 100% wrong in almost every case, so I hope these will be useful to anyone who is fancying the trip in future.

 

First Photo. The view along the valley to Keyabasi from the drinking fountain a couple of kilometres above Zorlar on the Gogu Beli road. The fountain itself was a good spot for serin, red-fronted serin, black-eared wheatear and, on one visit a white-throated robin was hopping around the bushes near the road. A trip along the valley from Keyabasi to Zorlar a few days later gave a fertile valley crammed with birds including woodlark, short-toed lark, black-headed buntings, isabelline wheatears and a pair of lesser grey shrikes.

032-View-from-the-Zorlar-Drinking-Fountain-web

 

 

Second Photo. Western approach to Seki. The fields on both sides of the road were good for birds. The turn-off to Temel from the ‘apple roundabout’ for scrub bursting with white-throated robins, Ruppell’s warblers, buntings and other stuff is just up the road into the village.

049-Seki-from-the-west-web

 

Third Photo. The track above the ski centre on Eren Dag at the point the rain started and we turned back for the car. Horned larks, red-backed shrikes and pairs of chukar were amongst the birds on the mile or so from the car.

 073-Eren-Dag,-a-mile-along-the-track-above-the-ski-centre-web

Fourth Photo. A view of the town of Koycegiz and the lake beyond it.

142-Koycegiz-&-lake-web

Fifth Photo. One of my favourite locations around Dalyan. The Eskikoy Outcrop. The scrub held rufous bushchats, olivaceous warblers, black headed buntings etc and the streams by the tracks were good for terrapins and water snakes.

110-Eskikoy-Outcrop-web

Dalyan. One of the streets in the centre, leading down to the row-boat ferry to Kaunos. Some of the rock tombs carved into the cliffs on the other side of the river can be seen in the background.

004-Dalyan-web

Kaunos.  amphitheatre with rain advancing from the west. An excellent spot for rock nuthatch.

034-Kaunos-web

Alan Gillbertson

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Dalyan 2nd – 16th May 2014

 

The trip report I did last year South West Turkey, 10th – 24th May 2013 covered most of the ground that I visited this year and a bit more, so I’ll just post photos with brief descriptions here. This year I didn’t bother making the trek to Bafa Golu on the east coast and spent a bit more time in the hills. It’s a pity we didn’t get more sun and less cloud at crucial times for some of the photos that I’ll be posting over the next few days now that I’ve got all the deleting done and I have some time for some editing.

 

1 Olivaceous Warbler in early morning sunlight on the first morning. This little chap kept us company with his incessant singing at the bottom of the garden from the first day to the last

01 Olivaceous-Warbler-(5)-web

2 Great Reed Warbler. This one put me on the back foot when I spotted it. It was hopping through bushes on a scrubby mound on the Eskikoy track, well away from reeds. I didn’t know what to make of it when it popped up. I’m used to seeing them sitting high on a reed with the crest puffed up, not all sleek and pretty like this one.

02 Great-Reed-Warbler-(2)-web

3 Kruper’s Nuthatch. One of many in the pine forests we drove through. This one was in the forest east of the Itzuzu Beach road

03 Kruper's-Nuthatch-(1)-web

4 Masked Shrike. Next to the road near Tepearasi. Pity it was cloudy.

04 Masked-Shrike-Tepearasi-(9)-web

5 Rufous Bushchat (or Bush Robin if you must). They seemed to be all over the place singing from perches and wires. This one was at Koycegiz, next to the river. Cloudy again.

05 Rufous-Bushchat-(1)-web

6 Spur-winged Plover. On our first visit to the river mouth at Koycegiz this friendly bird was on a shingle bank before it relocated to the edge of the rubbish dump nearby. It was very accommodating and walked all around the car feeding. It’s a pity the same can’t be said of the white breasted ( I prefer Smyrna) kingfisher that flew low over the car and landed on a reed stem only 20 metres away or so. By the time I pointed the camera at it, it was gone. Another cloudy spell that heralded a wet day ahead.

06 Spur-winged-Plover-(23)-web 

7 Ruppell’s Warbler. The sun came out again on the 6th and we had an early start for the hills around Seki for a very productive day. Even the fact that I found the fuse on the car cigarette lighter socket had blown, leading to a flat satnav battery just as we got there didn’t mess it up.

07 Ruppell's-Warbler-(3)-web

8 White-throated Robin. The first of many.

 08 White-throated-Robin-(2)-web

9 Red-fronted Serin. This one was a bit of a surprise. I’d expected them further up towards the pass, but this one and two or three others were hanging about with a flock of linnets and serins just off the road from Seki to Temel.

09 Red-fronted-Serin-(2)-web

10 Black-headed Bunting. Their song was everywhere for the whole two weeks.

10 Black-headed-Bunting-Seki-(3)-web

11. Ortolan. The only one of the trip, this bird perched briefly near the road on the outskirts of Seki just long enough for a couple of shots, then it was off, over the car and up the hill out of sight.

11 Ortolan-(3)-web 

12. Black-headed Wagtail. This bird was one of about half a dozen males flitting about in a field next to the road at Seki. I must have had the timing right this year. There were groups of these, mainly males, in several locations (including Dalyan) during the first week, but the following week, I saw only one. This ties in with my experience last year when I saw only one on the whole fortnight, which began a week later than this year’s trip; maybe coincidence.

12 Black-headed-Wagtail-Seki-(8)-web 

13. Finsch’s Wheatear in typical barren habitat near Kizilcadag, west of Korkuteli. The sun went in just as I found this bird and its mate. There was another male nearby, presumably a different bird.

13 Finsch's-Wheatear-(2)-web 

14 Red-backed Shrike. Well represented on the trip, with more males than females; mainly well inland. This one was at Kizilcadag.

14 Red-backed-Shrike-Kizilcadag-(9)-web

15 Cretschmar’s Bunting. The 7th of May dawned bright and clear, so it was off to the hills above Beyobasi as far as Covenli Yaylasi. This bunting was singing next to the road at Alan.

15 Cretzschmar's-Bunting-Alan-(3)-web

16 Sombre Tit. A trip around the perimeter of Alan gave us this sombre tit and a Syrian woodpecker that flew across the car bonnet and landed at the base of a tree a few metres away, just long enough for my camera to begin focussing before it flew off. There was another sombre tit in Covenli Yaylasi, but the village wasn’t the bird-fest that I experienced on my first visit last year. The village roads there were also fulfilling their secondary role as watercourses after the recent rain, but were passable in the Renault.

16 Sombre-Tit,-Alan-(9)-web

17 Little Bittern. Back down from the hills when cloud started to thicken there at midday and I spotted this beauty stalking a ditch near Hamitkoy. It kept us entertained for almost 10 minutes at close range as it moved along the channel.

17 Little-Bittern-(10)-web

18 Spanish Sparrow. Part of a small flock taking a dust bath on the track at Eskikoy. It’s a good spot for Spanish sparrows.

