Holiday Birding at its best….
Stayed in a Villa off Iztuzu Road on Sokak 145 (approx. 20 min walk to Dalyan centre from Iztuzu Road.) This was a family holiday where I had just planned to do some localized birding, as well as a pre-organized day trip with Kaunos Tours to visit Lake Girdev high up in the mountains.
From the villa we were staying at, situated in the middle of the many Pomegranate and Orange orchards it was a great place considering the time of year to see a good supply of quality species.
The main species of interest seen from our villas balcony over the two weeks were; Roller , Short-Toed Eagle, Masked, Lesser Grey, Red-Backed Shrikes, Red-Rumped Swallows, Black-Headed Bunting (1 F), Eastern Olivacious Warbler, Great-Reed Warblers, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Turtle Dove, White Stork, Little Owl, Hoopoe,Tawny Pipit & Common Swifts.
Approximately a 30 minute walk from the Villa east of Iztuzu Road located by following the road called Sokak 145 and taking first right following track past Villa Dazmanda where we were staying, then turning left and heading yourself towards the mountains where you eventually cross a small bridge. Follow this road until you eventually come across a Cemetery at the foot of the mountain slopes surrounded with several pine trees. This area produced Western Rock Nuthatch, Jay, Roller, Cettis, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Kingfisher, Red-Rumped Swallows, Crested Lark and another juv. Masked Shrike, plus a stonking pair of Long-Legged Buzzards and a Peregrine.
Another early morning visit to the Sewage Works as per dalyanbirding.com which i found at this time of year only offered limited viewing ability. To get any decent view of the surrounding marshes you would need to be part goat by climbing the cliff face. However, from walking around the track on the left side cliff did however give me sightings of Reed, Great Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Turtle Dove, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, and a Chiffchaff that all eventually gave themselves up courtesy of a vocal dog refusing to let me pass until i screeched the brakes of my mountain bike which immediately got rid of it.
Several other day trips with my family where we took the Beach Boat from Dalyan to Turtle Beach (30 minutes through beautiful marshes with mountain backdrops , fantastic views of the Caunos Tombs , as well as views of Leatherback Turtle on route to the beach. Birds seen from the boat; Short-Toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Little Bittern (Thanks Mrs R), Great Reed Warbler, White &Yellow Wagtails, Lesser Grey, Red Backed Shrike together , Yellow-Legged Gull, Kingfisher, Crested Lark and fly past Little Ringed Plover being the only wader seen.
Kaunos Tours day trip with Driver.(6am – 6pm) Unfortunately Kaunos Tours bird guide was back in Istanbul so was unable to do this trip, however with the keen assistance of Murat who has to be mentioned purely for ensuring we visited all the sites they would normally do up to Lake Girdev meant I had chance to see some really good birds. Although my driver Hamet didn’t speak much English, I still had a fantastic day with him, and with a call in the early hours from Murat whilst we drove the 3 hours towards Girdev, who ensured I was able to hit any other site I was interested in visiting. So with the question of stopping off at a Wooded area on route gave me an additional chance to get onto my first lifer. Just before reaching the area we would eventually stop at gave me the chance to connect easily with Isabelline Wheatears, Subalpine Warbler and Serin. On arrival I could hear Kruper’s Nuthatch and with a quick mimic of their call produced a splendid pair of these birds within 10 feet of me. Also supporting were, Coal Tit, Masked Shrike, Eastern Bonelli’s Wabler (lots), Subalpine Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, Spotted Flycatcher, and a first year Eastern Black-Eared Wheatear.
As we started to climb to a higher altitude and after a couple of Turkish Tea’s the number of Wheatears grew with our gaining height. Black-Eared mainly followed by Northern, and Isabelline’s, not to be outdone by the numerous 4 species of Shrikes constantly drawing your attention. Still climbing produced Alpine Swifts, Common Buzzard, Crag Martin (1), 2x Ortolan Bunting including a splendid adult by the roadside.
I had Hamet stop many times due to the consistent bird movement, that included a stop at a very small cemetery on the way up. This produced my second lifer of the trip in the form of 6 fantastic Red-Fronted Serin with a supporting cast of male Eurasian Serin and obligatory Red Backed Shrike watching nearby.
I decided to walk along the flat area leading away from the road which afforded me more sightings of even more Black-Eared and Northern Wheatears of different ages everywhere as well as my first of several sightings of Rock Thrush. Moving further up still produced many more Wheatear and Shrikes as well as Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and a couple of tortoise near a watering hole making out noisily.
Upon reaching the Lake itself and seeing Rock and Blue Rock thrush side by side, there was the first sighting of this large natural made lake created by the winters melted snow – still with much water considering the soaring temperatures of August. Upon getting down to the lake, there was a small farm with a few trees by the roadside giving enough cover to many Goldfinch and a couple of Chaffinch but most unexpected was a Short-Toed Treecreeper flitting from tree to tree. Further on, we stopped and saw some Western Yellow Wagtail and more Black-Eared and Northern Wheatear but alas no Finsch’s though I am certain they were there somewhere. After scanning the lake and finding little on the water other than Little, Great Crested Grebes and many Coots there in a grassy area in the lake were 10 Black Stork with the many early migrating White’s. More distantly another 10 Black’s were just about identifiable due to heat haze but nethertheless a really nice sight.
I spent some time walking around the typical White-Throated Robin habitat with absolutely no success! It says they should be evident until August (as it was mid August I guess they may have mostly left was my thinking) However, I did locate 3 Sombre Tit and 2 Rock Bunting in my search, along with crazy numbers of Isabelline Wheatears by the roadside.
On leaving this fantastic area and making our decent, we briefly stopped to allow me to take a scenic photo when from out of nowhere two majestic Golden Eagles appeared, flying low enough to get fantastic detail through binoculars including one actually landing further up on the other side of the road giving fantastic views for about 15 minutes.
Finally back down into the farming area I noted a number of Larks that flew up as we passed which turned out to be mainly Crested, but with several Short-Toed and a Tawny Pipit and many Linnet and Corn Bunting accompanying them.
A great day out in what is fundamentally the worst Western Pelagic month of the year showed that with a keen eye and perseverance and of course a lot of luck, good birds will deliver.
My final tally of birds finished with 82 species in what was a family beach/pool holiday that combined with a few early morning stints as well as Daddy’s day out of course.
I appreciate there are a number of species seen outside Dalyan, but recommend any birder to go and visit the guys at Kaunos Tours by the Turtle roundabout in the centre of town to venture out of town a bit to take advantage in topping up your trip list with a extra supply of quality specialities further to those that Dalyan will offer you even in the month of August.
Recommendations: Whilst i have travelled extensively to most corners of the globe including jungles and the Amazon , it should be said you should include mosquito repellent, sun hat , sun lotion , plus Mossi repellent trousers as the little buggers still get you through thin trousers, and also a Mossi repellent top that will allow you to ignore the little blood suckers and enjoy the birding better. Mountains were the best – no Mosquitos.