And along came a professional?

2020 was a year in which I did not expect to get to Turkey, let alone be able to birdwatch once I was there. However, I did manage to do both arriving in August and returning at the end of October. In the early part of 2020 birding in the UK seemed like a limited activity with lockdown and mixed messages in the media about the amount of time you could spend outside your house and how far you could travel. As a result, I found myself looking at the eBird website hoping that birders out there were still able to report their sightings and I could dream I was there. 

Indeed, every winter I look at the eBird website and take note of what is being recorded in the Muğla region. When looking at those who contribute to the Muğla region of eBird in previous years, one could see that many were European birders reporting their sightings with  most of the lists being provided by visiting birders to the region, and a few birders who had relocated to Turkey to live.  Over the last few years, it has been heartening to see an increase in Turkish birders reporting their sightings.  See screenshot below.

I describe the function of my website as an aid to help visiting birdwatchers with limited time, find sites and locate the species they want. With that in mind, my website has directions to sites most favourable for birds requested by visiting birders to the region. 

I am always looking to add new birding sites to visit and discover new species I have not seen in the region before. The Muğla eBird section is useful for this and to demonstrate this I will discuss the screenshot below from a Turkish birder Ömral Ünsal Özkoç from the 24.1.2021. 

Notice the last bird in this image is a White-headed Duck. A bird I have not seen in Turkey beforehand and can see that Ömral Ünsal Özkoç saw this bird at Bafa Gölü KuzeyBatı. To find out where Bafa Gölü is, you click on the date next to the entry for White-headed Duck which will take you to Ömral Ünsal Özkoç entry page. See below.

Clicking on the little flag next to the name Bafa Gölü KuzeyBatı takes you to a familiar Google map which you can zoom in or out to see the location or click the directions button for online directions from your current position. See image below

Now I could create a new page with directions to Bafa Gölü KuzeyBatı to see White-headed Ducks if they frequented that site.

I mentioned earlier that it was mainly European birders in the early days of eBirder that posted their sightings and that now you see more Turkish birders posting their sightings which is heartening. Indeed Ömral Ünsal Özkoç personal profile states he is a bird watcher since 2009 and is a PhD student who researches on ornithology and is also a bird ringer.

Looking at the second image in this blog, below, we see that Brian Stoneman has posted 478 checklists, myself 211 checklists, with a good number of Turkish birders now regularly contributing their sightings.

In particular, Tuncer Tozsin who appears second bottom of the screenshot above with 41 checklists has caught my eye since January 2020. Each of his post are accompanied by a photograph, see screen shot below, these photos are not blurry record shots but of the highest quality in the main.

If we look at the screen shot below we can see that Brian Stoneman has seen 251 species in the region from his 478 checklists and compare that to Tuncer Tozsin who has seen 205 species from only 41 checklists

It begs the question, how has one individual managed such a large number of sightings in such a short space of time with so few submissions of his sightings? Well I thought I saw the answer on the Facebook page Dalyanli who posted a news report about the birders’ visits to a site I call the rocky outcrop at Eskikoy. See below.

At first I thought from the description above that Tuncer Tozsin was similar to a county recorder that we have in the UK , however, after contacting Maria Jonker who runs the page Dalyanli ( ) it appears that is a misinterpretation I made and Maria is unclear if they are official recorders or more keen and exceptionally good birders .

That said Tuncer Tozsin posts have alerted me to the potential of new birds to see in the region that are within one to two hours drive from Dalyan. Indeed if you click on the tab ‘illustrated checklist’ on the Muğla eBird page you can see all the birds seen with in the region and from here find the locations for theses birds. Two that have caught my eye recently have been European Crossbill seen by Tuncer Tozsin and Wallcreeper seen by Serdar Şatırlar . Once I an able return to Turkey I will be looking to see if I can locate the sites and the birds. If successful and repeated on a few occasions I will look to add the sites and birds to the website with directions. Until then at least I am rediscovering the joy of local birding around my home in Ribchester.

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The Uncomfortable Birder and Moments of Danger

It’s probably fair to say that the general publics stereotypical view of a birder or birdwatcher is that of someone sitting in a hide, with a flask peering out at the birds ,twee old ladies peeking through their kitchen windows at bird feeders in the garden, geeks and loners, and groups of middle-aged men with tripods all in a line looking at some distant bird no one else can see. There is probably a bit of truth in all of them, however, birding has become hip, see this link below:

Yep Birding has become sexy. Birding used to be cheapish once you had forked out for a decent pair of binoculars or a scope, you could wander down to your local patch, maybe take out a subscription with one of the two national birding organisations or both and visit their sites, but now, with the grey and hipsters pound, improvements in digital photography, internet sites, and apps for your phone, slick advertising, emotional pulls regarding environmental issues and saving species worldwide and not just in your local patch, yes there’s money to be made and the money men have seriously moved in. A few years ago if you visited a hide or walked around a bird reserve you would hardly have seen a camera, now it’s the next must-have birding accessory and you’ll now find most birders with a digital camera of some sort to capture a spot so it can be noted, posted and shared on social media or international birding sites. I too have fallen into this new form of birding. I probably fall into a few of the above stereotypes and for those of you who know me, you can keep your opinions to yourselves!

It all seems so clean and comfortable. Bird reserves used to have huts selling hot drinks, soup, and maybe subscriptions, now it’s full restaurants and conference centres and this might give the impression that birding is a cosy, modern comfortable hobby which for some it probably is but that’s a misconception by those that have never done birding other than sat in a hide.

I’m sure an hour doing winter coastal birding or winter moorland birding would soon change the cosy perception, then try doing it being out for a full day!

It may come as a surprise to the general public but birding requires stamina, toughness, patience, grit and determination and a willingness to suffer uncomfortableness and that’s just in the lovely British countryside. So whats birding like in an idyllic warm Mediterranean resort-like Dalyan in South West Turkey, well it’s different.

You’d expect birding out here to be as comfortable as anything with sunbeds and a pool to return to after a gentle mornings birding, and that is possible, however, there’s a different kind of uncomfortableness here. Let’s go back to a previous sentence and see what I mean about needing to have stamina, toughness, patience, grit, and determination, with a willingness to suffer uncomfortableness.

On the website, are several bird species and sites suggested on where to see them. Let’s look at one species and one site to demonstrate what’s required. Let’s say I want to see a Little Crake.

I know that I can achieve this on the Eskiköy Canal Route below

( we’ll come back to this spot later in the blog)

So I make my way down to the canal route and start walking along the canal, however, this approach might let you see several birds but not the Little Crake. As soon as they see you walking along the path they will make their way into the vegetation and out of sight. We need to find a spot and stand still for about half an hour and they will reappear along the edge of the canal. Well, we have come to our first period of uncomfortableness. Here’s a little test for you to try at home. Go into your garden/backyard or look through a window out to your garden/backyard, choose a small area to focus on, and start looking at it. Firstly you’ll need to concentrate, it might take five minutes or so, but your mind will wander, you’ll look up at a passing bird, or turn around if you hear something behind you, and you may have missed your slot to see the Little Crake. You have to remain focused on the small area you have chosen. You’re not going to be able to maintain being still for this length of time without taking a small step forward, backward or sideways slightly to rearrange your stance and relive your uncomfortableness, this is allowed, as long as you keep your movement to a minimum. Now add, 28C, sweat forming on your forehead, insects buzzing in your ears, ants crawling over your feet, and enjoy your glimpse of the Little Crake.

It’s my observation that when birding in Turkey or other countries for that matter, the uncomfortableness experienced can categorised into the following categories; physical, psychological, emotional and financial and at the more severe end beyond uncomfortableness you can add the risk of severe injury or death and that’s just to your equipment!

On the web site, I do suggest some advice that visiting birders may heed.

‘If you are planning to do one of the longer trips, to one of the remote parts a little preparation and planning may be required. Be prepared is a good idea and the following may be useful.
Firstly, apply insect repellant before you set off, mosquitoes are still active first thing in the morning. During the day when out birding in fields, woods, and other undergrowth, there are plenty of other insects that need deterring, take a small bottle of Sin kov (local insect repellant) for times of paranoia and to deter flies as and when necessary. Secondly , take a small hand towel, this is the best birding advice I have ever been given and is useful in whichever country you may be birding in, it has its obvious uses for drying yourself or mopping away sweat, acts as a cushion if you need to sit on an uncomfortable surface while you watch and can act as a support of scopes or camera lens (a little like a bean bag) and many more uses.
Thirdly, take a small first aid kit including something for stings.
Fourthly, apply sun cream and have headcover, obvious maybe, but the sun here is very strong.
Last but not least, Mobile signals are not reliable up in the mountains, let people know where you are going and your expected return time.’

