REPORT OF A BIRDING TRIP TO THE SOUTHERN AND EASTERN PARTS OF TURKEY
After successful birding trips to Spain in 2002 and Eastern Europe in 2003, 2004 saw another successful birding trip by Ben Wielstra, Wesley Overman and Kasper Hendriks. Turkey was the main area visited, but a pit stop at Cyprus was made, too. The fourth member this year was good old Frank van Duivenvoorde.
The trip can be entitled as a great success, probably a result of the many days of obtaining information in advance. A list of target species was made, supplying the places to find them. Many reading about good places has been done as well. Through EBN and EBN NL, quite some recent information got available. Turkey visiting guru Remco Hofland has been consulted few times as well, for which we'd like to thank him very much! Most target species have been found, including sometimes hard-to-find ones such as Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus caspius, Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi and even Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes. A total list of birds observed can be found within this report, as well as a list of places. Additionally, small maps have been added where appropriate.
Hopefully, photographs of birds made during the trip by Wesley Overman will be added soon.
Any questions not answered within this report? Send me an email!
The usual crew comprises Ben Wielstra from Rijnsburg (21), Wesley Overman from Zoetermeer (21) and Kasper Hendriks from Leiden (21). Frank van Duivenvoorde from Katwijk aan de Rijn (between 50 and whatever) was added to this list.
The texts in this trip report, as well as the sketched maps, have been produced by Kasper Hendriks. Ben Wielstra has kept the systematic bird list up-to-date during the trip, which has later been used for the making of this report. No rights reserved. Copy this report as many times as needed without any permission, but for non-commercial usage only!
Because others had found out that a period of two weeks was way too short to cover the whole of southern and eastern Turkey, a total of three weeks was expected to be necessary to visit all the places on our wish list. A flight between Amsterdam and Antalya was booked through Corendon, a fairly young Turkish travel company, at a total cost of € 1135.40 for the four of us. When arriving at the airport, a tax of € 10 per person had to be paid.
Hotel & Food
Nights were, except for one, always spend in hotels from various qualities. Expect to pay between €3 and €9 in most cities after haggling. Breakfasts were sometimes included and mostly used to beat down the prices more when not used. The only seriously expensive hotel had to be visited at Cyprus, for no inexpensive hotels were present.
Food in Turkey is very standard. Breakfast is almost without exception bread with some Turkish cheese, olives, tomatoes and cucumber. Tea is always served and coffee can be asked for. Diner is mostly some meat with salad and bread. For vegetarians, the best option is to ask for a cheese pizza (pide). Otherwise, ask an English speaking Turk once to write the words “I do not eat meat” down and show this at the restaurants. I did, and at most times it worked properly.
Shops always sell bread, which costs very little. We ate it with cheese and cucumber. Otherwise, we ate lots of biscuits and some bananas and melons.
Thanks to a tip through EBN, car rental was arranged at arrival, instead of a booking in advance. This indeed turned out to be a very good choice. Since our flight arrived at night and driving through the dark is seriously dissuaded in Turkey, we had some hours to negotiate with the various small offices from the various car rental companies present at the airport of Antalya before sunrise. Very important for future visitors: make sure you do not walk past these small offices, for going back inside the airport may take up to half an hour (luggage checks and stuff). We found Hertz to be the most inexpensive of the three companies opened at night. Unfortunately, the guy from the company tried to trick us in many ways, and we had to be very sharp. For instance, he showed us a diesel-engined Fiat in a leaflet, so when we tried to fit our luggage outside and had made the decision to rent that car. We went inside to sign the contract and again asked him whether the engine was a diesel, but now he said it was a petrol engine! We seriously laughed at him and his excuse was that we had asked about the car pictured within the leaflet, and that that one was a diesel-engined car. How stupid is that?! Also, we had made the agreement that we would rent a car with two extra chauffeurs. Just a sec before we signed the final contract, he wanted to charge us for the second extra driver!
However, we rent a Hyundai Starex SV Van for a total amount of €1080 for the three weeks. This included two extra drivers, unlimited kilometres, CWD (collision damage waiver) and LIS, the latter being optional but very important. It means that wrecking another vehicle is no problem for you! Booking through the internet will mean you pay approximately twice this price!!! The car is powered by a 2.5L diesel engine, built from plastic in 300 B.C. and giving an immense power of ±5bhp. In total, we drove about 6700km without any problems.
Reading & Maps
Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik & Finding Birds in Eastern Turkey by Dave Gosney
Unfortunately, these small booklets by Dave Gosney are still necessary to find the best places in Turkey. The booklets are now and then seriously dated and cost way too much (€8.50). What irritates me most, though, is the fact that these booklets make it virtually impossible for decent birders to publish about these spots. In my opinion, reports should be free from charge and available to other birders as much as possible. But, just like former visitors, I am compelled to refer to these booklets. But, extra places are described within this report.
A Birdwatchers Guide to Turkey by Ian Green & Nigel Moorhouse
A nice book to get an overall idea of the birds to be found within Turkey. You'd better have a copy! We especially used the book for tips on accommodation present in remote areas. Maps are not very helpful, though. But, the general text that opens the book is, as well as the chapter 'selected species' at the back.
Various trip reports can be found on the internet. Most useful sites are www.birdtours.co.uk and www.osme.org. You will need them for recent information.
Buying useful maps is not an easy thing. Detailed maps of the eastern parts of Turkey are not available. The best we could find was a map by Freytag & Berndt. It shows the whole of Turkey on one side with a scale of 1:2 000 000 and the western part of Turkey on the other side with a scale of 1:800 000. Some searching through the internet found us a reasonably detailed map, which you can find here . We printed most of it and took it with us. It turned out to be convenient at some times, especially in the far eastern parts of Turkey.
Finally, the best friends in route planning when still at home are surely MultiMap and the superb route planner from BP.
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