A return trip was made to Antalya on 19th May, returning 21st May. I spend nearly any leisure money on such trips, barely ever going out or spending on other things, though I am still lucky to be able to afford the luxury of doing this, I acknowledge.
Flights from Manchester with Thomas Cook were £175, 2 nights all-inclusive at Lara World near Antalya airport cost £50 (though I ended up not using the 2nd night), instead staying at Yesil Vadi on the night of the 20th (which is booked via Vigotour.com, and cost 25 euro B & B). Car hire via Hertz cost 50 euros. The Brown Fish Owl trip cost about 25 euros each, as I had piggy-backed Simon's trip (see above posts). If you were by yourself it could cost 190 euros approx.
I arrived late on 19th and checked in to catch the most of the champions league final with Chelsea winning on penalties. I have sleep problems, and this night I just could not get to sleep at all, perhaps it was simply the lack of cotton sheets! So I left at 3am, driving back to the airport and getting onto the D400 motorway for Antlaya (not Alanya direction).
I was heading back to the circular route I undertook a month ago - KORKUTELLI HILLS, SEKI (including TEMEL & ZORLAR), GOGUBELI PASS, ELMALI, AVLAN RESERVOIR, & KORKUTELLI HILLS. But I explained previously in my main report, that birding was not great in the former area due to a lack of access off the dual carriageway system, that post-dated Gosney's guide.
This time I undertook the same route but in an anti-clockwise direction, and it did provide entirely different opportunties and access tracks. Although again, I would still maintain that the Korkutelli Hills were not as good as other areas, with the exception of a great spot for Finsch's Wheatear.
I have discovered a great website with co-ordinates to pinpoint recommended birding spots, that will be of no interest to the causal reader, but may be imperative for future visitors.
This site is :-
It is based on google maps I believe , & you can use map, satellite, hybrid or terrain options. Scroll down and you can input co-ordinates I provide in this report following the instructions, and it takes you exactly to the spot.
Anyway, from the D400 I started the day by travelling towards Antalya, but following D400 signs where the motorway swings to the right, as you do NOT want to go into Antalya central (Merkesi Sehir), and then again you turn right where "Ankara, Burdur, Istrata etc" is signposted. It is straightforward, and this road takes you up and out of Antlaya. After 15-20kms Korkutelli is signposted, and then you are on your way to Korkutelli. Follow signs for Elmali once at Korkutelli, but several kms later where you turn left again for Elmali, you turn right for Fethiye (you do not go all the way there of course). This road is the D350. A few kms before the village of Kizilcadag, you take a rough, stoney, dirt track to your right where you see a large sign for CIGLIK YAYLASI. This is at Lat 37.032767 Long 29.989972. If you approach from the Fethiye direction you will not see the sign as it is on the other side of the dual carriageway, so you would have to double back somewhere. But you can see the radar masts on the hill. Initially, on the track, you just run past a few houses and then the lane winds upwards, past superb, barren, boulder-strewn hillside that is quite excellent for Finsch's Wheatear. The track runs for approx 1-2 miles until it reaches a village that is presumably Ciglik Yaylasi. I did not encounter any other traffic during an hour here, between 6.30am-7.30am. I also took a short track off this road to the right for a few hundred metres, where I enjoyed good views of Finsch's Wheatear, but on this side track feet and tyres quickly attracted clay, so beware. I dread to think what it would be like in wet conditions.
Back on the main track, it is not really worth going more than a few hundred metres past a fountain that attracts some birds. Overall here, I notched up at least 7 Finsch's Wheatear (3 males, 3 females, 1 1stW male), 10 Northern Wheatear, 1 Cretzschmar's Bunting, 5 Short-Toed Larks, 8 Rock Sparrows, 1 male Rock Thrush, 1 Shorelark of the local race, Kestrel, and 2 Ruddy Shelducks overhead. It undoubtedly held more though I feel I did well. It was time to move on.
A Lesser Kestrel was noted en route to Seki, as I continued on the excellent D350 road, along with many hirundines, House Sparrows, Hooded Crows, Crested Larks, Collared Doves, Magpies etc.
Off the D350 I turned left for SEKI as signposted (by a beautiful old stone river bridge) - the long approach road to the famous apple sculpture at Seki produced Lesser Grey Shrike, Calandra Lark feeding on a beetle, & the first of many Red-Backed Shrikes. The flooded fields here are worthy of fuller examination. At the sculpture (long 36.801579, long 29.644439) I turned right and after a hundred metres I stopped to watch an insipid, grey-brown warbler than occasionally swung its tail, that I thought could be an Upcher's Warbler (though far more likely Eastern Olly). I am not sure Upcher's occur this far west in Turkey?? The next mile produced superb birding at the famous White-Throated Robin site - 5 such birds being seen (4 males & a female), along with 3 male Black-Headed Buntings, Alpine Swift, several Rock Sparrows and Cretzschmar's Buntings, 2 Ortolan Buntings, & Eastern Orphean Warbler. It was hard to drag myself away. If walking around, just beware of beehives and of antagonising them, though shepherds with goats wandered happily. This White-Throated Robin area runs from the apple sculpture to this reference point (lat 36.792799, long 29.63122). The area inbetween is superb.
