Sunday, 31 July 2011

Babblers at Birecik

Once we had finished our 5 course meal at Oymapinar Baraji, we headed east. We used the coast road, heading from Manavgat to Alanya to Silifke - this road was awful, loads of bends and heavy traffic. However, near Mersin we picked up the motorway and in no time powered our way past Adana and Gaziantep to Birecik. After a rather frustrating 12 hour journey, we were in bed at the Hotel Merkalum by 2am.
Iraq Babbler - now easy to see at Birecik, having only been discovered here as recently as 2006
Up again at 6am on 25th July, we quickly found our target species - Iraq Babbler. As it was 7 years since I last visited Birecik, when this species was not known north of Syria, it was remarkable to see (and hear) just how common these birds are now in the Birecik area. We saw what were presumably a couple of family parties, with more calling from the reeds. The best site is at the northern gravel workings - you take the first road west of the hotel (so you're on the west bank of the River Euphrates), drive north through all the buildings and you'll come out with an obvious pool/flooded area on your right and some reeds to your left. You'll know you're in the right place as the power lines cross the track in this area too. Some showy Little Stints here too, as well as a couple of Menetries' Warblers, Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and a nice flock of c.50 Desert Sparrows.
adult Little Stint
Before I go on, a word of warning for coming to Turkey in late July. It was bloody hard work - not just the heat, but some birds that are common and easy to see earlier on in the season have bred and lie low/already headed off from their breeding grounds. Let's be honest, if an Olive Tree Warbler can make in to Shetland by mid-August then you know you may be in the sh*t with this species late July. Also, Upcher's Warbler and Cretzschmar's Buntings weren't seen in places where they were plentiful earlier in the season. And we couldn't locate any Yellow-throated Sparrows in the orchards to the north of Birecik either. Loads of Dead Sea Sparrows and Rufous Bushchats there though - both very nice to see feeding young. We also found a couple of Black Francolins in these orchards, showing rather well at times.
Rufous Bushchat

male Black Francolin
We also checked a newish site for See See Partridge - just east of the town, after you've gone through the tunnel on the road to Sanliurfa there is a truck stop on the right (a few skanky shops). The obvious plateau area and nearby wadi are meant to be good for this species, although we failed and thought it a rather noisy area for such a secretive species. So, back to the wadi by the Ibis Centre, we climbed up onto the plateau and had a couple of adults and a nice family covey. Plenty of caged Bald Ibis too.
view looking west over the River Euphrates from the wadi near the Ibis Centre, Birecik

No comments:

Post a Comment