I started doing a blog-post shortly after returning, but never got round to finishing it, but after looking through some photos the other night, I thought it'd be good to revisit it. It was a but long-winded though so I thought I'd rewrite it and make it a little more concise.
We went from the 11th-25th April 2014, flying into Antalya, and stopping at various locations around the Lycian Coast across the two weeks, before flying back from Dalyan. We used only public transport, which limited the amount of places I could visit for birding, but we still managed to find some decent places. I researched the trip by reading other trip reports, as well as referring to Dave Gosneys 'Where to watch birds in SW Turkey'.
I'll go through the trip by where we stayed rather than a day-by-day account, which was my original intention.
|Laughing Dove, Antalya|
We did a bit of 'urban birding' around the city, mostly around the park atop the cliffs and along the sea walls. On the first day we saw loads of Laughing Dove and White-spectacled Bulbul amongst the more familiar Collared Doves and House Sparrows. Down on the cliffs were a few Hooded Crows and during the afternoon a flock of a dozen or so Little Egret were circling the bay, with a couple of Cattle Egret in tow. The park had the expected birds in, mostly sparrows and Song Thrushes, although a Serin was heard and parakeets were a constant presence! In the evening hirundines and swifts hawked along the top of the cliffs along with bats as the night drew in.
|White-spectacled Bulbul, Antalya|
Heading south down the coast, our next place was the peaceful backpackers haven of Olympos. It was very quiet as it was low season, so only a few of the dozens of guesthouses and hostels were open. We ended up in an awesome little place with orange grves out the back, and we stayed in a little wooden hut on stilts.
The resort is nestled in a rocky valley, with a river which runs through ancient Lycian Ruins, before reaching a rocky beach. The ruins and woody hills surrounding it looked like excellent habitat, but on first impressions I was a little disappointed, as there wasn't much seen on or initial walk down to the beach. However once at the beach things improved a bit, with a flock of Alpine Swift flying overhead, but nothing was moving on the sea. I wandered around the bottom of the cliffs to see if I could See anything, and managed a few Bulbuls and a Blackcap. Heading back I heard an unfamiliar call, and quickly latched on to a Middle-spotted Woodpecker, albeit briefly before it flew off. Before I left I flushed a Hoopoe which soon disappeared again into the vegetation.
|Isabelline Wheatear, Cirali|
The town of Kas, on the southern tip of the Lycian Peninsula, was our next stop. At first I wasn't keen as it seemed a bit far-removed from any countryside, but it served as a good base for the next couple of days. The town itself wasn't very birdy, with mainly Collared Doves and Sparrows for company, though weirdly, Jays were sometimes seen flying round the rooftops.
Just on the western edge of town is a small wooded peninsula, which I ventured to during the two mornings we awoke here. Highlights down the mile or so of road i walked up and down were Red-rumped Swallow, the Turkish 'black-capped' subspecies of Jay, Ruppells Warbler, amongst commoner warlbers such as Garden and sedge, as well as numerous Woodchat Shrikes
|Nemoptera sinuata, Kayakoy|
We went for a dip in the sea and visited Simena, a tiny village built into the cliffs. On the way spotting some green turtles and some very wild looking Rock Doves. In Simena we just climbed to the hill overlooking the town to look for wildlife. Here we saw big flocks of hirundines and in a little marsh down in the valley behind the village were a few Little Egrets and a Greenshank. There were a lot of dragonflies about too, including what I think is Red-veined Dropwing, Trithemis arteriosa.
|Red-veined Dropwing, Simena|
Another trip from our base at Kas was up to the mountain village of Gombe. I wanted to get to some upland habitat an d had read that this was a good base to start some walks from. We got on a bus for 2 hours and drove through some incredible scenery to get to the little village. Then we attempted to find the route to Yesil Gol (a mountain lake), but we failed miserably, no thanks to some crap directions in a guidebook. However I was happy as there were plenty of birds.
