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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 15:28   #1
wolfbirder
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Birding around Antalya, Southern Turkey 8-22 April 2012

BACKGROUND

This report highlights what can be seen on a family holiday, based at the coastal resort of LARA BEACH, close to Antalya. Lara Beach comprises a line of purpose-built 4-5 star hotels, which would constitute some people's idea of hell. Unfortunately not my wife's! We always take our summer holiday around April/May as temperatures are more bareable. This co-incides with spring migration though. I always manage to squeeze in car hire for a few days birding, so this report shows what can be seen on day trips from the hotel base.

The weather was mainly sunny, though occasionally overcast, with one day of particularly strong winds. The temperature varied from 65-80F approximately, or 19-25C. We did have some overnight rain.

LITERATURE

Books obviously include Gosney's inevitably partly outdated guides "Finding Birds In Turkey - Ankara to Birecik" (pages 30-32 for Akseki), and "Finding Birds in Western Turkey" (pages 18-22 for Korkutelli Hills, Tasagil & Managat (for Side)). I also found googled Bird reports invaluable on Birdtours.co.uk for areas like Seki and Gogubeli Pass, and information on Birdforum invaluable regards the Oymapinar Baraj.

Maps were critical, and as with the Gosney Guides, Antalya seems to be the dividing point, neccessitating acquisition of two maps if you want to cover all the areas. Freytag & Berndt maps are good, and available on their own site www.freytagberndt.com or from places like Amazon. The two I got were for "Turkish Riviera - Antalya-Side-Alanya", and "Turkish Riviera - Antalya-Kemer-Fethiye". The two maps cover either side of Antalya respectively.

DRIVING

I pre-booked a car (Hyundai) via Economy Car Hire for 4 days for 54, they have no excess charge and I have always found them to be very good - reliable and good value for money. The car was supplied by local company Life Car Hire, and I also paid 40 for a further 2 days hire later in the holiday.

I make the following points about driving in Turkey, as it is known to be perilous:-

* Always carry your car hire contract and driving licence (but do not leave them in the car).
* Go with the flow.
* Beware that "flashing" green traffic lights appears to mean that you go ONLY if it is safe to do so - such as when you are at central reservations of dual carriageways. Flashing red also seems to mean that you should give way to other traffic, rather than stopping full stop.
* ALWAYS check other traffic anyway at lights, as many Turks ignore them anyway. There are many late red light 'jumpers'.
* Avoid signs saying "Merkesi Sehir" in any towns unless you actually do want city centre.
* There are few police to be seen (just one traffic speed trap), but there is apparently radar controlled zones.
* Sleeping policemen are not painted, so keep your eyes open for unseen ramps. On country roads, deep ruts or holes are sometimes simply marked by a small boulder in the road.
* Signage is not always good, so study maps in advance, main centres for the direction you are going in will help you get to your destination. Some villages are not even signposted at all in the mountains.
* Petrol is expensive - about same as UK. I spent about 90 over my trips. You have to pay the attendant first, if tank is full he gives you back unused money. There are plenty of petrol stations on the main highways, but make sure you have a full tank before you venture out into mountainous areas.

That apart, its straightforward (:-

I was worried about wild dogs in Turkey, especially the notorious goat herders dogs that can be extremely defensive and aggressive, so be wary of birding out of the car near them. Threatening to throw rocks at any advancing dogs would seem to be the most favoured approach, but I did not encounter any threatening dogs, just dogs!

Much of rural Turkey is extremely poor and self-contained, people live off the land so in more remote or mountainous areas you will come across goats, cattle, donkeys, horses, & notably goat herders or shepherds hand-signalling for lifts back to villages. Also, if you stop in the mountains, the tranquility and peace may be broken by goat herders and their wives screaming communication across valleys to each other, it's all part of the experience that is Turkey.

My photos are often of scenery and I apologise for the lack of quality bird photos. I still hope they help future visitors.

Onto THE BIRDING.

I now split my report into 5 sections, all 'doable' on day trips, though depending on where you are based, you may want to repeat visit to maximise birding. All are east of Antalya except number 3 which lies west of the city.

1) ANTALYA - LARA BEACH / PERGE ANCIENT SITE

2) AKSEKI

3) KORKUTELLI HILLS / ELMALI / GOGU BELI PASS / SEKI / TERMESSOS

4) KROPULU CANYON / KARABUCAK CANYON (KOYU)

5) MANAVGAT AREA - OYMAPINAR BARAJ / YAYLAALAN (ROAD TO IBRADI) / SIDE ANCIENT SITE / TITREYEN GOLU
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

Last edited by wolfbirder : Wednesday 25th April 2012 at 05:48.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 16:02   #2
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SITE ONE - ANTALYA - LARA BEACH - PERGE ANCIENT SITE

Birds seen in the grounds at Hotel Titanic at Lara Beach included noisy Collared Doves and House Sparrows. The muslim call to pray via loud speakers was routinely made at 5.15am, and if you had intentions to drop back off to sleep afterwards, incessantly 'cooing' Collared Doves started at 6am with routine! A few pairs of Yellow-Vented (White-Spectacled) Bulbuls were easy to find daily around the grounds, with their loud calls always betraying their location. Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Hoopoe, Swallows, Swifts, House Martins, Hooded Crows, Yellow-Legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Little Egret, Spanish Sparrow were all seen, with juvenile Collared Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroats, Blackcaps seen in the pines.

