LUTMAN'S THREE-WEEK FALL 2000 TRIP TO TURKEY
Report No. 9. Day 14 and 15.
Day 14 of 22. Saturday, September 30, 2000. Kappadokya Day 1 of 2.
At my suggestion, Sharon has packed all our dirty laundry inside two sweatshirts and we left them at the front desk. She asked them to do them in cold water and the receptionist understood. Soguk = cold. We don't know how much it will cost, but how much could it be? And I'm running LOW.
The fellow at the front desk gave us a map of the area also. It is soguk outside too, and I can see my breath. A little different from those Mediterranean coast mornings. We have to wipe off the car's windows before leaving. There are huge amphoras on the hotel grounds, I see, as we take off from the Pressia, and I really like them.
We see a woodpecker, probably a Syrian, near the top of a hill, and then we see a large group of starlings. At 7:50 AM, we take the turnoff to Goreme Valley, which I read about in an internet birding trip report. We stop off the road, near our first carved out rock houses. This entire area was once one big layer of tufa, a volcanic dust that hardened over centuries, under its own weight I think, until it became easily carved, but still strong. Mixtures of tufa with other rock, has left the other rocks perched on columns of tufa as the centuries of weather has worn away the tufa not under hard rocks. So the result is what is called a fairy chimney. Some have caps on top and some don't.
We hear a bird call, as we get out. We get on several of the same birds and they are ROCK SPARROWS. How appropriate, and what a great song. A little yellow on the throat which is supposed to be difficult to see, but the wind is blowing right into their face and we are the recipients of the feather fluffing. Today was going to be just for birding, but we can't ignore these rock formations nor do we want to. It is clear that it will be a day of mixed birding and wonder. Sharon has picked up another bird, and the only other time we have seen it is around St. Louis, Missouri. That's the only place in America where you can see it. Here it is called Tree Sparrow, while there it is called ETS, or Eurasian Tree Sparrow. It's great to see them in their original source location. They are all over, with white cheeks and an island of black in the middle of the white. Otherwise, they look very much like House Sparrows.
Sharon is seeing swifts fly over. They are large and impressive. Black with white underparts, and there is also white on the neck, separated from the white on the chest by a dark band. They have big long wingbeats and the book confirms the audible noises we hear from them. The noises are made by the wings, and these are ALPINE SWIFTS. We watch a Long-legged Buzzard flying around. Then some sort of tit with a yellow belly and white face. Not sure of the ID but we have this bird already. Then more Alpine Swifts.
We have seen a large woodpecker fly across the open area where we are, and go into an orchard. As we start into the orchard, we see a donkey go by with a young teenager sitting on it, with legs crossed, confident as you please. We exchange "Gunaydins" with him. Good morning. Another fellow comes up and in extremely halting English says that he knows where there are birds, and he will take us there. For a price obviously, though he doesn't say it. We no thank him, and he just stands around looking at us. We head into the orchard, and he takes off, after other tourists, we suppose. But then we also notice a young boy walking by on the road, leading two camels, the first tied to the second. They are all dressed up, probably for giving rides or taking photos with tourists.
We pull off on a track, where there is water in a wheel rut, and it is attracting Tree Sparrows, Starlings, Pigeons and other birds. But they all clear out when they see us. Several Bee-eaters call from overhead, and some swallows dart back and forth. We continue on our drive and scare up a couple of Crested Larks and many Magpies. There are lots of Magpies around, all the time, wherever we go.
At 11:00 AM, Sharon calls out quietly, in our car with windows up, to a lady cleaning the front of her house, "Get a handle for that broom." The women sweep the dirt and streets around their doorways with full-sized brooms, but they have no handles. We can also confirm that turkeys in Turkey do gobble, as we just witnessed. Later we get a Great Tit in a bush, then we emerge onto a high plateau.
