Turkey Wishlist

My brother and extended family will be going next month and I get to do the cat-sitting in Steyning. Turkey’s my top European country yet to visit: I’ve somehow worked out that 126 new species are possible for me. In my impecunious state there’s not much likelihood of getting out there. What I need is one o’ they cheap holidays to Turkey.

Surprisingly high on the list of top sites is Istanbul itself. Apart from the tourist attractions of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, the Bosphorus at the end of September is a migration bottleneck. Raptors are the big draw and spotted eagle is at the western limit of its route here (although it migrates on a broad front through Turkey). This bird occupies the vulnerable end of the world’s endangered species, i.e. in fifty years it may be gone. In any case it’s one to see – now.

South of Istanbul, but a long way round by road, is Lake Apolyont (or Uluabat Gölü), where another vulnerable species, the Dalmatian pelican, may be seen. Continuing further west to Manyas Gölü should improve the odds.

Both lakes are something of a detour on the way south-east to the Taurus Mountains. Between Antalya and Adana lies the village of Akseki. This is a birding hotspot and its scrub and pine forests hold a range of species that would all be lifers for me. In other words, not a single turkey among them. Groan!

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