18 Spanish-Sparrow-(12)-web

19 Black-eared Wheatear. Another sunny morning at Seki on the 8th. Unfortunately it didn’t last and by early afternoon the heavens opened and forgot to stop for the next day and a half. The trip up towards Eren Dag produced multiple singing Eastern Orphean Warblers, white-throated robins and a singing woodlark well above the treeline.

19 Black-eared-Wheatear-(1)-web

19 Chukar. We followed a track up Eren Dag to an apparently abandoned (but only recently opened!) ski centre, starting off in sunshine, but climbing into increasing cloud. Walking uphill on a soggy track among patches of snow from the ski centre car park gave us three or four pairs of horned larks, numerous northern wheatears, red-backed shrikes, a hoopoe and two pairs of chukar that flew off from next to the road. Just as we got back to the car the light rain turned heavier and the heavens opened so it was time to go. This chukar was one of a pair I spotted from the car at the start of the descent.

20 Chukar-(3)-web

20. Red-footed Falcon. One of the three birds I referred to in an earlier post, taken two days after the chukar, as the rain finally began to clear.

21 Red-footed-Falcon-(6)-web

21 Lesser Kestrel. One of twelve birds hunting in a field just next to the track adjacent to the Dalaman River near Sarigerme and major players in the ‘falconfest’ of 10th May

22 Lesser-Kestrel-(3)-web

22 Roller. This was the bird on the wires between Ortaca and Sarigerme. First seen in the dull light of morning in clearing rain, it was still there in the sunlight in the afternoon.

23 Roller-(8)-web 

23 Peregrine. Brother and sister sparring overhead. The other major players in the falconfest. This photo was taken on the return visit the next morning.

24 Peregrine-(75)-web

25 Steppe Buzzard. On the way back from the falcons this buzzard flew across the track in front of us, carrying what looks like a Balkan green lizard. One major difference between this year’s trip and last was that last year long-legged buzzard was seen in numerous places with only a couple of steppe buzzards. This year the situation was reversed, with only one definite long-legged buzzard sighting (on the first morning at Eskikoy) and steppe buzzards in several locations, often paired up.

25 Steppe Buzzard (8)-web

26 Rock Nuthatch. The price of the ferry over to Kaunos and the entry fee to the ruins (entry 10 lira, up from 8 last year) was definitely money well spent. This was one of a pair of resident birds. It flew onto a rock right next to me and spent the next five minutes knocking five bells out of this bush cricket, breaking it up into manageable pieces for the chicks it was feeding. It’s a pity the sun chose that time to disappear behind yet another rain cloud.

26 Rock-Nuthatch,-Kaunos-(28)-web

27 Wryneck. A final trip up to Seki turned up the goods again. There were a number of sparrows feeding on the grass verge on the southern edge of the village, and one of the sparrows looked a bit more erect than the others so I gave it a second glance. That ‘sparrow’ was a wryneck.

27 Wryneck-(2)-web

28 Rock Thrush. The trip up to the Gogu Beli pass produced more red-fronted serins at the roadside, but the sun went behind another cloud that seemed to hover just where I didn’t want it. The valley below was in sun, so I took the track down to Keyabasi and came across a pair of rock thrushes on the road side as we started the descent. I drove west along the valley from Keyabasi to Zorlar and enjoyed the sight of a pair of lesser grey shrikes when I stopped to photograph a woodlark.

28 Rock-Thrush-(2)-web

29 Isabelline Wheatear. In contrast with the single bird of last year’s trip, this year produced dozens of Isabelline wheatears. Shortly after I took this photo west of Seki, I drove up to Kinik for a quick look before going back to Dalyan and there was yet another one on roadside wires and about 30 metres into a field was a group of six clustered together in an area less than a square metre.

29 Isabelline-Wheatear,-Seki-(11)-web 

30 Rock Bunting. Late afternoon west of Seki and this fellow flew into a bush right next to the car.

30 Rock-Bunting-(2)-web

 

31 Cirl Bunting. Singing its heart out just over the track from the rock bunting and about 25 metres away from yet another male red-backed shrike.

31 Cirl-Bunting-(2)-web

 

 

32 Smyrna Kingfisher. The first of two birds we saw that day at Hamitkoy. This one had just flown out of sight into trees on the other side of the river when another, which had been calling further downstream flew past us and perched just downstream of the bridge for about 10 minutes.

32 Smyrna Kingfisher (2)-web

33 Alpine Swift. These turned up in groups sporadically several times and gave good displays, mixed with smaller numbers of common swifts. This one was on the last morning on a track that led from Tepearasi towards the lake.

33 Alpine-Swift,-Tepearasi-(7)-web

Well that’s all folks. :)

 

Alan Gillbertson

http://www.dalyanbirding.com

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Trip report to South West Turkey, April 2014 Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

Trip report to South West Turkey, April 2014

Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

 

 

Day 1 – Thursday 10 April 2014

 

We stayed in a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment at The Royal Links, Sarigerme, and can thoroughly recommend both the location (which is enhanced for birders by the planned golf course opposite having not been built) and the accommodation itself (bookable by contacting Mariannemorffew@aol.com.). Our route today and for most of our outings was as recommended on the excellent websitedalyanbirding.com, drawing particularly on the routes mentioned in Alan Gilbertson’s thorough and helpful trip report posted on that website.   The first route was up to Covenli Yaylasi in the mountains high above Koycegiz. The afternoon was spent mostly in and around Koycegiz. We went on to the Namnam river at Hamit Koy, but failed to raise the White-breasted Kingfisher – or much else – in that location. We were out for nearly 12 ½ hours, but quite fresh after the restorative break at Yuvarlakcay restaurant. A useful birding tip is to take a supply of dog biscuits. They seemed to be expected by the various (very friendly) dogs we met, especially two three-legged ones.

 

From the balcony of our apartment at The Royal Links, Sarigerme –  

Cetti’s Warbler, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Moorhen and a flock of 50 Sandmartin

 

Along the by-road leading from Sarigerme to the D400 –

Pied Wagtail, Corn Bunting, White Stork, Jay, Hooded Crow, Greenfinch, Crested Lark, Chaffinch, Lesser Whitethroat.

 Untitled 

 

Beyobasi where you turn right (i.e. inland) at the traffic lights and head for the hills-

Barn Swallow, Collared Dove, House Martins, Hoopoe.

 

 

At the junction to Akkopru –

The first of many Kruper’s Nuthatch (alarm call rather like a higher-pitched Jay) Red-rumped Swallow.

 

At various lookout points between the Akkopru junction and Savar Merkez-

Possible Sombre Tit and another Kruper’s Nuthatch, Blackbird, Chukar,

Nightingale, Ruppell’s Warbler, Linnet, Masked Shrike, Buzzard calling, Sardinian Warbler, Wood Pigeon, Black-eared Wheatear, Goldfinch, Cretzchmar’s Bunting, Blackbird, Red-rumped Swallow.

1

 

 

Savar Merkez-

Hoopoe, Blue Tits, Serin, Coal Tit.

 

Alan

Finsch’s Wheatear, Serin with nesting material, Chukar, Scarce Swallowtail.