There is a sign pointing to one of the several underground cities in the area. Entire towns were carved out of the tufa years ago. Our book says "troglodytes still live in them." Another Kestrel and several Isabelline Wheatears. Many of the fields are wheat that has been cut. There are also fields that have been plowed. I just put the altitude up on my GPS, and it says 5298 feet. One mile high. We see plowed fields on both sides now, and there are birds with an electric bzz-UP call, and they are not singing. They are not Crested Larks (who sing all the time), but they are larks of some kind, either Bimaculated or Calandra. It is tough because they fly, then land in the small depressions of the plowed earth, and just disappear. There are perhaps 50-60 in the field we are looking into, and I can see maybe two of them. They are rather nondescript, with streaking on the chest, and they are CALANDRA LARKS. About noon, we get an immature Golden Eagle, soaring lazily overhead, then disappearing over a ridge. We could see that it was all dark, with white patches on top of the outsides of the wings. From underneath, it had a big white patch at the base of the tail, on top. I was hoping for a thin stripe and a Spotted Eagle, but it wasn't there. The wings were broad, and kind of squared off at the tips, with his wingtip "fingers" up.
We continue on and stop in a sort of ravine that the road is following. There are slopes on either side of us, and I can hear a new kind of electric buzzing call on one side. Sharon has disappeared into the bushes for some quick quality time, and I am looking at a light-tan colored bird with what I think is pink on its sides. I have to blink my eyes, because I may be imagining the pink. Sharon returns, and quickly gets on them, then confirms the pink. They are CRIMSON-WINGED FINCHES, similar to the three different types of Rosy-Finches we have seen in the mountains in America. Subtly beautiful as they feed on thistles and give their buzzy calls.
We are now heading down, down towards a town called Soganli (so-WAHN-lee) when I suddenly see black and white on a rock. I pull off quickly, get Sharon on it while I get out the scope. It flies around, but we stay on it, and it is one of the most beautiful, crisp birds I've ever seen. The FINSCH'S WHEATER is jet black, with pure white on the belly and chest, and when it turns around, there is a similar white patch down the back. The head is cream-colored, and near the bottom of the tail is a little sort of cross-hatched area of black and white. It is such a contrast to the browns and tans of the rocky roadsides. Spectacular. Another possibility was Pied Wheatear, but it is not here, plus it doesn't have the cross-hatching on the top of the tail. Our bird continues to hang around, gorgeous. We love the high altitude birds.
We finally descend through the little village, where we see a blacksmith at work in his shed. This town is called Guzuloz. We can see many holes carved into rocks above the town. It's 12:30 PM, and we get another lifer. It's either an immature or female BLACK REDSTART. Different from the Redstart we got around Lake Egirdir in that the chest and belly are not orangy, but are a similar color to its back.
We continue on towards Soganli, and see several birds in the rocks to our left. We pull over and get out to bird. We don't get any IDs, but a man comes across the road with his hand extended. We shake his hand. "Merhaba." He is very friendly and speaks no English, but is very interested in what we are doing. Sharon shows him her bird book, and he begins thumbing through it. He stops occasionally and points to a bird, then points around the area, saying they have them here. He comes to the Great Gray Owl, points down the road, and begins walking down the road, motioning for us to follow, with a scoop motion. He comes to the Eagle Owl, and points to it, then down the road, as he continues walking, with us in tow. Shortly he stops, picks up a rock, and tosses it into a little hole created by several large rocks piled together on one big rock. He tosses another and waits. I am so excited. But nothing comes out. He says that there is an owl that nests in this hole, and the owl apparently comes to this hole, but it isn't here right now. Dangit.
Then his wife comes up with a plate of grapes and apricots, and we see that his farm is adjacent to and across the road. He says this is his wife, a fairly attractive woman, who sets the plate on the hood of the car. We are hungry for lunch, and I pick up a small bunch of grapes, then immediately drop them onto the ground. "Sorry, Mom." - quote from Monte Python's Flying Circus, and something daughter Shandra and I trade when either one of us does something goofy.
He says never mind, and motions us to follow them. They walk down to his house, and he invites us up onto his front porch. There are Turkish carpets and pillows on the porch, and he points to places for us to sit down and relax. They have a wonderful garden going, with black and green grapes, tomatoes, plums and apricots. As we eat, he now is looking through my birdbook page by page. Sharon shows his wife her dictionary, and she's fascinated with it, skipping a few pages at a time through it. He points to the Green Woodpecker, which we have not seen yet, and motions that it is in the small forest behind his house. We say Gelliyoruz. We will go now.
