© 2004 Kasper P Hendriks

Long-legged Buzzard @ Turkey © Wesley Overman


10: Aktas Gölü and surroundings

Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus
Armenian Gull Larus armenicus
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
Ortolan Bunting Emberizza hortulana

Tufted Duck Netta fuligula
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis icterops
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
Rook Corvus frugilegus

To obtain information about the numbers and exact places we observed these species, please download the complete trip report in pdf-format from the QUICK LINKS! on the right.
Çildir Gölü is described in A Birdwatchers Guide to Turkey by Ian Green and Nigel Moorhouse as a good place to see both Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus and Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus. Through our friend Remco Hofland, we understood the nearby Aktas Gölü on the Georgian border was to be a much better place to see them, though. This surely turned out to be the case. As a good start, Aktas Gölü is much, much smaller and can be viewed in total at once. The diameter of Aktas Gölü is not more than a few kilometres.

To reach Aktas Gölü, follow the road D010 from Ardahan eastwards in the direction of Çildir. After about 30 kilometres, turn north towards Çildir and drive along the main road through Çildir and directly out of it, northwards. After about 10 to 15 kilometres, you will see the lake on your right side. This is a truly impressive view, as you are standing way above the lake and you have a vast panorama over the lake and Georgia, which starts north of Aktas Gölü. The road up to this point is very much birding fun. We had our best views of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis along this road. On the west side of the lake, you will see a very small village. Drive towards this village.

A very important matter is the following. As we drove towards this village, we passed a military control post, see the accompanying map below. We thought this was just one of the many military control posts present in this area. We waved at the soldier and he waved back friendly. On our way back a few hours later, we were stopped. A soldier present in the small village down the lake had seen us with a camera and alarmed the others at their post. They searched the car and started to make some trouble. Luckily, a boss of the soldiers, or something like that, turned out to be married to a German and spoke with us. Within five minutes, we drank tea with him along the road and we talked about birds, optics and Germany. So, for future visitors, we strongly advice to stop at the military post and ask for permission first. Most probably, militaries will not have a problem with your presence as long as you explain your purposes.

On the map below, our most interesting observations are presented. After you have passed the military post, turned right onto the small dirt roads of the small village. Drive towards the shore. Here, we observed a few Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea. The first pelicans can we seen, but are very far away. Park your car and walk along the southern shore of the lake, eastwards, through the meadows. Here, you will surely see the nice Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg. You should walk as far as you want and as close as you want to get to the pelicans. We had nice views of about five Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus and 20 Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus flying above the lake and sitting on the small gravel islands. The distance to the birds is still considerable, though. On the middle of the lake, we observed a small and solitary group of eight Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, a species that can be seen on just a few high altitude lakes in eastern Turkey.

After our visit to Aktas Gölü, we drove south towards Kars. By following the signs, we were automatically sent along the eastern side of Çildir Gölü. On this lake we hardly observed any specialities, let alone pelicans. This lake is immense and searching for pelicans must be a huge job.

Click for full-size map!

Hotels at Ardahan and Kars. Camping in the wild is dissuaded because of the many soldiers present; situation seems very tense here.

To find out more about the other places visited during our trip, just click one of the numbers below or one of the links on the right!

Route travelled through Turkey in 2004 Alanya surroundings Mediterranean coast road Göksu Delta Tarsus Delta Aladag Mountains: Demirkazik Between Sivas and Erzurum Gelinkaya, Sivri Kaya, Ovit Dagi Gecidi and surroundings Between Savsat and Ardahan Hills east and valley south of Ardahan Aktas Gölü and surroundings Between Igdir and Dogubayazit Isak Pasa Palace and surroundings Between Dogubayazit and Van Lake area Van Lake area, including Erçek Gölü and Van Hills Bulanik Area Nemrut Dagi near Tatvan Nemrud Dagi and surroundings, between Siverek and Adiyaman Birecik and surroundings Durnalik and surroundings Cyprus: Bellepais Monastery and surroundings Konya-Karaman-Eregli triangle Kulu Gölü Akseki and surroundings Click on one of the places visited!




1:Alanya surroundings
2:Mediterranean coast road
3:Göksu Delta
4:Tarsus Delta
5:Aladag Mountains
6:Between Sivas and Erzurum
7:Sivri Kaya and surroundings
8:Between Savsat and Ardahan
9:Ardahan surroundings
10:Aktas Gölü
11:"Small Mast Lake"
12:Between Igdir and Dogubayazit
13:Isak Pasa Palace
14:Between Dogubayazit and Van Lake area
15:Van Lake area
16:Bulanik Area
17:Nemrut Dagi near Tatvan
18:Nemrud Dagi and surroundings
19:Birecik and surroundings
20:Durnalik and surroundings
22:Konya-Karaman-Eregli triangle
23:Kulu Gölü
24:Akseki and surroundings


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