Spring explosion

White-headed Duck a1

White-headed Duck 

A few days ago I took a trip south of Ankara. First stop was Lake Uyuz, where birds like White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe and Grey-lag Goose were present.

It was raining, but that is actually a god thing during migration as many birds make landfall. Walking along the reed bed produced Savi’s Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Little Crakes and Bluethroat.

Wood Warbler

Wood Warbler

Common Nightingale

Common Nightingale

Then I continued to Kulu. Not all the classic birds have arrived yet, but 6 Citrine Wagtails, lots of Red-throated Pipits, 3 Marsh Sandpipers, Spur-winged Plover, 2 Wrynecks, 3 Common Nightingales, Wood Warblers, Collared Flycatchers and Lesser Short-toed Larks were all nice to see.

Wryneck a1

Wryneck 

Wryneck mad at a Redstart

Wryneck mad at a Redstart

Then I checked Kozanli. Highlights were Caspian Tern, 6 Collared Pranticoles, Marsh Sandpipers, Gull-billed Tern, Great White Pelican, Wryneck, Little Crakes, Cuckoo, Cattle Egret and much more.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

At Karacadag Lesser Kestrels have returned to their breeding grounds. About 30 individuals were seen.

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel

Silas

More Spring

Great Bittern

Great Bittern

Spring is here and every time I get out new species have arrived. During the last weeks birds like White Stork, Barn Swallow, Hoopoe, Wood Sandpiper, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret and Moustached Warbler have arrived.

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail

A few hours in the field around Mogan with Kuzey Cem provided amazing views of a Great Bittern – by far the best encounters I’ve ever had with the species.

Great Bittern

Great Bittern

Moustached Warbler

Moustached Warbler

Other good birds included Citrine Wagtail, Purple Heron and at least two Bluethroats. But probably the biggest surprise was a male Sardinian Warbler – a rare gues to Mogan.

Bluethroat

Bluethroat

Sardinian Warbler

Sardinian Warbler

167 Black-tailed Godwits, hundreds of Wagtails and the first Red-throated Pipit are also cool. The time is coming when a whole day of birding in Mogan is not waste of time.

Black-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit

My first Little Crake of the year was first chased and later caught by a Marsh Harrier. A quite cool sight.

Little Crake - dead

Little Crake – dead

A trip to Kizlicahaman gave good views of Cirl Bunting, Black Vulture, Kruper’s Nuthatch, Rock Bunting and Great Spotted Eagle.

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

Silas

Winter is over (I hope)

Ferruginous Duck

Ferruginous Duck

February has been cold. Lake Mogan has been frozen and only a few spots of open water have been left. But as always they have attracted many ducks. It was a nice surprise to find 5 Ferrugionus Ducks there in mid February.

Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

Common Pochard with a white head

Common Pochard with a white head

In late February I went to Nallihan. There were more than 100.000 ducks around. Most where Common Pochards, but there were also 5000+ Teal, 1000+ Mallards and Ruddy Shelducks.

Smew

Smew

Other ducks present with more than 100 individuals were Gadwall, Pintail, Tufted Duck (230), Wigeon and Red-crested Pochard.

One Smew and two White-headed ducks were also nice.

Pallas' Gull

Pallas’ Gull

More unexpected birds were Pallas’ Gull, 3 Spoonbills and a small flock of Golden Plovers.

Spoonbill

Spoonbill

Yesterday I took a small trip to Mogan. It is warmer now even though is has been snowing a bit during the last few days. But spring is here.

White Wagtail

White Wagtail

At Mogan many White Wagtails are around now and I also found 3 Yellow Wagtails and a stunning male Citrine Wagail. What a nice feeling!

Citrine Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail

Water Pipit

Water Pipit

Water Pipits were present in small numbers and a few gave really good views.

Garganeys and Black.-tailed Godwit

Garganeys and Black.-tailed Godwit

Other “first of the year” were a flock of Garganeys, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Curlews and Cetti’s Warbler.

From now on there will be something good to see every time I go birding J

 

Update from snowy Ankara

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

I’ve been rather lazy posting lately. But I’ve been around doing some winter birding. January and February have been cold. Down to -23 C. It is still freezing, but only -5. So spring feels a bit far away.

But the typical winter birds are in place. A few weeks ago I went to Kazan to search for Pine Buntings. But maybe due to very cold temperatures the normally large Yellowhammer flocks were almost gone. But Kruper’s Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Bramblings and Firecrests are always cool. But the highlight was close encounters with a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker male.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

 

Around Mogan spring is slowly starting to show in spite of ice and snow. Meadow and Water Pipits have arrived in small numbers as well as a few Green Sandpipers.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

 

But it is still the winter birds that dominate. Hundreds of Chaffinches and Bramblings are around the cultivated areas.

Brambling

Brambling

A few Skylarks, Serins, many Goldfinches, Bearded Reedlings and Penduline Tits are around.

Skylark

Skylark

But the biggest surprise has been Yellowhammer flocks of more than 20 birds. Some have been close to female Pine Buntings, but still no cigar.

