Sunday 4th September to Wednesday 14th September.
My good self on the beach at Barut Hotel early evening.
It was a last minute thing, but as I had some holiday leave saved up, Becky and I booked ten day stay at the Barut Hotel at Lara Beach in Southern Turkey! We got an incredible deal with Thomas Cook for this beautiful five star all-inclusive hotel and had a superb time. The weather was stunning and rarely went below 34 degrees centigrade and, of course, I done some serious birding around the holiday complex. Not only was the birding (and moths etc.) good, but we could seriously relax and totally unwind. Music and food were on tap 24hrs within this impeccably clean place and the staff were just fantastic. Let the holiday begin!
Sunset falls over the mountains.
I could write chapter and verse about on a daily basis what I saw here and having never been to Turkey before, I could easily do so; however, I thought I would go down the road about writing a short paragraph about what species I saw. Armed with my trusty Bridge Camera and Android phone, I got some reasonable photos of the subjects I was after.
Sand Daffodils growing quite literally out of the sand!
The Hotel is situated some 10km from Antalya, a small city where we flew into. The Hotel Barut was roughly 20 minutes away from the airport and situated near the beach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. To the west of the Hotel, there lies an area of scrub and bushes that held a lot of what I saw and I found good vantage points in which to look over the barbed wire fence (security is tight here) into the area. However, many birds and animals were found within the hotel grounds as I walked around the neatly lawned areas and buildings on my early walks. Even up to the last day, I discovered something new for my ever increasing list of birds seen on my trip, which was now up to at least 37 species. OK, not that many, but seeing that the majority of birds I saw were all from the Hotel grounds, I didn’t think it was that bad. So, instead of writing chapter and verse, I shall go down the route of species by species.
European Bee-eater over the Hotel.
European Bee-eaters: Always a pleasure to see, these were seen almost on a daily basis hawking overhead and at times, at least 30 birds were seen passing high over the Hotel complex although, thankfully, they occasionally came down low and I only just managed to grab a few half decent images through the camera. If only they would perch, but it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, their calls immediately grabbed my attention as I rushed to grab my camera.
Common Crossbill: A most unexpected sight, to be honest. The first time I saw them was a flock of around 20+ birds flying over the Hotel while Becky and I were enjoying a Coffee from the upstairs Bar, us sitting outside on the veranda overlooking the grounds. A single bird, a male, was seen several days later perched high up in an ornamental Pine on the edge of the Hotel grounds, calling consistently.
Yellow-vented Bulbul: The first time I ever seen a Bulbul species was when I went to Tunisia a few years back and at first, I thought it was the same species. It wasn’t till I saw the yellow vent under the tail, that I checked the internet to ascertain what species it was. I found a chaps report on the internet about his visit to a Hotel a little further on from us up the road, and he listed all the birds seen on his trip (which whetted my appetite), although his visit was in the Spring. Yet he mentioned Yellow-vented Bulbuls and they were abundant here. They are a cracking bird and very vocal and most of the time, they showed very well. They were in luck for the many moths the night light attracted, helped the birds diet during the day as I watched them flush then catch the moths during the daytime hours!
Collared Dove: These were easily the most dominant type of Pigeon and were almost everywhere and sometimes in large flocks of ten or more.
Turtle Dove: Though damn rare in the UK, these were also seen on almost a daily basis and a small flock of around eight birds flew over out heads while having a coffee one morning! We took a trip into Analya town one day and I walked past a Turtle Dove no less than around five feet away! I still don’t know why I didn’t take a photo! Maybe it was the heat!
Greater Flamingo: Incredibly, after unpacking on our first day here, Becky and I took a walk down to the beach and as it was getting near dusk, I saw something interesting flying over the sea and it turned out to be a Flamingo species! Flying east bound, I was lucky enough to get some photos of the bird and looking it up on the internet, it seems that Greater Flamingo would be the most likely species here.
Greater Flamingo flying east over the sea.
