Peregrine eats a Teal at Nellihan

Peregrine eats a Teal at Nellihan – click to enlarge

I had heard about the Nallihan Bird Paradise. I’ve tried to visit the place with Mustafa before, but we didn’t know exactly where to look, and thus the result was poor. Fortunately Emin showed me on a map a few days ago where to go. And today I went to Nallihan – about 120 km west of Ankara.

Spanish Sparrows with Tree Sparrows

Spanish Sparrows with Tree Sparrows

As soon as I reached the area I was greeted my Spanish Sparrows – always a nice bird to see. But it was only the start.

Ruddy Shelducks on a field

Ruddy Shelducks on a field – click to enlarge

Before I reached the lake-area I passed some plains. And wow… 3000+ Ruddy Shelducks foraging together. That really is quite a sight. But the area really isn’t that beautiful. It is a long lake with mountains on both sites. Around the lake there is extensive farming going on and there is litter everywhere. But there are some big grass islands, where I presume that the birds feel somewhat safe even though a tractor was driving on one of the islands. But these islands and the fact that the lake is sufficiently big to provide the birds with some safety apparently attrack vast numbers of wildfowl.

Vast numbers of ducks

Vast numbers of ducks

My guess is that there were at least 50.000 ducks on the lake.

Teal: 20.000+

Mallard: 20.000+

Pintail: 1000+

Pochard: 500+

Gadwall: 50

Red-crested Pochard: 1

Wigeon: 300+

Common Shelduck: 100

Great Scaup: 1

Tufted Duck: 5

There is a lot of hunting going on in Nellihan. The ducks thus are very shy and even though I stayed in the car they took of 200-300 meters away. Except for the good numbers of ducks I also found 12 Smew – which was a new turkish tick.

Two male Smew

Two males Smew

But the really big surprise were no less than 147 Bewick’s Swans (maybe the largest flock ever seen in Turkey?) and a single juvenile Whooper Swan in one flock. That was not what I had expected.

Part of the 147 Bewick's Swans

Part of the 147 Bewick’s Swans

Juvenile Whooper Swan with Bewick's Swans

Juvenile Whooper Swan with Bewick’s Swans

In suck large flocks of ducks there has to be something weird. And there was. Not a Baikal Teal as hoped for, but both a diluted Teal and a diluted male Pintail were quite interesting birds.

Diluted male Pintail

Diluted male Pintail

Other good records included a White Stork that didn’t wish to go to Africa and an adult Peregrine catching a Teal and eating it close to the car. No doubt I’ll head back there sooner rather than later.


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