Turkey has some of the most varied birdwatching areas, with some fabulous birds, superb scenery, as well as a fascinating culture and history. We will concentrate on the south of the country including superb coastal wetlands and spectacular mountains. All this, at the very best time of the birding year!
Southern Turkey offers some of the finest birdwatching to be had anywhere in Europe and the Middle East, and yet remains surprisingly undiscovered amongst birdwatchers. It has some excellent wetlands, including a superb river delta, a number of more arid habitats with several species at the extreme western edge of their range and some truly spectacular scenery with snow-covered peaks rising to 3,910M. All these habitats are within a few hours drive of each other in the southern part of the country and so allowing the best areas of this huge country to be visited during a relatively short stay.
Days 1 – 2
After arriving into Adana airport we will transfer to our hotel where we will spend the next two nights. If flight times time 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 Bulbuls, are a common sight around the villages and towns, as are Laughing Doves. The rivers that have created the delta are rich in birdlife and are a superb place to see White-breasted Kingfisher (last year we saw fifteen on one morning!) and Pied Kingfisher together with numerous species of herons, warblers and Penduline Tits.
The wetlands south of Adana support 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 Red-necked Phalaropes too, while resident Spur-winged Plover should be displaying. The marshy edges hold Graceful Prinia and Savi’s Warblers while the villages have colonies of House and Spanish Sparrows, and surrounding agricultural areas hold 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 be joined by Eleonora’s and Red-footed Falcons and even a Saker or Lanner! Eastern Olivaceous Warblers are in full song and are common but can be joined by migrating Olive-tree Warbler and Upchers Warbler. Overnight Adana
Days 3 – 4
NIGDE MOUNTAINS & STEPPE
During the next two days we explore the mountains near Nigde. On the way we’ll stop for a picnic, watching for Eagles, Egyptian Vultures and Griffon Vultures and all with a backdrop of spectacular snow-covered limestone 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 Mt. Aladag. This family-run “pansiyon” provides good home-made food and the setting is superb and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome. The owner is very keen on wildlife, and will be taking us up to the high scree slopes in the morning.
We depart early on the following morning, boarding a tractor and trailer – the only way to get to the best mountain areas! The scenery here is quite simply breathtaking, with snow-covered peaks, scree slopes and jagged crags. The most sought-after bird here is the Caspian Snowcock with their eerie Curlew-like call. Raptors here can include Golden Eagle, Griffon Vulture and Lammergeier, while the scree slopes may hold both Alpine and the very local Radde’s Accentor together with Crimson-winged Finch, Horned Lark, the striking ochruros race of Black Redstart, Rock Thrush, White-winged Snow Finches and Finsch’s Wheatear. The scrub and open grazed land here holds the unmistakable Red-fronted Serin, Isabelline Wheatear and more chances to see the cracking White-throated Robin. Wallcreeper frequent the cliff faces here, but we shall have to have a good deal of luck to glimpse them. Lower down the fields hold displaying Calandra Lark, Horned Lark of the distinctive race penicillata, Rock Sparrow and more Crimson-winged Finches. 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 makes for some good birdwatching with passage and resident birds present. Nightingales are common while Golden Orioles frequent the poplar trees and Scops Owls can be heard from our accommodation. Overnight Camardi
NIGDE STEPPE & 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. Occasional sightings might include Citrine Wagtail and there is a chance that Greater Sandplover still breed in the area. The Steppe areas are certainly worthy of investigation with breeding Calandra Lark and Lesser Short-toed Lark. Lesser Grey Shrike, European Bee-eaters and Hoopoe are relatively common here and exciting mammals have also been seen on previous visits including, Golden Jackal and Marbled Polecat. Overnight Camardi
Days 6 – 7
Today we head for one of the richest birdwatching areas in Turkey, the bird rich Goksü Delta. This small delta is one of the main wetlands on the southern Turkish coast, and as such 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 Black 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 Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear, Olive-tree Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler and Rüppell’s Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Black-headed Bunting and Cretzschmar’s Bunting! The pine woods hold other specialities with Krüper’s Nuthatch and Syrian Woodpecker both likely to be seen. The temple of Zeus holds the highly sought after White-throated Robin and the beautiful Masked Shrike.
Days 8 – 9
MANAVGAT – BROWN FISH OWL
Day 8 will mostly be a travel day as we drive for around 7 hrs to the town of Manavgat. is a town and district of the Antalya Province in Turkey, just 45 miles from the city of Antalya. Of course we will make incidental birding stops en route and then check into our hotel.
Very early (around 4am) on day 9 we will be transferred directly from our hotel to a spacious boat where we will explore Lake Oymapinar, home to the recent discovery of Brown Fish Owls. For years the Brown Fish Owls were thought to be extinct in the Western Palearctic, with only historic records from Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey that indicate a much larger presence, but there had been no sightings until a pair was found by chance at Green Canyon 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 with tea and coffee 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 rest.
During the afternoon, we will explore the Antalya wetlands for some relaxed birding to end our Turkey birding experience. Overnight Manavgat
RETURN TO UK
We take the short transfer to Antalya airport for our flight back to London.