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Silas

 

Winter in Ankara

Bullfinch male

Bullfinch male

 

Winter has come to Ankara. It is cold and in a few days time they promise down to minus 20 degrees. When it gets cold in Ankara it is kinda Scandinavian birding – or so it feels.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Bullfinch

Bullfinch

On January first I did the traditional birding around here. Bullfinches, Bramblings, Chaffinches, Goldcrests, Coal, Great, Long-tailed and Blue Tits. Might as well be Central Sweden for that matter.

Coal tit

Coal tit

But a nice surprise was a cool Firecrest. Regular, but not common in Ankara.

Firecrest

Firecrest

A visit to Lake Mogan gave 300+ Ruddy Shelducks, some Great White Egrets, Wigeons and Teal.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

But Bearded Tits decided to be very very tame and gave amazing views.

Bearded Tit b5

Bearded Tit b2

Bearded Tit a9

Other birds included some Penduline Tits, Cetti’s Warblers and even a single Yellowhammer. Soon it is time for Nallihan, Kazan and the other cool places during winter :)

Penduline Tit a1

Penduline

 

Skylark a1

Skylark

 

Magpie a1

Magpie

 

Bullfinch a4

Bullfinch

Bullfinch a3

Bullfinch

 

Silas

Yellow Wagtails of Central Anatolia – Turkey

Yellow Wagtails - different variations

Yellow Wagtails – different variations

Yellow Wagtails are fascinating. The males are striking yellow birds that light up any dull day. Furthermore they have a very wide distribution, which again means that there is a huge variation between different subspecies or races (some would even say species).

If we stick to adult males there are subspecies ranging from black to white-headed. There in between there are many shades of gray and yellow. No matter the head colour birds can show a white or sometimes yellow eyebrow/supercilium. The eyebrow can be anything from very strong to just a hint (or of course totally absent).

In Turkey you can see almost every combination imaginable on the thousands and thousands of Yellow Wagtails migrating through Turkey during spring.

The black-headed birds with an obvious supercilium are those turning up first (early/middle of march). which could indicate that they move the furthest north.

After that a lot of different variations turn up. In this blog I wish to share some of the types of Yellow Wagtails I’ve seen in Turkey.

To keep it simple let’s use the variations mentioned in Collin’s Birdguide.

Birds resembling the ssp. beema are regular, but not common in Turkey:

Yellow Wagtail c5

Yellow Wagtail c11 Yellow Wagtail c12

Yellow Wagtail c13

Yellow Wagtail c14

Yellow Wagtail c16

The same is the case for Dombrowskii-types. Their head is overall darker than ssp. beema and thge cheek is grey.

P3229805

Yellow Wagtail a33

Yellow Wagtail c15

YW3

YW4

The superciliaris-types are not uncommon as there are individuals as dark as the feldeggs, but with an obvious supercilium. As there is a gradual movement from light grey to dark gray/black it is a bit difficult to place each and every bird in a specific category.

P3229883

White Wagtail a1

Yellow wag a1

Yellow Wagtail b4

Yellow Wagtail b7

Yellow Wagtail b10

Yellow Wagtailc17

Feldegg is the black-headed type that breeds quite commonly in Central Anatolia. A good number show a white malar stribe. There birds are sometimes called melanogrisea.

54195_UU_46978_Yello_agtail_a4

Gul vip a2

Gul vip a3

Yellow Wagtail a1

Yellow Wagtail a3

Yellow Wagtail a6

Yellow Wagtail a8

Yellow Wagtail a10

Flava-types are also fairly regular migrants to Turkey.

Yellow Wagtail b5

Yellow Wagtail c1

Yellow Wagtail c2

Yellow Wagtail c3

Yellow Wagtail c4

Yellow Wagtail c7

Yellow Wagtail

YW1

Lutea is rather rare in Turkey, but I have seen 3 individuals. They are probably more common in the east.

P5104143

Yellow wag 2

Yellow wag a3

Yellow Wag

Several birds seem to fit the thunbergi variation.

Yellow Wagtail b8

Yellow Wagtail e3

The book “Pipits and Wagtails” also mentions the xanthophrys as an integrade between lutea and feldegg. This variation is also regulas in Central Anatolia.

Yellow Wagtail b1

Yellow Wagtail b2

Yellow Wagtail b9

Then there are all the birds not really fitting the books:

Yellow Wagtail 1

Yellow Wagtail 2

Yellow Wagtail a5

Yellow Wagtail b3

Yellow Wagtail c8

Yellow Wagtail c9

Yellow Wagtail e1

Yellow Wagtail e2

Yellow Wagtail e4

No matter what I find the Yellow Wagtails of Central Anatolia to be very very interesting. Maybe it is close to impossible to make categories for all of them, but they are awesome anyways.

And just to add some more fun cosmic mind blowers also occur:

hybrid-a1

hybrid-a2

hybrid-a3

hybrid-a4

Silas

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