Göksu – be aware of addiction

Göksu has the element of surprise

I visited Göksu once – and I was hooked. It is not due to splendid nature. Most of the delta is cultivated and almost every inch of it is either used by hunters or for cattle grazing. And yet I’m hooked. The area just contains something – that element of surprise. You don’t really know what to expect when you come there.

Black Francolin male – Göksu

Mustafa Millidere and I went birding there. Target species where Black Francolin, Slender-billed Gull, Palla’s Gull, Audouin’s Gull and Purple Swamphen. And we got them all – except Palla’s Gull. It’s still a little early for that species.

Graceful Prinia

On the first day of birding the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was 22 C – in november! As we drove through the area we encountered a flock of two male and two female Black Francolins. And one of the males was really putting on a show – something which is really rare in autumn and winter. White those black and white colours combined with a reddish-brown neck and golden brown back it is just a marvelous bird.

Black Frank

Black franzine – somewhat less colourful

A short while after seeing the Black Frank we saw a falcon about 50 away. It was a large falcon with a rufous neck and pink breast and cheek. I’ve never seen a falcon like that and initial thoughts were ad. Lanner Falcon  ssp. feldeggii. But somehow it didn’t feel completely right due to the very broad “peregrin-like” moustache and the lack of brown on the back. After getting home I discussed the bird with some birders and one guy pointed me to the brookei subspecies of Peregrine Falcon. Apparently they show both rufous neck and pink breast and cheek… Hm, I guess I have to get used to the fact that the birds don’t look like they do back home.

Peregrine Falcon ssp- brookei

A little later we discovered 2 adults and 4 juvenile Tundra (Bewick’s) Swans on a lake. It was quite a surprise as they normally do not venture this far south. But Wim later told us that they were that unusual after all.

The Tundra Swan Family

The white-headed Purple Swamphens proved to be less shy than normal. We did see a few birds quite closely. They are actually very different from the spanish birds, with green wings and an pale area on the breat and pale head. The actual paleness might be age related as many birds weren’t that pale.

Purple Swamphen with less pale head

Purple Swamphen – with a pale head

Well, just to mention some of the birds we saw: Armenian Gull, Ferruginious Duck 2, Sardinian Warbler, Graceful Prinia, Audouin’s Gull 9, Great Spotted Eagle 11, Peregrine Falcon 2, Whiskered Tern, Black Francolin 2 male and 2 females, Purple Swamphen 20+, Kentish Plover, 3 Hen Harriers, Spanish Sparrow 20+, Merlin, Pintail 4, Mute Swan 1, Gadwall 1, Red-throated Pipit, Temmincks Stint 7, White-throated Kingfisher 2 and many many more.

Armenian Gull

Great Spotted Eagle

Hen Harrier male

Not too elegant Little Egret

1 cy White Pelican

Sardinial Warbler male

Slender-billed Gull

Spanish Sparrow

Silas Olofson













Bolu – more than raptors

Krüpers Nuthatch

It’s not only raptors that are present in Bolu. When walking around the old pine forests I almost felt like I was birding in the swedish forests – except that the Red Kites were replaced by Long-legged Buzzards and the White-tailed Eagles mostly were replaced by Oriental Imperial Eagles.

Great Spotted Woodpecker looks at the world from its hole.

But most birds were actually kind of Swedish’ish. Around the hotel Esentepe we did some birding. I soon found Green Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Grey-headed Woodpecker also breeds in the area, but we didn’t manage to nail it – actually we flushed a woodpecker from a tree that probably was a Grey-headed, but at least I didn’t get good enough views to be sure about the id. Mustafa has photographed both male and female Grey-headed Woodpecker in Bolu before: http://www.trakus.org/kods_bird/uye/?fsx=2fsdl15@d&idx=26025

Green Woodpecker giving superb views.

Both White-backed and Black Woodpecker are told to appear in the area too, so it really is a good place for woodpeckers.

Around the hotel we also saw several Short-toed Creepers, Common Crossbills, a few Krüper’s and Common Nuthatches, Serins and Coal Tits.

Krüpers Nuthatch

We also went further into the forest. In the summer Green Warbler breeds there, but we didn’t see much except fresh Brown Bear pooh and some tracks.


Along a stream I found a Dipper, which was a new tick for Mustafa. After that we had to do some raptor watching and we saw 15 Oriental Imperials and 11 Black Vultures. Due to the improved weather the birds were more scattered, but we still managed to get superb views as the pictures how!