Then I think I hear the wife say the word "scope." So I set up the scope and he, his wife, and another young man who has joined us, all get good looks at the distant rock holes on the mountain across the road. Cok guzel, they say. Before we leave, Sharon points to the Hoopoe on the cover of her book, and asks if they are here. Yes, he says excitedly and points to the ground. Sharon says "Nerede?" Where? All over, he motions. We've heard that before. But we weren't expecting the Hoopoe to be up this high, for some reason I can't come up with right now. I say when? Bugun? Dun? Today? Yesterday? He counts on two fingers and says two words. Sharon looks up one, and he's saying April, so the other word is probably May. Springtime. Makes sense. We discuss other birds, thank him for lunch.
Sharon earlier tried to offer some of our walnuts to them to eat with lunch, but they strongly declined. It was their treat. Very Turkish. The host provides everything. As we walk across the road, he follows us, and with a key, opens a wooden door into a room carved out of the tufa rock beside the road. We follow him in, and it's a sort of storage shed. He points to the first room and says eski, old, then points to the second room and says yeni, new. It's just like Grandma and Grandpa Hilty's cellar in the country, where they stored potatoes and the like, so they wouldn't spoil. Too cool for school. With his permission, we then walk down into the garden, forest and fields behind his house, hoping for the Green Woodpecker or other lifer. We chase some Goldfinches around and a few other birds, but nothing new, and after a bit, we go back up to the car.
We take off, and Sharon wants us to try and find the Church of Kalabas. We enter Soganli, pay a small fee of less than a dollar, and drive on into the area containing all the old churches carved in tufa. We find the Kalabas church, park and climb up to it. It is filled with murals painted onto the ceiling and walls, and I take video. This particular church is more like a cave with many rooms, but it was used as a church centuries ago. We can see holes carved into the rock above, holes for doves to come into, rest, and leave their droppings. The monks first did this to gather the rich fertilizer and spread it on their grapes. Soon they had the best grapes and wine in the area.
We come back down, passing some women and girls sitting beside the narrow road. Actually they are sort of sitting on the edge of the road. We see that they are making dolls, the famous dolls Sharon has heard about, and we stop to watch. After getting permission, I make a video. One young girl speaks a little English, and has a colorful piece of material wrapped around one wrist. Sharon looks up a word, and asks her if she broke it. Yes, the girl says. We exchange names, and it's fun to hear them say sheh-ROAN, rhyming with a-LONE. We ask if we can buy dolls from them, and they say no, go down into the village. We can buy their dolls there. We leave them, and as we are walking away, one girl calls "sheh-ROAN!" We turn around, and she says what sounds like, "BOOM BOOM BOOM." I can't recall their faces or tone, and we ask Cihan, but he knows nothing that it could be. He says maybe they were saying, "BEN BEN BEN." Which means "me, me, me," meaning, I guess, buy from them when we get down to the village. But it seemed to clearly be BOOM BOOM BOOM to sheh-ROAN and me.
We drive down to the village, and there is a sort of open marbled floor area that is the market, with a few empty shops behind. On closer examination, the shops have boxes inside them, and other miscellaneous things. Maybe they're for use in bad weather. At any rate, there are about ten girls and women sitting under a shade tree, but there is one girl seated behind a display table, in the selling area. It is filled with about ten dolls of different designs and made with different, very colorful material and accessories. We walk up to her, and the first thing she says is, "What is your name?" to Sharon. She points to herself, and says, "I am Isha," pronounced EE-shah.
The girls under the tree come rushing over, each sitting behind their respective display tables. Each whips off the dust-protecting cloth over their dolls, and since they all heard Sharon's name called, they all begin yelling, "sheh-ROAN, sheh-ROAN, Buy from me. SHEH-ROAN!" But the girls down at the far end didn't hear so well, and one yells, "SHEH-RUH-LEE, SHEH-RUH-LEE. Buy from me. Two million lira. Beautiful dolls!" Then about four of the last girls in the line yell the new name, "SHEH-RUH-LEE! SHEH-RUH-LEE!" Sharon is absolutely overloaded.
"I have to buy one from each of them," she says. So I steer her away from the girls, who yell her name louder, as we get farther away from them. We decide we want to buy nine dolls, then round it up to ten. Different styles, different sizes. We discuss a strategy. We want to buy at least one from the girl we saw making a doll where we stopped the car earlier. I want to buy one or two from the girl who stayed at her post, while the others lounged in the shade. I want to buy one from this cute little girl we saw earlier up on the hill, much younger than the others. And a couple of the ladies have especially nice-looking dolls or dolls slightly unique. I say we will move slowly from left to right, and will just stick with our plan. Plan your work, then work your plan. Sanity in that. We dive back into the fray.
