Birding in Turkey

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Subject: Birding in Turkey
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 16:51:01 +1000
Hi Birders,
From 3-17 June I was travelling in Turkey as part of a small group tour organised by the company "Explore". While the tour was  a general tour of such places as Istanbul, Gallipolli, the greco-roman ruins of the SW Aegean Region, a 3 day session by sailing boat from Dalyan to Fethiye, Central Anatolia and the underground cities, Ankara and back to Istanbul, there were some opportunities for bird watching!. Gallipoli, the ruins of Ephasus, Pergamum, Alinda, Troy & Aprodisias, the Cappadocia Region and a half day trip to the Sultan Marshes at Kayseri all were good birding sites!
Altogether 92 species were seen but on the whole I would have to say that there were less raptores in the wheat-growing Districts of SW Turkey compared to our own wheat belt and generally birds were harder to find compared to Australia. Natural wetlands are very scarce because of the intense irrigation that is carried out in that country and even the Ramsar site of the Sultans Marshes would appear to be suffering from too much water being taken away for irrigation (shades of our own Macquarrie Marshes, which it resembled)! Our half day trip to the Sultan's Marshes was done outside of the Explore Tour. Birds that were new for me included Short-toed Eagle (with snake!), Long-legged Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture & European Marsh Harrier. The most common raptore was the Common Buzzard and while I was determined to find a Lesser Kestrel alas I could only identify Common Kestrels.
In the Sultan's Marshes I saw my first Northern Night Heron, all 400 going to roost at daybreak!, Purple Herons, Red-necked Grebes, Squacco Herons, Little Bitterns (also seen Australia), Northern Marsh Harrier, Cetti's Warbler, Great Reedwarbler, Corn & Black-headed Buntings and finally 4 Black Terns in breeding plumage!. The greco-roman ruins proved to be good places for Wheatears, where I saw Northern, Black-eared, Isabelline & Finsch's, as well as Crested Larks, Little Owls and Red-rumped Swallows. Four species of Shrike were also seen viz Masked ,Great Grey, Red-backed & Woodchat. In the intensively farmed small fertile valleys of Cappadocia I saw Golden Oriole, European Cuckoo, European Rollers and Bee-eaters; In the underground cities of the Soganli Valley there were Black Redstarts & Crag Martins about the ruins; in the Topaki Palace gardens in Istanbul there were Barn Swallows & House Martins, Great Tits, Tree Sparrows, Common & Alpine Swifts; while crossing the Bosphorus at a number of places, flocks of Yelkouan Shearwater (once lumped with the Manx Shearwater) were often seem, as well as a pair of Meditteranean Gulls although only a lone Cory's Shearwater was seen at sea off Dalyan! The Yellow-legged Herring Gull, was aboundant and nested extensively on appartment roofs in the cities.
A pleasant feature of the landscape was the large numbers of White Storks to be seen. They often nested on the ruins of castles and cities in the country towns, and sometimes Spanish Sparrows had their nests in the base of the Stork nests. It was not uncommon to see 3 & 4 large young in each stork nest! Travelling in Turkey proved to be quite safe, the people were hospitable and wanting to try out their English on you and all seem to have some relative in either Sydney or Melbourne! We had some great meals and a most enjoyable two weeks.
For those who are interested I have prepared a list of Turkish birds that includes records from a number of observers since 1996, including  the recent visit by Philip Brook and also myself. Seperate to this is the list of birds that I saw and details of where they were seen etc! Please contact  me direct if you are interested in receiving same.
Alan Morris
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