LUTMAN'S THREE-WEEK FALL 2000 TRIP TO TURKEY
Report No. 2.
Day 3 of 21. Tuesday, September 19, 2000. Golcuk (GOAL-chuck) to Bursa, with a trip to Uludag Mountain (ski resort, like Squaw or Heavenly Valley, near Lake Tahoe, Califorrnia, but no snow now, of course).
THE DRIVING PLAN
Turkey is a sort of rectangular country, with the long dimension running horizontally. Our planned route is basically a counter-clockwise circle with Istanbul at the top, Izmir and Ephesus and the Aegean coast at nine o'clock, Antalya on the Mediterranean at six o'clock, Cappadocia at three o'clock, then back to Istanbul. We pack lots of fruit and goodies that Cihan has bought for us, load up our car and head for Bursa, a very large city perhaps 2-3 hours away.
But first we bird Cihan's apartment "back yard." We get better looks at the Hooded Crows of yesterday, then get a very common bird Ð a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER. A rather plain little bird and all over the place. Next we get two birds that in America we call chickadees, but in Europe are called tits. We get the GREAT TIT and the SOMBRE TIT plus several unidentified birds. At the base of Cihan's apartment, looking down towards the naval base, there is a kind of forest garden that slopes away from the apartment. This is where we are birding. Next is a bird that looks like a pipit, with a strong brown line through the eye, the color lighter above the eye, but we're not very confident of its ID and we let it go.
Cihan has called in to ask permission to be a few hours late and he gets it. We drop Cihan off at his base after a little more touring and a stop at a market for water, paper towels, toilet paper and some other things, then we are off.
Our tools are a) our Turkey map, quite detailed, with our planned route highlighted; b) my GPS, with western Turkey downloaded; c) a Turkish phrase book; d) a Turkish/English, English/Turkish dictionary; e) two European bird ID books; f) a book titled something like "Where to Find Birds in Turkey, Cypress and Greece"; g) a pair of binoculars each; h) our trusty 15-45X zoom spotting scope with tripod; i) three Turkey tour books; and j) our temporary car, manual transmission, no air conditioning.
We are in heaven, except for the car...
The plan is to bird till mid-afternoon, call Cihan, tell him where we plan to sleep. Cihan will call National Car Rental, tell them where we are, and they will deliver the car we reserved to us there, even if it's midnight. Yeah, right.
We spend the first part of the drive, paralleling the coastline of the Sea of Marmar. The inlet to this body of water is the Bosphorus, from the Black Sea. The exit is to the Mediterranean, via the Dardenelles. Heady locations in my history memory.
Sharon spots a bird flying over the water, and it is a CORMORANT, called Great Cormorant in the U.S. and only seen in the eastern U.S. It looks pretty much like a California cormorant from afar.
We come upon a very attractive little park beside the sea, but its wonderful miniature lighthouse was apparently knocked down in last year's earthquake. We see other quake damage remnants along our path. We stop at the park and get a pair of WINCHATS feeding in the handsome trees planted in the park, right next to the water. We also get a pair of birds that remind us a little of Red-eyed Vireos, and they are called CHIFFCHAFFS.
We begin to turn south, away from Marmara and begin climbing into wonderful countryside. Hot and dry like the hills around Gilroy, California, a little. We see some movement in a vineyard and pull over. We pick up a bird with a black cap called a BLACKCAP, perfectly enough, and then a RED-BACKED SHRIKE. There is lots of stippling and a brown earpatch behind the eye of the shrike. We continue on, and leave sight of Marmar completely.
A little after noon, we spot a raptor perched on a pole. It takes off while we are looking at it, and we see it from all angles. We identify it as a BUZZARD. Some hawks are called buzzards in Europe, as opposed to the U.S., where buzzard means vulture. A little later, as we are driving along, we spot two dark birds circling lazily, and we stop and get the scope on them. They are wonderful BLACK STORKS, and they soon circle out of sight. There are both Black and White Storks here, and they claim that the Black is the more difficult to see, so we feel lucky. We ARE lucky.
We pass a water tank not far from a lake called Iznik Golu and see a bird with a long tail, gray and white with some black. It is a Pied Wagtail, a subspecies of White Wagtail, and a beautiful bird but not a lifer. We saw one of these in Nome, Alaska a couple of years ago. We reach Bursa and after a couple of mistakes, locate the road up to Uludag.
