Finding Birds in E Turkey update

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Pontic alps

May 1996 The most convenient site for Green Warbler is around the back of the Genesis Hotel (40.7066N, 40.6460E) about 6 km north-west of Sivri Kaya. If you stay here you're likely to hear Green Warbler from your bedroom. If you don't stay here, there's another site for Green Warbler just south of the hotel, in the trees to the far side of a flat field on the east side of the road.  The best site for Mountain Chiffchaff was along the road between Ispir and Gelinkaya (I've tried to find this on Google Earth 15 years later - it could be 40.3354N, 40.9547E).  They were common in the riverside bushes. The road between the pass and Sivri Kaya (site 2) provides many vantage points from which to scan and look for Blackcocks and Snowcocks. The Blackcocks aren't too difficult to spot, at least in spring when the males display in the open. Look up the gullies on the west side of the road and check every dark spot on the south-facing slopes. With a telescope you'll be able to recognise up to 10 Caucasian Blackcocks and you may even see them displaying; they are most active early in the morning but it's possible to locate them at any time of day. Caspian Snowcocks are more difficult, however, and require a lot more patience. At dawn the sound of calling birds may help you but otherwise you just have to scan endlessly up and down the rocks and screes. Wallcreepers are also possible on the rock faces and a pair have been known to breed right by the road so you might be lucky. In late May these roadsides are also the best places to look for Alpine Accentor, Snowfinch and Twite. For better views of Blackcock, you need to find a track up the west side of the valley, south of the village. (DG)

25th May 2010. Accommodation was a problem because the Hotel Genesis was closed. We stayed in rooms above some shops in Ispir. The pass at Ovitdagi looked as if it had only recently been opened. We had small groups of displaying Blackcock high up the west of the valley, several calling Snowcock early morning at site 1 (one seen), many calling Green Warblers around Sivri kaya and Ikizdere and Caucasian Chiffchaffs were relatively common in low scrub to the south of Sivri Kaya village ('GDK' trip report on

4-7 June 2010 Still lots of snow at Ovitdagi gecidi pass but road open. Radde's Acceptor by road near pass, Twite further down (less snow). Mustapha Sari will take you in your vehicle on a track past the cemetary to a site within 200m of displaying Blackcock (we saw 18 altogether) BUT: he charged£75 for a party of 6, the ride is VERY hairy and you have to set off at 4am. Also Mountain Chiffchaff in small bushes at site 6 (Steve Lister).

5 July 2014. Quite good road (but steep, 4wd) approximately 800 m south of the cemetery leading up to site 6. Poor visibility made scanning slopes impossible but a female Caucasian Blackgrouse with chicks flushed by the car driving up. Raddes Accentor just south of site 1. Singing from wires and stones close to the first minaret east of the road. Crimson-winged Finch on the slopes a few hundred meters further south, west of the road. Genesis Hotel open. Krupers Nuthatch around the hotel. (Hulte'n,Jensen,Johannesson,Knutsson)

Lake Van area

31st May 2010. At Van marshes, Moustached Warbler at site 1, Citrine Wagtail and Paddyfield Warbler at site 2. At Ercek Golu, hundreds of Rose-coloured Starlings, Citrine Wagtail at the eastern side and White-headed Ducks on the southern side ('GDK' on

2nd June 2010 Grey-necked Bunting successfully located at site 2 by walking on top of the railway tunnel to the south of the quarry. A pair of breeding Pied Wheatear were on the rim of the quarry. Couldn't find any pools at south Van. Perhaps they've been drained? Road improvements mean you can't stop near the bridge at site 3 (page 16) but to the south, just before the road barrier starts, is a track that you can drive as far as the lake. A metal viewing tower to the right gives views over pools. We had Citrine Wag, Paddyfield Warbler and Savis. At the Nemrut Dagi crater one of our group heard an unfamiliar call which he later identified as Mongolian Trumpeter Finch after seeing and hearing them elsewhere 2 days later. (Steve Lister)

Bulanik and the Murat valley

6th May 2009 In the Murat valley we saw dozens of Gullbilled and White Winged terns, Montagu's Harriers and a single female Pallid Harrier and managed to find 2 Demoiselle Cranes in with 15 Common Cranes. (Owen, Conor and Donal Foley - trip report on

Ishak palace and Serpmetas lava fields

The palace was one of the first known sites in Turkey for Mongolian Finch but recently most sightings have been at the lava fields of Serpmetas. The palace is just south of Dogusbayazit next to Mount Ararat on the Turkish border. En route from Lake Van to here, you pass the village of Caldiran; turn left here to reach the lava fields of Serpmetas.

May 2004. Only 1 pair of Grey-necked Bunting at Ishak Pasa palace, some 300 m above the upper parking lot along the main dirt track. (Troels Eske Ortvad et al -trip report at

30 May 2010. Only 1 pair of Grey-necked Bunting at Ishak Pasa palace, some 300 m above the upper parking lot along the main dirt track. (Troels Eske Ortvad et al -trip report at

3rd June 2010. At Sermeptas lava fields, 4 Mongolian Finch feeding on the road, lots of Snow Finch, and flight views of Crimson-winged Finch (Steve Lister)


For years, the best-known site in the Western Palearctic for Red-wattled Lapwing but there is a heavy military presence at this site, right next to the Syrian border, so it's a difficult place to watch birds. However, it is now apparently easy enough to see them at sites further west where there are no problems using optical gear (this was written before the rise in activities of ISIS on the Syrian side of the border). Cizre is located  about 380 km east of Birecik, where the Tigris crosses the Syrian border. About 95 km before you reach Cizre on the E90 along the Syrian border, you pass the town of Nusaybin. Look out for the lapwings in any of the roadside pools you can see from there onwards.

2nd May 2005 4 Red-wattled Lapwings by a small reservoir near Oyali, c40 km west of Cizre and 2 more by a reservoir just west of Idil, c30 km west of Cizre (Jurgen Berg on mebirdnet)

31st May 2010. 2 Red-wattled Lapwings distantly from the police station in Cizre but also a pair by a roadside pool, 26 km SW of Cizre (Steve Lister)


Finding Birds in Eastern Turkey

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