More shorebirds at Mogan

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Yesterday I took a short trip to Mogan. It was burning hot, but the birding was quite ok. In the marches just south of the lake the mudflats have almost dried up, but where there is still water there are lots and lots of shorebirds – but they are quite hard to see as the water is now restricted to vegetated areas.

But good birds like Marsh Sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwit and many Ruff, Wood and Green Sandpipers and a few Avocet, Little Stints, Black-winged Stilts and Lapwings were seen.

Water Rail

Water Rail

To my surprise two Water Rails decided to put on a show for about 10 minutes as they were foraging on the edge of the reed beds.

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

In the reed beds good numbers of acro-warblers were present including Great Reed, Reed, Sedge and Moustached Warbler.

Juv. Sedge Warbler

Juv. Sedge Warbler

Moustached Warbler

Moustached Warbler

A few days ago I got to see and photograph the Black-shouldered Kite again – this time the result was slightly better. But I really miss my E-5 camera, which has been at the repairman for two months now…

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite fighting with a Kestrel

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Silas Olofson

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Istanbul birding

Yellow-legged Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

Last weekend I were in Istanbul. It is truly a magnificent city with enough tourist attractions and a history to keep you entertained for a life time.

But if you are in Istanbul and you have time for some birding there are two things that I would recommend. The first thing is to take a Bosporus cruise. It takes 1½ hours and takes you north to the second bridge and back to your place of departure.

Yelkovan Shearwater

Yelkovan Shearwater

This might be the best cruise in the world when it comes to see large numbers of Yelkovan Shearwaters at a close range. Almost every time the boat crosses the strait you bump into one or several flocks of these cool seabirds.

Yelkovan Shearwater

Yelkovan Shearwater

Other birds that can be seen on the tour include Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gull, Shag, Great Cormorant, Alpine Swift and many more.

Istanbul

Istanbul

The second option is to go to Belgrad Forest on the European side. It is an old forest with many good birds. Dilek Geçit from the ornithological society and a friend were kind enough to take me to the forest. For the moment I have a woodpecker-obsession, so Grey-headed was my target. But it was weekend and the forest was flooded with people.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

But soon the first of 6 Middle Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and a few Great Spotted were also present. During our search we found a Black Stork and at last a Grey-headed Woodpecker made an albeit brief appearance. So it turned out to we a very pleasant visit in the forest. Thank you Dilek!

Silas Olofson

Asian Black-shouldered Kite at Mogan

Black-shouldered Kite at Mogan

Black-shouldered Kite at Mogan – click to enlarge

Today I got up very early, because my wife and the kids were off with an early flight to Denmark and later the Faroe Islands. They arrived in time at the airport and now it was time for my annual car inspection. In Ankara you can choose which station to go to, so of course I chose the one next to Mogan. As I arrived just at the opening and had made an appointment already the inspection was completed in just a little over 30 minutes – and the car passed the test without any problems.

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

So now I were able to go to Mogan for birding. First I checked the southern part, which was very dry. And no wonder why – the last few times I’ve been there large trucks have been pumping the last drops of water from the wetland in order to sprinkle in on some planted trees – what nature do you wish preserve folks?

South bound Marsh Sandpipers

South bound Marsh Sandpipers

With no birds at the south I went to the marshes I rarely visit just south of the lake. There are some illegally build houses that are falling apart and some Lesser Kestrels have moved in. There was still mud flats and water at the marshes – and lots of birds. Shorebird migration is really kicking in. More than 400 shorebirds were present including lots of Ruff, Lapwings, Little Ringed Plovers, hundreds of Wood Sandpipers and several Green Sandpipers, about 20 Marsh Sandpipers, 7 Greenshanks, 1 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, about 20 Black-winged Stilts, some Common Snipes and two Little Stints – autumn migration is starting!

Spotted Crake

Spotted Crake

There were also Squacco and Purple Hern, Great White, Little and a single Cattle Egret and 19 Glossy Ibises. But the highlight was a Spotted Crake that made a brief appearance.

Ferruginous Duck - female type

Ferruginous Duck – female type

I spent several hours there just enjoying the scenery before heading to Bizim Cati – a place on the eastern side of the lake. There I first found a female Ferruginous Duck and then a second later a male White-headed Duck. The White-headed Ducks breed at Mogan, but I very rarely seem them there, so it was a nice surprise.

White-headed Duck

White-headed Duck

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Later I learned that a Black-shouldered Kite, that was seen at Mogan a few days ago had been relocated and 15 minutes later I saw the bird – there were already people watching it, so it was easy to find. For the next hour and a half 5 cars arrived to see this magnificent bird. And it really allowed amazing views (like they often tend to do i Tanzania too), so I guess everyone was very pleased. At least the guys that I talked to were more than happy!

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Up till 2008 there were 10 records of Black-shouldered Kite in Turkey. Since then a few more have been recorded and breeding is thought to have taken place. But the bird in Mogan is to my knowledge the first one in the Ankara region.

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

The bird looks like an adult and as the juveniles retain their tail feathers for a year it is safe to say that the bird at very least a 2cy+ and most likely a 3cy+. Furthermore the birds appears to be an Asian Black-shouldered Kite (ssp. vociferus).

Black-shouldered Kite - note how far into the wing that the black extends.

Black-shouldered Kite – note how far into the wing that the black extends.

