In Pursuit of a New Species: Black Woodpecker

In a previous blog I described myself as a ‘birder’ and not a ‘twitcher’ A ‘twitcher’ you may recall is someone who races around the country frantically collecting rare birds for their lists and a ‘birder’ on the other hand is more of a local hunter for the territory that they find themselves in. This species sort of puts me in the middle of the two. On the one hand I am extremely excited by the prospect of seeing this bird (manic excitement) and at the moment I am frantically trying to find out about the bird in order to enhance my chances of seeing it. However, it is local enough, It’s reported current sighting’s are just a bit too far to be reached by walking or cycle, and a car is required to reach them taking under 35 minutes from Dalyan, so in my eye within local hunter territory and not the manic cross country trek that a ‘twitcher’ would take.

 

I had not seen or heard of any reports of the Black Woodpecker in this region over the previous twenty years of visiting and had not considered it as a possibility. The first tentative mention of this bird been a possibility, arose one evening a couple of years ago, whilst waiting to return to the England. Our driver arrived half an hour early and as not everyone was ready I invited him to have a tea and nibbles and a chance to practice my Turkish. He was a local man from near Eskiköy so I soon got him onto bird watching as I use Eskiköy as my local patch so to speak. He seemed genuinely interested, although he could have been just a very kind man! As my knowledge of the Turkish names for bird species is poor I resorted to using the Collins Bird Guide to point out birds I had seen in the area making him aware of the White Throated Kingfishers. The word ‘Var’ in Turkish means ‘There is’ and the word “Yok’ means ‘there is not’. Our man would look through the book at pages I selected and he would systematically point to the different birds saying ‘Var ‘ or ‘Yok” indicating the birds he knew of or had seen in the area. On the woodpecker page he pointed to almost all the woodpeckers saying ‘Var’ including the Black Woodpecker. As I was a bit dubious I asked him specifically if he had seen this bird, ‘Var’ he said again in an enthusiastic tone and indicated its size with his hands and also saying ‘Siyah’ which means black. As you can imagine I was pretty excited about this and got out a local map and he showed me its location, Kavakarasi forest.

 

Well that was it until earlier this year when a fellow birder Rob Smallwood reported it flying across the road one evening very near to the site first indicated by our man from Eskiköy. The bird was seen flying across the Köycegiz/Eskiköy road from Kavakarasi Forest to the pinewoods on the other side.

The forest at Kavakarasi provides pleasant walking and birding, opening out into the fields next to the lake so a good mixture of habitats. I haven’t as yet gone into the pinewoods to the east of the Köycegiz/Eskiköy road. below route to Kavakarasi forest. Later in the year I will be able to give more detailed directions.

Kavakarasi Forest Route

In his book, ‘Identifying Birds by Behavior’ Dominic Couzens describes the Black Woodpecker as crow sized and that it’s flight pattern is not the undulating up and down of other woodpeckers but straight on and similar to a jay with one or two wing bursts. It is similar to a green Woodpecker in that it feeds on ants and can often be seen on the ground and at rotten tree stumps. They prefer tall extensive forest with clearings, which would be in keeping with Kavakarasi forest. Another interesting observation is that it makes rectangular holes, (long in the vertical axis) when searching for deeply buried insects so it is worth looking out for these. It spends hours hacking at rotten stumps where it makes large craters and he suggests looking out for bark debris on the floor below. He also says Black Woodpeckers can be found in large stands of tall, mature pines and requires open ground to feed on.

‘Birds of the Western Palearctic’ suggest that in Turkey it is a very rare breeder in forests of the north and Marmara coastal region. In Turkey 50–500 pairs. [Update: 500–1500 pairs (2001) stable (BirdLife International 2004). The Black Woodpecker is normally solitary outside the breeding season, ♂ and ♀ in separate territories or parts of a territory. It favours areas with large trees and usually nests in a tree hole 6-9 meters from the ground. It suggest that the Black Woodpecker displays extreme wariness and does not favour association with man, nor easy tolerance of disturbance. The nest is excavated hole, with oval entrance. Adults remain all year in neighbourhood of their territory.

 

‘Birds of the Western Palearctic’ suggest that it is vocal throughout the year and when I visited the forest in late June 2015 I arrived to some strange calls, although Green Woodpeckers where in the area, these seemed different, when I looked up to two large black bird silhouettes (so maybe not black) were flying away and I did not hear the calls again. Both sexes share similar call repertoires.

 

Rob Smallwood’s observation in June 2015 was of a bird flying away from the Kavakarasi forest, across the open ground, over the road and into the Pine Woods behind. It would be possible then that it only occasional enters the Kavakarasi forest and frequents the Pinewoods rather than the Kavakarasi forest itself.

Since the bird is wary of disturbance and sightings may be rare, reliance on hearing its call, which is distinctive, may be necessary in the first instance. Perhaps the best indication of its presence to visiting birders would be its calls and any reports of such can help track down the bird, establishing if it is present in the area or not.

The following recordings may help fellow birders when visiting Kavakarasi forest region.

These recordings are from http://www.xeno-canto.org

Xeno-canto, XC is a website for sharing recordings of sounds of wild birds from all across the world.

 

Black Woodpecker Call page link below:

 

http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Dryocopus-martiusi

 

Heres hoping others have luck in hearing or seeing this bird.