Little Owl: Now, the last thing I expected to see from our downstairs apartment, while supping a cold beer was a Little Owl perched on a nearby roof! The Bulbuls were making a din while mobbing something just about larger than themselves and using Becky’s binoculars (the smallest pair I had at home to take along for the holiday), I couldn’t believe it was actually a Little Owl. I managed to get some decent photos of it but that was the only time I got to see the bird.
A most unexpected sight of this Little Owl.
Yellow Wagtail: Through previous experience on foreign holidays, the Yellow Wagtail conundrum is always testing, with so many races to consider. So, I am going to hedge my bets that this common bird here were probably of the races Ashy-headed, Sykes and possibly the normal race of Yellow Wagtail we see in the UK? If you think any different, please email me.
Or Ashy-headed Wagtail?
White Wagtail: Like the Yellow Wagtail, these were very common here and seen on the lawns or overhead on a daily basis; especially juvenile birds.
First winter White Wagtail.
Adult White Wagtail.
Citrine Wagtail: Possibly, a couple of juvenile birds were seen but I am open to suggestion on some of the photos taken.
Hooded Crow: These were also seen on a daily basis here and they looked quite smart too in the two-tone plumages. First seen near the Hotel entrance with two birds feeding on the ground near the main road, more were seen later flying over and sometimes seen perched on the small trees within the Hotel grounds, although the Bulbuls didn’t take too kindly to them!
House Sparrows: These, along with the Collared Doves, were probably the most numerous species, with large flocks of them feeding on the lawns early morning or seen around the Tennis courts in the northern area of the complex. Notably paler than our House Sparrow in the UK, the males black bib was severely reduced on this species; reminiscent of Italian Sparrow. But, they were quite confiding at times.
Spanish Sparrow: Though known to be common here, I only came across a few male birds during our stay and they were among the local Sparrows. Though I thought, they were not as striking as birds seen in say Tenerife.
Moth species outside our hotel apartment.
Starling: A small flock of these were seen occasionally down at the southern section of the Hotel grounds, mostly near the beach; either flying overhead or perched up on the spotlight towers.
Another moth species.
Swallow: As migration is in full swing here as well as the UK, Swallows were constantly seen all day every day! A small flock would fly low over where we stayed, feeding on the insects flying by the small trees and even taking a drink from our small pool! Always impressive watching a large flock drift low over the beach or over the scrub nearby.
Red-rumped Swallow: Like the Bee-eaters, they are always a pleasure to see and seeing that I have not seen one in the UK for several years, they really take the biscuit when they pass by. Only on two occasions I actually saw them; first was when a pair flew west low overhead near the beach and also on our last day when a single bird flew over our pool.
These were extremely common throughout the area.
House Martin: Not as abundant as the Swallow, but still reasonable numbers seen among a mixed flock of Hirundines/
Sand Martin: Just a couple of birds seen among Swallows and House Martins early one morning.
Swift: I can only assume that these birds were Common Swifts as I didn’t have my binoculars with me the first time I saw them. I cannot rule out Pallid Swift but I think the former would be more likely? A single bird was seen much later and well this time through the binoculars heading low east over the beach.
Juvenile Red-backed Shrike close to our apartment.
Red-backed Shrike: One of the star birds here and there were plenty to be seen also. At least five or six birds were counted on one occasion whilst walking around the complex and one individual took up territory just yards from our apartment! Busy searching for any passing insect that would come there way, the birds showed well in the bright sunshine; though all were virtually immature birds.
The Red-backed Shrike again showing well.
Great Tit: The only titmouse species seen here though often feeding in the bushes and trees on the perimeter of the Hotel complex.
Another shot of the RB Shrike.
Hoopoe: Sadly, the few that were seen were all in flight mode and none were seen on the ground of this gorgeous species. I think that in all, they were seen on only three occasions and that was a very quick view too.
Common Sandpiper: The only wader seen on our trip. A single bird was flying low over the shoreline by the beach early one morning, but didn’t hang around as it flew off westbound, calling in doing so.
I didn’t often see the RB Shrike on the ground, but this one of the few shots I got of it.
