TURKEY 2001 TWO-WEEK TRIP

Wednesday, June 27. Day 3 of 15. BIRDING TERMAL. BIRDING TO MANISA.

It's about 6 am. We're on the third floor, but it seems like the fifth. The sun is up and shining on a mosque across town. I can see about 15 swallows and swifts flying around outside our window. There is a perfect blue sky, no clouds, and it's nice and cool.

Ten minutes later and we are outside. We hear a song that's a little like an American Robin, and it's a SONG THRUSH. We've walked up a hill on which sits an old, old wooden hotel or lodge. It's falling apart and a fence isolates it for safety, I presume. A GREAT TIT pops around in a tree, with its yellowish belly and thick black line running down the throat, chest and belly. We next follow a bird with slightly speckled nest and chest. It's a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, and a common bird.

An all black bird flies in with a worm in its yellow beak, and it's a BLACKBIRD. It responds alertly to Sharon's world class distress call. Another pair of blackbirds is across the road from where we are now, down the other side of the hill. This road leads up into the village. If we walk up the road and down the other side, we walk right past our hotel.

A swift flies over, and it has a short, split tail. We make this out to be a *PALLID SWIFT, and a life bird for us. First of the trip.

Another bird down lower feeds on insects and is a little warbler of some kind, but there are too many possibilities and we have to let it go. We are walking under and around a wisteria arbor and get a puffed-up gray flycatcher of some kind, singing and singing, and decide it's another Spotted Flycatcher. Out on the street are a couple of GOLDFINCHES, with their wonderful red face masks.

Now starting down the avenue, a GREENFINCH makes an incredible series of calls, like the Northern Mockingbird or other bird song mimic. Still working the tree lined street, we get a CHAFFINCH flying past. We hear a bird singing and singing, and it's a WREN -- Winter Wren in America. It's the only wren in Turkey.

A quarter till eight or so, and we get a wonderful GREEN WOODPECKER in the trees around the old wooden hotel. Sharon next spots a TREECREEPER working up the trunk of a tree. These birds are much like the Brown Creepers of California and America.

We get a better look at several Pallid Swifts. They are very brown, and we can see variations in darkness from the front of the wing to the back. It's darker in front, then lighter in the back. We amble back to the hotel and enjoy breakfast, included in the price of our room.

9:15 am, and we are checked out of the hotel, loaded into the car and headed out of town. Our immediate goal is Bursa, a town of a half-million or a million. We hear lots of peeps and decide this is from another Treecreeper. We are hoping for a Short-toed Treecreeper, but the call or song is wrong.

9:44 and we are back in Yalova, I think, headed out for the freeway road. Five minutes later and we see a large number of swallow-like birds. They are beautiful. Dark blue or black on top and white on the bottom. They are HOUSE MARTINS and are feeding on insects. They also have white rumps (the area on top of the body, just behind the wings), which are the unmistakable mark of the House Martins here. I realize that the birds outside our window this morning were also House Martins.

10:00 and we see three WHITE STORKS out in a field. They are walking around, scaring up insects, after the wheat harvest. They have long legs, white feathers and black wingtips, plus bright red beaks in the adults. A few minutes later we are driving through a town of about 50,000 on the western edge of Lake Iznik (old name Nicaea, like the Nicean Creed).

An army soldier stands at attention to our right as Sharon begins reading about a fellow named Crocius (you may have heard an old expression "rich as Crocius") who lived around here. Our Lonely Planet guide says that he invented coins. Prior to this, emperors and kings held their wealth in land, cattle and sheep. The world was impressed because you could store your wealth in such a small area. Later, we read that he didn't actually invent coins, but changed the way they were used or minted or something like that. He got the credit though, based on the saying.

He lived from 560 to 546 (?) BC. Prior to that time, little Julius had to say, "Mom, may I have a lamb to run down to the store for a pack of Pokemon cards?" instead of a dollar.

1042 and we are just past Bursa, nufus (population) 1.044 million people. Sharon spots White Storks nesting on top of a chimney, and this site is a first for us. My head is swimming in wonder to be a witness to this most common of springtime and summer events in Europe and western Asia. The chicks stand tall, and one jumps flapping its wings as it returns back down to alight on the nest. The beaks of the chicks are still dark, not bright red like their parents. What a teriffic upgrade, this sight.

Continuing on past an orchard, we pull over near a marsh and get an unidentified warbler, then a GREY HERON on a post. There are GREAT CRESTED GREBES all over the place, one with a baby. We see many LITTLE EGRETS and white-winged birds whose backs look orange. These are SQUACCO HERONS and are great upgrades for us.

Now we are in a peninsula town, jutting out into Ulubuat Golu (lake), by the bridge. There are House Martins, a White Stork by an overturned boat, a couple more White Egrets, many great Squacco Herons and a family of COOTS. A beautiful white stork flies away from us with a CORMORANT right behind.

It's one o'clock and we decide to make a lunch from the stuff we bought in Termal, but we want to buy a couple of cokes. They don't have coke, but sell us Uludag Colas, which are cold and taste just fine. As we sit at one of the many tables in the shade of the big trees, Sharon spots a nest above our heads. There is a bird with yellow underparts and a strong black central belly stripe. it has to be a Great Tit. I see it pop into the nest, then back out. A Squacco Heron flies out of the marsh and along the edge of the water. A White Stork flies in to take the heron's place.

Out over the marsh, we see two *WHISKERED TERNS working the water, back and forth. We finish up our outdoor lunch, wave goodbye to the men of the town, who spend their time at this little outdoor cafe, and are off.

Back to our earlier stop, a bird runs across the road with an even, steady pace, stops, and it's a CRESTED LARK. Sharon spots a MOORHEN and a MAGPIE, then finally we both get a look at a handsome *LITTLE BITTERN, down by a boat.

We hit the road again, and stop at a big lake just before the crossing bridge, and drive down to the shore. We saw many birds at this location last fall, and are hoping for more. Farmers have plowed up about half of the area, so there are hardly any birds at all. We do spot one BLACK STORK at about the same place we saw it last fall, and later Sharon sees it circling and rising near a power line, beyond the lake.

The Crested Larks don't seem to mind about the plowed earth at all. There is a shorebird down by the water, but it disappears before we have a chance at the ID.

We pull into the town of Manisa, and check out the Hotel Buyuk Saruhan. We walk into the large, well-kept, attractive hotel, and I check the room prices as I am walking up to the desk. I see $190. Gulp. "No, no, no," says the hotel desk clerk, as he uses his hand to shield the sign. "Don't pay any attention."

Then he says we can have a room for $45, including free breakfast, use of the gym and sauna downstairs, and a free massage. Well, if you insist. We check in, and are shown to our rooms.

Dinner will be served outside, on the lawn, next to the beautiful swimming pool. We make our way down after a rest, and the service, food, and ambiance are great. As we are finishing dinner, a band begins to play. They are so SERIOUS.

It's back to the room, where I work on birding locations for the rest of the trip, but I keep falling asleep. So I wrap that up and it's off to bed. Ahhh.

Life Birds Today: 3 (Pallid Swift, Whiskered Tern, Little Bittern).
Life Birds for the Trip: 3.

Upgrades (Much better view than our previous encounter of an existing life bird) Today: 2 (White Stork, Squacco Heron)
Upgrades for the Trip: 2.


Trip Birds Today: 24 (Three Life Birds, plus House Martin, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Wren, Green Woodpecker, Treecreeper, White Stork, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Cormorant, Crested Lark, Common Moorhen, Magpie and Black Stork)|
Trip Birds Total: 25.

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