At the front of the hotel (inland side) there is a reedbed and estuary stream with a crumbling concrete path which crosses to the shopping malls, which held Reed Warblers, and hirundines. 20 Red-Rumped Swallows were hawking following rain on 10/4, and on the final day 22/4 I found Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and Whinchat there after a mini-fall.

The main road inland of the hotel is straight, passing 15 hotels and various small shopping malls. Between the Akka Park and Myra Shopping Malls is a small river running under the road, with a tarmac track next to it running to the sea. Take this to a reedbed and adjacent scrub, with a track through it to investigate. This area lies behind the Akka Shopping Mall and next to the most westerly of 3 Delhpin hotels - the Delphin Diva, Delphin Palace & Delphin Imperial. The area of scrub holds a couple of pairs of Graceful Warbler in the shorter scrub next to the Delphin Diva.

At the western end of the long two mile long main road serving the hotels, is another large area of scrub and reedbed by the main estuary. The road curves inland here and a bridge carries traffic across. There are a few tracks here that can be investigated and hold reedbed warblers and Ruppell's Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and easy Yellow-Vented Bulbul. The track to the right once you have crossed this bridge was particularly good for the latter species.

PERGE ANCIENT SITE costs about 10-15 Turkish lira to access. Wonderful place! It is just west of Antalya & Lara Beach, accessed off the main D400 dual carriageway following signs to Alanya, & Perge is signposted off the D400. I only visited one late afternoon on 14/4 when it was thankfully less crowded with coachloads of tourists, and found birding around the old fascinating ruins very good for at least an hour. 3-4 Ortolan Buntings and at least the same number of Cretzschmar's Buntimgs were easy, and I also notched up 2 Northern Wheatear's, a male Eastern Black-Eared Wheatear, Corn Bunting, male Ruppell's Warbler, 2 Yellow-Vented Bulbuls, 5 Blackcaps, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, Sardinian Warbler, Whitethroat, 10 Crested Larks, and best of all 2 superb male Rock Thrushes that were feuding and at one point they flew a metre from my head. They also offered great views perched on ruins. A wonderful hours' birding was enjoyed here, but as I say I would try to avoid times when coachloads are expected.

PHOTOS

1) Pair of Yellow-Vented Bulbuls grounds of Hotel Titanic. Easy most places.
2) Graceful Warbler in scrub next to reedbed rear of Akka Park Shopping Mall, Lara Beach. Delpin Diva hotel is in background.
3) Looking from main Lara Beach road, photo shows river and adjacent service road to reedbed & scrub at photo 2.
4) From above service road, photo shows view to left, showing reedbed. Scrub with Graceful Warbler is other side, towards Delphin Diva Hotel (photographed). There are tracks to investigate on other side of reedbed. Access is easy.
5) River at front of Titanic Hotel, Lara Beach.
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 16:31   #3
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Photos From Perge Ancient Site...........

2 showing the ruins and landscape, also Ortolan Bunting and Rock Thrush.
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 16:44   #4
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SITE TWO - AKSEKI

The infamous site of Akseki was visited by me on 13/4, & is accessed via road 695 north off the main D400 dual carriageway running from Antalya to Alanya. This road off the D400 is east of Manavgat & runs for around 60-70kms uphill to Akseki (and beyond) from the D400. Apart from the first 2-3 kms that are currently being resurfaced the road is quite good, but be wary of those 3-laners where the central overtaking lane is used by traffic going both ways. We had Buzzard, 2 Long-Legged Buzzards, and a Short-Toed Eagle on route.

Gosney refers to 4 sites in or around the small town of Akseki.

Site 1- is the so-called "walled plantation" just before Akseki, taking the road off 695 westward for about a km when you see the "Toros" restaurant to your right. I was unsure if this site still exists, although there was good areas of scrub which appeared birdless to me. I wonder if this site has been obliterated as a new road is currently being constructed here that would probably run through the heart of where this should be?

Site 2 - Akseki graveyard - this site is accessed as Gosney highlights, by taking the turn off 695 to Akseki, then enter the town 4km later. As you enter the actual town centre the road is seperated by a tree-lined central reservation (not the tree-lined dual carriageway before it). Just before the central reservation, turn right across a small town square the size of a 5-a-side pitch, then down to the right following a small "Dutlaca" signpost at the back of the square. This road runs downhill and the graveyard is on your right so park where convenient and enter. At present there is a lot of noise as road pipes are in the process of being laid. As others have found in spring, birding in the graveyard was poor, with just Jays, and a Water Pipit found over 45 minutes. When it gets hotter as summer progresses, this wooded graveyard area may become an oasis for birds and birders, but I could find no Olive Tree Warblers and no woodpeckers!

