Finding Birds in  South-west turkey update

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Gulluk marshes

17/5/2012 the only flamingoes of our trip were a distant 3 seen on Tuzla Golu. area also had Dalmatian pelican. from Bodrum to Milas road we took a road northwest to north of airport and came upon view over wetland which contained little egret. great white egret. grey & purple heron white stork. glossy ibis. ruddy shelduck.and oystercatcher. Continuing to drive through villages in the area we saw bee eaters. rollers. crested larks. white wagtail. and heard turtle dove. little terns and an osprey seen at Bogazici at end end road beyond Tuzla. ('Jampots')


May 2013 Site 4 is still an excellent site for Roller.  Black Eared Wheatear, Rock Nuthatch, Chukar and Cretzschmars Bunting are usually also seen here in May. Krupers Nuthatch are becoming more difficult to find in the pinewoods around Hisaronu. Most of site 5 has now been built upon but what little remains (behind Karatas Hill) still has breeding Penduline Tit,and often Squacco Heron and Little Bittern. The south marsh "reserve" at the river mouth can still produce decent birds - Spur Winged Plover and Whiskered Tern seen here 8/5/2013. (Ian Cameron)

12th Aug 2013 Walk in the late afternoon at site 3 produced no birds of interest in the pine woods, but we had excellent views of a single Rock Nuthatch at site 4 at around 7.30pm. Early morning walk the next day along site 3 produced one party of 5 or 6 Krueper's Nuthatch with a variety of other tits and finches. There were no other passerine sightings during the entire walk. The birds were seen 50m from the road on the left hand side just before the first sharp turn to the left going down the hill, roughly half way between the end of Hirasoru and Kayakoy   (Ian Murray)

August 2015 A White-breasted Kingfisher on the last remaining marsh behind Gunluk Kent beach about 4 km north of site 5 at approx 36.6829N, 29.0693E (Ethelbert Babl)

Korkuteli hills

9th May 2013 As mentioned previously major road improvements on both the D350 and the D330 make it difficult to find safe stopping places. The whole road between Korketeli and Karamanli (Lake Karatas)  has undergone or is in process of being converted to dual carriageway in large stretches. New cutting wall being built near site 3. However a stop a few hundred metres further north produced singing Icterine Warbler,White Throated Robin, Black Headed Bunting,Turtle Dove, Northern, Black Eared and Isabelline Wheatears, Nightingale, Corn and Cretzshmars Bunting. A few hundred metres further north ploughed fields had healthy numbers of Calandra Lark. Lake Karatas also had lots of Calandras in adjacent fields and a very healthy population of Great Reed Warblers. Moustached Warbler also seen here. (Ian Cameron)

Seki and the Gogu-Beli pass

Road to Seki and Lake Girdev is highly recommended great for larks,wagtails and wheatears (inc Finsch`s),Rock Thrush,Snow and Crimson Winged Finch, Red Fronted Serin, Tawny Pipit, Calandra and Short toed Larks,Red Backed, Woodchat and Lesser Grey Shrikes,Rock Nuthatch and Rock Sparrow and lots of White Throated Robins and Cretzschmars Buntings all been seen here over the past few years.  Brilliant birding area !! (Ian Cameron)

Manavgat and Tasagil

April-May 2013 The east side of Manavgat river mouth can also be good for birds as it has rough scrubby areas, a rubbish tip and various wetlands including some sewage ponds. Species found in 4 visits included "Rollers, Citrine Wagtail, Spotted and Little Crake, Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipits, Spur-winged Plovers (approx. 4 prs), Collared Pratincoles (good numbers), lots of heron spp., Slender-billed Gulls, Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns, Montagus Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, smaller waders including lots of Wood and Curlew Sandpipers, Little and 1-2 Temminck’s Stints, Rufous Bushchats, Eastern Olivaceous and Great Reed Warblers. We made four trips there and recorded birds including Graceful Prinias, large numbers of Red-backed Shrikes with 1-2 each of Lesser Greys and Woodchats, Spoonbills, Ravens, Ortolan, an interesting melanistic Little Owl etc. etc." To get there from Manavgat, turn east along the D400 towards Alanya then take the first road on the right after crossing the Manavgat river. Follow this to the rivermouth. (Dan Duff)

Dalaman airport pools

2015 Paul Willoughby of Bird Holidays reports the following cautionary tale:

Just for your information, I had to spend 3 hours in a Turkish police

station last week (May 2015) after visiting Dalaman Airport Pools. Basically we were spotted by airport security with bins/camera/scope and they

tracked us down through the vehicle reg to the hotel we were staying at.