Brendan

http://www.dalyanbirding.com

Posted in Dalyan Birdwatching | Leave a comment

Trip report to South West Turkey, April 2015

Trip report to South West Turkey, April 2015

Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

 

 

This was very much a re-run of our enjoyable visit from 10th to 13th April 2014. Once again, we stayed in an apartment at Royal Links, Sarigerme, courtesy of Dougy’s friend Marianne. We visited pretty much the same sites as last year, but at a slightly less frantic pace.   Instead of travelling to and from the mountains in one day we stayed overnight at Elmali, and thereby discovered the recently flooded reservoir at Yuva, which was one of the high spots of the trip.   The failure of the auto-focus on Dougy’s camera (possibly a consequence of security X-rays) detracted somewhat from his enjoyment of the trip.

 

 

Day 1 – Thursday 16th April 2015

We left Sarigerme at 6.30, having seen or heard Cetti’s Warbler, House Sparrow and House Martins.   The temptation to explore the marsh was great, but we had decided to get on the road as quickly as possible, and save that for another day.   A party of about 26 Little Egrets flew over as we set off. A tight bunch of Spanish Sparrows flew over (the first of many), and within another 100 yards or so we had stopped – despite our resolve to press on – at a pond for Squacco and Grey Herons, Corn Bunting, and White Stork on its nest (one of many up the valley). We drove on a little way picking up Great Tit, Greenfinch, Collared Dove, Hooded Crow and Magpie.   Another mile, and our plans to drive on regardless were abandoned.   We stopped at random where a small bridge crosses the roadside stream and were rewarded by a Peregrine plucking its breakfast on a nearby pylon, while a total of 9 Corn Buntings were strung along cables nearby.  Plenty of Barn Swallows overhead, and also a Jay.    The excitement was spoiled, however, by Dougy’s camera failing to operate. We drove on (Crested Lark, dead hedgehog and dead tortoise – we were too squeamish to investigate which species). We had seen a live hedgehog crossing the road on our way from the airport the previous night.

 

Through Ortaca and Dalyan, and we headed down towards Iztuzu (Red-Rumped Swallow, Blackbird, Yellow-legged Gull). The area after Golbasi restaurant, with salt marshes on one side and cliffs on the other looked brilliant but proved a bit disappointing (Fan-tailed Warbler, noisy Jays, more Little Egret. The stretch of open water beyond was also devoid of water birds, but produced a Chaffinch.

 

At Iztuzu beach we were greeted by 2 Alpine Swifts, Little Ringed Plover, Turtle Dove and goods views of Spanish Sparrow, Crested Lark and Common Sandpiper   in the (still early) morning sunshine. If only the camera were working!

 

The reed marshes behind the dunes were very quiet compared with last year.   On the dunes were a Tawny Pipit and an Isabelline Wheatear with Northern Wheatears close by for comparison. The Isabelline was notably bigger and more broad across the chest when facing us, with more uniform plumage, paler on the mantle, darker below, wings not as dark as the female Northern. Also the stance was helpful to a degree – both species quite upright at times, but the Isabelline consistently so.

Pipet Tawny Pipet

Tawny Pipit

Both the Tawny Pipit and the Isabelline Wheatear were very close and quite tame, and the failure of the camera was more distressing than ever. Possibly the result of putting it through the airport X-ray machine with the battery in?? Fortunately the Tawny Pipit was confiding enough to permit a passable record shot with manual focus.

 

The open water of the marsh near the Dalyan boat trips’ end gave us 3 Sandwich Tern, 5 Black-winged Stilts and also 3 smaller terns too far off towards the dunes to identify at this point. Further on towards the landing area the smaller terns came close (Common Tern), and another LRP and 2 Kentish Plover showed on the beach behind us.

Blackwinged Stilt

 

Black Winged Stilt

 

There were 2 Stone Curlew flying between the beach and the lagoon as we got nearer to the landing area.   It was by this time 10.15, and the first 2 tripper boats from Dalyan were arriving as we approached the far end of the beach. A pity, but we had covered most of the beach before any disturbance (apart from ourselves).

 

Just before the cluster of huts at the landing stage and turtle feeding station was a White Wagtail.   Despite the comings-and-goings, 2 Caspian Terns were sat on a sandbar with a group of Common Terns.  After we had taken tea and coffee the Caspian Terns had increased to 3 and the Sandwich Terns to 8 or more, coming and going on the same shallow sandbar. A Buzzard flew overhead.   The contents of the two boats were ashore but fairly scattered.   A Black-winged Stilt could be seen at the end of the sand spit while we were drinking our coffee, despite the “wrinklies” from the tripper boats running and swimming nearby.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Walking back along hard sand along the sea edge was easier and more direct, but fruitless.   Greg – as is his wont – soon got bored and re-joined the parallel walk along the dunes and lagoon edge.  This also enabled him to walk at his own more serene (some would say more lethargic) pace.  We arranged a rendezvous in an hour, but in fact re-joined just a quarter of the way down the beach to re-inspect the Tawny Pipit and Isabelline Wheatear, with a flyover from one of the Stone Curlews.     Dougy also re-inspected the Kentish Plovers during his walk down the beach. At the same time as the Stone Curlew passed over, Dougy saw 3 small larks, not close enough to identify as the Lesser Short-toed Larks which he saw last year but which remain absent from Greg’s life list.   Greg lagged behind again, but caught up with Dougy three-quarters of the way down the beach, where the latter had found a Short-toed Eagle soaring just above the rocky outlying peak behind the Southern end of the beach.