Let’s start with applying sun cream, you’re going to need it if you don’t want to burn and look like a beetroot on your return from your trip out. It has its downsides though, mixed with sweat and dripping into your eyes it stings like hell. There is another problem, it might feel rubbed in but there will always be some trace on your fingers and it gets on all your lenses and if you’re like me and wear glasses then that out of focus image may well be a thin film of cream covering your lenses. You’ll need to apply suncream even in the early spring months as here during the day the temperatures can reach the low twenties. Indeed the temperatures here in Dalyan in spring are delightful during the day but drop back to a chilly six degrees at night. Temperature drops have caught out several birders who have taken to the hills to do their birding. A pleasant twenty degrees allowing shorts, T-shirts, and sandals allows for comfortable birding here in Dalyan only to find that when you get to your destination up the mountains the temperature has dropped to six degrees or so and if you’ve not brought a fleece your not going to enjoy it up there.

As mentioned above a trip up the mountains or further afield to Pamukkale or Tuzla Gol requires a little preparation, food/meals, drinks, toilet needs, clothing and footwear, directions and birding equipment. So that’s the bins or small spotting scope, the field scope and tripod, small digital camera to capture landscape shots, digital DSLR and telephoto lens to capture bird shots, rucksack, camera bag, phones, etc, that’s a lot of gear to be carrying around, indeed I was once out with friends birding up near Çöğenli Yaylasi and one commented jokingly ‘all the gear and no idea!’ . It dawned on me at one point the comment my friend had made about ‘all the gear and no idea’ that he was right I had no idea where I had left my small spotting scope. In our excitement, spotting birds and changing scopes and cameras on tripods I had inadvertently left my small hand scope on the ground as we moved to the next vantage point, the question was when and where! We spent what felt like an age retracing our steps until it was located at the base of a shady tree. That covered a few of the uncomfortable categories, emotional, in shock and embarrassment and the thought of financial loss, these things aren’t cheap. Indeed I’m lucky to still have the small scope, I once left it on a seat of a Dolmus and had to cycle to the bus terminal only to find the driver holding it. When I hire a car I usually keep the scope just under my front seat for quick access in case we see passing raptors or other birds whilst driving. On one occasion after a full day out I unpacked the car in a hurry in order to return it to the car hire company on time only to realise the next morning my small scope was missing. Frantically searching the house I eventually realised I had left it under the seat of the rental car. The rental company is excellent and always checks the pockets, glove compartments and boot for any belongings left by customers so I wasn’t too worried. To my horror they told me the hadn’t looked under the front seat, this would normally be done by the valeting company who clean the car before the next customer rents it, but on this occasion, the car was needed first thing the next morning in another town an hours drive away so would have been valeted by them. Fortunately, the scope was returned the next evening, but not without psychological damage to me, it’s like an extension of my body and always by my side. Phew, that was lucky.

There are not just birds here in Turkey, there’s plenty of other wildlife which we will discuss now. It’s difficult when in Dalyan not to notice the dogs especially if you’re a light sleeper, they bark a lot, mainly at night. There are two types of annoying dogs when you are out birding, friendly dogs and unfriendly dogs.

This is BB a friendly dog. She befriended us when we went birding at Kaunos, determined to be our friend she even followed us across the river and then every inch of ground we covered, disturbing all birds in her path before we could get a chance to view them. However, she was a nice friendly dog and we forgave her, she even hitched a lift back in the rowing boat with us.

Here is a picture of her returning down the hill after disturbing every bird about, the only plus side is, she flushed a few birds up we wouldn’t have seen. To deter a friendly dog, you need to bend down and pretend to pick up a stone this usually works, sometimes though, don’t pretend, if pretending didn’t work, then actually pick a stone up and toss it in the dog’s direction. You may need to do this a few times until it gets the message you don’t want it around. Then there’s the other group of dogs, unfriendly dogs. Unfriendly dogs can be put into two groups, annoying snappers and dangerous guard dogs. Annoying snappers are those who try and nip your ankles whilst you walk past their patch or those who will chase you whilst cycling past putting you at danger of coming off your bike. Dangerous guard dogs tend to be farm or mountain shepherd dogs, Kangol dogs and should be treated with caution, though in the main they too will only be aggressive whilst you pass through their territory, none the less protection may be required. Both categories snappers and guard dogs require a stick and a handful off stones. Once you have a done a route on more than one occasion you know when to be ready.

The other group of animals is domestic animals, sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys and horses. This group usually only cause psychological uncomfortableness, which I will discuss later, though horses once nearly caused me financial uncomfortableness. Once whilst at Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop I had set up my scope with a camera attached waiting for Short Toed Eagle which favoured a particular perch, once the bird had settled I intended to take a remote control photograph. I moved away from the set up to gain a better view of the bird’s approach and whilst there I heard what I thought was distant thunder. It was not thundering though it was a heard of horses galloping around the corner of the rock and heading straight for my tripod! Luckily they saw it and ran either side, a close call for my equipment and my nerves.
Talking of nerves we should discuss the next group of animals, wild animals. Most of the wild animals I have encountered are harmless, Foxes, Badgers, Hares, Pine Martins, Porcupines, Red Squirrels, However, they are also wild Boars.

Let’s revisit the Eskikoy Canal Route.


Have a look at the track above. This is the track along the Eskikoy Canal. As you can see there is not much visibility on either side until you reach an open section shown earlier for the Little Crake. You have to go down this track for about two hundred and fifty meters before you reach the end and some good sections for birdwatching. Now once you’re in about fifty meters your imagination starts to kick in. First, it’s bird sounds, no that’s a frog, no that’s an insect making that noise, no that’s too big a rustle to be a bird, so what is it. This is when you hear the breathing and the crashing and snapping of twigs and reeds moving either in front of you or immediately to your side. Nows the time to use logic, it’s either a cow, a sheep, a goat or a horse. The first three pose no problems they’ll just move out your way and into the reed beds on the right, Horses, tend to like to stay on the track, which is not too bad if they are going in the same direction as you as they’ll keep ahead of you until they reach the end and then via right into the marshes. However, if they are coming towards you they have no choice as they will be walking in single file and they are too big to turn around and unlike the cows who will just crash through the reeds the horses want to keep on, so you need to find a small gap and step into that to let the horses pass. Sounds simple enough but they are wary of you and get nervous when about two meters from you. They panic slightly and suddenly sprint past where you are stood hopefully without trying a sidekick as they go. They won’t all go at the same time, each one takes its turn, each one stopping, small panic and a sprint and then you’re good to carry on. There’s another sound though, a sigh, a sniff, an expelling of air, a grunt, it’s a wild boar. The problem with birdwatchers is that they tend to walk slowly and quietly so’s not to disturb the birds. This approach also means you can inadvertently sneak up on a wild boar even if you had no intention of doing this.

Here’s one I saw when I was on the Eskikoy Rocky Outcrop overlooking the canal down there. I could hear a rustle in the reeds, but could not see anything but the reeds swaying as the animal approached, a cow, a sheep, a goat or a horse, no it’s a wild boar. As you can see they can be pretty hefty, about the size of a small fridge on legs, weighing a ton and with two nasty tusks to cause damage, you don’t want to mess with these. The good news is they are very wary of humans if they see you and run, tails straight up in the opposite direction from you crashing through the reeds no problem. I have found the best thing to do when I think I have heard a wild boar and to be quite honest as soon as I hear any large animal not visible and nearby, is to clap loudly and give a shout. sheep, cows, goats and horses, on the whole, will ignore this unless you are right next to them when they will move on. Wild Boars, on the other hand, tend to up tails and sprint away, hopefully, they have the sense to sprint away from you and not towards you. So far this approach has worked on several occasions.

