Tuesday 11 June 2013

Turkey: a quick summary

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!


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great sightings! Wonder if you could tell something about the Pallid Scops Owls at the hotel in Hafiti? What's the name of the hotel? And, did you specifically look for white-eared bulbuls around Biricek or you did just not encounter them in the tea-gardens? We're planning to go there next month so thats why I'm so interested.