Site 3 - This White-Backed Woodpecker site is accessed by driving to Akseki, up the tree-lined central reservation, turning right and downward initially and 7.9km out along a dirt track. There were a few mounds of piled dirt at the start of this track as you leave the village, so I was deterred from investigating this old road.

Site 4 - this second White-Backed Woodpecker area is accessed by staying on the main 695 road rather than diverting off into Akseki, and around 16km later take left turn where Beyhesir is signposted. Well I presume it is here as there was no other turning at around 15-16km past the Akseki turnoff. Gosney highlights that round 2.6km further on, park by a fire warning sign and sandy track on the right (which I actually found to be situated nearer to 2km along rather than 2.6km along) and walk across the road just to the left of two prominant rocks, 400 metres onward until you come to a "Y-shaped" clearing. Once there, White-Backed Woodpeckers (and others) may be found by checking the wooded slope 150 metres upwards towards rocks at the top. Unfortunately these slopes were snow covered when we went, so me and my 8-year old struggled up as far as possible, but only saw Short-Toed Treecreepers and heard no woodpeckers. I spoke to a Dutch birder who only found Middle-Spotted Woodpeckers around Akseki in the week. I hope my photos help & I hope they are indeed the correct site.

Akseki was a tough day for me, but at site 4 do check the roadside trees between 2-4km as I found a wonderful Kruper's Nuthatch that was calling loudly. They are meant to be fairly commonplace here but this was the only one I found, though I did not look further for them once I had enjoyed such good views of this male. A beautifully-marked bird that was much smaller than I had envisaged.

Photos for Site 4 White-Backed Woodpecker site......
1) On the main D695, 15-16km past the Akseki turn off, take this turn left onto the 07.11 road.
2) After 2.6km (I found it to be nearer 2km), you come to this fire warning sign and sandy track on your right (also see Sandy track photo 5).
3) Standing square on looking across the road, see these two prominant rocks, so you need to walk just to the left of them and through the meadows for about 400 metres.
4) You then come to this "Y-shaped" clearing, with the two dog-legs just visible at the far end. Walk up hill to the left (apparently) and the WB-woodies can be seen around the rocky slopes near the top. This is the area where they have been found in other Spring times.
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__________________
Nick Moss.
Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

Last edited by wolfbirder : Tuesday 24th April 2012 at 23:24.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 17:35   #5
wolfbirder
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Photos for Akseki graveyard & Walled Plantation.........

1) The small square you come to on your right in Akseki village just before the tree-lined central reservation- drive to the top right and then....
2) this is your view down a straight lane, and the Graveyard is on your right. It is all very easy.
3) The wooded Graveyard
4) For the Walled Plantation area, on the D695 look out for the Toros restaurant set back on your right hand side.
5) Directly opposite is this lane and this is the terrain. To the left (and out of sight) is a raised new road being constructed. Has this eradicated the Walled Plantation? The roadside scrub here still looks promising though but it looked hard to bird.
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 18:25   #6
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SITE 3 - KORKUTELLI HILLS - ELMALI - GOGU BELI PASS - SEKI - TERMESSOS

This was perhaps my most anticipated day & the most demanding from my base as I first had to get through Antalya. Make sure you visit the mountains on clear sunny days or it may make a wonderful day a grim experience. By studying a map you can see that the route is circular. Many of the roads are still fast and relatively traffic-free, but beware of those radar speed traps.

Many birders visit these areas from Dalaman, Kemer and Fethiye areas. I started on the D400 heading past the airport towards Antalya but ensuring I did not go into the city centre ("Merkesi Sehir" signs). The dual carriageway splits right for "Burdur" (and one or two other place names I fail to recall) onto the 650 road, and this is where you need to go (rather than straight into Antalya). Eventually after about 15-20 kms "Korkutelli" is signposted off to your left. Then it is all plain sailing via dual carriageway to Korkutelli. At Korkutelli take signs for Elmali via an easy ring road. After a further ten kms approximately, take left turn for Elmali. This part of KORKUTELLI HILLS is highly recommended by Gosney but all the roads around Korkutelli are now fast dual carriageways so it is extremely hard to stop and features such as highlighted water troughs are nie on impossible to locate. I found access off very difficult so all in all the Korkutelli Hills proved very hard for me. About ten kms out from Korkutelli on the Elmali Road I did stop to check out a small sparsely wooded valley spreading out down to the left where all I could find were a pair of Cirl Buntings and a Cuckoo overhead. There are undoubtedly good birding areas here, but I found the Gosney guide outdated due to the introduction of dual carriageways. If you can divert off quite quickly when on the Elmali road, and you have time to investigate possible tracks that exist, it may be very profitable around here. After about 20 kms on the road, vast plains stretched out before me as I 'motored' on to Elmali. I was heading for the much-heralded "Gogu Beli" pass, and then nearby Seki.

But first I had to get there. Take note! There are no signs for either.