 

Iztuzu is certainly a site best visited very early in the day if you intend to walk the whole length of the beach and back. Not just because of the trippers, but also because it is a long hot walk on soft sand once the sun is high.   We might have done better to go straight there later in our trip, when we might not have succumbed to the distractions en route.

 

Unlike last year, when a party of Greater Flamingos had arrived between our outbound and inbound walks, there was nothing new on the lagoon on our eventual return to the Southern end of the beach at nearly 12.30.   Greg’s wet feet crossing the stream between the lagoon and the sea were not entirely unwelcome at this stage of the journey.

 

On the way back over the hill from the beach we saw a Spur-thighed Tortoise on the road, damaged (presumably by a car) but alive, and relocated him to the roadside.   Surely they are easy enough to avoid on the road – but I suppose you might say the same about Badgers. We stopped in the roadstone layby at the top of the hill, where Dougy found a pair of Agama (?) Lizards and a male Black-eared Wheatear.

 

Stopping again at Golasi, we heard again the bird call from the cliffs which defeated us on our last trip.   Not Rock Bunting, not Rock Nuthatch, and absolutely no sign of the bird itself. We had brought birdsong CD’s this year, but the bird soon stopped calling and we gave up on it – again. However a Long-legged Buzzard flew over.

 

We drove into Dalyan looking for somewhere to have Dougy’s camera repaired or replaced, but without success. There was a photographer’s studio, but he sold very few cameras. As a small consolation, a Purple Heron flew by as we drove along the waterfront.

Purple Heron

Purple Heron

House Martins were around the town.   Lunch at the Ocean Garden restaurant was excellent (possibly the best meal of our trip), and a White Stork was stalking in a field as we left the town, headed to Koycegiz via Eskikoy.   This is en route to the Liquidambar forest, but in the heat of the afternoon (3.00.p.m.) we did not think that would be worth a visit.   After Tepearasi we drove alongside the Liquidambars for a few hundred yards, and very beautiful they looked as a destination for another day or year. At the next village (no sign seen) we stopped where the road crosses a stream, expecting Bee-eaters and seeing instead Goldfinch, Common Whitethroat and a delightful baby tortoise.   Just before the main road junction at Beyobasi we heard Nightingales in the citrus groves on both sides of our by-road.   At the junction we turned right, not by choice but knowing it would take us to flooded fields on the far side of the hill. Dropping down on the new road we took the first right at the bottom, past a cemetery for old (mostly American) cars and trucks.   Forking right around the marble works, we crossed a flat valley bottom picking up 3 Whinchat, 21 soaring White Storks, more than 40 Yellow-legged Gulls and a Woodchat Shrike on the way. The flooded field is a good deal more flooded than last year.   It now has furrows rather like Ryan’s Field at Hayle, and seems to have been cropped with maize. It contained a load of Black-headed Wagtails (10 plus) and a ticking Olivaceous Warbler just beside the track.   A little further on a ditch alongside the road was seething with huge (two inch plus) fat tadpoles, in an almost solid mass in places. From the causeway leading back towards the main road we inspected the flooded area carefully. Plenty of White Storks (15 on the ground at one point) but no Black Storks today, unlike last year. 3 Cattle Egrets were present.

Blackheaded Wagtail

Black Headed Wagtail

 

Turning left up the lane on the far side of the causeway we ran into agricultural land and hillside, following the river which held another Eastern Olivaceous Warbler.   The river held large numbers of frogs, mostly with a yellow strip down the spine, but one brighter green with a “flowery” pattern, and also Stripe-necked Terrapins all along one section of bank, all just above the waterline. Eventually this track led us back onto the Ortaca road. Totally disorientated, we turned left, went through Ortaca, making a complete circle, and re-joined the D400 heading North West towards Koycegiz. Our lunchtime restaurateur had recommended turning right at Beyobasi up the riverside track towards Yukarcal as a pretty and birdy route. Another possibility for another day.   By this time (going on 5.00.p.m.) the B400 was very busy, and enlivened by mopeds riding the wrong way on our nearside verge and also, in one case, along the central reservation.

 

After taking the left turn left to Koycegiz, the driving calmed down.   At the roundabout we turned left through the town until we reached the lakeside, then turned right and stopped half a mile out, near the Delta Plaji.   There was more water, but fewer waders, in the river than last year.   There were 4 LRP’s making a great fuss, and 1 more peaceful 1 Common Sandpiper.   A man fishing in traditional fashion, with a weighted cast-net, was the most interesting sight. A Little Gull and a Squacco Heron on the seaward side seemed a reasonable end to the day, although 11 hours and 54 species seemed a bit lightweight compared with last year. A delightful collie-cross with 4 big pups reminded us that Dougy had forgotten the dog biscuits in last night’s shop. On the way back a hazardous stop on the hard shoulder of the D400 to look over the flooded fields filled in the missing Black Storks (2).   Common Swift as we returned to the apartment exactly 12 hours after departure rounded off the day’s work. Dougy logged Water Rail while Greg was in the shower.    Sneaky!

