TURKEY 2001 TWO-WEEK TRIP

Friday, July 6. Day 12 of 15. BIRDING ULUDAG. OFF TO ISTANBUL. THE SURPRISE FERRY.

6:44 am. Gunaydin! We slept in a little, but are gathering up our stuff now to go birding, then we'll have breakfast after that.

We're up near the ski lodges, heading up even higher when Sharon spots an adult bird being mobbed by about six youngsters. It's another Red-fronted Serin. I think it needs a good birdy-sitter. I try to get some video, but don't have much luck. There are also several *WATER PIPITS.

We drive up higher and there are now birds everywhere. Tits, Chaffinches -- male and female, Red-fronted Serins and beautiful green and yellow (regular) SERINS.

We stop to ID a couple of Chaffinches and a Greenfinch, then see several tits. Sharon says, "Play the Goldcrest track." I get out the two CDs from my four-CD set which are applicable in this high alpine region. I find the Goldcrest and play the track. While I am looking down at the equipment, Sharon sees a tiny bird fly in from behind me, straight over my head, and land in a pine tree not thirty feet away.

"That's it, That's it!" she yells. "That's what?" I yell back. "I think it's the Goldcrest. It just HAS to be, it responded so fast." We get on the bird, and there! There's the crown with the stripe of yellow on the crown. *GOLDCREST! I play the track a couple more times, then stop, so he can get back to his business. It reminds me so much of the Golden-crowned Kinglets in California.

Continuing higher now, we pick up another dark bird, and it's a great upgrade of a BLACK REDSTART. These birds were rather plain, in the plumage we saw last fall. We keep driving higher, but the road is getting rougher now, so we decide to turn back and have breakfast.

But first, we see Swifts attending young in a nearby ski lodge. I try to get photos and get one of a single bird, then another of two birds.

9:45 and we're on the road, past the roadside refresher station, where we see a guy filling water bottles. Probably a restaurant owner, offering "bottled" water to his customers. We enjoyed our breakfast, especially the view of a nearby glass-topped hotel from one of the windows, then I packed our luggage into the car, and it's been downhill from there.

We stop to pick up a RED-BACKED SHRIKE on a wire just below a picturesque mosque down the hill a little. Then it's on down the mountain.

We turn a corner, and catch a glimpse of a perfect display which turns us right around. It's of fat, purple cherries with stems, carefully placed around the lip of a fruit basket, then set up on a box for passersby. Make that former passersby converted to stoppers-in.

It's a rather uneventful, smooth trip down through Bursa, and up to Yalova. We will take the so-called fast boat, but it's not clear exactly where we're going. Anywhere across the Marmar is OK with me, though. This is a much bigger boat than the one we took earlier. I buy our tickets and we get in the automobile line. Soon we drive aboard, and head up to the lounge.

An attendant asks for our ticket, but I didn't know we needed it, so I return to the car and get it. Back up, he starts to take us to our seats, then does a double take and spins around, taking us to what looks like the first class lounge. We take our reserved seats and look around at the lounge.

We try to ask if we can go outside to watch the birds, but he thinks we want to go outside and smoke. A helpful fellow who speaks English inquires for us, and tells us that there are no outside decks, only inside. We settle in, then the obvious question pops back into my mind and I get up and go looking for our translater. I locate him and ask him the question, "Where does this boat go?". He responds, "Istanbul!" I ask whether European or Asian side, and he says European!! Holy moly, the ferry's taking us all the way to Istanbul. How cool is this? And I thought we were just going across the Marmar. Ha!

I am floating the rest of the trip, knowing I don't have to drive across either bridge. It's my lucky day.

2:00 pm and we're on the road in Istanbul, having docked in port and exited the boat. We follow the road to the airport, where Sharon sees a Turkish Airline building, for ticket sales. We make our way over there, and ask where the Radisson Hotel is. A friendly attendant points the way and draws me a map.

We follow her directions right to the hotel, and pull into the basement parking lot. We unload our stuff and take it up to the reception desk on the elevator. We're listed under Agacayak, $60 for a "business class" room, which turns out to be similar to last night's junior suite. Hotels are starting to copy airline classes. Incredible.

But this includes free use of the workout room and the pool. Our room overlooks the freeway and the airport runway, but the thick double glass keeps out any noise going on out there.

The room's very nice though. We have dinner for about 15 MTL for Sharon, plus 18 MTL for me. Multiply each number by about .7 to get dollars. So that's $11 for Sharon and $13 for me. I had the buffet while Sharon ordered from the menu -- spaghetti. This food is delicious but it's not as much fun as the small village eateries, to me.

Tara and Cihan, Bob and Carrie get in about 10 or 11 pm. We get together for a minute and decide to meet for breakfast tomorrow about 8:30 or 9:00 so they can catch up on some rest.

Life Birds Today: 2 (Water Pipit, Goldcrest).
Life Birds for the Trip: 22.

Upgrades Today: 1 (Black Redstart - breeding colors)
Upgrades for the Trip: 8.

Trip Birds Today: 5 (The 2 lifers plus Serin, Black Redstart and Red-backed Shrike).
Trip Birds Total: 82.

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