Translation of the article entitled "Charting the Birds of Central Anatolia" which appeared in the Finnish publication Linnut. [The copyright remains with the author, even though he doesn't want to be named here.]
Author's name withheld upon request.
At the end of May the author spent half a month in the central parts of Anatolia, in a survey project of the Konya Basin. And those weeks indeed were interesting - as the survey took place in an area which has been till now little known. Not a wonder thus that from the hides of gorges and from the islands of a great lake a number of new bird species of the area were found - some of them even 700 km from their earlier marked ranges.
Turkey is a borderland between Europe and Asia, a country that has been taken in Europe both with fearful prejudices and with great interest and alliance. If Turkey becomes a member of the European Union, it would be the second largest state after Germany.
The European countries of the Balkans still have somewhat bitter memories from the time of the Turkish superpower era, when the Ottoman Empire reached by conquest as far as Hungary and Romania. Besides, several problems haunt the picture of Turkey (in Europe): human rights problems in the Kurd areas and the powerful position of the army in the country's regime cause some prejudices. Same with the North Cyprus military stalemate, island and water range arguments with Greece, and the historical stigmas about the cleansings of the Armenians and Greeks in the beginning of the century.
On the other hand, the present Turkey is a west-oriented country which would be an important ally for the West, and a bridge towards the East and the Islam. If Turkey still seems asymmetric aside the Western democracies which have lived in peace and prosperity, the gap between Turkey and her eastern neighbours is always much deeper. The problems of Turkey should also be viewed in relation to the fact that Turkey has such eastern neighbours as Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and Caucasian countries where Russia has with armed support organised coup d'état tyrannies led by former KGB regimes and Mafiosi. Even in comparison with several European countries Turkey is an entirely Western democracy - think about dictatorships like Serbia and Belarus, or just for example our own eastern neighbour Russia.
"The usual Muslims have just one God, but the Turks have two of them, both beginning with A". Such a joke about the Turks was told to me by a non-Turkish Muslim friend of mine. The point of the joke is that Kemal Atatürk, "Father of Turks", is in Turkey respected as a national hero like an almost semi-divinity. His slogans and portraits can be found everywhere in walls and even a hillside can be "decorated" by letters forming his name, cut in wood. It is surely true that Atatürk founded the basis for the Western image and secularism in Turkey, and his many reforms moved Turkey at once nearer to the European ideals than Russia ever has been...
In natural geography, already the vast surface of Turkey guarantees a very large scale of different habitats and combinations of species, from the European fauna to the Oriental, and from the alpine species of the mountains to the semi-desert creatures of the Middle East.
Among the least-known of the areas of Turkey is the Central Anatolian upland basin, situated in the middle of Anatolia. In the middle of that area lies the city of Konya, known of her religiosity, the former Ikonion of the ancient times. Our research area had such been named the Konya Basin, after the city, and our borders were the tops of the mountain ranges which served as the water-dividers.
I got the information about the project via internet, and I at once thought that my work with the EU integration of the Intermediate Europe and of the Balkan Wars, at the University of Lund, deserved a pause, so that in a few following days I packed my baggage and looked for the first possible cancelled seat for a flight to Turkey from Sturup.
The work in question was of course volunteer work - expenses were compensated, but the actual salary were the great experiences and marvelous observations. Part of the sponsor money came from the European Union, including a Land Rover jeep for our use. In the field there were two or three teams, changing their structures by the needs of whenever somebody fell sick or had to leave. Besides the author, in the last weeks of May there were as the other foreign volunteers in the project: Twan from the Netherlands and Michael J. Blair, an editor of the European Bird Atlas, from Scot-land. The project was coordinated by Güven Eken, for DHKD (Dogan Hayati Koruma Dernegi), the main big nature protection organisation of Turkey, and besides, there were Turkish biology students Günesin and Okan [there seems to be a typo in the article - blame the editors, not me!] and Cüneyt, a photographer from a Turkish magazine Atlas.
