Birdwatching in Cappadocia and South-Western Turkey

Published by Ivailo Nikolov (ivailo AT

Participants: Ivailo Nikolov, Atanas Zahariev, Kamen Panayotov, Petya Naydenova


As an info tour dedicated to investigation of the possibilities for birdwatching, trekking and cycling holidays, a trip to Turkey was carried out during 3-10 April 2005 by our company Penguin Travel.

Tour notes: We used our own bus. Roads were good enough and some of them (outside the international roads) – absolutely peaceful. People speaking foreign language we found mainly in the biggest towns and resorts. Thus the brief dictionary in the “Lonely Planet” guide for Turkey was quite useful when communicating with the locals. Small pensions and hotels in the inland areas could be found only in the big cities or resorts, such as Goreme and the surrounding little towns. Along the Mediterranean accommodation is not a problem. Food was mainly good, although a bit spicy. Alcohol is almost lacking and is presented usually by beer or the Turkish “raki” (anise-flavoured brandy).

Route: Sofia – Istanbul – Ankara – Kayseri – Goreme (several days of trekking through the unique rocky formations of Cappadocia) – Sultan marshes – Taurus Mountains (one-day trip in the valleys of the Western parts of the mountains by Aladaglar National Park) – Antalya – Fethiye – Pamukkale (short stroll there) – Efes (walk among the Romans ruins and by the beach in the vicinity) – Bursa – Istanbul (half day sightseeing) – Sofia.

Weather: This was the biggest surprise - snowfall and temperatures below 0oC during the first day. The snow completely disappeared in three days above 1200 m a.s.l. The rest of the journey was blessed with sun and temperatures of up to 25oC (and even more along the Mediterranean coast).

Some remarks: Due to weather conditions (may be) and the altitude of more than 1000 m a.s.l. the migration was not yet obvious as regards to presence of small passerines like warblers, nightingales etc. Some of them however appeared but in a very few numbers or unevenly distributed (e.g. Lesser Whitethroats were still lacking in the Anatolian plateau area, but quite abundant along the sea coast).
I have added below information only about the most interesting (in my opinion) species.
Birdwatching Bulgaria