Now if you see one of these cuties, you definitely need to be wary, it is a young boar and mothers will be protective. I saw this one casually cross the track at the Kavakarasi Forest, I never did see or hear its mother, but I made sure my walk was deliberate and noisy as I carried on.

So what else is there, ahh yes those pesky insects ants, spiders, flies, wasps, bees and numerous other nipping biting bugs and of course mosquitos! Standing or sitting still will attract ants, they’ll find their way into your shoes or sandals, over your feet, up your legs and head north, need I say more. In the main, they just itch, but some do bite. Flies for whatever reason will want to land on your face, an irritant. Spiders are generally not a problem, but again if you sit still for long enough you might find one crawling on you or if you accidentally trap one with you body parts some may bite check shoes left outside overnight before putting them on. When out early in the morning walking through invisible newly made webs can be annoying. If walking barefoot on the beach in September/October  you may need to be wary of bees and wasps that, on their last legs, can be found crawling or are half dead on the sand and if stood on sting the sole of your foot, which I can vouch for, is very painful. There are numerous beehives scattered around the countryside and you may, from time to time, have to walk past them on your birding or you may suddenly find you’re walking through vegetation that they are collecting pollen from. On these occasions, it is generally best to just keep walking calmy at the same pace until you pass through the area, keeping disturbance down to a minimum and you’ll be fine.
Wasps at the end of September will gather near cafes and any food source, and given the chance will sting, so be prepared to put your food away and move on. Sometimes the numbers just force you to move on and abandon where you are. That leaves Mosquitos. One bite can itch for a week, get several and it’ll drive you mad. Usually known for coming out at dusk and during the night they are still present early morning and so if you’re out birding especially near any waterways, so that’s most of Dalyan, apply Mosquito repellant before going out.

Snakes and Scorpions

Scorpions like the one above seen on the road to Kaunos are mainly nocturnal and although present is rarely seen, snakes too are occasionally seen as they are active during the day and you do come across them


Here’s one at Kaunos which actually landed on the road from a tree, being chased by a rat, look carefully at the snake’s mouth holding one of the rat’s offspring. Not all Scorpions and snakes give a venomous bite or sting, but that said you don’t want one anyway. You need to be careful when climbing /scrabbling over historical sites and hillsides where snakes and scorpions may be beneath loose stones or wood debris. the main point is looking where you are putting your hands before climbing or your butt before you sit down!

Plants, yes plants, the prickly sort can cause uncomfortableness.

The temperatures in Turkey from spring onwards favour wearing walking sandals. Can you believe some people still choose to wear socks with open-toed sandals! This doesn’t go down well with the fashion police who might ‘out you’. Socks or no socks spikes will get to you and socks have the disadvantage of collecting millions of spikey burrs from the burdock family of plants which can destroy a pair of socks when you try to de-fleck them. It’s not only socks that can get destroyed, skin and fabric on trousers or shorts or your T-shirt for that matter are at the mercy of sharp thorns if you’re not careful.
Bougainvillea is a wonderfully beautiful flower, but it hides the very sharp thorns that cover its branches, ducking under hanging flowers may lead to rips in your clothing. Take a look at this other nice flowering plant.


A closer look reveals thorns that have a resemblance of a fishing hook with the sharpness of a razor and these can deliver a nasty cut to skin and clothing alike if you are unaware and brush past it.


We finally come to the biggest irritant to us birders, other humans! Paul Hope in his book ‘Walking and Birdwatching in South West Turkey’ begins with two quotations which strike accord both locally and globally in observations on mans ability to wreak nature. The first one by E.B.White ” I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of sceptically and dictatorially.” The second quote is by Albert Schweitzer ” Man has lost the capacity to see and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.”

It is true humans are ingenious and inquisitive, look at air flight, without it there would be few Europeans and others visiting Turkey to bird watch. Our ability to take to the air has many forms two of which are annoying to this birder anyway, microlights and hot air balloons, mainly hot air balloons. Why they can’t be content drifting over scenic areas mid-day beats me, but no, they have to set off as the dawn arrives at the very site I’m birding at and to make things worse they don’t have a day off, they go every morning and spoil the best time of day to be out birding .











The light and roar of the gas burners frightening all birds away. In the picture below I was just focussing on some Turtle Doves in the trees when they up’td and left as the basket clipped the top of the trees. There were only fifteen ballons on this occasion so I guess I was lucky


There was no bad timing in the example above as I pointed out these balloons go up every day, however, there was one occasion I decided to go up Göğü-beli Geç to try and pick up red-fronted Serin. This involves a two-hour drive from Dalyan to get to Seki and then an ascent up the mountain along winding roads to the summit and a descent down the other side. Normally this is a good birding route but on this occasion, the ascent had numerous cars parked on the side of the road and fast food trucks scattered up the mountain perched in some of the most inaccessible places possible for a burger van! So no birds on the way up. At the very top of the summit a huge electronic timer and the words ‘Finish Line”

52nd Pro Cycle tour of Turkey

We had only chosen to go up on one of the televised legs of the ‘Tour of Turkey’ cycle race. The decent was no different with all the watering holes we had chosen to view the Red-fronted Serin at packed with spectators. Still, it did make us change our route home and we picked up a Cuckoo on the way a first for us in Turkey so some small consolation.

There are two other types of human activities that have the potential to cause harm to birders. The first is those humans with shotguns or rifles. Despite shooting birds on Lake Köycegiz being illegal you can guarantee that come September the first you’ll start hearing shots ringing out around the reed beds (so maybe some species of ducks is allowed) if your doing the Eskikoy canal route this can be quite disconcerting. Recently I have taken to birding at the Yuvalk cay / Köycegiz gol entrance which appears even more dangerous. Standing in a small clearing amongst the high reeds at the lake edge keeping out of sight to minimise disturbance a local fishing boat slowly sailed by not noticing us when he sporadically discharged his rifle at who knows what, and who knows at what height, I doubt he considered there were humans tucked away behind the reeds that obscured his vision, one to think about before I go again! The second human activity is Turkish drivers! The one thing whilst driving in Turkey is to expect the unexpected! Unexpected stops or turns without signalling, by cars, buses, trucks and motor bikes in order to manoeuvre or pick up or let off passengers or just stopping for no apparent reason.
At night expect, Tractors, horse-carts and farm vehicles travelling without lights at slow speeds on highways and driving the wrong way down dual carriageways at the same time! Trucks parked on the highway at night without lights rather than on the side of the road. Watch out for herds of sheep, goats and other animals and Tyre-shredding potholes once you leave major roads. Be ready for Turkish driving habits, drivers that overtake on blind corners, drivers that attempt to pass you while you are passing another vehicle, drivers who tailgate within millimetres of you, it’s a sure sign they want you to move over. Be aware that drives that flash you are telling you they are coming through and not giving you permission to proceed at junctions or at any other time. It is not uncommon at night to have drivers with no lights on, either going in the same direction as you or heading straight for you in the wrong direction usually to take a short cut. Not strictly driving or or birding related but fits into the category ‘moments of danger’ , pay no attention to Zebbra crossings if you are a padeastrian , pretend they don’t exist and cross it as if it wasn’t there because believe me the Turkish driver approaches Zebbra Crossings as if they don’t exist , do not and I repeat Do NOT expect cars to stop ! However, the most dangerous driver on the roads is the birding driver who has to train themselves to keep their eyes on the road and not the sky and adjacent landscape , especially going up mountain passes like Göğü-beli Geç !

A final piece of advice to visiting birders to Turkey is to have a small toilet roll in your backpack. It’s a known fact that some people are affected by the change of water in Turkey often attributed the higher mineral content or possibly tap water used to make ice cubes for drinks or maybe the oil used in the cooking, whichever it is, it can have an affect on your gut. So on one occasion out birding in Gayic Canyon, a whole group of birding uncomfortableness amalgamated into one instance. Gayic Canyon proved not to be a good birding spot, after all, an hours drive away in sweltering temperature only to find it even more baking in the canyon, with heavy tree foliage, and poor conditions underfoot meant you could hardly enjoy the surroundings never mind look up to try and look at birds. We spent about half an hour walking through the canyon undergrowth with millions or irritating insects and flies buzzing in our ears and nibbling at us and sweat running down our backs when it happened, Mick looked grey and said he felt unwell. To top it all he was experiencing that unexplainable moment when a solid stool state turns into something resembling blended soup, he needed to go and quickly and dashed into the nearest undergrowth. He emerged from the undergrowth, pale, shaking a little and sweating like a pig. “you alright?” I asked. Referring to the flies, he said ‘It’s was horrible they were on it before it hit the ground!”. Ahh birding in Turkey how idyllic!