"SHER-UH-LEE! SHER-UH-LEE!" Each girl holds up a doll in each hand, and waves them. But to their credit, they never get out of their chairs. Quite orderly, just the yelling. "SHEH-ROAN! SHER-UH-LEE!" Extremely high-pitched, and I love to imitate the call. I will do it over the rest of the trip, over and over. I will sometimes call Sharon "Sherilee," and usually in that high-pitched voice. This is an example of a trip's theme. On our trips, something always surfaces that is hilarious, goofy or outlandish, and we just run variations of that for the rest of the trip. We do it best with Sharon's sister Jeane and husband Red.
We choose our dolls carefully, and lucky for us, a tourist bus shows up, so when we pass a girl, she isn't disappointed. Rather, she looks over to the tourist bus and starts yelling, "What is your name?" We decide that next time this comes up, Sharon will say that her name is "No charge." Or "Free." Or "I will not bug you." A couple of the women even called me M'sieur. Hey, Sherilee, buy one from them. I go out to the car to get a big plastic bag for the dolls, as they have none here. I also get the video camera to record some of the activity. Fantastic. They are also selling handmade slippers, socks and gloves. All of wool. Sharon says "cok sujak." Too hot. We finish up, and the din dies down. Then starts up again as the bus tourists descend into the pit. "MER-UH-LEE! CATHY!"
I have to use the rest room, and it costs about a dime, but I check it and it's extremely bad, so I drive us up the hill, where no other people are. I get out, and we get a great ROCK BUNTING. With the marks on the face and other features, we ID it as a female. Then we get another Rock Thrush. Hey, cut it out, I have to use the rest room. We reverse our track, head out of Soganli, up the hill where we saw the Finsch's Wheatear, up onto the plateau where the wheatfields are. We spot another bird, and after a bit of tough work, ID a STONECHAT.
We drive past the vehicle garages carved out of the tufa, right off the road, and each has a big metal or wooden door or pair of doors, so they can lock it up when not in use. One has a couple of men working on a car.
We return to the hotel, bring our gear up to our room, and find our laundry, together with a bill for 55 million lira. About $82 U.S. Oops. We find a laundry checklist in one of the closets we didn't examine when we checked in, and there is also a small plastic bag to put your dirty clothes into. It's small because surely no one is stupid enough to turn in their entirely laundry to be done at one time. Help! Sherilee!
New Life Birds: Rock Sparrow, Alpine Swift, Rock Thrush, Calandra Lark, Crimson-winged Finch, Finsch's Wheatear, Black Redstart, Rock Bunting, Stonechat.
Life Bird Totals: Today 9. Trip 83
Impressions of the Day: First, check the prices before doing laundry or using the minibar at hotels. Lots of things are extremely cheap here, but not those things at big hotels. We got many magnificent birds today when we were in the mountains.
To me, Turkey will be remembered as rocky and mountainous. And what better place to find birds that like rocks? It was great fun, being treated to lunch by the farmer today. And Sherilee thought I spilled those grapes accidentally.
Day 15 of 22. Sunday, October 1, 2000. Kappadokya Day 2 of 2.
It's 10:00 AM, and we're looking up at this fantastic peak, an extinct volcano. It's Erciyes Dagi, or Mt. Erciyes. Skiing in the winter. My GPS says we're at about 5000 feet here, and a sign said that the Numli is 1355 meters, about 4600 feet.
