Please note: this page gives details of our 2010 trip.

For details of our 2011 trip please click here



Eastern birds and Ephesus



"A brief note to express my thanks to you both for leading a most pleasurable trip with Bird Holidays to Western Turkey. Good accommodation, decent weather, a very friendly group and excellent birding all contributed to the enjoyment."...  Mr L, Leeds, May 06





Turkey is rated as one of the most exciting birdwatching destinations in the Western Palearctic, yet it is still relatively unexplored. The main reason for this is the sheer size of the country and as a consequence, unlike in other hot spots such as Spain, we are not likely to bump into any other birdwatchers.


Being such a huge country the prospective visitor has a choice. You can travel many hundreds of miles from west to east, north to south and back, in search of every single exciting species. Alternatively you can base yourself in one relatively small, but diverse area, get to know it well and enjoy what is to be found. We have chosen the second option and will concentrate on the south-west, where typical Mediterranean birds are joined by a number of eastern specialities.


Famous for its rich culture, ancient ruins, good food, friendly people, reliable climate and golden beaches, SW Turkey can offer you all of these and more. White-throated Robin, Kruper's Nuthatch, Dalmatian Pelican, Red-fronted Serin, Collared Pratincole, Masked Shrike, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Eleonora's Falcon, Spur-winged Plover, Crimson-winged Finch, Smyrna Kingfisher, Finschís Wheatear, Eastern Bonelliís Warbler and Ruppell's Warbler are among the many exciting birds present in this area at the time of our visit. From the comfort of two ideally located hotels there can be no better way to enjoy these Turkish delights! On day one we will fly to Dalaman, and drive the short distance to Koycegiz, for a stay of five nights. From here we will visit a variety of wetland and mountain sites, including the Dalyan Delta. On day six we will drive to Bafa, our base for the final three nights, visiting Lake Karine and Bafa Golu, as well as allowing time to visit Ephesus world heritage site.





On day one we will fly to Dalaman and then drive to Lake Koycegiz, our base for the first five nights. The Hotel Panorama Plaza is situated on the shores of the lake and steep-sided, pine clad mountains complete the idyllic picture. A variety of interesting birds such as Squacco Heron, Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler and Masked Shrike can be found just a short walk from the hotel.


Lake Koycegiz and the Dalyan Delta are joined by a narrow channel which passes the town of Dalyan. The area is most easily explored by boat and we shall spend a half day travelling along the reed-fringed lake and down channels leading to the delta and then to the sea. We will explore the ruins of Kaunos, with its impressive amphitheatre and Rock Nuthatches, and marvel at the ancient Lycean rock tombs.


Perhaps the most sought-after breeding bird here is the Smyrna Kingfisher. It is, however, rather scarce and we will need to keep a sharp eye out in order to find it. Much more numerous is the delightful Penduline Tit which can be found in the reedbeds and waterside trees throughout the area. We may even be fortunate in seeing one skilfully constructing its elaborate pendulous nest.


Migrant terns include both Whiskered and White-winged Black. Flocks of migrating Glossy Ibis are a regular sight, whilst other birds may include Pygmy Cormorant, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, White Stork and Spur-winged Plover. The lake is one of only two places in Turkey where Nile Soft-shelled Turtles are found; we know of a spot where we can watch them without causing disturbance.


In the drier areas we can expect to see Eastern Olivaceous Warbler as well as Cetti's and Fan-tailed Warblers and Black-headed Wagtail. Rufous Bush Chat is best found by listening for its thrush-like song. Masked Shrike and Ruppell's Warbler are two more local specialities and can be found alongside the more familiar Bee-eaters, Crested Larks, Red-rumped Swallows, Black-eared Wheatears, Woodchat Shrikes, Spanish Sparrows and Rollers. Birds of prey in the area include Levant Sparrowhawk, migrant Red-footed Falcons and regular Eleonora's Falcons. One evening, after dinner, we will try to see one of the numerous Scops Owls in the vicinity.


The mountains behind Koycegiz rise quickly to over 7000 feet. We can ascend to over half this height on the road to Arla, amid incredible scenery. The main prize here is the Kruper's Nuthatch, an endemic to the region and one that is fairly common. Nevertheless, they would be fairly difficult to find, due to their unobtrusive lifestyle, were it not for their distinctive call. Short-toed Eagles can be watched hovering over distant ridges. In the woods there are both Middle Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers as well as the localised Sombre Tit. Jays are particularly numerous, the local race exhibiting rather dark plumage and a black crown. Further down the valley in the more open areas we will watch for the highly vocal Black-headed Bunting singing from low bushes as well as the stunning Black-eared Wheatear.


