Akseki – a birding hot spot

Coal Tit

Coal Tit

Akseki near Alanya is know pretty much for one bird species. White-backed Woodpecker of the (sub)species Lilfordi.

White-backed Woodpecker is actually relatively wide-spread in Turkey but the density is very low. If you combine this with their large territories it turns out to be one of those birds that you hope for, but not really count on. But Akseki has been an exception. When people dedicate time for it, it is actually found probably more than 50% of the times.

White-backed Woodpecker ssp. lilfordi

White-backed Woodpecker ssp. lilfordi

Yes, I have a thing for woodies. And today I had the possibility to look for the White-backed. At 5:30 I started looking and after about two hours I had a bird calling.

Kruper's Nuthatch a1

Kruper’s Nuthatch

Soon I located it to the exact same area as I had seen a juv. and two adults last year.

Persian Squirrel

Persian Squirrel

But to my great misfortune a loud shouting shepard with 100+ goats came to exactly that area just after I found the bird. It took off not to be seen again.

 

Rueppel's Warbler

Rueppel’s Warbler

Sweedish birder Michael Hellström has been posting a few posts on the Turkish Birding Facebook page about a plateau east of Akseki, which in early spring holds species Crimson-winged Finch and Red-fronted Serin.

Rueppel's Warbler

Rueppel’s Warbler

Rueppel's Warbler

Rueppel’s Warbler

On the way there Magnus had also seen good birds like Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Rueppel’s Warbler and more. To good not to check out was my thought.

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

I decided to check the area. And trust me I was not disappointed.

First of all there was the drive between Akseki and the plateau. You drive on a gravel road through lush green vallies and an amazing scenery.

Rueppel's Warbler

Rueppel’s Warbler

And the birding is awesome. Rueppel’s Warbler was regular along the road. As I was able to stay inside the car most birds were seen very well.

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

Between Akseki and the plateau I also found 3 Masked Shrikes, Woodchat Shrike, Eastern Oliveacious Warbler, Rock Nuthatch, Black-headed Buntings, Steppe Buzzard and Lesser Whitethroat.

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler - adult

Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler – adult

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler - juv.

Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler – juv.

But the best surprise were 7 Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers. Just like White-backed Woodpecker it is not a numerous bird in Turkey. I takes a little luck to find them. And a lot of work to get pictures.

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler

But it seems like it is a fairly common breeder in the area. And finding the birds did not prove too difficult. And again as I was able to stay in the car they just gave amazing views.

Asia Minor Souslik

Asia Minor Souslik

At the plateau a new kind of birding started with a more alpine feel to it.

It is a rather large plateau with low vegetation, grasing goats and rocky hills.

Finsche's Wheatear

Finsche’s Wheatear

The most common birds were wheatears. Black-eared, Norhtern, Isabelline and a few Finsche’s.

Ortolan Buntings were spread throughout and a single Cretzmar’s Bunting was seen.

Ortolan Bunting

Ortolan Bunting

Shorelarks were foraging on the grass and two Coughs were seen flying over.

The plateau also contained lots of Asia Minor Sousliks.

Shorelark

Shorelark

Not surprisingly alpine species like Crimson-winged Finch, Red-fronted Serins and Rock Thrushes were all gone. But earlier in the season this would be a very good spot for those species.

Rueppel's Warbler

Rueppel’s Warbler

This is truly a wonderful area combining wonderful nature and awesome birding is the finest way possible.

Exact driving directions and more can be found on the Turkish Birding Facebook Page. Thanks to Magnus (ptbbis) for all the information.

Rueppel's Warbler

Rueppel’s Warbler

If you are doing a holyday trip in Alanya and have a day off, this is probably where you should go birding!

Silas

Birding in the Sanliurfa region

Svende Erik birding in the semi-desert of the Sanliurfa region

Svende Erik birding in the semi-desert of the Sanliurfa region

Along the Syrian border between Karkamis and Ceylanpinar there are wast areas of semi-desert. These areas provide excellent birding and a variety of good species.

See-see Partridge

See-see Partridge

See-see Partridge - male and female

See-see Partridge – male and female

See-see Partridge

See-see Partridge

See-see Partridge can be found in Birecik, but it is much easier to get very good views further east.

See-see Partridge

See-see Partridge

See-see Partridge - female

See-see Partridge – female

See-see Partridge - male

See-see Partridge – male

See-sees are not exactly shy as long as you stay in the car and views down to just a few meters is not uncommon in this area.

See-see Partridge

See-see Partridge

But if you are walking they are much more difficult and tend to run or fly away at quite some distance. When Svende and I visited the area we obtained amazing views of almost 20 individuals.