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

 

Amazingly, the owner of the bar where we ate last night and drank tonight has offered Dougy the loan of his Canon camera and 70-300mm lens.   Unfortunately we will not be able to pick it up tomorrow as we are leaving early. We ate this evening (as last year) at an unnamed restaurant – very traditional, no alcohol served or allowed.   Interestingly, the bag of dog biscuits bought to ingratiate ourselves with the village dogs on our travels (nearly 30 Lira) cost more than tonight’s meal for two (27 Lira).   A Tawny Owl was calling (or possibly 2) as we finished our meal there.

 

 

 

Day 2 Friday the 17th April 2015

Preparations for the planned overnight stay in Elmali provided extra faffing opportunities, but we were on the road by 6.15.a.m. We proceeded without hesitation or deviation to the B330 and up into the foothills, before stopping at an attractive parking area with a mountain river and a stone built byre and other farm buildings.  A conspicuous Black-eared Wheatear, a selection of finches and tits including Coal Tit, and the first Cretchzmar’s Bunting of the holiday.   Onward and upwards over the next brow (1300 metres) and we saw our first destination, the reservoir and plain West of Seki. We followed a track away from the road in a very active area of grass and small trees, for Serin, Woodlark, Cirl Bunting, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Black Redstart, 4 Eastern Orphean Warblers obligingly squabbling in a leafless bush, a Starling, a Lesser Whitethroat, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Warbler, a pair of Sombre Tit, Black-eared Wheatear, Jay, and Ruppell’s Warbler.   There was extensive evidence of wild boar excavation as we got further from the road.

Bunting

Cretchzmar’s Bunting

 

Then down to the reservoir proper – turn off at the Tepe Restaurant. A sign suggested that the reservoir may be called the Baraj Sahasindan, but that might equally be some sort of warning or information – a phrase book and a few nights with a Turkish language CD didn’t enable us to translate.    Far more water than last year and no stony margins. We walked part-way round, seeing an LRP on the remaining patch of mud in one corner, 5 Great Crested Grebes, a pair of very cross LRP’s at one point (suggesting we must be close to their nest) a Grey Heron. 12 Great Cormorants, and a Common Whitethroat. Also a large (very large) spider in a tunnel with a built-up rim of twigs. Grey-brown and barred on the back, orange yellow underneath.

 

On to the Seki plateau.   The first fenced field on the left (which provided Calandra Lark last year) provided two Isabelline Wheatear and singing Crested Lark. We drove slowly around the Seki plateau for a while, but added nothing else to our list except Linnet. We then began to climb up through Seki (starting to look for Red-fronted Serins) though the first bird of note was a Nightingal

Isabilline

 

Isabilline Wheatear

 

We stopped at an attractive area of alpine meadow above Seki seeing another tortoise (we had also lifted one to the side of the road down on the plateau). It turned out that we saw tortoises on every day of our trip, both Spur-thighed and Hermann’s. Also around the alpine meadows were a Northern Wheatear, Ruppell’s Warbler, and White-throated Robin.   Unlike last year’s unco-operative birds, this one was in full view, singing and using a leafless tree as its base, fly-catching and feeding on bare ground, and posing for the camera and telescope on the top of Berberis bushes. Having tuned into the song, we worked out that there were probably 4 around us, two of which had a minor scuffle but soon returned to posing.

White-throated Robin

White-throated Robin

 

 

We walked up to the ridge, and liked the look of the next plateau beyond.   Walking back down we saw all the above again, plus Cretchzmar’s Bunting, another tortoise,

5 Red-billed Choughs and on the lower slope close to the road a mixed flock of Linnets, Goldfinches and two Red-fronted Serin. Having already achieved the main target species of the high slopes and pass, we decided to have a look at the next plateau before going “over the top”.   So, instead of going straight up the D48 – 30 we turned left down a dirt road towards Keyobasi.   The landscape did not seem as attractive from ground level as it had from above, being quite intensively farmed with liberal applications of a blue insecticide or fungicide to the young fruit trees. The area yielded Jay, Skylark, Cretchzmar’s Bunting and best of all a very obliging Cetti’s Warbler in full view.

Chough

Chough

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

 

Back to the D road through Zorlar. Male Lesser Kestrel as we left the village, followed almost immediately by a nice ginger-tailed Long-legged Buzzard, another Lesser Kestrel ( or possibly the same). Then a mammal the size of a Suslik but with a short but bushy tail. We stopped at the Mescid for a cup of tea, to the accompaniment of Red-billed Chough, Rock Bunting, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Wren, Raven, and an even bigger tortoise.

 

Onward and upward into snow and up to the Gogubeli pass (1850 metres). Another Lesser Kestrel, Red-billed Chough, Rock Nuthatch, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Common Whitethroat, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Blue Rock Thrushes (male and female), Hoopoe, and 2 Rock Thrushes (male and female).

Eastern Rock Nuthatch

 

Eastern Rock Nuthatch

Rock Thrush

Rock Thrush

 

We then dropped down slowly to Yaprakli, picking up a few more of the same including 2 more Red-fronted Serins at the roadside 400 yards above that village. Rock Nuthatches, with their penetrating call, were quite frequent; 2 posed for a photo just below Yaprakli Bridge, by which point the river was a fast-flowing torrent, probably with the last of the snow melt.   We were in no hurry at this point, not having to drive back to Sarigerme tonight. Dougy also saw a Red Squirrel.   In Yalnizdam an apparent Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across the road and landed on a drilled-out telegraph pole briefly before flying away. In the hope of it being a Syrian Woodpecker (new for Greg) we waited and it returned once, briefly, but on both occasions it seemed to show a lot of red under the tail. We waited with scope trained on the post (not easy with a monopod) but it did not oblige. Meanwhile Dougy walked closer, got another view of the Woodpecker, and also 3 Tree Sparrows plus Spanish Sparrows. We gave up on it, headed on South a short way, but decided to come back and give it longer. A 20 minute stakeout failed, and Greg was just walking back to the car when the Woodpecker reappeared and perched on a different pole.   It was a little further away, but with lots of red and no sign of a gap on the head pattern, so we came to the reluctant conclusion that it was Great Spotted in the short time before it flew off.

