Turkey ‘Brown Fish Owl’ Tour
Extraordinary birds, remarkable value…..
Stop press: The first 2015 departure was extremely successful! 5 Brown Fish Owls seen plus Caspian Snowcock, Lammergeyer, White-headed Duck, Snow Finch, Radde’s and Alpine Accentors, Wallcreeper, Upcher’s & Olive Tree Warblers, Bimaculated Lark, White-throated Robin, Crimson-winged Finch, Finsch’s Wheatear plus much more. The report is now online.
The recent rediscovery of Brown Fish Owl in southern Turkey is an amazing story, and firmly puts one of the most little-known and genuinely enigmatic species in the Western Palearctic back on the map. Although a number of pairs are now known, the chances of an encounter are effectively zero away from one particular site where the species is known to breed – indeed, it is the only readily accessible site anywhere west of India. That location is our first stop on this exclusive new midsummer trip to southern Turkey.
To maximise our chances of seeing this notoriously difficult species, we will spend two nights in the area not far from its breeding site. A very early start on the first morning after our arrival will involve a drive and then a boat trip to visit the site where the species nests. The owls are not active by day, but with luck will be roosting within view, and adults may even have young at this time of year; however, the birds sometimes roost completely out of sight, so sightings are never guaranteed. If the most accessible pair proves difficult to locate, we may try for a second pair which have bred further away on this huge water body. At all times, we will avoid disturbing the birds by a careful approach on water, and by remaining quiet and keeping movement to a minimum when close to their breeding cliffs, which are not viewable from land.
We have a reasonable chance of seeing this special nocturnal predator on our first visit, after which we will be free to spend the rest of the day exploring the surrounding a range of habitats as we work our way towards Akseki, our base for the second night. Should it prove necessary we’ll make a second attempt to see the owls the following morning, but otherwise Akseki will provide fantastic birding. The star species in the area is Krüper’s Nuthatch, which is almost endemic to Turkey and another major target. Other birds of pine forest, open woodland and juniper scrub in the Akseki area include Short-toed Eagle, Great Spotted Cuckoo, White-backed, Middle Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers, Red-rumped Swallow, White-throated Robin, Olive-tree, Eastern Orphean, Rüppell’s and Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Western Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Masked Shrike, and Cretzschmar’s, Ortolan and Black-headed Buntings, and though some (especially White-backed Woodpecker and Olive-tree Warbler) are hard to find, we will aim to add as many species to our trip list as time allows before heading on to Eregli for our third night.
A large area of marshes near Eregli will provide more diversity the next day. Possibilities include Pygmy Cormorant, Purple Heron, Great White Pelican, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, raptors including Montagu’s Harrier, a range of waders, Slender-billed Gull, and Great Reed and Moustached Warblers. Having further boosted our trip list we will drive on to a village at the foot of spectacular Demirkazik, a peak in the Aladağ range, and stay at a family-run pension for two nights.
A very early start will be necessary today to give us the best chance of encountering Caspian Snowcock. We will be driven up the mountain by tractor to look for this species at dawn, and then explore the fantastic high-altitude habitats for other montane specialities, including Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Shore Lark, Radde’s and Alpine Accentors, Finsch’s and Black-eared Wheatears, Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, Wallcreeper, Chough, Alpine Chough, Rock Sparrow, White-winged Snow Finch, Red-fronted Serin, Asian Crimson-winged Finch and Rock Bunting. After what should be an exhilarating time birding on the mountain, we can either head back by tractor or walk down, during which journey further species could include Chukar.
After our last night in Turkey, we have the option of a very early start again should another attempt at the snowcock be necessary. Otherwise, we can bird at lower altitude and maximise our last few hours in the field for any remaining trip ticks, before it’s time to move on to Adana for our afternoon flight via Istanbul back to London.
Day 1: Depart London Heathrow around 0700 (via Istanbul) to Antayla. Overnight Manavgat.
Day 2: Dawn start for for specially chartered boat trip to seek Brown Fish Owl. Thereafter birding in general area and en route to Akseki. Night Akseki.
Day 3: If no luck with Brown Fish Owl the previous day, repeat trip to Green Canyon for second attempt; otherwise birding Akseki area for Krüper's Nuthatch and other specialities. Drive to Eregli and overnight.
Day 4: Birding the wetland and marsh habitats of Eregli. Later drive to Cukurbag village near Demirkazik. Night Cukurbag.
Day 5: Dawn tractor ride up Demirkazik mountain for Caspian Snowcock and other mountain specialities, including Wallcreeper and White-winged Snow Finch. All day can be spent on mountain as necessary. Night Cukurbag.
Day 6: Our final morning birding before afternoon flights back to London Heathrow (via Istanbul), arriving at around 22.30.
NB: It is possible to fly back directly into Manchester, arriving 22.40
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.
Dates: 15th – 20th June 2019
Leader: Soner Bekir
£1345 per person sharing a twin room
£165 single supplement.
£400 per person deposit
Price includes: Return economy class flights from London including all airport taxes, all ground transportation, birding excursions as itinerary (including tractors and boats where applicable), accommodation on a full board basis (breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal) in twin-bedded rooms with private facilities, services of WildWings leader, pre-tour information pack including a day-by-day bird checklist.
Price excludes: Travel insurance, drinks, tips to local guide and bus driver and items of a personal nature. If you wish to fly back into Manchester, rather than Heathrow, a supplement of £30pp will apply. The connections do not work on the outward date from Manchester however.
2015 trip report available on the Trip Report tab above.
15th – 20th June 2019