Our main purpose was to survey the birds and to find the possible hotspot areas, maximally rich habitats, which would be worth protection and further research. It was also relevant to share positive information about the meaning of protection, and, among other, about the importance of wetlands, to the little villages of the area, where we found people who were very positive for protection - although there were also those who dried up the wetlands into fields without asking for permission, poisoned the wolves and the vultures, and always carried a gun in case there was something to shoot.
At the same time, however, we also collected some information about mammals, reptiles and threats against the nature. It must be said that if I some time again return for the project in Turkey, I won't leave without a book about reptiles, because besides the birds, also the number of different lizards, snakes, and tortoises was respectable. I especially remember the Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca) and the big Agama (Agama stellio), which both were very common.
Some excitement and fun to the project was brought by the local villagers. In one place we got outstandingly hospitable invitations for tea, and we had to shake hands with the persons of importance in the village, while in another place the overzealous and suspicious police or army men had some paranoia when they saw foreigners going around with a car with EU symbols, having illegally specific maps and a little apparatus with which one could contact satellites in order to find out the exact position. The other group had to spend a day in a police station and explain that they were no spies...
In total, during the two weeks, I managed to see almost 200 bird species, part of which I had never seen earlier. And if all the species seen by all the groups in all the different areas would be added together, I would suppose that the amount would rise to at least one hundred more, if not even more.
Two hundred species in two weeks is of course not a miracle - it is reached by all the bird tourists who go to Turkey and travel around a geographically large area, where they make the obligatory twitching in sites they know exactly beforehand, places with their own special species in each of them. The relevance of my number lies of course in the fact that I spent the time in a very limited geographic area around the Beysehir Lake, where there are no such well-known bird targets like Göksü Delta or Tuz Lake. Also of course the special species of the dry areas of the Middle East available in the Antioch area in South-Eastern Turkey, or re-introduced Bald Ibises (Geronticus eremita) one cannot find in Central Anatolia.
Beysehir Lake which was studied by my own team, is the greatest freshwater lake in Turkey. Its avifauna is not as rich as that of the well-known salt lakes - no more.
Earlier, Beysehir Lake too had breeding colonies of Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus), Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus), and several different herons. Now they are all gone, and the reason of that are two North-American fish species which have been introduced into the lake for fishing. The catfish and carps destroyed the original small species of fish of the lake, and the new fish were not suitable food for the fish-eating birds.
Another catastrophe fallen upon the lake has been the draining of the reedbeds into fields - the peasants do that uncontrolled even in the area of a national park carrying Atatürk's name. In Central Anatolia it was quite usual that although there was a lake or a wetland marked on the map, we found at the site nothing more than a cropfield waving in a boringly homogeneous way.
Still Beysehir Lake hides in its coasts and its islands many amazing secrets. Along all the shores of the lake one can still find paradise-like reedbed areas, oases of wetland birds and Marsh Turtles (Emis orbicularis). The most important of these is situated in the north-eastern corner of the lake.
In the wetlands surrounding the lake we could quickly find ten different species of ardeids (heron-birds), among which Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) and Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) were the most common ones. Four species of rallids (rail-birds) were observed, as well as two species of grebes, seven species of ducks, five species of both terns and gulls, and eight species of reedbed passerines, among which the most common species were Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Balkan Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg), and Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus). Marsh Harriers (Circus aëruginosus) were breeding in all the sufficiently large reedbeds, and besides, also Black Kite (Milvus migrans) and Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) were observed.
One had to be a bit careful in the reedbeds and on shore meadows - once I managed to step on a snake when I was observing a Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), but luckily the snake had just swallowed a big green frog which is very common in the area, and so it was not able to bite me.
The Purple Heron seemed to accept also a very big carp, but the saviours of the other herons have supposedly been the snakes and especially the frogs. Particularly the White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) I saw hunting snakes - one individual could in ten minutes catch three snakes on a shore meadow.