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Sound Advice ….and the defence of the European Jay!

Sound Advice ….and the defence of the European Jay!


I have read on different birding forums the contentious issue of counting a bird as a ‘tick’ if you have heard a bird call that you identify but haven’t actually seen the bird. Some people would argue that you cannot count that bird for your list because you didn’t actually see it. If I could use a fishing analogy, it would be like someone saying they caught a Trout. As they reeled it in, the obvious pattern and shape of the Trout could be seen, but the fish managed to escape the hook and swim away, before been landed and put into the keep net ! I don’t know but I guess that in a fishing competition it wouldn’t count as a catch.

However, in my book, this is about bird identification and not purely about ‘physically seeing the bird’. So if I can identify the bird by sound alone , and be sure of that, then I am counting the bird as a positive tick. I think for me if I have seen a bird previously and know it’s call , then I feel fine when I am out birding and don’t actually ‘see’ the bird but I am certain of the call, then I count that bird as a ‘tick’ so to speak. An example that anyone would know would be a Cuckoo. Everyone knows that call and would say ‘it’s a Cuckoo’, there wouldn’t be an argument about it , it’s unlike the rules in a fishing competition were you actually have to ‘physically land the fish’ . I am in good company in thinking I can identify a bird by sound alone, either by its call or it’s song. Lets firstly look at something comparative to competitive match fishing. The ABA Big Day Count. The American Birding Association Big Day Count who’s rules state ‘Birds must be conclusively identified by sight or sound. Use common sense: if in doubt about the bird’s identity, don’t count it.’ Interestingly though the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) in the UK have their annual ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ every January but is for birds ’seen’ only. I guess they don’t trust the results of the masses taking part who are probably on the whole casual birdwatchers and probably only for that weekend !

So how would the scientific world go about identifying birds, after all isn’t science about being exact and without guess work !

Well what better place to look than the Cornell Lab of Ornithology , which has two words in it’s title that would conjure up scientific approach ‘Laboratory and Ornithology ‘ here’s their introductory paragraph ’The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet.’
Well that’ll do then, so what do they say about the use of bird sound? The following is from their site ‘You can only see straight ahead, but you can hear in all directions at once. Learning bird songs is a great way to identify birds hidden by dense foliage, faraway birds, birds at night, and birds that look identical to each other. In fact, when biologists count birds in the field, the great majority of species are heard rather than seen.’
So if it is good enough for scientists it’s good enough for me , so have I convinced you?

The birds in Turkey that I can immediately identify on hearing their song or call and without seeing them are , Bee Eater, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Penduline Tit , White Throated Kingfisher and Rock Nuthatch amongst others. The Hoopoe and the White Throated Kingfisher are the birds that probably got me onto identifying birds by sound or at least making a concerted effort in learning more. I suppose some of you will know the Hoopoe sound and will be thinking , ‘you didn’t know that ? ‘ Well there is always a first time to hear a bird call or song, and to put that sound to a particular bird that you are looking at . If you haven’t seen or heard a bird at the same time before , your not going to know which bird it is by sound alone , unless you know their calls and songs.

My Hoopoe moment came one day when I was walking in some mountain woods near Korketelli. I kept hearing this monotonous call being repeated , but had not seen any bird that I would associate with that sound . The sound or call was unfamiliar to me. I kept hearing the call all morning but could not identify which bird was making that noise. Then a Hoopoe landed in a tree near me, I knew it was a Hoopoe they are pretty unmistakable.


To my great delight It started calling, thats it , thats the bird that has been plaguing me all morning, now I know it, it’s a Hoopoe, I’ll never be in doubt again. Indeed the sound has served me well , every time I hear the call I know there is a Hoopoe around and usually spot it. The same can be said of the White Throated Kingfisher, it’s a very distinctive call and has helped me locate the bird, it prompts me to to look up and see if I can spot it flying or get a location of where the bird is via the sound. The White Throated Kingfisher often calls during fight and in terms of reminding you to look up, it is not dissimilar to when I hear a Curlew call back home, as they too often call just as they are landing

Hoopoe Call :recorded by Stuart Fisher

White-throated Kingfisher call :recorded by Eric DeFonso

So having worked out that learning bird songs and calls could improve my birding and identification I set about trying to discover more. Discover more ! Crikey it’s a whole subject on it’s own. When I was working I was once told of an analogy for a subject I was interested in, which is unimportant here, but the analogy is! The analogy about information on my topic of interest was “ if you think of your subject as a large pond or lake of information, a gnat could sip at the edges of it or an elephant could drown in it”, that’ll give you an idea of how much there is to learn on the subject. I won’t be going into ‘spectograms’ , ‘non vocal sounds’ or ‘sonograms’ that birds make in this blog but if your interested you can discover these yourself. I’ll include a number of links at the end of the blog to start you off !

As mentioned above there is a bewildering amount of information on the subject but strangely enough whilst trawling the internet to provide some simple introductory information to include I came across some on what is essentially a home advice website ! ‘The Spruce’ is a new kind of home website offering practical, real-life tips and inspiration to help you create your best home. Whether you’re looking to retile your bathroom, upgrade your baking skills, conquer a craft or simply tackle your to-do list, The Spruce can show you how’ I know, not your first port of call for birding advice , but I have to say it’s simple and to the point.

So here is what they have to say on the some basics I have added some recordings as examples, Just as observing birds carefully and looking for all the details of their plumage is necessary for proper identification, careful listening is also essential. While birding, you should listen for…


Pitch: How high or low is the song? How does it change in a single call? Where in the song does the pitch change?

Penduline Tit , single high pitch call

Penduline Tit a-5


: recording by Stuart Fisher

Quality: Would you describe the song as a warble, buzz, rattle, screech, whistle, bugle or some other tone? Are there different tones in the same song?

Jay, definitely a screecher :recording by Gary Harbour

Length: How long is the song? Can you count the seconds it lasts? How long does the bird sing, even if the song is repeated?

Hoopoe , repeats three times, regular spacing between each note : recording by Stuart Fisher

Tempo: How many beats does the song have? How quick are those beats? What pauses are part of the song?

Scops owl , monotonous call three/four seconds apart. recording by Tero Linjama

Volume: Does the song change volume? If so, where and how? Do different birds sing similar songs but at different volumes?

Greenfinch tuneful with distinctive wheeze ending to song


recording W Agster

Repetition: Are the same syllables repeated several times? How many times? How many similar sequences are part of the song?

no deviation from these boy , if you hear one that’s what it is !

Wood Pigeon : recorded by Marc Anderson,
Collared Dove :recorded by Patrick Blake ,
Turtle Dove :recorded by Lars Lachmann
For those of you new to thinking about bird song and calls I hope it has sparked your interest and you can look at the links at the end of this blog to further your discovery , it is a fascinating world.

You’ll see above and hopefully will have listened to the European Jay which has a characteristically horrible screech call, but thats not the full story. Earlier I mentioned that if you have heard a bird call or song , and don’t know it, but also cannot see the bird making that sound , there is no way to know what that bird is and you may end up making an incorrect guess. The only certain way is to see the bird making that noise/call/song. An example I have had in the past is a Chaffinch . Whilst out walking on a number of days I had heard this bird call of two notes a bit like a very slow wolf whistle , for several days it intrigue me until one day I saw a Chaffinch land on top of a bush and started to make that very call, a little like my Hoopoe moment that was my Chaffinch moment , I hear that call on a number of occasions in Karavarasi Forest and although I often can’t see the bird I know its a Chaffinch. Another ‘hear and see’ moment happened a few years back. We had stopped for a drink in a bar in Dalyan and where sat on a swing when I heard a very sweet and gentle calls and song from a bird and was looking around for what warbler was making that sound, you can listen here : recorded by Jarek Matusiak

For a while it stumped me and we just carried on with our drinks, but the song got nearer and nearer, until it was just above our heads on a branch, yeah it was a Jay in a happy place, a bit like a cat purring , it was clearly very contented and gave a beautiful ten minute rendition. Very sweet and not harsh like I would associate with a Jay . The Jays in our garden purr a lot , it’s lovely. Happy Listening !

