Eastern birds and Ephesus (plus a chance of Brown Fish Owl)



 ''We just wanted to write and say thank you so much for a fantastic trip to SW Turkey. After years of birding in the UK,

 this was our first birding trip abroad and it was just amazing, the birds, scenery, locations, company and of course our

brilliant guides Phil and Ian.'' ... Mr and Mrs R, York, May 12


''Just a big thank you for a very good trip to Turkey.  I have not used your company before, but will certainly be checking

out your holidays in the future. A big thank you especially to Phil for his excellent spotting, but also for taking the time

to explain what to look for to identify.  I found this very useful, and hope I can remember some of it for next time I see

the same bird.'' ... Mrs D, York, May 12


''Just a brief message to say thanks for organising such a brilliant trip to Turkey. We really enjoyed ourselves and appreciated

being looked after so well.'' ... Mrs B, N. Yorks, May 13


''We enjoyed Turkey tremendously, and came to appreciate just how much your intimate knowledge of SW Turkey benefits your clients. 

When added to the sense of humour, attention to detail, ensuring everyone gets views and attending to the less able we will retain

very happy memories of this trip, so thank you once again.'' ... Mr B, Ripon, May 14







click here for a pdf version of this destination write-up  -  easier to print  -  no photos




Turkey is rated as one of the most exciting birdwatching destinations in the Western Palearctic, yet it is still relatively unexplored. The main reason for this is the sheer size of the country. As a consequence we are not likely to bump into any other birdwatchers.


Being such a huge country the prospective visitor has a choice. You can travel many hundreds of miles from west to east, north to south and back, in search of every single species. Alternatively you can base yourself in one relatively small, but diverse area, get to know it well and enjoy what is to be found. We have chosen the second option and will concentrate on the south-west, where typical Mediterranean birds are joined by a number of eastern specialities.


Famous for its rich culture, ancient ruins, good food, friendly people, reliable climate and golden beaches, SW Turkey can offer you all of these and more. White-throated Robin, Kruper's Nuthatch, Dalmatian Pelican, Red-fronted Serin, Collared Pratincole, Masked Shrike, Cinereous Bunting, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Eleonora's Falcon, Spur-winged Plover, Smyrna Kingfisher, Caucasian Shore Lark, Finsch’s Wheatear, Snow Finch and Ruppell's Warbler are among the many exciting birds present in this area at the time of our visit. Add to these the recently rediscovered Brown Fish Owls near Antalya and you have the ingredients for a truly outstanding birdwatching holiday.


We will fly to Antalya, and our first hotel is just a short drive away. From here we will look for the fish owl, before moving on to Koycegiz, where we will spend four nights. From Koycegiz we will visit a variety of wetland and mountain sites, including the Dalyan Delta. On day seven we will drive to Pamukkale, visiting the famous travertine pools as well as searching for Cinereous Bunting and Finsch’s Wheatear. Finally, we will drive to Bafa, our base for the last three nights, birding at Lake Karine and Bafa Golu, as well as allowing time to visit Ephesus.






We arrive in Antalya in the afternoon and drive straight to our hotel. The next morning we will make an early start to look for the spectacular Brown Fish Owl. Until recently, this bird had mythical status in the Western Palearctic. Then it was discovered that several pairs were thriving in flooded canyons north of Antalya. We will take our own boat to one such site, at Green Canyon, where we have an excellent chance of seeing them at their daytime roosts.



On day three we will drive to Lake Koycegiz, our base for the next four nights. The Hotel Panorama Plaza is situated on the shores of the lake and steep-sided, pine clad mountains complete the idyllic picture. A variety of interesting birds such as Squacco Heron, Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler and Masked Shrike can be found just a short walk from the hotel.


Lake Koycegiz and the Dalyan Delta are joined by a narrow channel which passes the town of Dalyan. The area is most easily explored by boat and we shall spend a half day travelling along the reed-fringed lake and down channels leading to the delta and then to the sea. We will explore the ruins of Kaunos, with its impressive amphitheatre and Rock Nuthatches, and marvel at the ancient Lycean rock tombs.


Perhaps the most sought-after breeding bird here is the Smyrna Kingfisher. It is, however, rather scarce and we will need to keep a sharp eye out in order to find it. Much more numerous is the delightful Penduline Tit which can be found in the reedbeds and waterside trees throughout the area. Migrant terns include both Whiskered and White-winged Black. The lake is one of only two places in Turkey where Nile Soft-shelled Turtles are found; we know of a spot where we can watch them without causing disturbance.


In the drier areas we can expect to see Eastern Olivaceous Warbler as well as Cetti's and Fan-tailed Warblers and Black-headed Wagtail. Rufous Bushchat is best found by listening for its thrush-like song. Masked Shrike and Ruppell's Warbler are two more local specialities and can be found alongside the more familiar Bee-eaters, Crested Larks, Red-rumped Swallows, Black-eared Wheatears, Woodchat Shrikes, Spanish Sparrows and Rollers. Birds of prey in the area include Levant Sparrowhawk, migrant Red-footed Falcons and regular Eleonora's Falcons. One evening, after dinner, we will try to see a Scops Owl.