The invasion of the baby-frogs to land happened as a mass-phenomenon, where the shore meadows were downright covered by little froglets. That situation was not left unexploited by the birds; on a particular meadow the frogs were eaten by a harmonic assembly of four Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), a pair of White Storks, a Hobby (Falco subbuteo) - yes, it was on ground, too - and a flock of dozens of Hooded Crows (Corvus corone cornix). Even the big, long-legged predator ants of the Mediterranean seemed to be able to kill the just-landed froglets, and thereby turn upside-down the usual relation between the predator and the prey.
An entirely separate world was offered by the numerous small and a little larger islands of the lake - even the greatest of them could be floundered through in half an hour. The charm of the small islets lay in their surprising and varying nature. Even from a close distance one could not foresee from a boat what the islet contained - even a hundred-pair bird colony could hide itself so well that it became exposed not until the boat was at a distance of a couple of dozens of metres.
One "island" could be just a group of willows and reed sticking out of the water after the island had sunk under water - the water was unusually high, which had also expelled a major part of the feeding herons elsewhere. The bigger islands were rocky hills, often covered by juniper and pine forest, which rose up from water - and on these islands one could find anything. On one single island a pair of both Lesser Spotted Eagles (Aquila pomarina) and Short-toed Eagles (Circaëtus gallicus) were found!
The most abundant duck species of the lake was Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), which bred in rock holes. The other species of ducks were found mainly in the wetlands; in the order of abundance Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Gadwall (Anas strepera), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca), and Common Pochard (Aythya ferina).
Two islands in the western part of the lake were overgrazed, but originally flourishing - not rocky - islands, on whose red shores the northern waders on their migration liked to stop. Thus, many species of sandpipers, stints, and plovers were observed. On one such island a carcass of a dead donkey had attracted, besides the hundreds of Hooded Crows and Jackdaws (Corvus monedula), an immature White-tailed Fish-eagle (Haliaëetus albicilla), which was later also seen in the northern part of the lake. On one island there was a breeding colony of Rooks (Corvus frugilegus)!
A real paradise island was a low double-island whose willowy stony-shored part was connected to a drier part including a little oak-grove by a narrow strip of wetland. On this island of hardly a couple of hectares area we encountered 54 species of birds in half an hour! On the island 32 individuals of Little Bitterns were counted, and three probably breeding pairs of Spur-winged Lapwings (Hoplopterus spinosus), and in addition, two pairs of Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), dozens of waders resting on their migration, about twenty Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur), several species of different passerines, a small species of Porzana crake, and even a Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus). By no means did we want to leave that island, however the time-limits of the methodology forced us to do so.
Also a few very rocky islets penetrate the surface of the lake, and these resemble by shape the bird mountains of the Polar Sea. On these islets we found the biologically maybe most interesting findings, namely colonies. One very small islet of this type was inhabited by only three bird species: there were a couple of Ruddy Shelducks breeding in a rock-hole, there were Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), and a colony of about one hundred Jackdaws!
The most interesting and fantastic was, however, a little steep-shored islet which could be called the Gull Island, on its top old Seljuk ruins, white of excrement. On this islet was breeding the first known Asian inland colony of Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans michahellis), in the company of a Jackdaw colony, a Rock Dove (Columba livia livia) colony, and a Ruddy Shelduck colony, all having their nests somewhere hidden in the ruins and rock-holes! Güven was especially attracted to this gull colony of over one hundred pairs, and planned it to be a target for his further research. A most amazing thing was that these birds - albeit they most resembled the michahellis race - behaved and even sounded different from the birds of the Mediterranean. It could perhaps even be its own isolated sub-race.
The other gull species of Central Anatolia, related to Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), which breeds as inland colonies, is the Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus), of which a colony breeding on the Tuz Lake is known. However, Armenian Gull is entirely different in many respects, and it is easy to be identified by its black bill-ring.
The most typical landscape in Central Anatolia is arid rocky and hilly bushland, which on some parts has been overgrazed into the level of a semi-desert. The domestic animals are indeed one of the greatest problems, and the reason of the loss of the big original mammals. There are domestic animals at large everywhere - cows, donkeys, sheep, coats, even water buffaloes. All the forests, bushlands, steppes, and hills are full of "stupid and ugly domestic animals", as Güven angrily expressed it.
