Trip Report: Northwest Turkey, April 16-21, 1996
José Tavares, Ankara, Turkey;
The main purpose of this visit to Turkey was not
birdwatching. I was based in Istanbul for the whole period, and went
to Rumelikavagi one day to watch the raptor migration. Also, I did a
boat trip from Kabatas ferry terminal to Anadolukavagi, and back
(several hours), across the Bosphorus. The time I spent watching for
migrating raptors at these places are detailed below.
Weather was unseasonably cold. Temperatures varied between
4°C (at night) to a maximum of 17°C. Air currents were mainly from
the north (NE and NW), and it rained for 4 days.
Istanbul and Bosphorus. Important Bird Area
- Black-necked Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis. 1 in breeding plumage at
Kabatas Ferry terminal.
- Yelkouan Shearwater, Puffinus yelkouan. Many groups seen,
flying north and south, during a boat trip from Kabatas to
Anadolukavagi. Several hundred birds present (500?).
- Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo. +10, northern end Bosphorus.
Great reduction in numbers from the huge wintering population.
- Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis. 1 adult at Rumelifeneri.
- Black Stork, Ciconia nigra. 3 seen on migration over Rumelikavagi
- White Stork, Ciconia ciconia. The most common soaring bird
migrating through the Bosphorus. 12 seen in Kabatas Ferry terminal
(Istanbul, 11-12 am), 128 seen over Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm) and 17
over Anadolukavagi (12-2 pm).
- Black Kite, Milvus migrans. 2 seen over Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm),
1 over Anadolukavagi (12-2 pm)
- Marsh Harrier, Circus aeruginosus. 2 females or immatures
migrating at Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm).
- Montagu's/Hen Harrier, Circus pygargus/cyaneus. 2 "ringtails"
seen at Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm). Probably C. pygargus.
- Harrier species, Circus sp. 1 over Anadolukavagi (12-2 pm).
- Buzzard, Buteo buteo. By far the commonest raptor migrating
through the Bosphorus. Not all buteos were identified to species
level, but all those seen well were Buteo buteo. +50 Buteo sp. seen
from 12-3.30 pm at Rumelikavagi, 5 Buteo sp. counted during 1 hour
(11-12 am) at Kabatas Ferry terminal, and 24 Buteo sp. counted
during 2 hours (12-2 pm) at Anadolukavagi.
- Lesser Spotted Eagle, Aquila pomarina. 2 at Anadolukavagi (12-2
pm). 3 eagles seen at Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm) were probably from
- Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus. 2 white phases seen on
migration through Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm).
- Sparrowhawk species, Accipiter sp. The second-most common
raptor migrating through the Bosphorus. Most sparrowhawks seen
were soaring very high. The ones seen well seemed A. nisus, but I
don't have any experience with A. brevipes, so there could be some
of this species. >25 at Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm), 3 at Kabatas (11-12
am) and 5 at Anadolukavagi (12-2 pm).
- Unidentified raptors, probably buzzards, 6 seen over Anadolukavagi
- Falcon species, Falco sp. 1 bird with "moustaches", probably Hobby
Falco subbuteo, migrating over Rumelikavagi (12-3.30 pm).
- Kestrel/Lesser Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus/naumanni. 2 or 3 seen at
- Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus. A few birds.
- Slender-billed Gull, Larus genei. 1 probable (immature) at
- Lesser Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus. Widespread.
- Yellow-legged Herring Gull, Larus cachinnans. Widespread.
- Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto. Istanbul.
- Palm Dove, Streptopelia senegalensis. Istanbul.
- Ring-necked Parakeet, Psittacula krameri. 4 at Anadolukavagi.
- Alpine swift, Apus melba. Istanbul, Breeding. Remarkably few
swifts in town, all of them A. melba, apart from 1 seen above
Nisantasi (prob. Apus apus)
- Swift species, probably A. apus, only 1 over Nisantasi.
- Swallow, Hirundo rustica. 1 seen on migration over Rumelikavagi,
some seen on Anadolukavagi.
- Pipit, Anthus sp. 1 seen briefly at Anadolukavagi.
- White Wagtail, Motacilla alba. 1 Anadolukavagi, +5 migrating along
- Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes. Widespread. Singing.
- Robin, Erithacus rubecula. Istanbul.
- Stonechat, Saxicola torquata. Rumelifeneri.
- Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe. 2 males and 1 female at
- Blackbird, Turdus merula. Rumelifeneri. Singing.
- Mistle Thrush, Turdus viscivorus. 1 at Rumelifeneri.
- Sardinian Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala. Widespread.
- Pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca. 1 male at Anadolukavagi.
- Great Tit, Parus major. Widespread. Singing.
- Magpie, Pica pica. Widespread.
- Jackdaw, Corvus monedula. Widespread.
- Hooded Crow, Corvus corone cornix. Widespread.
- Starling, Sturnus vulgaris. Rumelifeneri.
- House Sparrow, Passer domesticus. Istanbul.
- Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs. Widespread. Singing.
- Goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis. Rumelifeneri.
Worthy of note is the complete absence of terns and waders from the
Bosphorus, even at this time of the year, as well as the scarcity of
small migrants going through the area. I was expecting to see the
bushes at Rumelikavagi and Anadolukavagi alive with migrant
passerines, but only a handful of birds were found. Maybe the
strange weather pattern can explain this fact?
In the bird market south of Galata bridge saw Hawfinch
(Coccothraustes coccothraustes) and Brambling (Fringilla
montifringilla) in cages (together with more common passerines).
- Bottle-nosed dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. Seen three times in 2
different days: 1 seen in front of Rumelikavagi, then 4 + 2 seen south
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November 27, 1998