 

We drove on, and then things really livened up.   As we approached Yuva, Dougy saw a large cloud of dark birds high in the sky over Yuva reservoir (which we did not know existed). We drove down beside it and found Ruddy Shelducks, Mallard, and the cloud of 60 birds, still flying high but identifiable as Glossy Ibis. Birds were all around – Yellow Wagtails, Corn Bunting, the Glossy Ibis flying higher, it was difficult to know where to look. A little further on, Little Grebe were also seen, and it became obvious that we must get on to Elmali, check in, and get out here as quickly as possible tomorrow. This lake is also obviously newly flooded, with mature trees growing out of the water and coming into leaf.

Yellow Wagtails

Yellow Wagtails

We drove onto Elmali and found, more by luck than judgment, the Tu-ba hotel. When we went out for a meal a Little Owl was calling, and still calling when we came back.

 

Day 3 Saturday the 18th April 2015

First stop the Yuva reservoir. A Night Heron as we driving around the lake was a really good start with a Hoopoe calling as we watched. The heron was an excellent spot by Dougy in the lower branches of one of the flooded trees as he drove along (eyes on the road!) looking into the just-rising sun. This was followed within 30 yards by a Purple Heron at the waterside and a Grey Heron flew past to complete the set.   A pair of Moorhens were next. We stopped beside a flooded house and in a lagoon separate from the main lake was a female Gadwall. Next was a line of reeds separating the feeder stream from the main lake, which contained a singing Reed Warbler. There was a little cluster of trees next (beyond the top of the lake) and one in particular of these was alive with birds, numerous Reed Warblers but also a Penduline Tit, Icterine Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap and Goldfinch. We went back to the flooded restaurant and saw a pair of Garganey.

Night Heron

Night Heron

Garganey

 

Garganey

We drove up and down the lakeside a couple of times. Dougy manually focused on Purple and Squacco Heron side by side, with a Black-headed Wagtail in the foreground. Meanwhile Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared and Northern Wheatear were on the slope on the other side of the road.

 

Back to the warbler hotspot, which was still active. A Moustached Warbler skulking along the bottom of the reeds, and occasionally showing well in the base of the Willows, was a “lifer” for Greg. A Lesser Kestrel flew in and perched briefly at the top of one of the Poplars. Back along the lakeside again and 3 Night Herons perched on the trunks of flooded trees, watching with interest the spawning Carp below. As we decided to leave we passed a Long-Legged Buzzard perched on the ground, which flew idly across the road and posed on a treetop 35 yards from the road. On the way up to the mountains Dougy heard and saw a Wryneck at Eskihasar. Just up the hill we stopped again for Crag Martin and Scarce Swallowtail.

 

Back up to Gogubeli pass.   Much the same as yesterday apart from a tortoise, even up here among patches of snow. Starting on the descent we saw Black Redstart.   Having descended safely to the Seki plain and taken the left towards Girdev we saw Common Redstart, male and female, and Nightingale showing as well as singing.

 

Back at Sarigerme we spent the last of the afternoon covering the flooded fields and river, and the ponds and expanses of sand which remain from the (temporarily) abandoned project to create a golf course. The additions to our list were Kingfisher, Roller, 2 Little Bittern plus a Sawfly Orchid and a Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly, Marsh Harrier, Sedge Warbler and Great Reed Warbler.

 

 

Day 4 Sunday the 19th April 2015

The day started slowly. Two hours spent on the golf course and hill produced 2 Bee-eaters but nothing else new. We stopped for an unfamiliar call which turned out to be Spanish Sparrow in the base of a stork’s nest, but the false alarm benefited us with a basking Montpellier Snake artfully arranged on a bicycle seat with a pile of other rubbish in a stream bed.   Turning seaward just before Beyobasi traffic lights, we walked down the bank of the river which feeds Lake Koygeciz                   .

 

Lots of orange groves, and another Roller when we parked the car. Green Woodpecker calling across the river. We crossed the rickety footbridge to the grove of trees and buttercup fields which served us well last year, and immediately got Icterine Warbler and Collared Flycatcher (a striking male). Then Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, more Nightingales (one sang briefly from an overhead wire) Willow Warbler, Blackcap, and a Glossy Ibis. Where the river started to slow near the lake we flushed 4 Green Sandpiper, and at the mouth of the river we found 9 Black-headed Gulls and a Black-winged Stilt on a sandbar, a Common Sandpiper flying past, and a Whiskered Tern perched on a branch or pole a little way out. Most of the lake is reed-fringed at this point and a tiny sandspit and a “doom bar” right across the river mouth are the only visible wader habitat.

