Turkey (south-west), 4th - 19th July 2002

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT surfbirds.com)


by Jim Rose

(to view images from Jim's Turkey trip go to the European Gallery and enter "Turkey" into the country search box - images include Finsch's Wheatear, White-throated Robin and others)

This was essentially a family holiday with a bit of birding mixed in. The holiday was a package deal with Manos staying at the Hotel Montabello in Olu Deniz in south west Turkey. The resort of Olu Deniz in on the coast a few kilometres from the larger inland resort of Hirosanou and a few more kilometres from Fethiye which is the largest nearby town. The nearest airport was Dalaman, about one and a half hours drive to the NW.

We stayed in Olu Deniz for two weeks and birding comprised of local early morning walks, a few sightseeing excursions, which enabled some birding to take place, and one day trip into the mountains, specifically to see birds. I hired a car for four days when most of the excursions were undertaken.

I used "Gosney's - Birds of Western Turkey" (from Birdguides) as a means of locating the best birding areas, as well as several reports from the internet. The Birds of Western Turkey proved to be quite useful and did enable me to find a few good birding sites, despite the time of year.

Summary of the main areas

Olu Deniz

At times birds almost seemed non-existent and perhaps the very high temperatures (In the high 30s) did not help. The most common birds were Collared Doves and Jays. Most days there were one of two sightings of raptors over the mountain immediately to the NW of the resort. These proved to be Common, Honey and Long-legged Buzzards. A large falcon seen on one occasion was thought to be a Lanner. The birding was so poor that I did not persevere with early morning walks. During one such walk the only Mediterranean species (not normally found in the UK) was a Red-rumped Swallow! There was a complete lack of Warblers although it is likely that any singing would have ceased at this time of year. However, Blackbirds, Great Tits, Blue Tits and Coal Tits were present.

Hironasou - Kaya Koy

Although only a few kilometres away, the number of visits was limited as a car was needed. The road between these two places (about 3 kilometres) has extensive Pine woods which are apparently good for Kruper's Nuthatch. I did manage to see a single Kruper's during one visit and without trying very hard. There are also plenty of Jays, Coal Tits and Blue Tits. The large numbers of Cicadas (a large insect) in the woods made it difficult to listen for birds as their "singing" was incredibly noisy! Closer to Kaya Koy, a grove of mixed trees produced a much more interesting variety of birds including breeding Roller, Syrian Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike and Sparrowhawk. One or two warblers were also present. Close by I also found Rock Nuthatch and Black-eared Wheatear amongst the ruins of the old village, Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows on overhead wires and several Alpine Swifts flying overhead.

Saklikent Gorge

About an 1.5 hour drive roughly SE from Olu Deniz. This is the second deepest gorge in Europe and was certainly impressive. A steady stream of people walking along the gorge meant that all of the birds were higher up in the sides of the gorge. The only birds I saw in the gorge were a few Crag and House Martins, a Rock Nuthatch and House Sparrows. We then drove down the road leading south from the gorge that followed a fast flowing and fairly wide river. Here I saw Little Ringed Plovers, a sandpiper species, Hooded Crows, Yellow-legged Gulls and White Wagtails. This area looked as though it would be superb during Spring and Autumn passage. The road then passed through farmland which held rather more roadside birds. They included Roller, Woodchat, Spanish Sparrow and Crested Lark.

Korkuteli Mountains

A left Olu Deniz about 5am and drove for about two hours to an area high into the mountains, described by Gosney. The only stops on-route were to view a large Falcon perched by the road, which was considered to be a Lanner Falcon and another raptor which turned out to be a Long-legged Buzzard. The area was a mixture of farmland and mountains, with some of the less rocky hillsides having, significant areas of scrub. On driving into the area it was immediately apparent that there were far more birds here, presumably due to the high altitude and lower temperatures. A brief stop by a scrubby area turned up Cretzschmar's Bunting and Magpie.

