A 16-days tour exploring the Central, Eastern Mediterranean and South-eastern regions in search of Oriental rarities!

Birding Turkey

Friday 24th April - Saturday 9th May 2020

Turkey is a huge country, situated on two continents, on the eastern edge of the Western Palearctic, and thus offering a great and spectacular birdwatching. Within the tour we will be focused on central, eastern Mediterranean and south-eastern regions. We will start our tour in the southern town of Adana, with a flight change in Istanbul. We are going to visit deltas, coastal lagoons and high mountains (up to 2 600 m. a.s.l.) in order to get the local specialties. We will visit mountains close to borders of Armenia and Iran, Van Lake, Black Sea coast. The avifauna of Turkey include a total of 482 species, but this tour is created for some of top species. We expect to see more than 250 species, but our aim are 110 highline species - White-throated Robin, Red-fronted Serin, Dead-sea Sparrow, Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Marbled Teal, Cinereous Bunting, Desert Finch, Trumpeter Finch, Hill Sparrow, Kurdish Wheatear, Rufous Bush Robin, Upcher's, Menetrie's and Rupell's Warblers, 3 species of kingfishers, Graceful Prinia, Fan-tailed Warbler, Grey-headed Purple Gallinule, Kruper`s Nuthach, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Demoiselle Crane, Great Bustard, sandgrouse, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Radde's Accentor, Great Sand Plover, Mongolian Finch, Caucasian Grouse, Green Warbler, and many more. Good number of other wildlife and plants will be also recorded as we will visit variable habitats.

The period of our tours also coincides with the migration of the northern species, especially waders, and we will catch many of them in breeding plumage. Despite early in the spring, some days will be too hot for birdwatching in the middle of the day, so we may have early started and afternoon siestas. But on some of the places snow cover will be extant.

ITINERARY

Day 1  Arrival at Adana airport and drive to Tasucu (about 2 hours), where we accommodate in the sea view hotel. Depending on the arrival time, there is a chance to explore the nearest parts of the delta, a few kilometers from our hotel. Stay overnight for three nights.

Day 2  Early morning start to Goksu Delta, which is a prime habitat for wetland birds. With over 335 species that have been recorded here, it is the most famous place for birdwatching in Turkey. Here we will explore the wetland for our primary species here - Marbled Teal, Grey-headed Purple Gallinule, Black Francolin, Pied Kingfisher and Moustached Warbler.  Additionally, we should be able to find many migrating waders, as well as Marbled Teal, Audouin's Gull, Collared Pratincole, Little Crake, White-tailed Plover, Spur-winged Plover, Great Sand Plover, Pygmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Bearded Tit, Rufous Bush Robin, Fan-tailed Warbler, Graceful Prinia, Spectacled (Yellow-vented) Bulbul, pelicans and many different passerines along our route. On the shore we`ll try to find Cory`s Shearwater and Audouin`s Gull. Keeping our eyes on the sky for Eleonora's Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard and other raptors we'll continue to explore the Goksu Delta the whole day.

Day 3   After early breakfast we will drive to Uzuncaburc - an area covered by dry maquis scrub and ancient Roman ruins. Here we shall look for eastern Mediterranean species and our main targets will be Rupell's Warbler and Cretzschmar's Bunting, but also Olive-tree, Olivacious and Orphean warblers, Masked Shrike, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Rufous Bush Robin, Chuckar and many more. We will have a picnic in the local pine woods and in the meantime shall enjoy Kruper's Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Hoopoe etc. Time permitting, we will continue to explore Goksu Delta in the afternoon. Last stay overnight in Tasucu.

Day 4  After an early breakfast and morning birding in marshy area of Goksu Delta, where we can catch up any species we may have missed, we shall head to the north Aladaglar region by crossing the Taurus Mountains. The transfer itself is about 3 hours and upon arrival we accommodate in Safak pension for two nights. In the afternoon we will start to explore the nearby spectacular gorge and our walk shall produce Red-fronted Serin, Red-billed Chough, White-throated Robin, Rock Sparrow, Chukar, Upcher’s Warbler, Tawny Pipit, Short-toed Lark as well as the beautiful local race of the Shore Lark - penicillata. We shall enjoy our dinner, homemade food, with sightseeing of Demirkazik Peak, and prepare ourselves for early start next morning.

Day 5  We will have an exceptional birding trip today (optional), with an early start at 04:00 a.m., and ascend with a tractor or by 4WD to about 2 400 m. a.s.l. depending on seasonal snow level. Getting to our observation point by the first light of the day will allow us to hear and see the elusive Caspian Snowcock calling from the rocky tops above us - a beautiful bird and challenge for every birder. Here we will enjoy our breakfast while watching many other alpine species, including Radde's Accentor, Alpine Accentor, Crimson-winged Finch, Bimaculated Lark, Upcher’s Warbler, Snowfinch and Alpine Chough. Raptors may include Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Saker falcon, Long-legged Buzzard and Peregrine. When ready in the area, we start back with option for several stops on the way down which can produce Ring Ouzel, Red-fronted Serin, Rock Sparrow, Rock Bunting and possibly the Rose-coloured Starling and Upcher's Warbler. After a lunch, we will visit Sultan Sazligi Nature Reserve, one of the most important breeding areas in the country. A rare ecosystem where salt and fresh waters co-exist, and the only place in Turkey where cranes, flamingos, herons and pelicans breed together. The reserve is a home to more than 300 different species of which 85 breeds here. Here, highlight species are Great Sand Plover, which breed only here in Turkey, including Cattle Egret, Greater Flamingo, Marbled Duck, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Bimaculated Lark, Asian Short-toed Lark, Citrine Wagtail, Moustached Warbler, possible Black-winged Pratincole, White-tailed Plover. Back to Oz Safak Pension for our second night here.

