TURKEY 2001 TWO-WEEK TRIP

Friday, June 29. Day 5 of 15. BIRDING LAKE KOYCEGIZ TO ANTALYA.

The alarm is off at 5:30 AM and by six we are out of Hotel Kaunos, heading for the reeds. We hear the dawn chorus - of roosters. We remember this brick road, but most of the bricks have been pulled out and stacked by the side of the road. They are doing some sort of maintenance on it, but this is slow territory anyway, so it's no big deal.

6:15 and there are several families of SEDGE WARBLERS and REED WARBLERS here. There are also lots of Greenfinches out here, where I would never have suspected them to be. They are beautiful in the sun. We chase a bird around and it turns out to be a Great Tit.

There are also lots of birds feeding over the water, and they are SWALLOWS (Barn Swallows in the U.S.) with red faces and no rump patches. Next we hear a call like a pig squealing and it can only be a *WATER RAIL. We can't get a view of it though.

7:05 and we have driven around the lake to a bridge crossing a stream. There are many goats by the water in a temporary looking pen with a shelter. A couple of Hooded Crows are about, with more Swallows too. Crested Larks sing from the road. Later a couple of Yellow Wagtails pop their tails up and down from a tree.

We move on to a second bridge and park the car a little past. We watch a small bird leading a dog away from what is undoubtedly its nest. Actually, it seems to me that the dog just happens to be walking that direction, but the bird believes it is a great success in its trickery. This little dog then follows us the rest of the morning, trotting along when we drive to a new location and catching up to us when we stop.

A couple of two tone brown or grey warblers can't be ID'd from the bad sun angle. We head back toward the hotel, but stop in some woods next to a camping park. We finally ID a two-toned, fairly plain-looking bird as an *OLIVACEOUS WARBLER, and there are several about. Sharon sees a giant lizard going up a tree.

8:10 and we get a Blue Tit bouncing back and forth. We give up the birding and head back to the hotel. Early birding gives a person the hungries. During breakfast, we notice a couple of Swallows perched on the support poles of the canvas covering over our table. The waiters tell us that birds are nesting inside the kitchen! We go in and, holy moly, there are two nests in the kitchen. One is in a corner, but one is on a plastered support beam right over the middle of the kitchen!

They have given them names, and they are Fatima and Mehmet.

We pack up but Sharon looks great among the purple flowers growing on supports by the hotel entrance, as I load the suitcases into the car.

9:36 and we are finally on the highway. I stop in a petrol station, but there are no prices advertised anywhere, so I go back to the highway, then stop at an Ofisi station, where the colors are red and white and the logo is a wolf. They allow credit cards, but charge a 5% commission. We move on and find a 106.5 TL/liter price, credit cards OK, no commission. This is the town of Dalaman, nufus 16,500.

A White Stork flies in with a big stick in its mouth and lands on top of a mosque. Sharon says it is either replenishing the nest or it's a snake. Too far away to tell for sure.

11:08 and we split off to the left from the coast road we took last time. We are heading into the mountains. Climbing, climbing. We take a break about thirty minutes later, in a small pullout beside the highway. A grove of pine trees holds not one bird for us, but the view across the highway is fantastic. A little like looking across Yosemite Valley, but somewhat hazy and the big rocks farther away. Still, pretty powerful.

We head out again, stopping at a fruit and vegetable stand. We stock up with cherries, tomatoes, nuts, peaches.

11:54 and we're still at high altitude - 5 or 6,000 feet. It's 150 km to Antalya. We take another bird break and see a bird fly over. It might be a Rock Nuthatch. Sharon hears a hawk or eagle cry, and we see two birds very high. Sharon said the one in the rear is a dark raptor. I just barely get on the second one as it disappears beyond the horizon.

12:19. An Alpine Swift flies over us. We slow down, admiring the orchards and fields being tended by women dressed in colorful dresses. One women tends two cows and the other two small donkeys. I see a way to drive down near a dry creekbed penetrating the greenery. We will bird a little here.

A powerful smell comes from below the bridge we walk under, and it's the carcass of a dog. Whew. We quickly walk around the dog and on down the streambed. Several starlings are whistling high up in the trees that owe their stately existence to the waters which come through here in the wet season. Sharon is surprised by a woman taking a break in the shade near the stream. "Merhaba," says Sharon. "Hos Geldiniz," says the woman, smiling. Welcome.

A clear, sharp bird song penetrates the air, and we have to see this singer. After about five minutes of following the sound movement, we finally spot the singer - a thrush-size bird, but thinner. It's a bird I've thought about, hoping to see in England someday, but hey, this bird's in the bush, so we'll take it. A powerful singer - a *NIGHTINGALE. If I had been an educated man, rather than an engineer, I'd now be thinking of all the English writing which mentions the Nightingale. As it is, I just smile and admire.

Back on the road again. We come around a corner and see two nearly fledged White Storks standing on their nest, built on top of a concrete power pole. As I'm shooting video, a parent flies in with a stick. It has apparently come from a Home Depot, with a home improvement stick. The chicks wave their black-edged wings up and down, and the adult regurges stuff into the middle of the nest. This is repeated for about five minutes.

We make it back out to the car, where we hear an Imam praying. It's 1 pm. As we are driving out, I see a bird fly across the road. "Woodpecker," I say. Then "No, it's a HOOPOE!" We watch it fly down and out of sight. Love the Hoopoe! Tan and black and white.