2

 

Road junction above Alan -

More Kruper’s Nuthatch, this time with a high pitched Wryneck-like call, Cirl Bunting, Wren, Short-toedTree Creeper

3

On the ridge between Alan and Covenli Yaylasi

Western Rock Nuthatch, Coal Tit, signs of wild boar, Raven; and later on the return journey Sombre Tit, Buzzard

 

Covenli Yaylasi

Northern Wheatear, Song Thrush, Lesser Kestrel, Roma lorry with 2 mules on the back, Woodlark.

4

 

Yuvarlakcay restaurant (a delightful outdoor restaurant on a platform over a rushing river) -

Grey Wagtail and putative Emperor Dragonfly.

 

Koyzugiz, in and around the river bridge on the road leading North –

Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Ruff Greenshank, Squacco Heron, Magpie, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Little Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Redshank and just up the road Fan-tailed Warbler.

5

Road back to Sarigerme

6 Spanish Sparrows.

 

 

 

 

Sarigerme, opposite the Royal Links

Reed Warbler, Red-footed Falcon.   Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Alpine Swifts migrating down the valley interspersed with smaller numbers of Common Swifts. Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler.

 

From the balcony of our apartment at The Royal Links, Sarigerme –

A Purple Heron closely followed down the valley by a Hobby rounded the day off very nicely.   Also, as dusk fell, a small falcon headed back up the valley, possibly the Red-footed Falcon.

Tawny Owl and Little Owl were heard on the walk into Sarigerme for dinner.

 

Day 2 – Friday 11 April 2014

The day began cloudy and damp with a fresh South Westerly wind. A quick look at the valley into the murk revealed at least 3 of the electricity pylons topped with White storks’ nests. After a delay waiting for Dougie’s practising to take over the “faffing” mantle, we were ready to set off at 6.50, but the faffing worked to our advantage as we were still in the apartment as the heavens opened.

Once we were on our way, another lament from Dougie about his broken telescope reminded us that Greg’s was left in the apartment, so it was after 7.00.a.m. when we eventually left, and as close to full daylight as it would become by the time we reached our first destination. The wind was uncomfortably strong. Later in the day we had torrential rain, thunder and lightning, followed by a drier afternoon.

This turned out as another 12 hour day including the meal, harder work than yesterday in view of the weather and distance walked but a “red sky at night” promised better things tomorrow.

 

 

The mudflats alongside Sulungur Lake

The only birds were a Meadow Pipit plus a repeated scolding call from the limestone cliffs, which was tentatively identified later as Rock Bunting. Unfortunately each of us had left it to the other to bring birdsong CD’s. Plus Wren and Gulls flying over. The lake itself seemed devoid of bird life apart from a solitary Yellow-legged Gull.

 

Iztuzu beach

The leeward side of the hill at the Southern end of Iztuzu beach was peaceful and still, but the birdsong and movement were pretty half-hearted.   A Fire Salamander brought some colour to the morning, closely followed by a Hermann’s Tortoise.   A stand of mature pines below the road stone store at the top of the hill gave a glimpse of a black and white Woodpecker flying away. This may have been my long-awaited Syrian Woodpecker – but probably wasn’t as Greater and Middle Spotted are apparently also present. In fact we were to see none of these during our 4 days.

The bar between Iztuzu beach and lagoon produced a flock of 20 plus Spanish Sparrows on arrival. As we walked further we saw an unidentified Pipit, Common Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover, 3 Kentish Plover and Little Stint. Further up the lagoon – amidst thunder and lightning and a real downpour – 7 Greater Flamingo (immature) and a Northern Wheatear.   4 Crested Larks, 2 Whimbrel and a Little Egret. The rain was now a deluge but this brought out the colours of a freshly dead Loggerhead Turtle further up the beach, but we saw none of the live ones which lay their eggs in this location. The rain had stopped by the time we reached the second lagoon which produced Kingfisher and Purple Heron. A similarly sized – probably the same – group of Spanish Sparrows worked their way North. Different techniques were adopted to dry out when the rain stopped. Greg perched with his telescope in the wind on top of a dune overlooking the lagoon and sea, while Dougie walked on to the ferry end of Iztuzu beach. The return to the car park produced another 6 Northern Wheatear plus White Wagtail, still a few Spanish Sparrows and also House Sparrows, 2 Whinchat and 2 Woodchat Shrike. Meanwhile Dougie picked up Great White Egret, 12 Lesser Short-toed Larks, 60 Common Tern, and a Hoopoe.

The alarming drive up to the radar station produced nothing as we ascended into cloud.   The descent – even more alarming – produced a Cuckoo and a Goldcrest.

6 78

 

Sulungur again

At the limestone cliff the mysterious bird (Rock Bunting?) called again briefly.   45 Little Egrets were out on the marsh and a Buzzard was also calling from the top of the cliffs.

 

The next stop was Dalyan, where we were rowed across the river to the rock tombs of Kaunos.

The weather by this time was dry and bright and we were flagging a little, having not stopped for lunch, but were enlivened by close views of a Goshawk spiralling up, and then disappearing over, the limestone cliff into which the tombs have been carved. As we climbed up alongside the tombs a noisy party of 60 plus Spanish Sparrows flew overhead. A party of House Martins also rose up in the sunshine. On the way down a Kestrel or Lesser Kestrel perched at the top of the cliff flew up and out of sight just as I got my telescope on it.   A Red Squirrel was in the graveyard and a Balkan Terrapin was pottering around under the jetty as we waited for the row-boat back.

9

 

Dalyan Boatyard –

We tried in vain to find the sewage works described on the website and concluded that either our navigation was at fault (entirely possible) or it had been replaced by a boatyard.   This swelled our list by 2 not very exciting finds – Black-headed gull and Great Cormorant.

 

Sarigerme –

Returning down the road to Sarigerme (where we were impressed by 6 Spanish Sparrows the previous evening) we saw a flight of several hundred passing overhead, and Woodchat Shrike just opposite the apartments as we drove into town for a meal. A quick visit to the beach brought us large numbers of Alpine Swifts around the rocky island offshore. A last walk around the marsh opposite the apartments gave us 6 Reed Warblers, Kingfisher, 2 small groups of Spanish Sparrows and uncountable hirundines, mostly Barn Swallows.

 

Day 3 – Saturday 12 April 2014

Our destination today, also recommended by Alan Gilbertson on the dalyanbirding website, was the Korkuteli Mountains. We also used “A Birdwatchers’ Guide to Turkey” by Ian Green and Nigel Moorhouse – this is a very useful guide. This turned out to be a 13 and a half hour day without even a proper lunch stop, but was thoroughly enjoyable and successful despite the long hours.

 

 

Ceylan and nearby reservoir -

Climbing up into the mountains on the obviously newly improved D450, not far short of the junction to Ceylan and Seki we stopped to watch a splendid Long-Legged Buzzard on a tree just beside the road. It was being mobbed by a crow and took off just as we turned round to photograph it.