White Stork

White Storks

 

On the way back, Lesser Whitethroat, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, male and female Blackcap, and an Olive-tree Warbler, much larger than the Blackcaps sharing the same tree, and aggressive towards them.

 

Back at the warbler hotspot were two Stripe-necked Terrapins, but we were hot and weary so did not linger long. On the way back one of the nesting Storks was bill-clapping, and another Roller flew over as we arrived back at the car.

 

Back again to Beyobasi and we turned right towards the hills. Where the road ran alongside the river we stopped and saw Grey Wagtail, and a mile or so further up we stopped under a tree in which a Kruper’s Nuthatch was constantly calling. The tree was very tall, and despite the calls it was impossible to see the bird from directly below. Dougy had a brief glimpse by climbing up the bank opposite, before the bird flew slightly further away and lower. At the same point we also picked up a Ruppell’s Warbler on a telegraph pole. The Kruper’s moved around constantly calling, and eventually took pity on Greg’s aching neck, and flew down low to the trunk of a tree near the road. Then, crossing the road, the first tortoise of the day – later than usual at 2.15.

 

We drove up as far as Alan and stopped down on the fertile plateau. Hoopoe, lots of Swifts, Masked Shrike, and Eastern Festoon, but no Wheatears, Finsch’s or otherwise. On the descent another (bigger) tortoise was in the same spot but on the lower side of the road, explaining why the first was trying to cross the road until I took him back whence he came.

 

About 3KM down from Alan we had excellent views of a male Wheatear on the roadside fence post above one of the few bare areas of ground. Absolutely no gap between the black on the deep throat patch and that on the wing. However, owing to a yellowy tinge on the head and nape we reluctantly logged it as Black-eared not Finsch’s. With the benefit of hindsight and a guide book, the head and nape colour doesn’t rule out Finsch’s and the bird was probably of that species. We’ll have to go back and check! 2 Black Storks were also rising past us at this point.

 

We drove on down to the flooded fields where the population was much the same apart from a Lesser Emperor dragonfly, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and 15 Wood Sandpiper. A quick look at the beach at Sarigerme added Jackdaw and Rock Dove as a slightly unexciting finale to the list. The latter looked pure-bred, although the fact that there is a dovecot in the gardens behind the beach might make them unacceptable to more scrupulous recorders. We will be back!!

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

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Enthusiastic Amateurs: The Lists of Dalyan

Enthusiastic Amateurs: The Lists of Dalyan

There are several terms associated with birdwatching. Bird-watcher, Birder, Twitcher and Ornithologist are the ones that command some sort of respect. There are plenty of others that people use to describe those of us that enjoy ‘birdwatching’ that are not so respectful and when you have birds called ‘Great Tit’ and ‘Bearded Tit’ it can only add fuel to theses non respectable terms to describe birdwatchers. Interesting enough I once came across a site of American birdwatchers saying ‘birding is not for softies’ they wanted to dispel the myth of birders been nerds and wimps. These guys were bikers, clad in army gear and leather, black leather gloves and tattooed to the hilt and did extreme birding, hanging off cliffs and enduring harsh conditions to get their bird lists and I guess they took no shit!

One of the principle motivations of birding is list making, or to put it another way, identifying species and counting how many different species you have seen. In his book ‘ Little Black Bird book’ Bill Oddie discusses what bird watching is and what to call yourself. He says a bird watcher ‘collects birds’ A bird watcher collects birds by identifying them. They put a name to it, identify the species and they ‘tick’ off that bird as a new one, one more to your collection of identified and more importantly ‘seen’ birds.

In a nutshell, a ‘Bird-watcher’ is mainly seated, knows their birds and collects their lists, but it doesn’t suggest any dynamic process, it’s a passive activity waiting to see what birds come to you. A ‘Birder’ on the other hand is more of a local hunter for the territory that they find themselves in, it suggests movement, progression and been dynamic in their pursuit of new species. It’s an activity involving skill, patience and quite often, a level of endurance were alertness, high accuracy and speed is of the essence. A ‘Twitcher’ is much more obsessive, manic you could say in their pursuit of new birds. They race around the country frantically collecting rare birds for their lists as one person put it to Bill Oddie” if I know that there is a new bird around the corner, nothing will stop me seeing it-NOTHING” to someone with this philosophy distance and danger are no barriers. Twitchers frequently cover vast distances in their pursuit of rare birds. An ‘Ornithologist’ implies a high level of expertise of a scientific nature. Bill Oddie suggests that unless you have a biology or zoology degree, or are an expert on some particular obscure area of bird behavior, don’t claim to be an ornithologist. Collecting lists is not the obsession of an ornithologist. If you call yourself by the wrong title you’ll arouse all sorts of expectations, which may embarrass you. I think I’m a ‘birder’ though my wife might disagree! Like any label there will be a spectrum along that category and a friend of mine called us “enthusiastic amateurs” which I think sums it up nicely.

