Birecik has always had the Western Palearctic sub-zero status for birding areas amongst birders. Our expectations were very high, and luckily the birding indeed turned out to be stunning. A lot of target species were easily found, whereas others needed more than a day to be found, especially Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis. It should be noted that temperatures are extremely high (up to 40°C) in summer, starting from 09:00h until dark. Really good birding can therefore only be done in the very early morning. After 09:00h, only though guys will be able to walk around.
The areas visited have all been described by Dave Gosney in Finding Birds in Turkey – Ankara to Birecik and references are made above. Some extra comments need to be given, though. The village of Halfeti came across very dead. We actually saw not one bird, but this might have been caused by us visiting in the afternoon.
The spot formerly known to have breeding Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor, Gosney site 6, was totally empty. In 2003, these birds have been seen again though, by two Dutch birders.
A species formerly breeding on the west banks of the river Euphrates, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus, has not been found here since quite some years. Unfortunately, we did neither.
Last but not least, the electricity substation described by Gosney as site 5 has been overgrown by some trees and is hard to find. Watch out for a split of the road westwards. The substation is here at the east side of the road. To see Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis, check the electricity cables behind the nearby houses.
South of Birecik, birding along the eastern bank of the river Euphrates is very interesting. Gosney does not describe this area, unfortunately. If you have found the tea gardens where Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei breed, drive further south through the outskirts of the village and keep the direction of the river. After a while, it is possible to ascend the dike along the river southwards. We travelled along this dike for many kilometres, which was very fruitful. The number of herons Ardeidae was impressive. Quite some ducks Anatidae could be found as well. Pied Kingfisher turned out to be easily found hunting above the pools on the landside of the dike.
Apart from birds, we observed a very beautiful butterfly, Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus, closely related to the well-known Monarch Danaus plexippus. This was in the orchards north of Birecik, Gosney site 5. Try to find it, as I found it more stunning than many birds in the area!