At this point an obviously newly flooded reservoir seemed to be a magnet for birds including our first Chiffchaff of the holiday. Faced with such a choice of accessible habitat we split up.   Dougy followed the wood margins to find Ruppells Warbler. Around the area where we had parked, near the Tepe restaurant, I found Serin and Rock Sparrow.   Woodlark and Northern Wheatear were prevalent.    We joined up briefly then split up again but clocked up pretty much the same birds – Woodlark, Stone Curlew, Black- eared Wheatear, Greenfinch, Coal Tit, Great Crested Grebe, Cirl Buntings and a pair of Hoopoes. A pair of Ruddy Shelduck flew over the lake as we faffed around at the car.

10

 

Seki area -

The flat plain between Ceylan and Seki looked uninspiring but produced Calandra Lark, and also Linnet and a pair of Starling, and a Black-headed Wagtail.   Climbing out of Seki we stopped again in a wide grazed valley for Short-toed Eagle, Woodchat shrike, Common Whitethroat, Red-fronted Serin, Tree Pipit,   Finsch’s Wheatear, Hoopoes, Orphean Warbler and Ruppell’s Warbler

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In the village of Zorla-

Redstart of the Eastern race and a pair of very obliging Red-fronted Serins.

14

 

Gogubeli Gogu Pass and slopes -

The fountain near the top of the pass was too cold and windy a location for us, and seemingly for the birds, but just round the corner, out of the wind and in the sun, were Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting and Rock Nuthatch.

15

At the top of the pass (1850 metres) was an interesting mix of mountain and garden birds including a pair of Red-billed Choughs, a Red-fronted Serin scratching around behind the car, Black Redstart, Woodlark, Song Thrush, Rock Thrush, and Greenfinch.

16

 

Dougy – amazingly alert as always – picked up the first (and best) view of White-Throated Robin on a tree 30 yards from the road as we began our descent. There turned out to be a pair which flew off up the hill. Stopping at virtually every layby we had fleeting views of a total of at least 6. All fairly disobliging – flying up into the bottom of trees and remaining there.

Seki area –

A repeat of our stop just above Seki produced nothing new except for a couple of Cirl       Buntings. We stopped in Seki for delicious bread and appalling cheese, which we ate on the plain, again seeing nothing new. After a brief stop we drove towards the newly filled reservoir (“Lake Tepe”), and just North of it Dougie spied a Shrike.   We turned round and went back to look at it, and were very glad we did so. It was one of the many Woodchat, but beyond it were a pair of immaculate adult White-tailed Eagles spiralling up from the hillside.

 

Returning to “Lake Tepe” we saw Grey Heron, a pair of Little Ringed Plover, a total of 8 Great Crested Grebes and the Stone Curlew again.

 

We detoured through Gocek and Dalaman, and in the unlikely setting of urban Dalaman a Sparrowhawk dashed across the road in front of us.

 

Day 4 – Sunday 13 April 2014

Sarigerme

A quick visit to the wasteland and ponds opposite the apartment produced Little Crake (excellent views of 2), a party of Blackcap, pinging Bearded Tit (not seen) Masked Shrike and Chiffchaff.   On the wires coming up the by-road from Sarigerme were 3 Lesser Kestrels – 1 classically marked male with blue secondaries, 1 possibly younger male without, and 1 female.

 

Roadside field North of Ortaca -

A partially flooded field full of “white things” seen from the highway deserved further investigation. Mostly White Storks, they also included a pair of Black Storks and some waders which deserved closer inspection.  This involved a fair amount of unmade track, in the course of which Jay and Hoopoe took flight from the track in front of us.   Closer inspection revealed the waders to be Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank.   Black-headed and Blue-headed Wagtails were also present on the drier areas, along with Serins, Little Ringed Plover, and 3 Whinchat.

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Koyguzi river East of Beyobasi-

Down the Western bank of the Koyguzi river opposite the Liquidamber forest we found Common Sandpiper, Nightingale and Green Woodpecker, a man “tickling” trout under the bank -or so we thought until we saw his spear gun – and Long-tailed Tit. After a long and unexciting walk downstream on the Western bank we crossed to the Eastern bank, and in a small sunlit glade on the far side of the footbridge everything livened up immediately. First with Collared Flycatcher and 2, possibly 3 Wood Warbler. Then 2 Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, another Nightingale, Blackcap, the ubiquitous Cetti’s of course, Hoopoe and 2 unidentified green lizards. All this in a 150-yard stretch after a mile and half of tedium. The spot was also scenically very attractive, woodland and a wet meadow full of buttercups in front of us, and the river behind.   Ok, there were poly-tunnels full of tomatoes beyond the river, but people do need to make a living!

 

On the way back up the Eastern bank we disturbed Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper feeding in the river margins. Crossing the river on two tree trunks (15 feet wide and rushing strongly at this narrowest point) was the most exciting part of the walk. A Squacco Heron flew downstream and a Kingfisher upstream in the last few yards to the car.

 

Sarigerme

After a fruitless visit to Dalaman Lakes. Greg switched off to faff around and lie beside the pool, but Dougie persisted and was rewarded with Moustached Warbler, Turtle Dove and Roller.

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Dalaman Airport

A Barn Owl (dark phase) as we arrived for our night flight out brought our total for the 4-day visit to 137. This despite some notable gaps in the birds potentially to be seen in the area, as can be seen from other trip reports posted on the dalyanbirding website. We thought a visit just a fortnight or so later might have produced a longer list. A longer visit would probably also have increased our list, but 4 days was just right for us.

 

http://www.dalyanbirding.com

 

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Memories of a bygone visit.

Memories of a bygone visit  from 2008

 

General

This was to be our first trip to Turkey – indeed we’ve only been to the Eastern Med once before – and it was intended to be more a family holiday for Mrs R and myself…. although of course, we wanted somewhere nice to go, and a few good birds would certainly not go amiss!

With a few recommendations from friends and some BF-ers, we settled on Dalyan in Turkey, and what a wonderful choice it was… Dalyan is a small town, set on a decent sized river, with a distinctly ‘villagey’ feel to it. You have to get a boat, dolmus or car to get to the beach, so not too attractive to the bucket-and-spade brigade, plus there are some great restaurants and the natives are friendly – all in all, it was one of our favourite holiday destinations yet….The area is designated as a nature reserve – primarily due to the breeding loggerhead turtles at the nearby beach – so development is under some sort of control and the absolutely stunning environment is looked after to some extent.

Bizarrely, we found that to book a package holiday was actually more convenient and cheaper than booking flight only and sorting ourselves out, so that’s what we did – staying in a small, family-run hotel near the outskirts of town and just a few minutes walk from the river, which had a very attractive river-side walk into town.

We hired a car – which cost a fair bit, but probably our own fault as we didn’t shop around at all, and it was a good bit older than the average hire-car, having 133k km on the clock. We breathed a sign of relief when it got us through the week OK, as we had been to some pretty remote places – a fair way from the nearest RAC man, we were thinking. As it happened, the car failed to start when the chap from the hire car office came to pick it up, so maybe justice was done after all!

