This was a two-week family holiday to South-west Turkey with my parents (my dad a birder like me) and my brother (hates birding with a passion) with some birding mixed in. Reading through previous trip reports and using the Collins Bird Guide app (very useful), I set myself three main target birds: Krüper’s Nuthatch, Smyrna (White-Breasted/Throated) Kingfisher and White-Throated Robin. A final list of around 80 species was good enough for me (although just over 10 species shy of my total last year on holiday to Greece). This list included a number of new species for me, one of my three target birds (can you guess which one?) and a couple of species that managed to elude me in Greece. I say ‘around’ 80 as there are a couple of species which we saw and couldn’t identify or they moved off too quickly. Just to add, this holiday would have been around two days longer were it not for the military coup on the night of the 15th which cancelled our BA flight set for the afternoon on the 16th. As it turned out, BA was the only company to cancel their flights into Dalaman too!). We, therefore, finally set off on the 19th. Also, just to add this was nearly the height of summer and temperatures were often in the high thirties. This often made birding particularly difficult as it would start to get hot fairly early in the morning
Just to say lots of the places mentioned in the following itinerary were not places for birding trips – though I (and often my dad too) brought bins in case anything interesting turned up. This was often the case with the ruins and doing this resulted, quite often, in sighting some good birds. This also meant that I could bird for almost every day of the holiday!
Arrived in Kayakoy mid-afternoon. Spent a bit of time settling in and relaxing by the pool before going off for a quick exploration of the old ruins in the early evening.
Lazy day with the only proper excursion being a 45 minute walk down to nearby Cold Water Bay (rather aptly named I thought when I jumped into the water) for a swim.
A late morning trip to Calis Beach (Fethiye), being the first specifically-birding trip (of course without my brother) of the holiday, followed by a visit (with my brother) to Kadyanda ruins in the afternoon.
Morning trip to the Saklikent Gorge, followed by an afternoon trip to Tlos and Pinara ruins (my parents quite like ruins – I suppose you could say I quite like them too as they have a tendency to yield good birds).
Our first proper trip to the Seki area and the Gogu Beli Pass early morning. First to the scrub area recommended for the W-T Rs and then onto the pass over to Elmali. Back over the pass and a quick stop by a random stream through farmland on a small turn-off from the motorway on the way back.
Relaxing day. Only excursion to Kidrak beach (beyond Oludeniz) in the afternoon.
Left Kayaköy for Sogutkoy (near Bozburun on the Bozburun Peninsula), stopping along the way at Koycegiz for lunch overlooking the lake, and Akyaka, for a swim and exploration (just my Dad and me) of the wetland area.
Birding free day apart from the occasional glance up to the mountaintop from the balcony of our villa with the scope to scan for any raptors.
Morning birding trip out further along the peninsula past Taslica and all the way to where the road terminates at the Serce Limani restaurant for breakfast. Stopping at various points along the way where the habitat looked promising. Returned to same restaurant for supper.
Day out on the water for family boat trip, exploring small islands and headlands. Lots of snorkeling. Took bins but didn’t see too much.
Rather lazy day at house. Shattered and not felling too well after yesterday’s boat trip
Quick early morning birding trip up road up side of mountain. Left Sogutkoy for Dalyan late morning and an evening meal at Kingfisher restaurant (south end of Dalyan).
Another morning birding trip, this time to the salt flats/marsh area south of Dalyan and the Eskikoy Rocky Outcrop and surroudings and afternoon river-taxi down to Iztuzu beach for swim.
Up early for boating trip with Captain Fuat (Adil Boat Tours) for two-hour birding trip up to Lake Koycegiz. Quick stop early evening near outcrop area before heading on to airport for evening flight back to Gatwick.
Sites Visited (specifically for birding)
Çalis Beach - situated next to the beach itself is the wetland area which, we found, was surprisingly hard to access. Picked up a few birds here but a combination of access, quantity of litter strewn around the place and the heat (un-related but made everything worse as we were tired and bothered-nearly 40 degrees that day).
Seki area/Gogu Beli Pass - Best birding site of the trip. A huge range of habitats enabled us to see plenty of birds. Lovely scenery on the pass too.
Akyaka Wetlands – Very dull area of wetlands which looks as if it should hold many birds but in truth holds practically none. This may have been partly because you can get no proper access to the main areas of water. There is one terrible path that winds it way along the coast and every now and then stops so that you have to wade through the water to get further on. All in all, a bit of a waste of time. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to explore the farmland behind the marsh which, I feel, could have held more birds.
Road along towards end of Bozburun Peninsula – I had nothing to go on for this area, as there are basically no trip reports from further out on the peninsula at all. So we were just trying it out and we were rewarded with quite a few birds along the road. I was actually quite surprised that there were no trip reports from this area as it seemed quite productive in terms of birding. A particularly good area is a water hole by the side of the road about 3km on from the town of Taslica. Alive with birds in the morning including Ortolan Bunting. Another good area to try is the rocky/farmland area near to the end of the road. Good for wheatears and shrikes.