All recording downloaded in this blog are from : Xeno-canto
xeno-canto is a website dedicated to sharing bird sounds from all over the world. Whether you are a research scientist, a birder, or simply curious about a sound that you heard out your kitchen window, we invite you to listen, download, and explore the bird sound recordings in the collection.

The license for the recordings are here


useful links



Posted in Dalyan Birdwatching | 2 Comments

Dalyan Protected Area …Really?

Is it too late for Dalyan !

I am currently in the process of revamping the website , it’s looking a little dated, clunky and has many errors, but don’t hold your breath, I think this is going to take some time to sort. I am looking to remove some of the birding sites due to development around Dalyan and add a couple of new ones involving a days birding by car within my limit of a two and half hour journey in one direction , which makes for a long but enjoyable days birding.

I have talked in the past of having a ‘target bird’ list for visiting birders and have settled on a list of 24 birds that maybe achieved by visiting the sites proposed and at the times of the year suggested .I have also been researching birding sites suggested by others and I recently visited  Çalış Plaj and Çalış North Marsh near Fethiye (February 2017). How sad it was to see.
Once a birding hotspot and originally promoted by Paul Hope in his book “ ‘Walking & Birdwatching’ in South West Turkey, it is now a sorry shadow of it’s former glory. In his 2005 second edition forward he wrote regarding developments at the time ‘Such rapid development puts an enormous strain on the environment. Little thought has been given to creating ‘green’ areas. Instead, every inch of land is utilised with houses crammed together. Marsh areas are been filled in and built upon. The Çalış North Marsh ,described in detail in the birdwatching section has virtually been destroyed. Despite been a protected area, someone has been able to fill it in for yet another foreign development. Only a small area including the open water, remains, but few birds now use it. A sad and unnecessary loss. The developers are ignorant of the part such marshes play in managing surface water or don’t care anyway in their pursuit of financial gain, it is, after all, only the environment that suffers. Mediterranean marshlands perform a range of functions that deserves conservation and better management’. That was twelve years ago and I fear Dalyan may be sliding in the same direction, but more of that later !

Paul Hope’s book contains a comprehensive list of the birds seen by the author during his time working in South West Turkey and he describes many birding sites, some of which have now been sadly over developed. The birding list has a key to the likely occurrence of each bird as observed by the author. His key is as follows :

The list comprises of 266 species which have been recorded by the author in the areas as indicated. The occurrence and abundance of the different bird species was based on the judgment of the author. The occurrence and abundance of each species is indicated by letters as follows:
Occurring in such numbers that an experienced observer at the appropriate time and place might identify in a single day.

A-Abundant over 500
C-Common 101-500
F-Fairly Common 26-100
U-Uncommon 6-25
S-Scarce 1-5
R-Rare Known only from a single or occasional record.

I have taken a look at Paul Hopes list with particular reference to the suggested 24 target birds for the website I have ordered the 24 birds in order of frequency seen (and alphabetically) as suggested by Paul Hope as follows:

1: Lesser Kestrel: -Common- Seen Lake Girdev area

2: Cretzschmar’s -Fairly Common – Seen Lake Girdev area

3: Little Bittern: -Fairly Common -Seen Dalyan area

4: Red-fronted Serin: -Fairly Common – Seen Lake Girdev

5: Black-headed Bunting: -Uncommon- Seen Dalyan area

6: Black Storks:-Uncommon – Seen Okcular area

7: Blue Rock Thrush -Uncommon- Seen Dalyan area

8: Finsch’s Wheatear: -Uncommon—Seen Lake Girdev

9: Long Legged Buzzard: -Uncommon- Seen Dalyan

10: Krüper’s Nuthatch: -Uncommon – Seen Iztuzu & Çővenli Yaylası

11: Penduline Tit: -Uncommon – Seen Dalyan

12: Red-footed Falcons: -Uncommon- Seen Okcular

13: Rufous Bush Chat: -Uncommon- Seen Eskiköy

14: Rüppells Warbler: -Uncommon- Seen Okcular & Kaunos

15: Sombre Tit: -Uncommon- Seen Ğöğübeli Geçi

16: White-throated Robin: -Uncommon-Seen at Seki

17: Little Crake: – Scarce – Seen Eskiköy Canal Route

18: Ortolan Bunting: -Scarce – Seen Eskiköy

19: Short-toed Eagle-Scarce – Seen around Dalyan

20: White Tailed Eagle: -Scarce— Seen Köycegiz Lake & Iztuzu Beach

21: White-throated Kingfisher: -Scarce— Seen Eskiköy & Dalyan River

22: Syrian Woodpecker: Rare- Seen Okcular

23: Montagu’s Harrier: Not mentioned -Seen Rocky Outcrop Eskiköy

24: Spotted Crake: Not mentioned- Seen Eskiköy Canal Route

The occurrences cited above do not reflect my own experiences over the last few years and I feel a reappraisal of the occurrence of birds and a reflection on why this maybe is is needed.
This list below is based on my own sightings from February 2013 to February 2017 for the period in which I was in the Turkey, which was only for 8 months of each of the years due to Visa and other restrictions. Each bird seen in each month was given one tick to represent that the bird was seen in that month. A full 12 months for each year would be 48 sightings .The total maximum sightings for the 8 moths of each year would be a maximum of 32 sightings per bird . The list below is the total number of months the birds were sighted during the four year period.

1 : White-Throated kingfisher : 21

2 : Penduline Tit : 18

3 : Long-Legged Buzzard : 15

4 : Rufous Bush Chat/Robin : 14

5 : Short-toed Eagle : 14

6 : Black-headed Bunting : 6

7 : Blue Rock Thrush : 6

8 : Rüppells Warbler : 6

9 : Finsch’s Wheatear : 4

10: Cretzschmars’s Bunting : 4

11: Krüper’s Nuthatch : 4

12: Black Stork : 3

13: Little Crake : 3

14: White-tailed Eagle : 3

15: Little Bittern : 2

16: Montague’s Harrier : 2

17: Sombre Tit : 2

18: Ortalan Bunting : 1

19: Red-Footed Falcon : 1

20: Red-Fronted Serin : 1

21: Syrian Woodpecker : 1

22: Spotted Crake : 1

23: White-throated Robin : 1

24: Lesser kestrel : 0

The most obvious difference between the two lists is that of the Lesser Kestrel and White-throated Kingfisher, were the Lesser Kestrel is top of Paul Hope’s occurrence list and bottom of my own sightings, similarly the White-throated Kingfisher is most frequently seen bird from my list of 24 where as in Paul Hope’s occurrence list it is 21st in the list and regarded as scarce .

Indeed the White-throated Kingfisher is scarce , but does frequent three sites in and around Dalyan now , and you don’t need to head to Hamit Koy which was the favoured location in recent years to see this bird. By knowing the correct sites and the birds ‘call’ it’s presence is more easily detected. It still remains a shy and wary bird that doesn’t like to be approached and a few visits to each site might be required before a sighting is made. Regarding the Lesser Kestrel Paul Hopes sightings referred to Lake Girdev & Bafa Lake both sites that I have only been to once each in April in the last 20 years. The sightings are also at specific times of migration with Paul Hope describing seeing over 200 Lesser Kestrel, one October at Lake Girdev.

So from my own experiences and also through the sightings others have reported I have attempted to create my own classification on occurrence and likelihood of seeing each of the 24 target species at the sites that will appear on the updated website.
My Classification below is based on, where ,when & chances, for the incidental birder who is not not on a weeks birding holiday but may do the odd day out birding at one of the mentioned Birding Sites:

Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop
Dalyan River Walk  and Köycegiz Lake
Iztuzu Road and Dolmus End of Beach
Okçular  Walk
Çővenli Yaylasi
Rocky Outcrop Canal Route
Ğöğübeli Geçi & Avlan Golu
Lake Girdev
Kavakarsı Forest
Tuzla Golu

Tuzla Gol (near Milas/Bodrum) is within the outer limits of my two and half hour drive away from Dalyan making it a similar distance to the birding trip to Ğöğübeli Geçi and Avlan Golu


Very Good Chance (VGC) : should see it, fairly common at this site, at this time of year.

