I've spent the last eight days birding in southern Turkey, from Şanlıurfa along the Syrian border to the Antalya stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Accompanied by Dave and Matt, the trip was rather an intense one – we faced a range of situations, including a flight that was diverted in mid-air due to extreme weather, getting our car stuck in the sand and getting a bit too close to Syria!
|Yellow-throated Sparrow: a special WP bird.|
Long sessions in the field also contributed to feeling pretty shattered by the end of it, but the birding was good, with some highly specialist Western Palearctic species seen. I managed 21 lifers in all, which is excellent going for me on a WP trip these days.
In total we saw 177 species, with personal highlights including Caspian Snowcock (bird of the trip for sure), See-see, Red-wattled Lapwing, Bimaculated Lark, Iraq Babbler, Menetries's, Olive-tree, Rüppell's and Upcher's Warblers, Krüper's Nuthatch, White-throated Robin, Radde's Accentor, Yellow-throated Sparrow, Pale Rockfinch and Cinererous Bunting.
A stellar support cast included Asian Crimson-winged Finch, Red-fronted Serin, Pallid Scops Owl, a colony of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, hundreds of Rosy Starlings, tame White-winged Snowfinches and much more. Several iconic WP locations were experienced too, including Birecik and Demirkazik. An eBird trip report can be read here (I still need to process plenty of photos and recordings).
|Pallid Scops Owl.|
The sole omission was rather a galling one: Brown Fish Owl. This enigmatic WP species is a key part of any Turkish trip but, despite birding until 3 am with a guide on our final night, we couldn't connect. With birds no longer at Oymapınar reservoir one has to visit remote mountain sites at night, and unfortunately our luck wasn't in.
Now it's back to the last dregs of spring in Surrey, before a restful 'summer' (i.e. about three weeks!) awaits …