Lifer on the lake
Brief report on sightings and trips from two visits to Dalyan in February and early April 2014.
Winter flights to Dalaman before April from Manchester were unavailable so this meant flying into Antalya and driving to Dalyan either by the mountain route or costal route. We chose the mountain route which is roughly two hours shorter at 4 hours with a nervous passenger at 70 km per hour for the majority of the journey.
Before departing we took the decision to down load the map of Turkey for our Tom Tom and this proved to be vital. I had downloaded route planner and other paper directions, but in reality driving through Antalya from the airport required eight pairs of eyes (and there was only two of us), and following the road signs and paper directions along with keeping up with the flow of traffic, which approached us from all directions cutting you up from left and right would have been nigh impossible if you wished to keep your insurance excess intact! Once we left Antalya and took the D400 the rest of the journey was a pleasure passing through snow covered Swiss like mountains and plateaux’s although the nervous passenger stress was ramped up as road signs suggesting we apply snow chains to the tyres as we went further up the mountains . She needn’t have worried as we managed to stay below the snow line for the entire journey, although I know this isn’t always the case at this time of the year.
The February trip wasn’t a bird watching trip but still produced a decent haul (in my opinion)and only included visits to the beach and the rocky outcrop at Eskiköy along with a circular route of Dalyan. My biggest surprise was the numbers of ‘British’ birds seen; Blackbirds are common enough in Dalyan, however the following were seen in much increased numbers : Common Robin , Magpie, Blue tit , Mistle Thrush, Starlings and Song Thrush. Other birds in noticeable large numbers were Black Redstart, Whitethroat, and Chaffinch (every where) Raptors few and far between Short toed eagle been the only one seen. Paul Hopes book ‘Walking and bird watching in South West Turkey’ suggests that Köycegiz lake has rafts of Coots and other wintering birds, however, they were not present in those numbers on my visit, with the numbers been in the hundreds only. My highlight for the week, 6 pairs of Night Heron roosting in the trees opposite the hotel nearest to the new boat yard, and a pair of Sardinian Warbler s near Antalya airport on the journey home.
List for February as follows: White Wagtail, Hooded Crow ,Jay, Short toed Eagle, Robin, Kingfisher, Kestrel, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, White throat, Stonechat ,Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Crested Lark, Moorhen ,Serin, Greenfinch ,Redstart, Scops Owl (heard),White Stork, Immature flamingos, Yellow legged Gull, Cormorant ,Blue Rock Thrush male, Common Sandpiper, Black Redstart, Blackbird ,Grey Heron, Gt White Egret, Gt Spotted Woodpecker, T eal, Night Heron, Little Grebe, Starlings ,Rock Nuthatch, Cetti’s Warbler, Song thrush ,Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Blue tit, Yellow Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Swallow ,Crag Martin, Corn Bunting ,Meadow Pipit ,Fan Tailed Warbler, Blackcap ,Sardinian Warbler ,Collard dove ,House sparrow
The April trip was more of a birding week in which we took in the usual places, beach, Kaunos, Rocky out crop at Eskiköy, Çővenli Yaylasi and Köycegiz Lake. We also arrange a trip up to Lake Girdev.
One of the best birds seen was in fact just passing over Dalyan /Ockular an Imperial Eagle, a huge bird which at first we struggled to id, plumping for a Juvenile bird with its pale coloring.
The highlights of the local birding were Hen Harrier and Flamingo down at the beach, Finschs Wheatear, Ortalan and Cretzscnar’s Bunting and Alpine swift up in the mountains at Çővenli Yaylasi, Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagle in the Dalyan area. Lake Köycegiz provided Green shank and a lifer for me with a splendid pair of Black Winged Stilts on a spit of shale on the east of the lake were the Yuvarlakcay enters the lake near Kavakarasi.
Trip up to Lake Girdev. 7.4.14
Itinerary: Set off 7:30 am from Kaunos tours, Dive towards Seki have breakfast, bird stops on the way to Lake Girdev , return Kaunos Tours 6pm .
