Whos keeping an eye on me....

Friday, 9 August 2019

Seki & Gogubeli Pass

My second visit to this area high in the Taurus Mountains of Southern Turkey. There are two key species to target here although other good birds are around, and of course there is wonderful scenery.

Seki is a small village on a mountain plateau and has a Ski resort fairly close by. Its about an hours drive from Fethiye and the target here was the White Throated Robin and is a fairly reliable spot for the species.
the famous apple sculpture on the roundabout as you enter the village
(its an apple growing region)
and the White Throated Robin area
Last time I visited I did well for Wood Larks and Cirl Buntings, this time neither species were around. Of course I missed the Robins on my last visit.

Today would be different.....

First up as I parked up in the right area, as soon as I got out of the car I saw a life bird, Black Headed Bunting. Perched up nicely in the hillside bushes. Even more as I walked, and on the telegraph wires. Upto a dozen were seen, a nice surprise as I wasn't expecting them here.

Black Headed Bunting


I continued to walk the very quiet road which is arable on one side and a mixture of rocky outcrops amongst the dense bushes on the other side..... perfect for White Throated Robin, I hope.

It wasn't long before I spotted a fantastic male White Throated Robin, it looked right at me, turned away, I was frantically trying to focus on the bird and it flew. Damn, I had just had a focussing problem with a bird on a wire, it continued just when I didn't need it to, and of course it never happened again. A little disappointed that I missed the photo opportunity I was still pleased to get the bird that I came for, and of course the second lifer of the morning. I continued along the road and caught up with a female White Throated. A little further on and away from the road, two more females. One gave up a photo for me, they were ok at this distance but I couldn't get any nearer as they were flighty. A smart bird weather it be a male or female.

White Throated Robin female

I walked back to the car and saw another male, this time it flew straight away deeper into the bushes. I was happy, time to move on.

Next stop is a twenty minute drive through Seki upto the Gogu beli pass. Its a fairly hair raising drive up a narrowish road that is not only steep with loose chippings that make the car want to slide, but it has a sheer drop on one side. Its my second drive upto the pass so was feeling far more confident than I did a few years back. The scenery is stunning but a target was in mind and I wanted as much time as possible to find it. I reached the summit at 1850mtrs parked up and immediately found a Red Fronted Serin..... well that was too easy. It flew over the car and landed in a lone pine tree a few yards away.

Gogu beli pass at the summit


I managed a few ropey images in the heat haze, it flew and I wandered off to try and catch up with more. This was my third lifer of the morning and it felt like it could be a good morning. Indeed it was, half an hour later a very distinctive warbler caught my eye low down and just off the track. An Eastern Bonelli`s Warbler. Another Lifer and a very smart bird. It allowed a fewshots, I could have followed it off as it flew from bush to bush, it was baking hot. I decided to camp out at a well known bird watching spot, a water trough. Sure to attract birds when there are no puddles of rain about and the weather is dry and hot. The plan worked as plenty of Linnets, Goldfinch, Serin, Tortoise and Red Fronted Serins took the opportunity to take a drink from the over spill. I managed to see upto 8 individuals including some first year birds. Quite smart even without the red front.

Eatern Bonelli1s Warbler

meanwhile at the watering hole......

Red Fronted Serin

European Serin
and a surprise bird that landed in the only tree near the water trough
Middle Spotted Woodpecker

a brilliant mornings birding with four lifers, oh its my birthday too, what a great way to spend the morning. Now time to get down that mountain in one piece and have more than a few celebration drinks with Liz
"thanks for the pass out love"


Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Birds of an Uzumlu garden - Southern Turkey

Liz and myself decided on a relaxing beach holiday for 2019. We normally holiday here in late Autumn.