So, at Elmali follow signs through the town for "Fethiye", then when you come to a t-junction with no signs except a "7.55" road sign, at the back end of the town, turn LEFT westward. You are soon out of Elmali, and into arable land and flooded fields where the birding quality picked up. A pair of 'frollicking' Syrian Woodpeckers offered great close views in a field with small trees, followed by a Woodchat Shrike on wires, various larks and wheatears, flocks of Spanish Sparrows, and a stunning male Montagu's Harrier passing by on 'flowing' wings. After the primitive farming village of 'Eskihsar' you suddenly enter a steeply ravined gulley. This road leads all the way to Seki.

From the moment I entered this superb ravine with a stream immediately after Eskihsar village, gradually leading upward to 1850m to the snow-capped GOGU BELI PASS, birding was superb. I was stopping every few hundred metres. Over the next few hours, I was in birding heaven............the order of birds was like this...........male Cretzschmar's Bunting, Crag Martin, Rock Nuthatch, male Ruppell's Warbler, Asian Long-Tailed Tit, 30 unidentified finches overhead, Wood Warbler, male Ruppell's Warbler, Rock Nuthatch, 5 unidentified finches over, Red-rumped Swallow, Rock Nuthatch, male Cretzschmar's Bunting, 2 Eastern Black-eared Wheatear's, 2 Mistle Thrush, Serin, male "samamiscis" Redstart, male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, male Rock Sparrow, Lesser Whitethroat, Asian Long-Tailed Tit, Woodchat Shrike, male Cretzschmar's Bunting, 15 Spanish Sparrow's, Northern Wheatear, 2 Mistle Thrush.......eventually I came to the snow-capped boulder-strewn peak where I watched extremely pale Eastern Black-eared Wheatear's and a few Northern Wheatear's (including a very nice looking black, grey and white male of sub-species 'Libanotica'), 2 Linnets, 3 Rock Buntings, Woodlark, & male and female Rock Thrush. As I descended I encountered 2 more very pale Eastern Black-eared Wheatear's, male Black Redstart, 2 Serin, Eastern Orphean Warbler, & single Chaffinch.

I spent two hours overall in glorious sunny conditions around the plateau, but was disappointed not to locate any Finschs Wheatear, Red-Fronted Serins, or Crimson-winged Finches. It is suggested that you concentrate efforts around water troughs, but at this time of year that is of no use as there is so much water available as the snow melts.

The road winds down through the village of Zorlar, and then to the town of Seki.

SEKI is possibly the most reliable White-Throated Robin location. From the Gogu Beli pass, keep to the left (south) side of Seki, and you will encounter the famous "apple sculpture". Here, turn left/south (or right/south if you have approached from the Fethiye/ Dalaman direction). Follow this lane for about 1-2kms only, initially past hillside scrub up to your left and farmland down to your right as it raises over the brow of a slight incline or hill, then the terrain type reverses as you go down slightly, with farmland down on your left and scrub on your right. It is this scrub that holds the robins. Drive to the end of the scrub on your right (it tapers away) and work back along it again, listening for the song. I enjoyed crippling views of a stunning male White-throated Robin down to five metres by the roadside fence line and it also showed across in the hedges of the field across the road. I heard another bird sing but did not stay longer as I had a long drive back via Sogut and Korkutelli.

Vast plains between Sogut and Korkutelli looked promising but again due to few turn-off opportunities from the dual-carriageway, I found it frustrating. Near Antalya I did visit TERMESSOS on the way back, paying the small entrance fee, driving the 8 kms up hill to the car park. I briefly examined the ruins but regretfully now, did not walk the further 2 kms to investigate this atmospheric site any further. 3 Blue Tits and a poorly seen Sombre Tit were encountered along with Jays by the car park.
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

Last edited by wolfbirder : Wednesday 25th April 2012 at 06:17.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 18:38   #7
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Photos from Korkutelli Hills and Gogu Beli Pass............

1) Leaving Antalya for the mountains via the dual carriageway 650 towards Korkutelli, taking the E87 / 350 road towards korkutelli where signposted.
2) Leaving Korkutelli on the signposted Elmali road, vast plains soon appear.
3) Luxury accommodation!
4) Syrian Woodpecker en route
5) The start of the steep ravines that leads up to the Gogu-Beli pass - superb birding area!
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Nick Moss.
Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

Last edited by wolfbirder : Tuesday 24th April 2012 at 23:34.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 18:50   #8
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More photos from Gogu Beli Pass.........

Photos 1-3 show scenery around the 1850m high peaks. Followed by the sign and finally the view down to the plains on the Seki side of the pass.
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 18:54   #9
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Photos of Seki and birds from Gogu Beli Pass & Seki.............