In Dalyan, English is widely spoken (just as well, since we knew zero Turkish!) but in the hinterlands zero English is spoken, so communication was ‘interesting’…

Local airport is Dalaman, which is only 25 mins or so away… Driving in Turkey was no problem, if a little anarchic…. on more than one occasion, I looked up to find someone pootling towards me on the wrong side of the road, happily gazing out of the window or chatting to their friends – no accidents though… As someone mentioned, they do seem to consider that road-signs are for wimps, but it couldn’t have been too bad, since we covered about 750km and didn’t get lost once!

It was HOT, with temperatures in the mid/high thirties each day and not a cloud in the sky all week. Dawn was about 05:30 and it got dark around 20:00.

We arrived mid-afternoon, and were a bit pooped after the journey, so just flopped out by the pool. House Sparrows hopped around our sunbeds and Collared Doves sang from roofs and wires. A few birds flew over – a Purple Heron and a couple of White Storks, and it was nice to hear Cetti’s Warblers singing in the reeds that bordered the hotel garden. Butterflies were everywhere, but extremely active (and mainly unfamiliar!) so not really easy to id what they were.

 

Day 2 Dalyan

I woke up early and decided to go for a dawn stroll to start to familiarise myself with the area – asked Mrs R if she wanted to come and was quite surprised that she knew such bad language! …just me and the BINs then!

Creeping out of the hotel, I heard and saw much the same birds as yesterday, but additionally a Little Owl was sitting on the hotel roof and I could hear Turtle Doves purring away from somewhere. Running the gamut of the many dogs that seem to consider the road outside their houses as part of their own personal fiefdom, I made it down to the river. Looking across to the other side, my eye was drawn to a flash of bright turquoise – kingfisher, I thought… but no, it was actually a Roller, and subsequently I saw quite a few of them in much the same place, so I reckon there was quite a colony over there.

A Cormorant and Little Grebe were seen on the water, and a Grey Heron flew over. Three juvenile Night Herons flew up the river and landed in a tree opposite me, which was good – and then I had a real find…. a Penduline Tit had built its wonderful nest right next to the path – just a bit of perseverance, and I was able to get great views of both male and female going into the nest and a well-grown youngster sticking its head out – magic. Another bonus was that Penduline Tit is a bird that I often have trouble hearing – something to do with the particular pitch (plus distance!) I reckon, but I couldn’t fail to hear these as they called away as such close range.

Swallows and House Martins zoomed around the river and a pair of Jays announced their presence noisily – these seemed to me to be rather darker than our UK birds and the blue on the wings was a fantastic iridescent colour. Making my way back to the hotel, I passed large numbers of Greenfinch and Goldfinch feeding on the copious weed and wild grass seeds and a single Fan-tailed Warbler was heard calling nearby. A large bird got my attention as it came in from distance – with a body shape and a flight action that seemed unfamiliar and interesting, but as it got closer it turned out to be a Hooded Crow – not the last one of those I’d see all week!!

We took the public river boat to the beach after breakfast, and I was quite disappointed not to see some other good birds as we wended our way through the reedy channels, but it was just more of the same – mainly flyovers…

Dinner that night was good, as we watched large numbers of mainly House Martins zooming around the roofs – just how many became clear when a Magpie unwisely entered the area and was seen off by several hundred Martins chasing it in a high-speed aerial dogfight – quite a sight! Swifts circled higher up, and as darkness fell, two Scops Owls started to call to each other from the town and other side of the river – magical!

Dalyan1(bf) Dalyan2(bf)

Penduline%20Tit%20(bf) Penduline%20Tit2%20(bf)

Day 3 – Korkuteli Hills

Even though this was not a birdwatching holiday, we promised ourselves one day at a ‘proper’ birdwatching site, and the place that we chose was the Korkuteli Hills area which is roughly 170km NW of Dalyan. Information for this site was obtained from Dave Gosney’s book “Finding birds in Western Turkey” which proved to be a good purchase.

With the hot weather and dawn at 05:30, it was not too tricky to get an early start, and 06:15 found us on the road and heading inland. The first part of the journey is on the main D400 coast ‘motorway’ passing Dalaman and Fethiye before heading in-land on the good quality D350. As soon as we started on this road, we left almost all of the traffic behind and were able to relax, choose our own speed and start keeping an eye out for birds!

As you head inland, you immediately start a slow and steady climb higher, and it wasn’t too long before we started to get views of some higher mountains in the distance, many still with snow in the sheltered areas – it was bizarre to be driving through such heat and yet seeing snow not too far away.

First birds seen were many of the usual suspects seen and heard from the car – Hooded Crows abounded, Corn Buntings could be heard jangling frequently and Crested Larks tested your nerves by sitting in the road until the last possible minute! A Buzzard sp. was seen briefly between the trees but not for long enough to identify it – which was a shame, as this was our first raptor and there was a reasonable chance of it being Long-legged…. but it just went on the list as a buzzard.

First proper stop was a road-side drinking trough just NE of Kavdir, and we found this place no probs and pulled into the layby and settled down to wait and see what birds might come to relieve their thirsts in the blistering heat. After a few minutes, I became aware of some movement in the trees above and caught a glimpse of vivid yellow and black plumage – Excellent, I thought, a chance to get a really close view of a Golden Oriole – but no, as it came down into the open, it turned out to be a Black-headed Bunting…. even better, a lifer for me! Unfortunately, I hadn’t had time to get my scope and camera set up, so the moment went unrecorded, but Mrs R and I enjoyed the sight of this beautiful bird.

Becoming aware of a kerfuffle going on in a nearby stand of trees, I started to scan and found a small non-descript bird calling for food. When the parent arrived, we were able to id them as Sombre Tits – this was getting better and better!

As if this wasn’t good enough, I then caught the briefest glimpse of a bird starting to make its way down through the canopy towards the water, and this was enough to let me know that it was my number 1 target for the area – White-throated Robin. After a while, it made its way down to drink and I was able to get a few pics – although the bird was surprisingly nervous and would only stay put for a few seconds at a time.

This was great!! Our first site, 30 minutes sat at a picnic table eating pistachio nuts, and 3 lifers!! …does birdwatching get any better?

Given enough time, I’m sure that quite a list of species could be built up at this one spot, but we had already spent 3 hours getting here and we had lots of other places in mind, so we packed up and moved on.

Re-tracing our steps back to Cavdir and Sogut we continued to pass good habitat and saw quite a few birds – particularly Larks, including quite a few Calandra Larks which are amongst my favourite species.

Heading due east now, we entered an area of extensive roadworks, which was a shame, as it meant that despite seeing plenty of promising looking places, we weren’t able to stop the car to look. We just had to content ourselves with looking at the lovely scenery.

We made it to Korkuteli without any problems and headed S, following the route and stops as outlined in the Gosney Guide and at his roadside stops we managed to see Isabelline Wheatear, Finsch’s Wheatear and Northern Wheatear. Another Wheatear that baffled me at the time has subsequently been identified as the white-throated form of Black-eared Wheatear. In fact, if you like Wheatears, this is the place for you, as the whole area abounds with many of these birds.