Species Lists

1. Podiceps cristatus Great Crested Grebe
2. Podiceps ruficollis Little Grebe
3. Phalacrocorax carbo Great Cormorant
4. Phalacrocorax pygmeus Pygmy Cormorant (Sultan marshes – few)
5. Egretta garzetta Little Egret
6. Ardea cinerea Grey Heron
7. Ardea purpurea Purple Heron (Sultan marshes – 1)
8. Ciconia ciconia White Stork
9. Ciconia nigra Black Stork
10. Plegadis falcinellus Glossy Ibis (Sultan marshes – small flock)
11. Tadorna ferruginea Ruddy Shelduck (Sultan marshes – 10 ind.)
12. Anas platyrhynchos Mallard
13. Anas clypeata Shoveler
14. Anas acuta Pintail
15. Anas querquedula Garganey
16. Netta rufina Red-crested Pochard (Sultan marshes – several tens)
17. Aythya ferina Pochard
18. Neophron percnopterus Egyptian Vulture (Cappadocia, Bozdag Plateau – few)
19. Circus aeruginosus Marsh Harrier (Sultan marshes – numerous displaying adults)
20. Circus cyaneus Hen Harrier
21. Circus pygargus Montagu’s Harrier
22. Accipiter nisus Sparrowhawk
23. Buteo buteo Buzzard
24. Buteo rufinus Long-legged Buzzard (everywhere – the most numerous raptor)
25. Aquila pomarina Lesser Spotted Eagle (5 migrating)
26. Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle (Taurus mountains – 2 ind.)
27. Circaetus gallicus Short-toed Eagle (Efes – 1 migrating)
28. Pandion haliaetus Osprey (Cappadocia, Golgoli Peak – 1 migrating)
29. Falco tinnunculus Kestrel
30. Falco vespertinus Red-footed Falcon (migrating small flocks by the Bosporus)
31. Falco biarmicus Lanner Falcon (Taurus Mountains and Efes – 2 ind.)
32. Alectoris graeca Rock Partridge (Taurus Mountains – 10 singing males)
33. Perdix perdix Grey Partridge
34. Grus grus Crane (Zelve open museum – 10 migrating)
35. Rallus aquaticus Water Rail
36. Porzana parva Little Crake (Sultan marshes – 2 ind.)
37. Fulica atra Coot
38. Gallinula chloropus Moorhen
39. Himantopus himantopus Black-winged Stilt
40. Vanellus vanellus Lapwing
41. Charadrius dubius Little Ringed Plover
42. Charadrius alexandrinus Kentish Plover (Tuz Lake – few)
43. Tringa glareola Wood Sandpiper
44. Calidris minuta Little Stint
45. Philomachus pugnax Ruff (Tuz Lake – 30 ind.)
46. Larus cachinnans Yellow-legged Gull
47. Larus melanocephalus Mediterranean Gull
48. Larus ridibundus Black-headed Gull
49. Chlidonias hybrida Whiskered Tern
50. Columba palumbus Wood Pigeon
51. Streptopelia senegalensis Laughing Dove (in all the settlements along the Mediterranean)
52. Streptopelia decaocto Collared Dove
53. Otus scops Scops Owl
54. Athene noctua Little Owl
55. Apus apus Swift
56. Apus melba Alpine Swift
57. Alcedo atthis Kingfisher
58. Upupa epops Hoopoe
59. Dendrocopos syriacus Syrian Woodpecker
60. Melanocorypha calandra Calandra Lark (the steppe habitats of the Anatolian Platteau – numerous)
61. Eremophila alpestris Horned Lark (the highest parts of the Anatolian Plateau over 1300 m a.s.l.)
62. Calandrella brachydactyla Short-toed Lark (numerous in some steppe areas)
63. Calandrella rufescens Lesser Short-toed Lark (numerous in some steppe areas)
64. Galerida cristata Crested Lark
65. Lullula arborea Woodlark
66. Alauda arvensis Skylark
67. Riparia riparia Sand Martin
68. Ptyonoprogne rupestris Crag Martin (quite sparse everywhere)
69. Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow
70. Hirundo daurica Red-rumped Swallow
71. Delichon urbica House Martin
72. Motacilla flava feldegg Yellow Wagtail
73. Motacilla alba White Wagtail
74. Motacilla citreola Citrine Wagtail (Sultan marshes – 1 pair)
75. Anthus spinoletta Water Pipit
76. Lanius senator Woodchat Shrike
77. Troglodytes troglodytes Wren
78. Prunella modularis Dunnock
79. Prunella ocularis Radde’s Accentor (Aladaglar National Park – 1 ind.)
80. Erithacus rubecula Robin
81. Luscinia svecica Bluethroat (Aladaglar National Park – 1 ind.)
82. Phoenicurus ochruros Black Redstart
83. Oenanthe oenanthe Wheatear
84. Oenanthe isabellina Isabelline Wheatear (among the most numerous passerines – everywhere in the steppe and open terrains, often in Souslik’s colonies)
85. Oenanthe hispanica Black-eared Wheatear
86. Oenanthe finschii Finsch’s Wheatear (Bozdag Plateau – 5 pairs)
87. Monticola solitarius Blue Rock Thrush
88. Monticola saxatilis Rock Thrush (common in the rocky canyons and mountain passes)
89. Turdus merula Blackbird
90. Turdus philomelos Song Thrush
91. Turdus viscivorus Mistle Thrush
92. Panurus biarmicus Bearded Reedling (Sultan marshes – few singing)
93. Cettia cetti Cetti’s Warbler (common; singing males, mainly along the Mediterranean Coast)
94. Acrocephalus scirpaceus Reed Warbler
95. Acrocephalus melanopogon Moustached Warbler (Sultan marshes – several tens of singing males)
96. Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap
97. Sylvia communis Whitethroat
98. Sylvia curruca Lesser Whitethroat
99. Sylvia melanocephala Sardinian Warbler
100. Phylloscopus collybitus Chiffchaff
101. Phylloscopus bonelli Bonelli’s Warbler (Antalya – 1 ind.)
102. Aegithalos caudatus Long-tailed Tit
103. Remiz pendulinus Penduline Tit (Sultan marshes – 1 ind.)
104. Parus lugubris Sombre Tit (common in the Cappadocian valleys)
105. Parus major Great Tit
106. Parus caeruleus Blue Tit
107. Sitta europaea Nuthatch
108. Sitta neumayer Rock Nuthatch (numerous in the Cappadocian valleys)
109. Emberiza cirlus Cirl Bunting
110. Emberiza calandra Corn Bunting
111. Emberiza cia Rock Bunting
112. Emberiza schoeniclus Reed Bunting
113. Fringilla coelebs Chaffinch
114. Serinus serinus European Serin
115. Carduelis chloris Greenfinch
116. Carduelis carduelis Goldfinch
117. Acanthis cannabina Linnet
118. Coccothraustes coccothraustes Hawfinch
119. Sturnus vulgaris Starling
120. Passer domesticus House Sparrow
121. Passer montanus Tree Sparrow
122. Passer hispaniolensis Spanish Sparrow (very few solitary individuals)
123. Petronia petronia Rock Sparrow (numerous in the Cappadocian valleys)
124. Garrulus glandarius Jay
125. Pica pica Magpie
126. Pyrrhocorax graculus Alpine Chough (numerous flocks in Taurus Mountains ranging from 10 to 70 ind.)
127. Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Chough (common in Taurus mountains)
128. Corvus monedula Jackdaw
129. Corvus frugilegus Rook
130. Corvus corone cornix Hooded Crow
131. Corvus corax Raven (surprisingly rare – less than 5 for the whole trip)