Yesterday I picked up Emin son of the yogurtseller (direct translation of his last name) at 5.30. About an hour and a half later we arrived at Lake Kulu about 110 km south of Ankara. The main lake is a salt lake that supports lots of flamingos. At arrival we saw hundreds of flamingos and and asked Emin about lesser flamingo. Well, there are about 5 records for Turkey, but we’re not likely to see one was his reply. I started to scan the flamingo-flocks and 10 seconds later I found a tiny flamingo among the greater ones. It was fouraging in very bad light so no colours were visible. I told Emin about the bird and he soon found it. We decited to move to see it in better light and soon it was clear that we were in deed watchting the 6th lesser flamingo for Turkey. No need to say that we were excited – a true wp rarity and a nice addition to my self-found list. It wasn’t new to Emin as he twitched a bird this winter in Izmir. Birders were alerted and some made their secord twitch to Ankara in 3 days (the first being the baillon’s crake).
But Lake Kulu is more than flamingos. Greater and lesser short toed, calandra and crested larks were common, there were lots of wagtails (4 species) and red-throated pipits in the hundreds and shore birds included kentish plovers, little stints, marsh sandpipers and 5 red-necked phalaropes. There were also 10+ gull-billed terns, lots of slender billed gulls and mediterannian gulls. Most birds were confined to some fresh water ponds besides the main lake. It was possible to drive near the lakes and ponds and thus it was possible to get really close to many of the birds without disturbing them. At one point Emin discovered a flock of crane-type birds way up in the sky. But they were simply to distant to be safely id’ed – but they could be demoiselle cranes or maybe glossy ibis? You can check out the pics and comment!
After Lake Kulu we went to Lake Kozancli. On the way there we saw 20+ lesser kestrels on the wires along the road with one ad female red-foot falcon joining the. At the lake we saw 50+ glossy ibises, lots of waders including cattle egret and little bittern (lifer for me – I know it’s weird, but I’ve managed not the see it before). There were also some whiskered terns and white-winged terns and collared pranticoles along with the wagtails and pipits.
On the way back to Ankara we checked two more lakes. At a great desert salt lake, there should be a greater sandplover, but Emin had never seen it there. We came, we looked and we found the bird in the middle of nowhere – not a lifer, but my first in WP. It was a cracking bird giving rather good views in the late afternoon-light. By the lake we also saw a little owl – it is a subspecies, which is paler than the european birds.
Finally we gave Lake Uyuz a shot. It is a small lake with lots of reeds. It was awesome. After 5 minutes we FINALLY located a splendid male white-headed duck – so the third lifter for one day. All in all the day was nothing less that awesome – Harika! Thanks, Emin!