The bird tour started with a flight from Istanbul to Adana. It involved a lot of travelling so we saw a great deal of the countryside and stayed in very diverse places. On arrival we spent time near the River Seyhan and enjoyed views of a number of common birds as well as six Red backed Shrike and two Night Herons. The following day we visited Akyutan and Tuzla lakes and the coast clocking up an impressive list of birds including Pygmy Cormorant, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Bald Ibis, White Stork and 200 Greater Flamingos. The list of waders was equally impressive with a variety of plovers, including Spur winged Plover and Greater Sandplover plus about 50 Collared Pratincoles, Wood Sandpiper, Broad billed Sandpier and Curlew Sandpiper and approximately 10 Ruff. There were 8+ White throated Kinfishers and several Pied Kingfishers. Day three proved a good one for raptors and we enjoyed views of Short toed Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Black Kite, Long legged Buzzard, Honey Buzzard and Peregrine Falcon. There were so many new birds to be seen and we added Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler and Upcher’s Warbler to our list. We saw our first Sombre Tit and two Eastern Rock Nuthatches.
The next destination was Birecik where we visited the Bald Ibis colony and spent time on a boat trip on the Euphrates during which the very hardy, including our guide Soner, took a dip in the river. They did not actually turn blue but suffice to say after Jules splashed a handful of water on himself he quickly changed his mind about joining them! In this area we added Isabelline Wheatear, Red tailed Wheatear, Black eared Wheatear and Finsch’s Wheatear to the list plus Menetries’ Warbler, Dead Sea Sparrow, Rock Petronia and Chestnut Shouldered Petronia. It was a good area for shrikes and buntings and we saw Lesser Grey Shrike, Masked Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Red backed Shrike, Corn Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting and Cinereous Bunting. The true highlight for me was the great views of the Striated Scops Owls roosting in the park.
The long drive on day six was well worth it to see the exquisite Blue cheeked Bee eaters and European Bee eaters alongside each other in their nesting colony. We also had permission to enter the area where the Goitred Gazelle is protected and watched a total of at least eleven of these elegant animals. I was delighted to see the Cream coloured Courser and a Pin tailed Sandgrouse was a bonus. Cappadocia and our stay in Göreme was one of my favourites, enhanced by a stay in the Travellers Cave Hotel with incredible views and wonderful food. There was time for a fascinating walk through Love Valley with a guided tour of Kaymakli underground city. This was followed by Aladaglar where we had an arduous hike up the mountain but were rewarded with views of Lammergeier and Chough. The next day we had a pre-dawn trip to the top of the Taurus Mountains packed in a tractor trailer. The route was bumpy and the temperatures distinctly chilly so five layers of clothing provided warmth and a buffer to the bouncy ride up the track. Seeing and hearing Caspian Snowcock at dawn was our goal and this was achieved as well as having a chance to watch a number of Radde’s Accentors and Alpine Accentors flying around and the lucky few saw Wallcreeper. In this area we added several birds to the list and the Snowfinch and Red fronted Serin were new for us. The beautiful flowers and butterflies made this whole region a delight.
The final area for the tour was around Selifke. The Göksu Delta provided an abundance of terns and waders and we saw Moustached Warbler and Ruppell’s Warbler. The target bird, Kruper’s Nuthatch, proved so numerous we lost count of how many we saw. All in all we had a truly memorable trip with views of around 200 different species of bird. We owed the success of the trip to the leadership of Julian Sykes and Soner Bekir who provided the expertise and patience to ensure we saw all the birds on our ‘most wanted’ list. The friendship and humour of the group made the whole experience an enjoyable one.
Visit Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays for more information about this and other tours led by Jules.