We've come over a pass, and about a mile back, on the other side of the pass, we had stopped to look at some sparrowlike birds. Sharon told me to take my bird ID book, but I didn't have room for it, so I set it on top of the car. We didn't ID the sparrows, so we got back in the car, buckled up, and drove slowly over the pass, listening for more birds. I got out of the car to take a photo of this wonderful mountain, and what do I see, STILL on top of the car? My bird ID book has been absolutely essential to this trip, and I don't know what we'd do without it. Not get many new birds, I think. Sharon is carrying Peterson's Birds of Britain and Europe, and it has only about 70% of the birds we are encountering here. And not very good pictures either. Its description section is excellent however, and as usual, we have needed both books at times. But the "Birds of Europe, with North Africa and the Middle East" is the definitive book for this Turkey trip. Absolutely required. Whew. Now don't misunderstand. This isn't about me or that I'm getting more forgetful. It's an example to demonstrate how smooth the roads are…
Yesterday, at the ticket place in Soganli, the fellow gave us some brochures, one of which described the Sultan Sazligi, one of several locations in Turkey designated as having "bird paradise" status. We have decided that this, in combination with sightseeing, is what we want to do today. Visit these wetlands. Lots of possibilities We come to an intersection where we must decide to enter the wetlands on the north side or the south side. We choose the north side and turn left. Lake Col sometimes dries up in the summer, but we think we see a little water, so we head out there. We make a jog out along some reeds, but the road looks bad, and there is almost no water. And what we ARE seeing may be a mirage. So we skip Lake Col, and continue on towards the main part of the wetlands.
At 10 AM, we are coming into a rocky, high desert town and I spot a Little Owl, sitting on a corner of a small billboard. We pull off to get a better look, and shortly, it flies away a short distance. We drive on, and it returns to its billboard roost. There are lots and lots of Isabelline Wheatears around. We are driving along a water channel, so we stop, get out and check to see what's there. A few cormorants take off from far away, and Sharon wonders if they're Pygmys. We go back, after they have returned to the water, and sneak up on them, but off they go. Looked like long, thin bills to me, which would mean regular, not Pygmy.
We continue on, trying to make our way through the Sultan Sazligi wetlands, but they are mostly dry, and we are starting to get confused about where we are. We come into a village, trying to decide whether to go left or right, when we come upon a large group of men. Sharon rolls down the window and asks if the next village is to the right or to the left. One man points to the right. Another takes exception, interrupts and points to the left. Others come, and pretty soon, there is a heated debate going on. They are no longer trying to help us. Pretty cool. We turn left, although my instinct is that if there is water, it's to the right.
We wander through the village a little ways, then turn right, now completely lost except for the GPS. But the village is too small to be on the map, so we're still on our own. We turn left, onto a small road past some small, mud brick houses, and several kids are curious about us as we pass them. We continue on out of town slowly, when all of a sudden, I spot another Little Owl, sitting on some rocks on the left. I slowly stop, and get some video, and we get great looks before he finally flies off.
I return the video camera to the back seat, and as I'm turning back to face forward, I notice a wonderful, fantastic sight through the right front part of the windshield. I can't believe my eyes. "Sharon, don't panic or anything, but look carefully to the right and in front of the car," I almost whisper. I don't want to tell her what it is. She'll know.
"A Hoopoe!" she almost yells.
She gets the video camera. She lowers the window and gets some great shots of what has to be the world's greatest bird upgrade. This after seeing only the back two-thirds of a Hoopoe earlier in the trip. An oopoe, that was. It is tan in the front third or so, with black and white stripes in the trailing two-thirds of a bird. We are keen to see his crest, so I open the car door on my side, then slam it. No reaction. Then I honk the horn. Still no reaction. I open the door, and slowly get out and begin walking around the front of the car. He flies off, all of this on video. We later watch, hoping that he raised his crest in one or two of the video frames, but he didn't. But what we did see is great. His crest lies flat on top of his head, but not completely so. It protrudes off the back of the top of his head, and the bill appears to come from high on the head, so that he looks a little like a ball peen hammer, with the head slightly down-curved on each side.
Deja vu. I think I said that before.
He lands in an open window of a block house under construction. We approach him slowly, and have now been joined by two kids, plus three more farther away, plus a couple of teenage boys on bicycles, still farther away. Finally, as we are talking with the kids and then some of their mothers, our bird has disappeared. We show the mothers our bird ID book Hoopoe pictures and tell them we're from America, having come to see Turkey's birds, and especially this one. I'm not sure any of that registers. I'm guessing they hear, "Blah blah blah blah, America. Blah blah blah." We take some pictures of the kids and walk around, trying to re-find the Hoopoe, but we got him good, and we see him no more. Meantime, the Little Owl seems to be flying ahead of us, no matter which way we turn.
