TURKEY 2001 TWO-WEEK TRIP

Thursday, June 28. Day 4of 15. BIRDING MANISA TO LAKE KOYCEGIZ.

We are up early, to have breakfast when they open, at 7. The turquoise (TURK-quoise, get it?) pool is beautiful from our room. We go down for breakfast, which we eat outside, enjoying the continued great weather. Sharon catches me trying to emulate a statue of Ataturk. The breakfast spread covers four tables, so we have the luxury of choosing only and exactly what we want. The watermelon is especially good.

As we check out, we notice that a fellow has washed all the cars of the hotel's clients, including ours. This is so great.

757 and we're out of the Buyuk Sarahan, headed for Selcuk, near Ephesus. I gas up at a petrol station whose colors are green and white, with yellow trim. A gull is the center of the logo. As we're having the tank filled (attendants do all the work at every petrol station we stop in, in Turkey), a van of perhaps ten Turks, all men, watch us as we relax around our car. There is a big mountain above the petrol station and Sharon sees climbers on it.

834 and we enter Izmir, a city of more than two million. We somehow missed the highway bypass and are heading into the city itself. We finally locate a turnaround, head back out, and pick up the bypass where we left the desired path.

We pick up the ticket for the super highway, and speed down the highway at 130 km/hr, or about 78 miles per hour. A rusty bird plunges down to the grown to get something, and it's a KESTREL. A Magpie flies across the road. Due to a mixup on my part, I think we are on the Otogar, believing that that word means highway. It later turns out to mean something else, as you will see.

A White Stork stands atop a power line tower, and seems like a fake one, but is real. he looks big even up there. We pull into a turnpike Servis Alana. Servis is obvious, and Alana means area or space. So this is a service area. Earlier, we passed a Park Alana, or rest area.

We pull into a Turk Petrol to use their facilities. At this place, you can get Burger King if you want. It's in a bridge crossing over the highway, and is all glassed in. There's also Alaturka, a pizza restaurant. Petrol is 1.05 million lira per liter. That's about $3.30 per gallon, in case you think gas is high where you live.

Back on the road, and at 932 am, we are at the Selcuk turnoff. We turn in our turnpike ticket and it costs 2.25 million lira to exit. A buck ninety or so. There are three hawks of some kind circling around, and we make them out to be LONG-LEGGED BUZZARDS, based on the black patches on the underside of their wrists. We believe it to be an adult and two juvies, or juveniles. It's cool to listen to them call back and forth. All this was about eight seconds after Sharon said to me, "You know what you DON'T see around here is raptors."

We stop at a souvenir shop that seems to have only old (eski) stuff, not yeni (new). Everything looks like it would fit in perfectly on our family room wall, where Sharon has lots of old tools and wooden instruments mounted. Sharon selects a bunch of stuff and I do the bargaining. I get them down from 25 million to 20 million, but can't get them to 15. They start throwing in extra stuff to get us to pay 20. Sharon loves this part. She eyes a bunch of stuff, asking if they will throw various items in. Finally, we're all in agreement. We load our new(old) stuff into the car and take off.

As we approach Selcuk, we can see the fort on the hill, and black birds swarming above one corner. They turn out to be JACKDAWS.

1020 am, and we're seeing an interesting swallow in the village of Selcuk. It has a forked tail, and a rump patch on the back. They would be barn swallows, except the barn swallow doesn't have a patch on the rump. A check of our ID book shows that they are *RED-RUMPED SWALLOWS, and a life bird for us. It's fun watching them tend their mud nests. Way to go Sharon, for spotting them.

1033 I get 100 million lira from an ATM machine, which if you ask me, is the way to manage money here. I get photos of white storks in a huge nest right in town. They have nested on top of an old Roman column that has been left standing in the town.

1121 We have made our way out of Selcuk and are tooling through the town of Soke. After a bit, we can see a body of water surrounded by farmland. Twenty or thirty white birds stand out from a distance. Some fly up and back down. As we get closer, we can see that all have black heads, so they are MEDITERRANEAN GULLS.

