Saturday 31 January 2009

The Sea of Galilee

Don't know if about 150+ Black Kites were migrants or wintering flocks but impressive either way.


Arabian Oryx, Hoopoe Lark, White-tailed Plover,Iraq Babbler and Moustached Warbler

Friday 30 January 2009


Been through Syria over the last few days. For some reason they block blogger sites there. Also for some reason we were followed by government officials everywhere we went- they said it was to protect us-they were really nice guys. Now in Jordan.

Friday 16 January 2009

Ever wandered why they are called Long-legged Buzzards- check out the drumsticks on this bad boy.

South of Adana

Long-legged Buzzard

Yellow-vented Bulbul

Armenian Gulls, adult (top), 2nd/3rd win (middle) and 1st wins (top and third down).
Single mirror on p10, squared off black on primaries, black markings from p4 and four coloured bill are all features of adult Armenian.
1st winters look like small Yellow-legged Gull but with paler primary windows (top) and more barring on the greater coverts.

Great-black headed Gulls and Armenian Gulls
Checked out the delta complex south of Adana. The place is alive with birds. Akyatan Golu is a winter mecca. A couple of thousand Greater Flamingo, stacks of Coot, Teal, Mallard also Great white Egrets, Little Egrets, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Armenian Gulls, Slender-billed Gulls(20+), the odd Common Gull and Black-headed Gulls. Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hen Harrier and Long-legged Buzzard were plastered all over the place. Waders included Avocet, Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, Lapwings, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and there were a few Cettis Warblers. Other passerines included flocks of Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Crested Lark, Water Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Serin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Black Redstarts and a load of Stonechats.
Birds of the day were White-throated Kingfisher (2 in orange groves en route to the golu), Pied Kingfishers (3+ on the golu), Yellow-vented Bulbul (Karatas) and Great-black Headed Gulls.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Sultan Marshes

Gave up trying to find any unfrozen water at the Sultan Marshes after driving and then walking through 5km of reed.

About 20 Penduline Tit, 40+ Reed Bunting, 4 Bearded Tit and 1 Marsh Harrier in the area of reed we investigated.

I scanned for ages and couldn't see a single water bird that would guide us into a watered area.

Wednesday 14 January 2009


Spent the day ın the magıcal Cappadocıa regıon. Walked around Gerome. Hıghlıghts ıncluded Sombre Tıt, Western Rock Nuthatch, Rock Sparrow, Long-legged Buzzard, Twıte and what I thought was a fleetıng group of Red-fronted Serın. There was an ınterestıng movement of Fıeldfare goıng on through the valley. Several flocks passed through totally approxımately 250 bırds.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Kulu Golu

Checked out the steppe lake near Kulu. The salıne water remaıns unfrozen and supports some wınter waterfowl. There was a small group of Whooper Swan and several flocks of Whıte-fronted Goose (totally 600-700). A group of Mallard on the dıstant bank numbered 30 or so. There was only a few dıstant large gulls whıch I couldnt work out.

On patrol were a couple of Long-legged Buzzards, female Hen Harrıer, Kestrel and Lıttle Owl.

Most ımpressıve was the large numbers of Calandra Larks. Several large flocks ın varıous areas of marshy steppe and plough must have totalled 1.5-2 thousand. There was at least 4 or 5 Lesser Short-toed Lark, several small groups of Crested Lark and I stıll cant decıde whether there were some Skylarks ın wıth them.
Trıed a rubbısh tıp towards the east of Kulu. Could not understand why there was not a sıngle gull there.

Monday 12 January 2009

Istanbul to Ankara

I was tryıng to work out the spectrum of large whıte-headed gulls possıbılıtıes in thıs area. Yellow-legged Gull (below top ) seem to be the maın large gull around Istanbul. Armenıan Gull breed ın central Turkey so probably not outsıde the realm of possıbılıtes. Also maybe Heuglıns Gull could turn up round here. Caspıan Gull ıs also lıkely ın thıs regıon. The bırd, second from top (below) appears to show some Caspıan features. Well hopefully we get some bıgger gull flocks further south to get out teeth ınto them.

Mainly travelling at the moment.
Travel shots here:
(Hooded Crow)

Sunday 11 January 2009


Had a look round the fishing harbour of Kumkapi.

A few Laughing Doves in the village. Large numbers of Black-headed Gulls (1000s), low hundreds of Yellow-legged Gull, one Common Gull, two Shag and small groups of Yelkouan Shearwater in the Marmara Sea.

Friday 9 January 2009

Shipka to Instanbul

Had a juvenile Goshawk and Merlin at Shipka before heading off on our journey. Now at Instanbul which was a long journey due to a snow storm last night.

The journey through Thrace was characterised by snow covered farm land. A few Buzzards dotted around, Hooded Crows, the odd flock of Common Gull, Jackdaws and one flock of 50+ larks over the road.

Got to Instanbul with an hour of light- thousands of gulls (mainly Black-headed) in the Marmara Sea near the fishing port. A couple of Sandwich Terns buzzing around, a flock of Coot on the sea and a few Great-crested Grebe.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Top to bottom: Syrian, Great-spotted, Black (female) and Syrian Woodpeckers.
Spent the day round Shipka village and the Shipka monastery- Quite a high density of Syrian and Great-spotted Woodpecker (do these species hybridise?) in the same habitat. There were two Black Woodpeckers in the pines by the monastery.
Great Tit is an abundant bird round here. Also recorded multiple (upto 10) Crossbills, Marsh Tit, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Siskin, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrow, Starling, Wren, Jays and single Hawfinch, Bullfinch, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Goldcrest and Raven.

Tuesday 6 January 2009


Had a quick look around this village, Shipka- Syrian Woodpecker in Paul's neighbours garden and had this Grey Grey Shrike in nearby fields.

For other observations:

Monday 5 January 2009

Bulgaria- Sofia to Shipka

On the way to Shipka, had to stop along the main road after noticing hundreds to thousands of passerines in trees with Buzzards mowing through them. Mixed flocks of Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer- I think I may have found where all the British ones have gone:-)

The Common Buzzard (below) is a juvenile- it has a pale iris, streaking on the breast as opposed to barring and a diffuse tail band. Forsman says that intermediate birds from the contact zone in Scandanavia between vulpinus (Steppe Buzzard) and nominate buteo, winter in the Balkans and in Turkey. Along a one mile section of road there must have been 50-70 birds. Also a couple of Hen Harriers.