Birding is like hunting, with the only shots taken, if any, are by a camera and like hunting skills are required. Trying to get up close and personal with wild birds and identifying them requires knowledge. What does the bird look like, Shape, size, and plumage, behavior and flight pattern, the sounds it makes, relying on auditory clues is essential at times.   What time of day do they feed, and where they do it, what are the corridors through which they move, or flight paths through which they migrate. What kind of habitat each species prefers. Discovering all of these is an on going learning curve that adds to a lifetime of enjoyment.Many factors influence the involvement and motivation of individuals in birding.Generally, birders motivations are, seeing birds (especially new or rare birds), being with friends, gaining the opportunity to experience nature and the outdoors, contributing to wildlife conservation, fascination with specialized equipment, and being able to escape from daily social responsibilities, enjoying isolation, these are all factors which drive people to birdwatching as a pursuit.Bird watching is an extremely personal passion and so is the making and keeping of bird lists. Many bird watchers enjoy keeping a list of all the birds they have identified. It can be a thrill to see a species for the first time and add it to your life list. Life lists reflect bird species you have seen and where you have seen them. They are a good way to record memories. Seeing a new species may remind us of a special trip, a wonderful hiking experience, the memories of a former home, or past trips with bird-watching friends.

Birders make all sorts of lists of birds they have seen, some obsessively as we see in the case of the ‘twitcher’. What’s nice about keeping a bird list is it’s one of the few things in life where you can make your own rules. A bird life list is a record of the species of birds you’ve sighted over time. Typically, Depending on your particular bird watching exploits, you can keep daily lists, trip lists, lifer lists, garden list any list you like. I was thinking about this the other day and realized I only keep a lifer list for Turkey, no other county not even the UK and again keep a monthly list for Dalyan and surrounding districts but for no other area/district. I guess I’m not obsessive about my lists, but enjoy keeping it. I know there are new birds around the corner here in Turkey, but I am not one of those who will stop at nothing to see them, I’ll bide my time and hopefully pick them up over the years with planned trips. Not all birders choose to keep list as they feel adding a species to a list becomes more important than actually enjoying the bird itself and keeping a list detracts from this. A similar feeling is experienced if like me you are also interested in bird photography as well; you have to ask yourself the question, am I birding, or am I out doing bird photography. There is an emotional difference in seeing the bird through the camera lens and that of a good scope or binoculars and this can be a dilemma, I tend to compromise and try and do both, there are times when I have just watched a bird and thought after that would have been a great photograph and others were I tried to get a shot, failed and missed both the photograph and the enjoyment of seeing the bird in a more relaxed state. We shouldn’t get so obsessed with collecting names/photographs that we begin ignoring the beauty in birds and bird habitats.

So what of the lists of Dalyan, my current list to date is 182 species (I think I said I wasn’t obsessive!) and bearing in mind I include a driving time from Dalyan of two and a half hours in one direction for the website www.dalyanbirding.com which takes in a vast area, its not so impressive compared to others. I also said I was an enthusiastic amateur and not an expert or even a very good birder and those who know me understand that I have to be absolutely certain before I id a bird. I am not one of those people who will credit an id on seventy percent certainty; I have to be absolutely sure before I count it. There are birders who visit Dalyan who are far more experienced than me in bird identification and are therefore ‘seeing’ birds I am still to find. Some of them are very common but still elude me. I am still to see those ‘Bloody’ Red footed Falcons, Eleanor’s Falcons and Lanner falcons that everybody else seems to pick up with ease. I am sure I have seen them, but not had a good enough view to pass my standard of certainty. Back to ID school for me! Having said that I am a regular observer of the White Throated Kingfisher and even had a Great Spotted Cuckoo last year, which not all visitors to the region can say. There is a saying ‘right place, right time’, which rings true for birding and some birds are not going to be seen unless you are in the right place at the right time, and then you can throw in another element ‘Luck’. The right place and right time refers to the seasons and habitat. You are not going to get the mountain birds down in Dalyan hence the two and a half hour drive time for some trips up into the mountains, and your not going to get the migrant passage birds in summer, or the summer birds in winter or the wintering birds in summer, so what you are likely to see will depend on when you visit and where you go when you visit. I was out last year with a very good birder (they had an impressive list) and he cites a number of birds that ‘serious’ birders may want to see if they came to Dalyan, those birds are included in the following list and I have added others that I a non ‘twitcher’ would also be pleased to see:

Black-headed Bunting

Sombre Tit

White-throated Robin.

Calandra Larks

Isabelline Wheatear

Finsch’s Wheatear

Blue Rock Thrush

Rock Thrush

Turtle Doves

White-throated Kingfisher

Red-rumped Swallows

Krüper’s Nuthatches

Bonelli’s Warbler

Rufous Bush Chat

Eleonora’s Falcon

Spur-winged Plover.

Red-footed Falcons

River Warbler

Montagu’s Harrier

Lesser Kestrels

Little Bittern.

Red-fronted Serin

Cretschmar’s Bunting

Ortolan Bunting

Rock Bunting

Penduline tit

Rüppells Warbler

Black Storks

River warbler

Syrian woodpecker

Blue Rock Thrush

Pygmy cormorant

Stone Curlew

Olive Tree warbler

 

From the above I am still to see:

 

White Throated Robin (right time right place May/ June/ later ? up the hills)

Sombre Tits (with certainty)

Calandra Larks (would I recognize one if I saw it?)

Bonelli’s Warbler (ditto)

Eleonora’s Falcon (it’s another id thing)

Spur-winged Plover (right place, right time and luck)

Red-footed Falcons (see above)

Montagu’s Harrier (again, would I recognize one if I saw it?)

Lesser Kestrels (with certainty)

Rock Bunting (right palace)

Stone Curlew (needs luck. And lots of it)

Olive Tree Warbler (need to go to right place)

 

This year I am going up in the Korkuteli Hills near Seki so hopefully I will get White Throated Robin and although not strictly in this region (two and half hour drive away) I am also visiting Lake Bafa to try and get Dalmatian Pelican, another case of right place, right time and luck!

