Thursday, 4 July 2013


Calandra Lark
 On the long drive to Birecik lots of Calandra Larks were seen, also Lesser short-toed Larks, Black Headed Yellow Wagtails, Crested Larks, Short-toed Larks, Steppe Buzzard, Hoopoe, Black Headed Buntings and more.
Rock Sparrow
          If you ever go to Birecik this is the tea garden where the Pallid Scops Owls hang out!

 Opposite the tea garden there is an island in the River Euphrates that is home to 100s of roosting and breeding Herons, Little, Great White and Cattle Egrets, Night Herons, Squacco Herons also a dark Little Egret looking very like a Western Reef Heron. The island is also used by 100s of Pygmy Cormorants.
Iraq Babbler
 At the nearby gravel pits we found our main target bird for the area Iraq Babbler, we made a couple of visits to site seeing at least 8 Babblers, also Great Reed Warblers, Eastern Olivacious Warblers, Graceful Prinia's, c20 Desert Finches, Pied Kingfishers, Little Bitterns, Purple Herons, Bee-eaters, Rollers and more.

Graceful Prinia
 Behind the Bald Ibis centre there is canyon where some of the Ibises breed on the ledges.


In the canyon See-see were found, numerous Rollers, several Menetries Warblers, Upchers Warblers, Syrian woodpeckers, Eastern Olivacious Warblers, Rufous Bush Robins, Hoopoe's and more. The cliffs a few hundred metres from the entrance to the centre hold Little Swifts, Alpine Swifts and Common Swifts.

Chestnut Shouldered Sparrow
 In nearby fields Chestnut Shouldered Sparrows, Dead Sea Sparrows and more Bushchats were found

Dead Sea Sparrow
Eastern Rock Nuthatch
 We found Easter Rock Nuthatch near Halfeti with more Eastern Black Eared Wheatears, Isabelline Wheatears and Woodchat Shrikes.
During the trip White Storks were common in suitable habitat, Crested Larks were abundant as were Isabelline Wheatears. Red-rumped Swallows, Bushchats, Rollers, Spanish Sparrow, Western Rock Nuthatches, Black-headed Buntings were seen at most sites. Other birds seen include Kruper's Nuthatches, Olive Tree Warblers, Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, Masked Shrikes, Penduline Tits, Bearded Tits.
As we were rather late in the season some birds were very difficult to find and very skulking. The 40C+ temperatures did not help and caused havoc with our camera equipment.  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Our base for Demirkazik
An 03.30 start saw us driving the short distance from our Pension with Oz Safak our guide to meet up with the tractor driver who would take us high into the mountains for our main quarry of Caspian Snowcock. The tractor made short work of the climb though not the most comfortable of rides. As soon as we dismounted Snowcocks could be heard but could not be seen in the early morning gloom. We all scrambled higher up the hillside and eventually the tractor driver spotted one  and got us all onto it, then another was spotted and 2 more quickly followed, at least 5 were seen with more heard. I did take some record shots but they are all dots on a rock.
Radde's Accentor
Several Radde's Accentors were seen but were surprisingly difficult to photograph that's my excuse.   Snowfinches, Red-fronted Serins, Crimson Winged finches, Shorelarks and Black Redstarts were common. Also seen were Cretzschmars Bunting, Ortolan, Northern Wheatear and Linnets.
Crimson Winged finch

Health and safety rules don't apply!
As time was short we opted to ride the tractor back down which allowed us more time to explore the lower slopes and fields.
The slopes produced a pair of Finsch's Wheatear feeding young in the nest more Crimson winged finches, a Booted Eagle hunting the abundant Susliks, Hoopoe, Isabelline Wheatears, Serin and many of the smaller butterflys.
Finsch's Wheatear
Bimaculated Lark
In the nearby fields we found Bimaculated Larks, more Shorelarks, Crested Larks , abundant Isabelline Wheatears, while overhead Red billed Chough and Alpine Chough made flying look easy, a Long-legged Buzzard soared over.

