A 10-days tour exploring the Central, Eastern Mediterranean and South-eastern regions in search of Oriental rarities!
Thursday 9th - Saturday 18th May 2013
Turkey is a huge country, situated on two continents, on the eastern edge of the Western Palearctic, and thus offering a great and spectacular birdwatching. Within the tour we will be focused on central, eastern Mediterranean and south-eastern regions. We will start and end our tour in the southern town of Adana, with a flight change in Istanbul. We are going to visit deltas, coastal lagoons and high mountains (up to 2 600 m.a.s.l) in order to get the local specialties.
And what birds they are! – White-throated Robin, Red-fronted Serin, Dead-sea Sparrow, Iraq Babler, Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Marbled Teal, Cinereous Bunting, Desert Finch, Trumpeter Finch, Hill Sparrow, Kurdish Wheatear, Rufous Bush Robin, Upcher's, Menetrie's and Rupell's warblers and many more. Good number of other wildlife and plants will be also recorded as we will visit variable habitats.
The period of our tours also coincides with the migration of the northern species, especially waders, and we will catch many of them in breeding plumage. Despite early in the spring, some days will be too hot for birdwatching in the middle of the day, so we may have early starts and afternoon siestas.
Arrival at Adana airport and drive to Tasucu (about 2 hours), where we accommodate in the sea view hotel. Depending on the arrival time, there is a chance to explore the nearest parts of the delta, a few kilometers from our hotel. Stay overnight for three nights.
Early morning start to Goksu Delta, which is a prime habitat for wetland birds. With over 335 species that have been recorded here, it is the most famous place for birdwatching in Turkey. Here we will explore the wetland for our primary species here – Marbled Teal, Grey-headed Purple Gallinule, Black Francolin and Mustached Warbler. Additionally we should be able to find many migrating waders, as well as Marbled Teal, Audouin’s Gull, Collared Pratincole, Spur-winged Plover, Pigmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shellduck, Red-crested Pochard, Bearded Tit, Graceful Prinia, Spectacled (Yellow-vented) Bulbul, pelicans and many different passerines along our route. Keeping our eyes on the sky for Eleonora’s Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard and other raptors we’ll continue to explore the Goksu Delta the whole day.
After early breakfast we will drive to Uzuncaburc – an area covered by dry maquis scrub and ancient Roman ruins. Here we shall look for eastern Mediterranean species and our main targets will be Rüppell’s Warbler and Cretzschmar’s Bunting, but also – Olive-tree, Olivacious and Orphean warbler, Masked Shrike, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Chuckar and many more. We will have a picnic in the local pine woods and in the meantime shall enjoy Krüper’s Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheater, Spotted Flycatcher, Hoopoe etc. Time permiting we will continue to explore Goksu Delta in the afternoon. Last stay overnight in Tasucu.
After an early breakfast and morning birding in marshy area of Goksu Delta, where we can catch up any species we may have missed, we shall head to the north Aladaglar region by crossing the Taurus Mountains. The transfer itself is about 3 hours and upon arrival we accommodate in Safak pension for two nights. In the afternoon we will start to explore the nearby spectacular gorge and our walk shall produce Red-fronted Serin, White-throated Robin, Rock Sparrow, Chukar, Tawny Pipit, Short-toed Lark as well as the beautiful local race of the Shore Lark – penicillata. We shall enjoy our dinner, home made food, with sightseeing of Demirkazik Peak, and prepare ourselves for early start next morning.