Uzumlu village (Yesiluzumlu) is located 16 km from Fethiye. Time stops here allowing you to enjoy the mountain scenery. The name Uzumlu is translated from Turkish as "grape" (Yesiluzumlu - green grape) – excellent local wine is produced here and juicy grapes decorate the terrace houses until late autumn. It is a true paradise with the emerald - green meadows and picturesque mountains covered with dense fairy forests. The real Turkish Tuscany!
The locals cordially smile and say hello like old friends. The narrow old streets, stone houses of Ottoman style often overgrown with ivy. Our apartment is situated on the outskirts of the village along side Olive groves, overgrown hedgerows and scattered fig trees.

In the mountains above the village of Uzumlu Fethiye archaeologists discovered the remains of an ancient Roman settlement - Lycian Cadianda, it’s ruins date back to the 5th century BC.

All the birds depicted here were seen from the balcony, garden or even poolsdide.

Resident Little Owls. This was partially a surprise as we have only ever seen one individual Little Owl. It often sits on the terracotta roof and terrorises the fairly large population of House sparrows. This visit was nice as we actually got to see two birds, eventually they settled down one evening just before  dusk on the Olive grove gate.

Little Owls 
on the roof of our apartment

on the telegraph pole

and on the Olive grove gates

at dusk the pair
The Eastern Orphean Warbler is a garden regular in the summer although in small numbers. This year just a few individuals spent the first week in the overgrown bushes just outside the garden. The first image shows well the heavily marked under-tail coverts, a good ID indicator for this species. I think the next three images show female, male, female of the same species.

Eastern Orphean Warbler

Eastern Olivacious Warbler
The Eastern Olivacious Warbler is easily the most prominent large Warbler in the area during the summer. This year I counted at least 10+ birds, including a family with two juveniles being fed. The constant tuk tuk tuk can be heard from most overgrown bushes although they tend to be elusive when foraging deep within the vegetation only briefly coming out into the open.

Really happy to have three Masked Shrike individuals knocking around the area around our apartments garden. They showed up mostly before dusk so I presume they had a roost very close by. They would perch up during the day at various prominent trees and bushes often out of camera range. So was good to see these while I enjoyed an evening chilled beer after the beach.
Masked Shrike
a juvenile utilising the Olive grove gate, this turned out to be a good perch for a dozen species

Lad and Dad


Only a single Woodchat Shrike was seen in the immediate area. It never crossed paths into the Masked Shrikes territory but ran immediately along side it. This fella was a little more skittish that the Masked Shrikes, but allowed me a few opportunities for images for retreating way off into the otherside of the cultivated fields.
Woodchat Shrike
Jays are always in large numbers in Uzumulu village and certainly more conspicuous than Jays that I come across (or not) in the UK. Noisy, aggressive, openly flirtive and a very stylish bird. The species in Turkey is known for its black cap
Jay - Garrulus glandarius atricapillus
on our garden fence

Syrian Woodpeckers are normally in good numbers around the village although the area around the apartment has seen fewer birds in the last few years as a few trees seem to have disappeared. However this summer saw as many as I have ever seen. Always giving a call before taking flight so are very easy to keep track of where an individual is. These two birds were just outside the apartment.
Syrian Woodpecker

Not as many individuals Black Redstarts as normal, in the autumn upto a dozen can be seen in ta single field, this summer only two individuals were seen. Both outside the apartment in a cultivated field.
Black Redstart
Alpine Swift
These were in fantastic numbers above the aprtment for the first week, numbers thinning out greatly by the end of the second week.

I can get Krupers Nuthatch in the forest immediately outside the village about a 15 minute walk up a small mountain \ hill, it was way too hot for walking, so although these Krupers Nuthatch are not actually around the apartment they were on the Cadianda road about a mile outside the village. Stunning species and was pleased to see two individuals in the same tree.
Krupers Nuthatch
other birds seen from the Balcony were Laughing Dove, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Sombre Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Crested lark, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Short-toed Eagle, Hooded Crow, Common House Martin, Spotted Flycatcher, Spanish Sparrow, Raven, Mistle Thrush, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Red-rumped Swift (dozens daily)