Short-toed Lark
By the track to the chromium mine we found several family parties of White Throated Robins, Short-toed Larks, more of the abundant Isabelline Wheatears, Eastern Black-Eared and Northern Wheatears, a Barred Warbler, Red-backed Shrikes, Black-headed Buntings and more Crimson Winged finches.
White Throated Robin
Juvenile Isabelline Wheatear
In a nearby gorge we found Golden Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Rock Sparrows, Rock Bunting,  Eastern Orphean Warbler, Crag Martins, Alpine Swifts, Black Redstarts, and both Choughs.
In the orchards by the stream Golden Orioles were seen and heard, Red-backed Shrikes, Eastern Olivacious Warblers, Nightingales, Serins, Syrian Woodpeckers and more.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hotel Yeshil Vardi

Our base for the Brown Fish Owls was The Hotel Yeshil Vardi a fairly basic but adequate hotel situated between Manavgat and the Oymapinar dam overlooking the Manavagat River where we spent 2 nights.
The restaurant. (note the Trout in the pool)
 While having breakfast we could see 5 Eleanora's Falcons and a Lanner cruising the cliffs  adjacent the hotel. In the grounds Scops Owls were heard (not seen) Red-rumped Swallows  overhead, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Eastern Olivacious Warblers, Yellow Vented Bulbuls, Roller, White Storks, Masked Shrike, Crested Larks, Woodlarks and more. It was an 04.30 start for the Fish Owls, which was just as well because from 10.00hrs the heat made birding very difficult and photography nigh on impossible. The Owls were brilliant getting great views of 3 adults and 3 juveniles also 2 Short-toed Eagles flew over.
  We drove out to a some nearby birding sites. One of which was a walled garden which we birded from the outside. Seeing Syrian and White Backed Woodpeckers, Olive Tree Warbler, lots of Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, Hoopoe's, Masked Shrikes and more. The heat and the lateness of the season did not aid us in finding birds. I deleted virtually all the pictures I took.
                As we got out of the car 1000s of Locusts came out the dried grass in waves as we walked round the wall.
Juvenile Black-eared Wheatear
 At another site we found a family of Black-eared Wheatears, Western Rock Nuthatches, Black headed Buntings along with many Butterflys more on those later.
Western Rock Nuthatch

Back at Dunge!

07.30 The Patch: 3 Mediterranean Gulls on the beach among a few Sandwich and Common Terns, Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls including the first juvenile I have seen there this year. Off shore a party of 7 Common Scoter flew east, on the power station wall the Black Redstart still singing.

09.15-09.45 The fishing boats: Just c15 each of Sandwich and Common Terns tooing and froing, c25 Gannets past and 2 Harbour Porpoises.
10.00 The ARC : At the south end 50+ Swifts over the lakes, an adult male Marsh Harrier spooked the roosting eclipse duck and a single Ringed Plover.
At the north end still Reed and Sedge Warblers singing along Reed Buntings and a couple of Cetti's Warblers. In the Willow trail a Chiffchaff singing, overhead Swallow and House Martins dived in along the trail devouring the swarms of emerging insects.
From Hanson some islands are now appearing, on one a Little Ringed Plover, a Redshank  and a Common Tern. Several pairs of Oystercatchers were giving their characteristic display flight. In the screen hide the pair of Swallows still sitting tight.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Some Owl pics from our Turkey trip

With temperatures in excess of 46C at times photography was challenging and often impossible. On one occasion after travelling for a couple of hours with my camera in the boot of the car, the lense (400mm DO IS USM) was almost to hot for me hold, no wonder the auto focus wandered in and out refusing to lock most the time.

                                          4 of the 6 Brown fish Owls seen at Oymapinar

 3 of the 4 Juvenile Pallid Scops Owls seen in the Birecik Tea Gardens. When one of the adult showed well my camera refused to focus because of the heat.
                                                         Little Owl in the Tea Gardens

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Midsummer Doldrums

This morning a look around the ARC found nothing new of note. The Swallows still in the Screen Hide, Duck numbers increasing each day, but at least the water levels are dropping exposing tiny bits of islands.
This afternoon at Dengemarsh nothing new of note, still 3 Hobby's present and the Common Terns as raucous as ever.
Tomorrow I am off to Turkey birding for the next 10 days with DW,GH and AJG. Main targets the Brown Fish Owls, Caspian Snowcocks, Radde's Accentor, Menetries's Warbler, Red-tailed Wheatear and Iraq Babbler + lots more good birds.                                                                                                                                            
Many thanks to Richard Smith ( for saving my holiday by  lending me his camera as mine is playing up again.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Clouded Yellow

