Friday, 27 July 2012

Turkish Delight 2012 - Day 3

Wednesday 2nd May
The day began with a pre-breakfast visit to the hide overlooking the large lagoon in the Goksu Delta in search of Grey-headed Swamphen, but as we headed out, uncharacteristically for this part of Turkey, the heavens opened. It rained continually whilst there, nonetheless we did manage to see several more White-winged Black Terns, Red-crested Pochard, a brief Little Bittern, several Marsh Harriers and a flock of 10 Glossy Ibis. With not much else to see and certainly no swamphens, we began to scan the scrub, a noisy Black Francolin was quickly picked up and showed very well, but other than a few Red-backed Shrikes and Graceful Prinias, the scrub was very quiet. 

After breakfast we stayed in the Goksu Delta, but headed north of the lagoon in search of Moustached Warbler. By this time the rain had stopped, but the wind had really got up, so not idea conditions for looking for warblers in reed beds. However, we persevered and as we worked our way through the arable fields were met with a flock of hundreds of Black-headed Buntings, swarming across the fields like a cloud of locusts, they were everywhere. Birding was difficult due to the wind and birds were staying very low in the reeds, but eventually we were able to get some good views of a Moustached Warbler as it chased off a pair of Graceful Prinias.  Whilst continuing to bird the area two flocks of Ruff, totalling around 80 birds, a single Hobby passed overhead and more White-winged Black Terns continued to patrol the reed edge.

Black-headed Bunting

Frustrated by the windy conditions and with birds proving difficult to see, we headed north to the old Roman remains at Diocaesarea. Our first stop en route was the graveyard at Demicili; the conditions were still breezy and rain was threatening, nonetheless we pressed on with our walk through the woods and to the viewpoint. Unfortunately the breezy conditions worked against us, we could hear a singing Rüppell’s Warbler but didn’t see it, and other than a couple of Blackbirds and a Short-toed Eagle there wasn’t much else to report. We continued on up the valley to the village of Imamali, where we stopped on the side of the road. Highlights in this area included a singing male Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, a male Blue Rock Thrush, and a Syrian Woodpecker. Western Rock Nuthatches were busy putting the finishing touches to their mud nests and Sombre, Coal, Great and Blue Tits were all recorded. Frustratingly though, we heard more singing Rüppell’s Warblers but they were proving to be extremely elusive, with one giving only brief views.

Black-eared Wheatear
Our next stop was a lunch time break at Uzuncaburch picnic site, which is a reliable site for Krüper’s Nuthatch, and we were not to be disappointed. As soon as we arrived and parked our vehicles a Krüper’s Nuthatch was spotted feeding on the ground. 

Krüper’s Nuthatch

Several birds were recorded in the pine trees but two individuals kept coming back to the same spot giving us all excellent views. Being fairly sheltered from the weather other bird species were soon picked up including more Black-eared Wheatears, Coal Tits, Chaffinchs, Blackcaps and a stunning Masked Shrike, whilst Woodlarks, Cuckoos and Hoopoes were all heard in the distance. 

The Roman ruins at Diocaesarea were our next stop, but by the time we got there it was raining heavily. We decided to go for a walk in the hope that the rain would stop, but with its increasing intensity we headed back to our vehicles; we did manage to see a Hoopoe but that was about it. We decided to head to a lower altitude in the hope of finding drier weather, and stopped just south of the village of Imamali as the sun broke through. This unscheduled stop was well worth it as we were soon rewarded with excellent views of a singing male Rüppell’s Warbler.

Rüppell’s Warbler 

This bird performed so well it was difficult to leave it, but we had to press on...but such a corker!

Rüppell’s Warbler  

Continuing south we stopped at a viewpoint, overlooking the next valley, for another unscheduled stop, which as it happened, proved to be another good choice. Our first bird was another Lesser Grey Shrike in the nearby trees, along with a singing Black-headed Bunting and more Thrush Nightingales. Looking out from the viewpoint a pair of Black-eared Wheatears performed well in the fields below, and three Short-toed Eagles, a Hobby, a Common (Steppe) Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were immediately visible. But the star birds were three Eleanora’s Falcons, that headed north up the valley, giving excellent views as they passed. With the light now fading we decided to head back down to our Motel, for a well earned rest and the chance to pack in readiness for our onward journey.

To be continued...

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