Day 1 ARRIVAL IN ISTANBUL - 10th May
This is purely an arrival day in Istanbul, where we will overnight in an airport hotel prior to tomorrow's domestic flight to Adana..
Day 2 ISTANBUL - ADANA - KARATAS
We should arrive in Adana mid-morning and then start birding in this fantastic country. Our plan today is flexible and depends on the latest info. If there are migrants hitting the coast we will drive an hour south from the airport to the Adana Delta. Our first Western Palearctic specialities of the trip may well be Laughing Dove and White-spectacled Bulbul as we drive out of the city. Once at the coast there's a huge variety of potential species around the wetlands with resident breeding species mixing with northbound migrants. Potential species include Greater Flamingo, a great variety of herons & egrets, Spur-winged Plovers, Little Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff, Slender-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, White-breasted and Pied Kingfishers, Penduline Tit. Graceful Prinia, Thrush Nightingale, Savi’s Warbler and Spanish Sparrow. Moving away from the wetland and into the surrounding agricultural fields and rolling hills we can find Black Francolin, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, possibly a migrant Pallid Harrier, Red-footed or even Eleonora's Falcon, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Lesser Grey and Masked Shrikes, Common Nightingale, Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, have our first crack at an Olive-tree or Upcher’s Warbler, Black-headed and Corn Buntings. Night in Adana.
Days 3 - 4 ADANA - TAURUS MOUNTAINS
We will be heading up to a wonderfully secluded pension with stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Aladag in the Taurus Mountains this morning where we will spend the next 2 nights. We will be making numerous stops along the way and we have good chances to see Chukar, Golden Eagle, European Crag Martin, White-throated Robin, Ménétries Warbler, European Serin, Rock Bunting and maybe even Wallcreeper.
The following morning will be a very early departure in 4x4's to reach some dizzying heights in the mountains as we want to be ready with our scopes at dawn, scanning the ridges and scree slopes above for Caspian Snowcock, which are mainly active very early in the morning uttering their weird curlew-like calls. It's going to be a really amazing experience being here watching the sunrise , surrounded by snow-covered peaks. Our other key targets here are Radde's Accentor, Asian Crimson-winged Finch and White-winged Snowfinch. A fine supporting cast includes Lammergeier, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Wallcreeper, Alpine & Red-billed Chough, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit and Horned Lark. As we work our way to lower altitudes we will be on the look out for Little (Lillith's) Owl, Syrian Woodpecker, Western Rock Nuthatch, White-throated Dipper, Finsch's & Isabelline Wheatears, Calandra Lark, Wood Lark, White-throated Robin, Sombre Tit, Red-fronted Serin, Rock Sparrow, Black-headed, Rock & Ortolan Buntings. We may well try and see one of the calling Eurasian Scops Owls this evening as well.
Day 5 ANATOLIAN STEPPE -SULTAN SAZLIGI MARSHES - GAZIANTEP
We will be sad to leave this wonderful location, but there's plenty of new birds waiting for us on the road to Birecik this morning as we traverse the vast Anatolian steppes with species such as Calandra & Bimaculated Larks, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit and others. Continuing further north we will reach Sultan Sazligi Marshes, which is a good site for Turkestan Short-toed Lark in the nearby plains, that also hold Greater Sandplover and Collared Pratincole. Along the boardwalk into the marshes we can see White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Squacco & Purple Herons, a variety of shorebirds on passage may include Temminck's Stint or Spotted Redshank, Whiskered & White-winged Terns, Moustached Warbler (race mimicus), Savi's Warbler, Bearded Reedling, Citrine Wagtail, and much more! Leaving here it;s going to be a long drive to reach Gaziantep but we will make it in time for some late afternoon birding.
The low hills nearby have some great birds and we will take a stroll this evening where we can see Chukar, Short-toed Eagle, Eurasian Wryneck, Syrian Woodpecker, both Western & Eastern Rock Nuthatches, Masked, Red-backed & Woodchat Shrikes, Eastern Black-eared, Isabelline & Finsch's Wheatears, Bimaculated Lark, White-throated Robin, Common & Blue Rock Thrushes, Upcher's & Eastern Orphean Warblers, Sombre Tit, Desert Finch and Cinereous, Black-headed & Ortolan Buntings, and sometimes Pale Rockfinch. Night in Gaziantep.
Days 6 - 7 BIRECIK
If we didn't connect with Kurdish Wheatear yesterday, we will target this species before breakfast this morning. Birecik is only an hour's drive away and is situated along the Euphrates River and is the gateway to some wonderful birding experiences. We will have plenty of time to thoroughly explore the wetlands, ponds, gravel pits and along the river where Iraq Babbler has recently colonised. During our search we could also find Pygmy Cormorant, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, many herons & egrets, Grey-headed Swamphen, some passage shorebirds, Whiskered Tern, Pied Kingfisher, Delicate Prinia, Great Reed Warbler, Moustached Warbler, White-spectacled Bulbul and Dead Sea Sparrow. Searching the arid slopes and fields will be necessary to find See-See Partridge, and also in this habitat there are Rufous Bushchat, Menetries's, Upcher's & Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and Yellow-throated Sparrow, We will make a visit to the town park where Pallid Scops Owls can hopefully found at their day roost. Further exploration heading away from town may well be necessary to locate Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Pale Rockfinch or anything else we might still need in this corner of Turkey. Other species in the area include Black Kite, Black-winged Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, Little Swift, sometimes there's flocks of Rosy Starlings, and we can have a look at the semi-captive Northern Bald Ibis that have undergone a reintroduction programme nearby. Nights in Birecik.
Day 8 BIRECIK - GOKSU DELTA
We will leave early and drive west towards the Goksu Delta, just under 5 hours away. En-route we may well divert to chase any species we still need, such as Olive-tree & Ruppell's Warbler or head into the pine forest to find a Kruper's Nuthatch. We should arrive in plenty of time to begin our exploration of the Goksü Delta, the most famous and bird rich area in the whole country. The list of potential species is long and varied so the best philosophy of birding here is to simply enjoy what we see.
Potential species present at this time of year include Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, Black Francolin, Great White Pelican, White Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Great White, Little & Western Cattle Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Grey-headed Swamphen, Little Crake, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Eurasian Thick-knee, Spur-winged Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Common Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint, Ruff, Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Green, Wood & Curlew Sandpipers, Kentish Plover, Red-necked Phalarope, Collared Pratincole, Little, Gull-billed, White-winged, Whiskered & Caspian Terns, Yellow-legged, Slender-billed & Audouin's Gull, Little Owl, European Roller, Sand Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Eleonora's Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Mediterranean Short-toed & Crested Larks, Bearded Reedling, Common & Great Reed Warblers, Moustached & Barred Warblers, Hooded Crow, Spanish Sparrow, Red-throated Pipit, Western Yellow Wagtail, and so much more! Night in Kizkalesi.
Day 9 GOKSU - ADANA - ISTANBUL - END OF TOUR - 18th May
.We have all morning for birding in the famous Goksu Delta or amongst the hills, ancient ruins, surrounding maquis scrub and pine forest chasing anything we havent seen yet or require better views of. Species present include Booted Eagle, Alpine Swift, Syrian Woodpecker, Western Rock Nuthatch, Kruper's Nuthatch, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Lesser Grey & Masked Shrikes, White-throated Robin, Olive-tree, Eastern Orphean & Ruppell’s Warbler, Ortolan, Black-headed & Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
We will have an evening flight back to Istanbul where we will overnight before international departures the following morning.