We were greeted by the police when we got back to our hotel, and I didn't leave the police station until after 10pm.

It never got heavy, but they were not right pleased we were there, and

at the minimum it was a waste of good drinking time. I certainly won't

be going back to that site.

Oymapinar reservoir

2016 Chris Lamsdell has passed on the shocking news that the boatman Ismet, who is shown on our DVD taking us to the Fish Owls and is recommended in the book as the best and cheapest contact for the owls, was tragically killed in a car accident last year. So, once again, unless you can find another local boatman, the only options here are a) to take the tourist boat and pay extra to persuade the captain to go via the owl site or b) to go with Vigo tours who charge 92 Euros per person but only take groups of 6 or more so the number of available dates is limited (Chris reports that only 2 trips were  planned for May 2016). In seeking alternatives Chris points out that ‘Vigo tours offer a trip to another site near Adana and another guy has a night site he takes people to - see the Turkish Birding face book page 2015 entry - but charges 100 Euros + another 30 to the landowner and does it at night by lamping them’

May 2018 re the Fish Owl, Remo Ciuffardi writes ‘We got in touch with Vigo Tours and paid €350,00 for three persons. The most important thing is to find the pick-up location (04.30 am) the day or evening before. After that you follow the guide Ozcan Kilic to the reservoir. At our disposal a 15 metre cruise boat with two crew – no-one else. In spite of a howling wind the boat was stable. After about 40 mins a bird was spotted. Ozcan said there are 3 pairs of nesting birds round the Reservoir and 15 pairs in the surrounding area.’

May/June 2019 re the fish owl, Jay Knight spent 250 Euros on a private tour with Vigo Tours but failed to see the owl. Instead he took the ‘public’ boat trip around the lake for 35 Euros and was successful. Meanwhile he had already booked another trip with Vigo tours on the understanding that he could cancel if he saw the owls from the public boat. After much argument Vigo tours gave him only 50 Euros back when he cancelled that second trip. He doesn’t recommend them. Instead he suggests driving to the Green Canyon restaurant (site 1, page 28)  at sunrise, and negotiating directly with one of the boatmen there. Take a picture of the owl in case there is a language barrier.

Buyuk Menderes delta

Oct 15 90 Dalmatian pelicans at site 1 (Colin Drake)

Bafa Golu

Oct-15 (site 9, page 6): Pygmy Cormorant (at least 2), Kingfisher (about 12!), Penduline Tit (2 juveniles).(Colin Drake)

Efes lakes 

Oct -15 (sites 4-7, page 2) Syrian Woodpecker (3), Red-Backed Shrike (imm), Black-Headed Bunting (male) - no sign of any Pygmy Cormorants. No Rock Nuthatch at site 7 just several Black Redstarts, and a male Blue Rock Thrush of any note. (Colin Drake)


to 2015 I forgot to mention the regular Audouin’s Gulls seen in the bay at Kalkan and David Pinner, a regular visitor here reports Ruppell’s Warblers and Finsch’s Wheatear on the hillside above Kalkan.

2014 - 2016 The following notes (in italics) are provided entirely by Duncan Orr-Ewing who, since 2014, has had several holidays to Kalkan covering several weeks in July, August and October. He has provided the following details which add substantially to what is in my book. In places they have been edited for brevity or clarity and GPS locations have been added. Some sites are already featured in my book (page and site references given) but I have also created a map to show where the other sites are found