Road up side of small mountain by Sogutkoy – A short birding trip up here didn’t produce much surprisingly although there were one or two birds to keep us occupied. Morning we were leaving for Dalyan so didn’t have a whole load of time.
Eskikoy Rocky Outcrop and Surroundings – The most productive trip in Dalyan was to this outcrop. Again, a mix of habitats including grassy areas with scattered trees, open fields and marsh seemed to work and a number of birds were seen here.
Salt Pans/Fields south of Dalyan before the Golbasi restaurant – A good area with the start of the lagoon in the distance. A few tracks crisscross the area and are worth exploring. Near to Kingfisher (Yalicapkini) Restaurant situated in the middle of reeds which has an abundance of common kingfishers
Dalyan River up to Lake Koycegiz (boat trip) – Nice tour, nice tour-guide and a variety of birds seen. Sadly, no Smyrna Kingfishers, the bird we were trying hardest to see.
Kayakoy ruins 19th July – Great tit, Blue tit, Rock nuthatch
Walk to Cold Water Bay and Bay itself 20th July – Eleonora’s Falcon, 5 Long-tailed Tit, Yellow-legged Gull, Audouin’s Gull
Calis Beach 21st July – White Pelican, Cormorant, Little Egret, Common Sandpiper, probable Sandwich Tern (not the right time of year but, although viewed at a distance, showed black coming down the back of the head and a long, black bill) Reed Warbler, probable Collared Pratincole (flew over car close to Calis, showing very pointed wings and black and white colouring), 4 Mallard, Starling, Grey Heron
Kadyanda Ruins 21st July – 5 Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, numerous Alpine Swift
Tlos Ruins 22nd July – Crested Lark, 2 Rock Nuthatch, 2 Raven
Roadside Wires near Saklikent 22nd July – 2 Masked Shrike, 2 Woodchat Shrike
W-T R Scrub near Seki 23rd July – White-throated Robin (m), 2 Rock Nuthatch, 10 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Orphean Warbler, Rüppell’s Warbler (m), Great Spotted Woodpecker
Gogu Beli Pass 23rd July – 2 Hoopoe, Serin (m), 10 Red-fronted Serin, 3 Rock Nuthatch, 2 Sombre Tit, Crag Martin, 4 Northern Wheatear, 5 Chukar, Red backed Shrike, Short-toed Eagle, Magpie (either the only or second sighting of this bird the whole trip! – are they rare in southwest Turkey. The bird app says they’re resident there).
Small stream through farmland just off motorway not far from Seki 23rd July (not an area we planned to go to but my dad saw it on route back from Seki and we gave it a try) – Black headed Bunting (f), 2 Common Sandpiper, Hoopoe, 5 Spanish Sparrow (2m, 3f), 3 Crested Lark
Kayakoy 24th July – Roller (m), 5 Rock Dove
Akyaka Wetlands 25th July – 20 Bee-eater (lots of juvs), 3 Kingfisher, 3 Reed Warbler, 5 House Martins
Villa Saranda Balcony 25th July – 2 Rüppell’s Warbler (2f), 2 Lesser Kestrel, 2 Peregrine (1ad, 1juv)
Sogutkoy (near Octopus restaurant) 25th July – Little Owl
Villa Saranda Balcony 26th July – Short-toed Eagle
Road from Sogutkoy to Serce Limani restaurant 27th July – 10 Ortolan Bunting, 2 Rüppell’s Warbler (f), Black-eared Wheatear, 2 Rock Nuthatch, Short-toed Eagle, Masked Shrike (juv), 3 Northern Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush (male seen while sitting at restaurant), Masked Shrike (juv)
Boat Trip 28th July – Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Cormorant, 2 Short-toed Eagle, Chukar
Mountain next to Sogutkoy 30th July – 10 Rüppell’s Warbler, 5 Blackbird, 3 Great Tit, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Nuthatch
Kingfisher Restaurant, Dalyan 30th July – 3 Kingfisher, 2 Reed Warbler
Salt flats/Fields south of Dalyan 31st July – 12 Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, possible Hobby, 5 House Sparrow, Green Sandpiper, 4 Crested Lark, numerous Hooded Crow, Great Reed Warbler, 5 Greenfinch
Eskikoy Rocky Outcrop and Surroundings 31st July – 2 Woodchat Shrike (1m, 1f), Zitting Cisticola, probable Black-necked Grebe (odd time of year for one but I will show a photo of it showing the blood-red eye that a little grebe does not have), 3 Rufous Bush Chat, plenty of Barn Swallows, Roller, Turtle Dove, 3 Reed Warbler, Purple Heron, 2 Kingfisher
Dalyan River to Lake Koycegiz boat trip 1st August – 3 Night Heron, 2 Squacco Heron, 5 Common Sandpiper, 3 Kingfisher, 2 probable Little Bittern (brief view of a small heron-sized bird flying down into reeds and another climbing up and into reeds – not big enough for Great Bittern), 6 Chukar (on rocky slopes), 2 Little Grebe, 4 Reed Warbler, numerous Cormorant
