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