My wife has finally returned to Ankara. And after watching the kids for a week I felt like I had deserved to get a day off – for birding of course. And my wife actually did agree.
So I woke up early and drove for 1½ hours towards Nallihan to do my annual winter bird count (even though it was a little late already).
Upon arrival I started counting Ruddy Shelducks at the southern part of the area. Even though birds have started to migrate 700 Ruddy Shelducks were still present including an interesting pale bird.
I then started to check the waterfowl on the lake. It is quite a job due to the distance and the numbers of birds present. But I estimated about 30.00 waterfowl being present – mostly Coot and Common Teal but with lesser numbers of several other species.
I counted around 1.200 Little Grebe, 50 Black-eared Grebe, a few Tufted Ducks, 100+ Common Pochard, 2 Red-creasted Pochard, 1 Red-breasted Mergenser, 3 Smew, 1 Shoveler, 7 Wigeon, 100+ Mallard, a few Pintails and a single Common Shelduck. All in all quite nice.
But then the surprises started to occur. Suddenly 6 Palla’s Gulls flew over my head. Not extremely rare, but they are few and far between here – and they are always such a nice surprise.
Then a Great White Pelican came flying over and landed on the lake. Again a scarce bird around here and especially in early March.
Then two Black Storks came flying over. Again I would expect them to be in Hula Valley. But spring seems to start early this year.
Other signs of spring included my first House Martins of the year and 50+ Ruff were also present.
Then I decided to check a remote area, where I have never been before. It is like mountain desert around there, so I really didn’t know what to expect.
But soon I heard a Wheatear singing and suddenly a stunning male Finsch’s Wheatear appeared in front of me.
And suddenly there was one more. They gave amazing views as they were fighting for a territory.
I decided to check the area more thoroughly and I found no less than 8 males in the area along with more expected stuff like Rock Nuthatch.
Suddenly an adult White-tailed Eagle landed not too far away from me. I wonder if they breed in the area.
As I headed back a flock of 6 Bewick’s Swans came flying over my head. Yet another good bird in Turkey.
All in all I was actually quite amazed by the variation of species present around the area – a combination of northern and southern species that are probably not crossing paths in many other areas.