1) The infamous 'apple-sculpture' at Seki, where you turn right or south for 1-2 km to see White-Throated Robin's. When you approach from the Gogu Beli pass direction as I did, you actually see the other side of the sculpture, but I drove past it to photograph it in all its splendour, with the sun on it.
2) As you drive down this lane, this is the last bit of scrub that tapers away on your right (to the left of this photo). I have turned round and taken this photo heading back in the direction of the apple sculpture. It was this area of scrub where I found the photographed bird, by the fence line.
3) Stunning 'Libanotica' race Northern Wheatear at plateau of Gogu Beli pass.
4) Male White-Throated Robin at Seki
5) Cretzschmar's Bunting at Gogu-Beli pass.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 19:13   #10
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SITE 4 - KROPULU CANYON / KARABUCAK CANYON

This area is also accessed & signposted off the D400 between Antalya and Manavagat. I saw few raptors other than a Buzzard, but flooded fields held a few Redshank, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret and LRP, and a Woodchat Shrike was found. I found Kropulu Canyon fairly birdless, though the area is good for white water rafting. Pined hillsides may well contain Kruper's Nuthatches, but just where do you decide to stop? I found this day and area the least profitable.

I did take a turn west from the road to Kropulu Canyon, where I saw a signpost for Karabucak Canyon, and I drove for about ten kms until the road started descending. At the highest point I found several Eastern Black-eared Wheatear's, and a pair of very probable Bonelli's Eagles drifted overhead. This area merited further investigation. Around this area I took another track where a goat herder came running down the hillside and thumbed for a lift, which I duly provided to his village a mile or two away. He literally jumped in front of my car. Not sure if this was wise with hindsight, but he was an elderly man. Although I explained that I spoke English only, and he clearly only spoke Turkish, he continued to rattle on for the five minutes he was with me. Many others thumbed for lifts, off the beaten track, but I ignored them. Close to the Kropulu Canyon one or two asked me if I wanted them to show me Serge ancient site nearby - obviously at a cost. I politely but firmly declined.

Some photos..........

1) Signpost for Karabucak Canyon
2) Area where I found wheatear's
3) Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
4 & 5) Possible Finschs Wheatear but more likely pale Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. Terrible photos.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 19:45   #11
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SITE 5 - MANAVGAT AREA - SIDE ANCIENT RUINS / TITREYEN GULU / OYMAPINAR BARAJ / YAYLAALAN MOUNTAIN TRACK TO IBRADI

Let me say SIDE ANCIENT RUINS, that is signposted off the D400 at Manavgat, were both fascinating (as well as being free), and fantastic for birds! Ok the car park nearby costs 5 Turkish lira but it was worth every penny. Although not a prominant headland like Paphos in Cyprus for example, and hence not so good for raptors, it must rival it in every other way at times of migration. It was simply a joy to stroll around checking bushes and scrub amongst and close to the ruins, especially the superb area of scrub and trees at the far end. The site has so much potential, and I was thrilled to find a superb male Barred Warbler with steely blue upperparts and gleaming yellow eyes (possibly my bird of the trip!), Masked Shrike, 3 Eastern Subalpine Warblers, 2 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, several Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Cetti's Warblers, Nightingales, amongst many Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats.

A few miles away is TITREYEN GOLU. Again this is accessed off the D400 just east of Side, I think the signpost on the D400 says "Gorgan ??????" though the area you are aiming for shows as "Orman Kampi" on the maps. Then, once off the D400, at the first island turn left, then at the next island turn left where it is signposted "Titreyen Golu". Follow this road round to the right, and where you see a large 'whitish' hotel on your left, park on the right hand side just past it. To your right you can see a reed lined river and it is here you walk your way through to. There is a footpath beside the river and you can find Graceful Warbler in the scrub next to the reedbed. I also had Great Reed Warbler and Redstart during an hours visit.

In land of Manavgat is OYMAPINAR BARAJ, a tourist area that is signposted from Manavgat thankfully, though it takes about 45 minutes to get there from Manavgat. This is famous of course, for the recent discovery of Brown Fish Owl pairs in both Large and Little Canyon. You must pay a small fee to access the lake area, at the access point barrier. Continue on to the dam area, cross a bridge, and take the windy track upwards so that you emerge level with the top of the dam. You then go through a short tunnel and a few hundred metres on until you see a sign for Canyon cruises to the left. Park at the bottom by the boats. You can pre-book a cruise, but beware unless you pay 500 euros to hire a boat to see the owls early morning or late evening, it "may" be unlikely you will see the owls on the 10am departure standard tourist cruises that last a few hours and cost 35 euros. If the pairs have youngsters, that may be a good time to see them, but we did not manage any sighting on our cruise to the Big canyon, and infact it was pretty birdless though the scenery was stunning. Erdal is apparently the man to contact (see thread under rare birds Brown Fish Owl). We only had Short-toed Eagle, Long-Legged Buzzard, and Raven. Find out if birds are showing in either canyon, and make sure you get on a boat going to that specific one, as boats do not cover both canyons on standard 35 euro cruises. They all depart from the same point.

A day-hunting Little Owl in the village was scant consolation but still nice. A wheeling flock of Glossy Ibis in nearby flooded fields was also a great sight.