Desert Finch - male

Desert Finch – male

Desert Finch - male and female

Desert Finch – male and female

Other good birds in the area include Desert Finch, which breeds in orchards. At the nesting site this otherwise rather shy bird can give very good views.

Finsche's Wheatear

Finsche’s Wheatear

The most common wheatear in the area is Finsche’s Wheatear, but Isabelline is also around in good numbers.

Pale Rock Sparrow

Pale Rock Sparrow

Pale Rock Sparrows are also quite common in the area, even though they are more often heard than seen.

Pale Rock Sparrow

Pale Rock Sparrow

The Lesser Short-toed Larks in the area are quite different from the ones in Central Anatolia being more rufous over all.

Lesser Short-toed Lark

Lesser Short-toed Lark

Close to Ceylanpinar just a few kilometers from the Syrian border Red-wattled Lapwings are occurring. Svende and I managed to find 1-2 birds in the area.

Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing

But visiting gave more than good birds. An arab family invited us for tea and we have a good time together. And of course we had to see the families pride – a ram with four horns :)

 

Ram with four horns

Ram with four horns

In the area there is a population of Goitered Gazelles. These always provide a nice addition to the birding.

Goitered Gazelle

Goitered Gazelle

Silas

Birding in Birecik

Hoopoe

Hoopoe

After birding around Isikli Svend Erik and I went to Birecik, where we stayed for a few days. It is one of my favorite birding areas in all of Turkey with many quality species just minutes away from the city.

White-speckled Bulbul

White-speckled Bulbul

It is possible to get all the target species in just one day, but I would surely recommend everybody to use at least two days in the area – and to use some time checking the area between Birecik and Karkamis/the Syrian border.

Rollers and Bee-eater

Rollers and Bee-eater

Yellow-throated Sparrow is one of the target species around Birecik. They can be found in orchards all the way from the border to areas around Halfeti. But it is not that common.

Yellow-throated Sparrow

Yellow-throated Sparrow

Yellow-throated Sparrow

Yellow-throated Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow is much more common. They build huge nests in trees and are very vocal at the breeding sites.

Dead Sea Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow

Iraq Babbler is found in suitable reed beds along the Euphrates. Exactly how far north the occur I do not know, but they are present all the way between Birecik and the border.

Iraq Babbler

Iraq Babbler

Pallid Scops Owl is also quite common in the area. I took a walk in the evening along the shore within the city limits and at least four different birds were heard. Long-eared Owl was also present. Otherwise Pallid Scops Owls are roosting during the day around Gulhane Caybahcesi.

Pallid Scops Owl

Pallid Scops Owl

The Bald Ibises breed both in a vadi north of Birecik and in captivity close by. Not the most wild experience, but when being around, you should take a look at them.

Bald Ibis

Bald Ibis

Bald Ibis juv.

Bald Ibis juv.

Bald Ibis

Bald Ibis

Little Swift is present in small numbers in Birecik. We were lucky enough to see at least 6 birds drinking.

Little Swift

Little Swift

Pied Kingfisher is quite common too along the river and we saw at least 4 birds during our stay.

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Menetris’ Warbler is very common, but rather unobtrusive. They breed where ever there is decent shrubbery.

Menetris Warbler

Menetris Warbler

We used some time looking for White-cheeked Bulbuls between Birecik and the Syrian border, but we didn’t find any.

Spanish Sparrow

Spanish Sparrow

Rufous-tailed Robin

Rufous-tailed Robin

Snake

Snake

But well, the birding was still awesome with lots of Pygmy Cormorants, Short-toed Snake-eagle, Hoopoes, Rollers, Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes, Spanish Sparrow, Ferruginious Ducks, Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robins, Common Nightinggale and much much more.

Pygmy Cormorant

Pygmy Cormorant

Little Bittern

Little Bittern

Ferruginious Duck

Ferruginious Duck

Common Nightingale

Common Nightingale

 

Silas

 

 

Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear

After birding the lakes south of Ankara we continued south to Osmaniye. The Osmaniye area is like a border between the Mediterranean and eastern birds. So out target was to pick up Ruppel’s Warbler and Cretzmar’s Bunting on the way towards Birecik. And at the first promising looking spot we stopped – saw – and conquered. Both species were easy and within minutes we obtained views of both.

Ruppel's Warbler

Ruppel’s Warbler

We then headed to the Ceyhan River to get White-breasted Kingfisher on the list – and it was also very easy. Additional species in the area included Black Francolin, Rufous-tailed Robin and the first Menetri’s Warblers.

White-breasted Kingfisher

White-breasted Kingfisher

We then headed to the area around Isikli and Durnalik, where the birding was more than awesome. Species after species made their way to the tour list and Sven Erik turned out to get a total of 12 lifters.