Good Chance (GC) : Should see it with a little preparation at this site (learn bird call)

Fair Chance (FC) : Should see it with a little preparation (learn bird call) at this site and frequent visits.

Some Chance (SC) : May see it, with preparation (learn bird call) , low in numbers , may be seasonal.

Reduced Chance (RC) May see it, with preparation (learn bird call) , bird may be transient at many of the sites, low in numbers , may be seasonal, and a little luck is required.

1 : White-Throated kingfisher : Resident (GC) at Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop & Canal Route

White-throated Kingfisher

2: Penduline Tit : Resident (VGC) atEskiköy Rocky Outcrop & Canal Route

Penduline Tit

3 : Long-Legged Buzzard : Resident (GC) though transient at many of the sites

Long Legged Buzzard

4 : Rufous Bush Chat/Robin : Summer Visitor (VGC) at Eskiköy Outcrop & Canal Route

Rufus Bush Robin

5 : Short-toed Eagle : Resident (FC) though transient at many of the sites

Short-toed Eagle

6 : Black-headed Bunting : Spring Visitor (May,June) (VGC) at Eskiköy both sites

Black-headed Bunting

7 : Blue Rock Thrush : Resident (FC) though transient at many of the sites

Male Blue Rock Thrush

8 : Rüppells Warbler : Summer Visitor (SC) Okcular & Kaunos

Rüppells Warbler

9 : Finsch’s Wheatear : Summer Visitor (RC) Lake Girdev or high mountains


10: Cretzschmars’s Bunting : Migrant Spring/Autumn (SC) though transient at many of the sites

Cretzschmar's Bunting

11: Krüper’s Nuthatch : Resident (SC) Iztuzu Woods & Çővenli Yaylasi

Kruppers Nuthatch

12: Black Stork : Migrant (SC) Spring/Autumn Spr/Okcular Aut/Avlan Golu

Black Stork

13: Little Crake : Summer Migrant (Aug/Sept) (RC)Eskiköy Canal Route

Little Crake

14: White-tailed Eagle : Resident (RC) Iztuzu & Köycegiz Lake

White Tailed Eagle

15: Little Bittern : Summer Visitor (RC) any of the reed beds


16: Montague’s Harrier : Autumn Visitor (RC) (October) Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop

Montagus Harrier

17: Sombre Tit : Resident (FC) water troughs at Ğöğübeli Geçi

Sombre Tit

18: Ortalan Bunting : Summer Visitor (RC) though transient at many of the sites

Ortalan Bunting

19: Red-Footed Falcon : Autumn Migrant (October) (SC) Okcular

Red-footed Falcon

20: Red-Fronted Serin : Resident (GC) Lake Girdev


21: Syrian Woodpecker : Resident (RC) Okcular Walk

Syrian Woodpecker

22: Spotted Crake : Autumn Migrant ? (RC) Eskiköy Canal Route

Spotted Crake

23: White-throated Robin : Spring Migrant (April) (VGC) at Seki/ Ğöğübeli Geçi

White Throated Robin

24: Lesser kestrel : Autumn Migrant (GC) ? Lake Girdev


All photos taken in the last four years at sites suggested.

You’ll notice above I have put a ? next to Good Chance for the Lesser Kestrel and this refers back to the ‘development’ that takes place at the different birding sites for financial gain in one way or another, whether that be for a new use of the land for property development, reclaiming land by draining it for crop production or changing natural drainage by deliberate flooding of land to promote fishing which is what has happened at Lake Girdev.

Lake Girdev

Lake Girdev

This is how Paul Hope described the Lesser Kestrels at Lake Girdev in 2005 “When the lake dries up, the sheep graze on the lush surface but the heat of the sun soon dries the grass to a brown colour . Amongst the dried up grass are thousands of grasshoppers and in October the migrating Lesser Kestrel gorge themselves on these, on one occasion I counted over 200” Unfortunately things have changed due to tourism and next is a snippet form a previous blog of mine ‘Lifer on the Lake’ which highlights the problem.
‘A cautionary tale: Paul Hope also writes ‘ 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!’

Nature does adapt that is true, the adaptation in this case is the once dried up grass with thousands of grasshoppers is now an unnatural lake, no grasshoppers means no Lesser Kestrels ! Can development be stopped when money drives development ? I am not sure, but recent observations around Dalyan continue to cause concern. Last year saw the continued attempts to commercialise Iztuzu Beach and for now that has been thwarted. However, there have been reports of possible ‘illegal burning’ of the reed beds near Candir and I have noticed a section on the Eskikoy Canal route where, not only has the reed bed been burnt but bulldozed over as well probably to reclaim a little land, it is only about 500 sq meters, but I’m sure that will creep over time. It may just be paranoia on my behalf, thinking such a lovely natural habitat that is part of the charm of Dalyan will eventually be squeezed to death just like it has at Çalış Plaj and Çalış North Marsh near Fethiye. To me it is as important as the Turtles that Dalyan is so famed for.

Burned Reed Beds

Burned reed beds as seen on the website Dalyanli

As mentioned earlier Paul Hope expresses the importance that marsh land plays

‘firstly they play a role in regulating the often huge variations in annual rainfall. Coastal wetlands sponge up rapidly accumulating quantities of water during heavy rainfall and then serve as a source of surface water during dry spells. Thus they can help buffer and alleviate the potential devastating effects of storms, if properly managed. Second, wetlands are habitats for wildlife . many of them are hotspots of diversity for many rare species of plants, insects, fishes and birds. nearly 50% of Europes bird species and 30% of the plant species depend more or less exclusively on wetland habitat’ (in reference to Fethiye he also says) ‘I have seen this particular marsh during heavy rainfall , when water one meter high has been spread over the whole area. Now with that area vastly reduced where will the water go? The housing development behind the hill (Karatas) was built in a marsh and despite housing been built one meter above ground level, I have seen them flooded. Turkey should learn from the mistakes of other north Mediterranean countries and exercise more control over such developments. I feel the paradise that is Turkey is going to be lost under a sea of concrete in the not too distant future’

I wonder is it too late for Dalyan?! , I hope not. Again Paul Hope in discussing Dalyan itself and talking in particularly about the reed beds to the right of Iztuzu Beach road ‘To reach Sulungur Lake ,take the road out of Dalyan towards the beach signposted ’Iztuzu’ , fields on either side of the road my be flooded. It is possible to walk over the marsh area to the right. After about three kilometres you will see a track leading into the fields. In early spring several areas are flooded and it is a good place to find waders.Whilst walking in this area you will see the Stripped-necked Terrapin (Mauremys caspica) in the drainage channels together with several species of frog and the Fresh water crab (Potamus edulis) .The Water snake (Natrix tessellate) is also common here as is the Green lizard (Lacerta viridis ) Otters also frequent the area as there are many fish in the channels. The area was included in the specially protected I.B.A. until 2014 but unfortunately financial interests have superseded protection status and yet another area of marshland will be lost under concrete to accommodate yet more foreigners . Plans are in hand to build 400 villas in the area. One has already been constructed in the centre of the marsh . At the moment I am writing a biodiversity report on the marsh area in the hope that it can be save.’

I am not sure how far Paul Hope progressed with his report. I understand that he no longer lives in Turkey and I wonder who is left to champion the cause. My own belief is that it should be the local Turkish residents of the area who should campaign to protect the marsh, as they have done with issues at Iztuzu Beach. However, Turtles are more of an emotional pull than marshes, only time will tell , it is but a creeping disease! Maybe its is not all doom and gloom .

As mentioned earlier I am going to include some new birding sites, one of those been, Tuzla Lake near Milas . Again Paul Hope describes this area as ‘This is an excellent area for birds but viewing can sometimes be difficult due to its large size and accessibility. At the present moment (2005) plans are been drawn up to drain the lake and convert it into a golf course. D.H.K.D. (The Turkish Nature Preservation Society ) is opposing such developments” I was there in February 2017 THERE IS NO GOLF COURSE ! thank god. Someone get the D.H.K.D. to Dalyan !