After the disappointing cruise, I exited the park through the barrier area, and immediately turned right where it was signposted for YAYLAALAN, as this track led up to the mountains. However, there were no signs whatsoever anywhere, and I did well to memorise so many turnings as I tried to go uphill. I reckon I got about half way to Ibradi before I turned back. Some of the scenery was superb, and in the higher areas I found a few Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, 4 Rock Nuthatches, juvenile Collared Flycatcher, several beautiful Serins, but still no Red-fronted Serins or Finschs Wheatears dissappointingly. This was a good mountainous area, but not as good as the Gugu Beli pass.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 19:50   #12
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Photos at Side Ancient Ruins & Eastern Subalpine Warbler there.............

The final image (not mine) 'superbly' depicts Side ancient ruins, with the car park to the bottom right, and main area of scrub and small orchard in the central upper area of the image, though there were birds everywhere. Great place at migration times.
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 19:51   #13
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Photos of Titreyen Golu............Graceful Warbler site..........

1) Graceful Warbler pair favour this riverside scrub patch by lampost. The river is immediately to the left and access road and hotel to the right - the hotel can be seen.
2) Footpath to walk along by the river.
3) Sign for Titreyen Golu - by following this road you come past the single hotel in photo 1 and park on the right when you have passed it. Then walk to the river side path (from right to left in photo 1)
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 20:03   #14
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Photos from Oymapinar Baraj boat cruise for Brown Fish Owl...........

1) Accessing the dam area via road bridge
2) Go downhill to boats where you see this sign
3) Boat for cruise
4) View of Larger Canyon
5) Canyon water where it enters from mountains
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 20:10   #15
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Photos of mountain journey near Oymapinar Baraj via Yaylaalan.............

1) Signpost to Yaylaalan, near entrance to Oymapinar. This journey was totally unsignposted, requiring skilled memory to retrace route.
2-4) Wild goat and scenery in mountains above Oymapinar Baraj.
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 20:38   #16
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BIRDLIST - 91 SPECIES.

In no specific order........

White Throated Robin - one male at Seki
Kruper's Nuthatch - 1 north of Akseki
Masked Shrike - 1 at Side Ancient ruins
Syrian Woodpecker - a pair near Elmali
Rock Thrush - 2 males at Perge Ancinet site, and a pair at Gogu Beli Pass
Graceful Warbler/Prinia - 1 or 2 at Titryen Golu, 2 at Lara Beach
Rock Nuthatch - 3 at Gogu Beli Pass, 4 near Yaylaalan Mountain route
Eastern Orphean Warbler - 1 at Gogu Beli Pass
Barred Warbler - 1 male at Side Ancient ruins
Eastern Subalpine Warbler - 3 at Side ancient ruins
Yellow-vented Bulbul - at least 30, at all lowland sites
Ruppell's Warbler - around 12 seen
Sardinian Warbler - 1 at Perge
Cetti's Warbler - 1 at Side, 1 at Titreyen Golu. many also heard
Montagu's Harrier - 1 male near Elmali
Bonelli's Eagle - a pair at Karabucak Canyon
Short-toed Eagle - 2 seen
Long-legged Buzzard - 4 seen
Woodchat Shrike - 3 seen
Collared Flycatcher - 2 juvs seen
Spotted Flycatcher - 2 seen
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - 1 at Side, 1 at Lara Beach
Great Reed Warbler - 1 at Titreyen Golu
Reed Warbler - several at Lara reedbed
Wood Warbler - 1 at Gogu Beli pass
Short-toed Treecreeper - 3 north of Akseki
Nightingale - 1 at Side
Hoopoe - 2 seen
Woodlark - 1 at Gogu Beli pass
Long-Tailed Tit - 2 asian race birds Gogu Beli pass
Quail - 2 at Side
Redstart - 1 male "samamiscis" at Gogu Beli pass, 1 at Lara Beach, 1 at Titreyen Golu
Black Redstart - 1 at Gogu Beli pass
Ortolan Bunting - 3 at least, at Perge
Cretzschmar's Bunting - 3 at Perge, 3 at least at Gogu Beli pass
Rock Bunting - 3 at Gogu Beli pass
Cirl Bunting - a pair near Korkutelli
Rock Sparrow - a male at Gogu Beli pass
Red-rumped Swallow - around 25 seen
Sombre Tit - 1 at Termessos
Spanish Sparrow - numerous
House Sparrow - numerous
Serin - 3 at Gogu Beli pass, several in mountains above Oymapinar
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear - around 15 seen
Northern Wheatear - around 10 seen
Cuckoo - 1 near Korkutelli
Kingfisher - 1 at Side
Chiffchaff - 1 at Side
Glossy Ibis - groups of 30 past Lara, also at Koprulu Canyon and near Oymapinar
Night Heron - 19 juvs at Titreyen Golu
Grey Heron - 3 or 4 seen
White Stork - 3 or 4 in flooded fields
Little Egret - 8 seen
Cattle Egret - 2 seen
Spotless Starling - 4 seen
Kestrel - several seen
Buzzard - 4 seen
Jay - about 10 seen
Hooded Crow - numerous
Raven - 2 at Oymapinar
Moorhen - 3 seen
Muscovey Duck - 1 at Lara
Blackcap - about 20 seen
Lesser Whitethroat - 15 seen
Whitethroat - 1 at Perge
Whinchat - 2 seen
Crag Martin - 1 at Gogu Beli pass
House Martin - 30 plus seen
Swift - 30 plus seen
Swallow - numerous
Mistle Thrush - 5 plus seen
Blackbird - 2 seen
White Wagtail - 5 seen
Corn Bunting - 4 seen
Crested Lark - numerous
Linnet - 2 seen
Magpie - 10 plus seen
Blue Tit - 3 at Termessos
Great Tit - 5 seen
Coal Tit - 3 seen
Greenfinch - 20 plus seen
Goldfinch - 15 seen
Collared Dove - numerous
Yellow-legged Gull - about 50 seen
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 4 seen off Lara
Redshank - 4 seen in flooded fields to Kropulu Canyon
Little Ringed Plover - 1 seen
Ringed Plover - 1 seen
Chaffinch - 12 plus seen
Chukar - 1 seen
Little Owl - 1 day time hunting bird Oymapinar village

