Birding trip report south-central Turkey 26 Mar - 4 Apr 2006 
John van der Woude  -  www.jvanderw.nl 
see also: 
photos of sites
species list
 
This report is mainly a collection of updates etc. to other reports as available via www.travellingbirder.com and to Gosney's booklet.


General logistics

We (my wife Nollie, also a birder, and me) travelled by car rented via HolidayAutos, a good Hyundai Accent with large boot, from Antalya via the interior to the deltas of Adana and Silifke, generally on good roads. The reason for our early trip was the total sun eclipse of 29 March, which we did see very well in Cappadocia, but we also managed to see many nice birds, like Krüper's Nuthatch and Caspian Snowcock.

We stayed in a variety of hotels, mainly based on recommendations in the Lonely Planet of Turkey, plus the pension of the bird guide in the Aladag mountain (for Caspian Snowcock). Beds are generally good but rather hard, and the food is good, cheap and quickly served. The people are very kind, but we never got used to the near lack of women in the streets of the more remote towns and villages, and we were also a bit depressed by the desolate state of most houses and streets there.

Petrol is expensive: Euro 1,65 per litre for unleaded (Kurcunzug). 
Hotel rates were generally about 25% higher than indicated in the latest Loneley Planet (2005). Often they start telling a rate in euros, we then just asked for the rate in liras, and then they often quoted a lower rate.

Breakfast is usually served rather late for birders, so we sometimes had tea at small cafés, often open at 6 a.m., and bought fresh bread around the same hour. Cheese and jam are good and are sold in many small shops. Water bottles and cola are widely sold, also in the many gas stations. Tea is served by diluting in your glass very strong tea with hot water: we learned that the ratio of 1 (tea) to 3 (water) was often strong enough for us (in stead of their usual 1:1). Of course you cannot resist the sweet baklava, sold in many places, and for us often enough to get us through some hungry hours.


Birding sites

Akseki

Of the two hotels here, we stayed in Duruk (with restaurant). The other hotel (Star) seemed not in use now. There was a good kebab house near Duruk, in the main street (turn right when leaving front door, then right again and you'll face it when crossing the main street).

The best site (Krüper's Nuthatch, Middle Spotted Woodpecker) was Gosney's site 4, which can best be found by driving on to the North along the main road to Konya, then keep left at a fork with both roads signposted for Konya, then stop after about 2 km at a large sign about forest fires, and walk to the left amidst the pines and clearings.

We also liked the "walled plantation" (Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker). Coming from Akseki village turn left onto the main road and then after 500 m or so turn right opposite a restaurant. After again some 500 m keep left at the fork and the walled plantation is immediately on your left.

We tried to take the road from this area to Karaman but that was closed (for snow and repairs). Certainly worthwhile to try again, because this way you could avoid the very long and winding coastal road between Antalya/Akseki and Silifke/Adana.


Road from Konya to Eregli

Even so early in the season we saw little or no water, and we think that many former birding sites must have been reclaimed. A nice patch of steppe was still present at GPS 329 (opposite a gas station north of the road; Lesser Short-toed Lark, numerous Isabelline Wheatear, Lesser Kestrel). Also, where you cross a small canal not far before Eregli, there were some nice dune like patches and some water (Tawny Pipit, Ruddy Shelduck).


Demirkazik

The Safak pension (hsafak@e-kolay.net) is still the best place to stay and have the excursion to the Aladag NP for Caspian Snowcock and other high-altitude birds. However, for 2 nights plus meals and the excursion (in two parts, before and after breakfast), we paid 200 euro for the two of us, which is quite a sum for Turkey. Hasan is still using his tractor to get over the NP's muddy ground to the high mountain saddle from where you can see the snowcocks (best with scope, glad we brought that). We also had the Crimson-winged Finch here. Finsch's Wheatear was easy while we were driving the sandy track along the base of the NP on our own later that day. Radde's Accentor and Red-fronted Serin were apparently still absent from the area (too early in the season?).


Adana/Tarsus delta

This is a huge area and it is largely cultivated. Still there are a few nice birding sites, but if you have not a lot of time you might better skip this delta, in favor of the smaller and much more natural Göksu delta at Silifke. Moreover, Adana is not a easy city to drive through.

We stayed in Karatas, in hotel Baris, just keep driving on to the coast through the centre. Don't miss the opportunity to have a wonderful fish meal at the restaurant c. 3 km east of town (sign at exactly 1 km N of hotel Baris). It is called Salim in yeri (Salim's place).

We did find our way from Karatas to the western border of the Akyatan lagoon by taking the small road signposted 'Kc. Karatas' along the main road (3 m N of our hotel), and then keeping right in the hamlet (after 1 or 2 km). We had some birds (larks, raptors) but it could have been better.

Actually the best place in this part of the delta was near Tuzla, a 50 km drive from Karatas. The view of the dozens and dozens Kentish Plover at the coast S of Tuzla was unforgettable (certainly over one hundred). To find this spot, keep a bit left when in Tuzla, taking the direction to the Gendarma (police). Take the track to the right opposite the Gendarma.
Another reasonable site near Tuzla was the small road towards the west cost of the Akyatan lagoon (godwits etc.). This road starts in the middle of one of the hamlets N of Tuzla, I think the first one already, at a sign with Akyatan I believe.