In the gardens of the village, Nightingale was a common bird, and Linnets were frequent too, as well as small flocks of sparrows with blackcaps in tow. Outside the village, highlights included Serin and Golden Orioles, the latter of which were seen flying around in the tops of poplar trees. This was an unexpected species here and was definitely the bird of the holiday. At higher elevations we saw a small flock of Red-fronted Serin, and in a building development, a Western Rock Nuthatch was seen flying in and out of an half built apartment. Before we left Krupers Nuthatch also gave excellent views in some ash trees along the river. Another Hoopoe was also seen, flying over some gardens.
Spotted Flycatcher, Patara
This place was one I definitely wanted to visit after reading about it in the Gosney Guide. This was the best place we came in terms of birding, throughout the whole trip. We stayed in a tiny village (Gelemis), which was at the top of a road leading down to a huge beach, which passes through a large archaeological site, surrounded by scrub and farmland. The road between the village and the archaeological site looked down on a large wetland, that is highlighted in the Gosney book, but it was pretty unproductive when we were there, with only Cetti's Warbler, Coot and Little Grebe seen. Turtle doves were heard from the parks/farms at the village end of the wetland though. The scrub either side of the paths were more productive, with loads of Spotted Flycatchers, Blackcaps and Whitethroats. A Black Redstart was also seen from here.
|Crested Lark, Patara|
|White Stork, Patara|
|Yellow Wags, Patara|
The car park area at the back of the beach seemed quite attractive to birds and again I wish I'd explored it a little more, as in the short time I spent walking through it I saw a pair of Collared Flycatchers, a Redstart, a Wood Warbler and a pair of nesting Great Tits.
|Collared Flycatcher, Patara|
Fethiye was undoubtedly the worst place we stayed. It wasn't actually too bad, but just wasn't our kind of thing... a bit touristy and not much that we liked doing. We wandered to Calis Beach a mile or two up the coast from the town centre, as there was meant to be a little nature reserve called a Kus Cenneti (bird paradise). What we found was a litter strewn little marsh, nestled in between a horrible beach and lots of seaside developments... I wonder how long it will survive as a 'bird paradise'. There was a little tower hide from which we saw a green sandpiper and a few Ruff, and we did manage a couple of Flamingos in a shallow bay.
|Short-toed Eagle, Kayakoy|
Our last stop was Dalyan, a pleasant town set along the banks of a reed-fringed river which led down to an excellent beach. The town is great but I imagine would be heaving in the tourist season. The wetlands were also quieter than I'd expected, but we still saw some good birds .Boat-based tourism was the order of the day here and we did take a boat trip which was well worth it for the close up encounters with green turtles, and the brief visit to lake Kayakoy where they took you 'birdwatching'. This consisted of parking the boat inside a stand of reeds and listening to a load of Great Reed Warblers. An interesting method, but I actually really enjoyed it, those warblers really can sing! We also saw loads of Squacco Herons flying about and a Purple Heron too, so I was in my element.
|Squacco Heron, Lake Koycegiz|
Around dalyan we did a bit of walking too,. We went over the river and walked towards the ruins of Kaunous, which is another large archaeological site, with some lagoons and stuff inside. However we weren't keen to pay to get in yet another place like this so we wandered up the road and looked down into the valley. It was a nice view and we did see 12 Little Egret and a Great white Egret too. Highlight of this walk was an all too brief male Masked Shrike. Either that or a wonderful tortoise that we bothered for some time.
We flew back from Dalaman Airport, and I went out with a bang, as in the trees outside the Terminal, there were several Rollers and in the distance I saw a couple of Spur-winged Lapwing. The Turkish security and police however, did not take kindly to me sneaking about with bins and a long-lens camera. They demanded to look through my pictures, and we happy to let me go once they saw that all of them were of wildlife!
Another point is that Wildfowl and Raptors were very scarce, I had expected more, but on the other hand Woodchat Shrikes and Hirundines were all over the place!