An intriguing bird by a quarry got me briefly excited, but it turned out to be ‘only’ a female Blue Rock Thrush, shortly joined by its male partner. Just as we were setting up to leave, a buzzard moved past overhead, and this time we got the good look that we needed to confirm it as a definite Long-legged Buzzard – fantastic!

It was now about 2:00pm, so we thought we’d start making our way back, as I wanted to stop at a drinking trough in the middle of the roadworks which we weren’t able to access on the way up. As it happens, this was no longer a quiet little oasis, but was proving very popular with construction workers and lorry drivers coming to fill up their water bottles, and a group of police were taking their ease at one of the tables of the nearby cafe/bar. We thought that we might as well stop anyway and ordered up a couple of soft drinks and sat down. Mrs R fancied a packet of crisps, so went off to a display-case to get some, only to be waylaid by the proprietor, upon which a lively discussion took place…. I say ‘lively’, perhaps “involving a lot of arm-waving” would be a better description, since Mrs R has no Turkish and the chap had no English…. Anyway – not quite sure how it came to pass, but we ended up not getting any crisps but instead getting a large sea-bream, bowl of salad and shoulder of lamb (plus more drinks) and it was all absolutely great! Equally great was the bill, which came to a princely YTL30, which is about £12!!

Continuing on our way, I almost immediately took a small side-road heading N off the main road, which I had thought looked to be going through a promising area when I had noticed it on the way up. This proved to be an inspired choice as it quickly led away from the main road (and roadworks!) and passed through some excellent habitat of scrubby vegetation and rock outcrops.

First good birds seen were a family group of Rock Sparrows hopping around and making their screaming calls – this was really good to see close up, but the best was yet to come as going around the corner, we came face-to-face with a fantastic male Rock Thrush sat on a road-side boulder! This bird has been my number 1 target for a couple of years now and every time that I am in suitable high ground, I always have a good look around with this species in mind – but no joy until today! We moved on for a few hundred metres until we could find somewhere safe to dump the car and then got out for a proper look around, and quickly added the female Rock Thrush to our list. Watching them, it became obvious that they had a nest in the rocky outcrop near where we had first seen them and we enjoyed watching both birds hunting around the area and making frequent stops back to the nest-site.

Also in the same area were lots more Wheatears and I was able to get some excellent views and a few pics of birds that came close. This was a great area and one that I would happily spend many an hour!!

Unfortunately, time was passing and we were a loooong way from home, so reluctantly we had to pack up and start making our way back. The journey home passed without incident and we treated ourselves to a few further stops when we saw really good spots but didn’t really see any new birds. The most significant incident was when a Black-headed Bunting perched up on a nearby tree and I was able to snatch a quick pic, which partially made up for the one that I’d missed at the first drinking trough earlier on.

We arrived back at Dalyan at about 20:00 – it had been a great day, but a lot of km, and the first beer of the evening slipped down a treat!!!

Finsch's%20Wheatear%20(bf)    Isabelline%20Wheatear%20(bf)  River%20Turtle

Black-headed%20Bunting(bf)  White-throated%20Robin%20(bf)

Day 4 – Dalyan

As has been mentioned, Dalyan is a major breeding area for Loggerhead Turtles, but in order to protect their breeding area, the beach is closed between 20:00 – 08:00 each day so you can’t actually get to see them. What you can see though is what the locals call River Turtles – actually the Nile Soft-shelled Turtle (Trionyx triunguis) – which themselves grow to an impressive metre or so in length… method being to get a hireboat from Dalyan up towards the lake at Koycegiz, so that’s just what we did.

The local boatman use traditional rocky sites where the turtles know that they will get a free meal – which the boatman provide in the form of chicken skins and bones which are draped over the rocks, forcing the turtles to haul themselves partially out of the water if they want to get at it. This is good, since it gives you a good chance to see these huge creatures – one that we saw was massive… over 100kgs and 100 years old the boatman reckoned!

Part 2 of the boat trip is to chug further up-river to the southern end of the lake and then push through some channels cut through the reeds ‘African-Queen’ style (which was filmed here btw…) For bird watchers, this is great, since you get to see many of the reed-dwelling birds at close quarters and even snap a few pics.

As we passed by, we also spotted 3 Rollers perched up very close on a metal frame, but I couldn’t get any pics before they flew.

All week, I had been hearing something which sounded a bit like Woodlarks coming from the opposite side of the river, and now a couple of brief glimpses and a quick page through Collins enabled to belatedly suss that they were actually Rock Nuthatches – another lifer!

We enjoyed our boat trip and after a quick coffee at one of the waterside bars, we started to walk back alongside the river for a late breakfast. This turned out to be good, as I spotted a couple of birds that I had been on the look out for….

Hearing a bird which sounded like a gentler version of a Reed Warbler (many birds in Turkey sound a bit like Reed Warblers, it seemed to me!!!) but clearly wasn’t, I was able to track it down to a small Warbler flitting about in the upper branches of a tree, acting rather like a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler in fact. Luckily, I had boned up a bit, and this bird’s habit of continually flicking its tail downwards enabled me to id it as an Olivaceous Warbler.

Second good bird was a Masked Shrike, seen well flitting between two favourite trees as it hunted insects. What a handsome bird this was and now that I knew where it hung out, I was able to return on a subsequent day with digi-gear to get some close pics. On another day, I was able to watch 2 males disputing territory. As often happens, once you get your eye in, it is a good deal easier to see these new species, and now that I had ‘broken my duck’ with Masked Shrike and Olivaceous Warbler, I started seeing and hearing them all over the place! Great birds though.

The rest of the day was spent down the beach…..I did spend a bit of time late afternoon going through the pine woods looking (particularly) for Kruper’s Nuthatch – I did see a couple of distant Nuthatches, but nothing I could confidently id as Krupers, so that will just have to wait for another trip.

Great%20Reed%20Warbler     Masked%20Shrike(bf)   Masked%20Shrike2%20(bf)

Day 6 – Koycegiz

Saturday is market day in Dalyan and Mrs R and I came to an accommodation – she would spend the morning shopping and I would go and stand in a swamp. We were both happy!

My target today was to try to find some of the exotic Kingfishers (White-throated & Pied) that live in Turkey – I had been keeping an eye out all week, but no joy, and such literature as I had found was peppered with phrases like ‘Have been reported here, but none seen for several years’ etc so it wasn’t looking good.

05:00 found me on the road heading round the lake, through Koycegiz town via Hamitkoy to a bridge over the Namnam river which has been mentioned as a possible site for White-throated Kingfishers. I had in mind being on site for first light (mission accomplished) but I needn’t have bothered since the place was as dead as a dodo! You could see that this would be a sizable river at certain times, but it was now reduced to a trickle, and all that was to be seen at first was a flock of 24 Little Egrets which I disturbed from their night-time roost and the House Sparrows that were nesting under the bridge – Turkey is a great place to come if you mourn the passing of this bird from the UK – they are everywhere!

