Trip Report: Turkey, 9-16 February 1999

From 9-16th February 1999 Eus vd Burg and myself made a short birdingtrip to Turkey. We visited various sites, among which Mugari Golu, just S of Ankara; Kulu Golu, Demirkazik, Cukurova delta, S of Adana; Birecik, Isikli and the Soguksu Milli Parki, NW of Ankara.

Our most interesting observations were:
* 500+ Red-crested Pochards and a Smew at Mugari Golu
* at least 396 White-headed Ducks (in one packed, unmixed group) at Kulu Golu
* 13 Great Black-headed Gulls, 20,000+ Flamingoes, 1 Grey-headed Swamp-Hen, several Moustached and Cetti's Warblers, 1 Smyrna Kingfisher, 1,600+ Avocets and big numbers of various wildfowl at different sites in the Cukurova delta
* a Wallcreeper (and 50 caged Bald Ibises) in Birecik
* Western and Eastern Rock Nuthatches at Isikli
* 11 Black Vultures, 1 imm Lammergeier, 2 Golden Eagles, 1 Black Woodpecker, 10+ Cirl Buntings, several European and 1 Kruper's Nuthatch at Soguksu Milli Parki
* Ring Ouzels wintering at various sites
In reaction on some questions received, here are the answers:
On our short trip to Turkey we weren't able to find a number of species that we had expected, as we have seen them in the same places in summer. These were:
* Caspian Snowcock, Alpine and Radde's Accentor and Red-fronted Serin in Demirkazik (actually, the only specialties we could find there, were Horned Lark, Golden Eagle, Snow Finch and (only one) Crimson-winged Finch).
* Also no Marbled or Ferruginous Ducks were seen in the Cukurova delta (just one male Ferr. Duck in the marsh formed by the Kizilirmak river, near Karakecili).
* No Pygmy Cormorants were seen
The Grey-headed Swamp-Hen is the proposed split of Purple Gallinule - Porphyrio porphyrio into 6 species:
1. Western Swamp-Hen Porphyrio porphyrio
2. African Swamp-Hen Porphyrio madagascariensis
3. Grey-headed Swamp-Hen Porphyrio poliocephalus
4. Black-backed Swamp-Hen Porphyrio viridis
5. Phillippine Swamp-Hen Porphyrio pulverulentus
6. Australian Swamp-Hen Porphyrio melanotus
Of these, (1) occurs in Spain & Morocco, (2) in Egypt and (3) in Turkey and the Wolga-delta (as far as the WP is concerned). See Dutch Birding, vol. 20 (1998), no 1, page 13-22 and 25/26.

More details on the observed vultures are as follows:
At 15/2/99, 9 ad Black Vultures were seen crossing the valley between Kizilcahamam and Soguksu Milli Parki entrance from South to North, at about 16.30 hrs. Weather at that time was clouded, with a lot of snow in the park. We had the impression that the birds were flying towards a roost. They flew at about 50 m and were descending. Dusk was at 17.30 hrs. At 16/2/99, an immature Lammergeier appeared at the Western slope of the road from Kizilcahamam towards Celtikci (an estimated 8 km from Kizilcahamam), at 11.00. It flew low over the trees and in front of the slope and disappeared into a wooded valley but reappeared several times. It had snowed the previous night, but weather then was sunny with some clouds, and the snow was melting quikly. When we were driving towards Celtikci, 2 ad Black Vultures were seen flying towards the West, North of the road. They were joined by 2 ad Golden Eagles (these were mobbed by a Long-legged Buzzard) for a minute or so, but the vultures, unlike the eagles, kept on flying W until they crossed the highway (between Istanbul and Ankara), at about 11.45 hrs. It seemed to us that these were different birds from the ones we saw the day before, because it was only about 40 minutes that birds of prey started to fly that day, but of course we are not sure.

Good birding everyone,
Remco Hofland