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1. Chukar (seen in many places including Dalyan, Sogutkoy and the pass)
2. White Pelican (Calis wetlands)
3. Cormorant (Common in suitable habitat)
4. Little Egret (Common in right habitat eg. lots in dalyan)
5. Grey Heron (Calis and Lake Koycegiz)
6. Purple Heron (Eskikoy Rocky Outcrop)
7. Squacco Heron (Dalyan river)
8. Night Heron (Dalyan River)
9. Glossy Ibis (salt flat south of Dalyan)
10. White Stork (common-often seen in numbers circling overhead)
11. Common Buzzard (Kayakoy and lots seen from the motorway)
12. Common Kestrel (Kayakoy)
13. Eleonora’s Falcon (walk down to Cold Water Bay)
14. Collared Pratincole (near Calis)
15. Common Sandpiper (a few locations including the Dalyan River and Calis)
16. Green Sandpiper (salt flat south of Dalyan)
17. Audouin’s Gull (Cold Water Bay)
18. Yellow-legged Gull (common off-shore)
19. Sandwich Tern (Calis)
20. Rock Dove (a few locations including Kayakoy)
21. Wood Pigeon (Kayakoy)
22. Collared Dove (Absolutely Everywhere)
23. Common Swift (Kayakoy and a couple other places)
24. Alpine Swift (common in suitable habitat)
25. Hoopoe (one seen near Pinara, two seen near Seki, one seen on track off motorway)
26. Green Woodpecker (Kadyanda)
27. Great Spotted Woodpecker (scrub near Seki)
28. Crested Lark (Common in right habitat)
29. Crag Martin (narrow gorge coming down from pass towards Elmali)
30. Barn Swallow (Common in right habitat)
31. Red-rumped Swallow (Seen in a few locations, often with Barn Swallows)
32. House Martin (Common in suitable habitat)
33. Grey Wagtail (Saklikent Gorge)
34. White-throated Robin (scrub near Seki)
35. Blackbird (common)
36. Northern Wheatear (common in suitable habitat such as the pass)
37. Orphean Warbler (scrub near Seki)
38. Rüppell’s Warbler (seen a few times in places like the scrub near Seki and the small mountain by Sogutkoy)
39. Great Tit (Common)
40. Blue Tit (Fairly common)
41. Sombre Tit (summit of pass)
42. Long-tailed Tit (seen in a few locations such as near Cold Water Bay)
43. Rock Nuthatch (Common in right habitat)
44. Red-backed Shrike (Surprisingly few on whole trip – one photographed near Seki)
45. Woodchat Shrike (Quite common in suitable habitat and especially on wires)
46. Masked Shrike (Couple seen including two near Sakilkent)
47. Magpie (One or two seen including one near Elmali)
48. Jay (Very common in right habitat)
49. Hooded Crow (Very common and often seen drifting over road)
50. Raven (Two at Tlos)
51. Starling (A couple at Calis)
52. House Sparrow (Very common in right habitat)
53. Spanish Sparrow (Group seen on track off motorway near Seki)
54. Chaffinch (Kayakoy)
55. Linnet (Scrub near Seki)
56. Goldfinch (Common and particularly abundant near the rocky outcrop)
57. Serin (One male at start of pass)
58. Red-fronted Serin (Group in field on pass)
59. Black-headed Bunting (One seen on track off motorway near Seki)
60. Roller (seen a couple times, the first on outskirts of Kayakoy)
61. Kingfisher (Fairly common in right habitat and particularly in Dalyan)
62. Bee-eater (group of around 20 at Akyaka Wetlands)
63. Little Owl (seen a couple of times including twice in Sogutkoy)
64. Moorhen (Small river in Akyaka bordering wetlands)
65. Peregrine Falcon (Two seen near top of small mountain by Sogutkoy)
66. Short-toed Eagle (A couple seen in the Sogutkoy area and various other places)
67. Pied Wagtail (A couple locations including by the sea-front in Sogutkoy)
68. Black-eared Wheatear (A few km on from Taslica on the road to the end of the peninsula)
69. Ortolan Bunting (About 10 at a water hole a couple km from Taslica)
70. Blue Rock Thrush (one seen from Serce Limani restaurant and another on mountain by Sogutkoy)
71. Lesser Kestrel (A couple patrolling top of small mountain by Sogutkoy)
72. Mallard (a few at Calis)
73. Little Grebe (A few on Lake Koycegiz)
74. Black-necked Grebe (A probable on a small stream next to the rocky outcrop-see picture above)
75. Great Reed Warbler (next to Kingfisher Restaurant, Dalyan)
76. Turtle Dove (seen once flying over marsh bordering Lake Koycegiz and another time on wire beside road just before town of Gokbel south of Dalyan)
77. Rufous Bush Robin (Seen three times in rocky outcrop area)
78. Little Bittern (Two probables in reeds by Lake Koycegiz)
79. Penduline Tit (briefly in reeds by the Dalyan river)
80. Zitting Cisticola (muddy area near rocky outcrop)