On the way we spot some sparrow-like birds on the road. The males have a rosy chest with black markings. A pretty little bird called a CHAFFINCH. At the same stop, we check other trees, and locate some singing COAL TITS. These little birds have a white vertical stripe on the back of their head. A mama dog comes over, recognizing Sharon apparently, and it collects its stroking. We make our way to the top of Uludag and find some pipits we can't quite ID
I am getting antsy about getting our proper rental car delivered, and there aren't many birds up here. We find that all the twenty or so hotels are closed except one. Their room rate is about eighty bucks, but I'm not sure the rental car company wants to deliver a car way up here. We take a hike through a field and some pine trees. We see more tits of familiar varieties, hike back to the car and get ready to leave. But in the process, we see small flocks of birds flying in and out of some tall trees next to a hotel. Then down to the ground. We check them out. Some are fairly plain but others are bright yellow with brown ear patches. They fly roller coaster patterns, and stick together. We ID them as SERINS.
We call Cihan and tell him we are driving back down into Bursa. We have picked out a hotel called the Dikmen Hotel, and ask Cihan to call National, and have them deliver the car there. We give Cihan the hotel's phone number, and head down. Bursa is an extremely busy and large city Ð much larger than I had imagined, and we get stuck in evening traffic after dark, trying to find our hotel. The streets aren't marked very well Ð maybe one in 50 have a name you can read. Or none of 50. We finally pull out of the main street's busy traffic, get a side street and pull over. One of our tour books has a map of Bursa and we can tell we're close, but can't zero in on our hotel. We stop and ask, blocking a couple of cars Ð one from pulling out onto the road and one from pulling off the road, but they only honk incessantly.
We get directions and take off. We keep getting closer, and keep asking directions, but now we're not on the main street so it isn't so stressful. We finally locate it, and they have an underground car park. We drive under, and an attendant shows us where to park. We go upstairs, and yes, they have rooms. It is common to request to see a room in Turkey, and they show us one. The room is small, but has a cooler, a TV and a telephone. Two twin beds and a bathroom. We take it.
A bellboy comes with me down to the car, and I load up our birding stuff plus cameras, while he loads up four of our five pieces of luggage (We delivered one to Cihan, and the other one has clothes for the cold. It's pretty warm so we don't need anything in it yet). We call Cihan, and he says the car is on the way, and will get here between 10:30 and 11:00. Is it really going to happen?
We have dinner in the hotel restaurant (tomato and cucumber salad, a steak for Sharon, chicken for me) and go back to the room. In trying to order, the waiter speaks a little English. They have hardly anything on the menu, and he starts off by telling us what they DO have. I keep asking about other things, and he keeps saying, "We haven't." Cihan has the National Rental Car people in his sights. He has gotten the cell phone number of the driver, and talks with him while the fellow is driving. When he gets to the edge of Bursa, he reports to Cihan, who calls us to tell us.
About twenty minutes later, one tired guy delivers us our car. It is silver and is the most beautiful thing I can recall seeing (well, I'm pretty tired). He takes off in our old car after we make sure everything's out, and we have the car attendant park this car in the basement. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. Upstairs, to sleep.
New Life Birds (first time ever seen or heard): Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Sombre Tit, Cormorant, Winchat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Red-backed Shrike, Buzzard, Black Stork, Chaffinch, Coat Tit, Serin.
Life Bird Totals: Today 13. Trip 14. This has put us over the 900 Life Bird plateau.
Impressions of the Day: There are more per capita cell phones in Turkey than in the U.S. Cihan earlier told us that some cell phone companies use Sweden and Turkey as their experimental countries because these countries have the highest percentage of cell phone users. You see little school kids, people walking on the streets, old men Ð everybody has a cell phone, it seems.
Happiness is a warm puppy and getting your automatic transmission rental car personally delivered to you, four hours from the airport. The air conditioning had better work tomorrow. The trip so far has been fairly high stress for me because of the car situation, but Sharon says not for her at all. Hopefully, now that we have everything we were supposed to have at the beginning, things will settle down. Our TV doesn't get the olympics. Dang. The bed sleeps great though. We set our alarm for 5:00 am.
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