© 2004 Kasper P Hendriks

Long-legged Buzzard @ Turkey © Wesley Overman


15: Van Lake area, including Erçek Gölü and Van Hills

Armenian Gull Larus armenicus
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon mimicus
Olivaceous Warbler Acrocephalus pallidus elaeicus
Pale Rockfinch Carpospiza brachydactyla
Black-headed Bunting Emberizza melanocephala

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutes
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus rubber
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
European Roller Coracia garrulous
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens
Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola werae
Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura armenica
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
Common Reed Bunting Emberizza schoeniclus reiseri

Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Common Redshank Tringa tetanus
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Caspian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus fuscus
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

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.

Places mentioned above are all described in Finding Birds in Eastern Turkey by Dave Gosney, unless explicitly stated. It is generally true that all areas around Van Lake should be visited as early as possible in the morning. Unfortunately, because there are so many, we have not done this, for it would take quite some days.

At our arrival at the area, we visited the Bendimahi Marshes. Gosney's guide seems to be hopelessly dated here! As a start, the road from Muradiye drawn does not connect to the main road along the marshes south of the bridge crossing the River Bendimahi, but north! Gosney site 4 cannot be reached without crossing a military camp, so we did not try not to get in trouble. Also, site 2 is hardly viewable for the reed has grown very tall.
A nice observation was the large-billed subspecies of Common Reed Bunting Emberizza schoeniclus reiseri. Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens was easy on the cut cornfields south of the bridge and west of the road.

An early morning visit to a small marshy lake south of the road that runs south of Erçek Gölü turned out to be a good idea. Quite some ducks were present, including White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala. A Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon of the eastern subspecies mimicus sang next to the road and could well be observed. Along a track southwest of this small lake, Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura armenica was present in the fields.

The eastern shore of Erçek Gölü itself was also worth the visit. A good number of Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei was present on the water, as was an immense number of Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea. Of course, many Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus rubber were present, too. We found the best place to watch the birds on the water and shore to be around a small river entering the large lake. It can be reached by following the main track through the village of Erçek southeast of Erçek Gölü that runs northwards for some kilometres. The water along this track after some kilometres north of Erçek holds many Caspian Terrapins Mauremys caspica.

After a visit to Erçek Gölü, we drove to the Van Hills that can be found quite nearby. We hoped to get good views of Grey-necked Bunting Emberizza buchanani at this site; it is well known for this species. We did not see it though, but instead found quite some singing Pale Rockfinches Carpospiza brachydactyla. The boss of the adjoining quarry invited us for tea, which of course could not be refused. He was surely interested in the birds, but shooting them seemed more logical to him…

At the start of the afternoon, after our visit to the Van Hills, we headed for the South Van Marshes. The site numbered 1 by Gosney cannot be reached through the small track that runs north along the Van Castle. So, we drove a perfect sandy track south of the Van Castle westwards to site 2. The area is very much visited by local day-trippers and therefore very busy. We did not find many marshes: all reeds had been cut and replaced by a rubbish heap! It shocked us a little, especially seeing all the children playing in the water amidst the garbage. Some ducks Anatidae, terns Sternidae and waders Charadriiformes were still present. We were especially very happy with the observation of a total of five Citrine Wagtails Motacilla citreola werae, foraging along a small creek that runs along the sandy track mentioned, about 200 meters from the Van Lake itself. Some Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni hunting near the Van Castle were also very amusing and could be telescoped from a short distance.

Many hotels of variable quality present in the centre of Van town.

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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