You can check out my photographic attempts in the link below, attempts is the correct term, professional I am not, I haven’t got the artistic eye or skill, or the correct equipment or even the budget for the correct equipment, but I am an enthusiastic amateur and happy to be one.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/126950444@N08/

 

 

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New Routes, Perseverance, and a Change of Direction!

 

New Route

This years birding in Dalyan has been a good year, at least for me. In my second extended stay following retirement I have picked up 19 new birds for Dalyan and surrounding area and my current list for the area is 181 different species. The lists comprise of not only birds within Dalyan delta but also further a field by car to a travelling time of two and half hours (one way), so all quite doable in a day. This years birding in Dalyan started for me in the end of March begging of April when I came along with two fellow birders. The main objective for this trip was to try and get to Lake Girdev above the mountains behind Seki and at the limits of the two and half hour travel distance. Luck was on our side as access to Lake Girdev in April is usually unattainable due to snow. See report link below.

https://dalyanbirding.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/lifer-on-the-lake/

Twite, Red fronted Serin, Ruddy Shell Duck, Snow Bunting all added to the list from this trip.

Perseverance

Staying more local and linking to the theme of perseverance a trip up to Köycegiz Lake is always a pleasure and sightings vary depending on the time of year/day that you chose to do the trip. I am still to venture onto the lake in January/February to observe the rafts of Coot etc. described by Paul Hope (Paul Hope ‘walking and birdwatching in Southwest Turkey’) but hopefully that will come. My observations for the year are that Squacco and Purple Herons along with the Cormorant population have done particularly well. I am delighted to note increased numbers of White Throated Kingfisher, maybe six individual birds, a bird that in recent years was rarely seen so near to Dalyan. Sadly Raptors seem to have disappeared, the lake was always good for a sighting of White Tailed Eagles but I have not observed any for two years now, they weren’t frequent observations in the past, but seen every year previously for ten years or so, maybe just not there on my visits this time. Golden Eagle has also been seen in pervious years but not this year. Short Toed Eagles and Long legged Buzzards are still present along with Peregrine Falcons and kestrels. Plenty of sightings by others of raptors have ben reported (‘tweets from Dalyan’) but very few large raptors. The exception to this was an Imperial Eagle that passed overhead in April to the delight of all of us. As can be seen from the link above Köycegiz Lake also produced Black Winged Stilts, Green Shank and Black-necked Grebe. Other birds showing up on the lake this year have included Night Heron, Gull Billed and Whiskered Terns. A bonus ball was picking up a Tawny Owl walking back after a moonlight trip on the lake, just flew into the trees outside the Cagri Restaurant and gave great views for five minutes or so before it up’td and left.

Black-necked Grebe

Black-necked Grebe

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

 

Gull-billed Tern

Gull-billed Tern

 

Another regular trip is to Iztuzu Beach. It has to be said that the beach area is not the most prolific birding spot and should produce more (though I often go for the beach walk during the summer months and not birding so probably miss a lot). The regular birds are Yellow Legged Gull, Purple Heron, Gt and Little Egret, Peregrine Falcon. Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, around the beach area and Krüper’s Nuthatch can be picked up in the pinewoods that surround the beach. Flamingo have been at Sülüklü Lake, the salty patch of water just in front of the Turtle Hospital, for much of the year and earlier in the year a pair of Hen Harrier briefly showed. Here’s were the perseverance comes in, because I walk the beach on a regular basis, sometimes it throws up an unexpected bird. Last year for instance a lone Avocet appeared, and on another occasion a lone Black-tailed Godwit showed. This years loners included Grey Plover, Broad Billed Sandpiper and a Little Stint

 

Yellow Legged Gull

Yellow Legged Gull

 

Little Stint

Little Stint

 

Flamingo

Flamingo

Grey Plover

Grey Plover

 

A change of Direction!

 

My favorite birding spot around Dalyan is at Eskiköy and it was during one of these trips that I climbed to the top of the rocky outcrop for a more panoramic view. From here I could see an area concealing a lagoon not visible from ground level. There was a lot of bird activity into and out of the lagoon so I decided to try and locate it on my next visit. This attempt lead me to what I now call the Eskiköy Canal route and if you look at the ‘tweets from Dalyan’ on the web page www.dalyanbirding.com you will see it has provided some good birding, not least the White Throated Kingfisher. See link below for directions and description.

 

https://dalyanbirding.wordpress.com

 

White Throated Kingfisher

White Throated Kingfisher

 

This small change in direction from the original Eskiköy route has produced a number of new birds for me in the area and one I’ll explore again next year.

New birds seen on this route include, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Wood Sandpiper, Little Crake, Spotted Crake, Lesser Grey Shrike and Mustached Warbler.

Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Spotted Crake

Spotted Crake

Moustached Warbler

Moustached Warbler

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Lesser Grey Shrike

Lesser Grey Shrike

 

I’m sure there were others especially waders and warblers, sometimes the sightings are brief as the birds are disturbed and fly off, other times my lack of ID skills and not getting a photo to go off hinders reporting more here, but I am already looking forward to next year with excitement!

http://www.dalyanbirding.com

see also

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=166593

 

 

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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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