Greenfinch: Several were seen in the small Pines on the edge of the complex, but proved quite elusive.
A big rarity in the UK, good numbers of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler reside in Turkey.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Now this little sprite proved difficult to photograph as it scurried about in the treetops on the perimeter footpath! A million and a half pairs breed in Turkey, apparently; and fortunately for me, there were at least two in the Hotel grounds. Told by their plain appearance and constantly cocking tail, I did eventually get some half decent shots of this lovely warbler.
The Eastern Olivaceous Warbler.
Yellow-legged Gull: Surprisingly, all the Gulls seen were just distant birds out over the sea or settled in loose flock on the calm water; but again, always distant.
Good numbers of Spotted Flycatchers were seen.
Spotted Flycatcher: Good numbers of these birds were seen along the perimeter fence or out in the scrubby area. One morning, I counted at least seven individuals on the west side of the Hotel.
Blackcap: A female bird was seen feeding on fruit along with the local House Sparrows in the north-east corner of the Hotel grounds, where fresh fruit and vegetables were grown.
Crested Lark: These were common mostly in the scrubby area just east of the Hotel grounds. Being very vocal, they were occasionally seen flying high up, singing in doing so. Always a pleasure to see when birding abroad.
This Tortoise by the boundary fence was most unexpected.
Chiffchaff: Seen only on a handful of occasions, for they quickly disappeared once I had noticed any. One was heard to sing a couple of times.
Short-eared Owl: This was just a possible. While walking back at night from one of the many a-la-carte restaurants here, I clocked a large pale Owl flying overhead in the hotel ground lights and I could only assume it was a Short-eared Owl; for it was too small for an Eagle Owl.
Sparrowhawk: It wasn’t till the end of the trip that the first Raptors began to show. The first such species was a male Sparrowhawk flying low over the scrubby area to the east of the Hotel, but it quickly landed in a tree and that was the last I saw of it.
Probable Brown Shrike.
Brown Shrike: I confess that I am no expert at this species though I have seen on in the UK, many years ago. But, this bird I saw near the beach early one morning certainly looked much different from all the Red-backed Shrikes I had seen. Much neater and cleaner looking. The bird got fairly close but I could of done with a bigger lens on the camera.
Kestrel: I had two separate sighting of this species with a male bird firstly seen soaring over the main road to the north and another bird when we took a day trip in to Antalya city.
All these Snails on a single stick!
Grey Heron: A flock of six birds flew high overhead at dusk one evening, heading west. The occasionally stopped and circled a couple of times and then seemed to get their bearings and then head off east again into the sunset.
Common Buzzard: Again, not seen till the last few days of our trip, I had one bird soaring high over the scrubby area and a pair the following day soaring high overhead, seen from the comfort of our veranda.
Female type Pied Flycatcher.
Pied Flycatcher: On my last morning here, I found a female/1st winter type bird flitting about where I had seen the Blackcap earlier. The bird proved frustratingly difficult to pin down but I did manage a record shot of it.
Crimson Speckled moth.
Other notable sightings: I did, of course, take not of the moths seen and as the outside lights within the Hotel attracted many moths, I took a photo of as many as I could find. The most notable of which was only my second sighting ever of a Crimson Speckled which was perched up under a light near our front door to our apartment. A Silver Y was seen near the main Hotel Restaurant but I got some funny looks from passers by when I tried to take a photo! The rest will have to be researched later.
One of the two Hedgehogs seen.
A pair of Hedgehogs were seen one evening, to the delight of my wife as we walked up to one of them that posed nicely near the Sandals Restaurant. I only had my phone with me, so apologies or the poor photo. I also never expected to see a Tortoise here as I found an individual within the edge of the scrubby area while birding here one morning! But it turned out that they are very common here.
Southern Skimmer dragonfly.
There was a variety of Dragonflies on the wing, most notably the gorgeous blue Southern Skimmer and the very common Broad Scarlet, which one could get within inches of it!
So, in conclusion, a thoroughly enjoying and relaxing holiday and we are both very keen to come again next year if this trip is anything to go by!