As things started to warm up, so a few birds appeared. Using my new Turkish id-ing skills, I was able to identify a few Olivaceous Warblers in the river-side trees and Swallows and House Martins started to zoom around. An adult and juvenile Grey Wagtail came and sat on the guard-rail next to me, looking very much like they were thinking “What the heck are YOU doing here?!” and I was starting to wonder much the same myself…

This area is very active for agriculture, and quite a few farmers were bombing past on a variety of dodgy cars, tractors, trailers, bikes and scooters and each one would wave and smile. Some would shout out – I couldn’t understand what they were saying but, judging by their general demeanour, it probably wasn’t “Oi, w*&%er.” or “Gerrof moi land.” …. not like good old Blighty then!

I had explored some rough tracks in the area of the bridge and hadn’t really come up with much – Turtle Doves purred from the wires, Hooded Crows hopped around in the nearby orchards and a Night Heron passed over. Re-tracing my steps, I headed back to the car and drove a bit further down the road alongside the river in the direction of the lake, but I couldn’t really find anywhere to stop that looked promising for Kingfishers. Apparently, if you follow this road, it takes you all the way around the western shore of the lake to the ruins at Kaunos, which are directly opposite Dalyan on the other side of the river…. Not that this helps much, since there is no bridge or vehicle ferry, so you have to drive all the way back round again in order to get home, but it would probably be a productive drive in Winter when the lake hosts large numbers of over-wintering water birds.

Passing back over the bridge again, I stopped for one more try – no good, so I tried driving down a rough track which I hoped might lead down to the banks of the river…. It didn’t, and furthermore soon turned into a raised bund which was too narrow to turn the car around – I had to drive for miles before I found a spot where I could do a 17-point turn and head back!

Arriving at the junction of the main-road, I had a choice…. turn left (give up, go home) or turn right for one last try at the bridge: thankfully, I chose the latter.

Just pootling along, I heard a strange call – bit difficult to describe… but a bit like a horse whinnying with undertones of Marsh Frog. Pulled over to the side of the road and started scanning down in the direction of the river to try to find what might be making it. I couldn’t see anything, but luckily the bird’s nerve broke first and it emerged from a stand of trees, flew right past me and headed down-river towards the bridge – White-throated Kingfisher!!

What a bird – a decent size (seemed almost the size of a dove) and bright iridescent turquoise and rich chestnut brown and with a whopping great carrot of a bill stuck on the front! It was beautifully lit with the early morning sun behind me and a great, great sighting.

Jumped back in the car and headed down to the bridge, hoping that the bird might have fetched up somewhere I would be able to see it – I couldn’t, but I could hear it calling from nearby, so it was still around. This bird was obviously quite shy of human presence, since it quickly broke cover again, flew under the bridge right below me (wow!) and perched up on a dead tree about 300m away. I was able to get some good views through the scope but it would have been hopeless to try to digi-scope it due to the distance and heat-haze.

I was happy now and headed back home for a late breakfast and a look around the Dalyan area – not seeing anything new apart from finding a nest-site for Red-rumped Swallows close to our hotel – not sure how I’d managed to miss it up ‘til now!

As Sod’s Law would have it, when passing through an attractive marshy area to the W of Koycegiz town, a second WT Kingfisher flew across the road right in front of the car! In view of the distances between sightings, I’m pretty sure this must have been a second bird.

Conclusion

This was our first trip to Turkey and we absolutely loved it! …so much so, in fact, that we are already booked up for a return trip in October. The town, habitat, people, food, climate & atmosphere were all fantastic and I hope that it can remain relatively un-spoilt for a while yet. There are warning signs though, with large numbers of tourist-style houses under construction and the area already home to quite a number of ex-pats taking advantage of the things enumerated above.

Bird-wise, it’s a bit funny. Even though there are lots of birds around, you somehow get the feeling that there aren’t quite as many birds as there really should be in such first-rate habitat. As a birdwatcher, you would be constantly saying to yourself things like.. “Look at that fantastic dead tree in the marsh – I bet there’ll be something perched up on that!” Snag is, there almost invariably wasn’t! My own theory is that late May/early June was not really the best time to come – many birds were obviously raising young (or recovering!) and the heat was impressive – it was cracking the flags by 09:00 every morning. I reckon a trip earlier in Spring or maybe Autumn/Winter might be more productive. If you were prepared to get up early, go to some good places and put some effort in, many good birds could be found – it’s just that (unlike many Med holiday destinations) a ‘sunbed list’ would probably not get into double-figures!

Another thing that really struck home was that I was very much out of my birding comfort zone!

As many of you will know, I’m far from the world’s best or most experienced bird-watcher, but back in the UK it is relatively rare these days for me to struggle to id any bird that I get a reasonable look at… In Turkey, the L-plates came back on big-time!!

Up in the mountains, it was Wheatears and Larks! If you get a good close look at these they are not too bad, but id-ing unfamiliar species of Wheatear at distance can be a bit of a nightmare, but this is nothing compared to trying to id the birds that are calling from the marshes around Dalyan – to my un-tutored ear, they all sound like slightly different versions of Reed Warblers!! Reading through my literature, I think there is probably every chance that I saw/heard River Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Rupell’s Warbler etc but I just couldn’t differentiate all the different calls that I was hearing from barely seen birds! As you can imagine, this was quite frustrating and I will be making efforts to bone up on likely species before we go out next time.

Butterflies were everywhere – but I guess due to the heat – extremely active and therefore difficult to id. All I can say is that they were numerous and impressive, but I quickly made a command decision that I had enough on my plate trying to id the birds, so butterflies took a back seat I’m afraid. I will attach a picture of one impressive species that I managed to photograph – Eastern Festoon – which is about the size of a small pterodactyl!

Other wildlife is plentiful, with lots of dragonflies, lizards, water-snakes and turtles being seen everywhere, and it was bizarre to come across many tortoises just making their slow way around the countryside (and roads!)

As I say, a great place and a wonderful experience for us and one that we will be repeating in not too many months time…

Ray Barker

 

http://www.dalyanbirding.com

 

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Lifer on the Lake

Lifer on the lake

Brief report on sightings and trips from two visits to Dalyan in February and early April 2014.