Upcher's Warbler

Upcher’s Warbler

Species include 10+ Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Cinerous Buntings, Upcher’s Warbler, Pale Rock Sparrow, Finsche’s Wheatear, Irania, Eastern Orphean Warbler and Specktacled Warbler.

Silas

Lake birding

White-headed Duck

White-headed Duck

After using a day west of Ankara Svende and I went to bird around some of the lakes south of Ankara. Our first stop was Uyuz. Our target there was White-headed Duck and we soon located some birds.

Black-necked Grebe

Black-necked Grebe

Other good birds around included several Black-necked Grebes, ducks, Greater Flamingos and Grey-lag Geese.

Black-necked Grebe

Black-necked Grebe

We then continued to Kulu. As always in this time of year the birding was awesome. Gull-billed, White-winged, Black and Whiskered Terns were around in good numbers.

Lesser Short-toed Larks were easily located as they were very vocal.

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

But there were two very nice surprises. First two Black-winged Pranticoles were seen in a few hundred meters distance for a few minutes.

Black-winged Pranticole

Black-winged Pranticole

Then I located the Lesser Flamingo among the Greater Flamingos on the north side of the lake.

Lesser Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

There were not many shorebirds left, but species like Spur-winged Lapwing, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt and Avocet here all seen.

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

After some good fighting with the mud and a minor delay we headed to Kozanli.

Citrine Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail

It was loaded with quality birds. Presumably a breeding male Citrine Wagtail was protecting its territory.

Spur-winged Plover

Spur-winged Plover

A lazy Great White Pelican, a Spoonbill, Glossy Ibises and Collared Pranticoles were all present.

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

The greatest surprises were an Oystercatcher, an Osprey and two Black-tailed Godwits.

Silas

 

 

Birding around Beypazari

Eastern Orphean Warbler

Eastern Orphean Warbler

The Ankara area actually offers some really spectacular possibilities for birding. Svend Erik and I visited some of the places close to Beypazari yesterday including Inozu Vadisi and Nallihan.

Sombre Tit

Sombre Tit

Right on arriving in Inozu birds like Rock Nuthatch, Black Stork, Alpine Swift, Black-eared Wheatear and Sombre Tits were seen.

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove

The scenery in the lower part of the valley is just splendid as is the birding. Turtle Doves are nesting in the area and they can quite easily be seen flying around.

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

Further up the valley we located at least two pairs of Masked Shrikes and a single pair of Woodchat Shrikes. “Shriking” birds to say the least.

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

Cirl, Rock, Ortolan and Black-headed Buntings are all breeding in the area. With some patience they can all be seen at close range.

Eastern Orphean Warbler

Eastern Orphean Warbler

Eastern Orphean Warbler

Eastern Orphean Warbler

A good surprise was at least 5 Eastern Orphean Warblers and two Sardinian Warblers, that all have quite good views.

Red-rumped Swallow

Red-rumped Swallow

A little further up the valley Craig Martins, Red-rumped Swallows and a single Middle Spotted Woodpecker were around.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

We then headed up to mountains to look for White-throated Robins. We soon located 1-2 males and a female. But the real highlight for we were at least 4 Barred Warblers having disputes over their territories.

Craig Martin

Craig Martin

On the way back we of course stopped at the rubbish dump and enjoyed the Egyptian Vultures.

Barred Warbler a4Barred Warbler a3Barred Warbler a2Barred Warbler a6Barred Warbler a7Barred Warbler a1Barred Warbler a8

We then headed to Nallihan, where is found lots of good birds including White-tailed Sea Eagle, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Armenian Gull and much more.

White-tailed Sea Eagle

White-tailed Sea Eagle

In total the tour list reached 170 species in 3 days.

Silas

 

Green Warblers in Bolu

Green Warbler

Green Warbler

Two days ago Svende and I went birding north of Gerede. The area is truly amazing with very old and pristine forests. Green, Grey-headed, Black, Syrian, Great Spotted, Lesser Spotted and possible Middle Spotted and White-backed Woodpeckers occur in the area.

Siskin

Siskin

The forest contains many of the species associated with Scandinavian forests.

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

Our target species was Green Warbler though. It is known to occur in Bolu and I’ve found a few birds in earlier years. But yesterday I was choked. During a few hours we found 30+ Green Warblers singing in the area.

Mistle Thursh

Mistle Thursh

They only occur in very specific habitats, but at those habitats they are amazingly common. Due to bad weather and heavy rain birding soon became almost impossible we went fairly quickly back to Ankara.

Short-toed Snake Eagle at Mogan

Short-toed Snake Eagle at Mogan

Yesterday we checked Mogan where 5 species of Terns, all the common herons and Little Bitterns were seen. Also several Lesser Kestrels and a Short-toed Snake Eagle were seen.

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel

Hoopoes in display

Hoopoes in display

 

Silas