I then headed to a lay-by 13kM NE of Cavdir which was described by Gosney. This turned out to be very active bird and mosquito wise! Unfortunately it is not easy to hold the binoculars steady and swot mozzies at the same time! Here I found several White-throated Robins, which including a very brief male and a female feeding a juvenile bird. Also here were several Isabelline Wheatears, Turtle Dove, Ortolan, Black-eared Wheatear, Linnet, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting, Serin, Hoopoe and Syrian Woodpecker.

I then back tracked somewhat and headed to a water trough 12kM east of Sogut, again described by Gosney. This was in a flat farming area and was supposed to be good for Calandra Larks. I found that a group of nearby Turkish travellers were camped rather too close to the water trough and the only species to come down to drink was House Sparrow. Close to here I saw three distant Larks in flight which I considered to be Calandra Larks.

Heading further east, past the village of Kizilcadag a rough track signposted to Ciglik Yaylasi (heading N) looked interesting. I drove for about a mile and the track went over a rocky ridge and then started to descend. Here I found a male Finsch's Wheatear perched on overhead wires. The light was in the wrong direction but I did manage a few record photographs.

On returning to the main road and again heading east, I tried to locate the next site described by Gosney. This was another water trough and apparently 21kM from Sogut. This was in very hilly/moutainous terrain. The water trough now has a "café" next door and was rather busy, so I did not stop. Instead I pulled off the road just around the corner. On the right hand side deep ravines provided an interesting landscape. At first it appeared bird-less but after a short while two Rock Thrushes appeared, quickly followed by Tawny Pipit and Orphean Warbler. Other species such as Black-eared Wheatear, Ortolan, Linnet and Greenfinch were also seen. Gosney reported that Red-fronted Serin and Crimson- winged Finch are seen in this area (at least in the Spring). Unfortunately I did not manage to locate these.

I carried further east with the hope of finding more sites for Finsch's Wheatear and Shore Lark. I explored one or two rough tracks and soon came across 2-3 flocks of Short-toed Larks. Back on the main road I eventually reached a fairy wide rocky river bed which looked interesting, although it only produced Rock Nuthatch.

It was then time to head back, stopping off at various points to scan for birds. At one site, just east of Sogut, where there was a rocky cutting by the road, I did get to hear one or more Rock Sparrows from the car.

Dalyan River

According to Gosney the river around Dalyan was a potential site for White-breasted and Pied Kingfisher, as well as various other species. We decided to take a boat trip from Dalyan to Turtle Beach (about 30 minutes in a fairy fast boat). The boat passed through very extensive reedbeds on either side, with boat traffic limited to one main channel. You might have thought that this was bird heaven but the only bird I saw or heard was a Grey Heron. Great! I cannot understand why such a super looking site was so dead. I did not bother to return to Dalyan, even for the rare Kingfishers.

When looking at the list below bear in mind the relatively small amount of birding undertaken during the two weeks. A dedicated trip of one week in the mountains would no doubt turn up far more interesting birds.

List of species seen during the holiday :-

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Patara 14/07/02 c50 mostly in a tight flock on the marsh. Perhaps many more unseen.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo carbo Olu Deniz 05/07/02 1 seen from boat on an island off Fethiye.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia nr Dalaman Airport 05/07/02 c10 seen on arable land. Just S of Kemer 14/7/02 2-3 seen soaring and perched.

Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Olu Deniz 05/07/02 2 at least seen on 2-3 occasions over mountain close to hotel.

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, Kaya Koy 17/07/02 1 hunting over wooded grove just before the ruined village.

Goshawk Accipiter gentilis, Babadag mountain, near Hironasou 18/07/02 1 soaring

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, Olu Deniz 05/07/02 2-3 birds seen every day or two over the mountain immediately to the west of Olu Deniz.

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 A very pale bird photographed S of Sogat. Another seen further N.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, Olu Deniz 05/07/02 1 seen on route from Dalaman airport.

Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus, Olu Deniz 12/07/02 A probable briefly over the hotel. Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 perched on telegraph pole early morning.

Coot Fulica atra, Patara 14/07/02 4 on the marsh.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, Saklikent 14/07/02 2 seen by the fast flowing river. Potential breeding site. Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 feeding in flooded arable fields near Sogat.

Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, Saklikent 14/07/02 2 by the river. Fethiye 05/07/02 c20 at Fethiye market and nearby beach.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 seen near lay-by at Cavdir.

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto, Olu Deniz 05/07/02 Very common in many areas.

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba, Kaya Koy 17/07/02 c6 over the village.

European Roller Coracias garrulus, Saklikent 14/07/02 1 photographed from the car on telegraph wires. Kaya Koy 17/07/02 Two adults and two fledged young photographed in a wooded grove close to Kaya Koy.

Hoopoe Upupa epops, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 in flight at the lay-by near Cavdir.

Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus, Patara 14/07/02 3 in flight and perched on the side of a telegraph pole. Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 calling near Cavdir. Kaya Koy 17/07/02 1 perched briefly on a telegraph pole.

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 3 probables seen in flight on farmland S of Sogat.

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 c20 in 2-3 small flocks.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata, Saklikent 14/07/02 20 At least. Mainly in the low farmland area. Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 Fairly common.

Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris, Sallikent Gorge 14/07/02 4 at least fairly close to the entrance to the gorge.

Swallow Hirundo rustica, Olu Deniz Occasionally seen. Kaya Koy 17/07/02 c10

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica, Olu Deniz Seen a few times over the town. Kaya Koy 17/07/02 2 perched on wires.

House Martin Delichon urbica, Olu Deniz A few seen in the area. Sallikent Gorge 14/07/02 1 flying fairly high in the gorge.

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 seen at site near to Kizilcadag.

White Wagtail Motacilla alba, Olu Deniz Bred in hotel grounds with an adult feeding at least one young bird. Saklikent 14/07/02 4 C Seen by the river.

White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 3 at least seen with a juvenile and female plus a brief separate sighting of a male.

Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 Male found and photographed off dirt track to Ciglik Yaylasi just E of Kizilcadag.

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 near Kizilcadag. Kaya Koy 17/07/02 1 Photographed in village ruins.

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1-2 seen at sites near Cadir and Kizilcadag.

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 seen below the road in deep ravines E of Kizilcadag.

Blackbird Turdus merula, Olu Deniz 05/07/02 3 seen early morning in the scrub area behind the town.

Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 seen near Cavdir.

Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 seen briefly at Rock Thrush site E of Kizilcadag

Sombre Tit Parus lugubris, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 seen at Cavdir layby site.

Coal Tit Parus ater, Kaya Koy 17/07/02 Seem fairly common.

Great Tit Parus major, Kaya Koy 17/07/02 Fairly common.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus, Olu Deniz Seen from hotel balcony on several occasions. A few others elsewhere.

Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer, Sallikent Gorge 14/07/02 2 seen flying and perched about 20 metres up in the gorge. Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 seen in dried up river bed west of Korkuteli. Kaya Koy 17/07/02 c6 in village ruins. Obviously breeding.

Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 at Cavdir site.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator, Patara 14/07/02 2 on wires. Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 c4 at various places.

Jay Garrulus glandarius, Olu Deniz area Perhaps the most common bird over two weeks after Collared Dove. Seen in the town, in the hotel grounds and in the woods. Kaya Koy 17/07/02 c4

Magpie Pica pica, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 seen on hillside scrub close to farmland S of Sogut.

Hooded Crow Corvus corone cornix, Saklikent 14/07/02 15 feeding by the fast flowing river. A few seen at other sites.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Olu Deniz area Fairly regularly seen but not particularly common. Sallikent Gorge 14/07/02 6 close to the gorge entrance.

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 1 male

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 Heard at site near Sogut.

Serin Serinus serinus, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 Heard at 2-3 sites.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 10 at least at Cavdir site.

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 Common.

Linnet Carduelis cannabina, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 c10 seen at several sites. Very pale and colourful.

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2 near Kiziladag.

Cretzschmar's Bunting Emberiza caesia, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 2+ Seen and heard near Sogat.

Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 c6 at sites adjacent to farming areas.

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra, Korkuteli Mountains 15/07/02 Fairly common.

Jim Rose