Brown Fish Owl, Turkey by Ryan Irvine

Tour Dates: Tuesday 5th – Friday 15th May 2020 (Adana to Antalya) 
Tour Price: £2,499pp plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Adana – Antalya to London approx. £300 return
Deposit: £500 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £180 – £240
Minimum Number: 5 people
Maximum Group Size: 7 people

Target Species:
Birds: Caspian Snowcock, Marbled Duck, Eleonora’s Falcon, Brown Fish Owl, Rüppell’s Warbler, Olive-Tree Warbler, White-throated Robin, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Finsch’s Wheatear, Red-fronted Serin, Radde’s Accentor, Masked Shrike, White-spectacled Bulbul, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Eurasian Crimson-winged Finch and more!

Tour Summary
Southern Turkey has some of the most varied and exciting birding on the edge of Europe, with fabulous birds, superb scenery, as well as a fascinating culture and history. We will concentrate on the south of the country as we visit its superb coastal wetlands and spectacular mountains with snow-covered peaks rising to 3,910M. All this, at the very best time of the birding year! This tour also includes a boat trip to see the recently discovered colony of Brown Fish Owls

We will be in one of the finest birdwatching areas to be had anywhere in Europe and the Middle East, and yet it still remains surprisingly undiscovered amongst many birders. It has some excellent wetland habitat, including a superb river delta as well as more arid habitats with several species at the extreme western edge of their range. All these habitats are within a few hours drive of each other in the southern part of the country and therefore allow the best areas of this huge country to be visited during a relatively short stay.

ACCOMMODATION: 6 nights in Turkey
Good quality comfortable hotels and 3 nights in a simple mountain guesthouse. Not all rooms have en suite facilities at the guesthouse.
Inclusive Meals: Full board

Previous Trip Reports

DAYS 1 – 2: Adana
After arriving into Adana airport we will transfer to our hotel where we will spend the next two nights. If flight times allow, we may have a couple of hours birding on our first day.

On day 2 we will enjoy a full day’s birding around the Adana Delta and its highly productive marshes. Our first specialities of the trip, White-spectacled Bulbul and Laughing Dove, are a common sight around the villages and towns. The rivers that have created the delta are rich in birdlife and are a superb place to see White-breasted Kingfisher and Pied Kingfishers together as well as herons, warblers and Penduline Tits.
The wetlands south of Adana support Greater Flamingos, Slender-billed Gulls, Caspian Tern and many passage wading birds. During mid May these should include good numbers of Little Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff and maybe even Red-necked Phalaropes too. The resident Spur-winged Plovers should also be displaying. The marshy edges hold Graceful Prinia and Savi’s Warblers while the villages have colonies of House and Spanish Sparrows. The surrounding agricultural land usually holds four species of shrike including Masked and Lesser Grey as well as Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins. Overhead Long-legged Buzzard and Lesser Kestrel are occasionally joined by Eleonora’s and Red-footed Falcons and even a Saker or Lanner! Eastern Olivaceous Warblers are are commonly heard and seen and can also be joined by migrating Olive-tree Warbler and Upcher’s Warbler. Overnight Adana

Male Black-headed Bunting, Turkey by Ryan Irvine

DAYS 3 – 4: Nigde Mountains & Steppe
During the next two days we explore the mountains near Nigde. On the way we will stop for a picnic, watching for Eagles, Egyptian Vultures and Griffon Vultures, all with a spectacular backdrop of snow covered peaks towering above the pine forests. We will stay at a small guest house in a stunning location with views up to the snow-capped peak of Mount. Aladag. This family run guesthouse provides some good home made food, the setting is superb and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome. The owner is very keen on wildlife, and will take us up to the high scree slopes by 4×4 vehicles the following morning.

We will depart early the following morning as our key target species is most active at dawn. The Caspian Snowcock is the species we will be focused on trying to find and their eerie Curlew-like calls should help us find them.
The scenery here is quite simply breathtaking, with snow-covered peaks, scree slopes and jagged crags. Raptors here can include Golden Eagle, Griffon Vulture and Lammergeier, while the scree slopes may hold both Alpine Accentor and the very local Radde’s Accentor together with Eurasian Crimson-winged Finch, Horned Lark, the striking ochruros race of Black Redstart, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, White-winged Snow Finches and Finsch’s Wheatear. The scrub and open grazed land below holds the unmistakable Red-fronted Serin, Isabelline Wheatear and more chances to see the stunning White-throated Robin. Another stunning species, the Wallcreeper frequent the cliff faces here and we will try our best to find one. Lower down still and the fields hold displaying Calandra Lark, Horned Lark of the distinctive race penicillata and Rock Sparrows.
Given fine weather, the visit to this superb area may well prove to be one of the highlights of the trip! The surrounding village and farmland also makes for some good birding with passage and resident birds present. Common Nightingales are regularly seen and Golden Orioles frequent the poplar trees and Scops Owls can be heard from our accommodation. Overnight Camardi