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

The main feature that supports this id is (to quote Martin Garner) “the black appears to ‘bleed’ from inner primaries to adjacent secondaries and overall the grey secondaries contrast obviously with white underwing coverts” (see birdingfrontiers). But Olsen and Tofte (Rovfugle i Felten) mention this is a feature of nominate juvenile birds too. But as the bird seems to be in complete adult plumage the feature in deed points to ssp. vociferus.

Black-shouldered Kite - it has been seen catching mice. Surely it finds something to eat!

Black-shouldered Kite – it has been seen catching mice. Surely it finds something to eat!

Silas Olofson

Holiday birding around Alanya

Rueppels Warbler - generally a quite common bird on the southern slopes of the Taurus Mountains.

Rueppels Warbler – generally a quite common bird on the southern slopes of the Taurus Mountains.

I get the question quite often: Which birds can be seen around Alanya (or other tourist destinations)? Right now I am on a family holiday in Alanya, so I’ve been looking into the options of birding myself.

The hills behind the city contain some good birds. Blue Rock Thrush, Black-headed Bunting, Rueppel’s Warbler, Eastern Orphan and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler can be found quite easily. Furthermore I managed to find a few Cretzmar’s Buntings and Olive-three Warbler should be around even though I haven’t seen any.

Juv. Krupers Nuthatch

Juv. Krupers Nuthatch

But the main attractions are of course the Brown Fishing Owls at Oymapinar Dam. So if you can either talk your family into going for a tour or if you can use a day there you a quite likely to connect with the owls.

Another option is to head for some mountain pine wood birding a few kilometers north of Akseki. I did just that today. I left Alanya at 4:00 and arrived just after dawn. The first good birds started to show up just after Akseki, as I found 3 Finche’s Wheatears, Blue Rock Thrush and Cretzmar’s Bunting. But I were eager to reach the forest as soon as possible, so I didn’t spend much time with them.

A Weasel really put on a show too...

A Weasel really put on a show too…

After arriving to the forest I went out and almost right away I heard a calling and drumming White-backed Woodpecker. But it was quite far away and I never saw it, so I continued and after about one hour in the forest I had heard at least 3 different White-backed Woodpeckers. But they were impossible to see – until I saw a distant bird that just flew across a wide valley.

Bingo - White-backed Woodpecker

Bingo – White-backed Woodpecker

I searched for more than four hours for them in vain. Or actually it was not in vain as I saw 30+ Krüper’s Nuthatches including a family group of 7 (I presume). And I got the opportunity to study the juvenile plumage. Other good birds around included the odd turkish Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers, two juvenile Steppe Buzzard (vulpinus), Common Crossbills and a single Hoopoe.

While looking for the White-backed Woodpeckers I all of a sudden heard a Grey-headed Woodpecker calling. I really didn’t expect it to be this far south, but I managed to flush it and get brief views, which confirmed the sighting (after checking it to night it is actually known to breed in Akseki).

Why not see 3 birds in the same tree when you're at in anyways?

Why not see 3 birds in the same tree when you’re at in anyways?

Around 11:00 it started to get really warm and bird activity rapidly decreased. So I sat down under a tree – and out of nowhere two White-backed Woodpecker came to forage on a trunk just 20 meters away. I got to see and photograph them quite well.

White-backed Woodpecker: Probably female.

White-backed Woodpecker: Probably female.

They have a strange habit of foraging close to the ground for long periods. As there were two birds they constantly uttered a contact call. It was like a weak “Great Spotted Woodpecker”, but could only be heard from less than 40-50 m distance.

The birds disappeared, but after another 30 minutes I heard the calls again and now 3 birds were present in a tree. It is probably the same two and one extra, but I am not sure.

White-backed Woodpecker

White-backed Woodpecker

All in all I heard at least 3 birds in the morning and then two and then three were seen together. So I think it is safe to say, that there were six birds or more present in the area. But finding them can be quite hard.

Foraging on a trunk 1 meter above the ground.

Foraging on a trunk 1,5 meters above the ground.

The question now is if the White-backed Woodpecker ssp. lilfordi actually is a just a race or a full species. More on that later…

Silas Olofson

Breeding birds in the warmth

Little Bittern

Little Bittern

It’s July. It is breeding season – and often the least exciting time of year for birding. Here in Ankara the temperature easily reaches 40° C and birding just a few hours after sun rise becomes a struggle.

Little Bittern

Little Bittern

But the mornings can be really nice. So I went to Mogan at 5:00. I made my first stop in Gölbaşı, where there is an excellent spot for Little Bittern – and after a few minutes I had good views of two birds.

Turtle

Turtle

At the site there are also many turtles, which reminds me that I really need a reptile book.

I then continued south of the lake. Breeding activities are still prominent and that offers a good opportunity to see some otherwise rarely seen plumages.

Purple Heron

Purple Heron

The only real migrants around were good numbers of Green Sandpipers, but most of the meadows have dried up and there aren’t many mudflats left to attract shorebirds heading south.

Yellow Wagtail - juv.

Yellow Wagtail – juv.

Penduline Tit - Juv. The grey head is quite unlike the juveniles I've seen in Western Europe, which tend to be much more rusty brown.

Penduline Tit – Juv. The grey head is a little different than the juveniles I’ve seen in Western Europe, which tend to be more rusty brown.

Subad. Black Stork

Subad. Black Stork

Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler – what a bill.

Some kind of rodent made a short appearence, so I need to get a mammal book too along with the reptile book.

Rodent

Rodent

Silas Olofson