Mad Dogs and Shady Walks
July and August are not the best months for birdwatching in Dalyan, it’s hot and doing the most simplest of tasks is draining, lumping a scope about or walking/cycling distances is only for the hardy or foolish, I must admit I fit both categories, but add to this Turkeys own little mini heat wave with temperatures in the 40’s during the day and upper 30’s in the shade most birding has been in the early mornings setting off at 6-6:30 am and returning by 9:30 and the idea of birding during the day succumbed to dipping in the pool. Be prepared to sweat (a lot), in fact be prepared is a good idea. I have found the following useful. Firstly apply insect repellant before you set off, mosquitos are still active at this hour, also when out in the 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 which ever country you may be birding in, it has it’s obvious uses for drying your self 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 pair of secateurs to cut through paths that have become overgrown, some of the bushes here can have nasty spikes , they are cheap here around three pounds (10 lira) or so on the market or other shops and their usefulness outweighs the extra weight you have to carry. Last but not least, take a small first aid kit including something for stings. Still want to go birding?
Sites this trip included the following.
Took a boat up the lake through the boat corporation on two occasions at 120 lira for the day (for the boat not per person) (10:30- 17:30) and requested Hasan Guvenç boat number 018 his boat is called Piolt. Hasan is the best boat man for birds I have found, within minutes of us setting off he had took us straight to a Penduline tits nest which would have been difficult to spot by just making your way up the river to the lake with other boat men. We skirted the eastern shore and reed beds before crossing the lake to go down the other side and making our way to the Sultaniye Hot Springs where we stopped for lunch, the highlight of the two trips been a White-Tailed Eagle (which I had not seen here for the last 4/5 years) which came low, just below the hill tops on the western shore. Seen on these particular trips, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Reed Warbler, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Cormorant and White-Tailed Eagle.
Wooded area above the Dolmus end of the beach
(Turtle Rescue Centre end)
Paul Hope in his book ‘Walking and birdwatching in South West Turkey’ (P140) suggests this wood, which he says, is quite productive. I had hired a car the previous day and took advantage of this by visiting this site early, 6 am before returning the hire car later that morning. To find the site you will see a road/track off to the left just before the barrier that closes the beach at night. Take this road and you can immediately park in an area just to the left on the road. Opposite you now, on the other side of the road, is a track leading into the woods. Follow this for a while until you reach a clearing with olive trees and shrubs, make your way up the incline and find a place to sit. Seen on this visit were the usual woodland birds, Blue tit, Great Tit, Jay, and also Krüper’s Nuthatch, and I also heard a Tawny Owl and Woodpeckers but did not locate them. I have found sitting in the woods a better option than strolling around partly because of the heat and partly due to creating less disturbance, you will find that inquisitive wasps and bees hover over the ground area and around your equipment, although unnerving, a quick application of Sin kov prevented any actually landing on me.
After an hour there did not seem to be much happening and the heat was rising so I took the road back towards Dalyan. When you take the Dolmus from Dalyan to the beach you may notice a restaurant at the side of the Sülüngür Lake called Ekin, shortly after this restaurant the road has a sharp turn to the left, as it begins it ascent up the hill, just before the red stripped sign (indicating a sharp corner) there is a track to your right next to the edge of the wood, leading to the fields on your right. Take this track and after 20 meters you will see a footpath going up into the woods, take this footpath. This track meanders up the hill with gentle easy inclines leading back to the road at the top of the hill for about 1 Km. Near the end of the walk the path is enclosed on both sides by fences made from sticks and later splits, take the narrow path with barbed wire fence on both side. The path leads to a road opposite a stone barn, turn left here and follow the road to the main road at the top. Once on the main road turn right and you should see a pancake house called Sanli Alp Gozleme, where you can stop for a drink before returning the way you came. From a birding point of view it was not very productive on this occasion, plenty of Jays and Great tits and Blackbirds, but it was a very pleasant walk that earlier/later in the year will be worth further exploration.
Rocky Outcrop at Eskiköy
I would suggest that anyone visiting Dalyan should take this site in as it offers good birding all year round. You can find the directions on the web site www.dalyanbirding.com, in the drop down menu under ‘sites’ tab, go to Eskiköy. To get to the rocky out crop takes about 20 minutes at a gentle pace by cycle and about 45 minutes if walking, but increases each time you stop to watch birds. On this trip I usually arrived there for 6:30 am returning to my house for about 9 am
Which gave me a good time for birding. This is the best site for Crested Larks and Rufus Bush Chats and both were seen on these occasions. Turtle Dove are also easily seen (and heard) along with Corn Bunting, Serin, Goldfinch (in abundance), Kingfisher (whose numbers swell in September and October to a couple of hundred pairs in the Dalyan area) a Short Toed Eagle gave good viewing on a couple of occasions. Reed, Sedge, Olivaceous, Greenish, Warbles all showed well. Within a crevasse of the rocky outcrop I could hear young owls calling, and although I could locate the entrance through the parents droppings I did not see them or the adults so I am unsure what they were.
This archeological site (well worth the visit) is situated across the river from Dalyan and can be reached by rowing boat. With your back to the mosque and facing the river, take the river front path to your left and walk so that you pass the refurbished Tazcan Hotel and continue until you come to the Kaunos Kral Bahcesi There is a wooden jetty here and you can take the rowing boat across to the other side to get the road to Kaunos, costing 3.5 lira in 2012 return journey. Simply get the boat across and when you return from Kaunos the boat will bring you back across the river. (They will happily take your bike as well)
The remains of ancient Kaunos include a Roman theater, a Byzantine basilica, the Roman bath, and the rock tombs; it is also alive with wild life red squirrels, lizards, and tortoises and of course birds.
Seen on this trip were European Rollers on the way to Kaunos, Little Egret, Short Toed Eagle, good views of Water Rail, although the only photo was for id purposes and is not very sharp. Rock Nuthatch were easily seen and on previous visits at this time of year Blue Rock Thrushes, but not on this occasion.
For a full description of the directions around this site see the web site.
Birds seen on this trip:
Collard Dove, Swallow, White Stork, White Wagtail, Sparrow Hawk, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Little Owl, Jay, Goldfinch, House Martin, Little Grebe, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Red Rumped Swallow, Penduline Tit, Reed Warbler, Cormorant, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Hooded Crow, Little Grebe, Turtle Dove, Krüper’s Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Kestrel, Yellow Legged Gull, Short Toed Eagle, Scops Owl (heard only) Tawny Owl (heard only) Eastern Rock Nuthatch, masked Shrike, Olivaceous Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Buzzard, Ringed Plover, King Fisher, Serin, Crested Lark, Woodchat Shrike, Rufus Bush Chat, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Moor Hen, European Roller, White Tailed Eagle, and Coot.