Far more to the West, south of Tarsus, is a lovely area of canals and woods, with many White-breated Kingfishers, amongst others. Along the main 400 road (parallel to the toll road) find the southbound road starting between a Renault outlet an a PO petrol station, well east of where the toll road exit to Tarsus joins the 400 road. Veer left at a fork and then keep right at a second fork (see Kasper Hendriks' report via travellingbirder). Keep driving on along the small canal.


Göksu delta

Here we stayed in the nice Göksu hotel (with restaurant) in the centre of Silifke, at a surprisingly quiet location along the river Göksu. When coming from the East along the main road, you'll find this hotel by just driving into the centre. The hotel is on your left just before the old bridge, after you have passed many shops left and right.

One can drive all the way around the delta. Easiest is this when doing it clockwise from Silifke. South of Kurtulus go right to the small fishing village and keep driving on this dirt road (or track sometimes, but easily done by normal car), along many nice spots and two observation platforms N of the Paradeniz lagoon and further West (Slender-billed Gull, Marsh Sandpiper, Citrine Wagtail), then NW through the dune area SW of the Akgöl lake (Black Francolin). There is only one track, although near the end it splits up now and then but also rejoins again. Visit the large observation tower of Akgöl lake, although it was rather birdless. Find your way through the holiday village SE of Tasucu (some yellow signs; this is why it is easiest to start not here but in south of Silifke), and upon reaching the road along the northern edge of this holiday village, go right and keep this road/track. Now, one of the tracks to the right leads to a superb observation platform amidst pools and reedbeds at the northern edge of Akgöl lake (Little Crake, Penduline Tit, Bearded Tit, Purple Gallinule). To find this platform just try any track going South, all will be useful for birding. Probably it is just the second track, at c. 3 km East of where you came out of the holiday village. This platform may also be found by leaving the main road (Tasucu - Silifke) just before the entrance sign of Ulugöz village. Drive south along this gravel road until you see the platform.


Anamur

Anamur is halfway the extremely long (but also very scenic) coastal road from Silifke to Alanya. So you will be glad to interrupt the voyage for some birding. The Anamurion historic site a few km west of Anamur is one of the few real maquis areas we have seen on this trip, and we liked the few birds already present here this early in the year (like Masked Shrike). The site stretches along a mainly publicly accessible road which goes south from the main coastal road just before this starts climbing up westward.


Side

Side is an important ancient site where you'll walk through nice coastal shrubs for seeing the temples etc. (freely accessible). Here again we had some nice birds like Masked Shrike, Quail, Arabian Bulbul and some migrant warblers (mainly Blackcap). We stayed in the Lale Park hotel, which has a quiet location and a friendly, English-speaking owner (www.hotellalepark.com).


GPS waypoints
At several birding sites and road forks etc. we did GPS measurements. These are in WGS84. Also consult the text above.
328 N37°08'28.79" E031°47'44.15" - best site at Akseki (Kr Nuthatch)
346 N37°03'02.75" E031°47'55.82" - start of road up mountain from Akseki
345 N37°01'31.44" E031°44'18.69" - entry for walled plantation near Akseki

329 N37°42'32.82" E033°22'51.51" - steppe relict along road Konya - Eregli

330 N36°41'34.92" E035°04'46.44" - our Kentish plover site near Tuzla, Adana delta
331 N36°52'22.41" E034°52'55.66" - birdy spot S of Tarsus (Wryneck, Red-r Swallow, White-br Kingf etc.)
332 N36°52'19.70" E034°52'27.50" - along tar road S of Tarsus (Penduline Tit, Red-r Swallow)
333 N36°54'03.33" E034°52'31.81" - S of Tarsus: veer left here (see text)
334 N36°53'38.55" E034°53'09.22" - S of Tarsus: take road to the right here (Wh.br. Kingf.)

335 N36°20'42.62" E033°55'35.42" - early bakery + tea house along main rd  Silifke - Tasucu 
336 N36°21'05.81" E033°55'59.19" - start (along main rd Tasucu - Silifke) of gravel rd to best obs. tower
337 N36°19'56.69" E033°56'14.22" - crossroads of GPS336 road with circular gravel rd around delta
338 N36°18'44.49" E033°56'28.04" - best obs. tower of Lake Akgöl
339 N36°20'14.17" E033°58'32.28" - hamlet in circular gravel rd around delta (N of Akgöl lake)
340 N36°20'18.25" E033°58'54.33" - where N part of circular gravel rd meets tar road fr Silifke to sea.
341 N36°17'20.98" E033°58'55.20" - platform (obs. tower) at Paradeniz lagoon
342 N36°18'16.58" E033°55'14.89" - exit from holiday village S of Tasucu for doing delta anticlockwise
343 N36°18'52.00" E033°54'31.17" - yellow sign "Göksu delta" to find exit GPS342

344 N36°01'34.54" E032°48'13.48" - good spot in Anamurion maquis (3 wheatear species)