A dull damp start to the day at the ARC where a Cuckoo was calling, 2 Marsh Harriers over the Tower Pits, a Green Sandpiper could be seen with a Ringed Plover and Redshank on an island from near the screen hide and a Bittern flew from the Screen to Hanson. The Swallows are still in residence at the screen so please do not linger there any longer than necessary. I met MH and BP (AKA King Squacco) in Hanson hide where a pair of Great Crested grebes tended there single chick, also 3 Wigeon appeared among the growing numbers of eclipse ducks (Autumn is coming). As BP had seen a Garden Warbler near the Screen MH and myself tried to find it without any luck (still not seen on on the marsh this year) walking back to the car 8 Lapwing flew over with 3 Green Sandpipers. At Boulderwall 8+ Tree Sparrows on the feeders and nearby the Little Owl in its usual spot.
This afternoon I cycled down to Springfield Bridge and around the reserve. From the Bridge up to 4 Hobby's could be seen, a Bittern gave to fly pasts and my first Clouded Yellow of the year. At Hayfield 3, 4 Little Egrets and more views of Hobby's and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls over.  From Dengemarsh  Hide a Cuckoo singing, 2 Marsh Harriers, c30 pairs of Common Terns some with chicks, The Common Gulls still look as if they have at least 1 chick and an Oystercatcher has muscled in on there raft for a second breeding attempt. On Burrowes 9 Black-tailed Godwits, a Redshank and 6 Mediterranean gulls (4 ads + 2 1st summers) could be seen from Makepiece Hide, from Dennis's  the pair of Common Gulls have chicks. On the way home I stopped to Photograph some Southern Marsh Orchids. 
Southern Marsh orchid

Monday, 17 June 2013

Back on the Bike

 09.00-09.30 at The Patch:
Gannets: c30
Common Scoter: 7E
Common Tern: c50
Black Redstart: 1
Grey Seal: 1
Harbour Porpoise: 2
Still singing for a mate and starting to look tatty.
At the fishing boats just a few Common and Sandwich Terns fishing off shore. 
The south end of the ARC  yesterdays Swifts had all but gone leaving just the usual eclipse ducks and 2 Little Egrets.
A cycle ride this afternoon through Dengemarsh round the reserve to the ARC and home, found at Dengemarsh 4+ Hobby's taking St Marks flies and Damsels, on the rafts c30 pairs of Common Terns have started hatching chicks also the Common Gulls looked as though they had at least 1 chick, 2 Marsh Harriers hunted the reed beds and a Cuckoo was still singing. At the ARC in the Willow Trail clouds of newly emerged Damsels and a happy Great Tit taking beak fulls back to a nearby nest. The Swallows are still building in the Screen hide and I just missed a returning Green Sandpiper, a Cuckoo flew towards the tower. The water levels are steadily dropping leaving one pair of Great Crested Grebes high and dry and very vulnerable to predation. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Roseate Terns

First thing this morning I thought I'd check Scotney out just in case the AGP had relocated there. It had not! 3 Curlews and c30 Lapwing were on the sheep field along with 100s of Greylags. Over the lake 100+  Swifts and a Marsh Harrier hunting the back of the lake. Over the ARC/Tower Pits//New Diggings/Burrowes 100s more Swifts. 2 Marsh Harriers and a Cuckoo at the tower. The pair of Swallows still building their nest in the screen hide and the build up of eclipse ducks continues on the ARC.  
Both Roseate Terns
 This afternoon a message from DW that 2 Roseate Terns were at The Patch. They were still present when I arrived but shortly after  flew off East. One of them had the usual ring on both legs but the other appeared unringed. While i was there a flock 40 Common Scoter flew East and a party of 17 Gannets moved West, The first summer Common Tern was still on the beach.
Ringed on both legs

This one appears to be unringed

 Behind The Patch the Black Redstart that has been singing there for weeks finally gave it's self up to the camera.
A distinct lack of a white wing patch

A Tasty Bluebottle

                                                        A new visitor to the garden!