Because of them the competing wild Red Deer (Cervus cervinus) and Mountain Sheep (Ovis orientalis) have been extirpated from the main areas already a long time ago, and because of them (the domestic animals), wolves, feline animals, and birds of prey are still mercilessly persecuted. Lion (Panthera leo), and probably also Tiger (Panthera tigris), have been already destroyed into extinction in Turkey - some Leopards (Panthera parda) might still survive in the highest and most remote mountain regions. The rare Jungle Cat (Felis sp.) we found stuffed in a shop of a moustached man, where there were also specimens of all the other rarities, from Wolf (Canis lupus) to Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo), from Forest Cat (Felis silvestris) to Badger (Meles meles) and Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus). The owner claimed he had "found dead" all those animals. The Porcupine, and a big genet-like animal (I am not sure of the correct English name: the animal is black, grey and white, and has a bushy tail with black rings) we only found dead on the road. The minor birds, however, are not particularly persecuted, so that they can be found amazingly numerous and diverse in the bushy lands, and especially in the quercus (oak) forests. The small quercus tree has been the original tree species of the hills - for a Finn those man-sized "forests" would be mainly expressed as bushland. The new re-forestation projects, however, cover the over-grazed slopes with pine, and not with the original species of tree.
The most abundant of the passerines one learns to identify very quickly: Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala) and Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra), Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida), and Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio); all these are real everywhere-birds. Also Black-eared Wheatear (Oënanthe hispanica), Northern Wheatear (Oënanthe oënanthe), Isabelline Wheatear (Oënanthe isabellina), White-throated Robin (Irania gutturalis), Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), Sombre Tit (Parus lugubris), Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer), Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana), and Cretzschmar's Bunting (Emberiza caesia) belong to the species which can be found almost everywhere. In the quercus forests we found, besides the Olivaceous Warbler, also three other species of Hippolais warblers - all of them new for the area - Upcher's Warbler (Hippolais languida), Olive-tree Warbler (Hippolais olivetorum), and Booted Warbler (Hippolais caligata). The last one, however, is probably just a singing passage migrant.
There were also many species of shrikes; in the order of abundance Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor), Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus), and Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator). The colourful variety of the a bit larger birds was increased by European Roller (Coracias garrulus), Hoopoe (Upupa epops), and European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster).
The mountains have always been something sacred to the author - upon their tops one can feel an unexplainable feeling of freedom, in their gorges and in their hidden valleys one can always find something new and surprising, and ascending on a mountain is as a process like searching for a higher truth. Thereby, I soon headed to the greatest mountains of my own team's "territory", which, on the western side of Lake Beysehir, rose up to a height of nearly 3000 metres.
It has however to be mentioned that already at the lake we were on an altitude of 1200-1300 metres, and therefore it was no wonder to see sometimes also mountainous species in the very low altitudes. Even a flock of Alpine Choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus) we saw down in the valley where they had probably come to drink.
On the lower slopes of the mountains, and also quite high, old black-pine forest was growing, in which habitat the typical bird species was Krüper's Nuthatch (Sitta krüperi) - and indeed it was common everywhere in its own habitat, but nowhere else. In the coniferous forests of the mountains there are also lots of relicts living, species whose main ranges are usually in the north. Such species are for example Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), the both treecreepers (Certhia familiaris & brachydactyla), Spotted Fly-catcher (Muscicapa striata), Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), Dunnock (Prunella modularis), and six species of woodpeckers.
Many of these occur as their own subspecies, and often as isolated populations, whose representatives were sometimes hard to identify as belonging to the same species as their Finnish relatives. For example the Anatolian Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus tephronotus) was very odd-looking, and quite strange seemed at first also the Levantine subspecies of the Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus samamisicus).