Those of you who follow this not so frequent blog will know that I am not obsessed with lists or numbers, but thought you’d like to know I reached bird number 213 for Turkey, a Firecrest , whilst walking around the ruins at Olympos . Olympos was an ancient city in Lycia. It was situated in a river valley near the coast. Its ruins are located south of the modern town Çıralı in the Kumluca district of Antalya Province. I was flying back to the UK later that day. I like to stay within striking distance of the airport on the day of departure, so instead of driving all the way from Dalyan we always book in at a hotel nearer than the 4-6 hour drive from Dalyan when having to fly from Antalya Airport .
Çıralı was a  good choice , the ruins at Olympos has some good birding and at this time of year (February) fewer leaves on the trees and virtually no tourist which I believe is a very different story in the summer. Another attraction within three kilometres of where we stayed is the “Eternal Flame’ or Chimera . The story goes as follows:

Eternal Flame in Olympos

King of Pyra’s son Hippones kills his brother Belleros during a hunting party and takes the name Bellerophotes, which means ‘the one who ate Bellarus’ . Ephyra Kingdom sends Bellerophontes into exile and he takes refuge behind the King of Argos. The King of Argos considers killing someone that took refuge behind him as a lack of self-respect. So he sends Bellerophontes to the Lycian Kingdom.

The King of Lycia doesn’t also like the idea of killing this young man because of the miserable situation he is in and he wants him to fight with the monster living on Mount Olympus whose head is a Lion’s, whose body is a goat and his tail is a snake’s , who scatters flame from his mouth. Bellerophontes rides his winged horse Pegassos to fight with the Chimera. The Chimera attacks and Pegassos goes up into the sky. While coming down Bellerophontes hits the Chimera with his his lance and enters him to the underground, but the Chimera goes on scattering flame. The myth which is related by Homer in this way has been told for thousands of years in Anatolia. According to the myth the eternal flame is coming from the Chimera’s mouth. So as to celebrate Bellerophotes victory people of Olympus arrange a race . The athletes burn their torches with Chimera sacred flame and run down to Olympus city. This is the first Olympic game in Anatolia. In time many different branches of sport are added to this race. The Olympic Torch is the symbol of the eternal flame of Chimera’s Flame today.

Eternal Falmes


On a final note whilst at Olympos which was like been in an Indana Jones movie I came across the monumental tomb of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius c172,

Tomb fo Marcus Aurelius

Tomb Notice

you know the one, Maximus, as depicted in the film Gladiator, within less than twenty four hours I was sat in a dentist waiting room in Darwen, Lancashire … Hmmm

Posted in Dalyan Birdwatching | 3 Comments

Citizen Science: Mapping the birds of the region


In my last blog I did a review of the birding in and around Dalyan for 2015, which provided some good birding. I had managed to add some new sightings of species for me, bringing my tally to 199 birds, one bird short of my 200th for Turkey. I have also previously discussed the different types of bird list people keep, some only citing those birds that they see as ‘special’ ‘important’ were I tend to cite all the birds I see on each and every outing. I hadn’t really thought about this much until a friend sent me a link to:

In spite of its rich biodiversity, bird studies and conservation only started in earnest in Turkey in the early 1990s. While some surveys were undertaken in several smaller areas, the country as a whole has never been fully covered. All that changed in 2014, when Turkey was invited to be a part of the second European Breeding Bird Atlas.

Bird Atlas of Turkey

Over the next three years, a group of Turkish birders will help to collect breeding bird information in representative squares in the country, in collaboration with the European Bird Census Council (EBCC). Particularly important areas will be marked on a grid so that all the ground is covered systematically. This study will shed light on the distribution and abundance of breeding bird species, and help improve bird conservation in the country.

Turkish birders and those visiting the country are asked to help complete as many squares as possible over the coming years. Access to large parts of the country is still considered safe, so if you are planning a birding holiday to Turkey and are willing to contribute your data you could help with this project.

I had always had a plan for the website to include a birding map, say on Google maps, of where I had photographed each species, but have never got round to doing it, like I have not got round to updating the look and structure of the Dalyan birding site (work in progress, very slow progress).

I emailed the organizers of the ‘Turkey breeding Bird Atlas’
and received a prompt reply with an explanation of the data collection zones and methodology, unfortunately Dalyan was just outside the current zones from which data was been collected, However, the methodology would allow for information from the Dalyan region to be included in the overall mapping data via eBird

The process of data collection has been described as ‘Citizen Science’

Citizen Science is an alternative to mainstream science research; it is scientific research were the people are the source of the information. Basically, public participation in science, citizen information is becoming increasingly important due to platforms to share information and transfer and create data.

In this context, Wildlife Foundation (WWF-Turkey) under the name of the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) this work is been carried out with the support of Bird Atlas Project in Turkey so far, it is one of the best examples of citizen science.

The ebird website describes the importance of data collection ‘Your contributions are a critical part of the puzzle, and every record you submit is a valuable piece of information.
The most effective and useful way to get your data into eBird is at the site level. Each time you go birding you should try to keep a complete checklist of birds with estimated counts of each species, and try to limit your checklists to fairly refined geographic areas (e.g., your garden, a local park, a favorite birding location)

The eBird dataset is growing rapidly, now collecting millions of observations per month. As such, it has caught the attention of many scientists and analysts wishing to use the data for science and conservation.’

From my perspective, the other useful tool available via eBird is that it places each ‘sighting’ or reported sightings on Google maps and therefore if you have a particular species you want to see you have a ready made data base with time of year the bird is seen and importantly the locations.

The main data collection for the ‘Turkey breeding Bird Atlas’ involved the team dividing the entire country into 50 sq. Kilometer grids and then further selecting specific grids for data collection. Dalyan was just outside one of these selected grids, although Okcular and surrounding areas are in it. Each 50 square kilometer grid was further divided into ‘Ten square kilometer’ grids and again within that to ‘One square kilometer’ grids. The methodology required that you then selected four of the ‘One square kilometer grids’ and birded this grid for an hour and then submitting your data. However, a lack of transport has prevented me following this format. So although I have not been able to submit data for the ‘Turkey breeding Bird Atlas’ via their preferred methodology as mentioned earlier they informed me that they will also be using any data for the whole of Turkey submitted via eBird within the study and the data will also include those submitted from outside the selected 50 square kilometer grids. So if you are birding in and around Dalyan you might consider using eBird to submit your findings, which will support this important project.

One area within the grid I managed to get to when renting a car was Göğü-Beli Geçidi / Göğü-Beli Pass which is a mountain pass from Seki to Elmali. I chose this route as after all these years as I have still not seen a White-Throated Robin which is easily seen around Seki and the pass, however, not in the summer so as I was here in April I could finally knock off this bird. The pass itself has some very good birding.


White Throated Robin

White Throated Robin

The White Throated Robin was duly picked up and this took me pass 200-bird milestone as I had unexpectedly picked up a pair of Ruff at the Rocky Outcrop at Eskiköy earlier in the week. However that’s where most of the birding ended!

I was in the right place and at the right time however, that other birding ingredient was missing LUCK! Once we left Seki and started to climb the road that leads over the pass, there was an increasing amount of vehicles and people, which culminated at the very highest point of the pass, just short of 2000 meters up , with a stage, TV crews, and hundreds of people milling around, health trucks and cabins all down the other side of the pass leading towards Elmali. At the very top of the summit was the finish line for the ‘ 52nd Presidential Cycle Tour of Turkey’ professional cycle race ,so there ended birding until we reached the other side of the pass and back on the road to Elmali.

52nd Pro Cycle tour of Turkey 52nd Pro Cycle tour of Turkey

It wasn’t all bad news; we stopped on the way down in a wooded area and picked up a Eurasian Cuckoo, bird number 202 and just recently a Wren taking me to 203. Another recent sighting has been a White tailed Eagle a bird I haven’t seen in this area for some years so it was nice to see some raptors returning .


White Tailed Eagle

White Tailed Eagle


Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle





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Right place, Right Time and Luck!

Right place, Right Time and Luck!

Birding from Dalyan 2015, based on sightings from those who have used Dalyan as a base.

In a new edition to the booklet ‘ Finding Birds in South-West Turkey’, Dalyan was described as ‘a little disappointing’, however to put that into context the author was referring to changes in local agriculture practices that have affected the number and variety of birds that the author had seen on his last visit some years ago to the latest visit to update his booklet. Different birders have different expectations, for me just been out birding is enjoyable and I tend to report all birds that I see on each and every morning walk, cycle, car or boat trip. Other birders report only those ‘special birds’ that they feel others will be interested in and what is special is a matter of perspective.