We head back into the sandy tracks and encounter two men after a while. We ask if this is the way to the nearest village, and one man nods his head yes, and points straight ahead, and says a lot more. Then he points behind us and says even more, none of which we can grasp. Finally, I point ahead, and say, "This way, on this road? Is that right?" He nods his head yes, and says some stuff. We say thank you, and start to head off, when he continues talking, turns around, points to where we've come from and continues talking. I try it once more with the same two-direction monologue.
I finally decide he's saying something like this: "Yes, you CAN go that way, but there are tracks criss-crossing all over the place, and you'll probably get lost. Now it would be better if you turned around, and went back this way because blah blah blah." We laugh, say thank you, and head off, with the two men just watching us go. No expression on the faces. We quickly get fairly lost, then retrace our steps, and follow Sharon's suggestion to head for the power poles. That will surely get us to the next village. Or willage as Cihan and most Turks say. Sort of like the Germans, only reversed. They say 'v' for 'w', as in "Vhy are you doing zat?" Cihan's thesis adviser teased him mercilessly about it.
We finally cross a bridge with lots of fresh water passing underneath, and we stop on it, to check out a number of shorebirds that we have seen. Our gift this noon is a beautiful SPOTTED REDSHANK, in winter plumage. It has red legs, and is associating with 3-4 Greenshanks. Our bird's bill is about a quarter or a third longer than the Greenshanks'. We examine the bird closely, and both notice a deformity. It has somehow lost the tip of its lower mandible. We can also see a Black Stork far down the stream and a Grey Heron. I notice a little warbler on the bridge. It has pale yellow underparts, a warbler bill which is orange on the bottom and dark on the top. It has orange legs and an olive-green back. I have gotten a great look, and Sharon not so good. But we can't ID this bird for anything, so we have to let it go.
A half-hour later, we see about 12-15 birds as they take off and give whistles. They are farther away, and I think they are Redshanks, but we're not sure. There are lots of Isabelline Wheatears and Crested Larks in this deserty environment. We finally come to an observation tower. This is the king of all OTs. It is as big as an airport observation tower, is made of wood, but the support structure inside is steel. This is a great place in breeding season, I am sure, but there are no wetlands here. Everything is dried up except for a little stream. We can see some coots on it, but nothing else. Wait, there are a couple of Lapwings.
We now get more lost when we see a stork sleeping out in a cornfield, standing up. Finally we find a little town, and locate a little shop where we buy some ice cream (drumsticks) and a couple of soft drinks. It's a pretty hot day. We take off and after a bit, notice a big bird flying over us. It is either a Long-legged Buzzard or an immature Golden Eagle, we can't make out which. At 2:40 PM, we close a loop by coming to an intersection we passed through yesterday, about 4 km from Soganli. But today, we are heading for Derinkenyu. After a little longer, we pass by the house where we had lunch yesterday, and the farmer and a friend are sitting in the open doorway of his "garage." He sees us, recognizes us, and we wave at each other. But we continue on without stopping.
At mid-afternoon we get another Long-legged Buzzard. He banks around and the sun hits his wings from the top, and then the bottom side. We can see his rusty tail. This hawk is sort of like the Red-tailed Hawk of California. It is the most common by far right now, so every big hawk you see is assumed to be the common one, until you prove otherwise.
We are looking for the Ilhara Lookout, which is also called the local Grand Canyon. When we find it, we park and get out to take some photos. A little girl comes running over to Sharon and me. "I am Fatima. What is your name?" She pronounces Fatima as FAHT-mah. We tell her and she looks at Sharon's friendship bracelets. "Can I have this?" she asks. No, Sharon says, these are mine. "This?" she asks, pointing to Sharon's watch. Sharon goes over to the car and opens it, looking for something to give her. "Can I have this?" she asks, picking up a computer printout of a birding trip report to Turkey. Sharon tells her what she's asked for, and I say no, I need it.
Next four more little brother and sister urchins come scrambling over from their house. The worst is the smallest boy. He is dirty with candy or something all over his face. He grabs Sharon's bracelet and just starts pulling on it. Sharon is afraid it will break but manages to extricate herself. I get all the photos I want. This is exactly like getting out of the car to a swarm of mosquitoes. You get what you want, then get out as quick as you can. Later, when we tell Cihan this story, he says it's a good thing the Tourist Police weren't there, or they would have been busted big time. A little more to this story later, in Istanbul.