The dramatic looking town of Mugla, framed by mountains and at the foot of some particularly stunning crags, is an excellent place to look for the exciting birds of Asia Minor. Cretzschmar's Buntings can easily be found, the males betraying their presence with their four-syllable song. The main prize in this area is the White-throated Robin, a bird which combines beauty, scarcity and a restricted range with a choice of stunning natural surroundings. On past visits we have never failed to find them at an easily accessible site. Also common in the area are both Ruppell's and Eastern Orphean Warblers and Blue Rock Thrush, and we have a good chance of Eastern Bonelliís Warbler.


A day trip to Gulubeli Pass, east of Dalaman, will reveal yet more mountain species. We discovered this site in 1999, where a road cuts through some of the most dramatic scenery in Western Turkey. With snow-capped peaks in all directions, Red-fronted Serin is fairly common and Crimson-winged Finch is possible. Other species include White-throated Robin, Chough, Wryneck, Black Redstart, Ortolan, Woodlark, Rock Sparrow, Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Snow Finch and Eastern Orphean Warbler.



On day six we will drive north to Bafa, our base for the final three nights. We will spend a full day at Lake Karine and the Miletus marshes. With the ancient ruins of Miletus in the background, the marshes are particularly attractive. Spoonbills and Glossy Ibis can be watched at close range; Garganey and Wood Sandpipers feed side by side in the water meadows; Bee-eaters hawk insects overhead; and Spur-winged Plovers display on the drier areas. Past visits have yielded some of our best sightings, including both Great Snipe and western Turkey's third ever White-tailed Plover!


Lake Karine is a huge brackish lagoon separated from the sea by a sand spit. This reserve is internationally important for its breeding Dalmatian Pelicans. Also present are Great White Egrets, Caspian Terns, Lesser Kestrels, Long-legged Buzzards, Marsh Sandpipers and Kentish Plovers. In the afternoon we will explore a track leading along the south edge of the lake, where a breeding colony of Ruddy Shelducks should have small ducklings. Collared Pratincoles hawk over the marsh and Isabelline Wheatears occur in the drier areas.


We will also visit the western shore of Bafa Golu, where a similar range of birds can be found. This area is better, however, for White-tailed Eagle, which sometimes breeds in the area. If the water levels are favourable, thousands of migrant waders can be seen on the shore.


The world famous archaeological site of Ephesus is just an hourís drive from our hotel. We will set aside three or four hours for our visit. Even the most die-hard birder could not fail to be impressed, but just in case, there are Rock Nuthatches, Blue Rock Thrushes and Long-legged Buzzards in and around the ruins!


Finally, on day nine we will drive north to Izmir, in good time for our flight home.



Breakfast will be taken at about 7.30am. On one morning breakfast will be at 7am so we can make an early start for more distant sites. Basic fitness is all that is required. Full days will be spent in the field and short/medium length walks will be undertaken regularly. There will be very little uphill walking, even in the mountains, which will be done at a sensible pace.



Full-board accommodation is provided, with five nights at the lovely Hotel Panorama Plaza at Koycegiz followed by three nights at an excellent hotel at Bafa. All rooms have an en suite bathroom. Packed lunches will be taken every day.



All birdwatching excursions with expert leader, full-board accommodation (starting with dinner on 24th, ending with breakfast on 2nd), soft drinks at meal times, local transport by mini-bus, boat trip in the Dalyan Delta, entrance to archaeological sites, international flights and airport taxes.



Travel insurance. Cost of Turkish visa (approx. £10) obtainable on arrival. Personal items, alcoholic drinks, laundry.



Return flight from Manchester to Dalaman with Easyjet, returning from Izmir (via Istanbul) with Turkish Airlines. Outbound flight departs mid-afternoon, return flight arrives back mid-afternoon.



8 nights:               


Principal leader:


Maximum group size:


Cost with discount

(if you book before

9th January 2010):


Full Cost:


Single supplement:





24th April to 2nd May 2010


John McLoughlin


7 clients with one leader or

12 clients with two leaders



£1390 per person sharing


£1490 per person sharing














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