Monday, July 28, 2008


The blog has been quiet recently mainly because I’m busy finishing the compilation and editing of the Ayrshire Bird Report 2007. However Lisa and I did spend a fantastic two weeks in the south and far east of Turkey, travelling around 4000km in search of some of the Western Palaearctic’s rarest birds, and drinking a fair amount of tea (the last three big trips have all been about the tea – ice tea in Arizona, mint tea in Morocco and now some strong black Turkish tea.). Still, its best to keep off the raki when faced with extreme heat, early starts, dodgy stomachs and a lot of driving. I’ll post a detailed trip report on the main website once the ABR is off to the printers, but in the meantime, some of the highlights of the 215 or so species (37 lifers inc. 4 Nuthatch spp!) recorded…. Caspian Snowcocks at 3200m at five in the morning in the Tarsus Mountains; Grey-headed Swamphens and Graceful Warbler in the Göksu Delta; White-breasted Kingfishers in the Tarsus Delta; Birecik – so many great birds along the Euphrates including Pied Kingfisher, Striated Scops Owl, Iraq Babbler, Black Francolin and Dead Sea Sparrow; the stone heads of the tumulus of Antiochus at Nemrut Daği with Red-tailed Wheatear, White-throated Robin, Finsch’s Wheatear, Cinereous Bunting and Trumpeter Finch; driving down into the huge volcanic crater at the other Nemrut Daği with Armenian Gull, Rose-coloured Starling, Crimson-winged Finch and Red-fronted Serin; Lake Van, more like an inland sea with its own microclimate with lightning storms and a nocturnal downpour flooding our tent (should have taken the good one) but cheered later with White-headed Duck, Paddyfield Warbler, Citrine Wagtail and Greater Flamingos; Mongolian Trumpeter Finch on the lava fields at Serpmetas; Saker, Grey-necked Bunting and Golden Eagle around the spectacular Işak Paşa Palace at Doğubayazit near the Iran border and of course the tremendous landscapes, hospitable people and good food - well, good at the time – shouldn’t have cleared those salads every night :-(