The most common birds of the mountainous forests were, excluding the nuthatch, very familiar for me: Great Tit (Parus major), Coal Tit (Parus ater), Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus), Blackbird (Turdus merula), Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), and Serin (Serinus serinus). Where there was a brook in the bottom of a valley, one could find there White-breasted Dippers (Cinclus cinclus), and Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea). The abundance of Hoopoes and different woodpeckers was remarkable. Exploiting the amounts of birds, there were also a Stone Marten (Martes foina) jumping up a slope. The species of the mountain forests are quite little-known; they are often difficult to observe, and they are living as scattered populations. Because of this many species that we found were also new for the area. Even a Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) I found hundred kilometres from the known breeding-sites, and if the case would be studied, I could guess the site to be the southern-most known breeding-site of Black Woodpecker in the West-Palearctic region. The other team found in the southern boundary mountains of the region a Tengmalm's Owl (Aegolius funereus) - the fourth in Turkey and the southernmost in the Western Palearctic region.
Even such amazingly abundant species like Wren and Red-fronted Serin (Serinus pusillus) were earlier unknown to the area. Already this shows how little one has researched Central Anatolia. One should also study the accentors which we found singing up on the mountains, the accentors which were far more hiding than our familiar Dunnocks, and they even sang in a little different way. Most probably the birds in question are still common Dunnocks, but without further investigations the Radde's Accentor (Prunella ocularis) cannot be counted out. Any of them are known from the area in question.
Sylvia rüppelli), Upcher's Warblers, and Masked Shrikes were also found at surprisingly high altitudes.
On the very top one could then meet only a few species, but they were the more interesting - at the altitude of over 2000 metres the species were Alpine Chough, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Nuthatch, Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis), Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia), Ortolan Bunting, Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis), Linnet (Acanthis cannabina), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), and as especially immortal observations for me, some Chukars (Alectoris chukar), and a Lammergeier (Gypaëtus barbatus).
The Lammergeier (or Bearded Vulture) is probably the last surviving large vulture species of those mountains because, as told to us by a villager, the Black Vultures (Aegypius monachus) and Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) have all all killed when they have poisoned the wolves. The saviour of the majestic Lammergeier has been the fact that as the only one it never flies down to the valleys to eat poisoned meat.
The poisonings have probably also caused the decimation of the Ravens (Corvus corax), because during the whole time I saw only one Raven on the mountains.
The gorges, or the 'vadis', are like islands in the mountains. Like islands, the gorges are also always as full of surprises. In the neighbouring gorges there can be totally different bird faunas, and anything can be found. Unforgettable was the great abundance with which the mixed flocks of Red-fronted and Common Serins were occurring everywhere where there were junipers growing. The other group also saw Crimson-winged Finches (Rhodopechys sanguinea) in the southern mountains.
Also the beautiful Blue Rock Thrushes (Monticola solitarius) and Rock Thrushes, many species of wheatears and buntings, and the hundred-headed colonies of Rock Sparrows (Petronia petronia) and Crag Martins (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) were typical for the gorges. On the palest stony tops one could find Finch's Wheatear (Oënanthe finschii), which on its part has clearly been marked incorrectly common for Central Anatolia - in reality the species was very scarce and demanded a specially pale arid stone slope.
In the gorges one could surprisingly also observe many alpine species, like Ring Ouzels (Turdus torquatus) and Snowfinches. Some special attention would need a very large nuthatch which we found in a quite high-altitude gorge on the northern boundary mountains of the area; a bird which most surely was a Great Rock Nuthatch (Sitta tephronota), 700 km west from its earlier-known range.
The large open lands can be rudely divided into two categories: Steppes and cropfields. Because I stayed in the surroundings of the lake, I did not see dry-land species like Sandgrouse (Pterocles sp.), which were however seen by the other groups. The typical species of the open lands, the several larks, and the Isabelline Wheatears, were, however, well represented also on the paddocks and on the fields.
The most numerous of the larks were Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla), Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra), and Bimaculated Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata), and on the area of the salt-lakes, the Lesser Short-toed Lark (Calandrella rufescens). For myself I saw eight different species of lark, and in many places there were downright masses of them. Together with the Quails (Coturnix coturnix) and Corn Buntings, they populated also the very monotonous-looking cropfields - excluding the poisoned ones, which could soon be identified by the simple fact that there were only a few birds on them.