In and around Kalkan, you can find a variety of good birds, just by walking from the centre of the town. Early morning is best and middle of the day can be pretty quiet bird-wise. The maquis scrub areas around the town are good, particularly off the Elmali Road and the triangle of land between there and Kalkan itself: Chukar, Ruppells warbler, eastern bonelli’s warbler, Syrian woodpecker, sombre tit, woodchat and masked shrikes. I've also had both lesser grey shrike and olive tree warbler on one occasion each, in August. Raptors are few; I've had a Short-toed Eagle once and Peregrines regularly but I have yet to see Eleonora’s falcon at Kalkan. The yellow-vented bulbul can be seen easily around the town, with the area behind the Yali supermarket, pretty good. For this species look for areas with palms. In all visits, I have seen Audouin’s and yellow-legged gulls in Kalkan harbour and rock nuthatch and blue rock thrush on the crags above the public beach. Scops owl has also been seen by me close to the centre of town.


Take the Elmali Road from Kalkan and, as you leave the town, turn left for Islamlar. After a steep climb,  about 5 km from Kalkan you enter pine forest which holds Kruper’s nuthatch. The crossroads area where the main road crosses a stream via a small concrete bridge with a dolmus bus shelter nearby is particularly good for Krupers. Raptors are few and far between, but I've had Booted Eagle in July and Honey Buzzard in August. At the top of the Islamlar Road you join the Elmali Road; at this point (36.3147N, 29.4659E) in July I have seen chukar, serin, black-eared wheatear, Finsch’s wheatear, Ruppell’s warbler, lesser whitethroat, and Cretzschmar’s bunting.


The Elmali Road from Kalkan passes through a dispersed village called Bezirgan after about 10km. I have found this area to be good for a range of farmland birds. Follow one or other of two parallel tarmac roads through the village area, with one ending in a dirt track. The farmland area is good for crested lark, black headed bunting (gone by August), cretzschmar’s bunting (common), ortolan (rare), cirl bunting, corn bunting, masked shrike, woodchat shrike and eastern olivaceous warbler. Check the stream side areas for nightingale. Chukar can be found in the hill edge areas. I have also seen a variety of raptors in this area including long-legged buzzard, buzzard, goshawk and sparrowhawk.  In October at Bezirgan, I observed Syrian woodpecker, crested lark, sombre tit, long-tailed tit, rock nuthatch, Kruper’s nuthatch, spotted flycatcher (many), robin, lesser whitethroat, blackcap, Ruppell’s warbler, northern wheatear, grey wagtail, red-rumped swallow and raven. 

En Route to Sutlegen

Beyond Bezirgan follow the Elmali Road towards Sutlegen. Beyond Ikizce there is a pass through the mountains where there is a pull in (36.3535N, 29.4790E) near a white house. From there a track leads into some juniper and cedar forest on the right hand side of the road. I found this woodland to be excellent for Krupers nuthatch, short-toed treecreeper, green and Syrian woodpeckers, and long-tailed tit (distinctive race). On the Bezirgan side of the pass there is a new dam and cutting being built. The woodland area here close to the road is also good for Kruper’s nuthatch, middle-spotted woodpecker and other woodland species.     

Sutlegen farmland and woodlands

On the approach to Sutlegen there is a farmland area on the right hand side of the road. This area also has a good range of farmland birds, including Cretzschmar’s bunting. Long legged buzzards were also seen here. I have also been up the steep and winding Camlakoy Road from here passing through extensive areas of pine woodland. In this area, I saw Kruper’s nuthatch Ruppell’s warbler, and booted eagle amongst other species. 


Just before Gombe and beyond Sinekcibeli you start entering into some old Juniper forest on rock scree. Here I found green and Syrian woodpeckers, Kruper’s nuthatch, nuthatch, mistle thrush, woodlark, common redstart (samamisicus), short-toed treecreeper, long-tailed tit, sombre tit, rock bunting, and wren. Driving in the halflight en route to this site I saw several nightjars along the road. Close to Gombe, red-backed shrike becomes the dominant shrike species and I also noted magpie, Spanish sparrow and Syrian woodpecker there. The local dam was pretty birdless, apart from little- ringed plover, rock nuthatch and black-eared wheatear. 