Day 6  In case we had unfavourable weather the previous morning, we shall go back to the same site and try again for Caspian Snowcock and the other alpine species, or alternatively visit another valley for some species we might missed the day before. If we have seen everything from the area we shall continue to drive south (3 hours driving) to Osmaniye. Before accommodation we will visit few marshes and the shore south from Adana for missed species from previous days. Overnight in Osmaniye, in a city hotel, for one night

Day 7  All day transfer to our next location (Ataturk Dam). After breakfast we will visit Kirmitli Bird Paradise. Yet another spectacular place over Ceyhan River which is famous for its kingfishers, heron and egret colonies. Here we have excellent chance of seeing all three species of kingfishers in the region - namely White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher and Common Kingfisher - almost at the same spot. Next few stops on the road. Close to town of Kahta we`ll stop on the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater`s colony. Other species during driving we`ll be Lesser Kestrel, Rufous Bush Robin, White-throated Robin, Red-tailed Wheatear, Upcher’s Warbler, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Rock Sparrow, Hill Sparrow, Desert Finch, Cinereous Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting. Accommodation in Karadut town for two nights.

Day 8  All day birdwatching in Nemrut National park. Highlines species here are Bonelli’s Eagle, White-throated Robin, Red-tailed Wheatear, Finsch’s Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Hill Sparrow, Chestnut-shouldered Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Kurdish Wheatears, Rufous Bush Robin, Upcher’s Warbler, Cinereous Bunting. Second night in Karadut.

Day 9   After breakfast we`ll check region for missing species. Next 5 hours transfer to town of Tatvan on the shore of Van Lake. If time permit, we`ll take short walk along the shore. Accommodation for 2 nights.

Day 10  All day birdwatching in the region. After early breakfast next short driving (1 hour) to marshes, lakes and steppes around Bulanık for morning session. Here we will explorer till midday for Great Bustard, Demoiselle Crane, Saker Falcon, Spur-winged Plover, Armenian Gull, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Citrine Wagtail and more. Lunch will be picnic in caldera of Nemrut volcano.  Afternoon we`ll spent in the region of volcano where will explorer different habitats for – Grey-necked Bunting, Horned Lark, Armenian Gull, Bimaculated Lark, Kurdish Wheatears, Finsch’s Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Rock Sparrow, Rock, Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Hill Sparrow, Crimson-winged Finch. During migration here we can see many species in huge numbers – Levant Sparrowhawk, Lesser and Great Spotted Eagles, Stepe Eagle, Honey Buzzards, Montagu`s and Steppe Harriers and more. Late afternoon will explorer shore of Van Lake. Back to the hotel.

Day 11  All day transfer (300 km) to Doğubeyazıt with many stops along the road. Our first stop will be town of Çatak where will searching Plain Leaf Warbler. Next explorer marshes south from Van city. Here we looking for Greater Flamingo, White-headed Duck, Armenian Gull, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Rufous Bush Robin, Caspian Stonechat, Moustached Warbler, Great Snipe, Terek Sandpiper, Marbled Duck, Lesser Kestrel, Caspian Plover, Citrine Wagtail. Next marshes and delta of the river in Karahan, northern part of Van lake. Here will stop for Greater Flamingo, Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Saker Falcon, Armenian Gull, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Caspian Stonechat. Next lava fields next to Serpmetaş for Mongolian Finch, Armenian Gull, Bimaculated Lark, Citrine Wagtail, Radde`s Accentor, Kurdish Wheatear, Finch`s Wheatear, White-winged Snowfinch, Crimson-winged Finch. Accommodation in Doğubeyazıt for two nights.

Day 12 All day birding in the region of Ishak Paşa Sarayı. Here is the best place for Lammergaeir. Bird list include more - Mongolian Finch, Radde’s Accentor, Red-billed Chough, Twite, Crimson-winged Finch. Saker Falcon, Chukar, Bimaculated Lark, Finsch’s Wheatear, Alpine Chough, Rock Sparrow, White-winged Snowfinch, Red-fronted Serin, Grey-necked Bunting, Common Rosefinch. In addition to birdwatching we can visit ancient castle and other Middle Ages, ancient and religion landmarks. Second night in Doğubeyazıt.

Day 13 After breakfast we can explorer the region for missed species. Next 3 hours driving will bring us to Ikizdere for two nights. Along the road we will produce few stops for birdwatching. Around our hotel is a good place for searching for Green Warbler and Common Rosefinch and other forest species.

Day 14 All day watching region of Sivrikaya – target species of the day is a Caucasian Grouse. But we will keep open our eyes for Caspian Snowcock, Finsch’s Wheatear, Caspian Stonechat, Green Warbler, Caucasian Chiffchaff, Red-billed Chough, Red-fronted Serin, Crimson-winged Finch, Common Rosefinch. Second night in Ikizdere.

Day 15 Depending from the results of previous day, after breakfast we can try again for Caucasian Grouse. Next transfer to Erzurum/ Palanduken. Few stops on the road for Lammergeier, Caspian Snowcock, Radde’s Accentor, Rock Sparrow, White-winged Snowfinch, Red-fronted Serin, Twite, Common Rosefinch, Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon, Bimaculated Lark, Caucasian Chiffchaff. Late afternoon birdwatching over ski resort – White-winged Snowfinch, Red-fronted Serin, Skylark, Horned Lark, Black Redstart, Red-billed Chough and more mountain species. Accommodation for one night.

Day 16 Transfer to Erzurum airport. Departure.

TOUR MAP:

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Birding Turkey

Birding Turkey

Birding Turkey tour gallery