LUTMAN'S THREE-WEEK FALL 2000 TRIP TO TURKEY

Report No. 4.

Day 5 of 21. Thursday, September 21, 2000. Birding Buyuk Menderes Deltasi and Bafa Golu a half-day. Touring Ephesus a half-day.

BIRDING THE FIRST HALF OF THE DAY

We are heading down the highway for the Buyuk (Big) Menderes Delta a little after 8 am when an azure color zips by my peripheral vision. I stop quickly, get out and get my binoculars on it as does Sharon. I have seen pictures of this beautiful bird from Africa scenes on public TV. It's a ROLLER, perched on a power line, and is right up there with Hoopoe and the Black Storks in impressiveness. A little later we see a couple of stubby-looking birds, and they are the now familiar Crested Larks. Still later, we are checking out birds of the reeds along the river when we spot a rather plain but active SEDGE WARBLER in the reeds. There are Swallows, sometimes called European Swallows, but in the U.S. they are called Barn Swallows.

We are following a road out to try and get a look at the south end of a big lake next to the Aegean Sea when Sharon sees a phalarope spinning and spinning in a shallow pond, as they like to do to stir up the goodies on the bottom. As we are checking it out, I can see a large bird in the air with many others with the wonderful colors of black, white and pink. We both watch them cruise down to the water and drop down. They are GREATER FLAMINGOS, and are one of our most sought-after birds. We can see them moving their heads back and forth in the water in that characteristic method they use to take in food.

Just before 10 am, we return our attention to the pond, where we see a shorebird standing in shallow water. It has bright red-orange legs and a long straight bill. It stands tall, like a yellowlegs and is a wonderful REDSHANK. As we are admiring this bird, we notice a hundred or more little peeps (sandpipers) flying over the Flamingos. We also see a Hen Harrier (called a Northern Harrier in the U.S., and the same species) patrolling the marsh. We head back, but on the way out, there is one stretch of dried-up lakebed with a few plovers feeding. We check them out and their neck rings don't go all the way around. They are KENTISH PLOVERS and are quite handsome little birds.

We see a Northern Wheatear near a weekend fishing hut with a Turkish flag flying. And as we exit the dirt track back onto the main road, then drive a few minutes on the main road, we drive by a little pond with birds floating on it that I have been watching for. There are about a dozen LITTLE GREBES, a different species from the Least Grebe of south Texas, Arizona and Central America.

We then drive on to Milet (aka Miletos), an archeological site, where we're hoping for better looks at a Hoopoe, but with no luck. I communicate with the ticket-taker of the museum there, and learn that the Hoopoe is there now, all around, everywhere, perhaps more likely in cultivated fields. We are excited and we look for a few minutes, but have to head back to see Ephesus this afternoon. We'll come back here on the way out of the area tomorrow. We drive back to the town of Selcuk to secure a hotel room for tonight.

IS THERE ROOM IN THE INN?

Early this morning, I stopped by the Kale Han to try to reserve a room. At first nobody answered, but as I was leaving, the night clerk came to the door, but didn't speak very good English. I asked if I could reserve a room for the night, and he said "Group." After several questions, I figured that they were PROBABLY full for tonight, but I couldn't be sure. So jumping back to the present, I go in to double check. Good thing because yes, they do have a room. They show it to us, and it is perfect. We reserve it and take off for Ephesus.

EPHESUS

It is only about 3-4 kilometers away, and we park in the lower parking lot. The walk through the area is higher at the top, and drops in elevation as you walk through it to the lower parking lot. It is supposed to be about 2 kilometers long. You could also start at the bottom and walk up, and many people do that. As we get out of our car to check things out, a very loud man approaches us and says he will take us to the top in his taxi for 5000,000 lira, about $7.50 or so. Then we can walk down to our car. This is a perfect idea, so we take him up on it. I take only the still camera and my water. Sharon takes her binoculars and water. We are both wearing our fanny packs to carry the water bottles. We also take our umbrellas against the strong sun.

The taxi driver drops us off at his cousin's apparently, at the top. The fellow asks if we want to buy post cards, t-shirts, water, etc. I ask how much the water is, and he says, "No water on the walk down." I buy one bottle of cold water, so we have three bottles of water in one form or other for the very hot walk down the Ephesus path.

We see spectacular ruins. Columns standing, columns fallen down and lying in chunks, fluted columns, old buildings partially fallen down, a two-story columned building, a small theater, a tented area that is obviously being carefully excavated for items of interest, buildings and statues, walkways of marble and stone, some parts of the stone walks have chariot ruts in them. Fantastic.

We see a bird land on a rock and begin singing away. Sharon gets on it with her binoculars and it looks like a nuthatch to her. I can't get on it at first, but then I do, and I agree. But what is it doing on rocks? Oh wait a minute, there is a ROCK NUTHATCH, and later when we check our book, that's what it is for sure. Very bubbly song.

Now nearing the end, we come to an enormous amphitheater. It is wonderful and the entire ruins steers the mind to the ancient world in this spot so many centuries ago. But the coolest thing for me is that we've birded these ruins, even though we got only one new bird, and had to ID it later.

Now at the bottom, we stop at a little tourist shop and purchase a number of bookmarks that have the look of Turkish carpets to them.

We make it to the car, crank up the air conditioner, and head back to the hotel to relax. The front of the hotel is full of old looking artifacts, paintings and items for sale. Sharon buys a wonderful glass dish that is saturated with a great orange tint. Our room is in a building in the middle of the property. We walk past the check-in station, through the dining room, into the central open area, with its swimming pool, roses, other flowers and seats for sitting and talking. Our room doesn't have a number. Instead it has a name, and it is the Miletos room. We relax, take showers, and have dinner in the restaurant, then retire to our room for a well-earned sleep. As we go back to our room, we are overwhelmed with the most beautiful pungent smell in the garden air. It is the night blooming jasmine that only gives off this smell after dark. It brings an air of real Arabian nights. We will be up tomorrow morning about 5:30 am, pack up our car, and head off for the southern coastal region.

New Life Birds: Roller, Sedge Warbler, Greater Flamingo, Redshank, Kentish Plover, Little Grebe, Rock Nuthatch.

Life Bird Totals: Today 7. Trip 39.

Impressions of the Day: There was a famous politician in Turkey named Menderes, first name maybe Adnan, I'm not sure. Anyway, "buyuk" means large or big, so Buyuk Menderes Deltasi means Big Menderes Delta. The Menderes is a large river with many bends and sharp turns, in western Turkey. This river was renamed, honoring the politician, and replacing its original name. That original name before Menderes was Meander, so guess where the word meander came from.

As we were standing at the bottom of Ephesus, looking at all the statues and icons for sale, I could't help but think of the story Sharon read to us about the area. St. Paul, who was born in Turkey (in the city of Taursus), came to Ephesus to preach to the young Christians there. He was doing so well converting people that the Artemis statue and icon merchants started seeing their business fall. Paul was set to give a great sermon in the Roman theatre but the icon merchants filled the stadium and shouted him down so strongly and relentlessly (the people of Ephesus were making a good living selling these items to tourists), that he gave up, returned to his home, and wrote a letter to the people of Ephesus instead.

And you may now know that letter as the book of Ephesians in the Bible. The remarkable part of this story is that we were there, in that very spot, separated only by the time dimension from them.

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