The hills of dry, sand-like clay, with low juniper growing on them, were the favourate places of the larks, but there were also Tawny Pipits (Anthus campestris) and buntings, even Upcher's Warblers. On one such hill I also saw a Nightjar which rose into flight in front of me in the middle of day, and flew two metres away, landed on ground and imagined that I couldn't see it.
The open lands are crossed by brook-valleys, which with their poplar plantations, fruit gardens, and groves, are real oases of birds. Also in these "islands of the open lands" we found many earlier unknown species for the area, many of them quite abundant. As an example I could mention Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria) - proven breeding far from the earlier-known breeding sites which are situated in the Caucasus!
In the plenty of bird-life in the groves, the species often must be found by their voices which are drowned into the noise of House Sparrows (Passer domesticus), Spanish Sparrows (Passer hispaniolensis), and Olivaceous Warblers. The Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti), and Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) are common. In a lakeside grove the Orioles joined a large mixed flock of Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and Rosy Starlings (Sturnus roseus) to feed on the shore meadow. It was unusual to see an Oriole on ground, and moreover in the company of Rosy Starlings.
In another lakeside grove I experienced a pleasant shock when in a place where I had already walked by three times, a Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) suddenly took wing, having rested in the tree. In the same lakeside grove we also realised why Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris), which is quite common in the area, is so little-known from the area - its song is totally drowned out by the noise of the more abundant relative species.
In the gardens where the Magpie (Pica pica) is common, one can also meet the nest-parasite of Magpie, namely the very noisy and somehow clumsy Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius), which, unlike its more common relative, does not murder the chicks of its host species, but grows up among the Magpie chicks.
Also in the villages one could explore something nice: In the cemetery of the village of Yesildag we found the second known White Stork colony of the world [?], with at least 21 pairs. The Spanish Sparrows had been watching the pictures of Jonsson's book, as they were breeding as the "parasites" of the storks quite like in the picture of the book.
At the end, the raptors deserve a chapter of their own, the most spectacular of them being of course the Lammergeier which we saw in the mountains. The absolutely most abundant bird of prey of the area, and a real everywhere species, is Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus), which is the most common raptor of the fields, for example. The common Steppe Buzzard (Buteo vulpinus) we only found high on the mountains.
In my notes the second most observed raptor was - surprisingly - Short-toed Eagle, the only collectively hunting bird of prey in Europe. Besides the Short-toed Eagle, the observed species of eagles were Lesser Spotted Eagle and White-tailed Fish-eagle - Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaëtos) and Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) which should occur in the whole area, were mainly missing, probably due to poisoning and persecution.
Both Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and Sparrow-hawk (Accipiter nisus) were found in gorges, as well as Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), which was found breeding in at least two gorges. The falcons that were more common than the Peregrine were, however, Hobby and Kestrel, and the passage migrant Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), which was for example seen over a dozen one time over a meadow. Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) was seen once.
Black Kite was observed three times, whereas the Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus) was quite common, like also of course Marsh Harrier. A Turkish research group whom we met had also seen Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and Red Kite (Milvus milvus) around the lake - species that we did not see. Even an Osprey (Pandion haliaëtus) visited at the breakfast table of the other group in Beysehir, where we had our base most of the time.
The most common of the owls was the cute Little Owl (Athene noctua). Besides it, Scops Owls (Otus scops) were heard, and one Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) I saw resting on a barn door in almost day-light.
Even though we found many new species for the area, it was also a disappointment to notice that some species which the maps claimed to occur in the area were missing. This was especially the case with the raptors - among others Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus). Regrettably and probably man has his fingers - or his rifle - involved in this fact.
From 20th May to 2nd June 1998
The list of species from the region of Beysehir Gölü, in Central Anatolia, Turkey.
Note: Lots of other species, too, were seen by the other participants and other groups of the project! Unfortunately I don't have complete lists of species in my possession. More about the projects, and more species, can be found in: http://www.euronet.nl/users/icu12235/konya/konya.htm - check it out!
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