LUTMAN'S THREE-WEEK FALL 2000 TRIP TO TURKEY
Report No. 3.
Day 4 of 21. Wednesday, September 20, 2000. Bursa to Selcuk (SELL-chuck), birding Iznik Golu and Uluabat Golu on the way. Golu means lake.
A NEW CAR!!! (quote from The Price is Right TV game show)
Our Renault is very sporty, has 35049 kilometers on it, 3/4 of a tank of petrol. I set up my GPS again, but it blows a fuse in the cigarette lighter plug in, and I will be on batteries (four AA's) the rest of the way. This after purchasing a new fuse and finding the adapter still refuses (get it, get it?) to work. One set of four batteries will last about two days the way I am using it. The car also has FUNCTIONING air conditioning, a rear hatch with a security lid so you can't peek into the car and see what's in the back. But, get ready, it has cruise control, an unexpected but fervently hoped-for bonus. This is the exact car I requested and my feet are so GREATful.
LATE FLASHES FROM YESTERDAY
The Dikmen Hotel elevator, or lift as it is called, had no inside door. So as the car is moving, you can see the inner walls of the elevator shaft zoom by as you move. I stick the back of my hand lightly against the shaft wall as we move, but Sharon tells me to cut it out and get my hand back. I take my hand away and just watch the walls glide by. Fascinating. We get to our floor and talk a little while waiting for the outer elevator door to open. After a bit, we hear a yell from outside the elevator, then our bellman pulls the handle, opening the door. Oh, you have to push it open. OK.
GETTING OUT OF BURSA
We take off form our hotel in Bursa and it is so early (6:15am) that there is almost no traffic, so it's a piece of baklava getting to the freeway.
We reach Uluabat Lake and start our slow birding trip around it, beginning on the east side. We see several house sparrows in the garden of a house, then some dark birds we can't quite ID. Have to get closer. Still no good. We get Collared Doves, then the black birds again. We finally decide that they must be Ravens. We continue around the lake, then pick up what appears to be a Red-throated Pipit when a truck blows by, scaring it off before we can get good looks. This is a big disappointment. Would have loved to get this bird. Missed it in Nome, Alaska too. We hear a bird that sounds like a turkey, then see a couple of birds in a plowed field. A big flock of Starlings fly out. There is also a big hawk, but we can't ID it. We see pigeons (aka Rock Doves) on the roof of a farm house. At 7:44am we get another Great Tit and an English Sparrow. Several birds are in a berry bush, and one is reddish-brown with a black crown. It is a Blackcap, which we first got yesterday.
We move further around the lake and pick up GREY HERON (like a Great Blue Heron only gray, black and white. Absolutely gorgeous in flight when it's coming right at you), LITTLE EGRET (dead ringer for a Snowy Egret, with its white feathers, black legs and yellow feet), a soft fawn-colored REED WARBLER, with tans and browns and a rusty patch on its back. We can see a grebe which reminds us of Western and Clark's Grebes at home. It is a GREAT CRESTED GREBE and is very nice [There are also birds which at the time, we assumed were Great Egrets -- large white egrets, fairly common in the U.S. But upon further review after we got back home, it is clear that these were Great White Egrets, a lifer for us. However, this lifer is not included in the running statistics of these reports, till the very end].
A snipe flies up, but there are three types here: Great, regular and Jack. We can't tell which it is, it is so fast. At 9:07 am we are still at Uluabat Golu, trying to ID gulls. There is a species with a black "ear," the winter dress of the gulls with black heads in breeding season. Probably a Mediterranean or Black-headed Gull, but we can't tell which. We next get a wader with a long bill, slightly uptilted, light at the base. Its legs are green and when it flies, we see a stripe in midback. It's a GREENSHANK. Further out on the lake we can see two types of pelicans. One type is sort of dirty or steely looking gray and they are DALMATIAN PELICANS. I was really hoping for these. We also see one WHITE PELICAN, different from the American White Pelican.
As we are studying the gulls some more, I spot a KINGFISHER, with its white throat, white lower ear patch, turquoise head and back, and rusty chest and belly. It is resting on a reed on the outer edge of a group of reeds. What a beautiful, colorful little bird. There are three or four kinds of gulls, we decide. One is rather elegant looking, one is a white bird with black "ear" and black wingtips. Another is a shorter bird with stubbier wings, a yellow bill. A third has a black band on the tail. Gulls are so frustrating with all their different species/age/season combinations. We pass for now.
We see the blue-headed form of the Yellow Wagtail. We saw this species up in Nome, Alaska, but this is a new subspecies for us. The wagtail is across the road from a group of turkeys in a farmyard. Turkeys? Had to happen, you know. We are driving through a little village now, and can see several stork nests atop power poles and other tall objects. As I expected, there is a group of perhaps ten SPANISH SPARROWS who built their nests into the basement of the white stork nests. We can see the dense black chest spots below the black bib of what might otherwise be a House Sparrow.
As we continue on, we get a flash of a bird flying away from us, deeper into an orchard. It has a tan upper body and a fantastic array of black and white stripes on the trailing half of the body. It disappears into a tree in the orchard and we don't see it again. But I know this bird from the first book of the wonderful sea warfaring series by Patrick O'Brian. It's a HOOPOE. I am disappointed not to see its head, which has a crest that it raises to look sort of like a mohawk haircut. So this bird is 80% fantastic for me.