We continue on through town and come to a river, fast-flowing in some spots, and we are hoping for a bird called a Dipper here. There is a similar bird in America, and we have seen a pair build a nest under a bridge over a fast moving stream in California. But that bird was steel gray and this one is a little more colorful. We pull off the road at what looks like a little picnic or camping area, next to the stream. A couple of teenage boys come up and begin pestering us. "What is your name?" they ask. "Can we take you to see birds?" For a fee, they don't add. I have the scope set up, and we are trying to ignore them. I look through the scope and see a couple of birds far downstream. I get off to let Sharon look, and one of the boys jumps over and begins using the scope, panning and scanning all over. I say, "No," and lift the scope away from him. After we are sure there are no Dippers, I say, "We are leaving now." He picks up the scope, hoping to carry it back to the car for a tip. I say, "No thanks," and take the scope back. As we are walking to the car, he says, "I have an American money collection. May I have just one dollar?" I draw out my answer slowly, taking a long time, giving Sharon time to get into the car on the other side, and me time to telescope the legs down, and put the scope in the back seat. "I tell you what I'll do." I say. "I will give you sifir dollars." That's the word for zero, in Turkish. "Sifir," he scoffs, disappointment in his face, and some amazement that I can say zero. I get into the car, and he sees the GPS on the dash. He lunges for it, "May I see?" he asks. I close the door gently on his arm, pinning it. "No," I say, then open the door for him to extricate himself. I drive off as he is rubbing his arm.
We drive away, seeing Magpies, Rock Doves (pigeons), and flocks of tame geese. Sharon wants to claim the tame geese as Greylag Geese, but I can't go along. She needles me a couple of times over the next few days. Her point is that flocks of Canada Geese now stay in the Bay Area year-round, eating crop plants, etc. "Do you consider them tame?" she asks. I can't go down this road.
We come to a great lookout, where we can see a village, lots of trees, and some fairy chimneys in the background. As I am taking pictures, a little boy comes up and just gets right to it. He holds out his hand, and says "No money?" I crack up. No money, I say. He stands and watches me, but takes his hand back. I get a couple of good shots, then get back in the car. He just watches me all the time. We take off again.
We see lots of flycatchers and wagtails as we continue heading back towards our hotel in Urgup now. As we are climbing a hill, heading for Nevsehir, with the sun to our backs, I see a bunch of birds wheeling and diving, swarming like a school of fish, or like a flock of sandpipers at the beach. There are 30-40, I estimate, and we notice that they are very dark or black above, and white underneath. Their wings appear to form a delta shape. We can't ID these birds, and my best guess is that they are starlings, but I've never seen starlings do this, plus the colors seem wrong. No ID.
By 6:30 PM, we are back in the Urgup area. This is potato country, cropwise, and we see tons of potatoes being bagged up and put into little carts. Then these are loaded onto big trucks. In the Mediterranean, it was cotton. Here, it's potatoes. By 7 PM, we are back in the hotel. We have another splendid dinner, and watch the Olympics some more. More great coverage. Tomorrow, we will drive to Ankara, and spend the night with Cihan's sister. I call him, and agree that I'll call again tomorrow when we're about an hour out. Meantime, he calls his sister, and I call him back in about 15 minutes. We are to meet at Atakule, a big tower over a huge shopping center. Very famous, unmistakable. We are set. We have more coffee mugs to give out. This is so much fun.
New Life Birds: Spotted Redshank.
Life Bird Totals: Today 1. Trip 84.
Impressions of the Day: The second half of the day has injected the pesky tourist hound into our trip, and we don't like it. This has not happened before in the entire trip, but to their credit, no one has tried to steal anything, except for the little boy bandit, back at the Grand Canyon. What a little fart.
We got only one new bird today, but were successful in getting lost the exact right amount: we got a complete view of our Hoopoe. What an outstanding bird. This particular "bird paradise" was a giant bust, and except for the fact that we saw the Hoopoe and the Redshank, it was a disappointment, birdwise. I'm sure it's a function of the time of year. The place is buzzing in the spring, I'm quite certain. Good luck plays a part in all great adventures to some extent, I suppose, and we had our share today. NOT losing the book I left on top of the car, and spotting the Hoopoe because we were in just the right place at just the right time.
Continue to Next Report (10)
Back to Previous Report (8)
Back to Turkey 2000 Page
Back to Birding Trips