Friday, 29 July 2011

BFOs in Turkey - a legend laid to rest

Without doubt, the biggest news of the summer on the WP front has been news that Brown Fish Owls are present at a public site in Turkey. In fact, so much so, that normal tourists have been gripping all us birders off for years. It was only through some holiday snaps that were mailed to a birder that the news has now reached the birding masses. So here's the first post from a 6 day trip to Turkey with CB, AH and JJ.
adult Brown Fish Owl, Oymapinar Baraji July 2011
On 24th July, we arrived at the site known to tourists as 'Green Canyon', but to Turks and people like me who like to go native with site localities it's called Oymapinar Baraji. This place is only 20 minutes drive north of the town of Manavgat, and half an hour from the tourist grot hole of Side. So if you want to combine it with a family holiday then go for your life. But be warned, the entourage on our Thomas Cook flight last night was a combo of Britain's social detritus and morons akin to the TV show Benidorm.
adult Brown Fish Owl - one of the two parents

young Brown Fish Owl - looking inquisitively from trees near nest cave

Anyway, the owls - they were absolutely stunning. We were the first boat in the canyon, arriving in it just shy of 10am. There were four of them - two adults and two young - that were perched in trees on the steep-sided canyon, looking down at us rather circumspect. Given that there are usually 400+ visitors to them per day, they seem to have got used to the party boats that tour around the lake.
'Little Canyon' - the BFO site at Oymapinar Baraji
Our boatman Erdal said that they've been ever present here since he started in 2003, and in fact it seems as though there is another pair (that probably haven't bred this year) in a canyon leading off north from the lake (our birds were in the southeast canyon). When you've grown up on tales of BFOs been found in Adana markets, and the rumblings of further individuals in remote Turkish canyons, it's a privilege and really exciting to have now seen this legendary WP species. Thanks to all involved who helped with logistics - you know who you are.

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