Gombe; Ucarsu Selalesi and Yesil Golu

From Gombe town centre, follow the brown historical signs for a waterfall called Ucarsu Selalesi. This road is tarmac and then becomes a dirt track. In 2015, I drove the hire car as far as I thought reasonable, parked when it became rough, then walked up the track to a small lake (presumably Yesil Golu or Green Lake, 36.5580N, 29.6153E) in spectacular and high mountain scenery. En route to the lake, rock thrush, blue rock thrush and black redstart were very common (commoner here than the Lake Girdev area).  Around the small lake, I discovered breeding shore lark on the scree slopes. There were also good numbers of rock sparrow, northern, Finsch’s and isabelline wheatears, rock bunting, crag martin and alpine swift. Dipper was present on the stream. Rock nesting house martins were also of interest here.

Patara (page 22, sites 2 and 3)

This site may have deteriorated in quality over time. Regular species that I have seen include little grebe, grey heron, little bittern, little egret, coot, moorhen, green sandpiper, little ringed plover, black-winged stilt, great reed warbler, reed warbler and cetti’s warbler. I have also seen osprey, Eleonora’s falcon, hobby, purple heron, greenshank, kingfisher,  penduline tit, and fan-tailed warbler. Around the Roman ruins I have seen white stork, woodchat shrike, masked shrike, crested lark, rock nuthatch, eastern olivaceous and Ruppell’s warblers, black-eared wheatear.   Yellow vented bulbul is also now common in this area. On 11 October 2016, I visited Patara in the early morning. Much of the reed bed area was dry and therefore not suitable for the hoped-for wading birds. I observed little grebe, mallard, coot, marsh harrier (flew from roost and then departed on migration), sparrowhawk, kestrel, kingfisher, Syrian woodpecker, barn swallow, red-backed shrike, blue rock thrush, crested lark, tawny pipit, cetti’s warbler, Ruppell’s warbler, blackcap, lesser whitethroat and yellow-vented bulbul.


A popular visitor attraction is the impressive Saklikent Gorge (36.4735N, 29.4035E). I have been to this place now on two occasions with the family. I have seen both roller and bee-eater en route to this site on the Saklikent loop road which follows the river, as well as white stork and little-ringed plover. Grey wagtail, crag martin, rock nuthatch and rock sparrow are present at the gorge site and associated carpark area.

Gogu-Beli (page 24 site 3)

I left Kalkan at 4.15 am and was at the Gogu-Beli Pass for 5.30 and sunrise. Red-fronted serin and serin were seen easily and at close range in the carpark area at the Gogu-Beli Pass summit.  I also had red-fronted serin slightly lower down the hill on the Seki side. Also seen well at the pass area were long-legged buzzard, hoopoe, alpine swift, rock and blue rock thrushes, rock nuthatch, northern, black-eared and Finsch’s wheatears, black redstart, eastern bonelli’s warbler and rock bunting. Lower down the slope towards Seki, I recorded woodlark, short-toed treecreeper, ortolan, cirl bunting, black-headed bunting, sombre tit and red-backed shrike.  In October 2016, I observed serin (flock of 500+) coming out of roost from trees near the summit. Also present were Syrian woodpecker, blue rock thrush, grey wagtail, ring ouzel, black redstart (abundant), spotted flycatcher, sombre tit, willow warbler (2), chiffchaff (many), lesser whitethroat, starling (flock of 10),  rock sparrow, rock bunting, and cirl bunting.  

Seki (page 24)

In July 2016 I struggled to find White-throated Robin at Seki (site 1, page 24). I suspect this site might be easier for white-throated robin in May, as I saw only the tail end of one bird of this species despite extensive searching. I did though see long-legged buzzard, woodchat shrike, red-backed shrike, eastern orphean warbler, Ruppell’s warbler and cirl bunting. A pallid swift flying over amongst Alpine swifts was also an odd species there. On the farmland around Seki, I did see Isabelline wheatear, red-backed shrike, skylark, crested lark, black headed bunting and Spanish and tree sparrows. There is a large lake off the main road before Seki, and I saw; great crested grebe, cormorant, little egret, and green and common sandpipers, and little-ringed plover there.