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

The downs were obviously not seeing the Brown Fish Owl, I was not surprised not to connect with White-backed Woodpecker or Crimson-winged Finch, but was disappointed not to see Finschs Wheatear or Red-fronted Serin (though the latter have been scarce so far in the area). The low number of raptors was a disappointment, as was the access to Korkutelli Hills.

There were however a number of highs - especially birding at Gogu Beli pass and at Side. Lifers for me included that wonderful Kruper's Nuthatch, Rock Nuthatch, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Graceful Warbler (or Prinia), and in the western palearctic Yellow-vented Bulbul (previously seen them in Hong Kong). I have seen so many beautiful Ruppell's Warblers now that I am becoming wrongly blase about them. Seeing certain species really well was a top highlight for me, such as male Rock Thrushes so closely, Syrian Woodpecker pair so well, Masked Shrike, the male Monty, and of course the stunning male White-throated Robin is hard to beat. Perhaps my top moment was enjoying crippling views of a stunning male Barred Warbler though - a bizzarre choice I know, but boy it was so beautiful!

I would like to return, for a three day break perhaps, when the Brown Fish Owl has young and is easier to see, and also to return to Gogu Beli pass again. I would perhaps base myself close to Side Ancient ruins, Hotel Neptune looks ideally situated to make repeat visits. Although I often only saw one of certain species, there were almost certainly more to be had, but I moved on as soon as I was happy, due to time constraints. Birders in groups, or with better hearing, eyesight, optics, knowledge of bird song, will inevitably do better than me. For example I should have studied Finschs Wheatear song & Red-Fronted Serin song to increase my chances of connecting. Easy to say with hindsight, but considering this was a family holiday, I was more than content with what I did see.

There is so much more to see in Turkey than what I saw in the Antalya area of course, but I hope this provides some interest to those staying in the Antalya / Side area.
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Old Wednesday 25th April 2012, 14:59   #17
DEREK CHARLES
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Hi Nick
great report and you done well considering the limited time you had for Birding. Unlucky with the Owl and hopefully you will get back soon to see them if they become easier to see.
Very informative and will be a great help to anyone visiting this area.

derek
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Old Wednesday 25th April 2012, 16:54   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEREK CHARLES View Post
Hi Nick
great report and you done well considering the limited time you had for Birding. Unlucky with the Owl and hopefully you will get back soon to see them if they become easier to see.
Very informative and will be a great help to anyone visiting this area.

derek
Hi Derek

very kind of you to comment as usual mate.

I must admit i enjoy doing a report, as much for my own enjoyment but as you say I always hope information may help other birders in the future. I obviously need to get a life !

kind regards, nick
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Old Wednesday 25th April 2012, 17:55   #19
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I agree with Derek, a very nice report, although it's fair to say that i always enjoy reading your reports. As a general observation, i'm always appreciative when birders spend their time creating detailed and useful reports for the benefit of others and i've used many of them in the past to help with my travels. I think without this generosity we'd see a lot less than we do.
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Old Wednesday 25th April 2012, 21:21   #20
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Hi Nick - a really detailed and useful trip report ; well done for getting it out so quickly. Im off in 2 weeks and, based on what you saw, really looking forward to birding around Side where Im staying. Korkuteli sounds disappointing though - how long did drive to Gugu Beli pass take you from Antalaya, as looks like that might be best option?
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Old Thursday 26th April 2012, 05:05   #21
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Graeme / Chris,

It really gives me pleasure to feel the reports help other birders. Thank you for your kind words.

