After reading about Eilat Birdfestival for several days on the internet I had to go out birding. So this morning I woke up at 5 and drove off to Kulu.
Ankara is really in the middle of everything as there is scandinavianish pine forest one hour north of the city and very hot steppe areas one hour south of the city.
Kulu lake is a fresh water lake close to the big Tuz Gölü or Salt Lake. Kulu is a magnificent birding area with grassland and fresh water.
When I came to the area it was already windy. YR.no had predicted 13 m/s and it was at least that. But even though it was windy there were really good numbers of birds around.
First I found some Isabelline Wheatears and then my first Northern of the year. There must be some kind of Isabelline Wheatear-migration going on as I found about 30 birds in a rather small area.
Along the roads surprising numbers of Lesser Short-toed Larks were hanging out. And I came soon to realise that the very windy conditions were my luck. The birds stayed in shelter along the road vegetation and as the areas around the lake constantly got showers from the lake it seemed like the birds congregated at higher elevation around the road.
All in all about 50 Lesser Short-toed Larks were seen – many within a few meters distance. Otherwise good numbers of Skylarks, Calandra Larks and Crested Larks were present. I normally find a few Bimaculated Larks, but I didn’t see any today.
One of the days big surprises came when an adult male Pallid Harrier flew over quite early in the morning. After all it is not more than 2 weeks ago the snowy and ice conditions lost their grip.
Kulu Lake sustains quite large numbers of Greater Flamingo. Today I only saw about 300. But due to the bad weather they allowed me to get really close and get some nice photos. I couldn’t find the Lesser Flamingo that has been in the area now and then for several years – but it didn’t come as a surprise as most flamingos had departed.
The numbers of species seen were actually quite good. About 20 Slender-billed Gulls, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 5 Armenian Gulls and a ton of Black-headed Gulls were expected.
The variety of shorebirds was somewhat bigger with 10 Kentish Plovers, 10+ Little Ringed Plovers, a few Common Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, 7 Avocets, Lapwing, lots of Ruff and Common Snipes. I hoped for a Greater Sand Plover, but it is just a little early for them to turn up I guess.
Besides the male Pallid Harrier and two males Hen Harriers there were no raptors in the area.
I wanted to use a lot of time in the area, but the wind speed increased and soon birding was virtually impossible. And even though we’ve had extensive rain the scenario turned into a dust-cloud covering more than 100 kilometers from Kulu to Ankara. It really doesn’t take long before the land dries up. Well, ironically Negev turned into a lake when Emin and I visited in february – now central Anatolia has turned into a sand or dust desert. Even though it was very windy it was 23 C today – which means a 30 C change in 14 days. Quite a change.
On my way home I briefly checked Mogan. The biggest surprise was the arrival of 3 Yellow Wagtails ssp. dombrowskii/superciliaris.
Futhermore Ruddy Shelducks and Water Pipits in summer plumage gave good views. Now I guess there will be new surprises every time I get the chance to get out 🙂