We will have an exceptional birding trip today (optional), with an early start at 04:00 am, and ascend with a tractor or by 4WD to about 2 400 m. a.s.l. depending on seasonal snow level. Getting to our observation point by the first light of the day will allow us to hear and see the elusive Caspian Snowcock calling from the rocky tops above us – a beautiful bird and challenge for every birder. Here we will enjoy our breakfast while watching many other alpine species, including Radde’s Accentor, Alpine Accentor, Crimson-winged Finch, Snowfinch and Alpine Chough. Raptors may include Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard and Peregrine. When ready in the area, we start back with option for several stops on the way down which can produce Ring Ouzel, Red-fronted Serin, Rock Sparrow, Rock Bunting and possibly the Rose-coloured Starling. After a lunch, depending on the time available we can explore the village surroundings or pay a visit to Sultansazligi Nature Reserve, one of the most important breeding areas in the country. A rare ecosystem where salt and fresh waters co-exist, and the only place in Turkey where cranes, flamingos, herons and pelicans breed together. The reserve is a home to more than 300 different species of which 85 breed here. Back to Safak Pension for our second night here.
In case we had unfavorable weather the previous morning, we shall go back to the same site and try again for Caspian Snowcock and the other alpine species, or alternatively visit another valley for some species we might missed the day before. If we have seen everything from the area we shall continue to drive south, heading to Osmaniye, Kirmitli Bird Paradise. Yet another spectacular place over Seyhan River which is famous for its kingfishers, heronry and egret colonies. Here we have excellent chance of seeing all three species of kingfishers in the region – namely White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher and Kingfisher – almost at the same spot. In the afternoon we will have a walk in rocky valey and scrubby area around north-west of Gaziantep where we will look for Kurdish Wheatear, White-throated Robin, Cinereous Bunting, Rock Nuthatch, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Pallid Swift etc. Overnight in Gaziantep, in a city hotel, for one night.
After early breakfast we will check the nearby hills for a collection of specialties which can be seen all in one place, such as Kurdish Wheatear, Finsch’s Wheatear, Bimaculated Lark, Hill Sparrow (or Pale Rock Sparrow), Cinereous Bunting, possibly the Trumpeter Finch, White-throated Robin, Sombre Tit and many other species. This site requires about two miles walk, but we have plenty of time. When ready here, we will head east to the small town of Birecik, situated on the Euphrates river and representing the real Orient. Accomodation for the last three nights. After lunch and siesta we shall look around the pistachio orchards just outside the town for Yellow-throated Sparrow, Rufous Bush Robin, Dead Sea Sparrow and Desert Finch. At the edge of the town we will see the local semi-wild Bald Ibis colony and Little Swifts.
Pre-breakfast birding along the river just opposite of the hotel where we will search for Iraq Babler, Rufous Bush Chat, Dead Sea Sparrow, Bailon's Crake, Pied Kingfisher, Roller etc. Return for a breakfast and afterwards one hour of driving will bring us to another area that is excellent Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Upcher’s Warbler, Black-headed Bunting, See-see Partridge, Oriental Turtle Dove, Bonelli’s Eagle and many more. Back to the hotel for lunch and siesta. Afternoon visit to the famous tea garden, where we search for Striated Scops Owl. Latter on we will continue to explore the various habitats along the river, which is a great place for birds. Here we expect to find Dead Sea Sparrow, Desert Finch, Menetries’s and Upcher’s warblers, Little Swift, Ferruginous Duck, Little Bittern, Pigmy Cormorant, terns and gulls.
Our last full day within the trip we will devote to a spectacular semi-desert reserve where a colony of Cream-colored Courser is regularly seen. See-see Partridge, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Desert Finch, Pale Rock Sparrow, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Finsch’s Wheatear and Desert Lark all occur in the same place. In the afternoon option to call at mixed colony of Blue-cheeked and European Bee-eaters. Farewell dinner and last overnight in Birecik.
Three hours of driving bring us to Adana airport, for our connection flight to Istanbul from where we fly back home.
Pace and walking:
Most days will require pre-birding activities so we will need early morning starts. However, we will also have siestas nearly every day. Fairly easy day walks, except day 7 which needs about four miles walking in total.
Blue-cheeked Bea-eaters by Soner Bekir
See-see Partridge by Soner Bekir
White-winged Snowfinch by Dobromir Domuschiev
Spur-winged Plover by Dobromir Domuschiev
White-throated Robin by Soner Bekir