Masked Shrike, Turkey by Ryan Irvine

DAY 5: Nigde Steppe and Farmland
Many of Turkey’s inland marshes have sadly been drained in recent years but there are still a few wetlands that justify a visit. We will to travel to an area of open steppe and marshland near Nigde that still holds a varied number of wildfowl breeding Whiskered Tern and Greater Flamingos. Other sightings may include Citrine Wagtail and there is also a reasonable chance of finding Greater Sandplover. The Steppe areas are certainly worthy of investigation with breeding Calandra Lark and Lesser Short-toed Lark. Other common species are Lesser Grey Shrike, European Bee-eater and Hoopoe. Exciting mammals have also been seen on previous visits including, Golden Jackal and even Marbled Polecat. Overnight Camardi

DAYS 6 – 7: Gosku Delta
Today we head for one of the richest and well known birdwatching areas in Turkey, the Goksü Delta. This small delta is one of the main wetlands on the southern Turkish coast. As such it is a magnet for birds with quality species such as Lesser Spotted Eagle, Marbled Duck, Purple Gallinule (of the grey headed race), Collared Pratincole, and Black Francolin can all be found here. Occasional White-winged Terns and Whiskered Terns, Audouin’s Gull, Eleonora’s Falcon, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Little Bittern, Stone Curlew and Short-toed Lark all add to the amazingly varied possibilities at this site. The hills inland are covered with dry Maquis scrub and are peppered with ancient ruins which are home to Western Rock Nuthatch, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Olive-tree Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Ruppell’s Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Black-headed Bunting and Cretzschmar’s Bunting! The pine forest areas hold other specialities that we should see, in particular Kruper’s Nuthatch and Syrian Woodpecker. The temple of Zeus holds the highly sought after White-throated Robin and beautiful Masked Shrikes. Overnight Tasucu

Wallcreeper by Chris Townend

DAY 8: Tasucu – Manavgat
Day 8 will mostly be a travel day as we drive for around 7 hrs to the town of Manavgat. It is a town and district of the Antalya Province in Turkey, just 45 miles from the city of Antalya. On this travel day, we will of course make a number of birding  stops en route before we arrive at our hotel.

DAY 9: Brown Fish Owl boat trip
Very early, at around 4am we will be transferred directly from our hotel to a spacious boat where we will explore Lake Oymapinar and home to the Brown Fish Owl. For years the Brown Fish Owl was thought to be extinct in the Western Palearctic, with only historic records from Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey. These recorded suggested a much larger presence, but there had been no sightings until a pair was found by chance at Green Canyon in 2012, adjacent to Lake Oymapinar.
This excursion is very much focused on trying to see the Brown Fish Owls that nest on the adjacent cliffs. Viewing on the boat is very good and tea and coffee are provided. We will be on the boat for approximately 2 hours, giving ample opportunity to get some great views of this rare breeding bird. We will then return to our hotel around mid morning for time to rest.
During the afternoon, we will explore the Antalya wetlands for some relaxed birding to end our Turkey birding experience. Overnight Manavgat

DAY 10: Airport transfer
We will take the short transfer to Antalya airport where the tour concludes.

Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides

Leaders: Mike Langman or Ryan Irvine
Included in cost: All accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, bottled water, ground transport, boat excursion and services of leaders
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: Approx. £199
Transport: Minibus throughout tour
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
We will take gentle walks of 1 – 2 miles a day over mainly easy but some undulating terrain. Shorter walks on steeper slopes are optional. A reasonable level of fitness is required.
Climate: Generally warm with temperatures typically around 25+ degrees C. However the weather is a little unpredictable at this time of year and rain is also possible!
Tour Start Point: Adana airport, Turkey
Tour End Point: Antalya airport, Turkey
Suggested Airlines: Turkish Airlines

White-breasted Kingfisher, Turkey by Chris Townend