We drive along the road skirting a large mountain, then finally the road heads up. We make our way to a formerly abandoned Greek village, which is now beginning to be re-activated, one house at a time, privately. In other words, individual families are making summer homes out of the old broken down buildings which are here. From inside a home ruins, I have a view of Sharon, straight out, or if I go to the left and look up the draw, I can see the village.

1245 now and as we come down from the village of Doganbey, we both see what has to be a BEE-EATER. We head up the same canal road we took last fall, and see Crested Larks, lots of House Martins, and a beautiful Mediterranean Gull, backlit by the sun. Further out the canal road, where we are hoping for a Pratincole, we get a little KENTISH PLOVER [I have been paying more attention to the Latin species name, and I have learned that Kentish Plover is the same species exactly as Snowy Plover. Try to learn something new every day], but not much else. Unless you count the 3-5 thousand GREATER FLAMINGOS, way across the delta.

We have turned around and are headed back out now, as Sharon spots a Little Bittern stalking along the bank of the canal, in some reeds. Sharon spots a Bee-eater, flying out of a dirt bank. It was feeding young in its nest hole, dug out of the bank. We try to take video, but the adult won't fly in while we're close. Sharon gets a picture of the adult sitting on the road, waiting for us to leave. As we do, we see the adult go straight to the hole again.

We make it to Miletos about 230 pm, and as we are walking around, we see a beautiful ROLLER fly inside the arch of the ruins, to feed nestlings. We drive across the area to an old abandoned mosque, with a white stork nest on top and SPANISH SPARROWS using the lower parts of the nest for their own. An attendant tells us that if we don't have a ticket, we must leave. Since we aren't really interested in the ruins this time, we take off for Bafa Golu. More Bee-eaters on the wires.

1538 and we are watching a LESSER KESTREL near Bafa Golu. We get a PIED WAGTAIL also, on the dike road around the lake.

Far out on the dry area left by the shrinking lake, we see a little Kentish Plover, and almost run over it. It's sitting in the middle of a tire track made by a farmer's tractor. There are lots of cows, and a man is watching over them. The little Plover moves, and Sharon checks out the spot the bird was sitting in, where she finds three eggs, about the same color as the dirt. Camouflage at its best.

We head back out to the road and up over some mountains towards our evening stop, when we zoom by a site I remember from last fall. It's a stand which sells seventy-seven kinds of honey, and plushtoy lambs. OK, seventy-seven is just an estimate.

We arrive at the town of Koycegiz, and drive down to the lake, turning right and following the promenade till we come to the familiar hotel where we stayed last fall. We go inside, and immediately bump into the lady half of the couple who manage the hotel. She remembers us immediately, and says that we can have the same room we had last time. Her little daughter comes by in a flash, and although her mother tells her to say hello, she won't. This little one is going to be a handful for mom.

Our room is not tidied up yet, so we head out to the lake where we saw Bee-eaters last year. There are lots of Martins, and lots of frogs calling. We see a YELLOW WAGTAIL, but all the others are various colors of black and white or brown. All the others have a slight chest spot. We stay till the end of a spectacular sunset, viewed through the reeds.

We head back to the room, where the bellboys move all our luggage upstairs. Sharon showers while I download the day's digital photos to the laptop. Then we head down to dinner. We both order lamb, salad and potatoes, although the potatoes are never delivered. I have a strawberry ice cream "cornet," which in America I would call an ice cream drumstick. I've never had a strawberry one before though.

Sharon has Turkish coffee, very strong, with two sugars.

Back to the room, I transcribe the day's tape, then crash. Sharon beat me to it.

Life Birds Today: 1 (Red-rumped Swallow).
Life Birds for the Trip: 4.

Upgrades Today: 2 (Roller, Yellow Wagtail)
Upgrades for the Trip: 4

Trip Birds Today: 13 (The lifer swallow plus Kestrel, Long-legged Buzzard, Jackdaw, Mediterranean Gull, Bee-eater, Kentish Plover, Greater Flamingo, Roller, Spanish Sparrow, Lesser Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail)
Trip Birds Total: 38.

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