February
Winter flights to Dalaman before April from Manchester were unavailable so this meant flying into Antalya and driving to Dalyan either by the mountain route or costal route. We chose the mountain route which is roughly two hours shorter at 4 hours with a nervous passenger at 70 km per hour for the majority of the journey.
Before departing we took the decision to down load the map of Turkey for our Tom Tom and this proved to be vital. I had downloaded route planner and other paper directions, but in reality driving through Antalya from the airport required eight pairs of eyes (and there was only two of us), and following the road signs and paper directions along with keeping up with the flow of traffic, which approached us from all directions cutting you up from left and right would have been nigh impossible if you wished to keep your insurance excess intact! Once we left Antalya and took the D400 the rest of the journey was a pleasure passing through snow covered Swiss like mountains and plateaux’s although the nervous passenger stress was ramped up as road signs suggesting we apply snow chains to the tyres as we went further up the mountains . She needn’t have worried as we managed to stay below the snow line for the entire journey, although I know this isn’t always the case at this time of the year.
The February trip wasn’t a bird watching trip but still produced a decent haul (in my opinion)and only included visits to the beach and the rocky outcrop at Eskiköy along with a circular route of Dalyan. My biggest surprise was the numbers of ‘British’ birds seen; Blackbirds are common enough in Dalyan, however the following were seen in much increased numbers : Common Robin , Magpie, Blue tit , Mistle Thrush, Starlings and Song Thrush. Other birds in noticeable large numbers were Black Redstart, Whitethroat, and Chaffinch (every where) Raptors few and far between Short toed eagle been the only one seen. Paul Hopes book ‘Walking and bird watching in South West Turkey’ suggests that Köycegiz lake has rafts of Coots and other wintering birds, however, they were not present in those numbers on my visit, with the numbers been in the hundreds only. My highlight for the week, 6 pairs of Night Heron roosting in the trees opposite the hotel nearest to the new boat yard, and a pair of Sardinian Warbler s near Antalya airport on the journey home.
List for February as follows: White Wagtail, Hooded Crow ,Jay, Short toed Eagle, Robin, Kingfisher, Kestrel, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, White throat, Stonechat ,Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Crested Lark, Moorhen ,Serin, Greenfinch ,Redstart, Scops Owl (heard),White Stork, Immature flamingos, Yellow legged Gull, Cormorant ,Blue Rock Thrush male, Common Sandpiper, Black Redstart, Blackbird ,Grey Heron, Gt White Egret, Gt Spotted Woodpecker, T eal, Night Heron, Little Grebe, Starlings ,Rock Nuthatch, Cetti’s Warbler, Song thrush ,Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Blue tit, Yellow Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Swallow ,Crag Martin, Corn Bunting ,Meadow Pipit ,Fan Tailed Warbler, Blackcap ,Sardinian Warbler ,Collard dove ,House sparrow

The April trip was more of a birding week in which we took in the usual places, beach, Kaunos, Rocky out crop at Eskiköy, Çővenli Yaylasi and Köycegiz Lake. We also arrange a trip up to Lake Girdev.
One of the best birds seen was in fact just passing over Dalyan /Ockular an Imperial Eagle, a huge bird which at first we struggled to id, plumping for a Juvenile bird with its pale coloring.
The highlights of the local birding were Hen Harrier and Flamingo down at the beach, Finschs Wheatear, Ortalan and Cretzscnar’s Bunting and Alpine swift up in the mountains at Çővenli Yaylasi, Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagle in the Dalyan area. Lake Köycegiz provided Green shank and a lifer for me with a splendid pair of Black Winged Stilts on a spit of shale on the east of the lake were the Yuvarlakcay enters the lake near Kavakarasi.

Black Winged Stilts

          Black Winged Stilts

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron                                                   

Little Egret

Little Egret

Greenshank

Greenshank

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Cretzschmar’s Bunting

Trip up to Lake Girdev. 7.4.14

Lake Girdev

Lake Girdev

Itinerary: Set off 7:30 am from Kaunos tours, Dive towards Seki have breakfast, bird stops on the way to Lake Girdev , return Kaunos Tours 6pm .
We booked a 7 seater Dacia through Kaunos Tours for £39, with a driver for an additional £20 + his lunch. Fuel £12 and tip 10 lira each (our choice he did an exceptional job driving) (6 passengers and a driver) total cost per person roughly £ 15 bargain
Paul Hopes book describes Lake Girdev as follows ‘This is one of the most spectacular routes in the area, reaching an altitude of 2000meteres (6562 feet).it is one of the most productive areas in terms of bird species; 119 recorded to date’ He goes on to say ‘in April and the first half of May it is only possible to travel so far up the road as it generally remains blocked by snow until mid May. If it has been raining it is virtually impossible to go up the road unless you have a 4WD’. We had been warned by Kaunos Tours that we may not make it up to Lake Girdev because of the pre mentioned problems, however, luck was in our favour, because despite not having a 4WD vehicle, the snow level was a little higher, there had been no rain so with great skill from our driver we made it to the lake.
Our bird tally for the day was only 30, perhaps we are no more than enthusiastic amateurs and probably missed a lot of ID’s, perhaps we went a little early in the season it is World Migratory Bird Day on the 11.5.2014 and this may be a better time to go, but we had a great day out, and the company was great too (thanks Mick, Pete Karen, Paul and John)
World Migratory Bird Day on the 11.5.2014 link

https://www.facebook.com/events/730271466994971/?ref=22

A cautionary tale: Paul Hope also writes ‘..one can soon leave behind the tourist developed areas and head inland where in remote villages you can experience a way of life that hasn’t changed for centuries…..for those that love remoteness of this area, one free from the sound of motor vehicles, then this is about to change! (referring to developments pandering to touristic needs) ‘ Alan Fenn also takes up the cautionary tale “As so often happens with wild, unspoilt places that take a bit of effort to get to, tourism catches on and has the effect of altering or, in some cases, totally messing up what Toprakana-Mother Nature seemed to think was really pretty good in the first place. Accesses gets ‘improved’ and before long ways are being found to commodify and exploit the place by upgrading the environment. So it is with Girdev which is a sort of Crater Lake in that it is totally surrounded by mountains. Rain and especially snow-melt feeds the seasonal waters. No rivers flow from the lake and it drains through a sink-hole near the north end before emerging as the Kazanpınar Spring some 18 kms away near Elmalı in Antalya province. Nature’s balance meant that as the lake dried great swathes of wild flowers emerged, particularly Orchis palastris – the Marsh Orchid. Girdev is also home to many different species of birds and insects as well as the great flocks of sheep brought up there each season by the traditional nomadic herders.
That was then, this is now – tourism has come! A permanent ‘camp’ has been built to house those who want to visit this unique place for longer than a day-trip. Nothing wrong with that I say .What is sad is that, pandering to money from those who know no better, a shallow dam has been raised restricting the flow to the sink-hole and creating a permanent lake where one never existed before and this has been stocked with carp. Nature will adapt and species will change – my question is ‘Why does money always have to trump nature?’ There will always be consequences – nomadic herders have lost much of their traditional grazing grounds; to make ends meet will they have to resort to opening restaurants and gözleme (pancake) stalls around the lake? And what about the water quality at Elmalı as tourism expands? That said, Girdev is still yet a lonely and wildly beautiful place – as long as you miss the Jeep safari crowds!”
Link to Alan fens article: http://archersofokcular.com/wow-eds-view-whilst-wandering-wild-places/
The list for the day:
Hen (that’s for you John) Collard Dove, Gt Tit, Little owl, Swallow, House Martin, Little Egret, House Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Pied Wagtail, Blackeared Wheatear, Goldfinch, Crag Martin, Crested Lark, Jay, Blue Rock Thrush, Twite, Red fronted Serin, Ruddy Shell Duck, Snow Bunting, Rock Thrush , Black Necked Grebe, Yellow Wagtail, Gt Crested Grebe, Crag Martin, Chaffinch, Coot, Grey Heron, White Stork. Of which Red Fronted Serin and Ruddy Shell Duck been new lifers, so pleased with that. No White-throated Robins on this occasion, maybe next time!
http://www.dalyanbirding.com

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