Young Oriental Imperial Eagle and a raven

Young Oriental Imperial Eagle

Long-legged Buzzard

Note how Long-legged Buzzards can resemble Rough-legged Buzzards!

Silas Olofson

Raptors in Bolu

Young Oriental Imperial Eagle in an old tree in Bolu

During the last few weeks I’ve been a couple of times in the Bolu and Beypazari area. The area is located northwest of Ankara. It is a hilly area (or you could call it mountains) with a lot of natural forest. From a birders perspective one of the most interesting features of the area is the numbers of raptors present.

As I’ve blogged about be 70+ Egyptian Vultures that can be found around Beypazari rubbish dump. But they’ve migrated now. Lammergeier breeds in the area as do a few pairs of Griffon Vultures and several Black Vultures. Furthermore Golden Eagles and Oriental Imperial Eagles (OIE) breed in the area and White-tailed Eagle is not an uncommon  vagrant.

Distant Lammergeier at Inözü Vadi

Three out of three times I’ve checked the Inözü Vadi near Beypazari I’ve seen Lammergeiers. This is by far my favourite vulture, but the down side to it is, that it can be hard to obtain good views as they patrol large areas.

But the real pearl is the area south of Yenicaga. There is a so-called vulture restaurant, were vultures are being fed. This attracts good numbers of raptors. I went to check it with two turkish birders, Menderes and Mustafa.

One of the 40+ Long-legged Buzzards seen near a “Vulture Resturant”

Right away we noticed that the numbers of Long-legged Buzzards and Steppe Buzzards had increased significantly compared to the normal average and it didn’t take us long to find the first OIE (yes it meant Oriental Imperial Eagle) – a beautiful adult perched in a tree next to the road. But as we approached the feeding area it was like entering raptor heaven.

Six Black Vultures, one Oriental Imperial and one White-tailed Eagle

First we saw another 3 OIEs in a three. Then four more in another one. Then 6 six Black Vultures on the ground joined by a White-tailed Eagle and a juvenile OIE. Wow… that what I call birding.

White-tailed and Oriental Imperial Eagle in the same tree

And suddenly a Golden Eagle gave short views. And frankly I was kinda surprised by the way the Golden Eagles look here. They’re almost entirely dark chocolate-brown and look much fiercer than the birds I’ve seen in Western Europe.

Golden Eagle – yes, it is a dark brown Golden Eagle

Our cameras were constantly clicking and suddenly an OIE chose to ignore the car and give us birders views that we will never forget! It was just sitting there on a rock 10-15 meters away from the car. It was truly amazing.

Click to enlarg this picture! It was close!

Preparing for take off

And there it goes

In the area around the feeding station we saw a total of 9 Black Vultures (minimum), 1 Golden Eagle, 40+ Long-legged Buzzards, 15+ Common Buzzard, 1 male Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 3 White-tailed Eagles and 14-15 Oriental Imperial Eagles, but only 4 were adults – and much more shy than the younger birds.

The young Imperials were just stunning… I wish to come back on a sunny winter day!

So if you want to see raptors two hours drive from Ankara this is the place to go!

Silas Olofson

Larks and a Lesser Flamingo

Larks at Kulu

Today I went out bird watching with Mustafa Millidere, who is a turkish birder and photographer. We headed for Kulu (Düden Gölü) and the target was the Lesser Flamingo I found there a few days ago.

As we came to area we entered a lark-mekka. More than 3000 larks were present and they flew around in large but very mobile flocks. It didn’t take us long to find Wood Lark, Bimaculated Lark, Greater Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Lark and Crested Lark among the wast numbers of Skylarks and Calandra Larks. We did out best to search for both White-winged and Black Lark, but they flocks were very mobile, so it was  not possible to do any systematic checks – and we didn’t stumble into either species.

Lesser Short-toed Lark close up

Lesser Short-toed Lark

After enjoying and photographing the 7 different lark species we went to check the flamingo flocks. And after a while I located the Lesser Flamingo as it was sleeping among the Greater Flamingos. We obtained good views for about 20 minutes before the flock took off! A few tick for Mustafa, so we was happy in deed.

Find the Lesser Flamingo – click to enlarge

Lesser Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

David acting like Goliath

We then headed to Kozanli. On the way there we saw two Hen Harriers and some Long-legged Buzzards, but there were only very few birds around the lake – probably due to a lot of people fishing all around the lake shore. But we got some good shots of a Long-legged Buzzard.

Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard

Silas Olofson