As we're trying to refind the Hoopoe, Sharon gets a nice Pied Wagtail. There is a White Wagtail on a wire above a couple of donkeys. We leave the village of Kayabas, as Sharon spots a Lesser Kestrel. We stop to make sure it's not a Hobby, and it's not. That puts the Kayabash on my plans to see a Hobby, for now.

1:23 and we are in the town of Sogut, with Antalya still another 100 km away. There are lots of carwashes around, and I love these places. A hose running up to about a height of 15 feet, then across a span of maybe ten feet, then a showerhead. Water running all the time. You just drive your car through the shower as many times as you want. Our car gets really dusty, and this takes care of that.

Dropping down now, 4800 feet in elevation, by my GPS. We get several ISABELLINE WHEATEARS, and where have these guys been all the time? Last fall, they were everywhere. We arrive at the town of Korkateli after IDing a hawk as a Long-legged Buzzard. Korkateli is perhaps 10 or 20,000 people. There are lots of swifts overhead.The swifts are not Pallid Swifts, they are black, not brown, so are probably regular Swifts. A papa (baba in Turkish) rides his bicycle up a gentle hill in the road with one hand, the other holding a baby of perhaps four months.

We come into Antalya and pull into a Shell Station to ask the whereabouts of the Falcon Hotel. Three different attendants talk back and forth, then say to us "Lara." This is a newer area of Antalya, and we also figured the Falcon would be in this area. As we drive down the road, we spot a timely sign that says "Lara," and points to the right. We follow the signs, then stop to ask an attendant at another hotel about the Falcon location. In a rule which we have confirmed before applies worldwide, when you finally stop to ask the location of a certain spot, there is a 90% chance that you are within a quarter-mile or less.

"Just down the road 500 meters, then turn right," he says. And that's exactly where we find it, near a cliff dropping down to the Mediterranean. We check in and we're the first ones here. We go to our room, and it's on a corner, with a nice cross-breeze on this hot, humid, clear day. Out one window we can see the other side of the small cove we're in. Out the other window, we can see the swimming pool. We are in the Pegasus building, on the second floor (3rd, American). Cihan and Tara, Bob and Carrie will be one floor above us.

We unpack and have a rest. I call Cihan's cell phone several times during the day, but I always get a message that he is unavailable. Finally about six pm, Tara answers. They have landed at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, taken the connecting flight down to Antalya, rented a car and are driving here now.

At six thirty, they are here. We all go down to one corner of the huge lobby, where Cihan introduces us to the hotel manager, with whom he arranged us to have our rooms for about $60 each. There is a lot of gift exchanging, hugging and resting, as we have tea and catch up on each other's stories of the last few days.

Cihan's sister Canan (pronounced JAH-nahn, where 'JAH' and 'nahn' both sort of sound like "Ah", as in "Ah, what a beautiful lady") and her husband Metin are there. Canan is pregnant and has a great tee shirt on which says, "Born to be Wild," with a stick figure of a baby. Cihan's father, Kemal, and mother, Aysel, are here. Cihan and Tara are here of course, as are Bob and Carrie Ross.

Canan and Tara make a nice picture, as do Metin and Canan a little later. Carrie and Bob are fighting jet lag, and are hanging in there. After a while, we have dinner (included in the price), then all go over to Cihan's mom's sister Yuksel's house. Yuksel is married to Nedim, and they have two daughters, Sena and Suna.

Tara shows Yuksel and Aysel something, but I don't recall what the heck it was. Then Tara goes smile to smile with future cousin Sena, who is the cutest little giggler I can recall. Sena and Suna are great sisters, then Tara and Aysel, her future mom, pose for a photo. Nobody seems to use the suffix "in-law" here, and I like that.

As we sit out on the balcony, Kemal looks around then says something in Turkish. Cihan translates, "Dad says we have all we need here to do the asking ritual [my words, not his], if nobody has any objections." Nobody does, and this is good because it reduces to zero the amount of time I sit and wonder what this is going to be like.

So Kemal proceeds and says something like this, "We love Tara and know that she and Cihan are very good for each other. We know both sets of their parents and know that they are very nice people." Cihan is translating this along the way. "So, Bob, I would like to ask if it's OK if Tara joins our family and marries Cihan." Then he says something else, and Cihan translates this, "If you say yes, I will give you a [traditional welcoming] kiss. But if you say no, I will throw you off the balcony." Sharon believes that he said he would jump off the balcony.

I look over at Tara and say to her, "Tara, if the answer is yes, give me one big wink. If it should be 'no,' give me two hundred and eighty-five winks." She grins and gives me one huge, exaggerated wink.

"I say YES," I announce, and everybody applauds loudly. Kemal and I swap cheek kisses in the Turkish tradition.

I get a photo of the whole group, then little Sena learns quickly, and takes a photo of me with the rest of the group. Great people take great photos, and we are no exception.

After hugs and congratulations, we drive back to our hotel, and crash after a long, long day.

Tomorrow, fishing!

Life Birds Today: 4 (Water Rail - heard only, Olivaceous Warbler, Nightingale, Swift).
Life Birds for the Trip: 8.

Upgrades Today: 0
Upgrades for the Trip: 4

Trip Birds Today: 11 (The four lifers plus Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Swallow, Blue Tit, Alpine Swift, Hoopoe, Isabelline Wheatear)
Trip Birds Total: 49.

NOTE to Birders: No birding or bird reports till Wednesday, July 4th.

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