We continue on around the lake, and the dirt track we are on rises so we are about 50 feet above the ground below. There are goats and sheep down there, with some of them wearing bells, which ring delightfully as they walk around. There is what looks like a volleyball net also, but it has red ribbons or spangles on it. Beyond this meadow are thick reeds, then the water of the lake. We scan around and Sharon picks up a bird that is sort of like a green heron, and it flies, showing lots of white. This exactly fits the description of the SQUACCO HERON. There is also a dark hawk-type bird gliding back and forth over the lake, and a scope reveals that it has a cream-colored head. It is a MARSH HARRIER.
TIME OUT TO "TALK" TO THE SHEPHERDS
A farm tractor drives by and stops, dropping off two boys about 16 years of age. They speak only Turkish, and we get across the idea that we are bird-watchers. I set up the scope for them to look at the wonderful village and mosque across the lake, and they are amazed. This is so much fun to watch Ð them looking through the scope. We ask what they do, and they tell us they are shepherds. We say goodbye, and they make their way down a path to the sheep and goats below while we load up and take off in the car.
We see a bird dropping down from the sky. As it gets lower and lower, we see a white wing patch, and as it is landing in a tree, we identify this JAY. It has a wonderful patchwork of patterns and colors. Black wings with white patches, turquoise with small black stripes on the leading edge of the wings, white rump patch, tan body, white throat and black moustache. This bird is very private, and the instant it can see us, it hides. We see a couple of swallows. They are kind of dark, with a lightly split tail. We are surprised to see a white rump patch, reminding me of the Violet-green Swallow from the U.S. It disappears, and I look up Red-rumped Swallow, but it isn't. It's a HOUSE MARTIN.
At 3:12 pm, we are going across a bridge and Sharon is asleep. I see several Gray Herons, but several tall, black heron or egret-type birds also. I pull over and Sharon wakes up. We get our binoculars and scope and go back, seeing that the black birds are Black Storks. We turn around, go back over the bridge, and drive down a little dirt road to the edge of the lake below the bridge. We get out and walk a little distance to get closer to the birds at the edge of the lake. We finally stop when we feel that we're close enough. From here, we see that there is one WHITE STORK in the mix too. There are two other kind of birds. One has a wonderful song and the other has a white patch, very visible on his rump when he flies. The songbird turns out to be the CRESTED LARK, and the other is an ISABELLINE WHEATEAR. We will see many more of these last two birds. We begin walking back to the car when Sharon notices a couple of little shorebirds. We identify them as LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS.
ENOUGH BIRDS FOR TODAY
We stop at one of many roadside stands and buy some fresh green grapes and tomatoes. The tomato story is good, so listen up. We examine grapes and tomatoes at one stand, where we buy grapes, but decline the sub-par tomatoes. The adjacent stand has much better tomatoes, and I ask how much they are. Two tomatoes are 400,000 TL (Turkish Lira). There are about 660,000 TL per dollar, so this is about 60 cents or so. All we can come up with is 300,000, so we ask if this is okay. After delaying a while, he says OK, 300,000 is enough. Then he gives us about 8 more tomatoes.
As my friend Bill Petrick would say, huh?
THE HOTEL WE WANT IS FULL. PLAN B.
We come to the outskirts of Izmir, in the Aegean Sea region, and get on a wonderful high-speed toll road. Off to the right, and all over the countryside actually, we can see fields and fields of cotton. It is all hand-picked. Early in the mornings, we see a tractor pulling a wagon with perhaps 10 or 12 workers in it. And we see this many, many times. We finally make it to Selcuk, and go to the hotel we have chosen (Kale Han), but they are full. We nose around and get the last room in a rather primitive, but character-rich hotel near the city's mosque and museum. It has twin beds, a shower, toilet and wash basin. No TV, no air conditioning. But it's ours for the night and it has lots of personality.
We eat dinner up on top of the hotel in the perfect evening, and the sliced tomato and cucumber slices are really tasty, especially with a little tuz (salt). We can see the inhabitants of the houses across the street living their evening lives. That consists of sitting in front of your house, out on the edge of the cobblestone street. The little children play and run around just like all the other kids in the world.
New Life Birds: Gray Heron, Little Egret, Reed Warbler, Great Crested Grebe, Greenshank, Dalmatian Pelican, Spanish Sparrow, Squacco Heron, Marsh Harrier, Jay, House Martin, Crested Lark (very streaked with a distinct crest and a very colorful song), Isabelline Wheatear (one of the many wheatears and quite common), White Stork, Little Ringed Plover.
Life Bird Totals: Today 18. Trip 32. Another great birding day.
Impressions of the Day: The bathrooms flush really cool. In the middle of the tank, behind the seat, is a button that you push, or more frequently, a knob that you grab and lift. You watch a string or rod connected to the flush valve come up with the knob through a hole in the tank lid, and the water rushes into the bowl.
The city limit signs are fun and absolutely consistent all over Turkey. They are dark blue, rectangular, with rounded corners. There is a white border, and the name of the village or city is in white also, inside the border. The "you are now leaving" city limit signs are exactly identical, except that there is a red diagonal line painted so that it is "behind" the name of the town. As in a no smoking, or no parking international sign. How cool. Tomorrow we will bird a half-day, then tour Ephesus, or Efes, as it is called here.
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