Lake Girdev 

The Lake Girdev site is simply fantastic. It can be reached by following signs to Erendag ski centre (page 24, site 2) but taking the dirt track (36.7733N, 29.6200E) to the left, 1.2 km after leaving the village of Temel. The track is rough but can be driven for a further 14 km as far as the lake (36.6994N, 29.6497E). In July 2016 I saw a huge list of bird species including:

En route to Lake: Kestrel, alpine swift, hoopoe, Syrian woodpecker, woodlark, tawny pipit, crag martin, rock thrush, eastern bonelli’s warbler, sombre tit, red-backed and woodchat shrikes, black redstart, serin, red-fronted serin (at pass), cirl, rock and black-headed buntings, ortolan  and raven.

Lake: great-crested grebe, black-necked grebe (with young), little grebe, grey heron, night heron(3), white stork (large colony), black stork (3), ruddy shelduck, mallard, pintail, garganey, pochard, long-legged buzzard, kestrel, quail, coot, common crane(2), little ringed plover, turtle dove, little owl, hoopoe, skylark, crested lark, woodlark, calandra lark, short-toed lark, lesser short-toed lark, crag martin, house martin (colony on house before track at end of lake), tawny pipit (abundant), yellow wagtail (feldegg), northern wheatear, Isabelline wheatear, Finsch’s wheatear, black-eared wheatear, blue rock thrush, rock thrush, mistle thrush, whitethroat, eastern bonelli’s warbler, sombre tit, rock nuthatch, red-backed shrike, rock sparrow (c40), and corn bunting.  

On 9 October 2016, I spent most of the late morning until mid-afternoon birding at Lake Girdev. Whilst not as productive as during the July period, there were some notable changes in bird species. I observed Syrian woodpecker, eastern rock nuthatch, woodlark, stonechat, whinchat, black redstart, common redstart, red-fronted serin, serin, rock and cirl buntings and raven along the unmade track approaching the lake. At the lake, I saw common crane (2), black-necked grebe, great crested grebe (1), water rail (1 heard), mallard, teal, shoveler (2), pintail (2), ferruginous duck (c10, with imms suggesting breeding?), pochard, ruddy shelduck, temminck’s stint (5), snipe (4), marsh harrier (2), peregrine, kestrel, sparrowhawk, long-legged buzzard, red-backed shrike, crested lark, skylark,  red-throated pipit (15), meadow pipit (4), tawny pipit (1), spotted flycatcher,  stonechat, whinchat, Isabelline (4) and northern wheatears (1), black redstart , chiffchaff, grey/yellow and white wagtails, red-fronted serin, serin, rock sparrow, rock bunting, raven and chough (2)   

Calis, Fethiye (page 20, site 5)

A very disappointing site, which has been heavily degraded by tourism development. The remaining area is now too small to host good birds. In 2016, I made one visit and saw more birds of note on the lagoon than in the saltmarsh and reedbed area:  Dalmatian pelican, shag, Mediterranean gull, sandwich tern, little-ringed plover and common sandpiper.

Dalaman Airport Pools (page 16)

On 20 July 2016, en route back to Scotland via Dalaman Airport, I visited the Dalaman Airport Pools. Given that there had just been a military coup, and the airport was on high security alert, and I had the family and luggage in the car, I did not feel comfortable hanging about here for long! However saw squacco heron, little egret, black-winged stilt and yellow wagtail. Most of the ponds were dry and disturbance by fishermen on the beach was high. Lesser kestrels are regularly present at Dalaman airport, hunting insects under the arc lights near the front of the terminal!

Kastellorizo/Megisti (Meis) (Greece)

From Kas you can take a day boat trip to the island of Meis, which belongs to Greece. I walked the steps and hill track behind Meis town and saw the following bird highlights; Eleonora’s falcon, lesser kestrel, black-eared wheatear, Ruppell’s warbler and masked shrike. There are yellow-legged gulls in the harbour area.

Mammals and other wildlife

At Patara and Seki I have seen wild boar. On the Elmali road, in the early morning I have seen badger, porcupine and golden jackal. At Islamlar and Bezirgan red squirrel is common. Around Kalkan, Kas and Meis you can go swimming with the numerous loggerhead turtles in July.  


Finding Birds in South-west Turkey

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