We booked a 7 seater Dacia through Kaunos Tours for £39, with a driver for an additional £20 + his lunch. Fuel £12 and tip 10 lira each (our choice he did an exceptional job driving) (6 passengers and a driver) total cost per person roughly £ 15 bargain
Paul Hopes book describes Lake Girdev as follows ‘This is one of the most spectacular routes in the area, reaching an altitude of 2000meteres (6562 feet).it is one of the most productive areas in terms of bird species; 119 recorded to date’ He goes on to say ‘in April and the first half of May it is only possible to travel so far up the road as it generally remains blocked by snow until mid May. If it has been raining it is virtually impossible to go up the road unless you have a 4WD’. We had been warned by Kaunos Tours that we may not make it up to Lake Girdev because of the pre mentioned problems, however, luck was in our favour, because despite not having a 4WD vehicle, the snow level was a little higher, there had been no rain so with great skill from our driver we made it to the lake.
Our bird tally for the day was only 30, perhaps we are no more than enthusiastic amateurs and probably missed a lot of ID’s, perhaps we went a little early in the season it is World Migratory Bird Day on the 11.5.2014 and this may be a better time to go, but we had a great day out, and the company was great too (thanks Mick, Pete Karen, Paul and John)
World Migratory Bird Day on the 11.5.2014 link
A cautionary tale: Paul Hope also writes ‘..one can soon leave behind the tourist developed areas and head inland where in remote villages you can experience a way of life that hasn’t changed for centuries…..for those that love remoteness of this area, one free from the sound of motor vehicles, then this is about to change! (referring to developments pandering to touristic needs) ‘ Alan Fenn also takes up the cautionary tale “As so often happens with wild, unspoilt places that take a bit of effort to get to, tourism catches on and has the effect of altering or, in some cases, totally messing up what Toprakana-Mother Nature seemed to think was really pretty good in the first place. Accesses gets ‘improved’ and before long ways are being found to commodify and exploit the place by upgrading the environment. So it is with Girdev which is a sort of Crater Lake in that it is totally surrounded by mountains. Rain and especially snow-melt feeds the seasonal waters. No rivers flow from the lake and it drains through a sink-hole near the north end before emerging as the Kazanpınar Spring some 18 kms away near Elmalı in Antalya province. Nature’s balance meant that as the lake dried great swathes of wild flowers emerged, particularly Orchis palastris – the Marsh Orchid. Girdev is also home to many different species of birds and insects as well as the great flocks of sheep brought up there each season by the traditional nomadic herders.
That was then, this is now – tourism has come! A permanent ‘camp’ has been built to house those who want to visit this unique place for longer than a day-trip. Nothing wrong with that I say .What is sad is that, pandering to money from those who know no better, a shallow dam has been raised restricting the flow to the sink-hole and creating a permanent lake where one never existed before and this has been stocked with carp. Nature will adapt and species will change – my question is ‘Why does money always have to trump nature?’ There will always be consequences – nomadic herders have lost much of their traditional grazing grounds; to make ends meet will they have to resort to opening restaurants and gözleme (pancake) stalls around the lake? And what about the water quality at Elmalı as tourism expands? That said, Girdev is still yet a lonely and wildly beautiful place – as long as you miss the Jeep safari crowds!”
Link to Alan fens article: http://archersofokcular.com/wow-eds-view-whilst-wandering-wild-places/
The list for the day:
Hen (that’s for you John) Collard Dove, Gt Tit, Little owl, Swallow, House Martin, Little Egret, House Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Pied Wagtail, Blackeared Wheatear, Goldfinch, Crag Martin, Crested Lark, Jay, Blue Rock Thrush, Twite, Red fronted Serin, Ruddy Shell Duck, Snow Bunting, Rock Thrush , Black Necked Grebe, Yellow Wagtail, Gt Crested Grebe, Crag Martin, Chaffinch, Coot, Grey Heron, White Stork. Of which Red Fronted Serin and Ruddy Shell Duck been new lifers, so pleased with that. No White-throated Robins on this occasion, maybe next time!