Less than a mile further along the above lane you come to the village of TEMEL. In the tiny square (Lat 36.782961, long 29.620342), where there is a shop and where local men gather during the day to drink coffee around tables, take the unsignposted left turn up the TEMEL PASS, to a ski-lift point 3 miles up the track (Lat 36.738987, long 29.5997). The stoney road terminates here but you can walk further if so desired. The track from the village initially goes past a small graveyard, turn sharp left immediately before a second graveyard and then it is straight on. The track then goes through arable land, then as it ascends through boulder and scrub filled hillside, and eventually to snowmelt areas with streams. Birding over an hour and a half here was pretty good, with Thrush Nightingale & several Nightingales being heard but not seen. Visual highlights were Masked Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, several Red-Backed Shrikes, Golden Eagle briefly, Kestrel, 2 Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, 4 Ravens, 2 Eastern Black-Eared Wheatears, and near the Ski lift 2 Shorelarks, Water Pipit, 2 Crag Martins, Rock & House Sparrows galore.
Back at the apple sculpture in Seki turn right and weave through the outskirts of the town on the same road following Elmali signs, until you come to the village of Zorlar. ZORLAR was my next port of call to check out, having read reports previously. Keep on the road through Zorlar until you see a track running to the right with red and white railings. I think the co-ordinates are Lat 36.807178, long 29.692014. There is a collapsed roof nearby, see photos at the end. This rough track is driveable quite easily in dry conditions, but it may get heavy under foot as you drive in wet conditions. Initially it does not look particularly promising, running past houses but a Rock Bunting and 2 Redstarts were still seen here. Soon the track opens into superb agricultural land and grassy plains. Within a mile of the access point I had small flocks of Red-Fronted Serins (at least 40 birds) by the ditches at the side of the track, as well as several Red-Backed Shrikes, Hoopoe, 5 Cretzschmar's Buntings, & Long-legged Buzzard. After a mile the track became muddier and with a raincloud encroaching I chickened out and turned back, but with the serins in the bag I was happy indeed.
I returned to the road at Zorlar and continued towards Elmali via the GOGUBELI PASS. I spent long spells here on my last visit, but today I didnt really linger, though I still picked up a stunning White-Throated Robin, Middle-Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Rock Nuthatches, 2 Serins, Coal Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, and 2 Grey Wagtails.
You reach the other end of the pass at ESKIHASAR, and between there and ELMALI you come across obvious floods to the right - I named them ELMALI FLOODS. I found an obvious track that leads down to the water's edge & swings left, with the track from the road starting at Lat 36.732749, long 29.865448. I drove along the edge of the water to the point at Lat 36.724052, long 29.864091, about a half mile drive in all though you can drive further. On google maps this area just looks like arable fields, so it probably dries out as summer progresses. I spent an unscheduled but superb hour here, picking up 2 Black-Headed Buntings, Calandra Lark (or was it Bimaculated going "trip trip trip" as it circled above me?), 15 Bee-eaters, Great Reed Warbler, 2 Corn Buntings, Common Crane, Squacco Heron, Pallid Swifts, 4 Ruddy Shelducks, Grey Heron, & Long-Legged Buzzard. Great spot!
At ELMALI, I headed south for 15 kms on the D635 towards Finike direction, to AVLAN RESERVOIR, and at the northern edge I climbed obvious rocks by a turn off, to gain a reasonably panoramic view of the reservoir. Right in the middle, and distant, were several Pygmy Cormorants amongst Greater Cormorants, and several Ruddy Shelducks. The rocks are situated at Lat 36.603539, long 29.957305. If you have time on your hands you can probably get nearer to the birds.
As time was passing, I pressed back past Elmali towards KORKUTELLI. I was looking out for any access points, and about 15 kms approx from Korkutelli, I took a rough track that led beneath the main road and back towards Elmali direction. My car was virtually headbutted by a shepherd's dog, & it was not especially productive though I did enjoy good views of Eastern Orphean Warbler, 2 Woodchat Shrikes, 3 Ravens and a Long-Legged Buzzard. The track does lead back to the main road, but the last part was decidedly dodgy! These two access points are at Lat 36.946977, long 30.161827, and then Lat 36.981584, long 30.152214.
I drove back through Korkutelli, on through Antalya, and eastward to Manavgat, where I turned inland for OYMAPINAR. Just a few kms short of the Green Canyon, I easily found YESIL VADI hotel booked by Vigotour.com. This was basic but clean accommodation with dodgy approach steps to my 3rd floor room. But the scenery was set beside the river, and two pints went down nicely. The restaurant looked nice too, but it was late and I was exhausted. At 25 euros it was a bargain! Totally removed from the atypical tourist package hotel.
I was up at 3am on the 21st, ready for the Brown Fish Owl tour. Cetti's Warbler & Scops Owl called as I opened my bedroom door, in a semi-exhausted state, having had about 2 hours sleep over two nights. At 4am promptly, someone from Vigo Tours arrived & you have the option of following them in your own hire car or going with them. The boat departed at 4.45am, motoring the short distance just into Little Canyon, where one of the adult owls was waiting, silhouetted against the early morning sky. We spent at least two hours here, and as time passed, we enjoyed fantastic views of both adults perched and in flight, with the added bonus of the juvenile at the cave entrance, that acts as a nest. Blue Rock Thrush was seen, and Scops Owl called here too. Heaven! If you do connect with the owls on a later-in-the-day boat trip, you will simply see a sleeping roosting adult, and that is if you are lucky. The Big Canyon pair are also present but rarely seen.
Check out www.vigotour.com
, and go the left menu and check "Brown Fish Owl".
At 8am we were back at the hotel, but exhaustion kicked in, as did Turkish belly!! In 80 degree temps, I was just too jaded to either join the group in a celebratory breakfast or check out Side ancient ruins again (a great shame), so I merely drove back to Antalya airport, rested in the car by woods there - noting 3 Jays and 2 Eastern Olly's, before surrendering my car at 4pm, and then discovering a 4-hour delay to my flight. Exhaustion, sickness, perhaps it serves me right ! Perhaps it was all too ambitious, but it paid off.
Key targets achieved, 73 species in total.
Photos to follow