Over half-term week, Suzanne and I were lucky enough to spend eight days in Turkey – primarily to enjoy Rhiannon and Simon’s beautiful wedding down in Bodrum, in the far south-west of the country, but we also added a few days travel in the east of the country onto the itinerary for variety and a bit of birding. As many birders have done before, we focused on the Birecik area, along with a few other bits and pieces within a couple of hours from here.
I’ll write up a trip report in due course with a few more details and a full trip list – but for now, here’s a quick summary of what we saw, and some pics. (In general, I spent very little time on photography, since the light was generally extremely harsh, and I also had relatively little time, so concentrated on seeing the target species rather than photographing a subset).
If anyone wants more info on the following, please drop me a line, or leave a comment here.
Key birds (personal highlights in bold!)
- Black Francolin: one heard early morning at Birecik north gravel pits, not seen
- See-see Partridge: one seen well from a tractor ride into steppe country near Yeni Akpinar, conserved by the Doga Dernegi charity (I think). Another briefly in flight from the car nearby,
- Pygmy Cormorant: many flying up and down the R Euphrates in and around Birecik
- Bald Ibis: at least one pair nesting in the wadi not far from the Ibis Centre in Birecik – hard to know whether these really are wild or not!
- Pallid (Striated) Scops Owl: one visiting an apparent nest site at the far end of the tea gardens in Birecik after dark – look for a tree with a broken top immediately beyond the blue fountain. However, this was completely surpassed by one that sang from a hole in the wall of our hotel in Halfeti, right above our room!!
- White-throated Kingfisher: at least a couple south of Adana, around the well-publicised site
- Blue-cheeked Bee-eater: at least 20 birds around the breeding colony at Estagfirullah were absolutely awesome! None at the site to the SW of the Ataturk Baraji.
- Bimaculated Lark: one or two near Yeni Akpinar, but better seen song-flighting east of Isikli, west of Gaziantep.
- Rufous Scrub Robin: common in suitable habitat
- White-throated Robin: numerous around Durnalik and Isikli – e.g. at least six seen both times we visited
- Finsch’s Wheatear: a couple at Yeni Akpinar – stunning birds!
- Graceful Warbler: easy at Birecik north gravel pits
- Menetries’s Warbler: pretty easy around Birecik and Halfeti
- Upcher’s Warbler: best seen above the ibis wadi, and also near Durnalik and around Birecik
- Eastern Rock Nuthatch: easy a couple of miles outside (old) Halfeti. Also near Durnalik
- White-spectacled Bulbul: various sites around Birecik and Halfeti. (Note that a small group of White-eared Bulbul had been present at Birecik Tea Gardens a week or two before we visited – believe this is only the second record for Turkey)
- Iraq Babbler: pretty easy early morning around Birecik north gravel pits
- Dead Sea Sparrow: easiest in the cemetery on the track towards the Birecik north gravel pits, where rather abundant; also seen around the pits themselves
- Yellow-throated Sparrow: just north of Birecik, around pistachio plantations
- Pale Rock Sparrow: seen on both visits to Durnalik, and also one at Yeni Akpinar
- Desert Finch: a small group were the only ones seen, in pistachios on the minor road leading east out of (new) Halfeti towards Sutveren
- Cinereous Bunting: just one, at Durnalik.
… and of course there was no shortage of other, more widely distributed species either!