The mountains behind Koycegiz rise quickly to over 7000 feet. We can ascend to over half this height on the road to Arla. The main prize here is the Kruper's Nuthatch, an endemic to the region. Short-toed Eagles can be watched hovering over distant ridges. In the woods there are both Middle Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers as well as the localised Sombre Tit. Jays are particularly numerous, the local race exhibiting rather dark plumage and a black crown. Further down the valley in the more open areas we will watch for the highly vocal Black-headed Bunting singing from low bushes as well as the stunning Black-eared Wheatear.


A day trip to Gulubeli Pass, east of Dalaman, will reveal lots of mountain species. We discovered this site in 1999, where a road cuts through some of the most dramatic scenery in Western Turkey. With snow-capped peaks in all directions, Red-fronted Serin is fairly common and Crimson-winged Finch is possible. The main prize in this area is the White-throated Robin, a bird which combines beauty, scarcity and a restricted range, in stunning natural surroundings. On past visits we have never failed to find them at an easily accessible site. Other species include Chough, Wryneck, Caucasian Shore Lark, Black Redstart, Ortolan, Woodlark, Rock Sparrow, Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Snow Finch. Cretzschmar's Buntings can easily be found, the males betraying their presence with their four-syllable song. Also common in the area are Ruppell's and Eastern Orphean Warblers and Blue Rock Thrush, and we have a good chance of Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler.



On day seven we will drive up to Pamukkale, a spectacular world heritage site and great birding destination. Hot springs emanating from the hillside deposit calcium carbonate in semi-circular formations known as travertines. These natural pools have attracted visitors for hundreds of years. We can paddle in the ‘healing waters’, but we will also be on the lookout for three of the regions specialities, Cinereous Bunting, Olive-tree Warbler and Finsch’s Wheatear.



On day eight we will drive west to Bafa, our base for the last three nights. We will spend a full day at Lake Karine and the Miletus marshes. With the ancient ruins of Miletus in the background, the marshes are particularly attractive. Spoonbills and Glossy Ibis can be watched at close range; Garganey and Wood Sandpipers feed side by side in the water meadows; Bee-eaters hawk insects overhead; and Spur-winged Plovers display on the drier areas. Past visits have yielded some of our best sightings, including both Great Snipe and western Turkey's third ever White-tailed Plover!


Lake Karine is a huge brackish lagoon which is internationally important for its breeding Dalmatian Pelicans. Also present are Caspian Terns, Lesser Kestrels, Long-legged Buzzards, Marsh Sandpipers and Kentish Plovers. In the afternoon we will explore a track leading along the south edge of the lake, where a breeding colony of Ruddy Shelducks should have small ducklings. Collared Pratincoles hawk over the marsh and Isabelline Wheatears occur in the drier areas.


We will also visit the western shore of Bafa Golu, where a similar range of birds can be found. If the water levels are favourable, thousands of migrant waders can be seen.


The world famous archaeological site of Ephesus is just an hour’s drive from our hotel. We will set aside three hours for our visit. Even the most die-hard birder could not fail to be impressed, but just in case, there are Rock Nuthatches, Blue Rock Thrushes and Long-legged Buzzards in and around the ruins!



Most years we experience warm or hot weather, with little or no rain. On a couple of occasions we have had unsettled weather lasting several days. Breakfast will normally be taken at about 7am. We will need a much earlier start for the fish owls. Basic fitness is all that is required. Full days will be spent in the field and short/medium length walks will be undertaken regularly. There will be very little uphill walking, even in the mountains, which will be done at a sensible pace.



Full-board accommodation is provided, with two nights at the AC Hotel, Antalya, four nights at the Hotel Panorama Plaza at Koycegiz, one night at the Richmond Pamukkale Hotel and three nights at an excellent hotel at Bafa. All rooms have an en suite bathroom. Packed lunches will be taken every day.



All birdwatching excursions with expert leader, full-board accommodation (starting with dinner on 28th, ending with lunch on 8th), soft drinks at meal times, bottled water throughout, local transport by mini-bus, boat trips, entrance to archaeological sites and international flights.



Travel insurance. Cost of visa - obtained by a simple online registration and payment of £15 (we can help if you do not have access to the internet). Personal items, alcoholic drinks, laundry.



Direct flights from Manchester to Antalya, returning from Bodrum with a major charter carrier. Outbound flight departs early afternoon, return flight arrives back late evening. It may also be possible to fly from London. Please phone for details.






10 nights:             


Principal leader:


Maximum group size:


Cost with discount

(if you book before

13th January 2015):


Full Cost:





28th April to 8th May 2015


Paul J. Willoughby


7 clients with one leader or

12 clients with two leaders


£1980 per person sharing

(£260 single supplement)


£2080 per person sharing


£300 per person


A ground only price is available. Please contact our office.







White-throated Robin

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Rock Nuthatch

Red-fronted Serin

Graceful Warbler

Shore Lark

Finsch's Wheatear






click here to see the photographs in our Turkey Album



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