In a previous blog I discussed the 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 , and that is why I suggest a number of different sites, based on a stay in Dalyan and with a full days birding from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm in order reach some of the more distant sites.


All types of birders visit Dalyan, some come as a holiday destination that their family can enjoy whilst they can also throw in some decent birding, others come just to knock off ‘lifers’ a bird they have never seen before, so again if your looking for ‘lifers’ it will depend on your previous experience and world travel and indeed Dalyan may prove disappointing. So what constitutes a good ‘tick’ again is a matter of perspective. I was once out with an experienced birder come twitcher in Dalyan whose tally was 2, 125 world list and a Western Palearctic list of 520. I am not sure if they were after ‘lifers’ but they still had a target list for their stay in Dalyan, one of which was Rufous Bush Robin a bird he eventually picked up at Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop. During their stay we discussed target birds that other birders may be interested in seeing and the following list includes those birds he suggested plus I have added others that I a none ‘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

Syrian woodpecker

Blue Rock Thrush

Pygmy cormorant

Stone Curlew

Olive Tree warbler

The following sightings taken from repots on via twitter and email, via BirdForum/Turkey/ Dalyan, eBird and bird reports on google search.


Jan 15

According to John Codling , birding in January was a wash out, Literally!


Feb 15

White Throated Kingfisher, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Brendan Searson

Cirl Bunting, Ortaca to Köycegiz road hear to American Car place, seen by John Codling

Black Storks, Okcular, seen by Alan Fenn


 March 15

 Merlin, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Brendan Searson


Blue Rock Thrush, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Brendan Searson


April 15

Spoonbill, Kaunos, seen by Brian Robertson

Collard Fly Catcher, Kaunos, seen by Brian Robertson

Collard Flycatcher

Green Woodpecker, Kaunos, seen by Brian Robertson

Scops Owl, Kaunos, seen by Brian Robertson

Rock Thrush, Kaunos, seen by Brian Robertson

Spotted Redshank, Kaunos, seen by Brian Robertson

Short Toed Lark, Dalyan, seen by Brian Robertson

Caspian Tern, Dalyan, seen by Brian Robertson

Pygmy Cormorant, Dalyan, seen by Brian Robertson

Glossy Ibis, Dalyan, seen by Brian Robertson and Brendan Searson


Wryneck, Dalyan, seen by Brian Robertson

Rüppell’s Warbler, Kaya Köyü, seen by Brian Robertson

Mediterranean Gull, Çalis Beach, Fethiye, seen by Brian Robertson

Red Fronted Serin, Seki Area, seen by Brian Robertson

Finsch’s Wheatear, Seki Area, seen by Brian Robertson

Isabilline Wheatear, Seki Area, seen by Brian Robertson

Black-winged Stilts, Iztuzu Beach, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams


Stone Curlew, Iztuzu Beach, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

Caspian Terns, Iztuzu Beach, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

Cretchzmar’s Bunting, road to Elmali, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

White-throated Robin, Seki, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams


Red-billed Choughs, meadow above Seki, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg



Rock Thrush, meadow above Seki, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg


Red-fronted Serin, meadow above Seki, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams


May 15

Penduline Tit, Rocky Outcrop Canal Route, seen by Brendan Searson

Masked Shrike, Rocky Outcrop Canal Route, seen by Brendan Searson

Rüppell’s Warbler, Kocadere Valley, seen by Brendan Searson

Rüppells Warbler

Raven, Kocadere Valley, seen by Brendan Searson

Short-Toed Eagle, Dalyan, seen by Rob Smallwood

Eleanor’s falcon, Dalyan, seen by Rob Smallwood

Black Woodpecker, (inflight only) road near Kavakarasi forest, seen by Rob Smallwood

Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Iztuzu Beach, seen by Rob Smallwood

Moustached Warbler, Yuva Marsh, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

Olive-tree Warbler, edge of Köycegiz Lake, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg Adams

Krüper’s Nuthatch, Beyobasi, seen by Dougy Wright and Greg

Black Headed Bunting, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Brendan Searson

Ortolan Bunting, , Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Brendan Searson


June 15

Honey Buzzard, Köycegiz Lake, seen by Brendan Searson

Great Spotted Cuckoo, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Brendan Searson

Turtle Dove, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Brendan Searson

White Throated Kingfisher, Dalyan, Rob Smallwood

White Throated Kigfisher


July 15


Nightjar, Dalaman Airport, seen by Brendan Searson

Bonelli’s Eagle, Dalyan, seen by Darren Shepard

Little Bittern, Dalyan Canal, seen by Brendan Searson


August 15

Little Crake, Rocky Outcrop Canal Route, seen by Brendan Searson

Little Crake

Spotted Crake , Rocky Outcrop Canal Route, seen by Brendan Searson


September 15

 Short-toed Treecreeper, Göğü-Beli Geçidi, seen by Brendan Searson

Green sandpiper, Göğü-Beli Geçidi, seen by Brendan Searson

Green Sandpiper

Sombre Tit, Göğü-Beli Geçidi, seen by Brendan Searson

Red-rumped Swallows, Göğü-Beli Geçidi, seen by Brendan Searson

Black stork ,Göğü-Beli Geçidi, seen by Brendan Searson

Juv Black Stork

Golden Oriole ,Dalaman River near Güzelyurt , Richard Fisher

Water Rail , near Sarigerme, Richard Fisher


October 15

Blue Rock Thrush , Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop seen by Brendan Searson

Femal Blue Rock Thrush

Slender billed Gull, Çalis Beach, Fethiye, seen by Brian Robertson

Montagu’s Harrier, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop seen by Brendan Searson

Montagu%22s Harrier

Great White Pelican, Yuva Marsh, seen by Brian Robertson and Dalyan Stadium by Brendan Searson

White Pelican

Ruddy Shellduck, Yuva Marsh, seen by Brian Robertson

Temminck’s stint, Dalaman Airport Pools, seen by Brian Robertson

Spur Winged Lapwing, Dalaman Airport Pools, seen by Brian Robertson

Little Bittern, Çalis Beach, Fethiye, seen by Neil Fox

Osprey, Çalis Beach, Fethiye, seen by Neil Fox

Slender Billed Gull, Çalis Beach, Fethiye, seen by Neil Fox

Whiskered Terns, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Mark Eaton

Pygmy Cormorant, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Mark Eaton

Blue Rock Thrush, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop, seen by Mark Eaton

Red Footed Falcon, Okcular, seen by John Codling

Red-footed Falcon

White Tailed Eagle, Dalyan, seen by Neil Fox

Blue Throat, Eskiköy Rocky Outcrop seen by Brendan Searson

Alpine Swift, over Dalyan, seen by Neil Fox


November 15

Namaqua Dove, Dalyan, John Codling

Namaqua Dove

Yellow Browed Warbler, Kocadere Valley, seen by John Codling

Yellow-browed Warbler

Northern Goshawk, Kocadere Valley, seen by Jon Lyles


December 15

Sparrow Hawk, Okcular, John Codling

Long legged Buzzard, Okcular, John Codling



Looking at the desired list and those cited by birders visiting Dalyan, there are only Calandra Larks, Bonelli’s Warbler, River Warbler and Lesser Kestrels not seen by any of the birders, but all have been seen in previous years

Although a lot of the birds cited above have only one entry in this list, many have in fact been seen by more than one of the birders mentioned and at different sites to those listed. The list is merely to demonstrate that there is a wide variety of birds in the area to meet most birders needs and indeed Dalyan is not as ‘disappointing’ for birders as some suggest. That is not to say that someone can’t visit and have a bit of a barren run, I have had them myself, but some days are just brimming with new sightings! The White Throated Kingfishers have been seen all year round, Rufous Bush Chat/Robins are regulars around June/July/August, and Black Headed Buntings are about in May and June. etc etc, along with Rollers and Bee eaters.


Lets hope next year is as good!





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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

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:


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


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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.


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 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.



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




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 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.



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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.

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


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




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 you will see it has provided some good birding, not least the White Throated Kingfisher. See link below for directions and description.


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!

see also



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