Chris, it takes about an hour to get to Antalya from Side/Manavgat then its dual carriageway all the way, though through Antalya it inevitably gets a bit busy. Keep to the right or at least middle of the 3-lane dual carriageway as you go past the airport to your left. Several kms later as you feel you are getting to the heart of Antalya the dual carriageway splits once (from memory), you need to go right where it says Burdur (maybe also Ankara) and NOT "Merkesi Sehir" (city centre). Anyway once on that dual carriageway it takes some time heading out of Antalya's suburbs, its probably about 15-20kms until Korkutelli is signposted. Sat in the central reservation to turn left off the dual carriageway for Korkutelli is one of those moments you need to be very careful crossing the opposite lanes, irrespective of the traffic light colour check for potentially lethal oncoming traffic ignoring lights! Then the roads are fast and relatively free of traffic.

So it will be 3 hour journey - 45 mins to 1 hour to Antalya, 45 mins to 1 hour through Antalya, 30 mins to Korkutelli (with no stops), 45 mins to Elmali (with no stops), then the birding starts after Elmali. I would say it is worth it, but of course that is based on my one visit. The drive at Gogubeli pass is superb and easy for birding, making a crucial difference.

This is the problem, there surely is some good birding areas around Korkutelli but I imagine not close to a fast flowing dual carriageway. You need time to investigate. Gogubeli Pass and Seki (for the WT Robins) are in "my opinion" the best areas and easiest areas to bird, areas which instantly deliver. It would be a long day, but it was by far my most enjoyable one. Set off at 6am-7am, be there for 9-10am, you would have 5 hours birding before heading back. It took me 3-4 hours travelling the 15-20km between Elmali & Seki as you stop and start for roadside birds, barely leaving the car. I just slowly drove along, stopping several times to listen for song and check out the very best areas such as the steep ravines at the start & the plateau.

Follow signs for Alanya in Antalya to get back to Side.

Graceful Warblers are easier than I initially thought but must find suitable habitat. Listen for their 'tapping' call. The Dutch birder I spoke to had only managed to see them at Lara Beach, but he had not tried Titreyen Golu. The drainage ditches around Manavgat for this species were very hard to find though at stages they did run next to the busy dual carriageway, but I think the days when Gosney birded there 20 years ago traffic would have been relatively free on single roads.

The Dutch birder also said there were Krupers Nuthatch in the forest around Oymapinar which could save you going to Akseki, but where? They could be commonplace as far as I know. He also said Syrian Woodpeckers were the most common, but I have always struggled with woodpecker species.
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

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Old Thursday 26th April 2012, 11:38   #22
Edward
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Very interesting trip report, Nick, and I enjoy seeing pictures of locations and habitat in trip reports just as much as the birds. It's an area I was originally thinking of visiting this summer (but not now) with the family and thus with limited birding time so it will be very useful for future reference, particularly the info on the access, or lack of it, in the Korkuteli Hills area.
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Old Thursday 26th April 2012, 14:58   #23
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Very interesting trip report, Nick, and I enjoy seeing pictures of locations and habitat in trip reports just as much as the birds. It's an area I was originally thinking of visiting this summer (but not now) with the family and thus with limited birding time so it will be very useful for future reference, particularly the info on the access, or lack of it, in the Korkuteli Hills area.
Thanks very much Edward. The reason there are so many scenery photos is that I can't get near the actual birds often with my hand held 9 x zoom digital compact. By the time I get them compressed to load onto here, especially if on full zoom, they look terrible I know (:-

I could well be wrong about the Korkutelli Hills, the birds will probably still be around there........somewhere!

Here's a few more from my holiday that I feel caught the moment (albeit badly) & encapsulate Turkey.........the last lot I promise!

1) Boat cruise at Side
2) Woman trying to sell cow on dual carriageway
3) Mountain shot from Gogu Beli Pass
4) Eskihsar village high street (start of Gogu Beli Pass) - woman chopping wood by roadside.
5) Relaxing / fishing by the river at Lara Beach close to hotels (not me I hasten to add).
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Fav Birds - Hen, Pallid & Monty Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Saker, Hobby, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Monty, SE Owl, Pom Skua, Hawfinch, Wryneck, Redstart, Shrikes, Roller, Bee-eater's, Nightjar, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Spotted Redshank, Warblers (especially yank ones)!

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Old Thursday 26th April 2012, 17:27   #24
chris chapleo
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Thanks for your reply Nick - all invaluable and, importantly, up to date- theres a few new birds for me in Turkey but as its a family holiday I am trying to brainwash myself into being fairly relaxed ( lets see how long that lasts?!) and intend to mainly just bird Side area and see what passes through. However, Mountains and Akseki have got to be on the agenda. Will post on my return, but cant promise will be as prompt (or comprehensive) as your report!
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Old Thursday 26th April 2012, 18:33   #25
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Thanks for your reply Nick - all invaluable and, importantly, up to date- theres a few new birds for me in Turkey but as its a family holiday I am trying to brainwash myself into being fairly relaxed ( lets see how long that lasts?!) and intend to mainly just bird Side area and see what passes through. However, Mountains and Akseki have got to be on the agenda. Will post on my return, but cant promise will be as prompt (or comprehensive) as your report!
Look forward to reading what you see Chris, however much that may be. Enjoy it mate!
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