Around the Region 2015-1

Ali Atahan, Nizamettin Yavuz and Kerem Ali Boyla

The active birding scene in Turkey was yet productive as previous years, with addition of two new species to the country list, Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus and Sykes’s Warbler Hippolais rama.
The year started with a relatively mild winter, however short periods of very cold weather brought down a good array of species. Four species of grey geese were in the same view at Kızılırmak Delta, including one (Taiga) Bean Goose Anser fabalis between 12-14 Feb and two Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus between 12-21 FebOther species escaping northern cold were 6 Greater Scaup Aythya marila in İğneada on 10 Jan, one at Lake Büyükçekmece on 3 Jan and two at Ondokuzmayıs Harbour, Samsun on 24 Jan. A single Common Eider Somateria mollissima at Fethiye Bay on 9 May, certainly is certainly a good sighting for the southern waters, with others at Riva on 2 Jan and Kızılırmak Delta on 15 Jan. A single Common Scoter Melanitta nigra at Yeşilırmak Delta on 16 Jan made up the expected sighting, together with a staggering 165 Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca at the same location. More western sightings included 2 at İğneada on 10 Jan and 1 at Lake Küçükçekmece, İstanbul on 16 Jan. A single Common Merganser Mergus merganser was in İğneada on 10-11 Jan. . A total of four single Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus, two of them at Kızılırmak and Yeşilırmak Delta on 15 Feb and 15 Mar and two others in surprising locations, one in continental Lake Mogan, Ankara and one at Lake Amik, Hatay. 2 Jan and 28 Feb respectively. Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor certainly became a regular sighting nowadays, 1 was at Lake Kulu on 9 Mar and two at the same location on 17 Mar.
A second year Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus was recorded in a suburb of Istanbul on 2 May by a photographer. This is the first record for the country, detected completely randomly by a photo. Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus is certainly regularly breeding in SE Turkey, although still in very low number, such as a pair in Bozova, Şanlıurfa on 1 May 2015 at the site where it has been observed breeding in the last three years. A Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus at Samandağ, Hatay on 12 Jan is a rare wintering record. A second Red Kite Milvus migrans was recorded for Hatay in Subaşı on 16 Jan, and a systematic count on migrant raptors on the Bosphorus brought up a sighting on 12 Mar.
Corncrake Crex crex was recorded at Gerede Plain on 5 Jul, which might indicate the third breeding site, after Posof and the nearby Yeniçağa Gölü. A single passing Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo was recorded in Enez Lagoons on 30 Aug make up the only record from the west for many decades. Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus were recorded in Karacabey Longozu on 5 Jul, and two on Filyos Delta between 2-4 Sep, are remarkable for the western half of the country. Similarly a total of 41 Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata in Lake Terkos on 2 Jul and 90 on the coastline there on 31 Aug make up significant totals.

A record count of Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus summed to a total of 1200 birds around the breeding sites in Bozova, Şanlıurfa, could well be used to figure out the national breeding population. A group of 10 Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola, was recorded in Daltan Delta on 14 Oct, indicating a late passage migration. A late Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush Monticola saxatilis at METU Campus, Ankara on 10 Oct is a good addition to the universities checklist. A Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria between Kütahya and Bozüyük on 30 Aug may related to a new breeding site in NW Turkey. Field work for the first Breeding Bird Atlas in Turkey has already brought some interesting breeding records of Garden Warbler Sylvia borin in Bolu, Sinop and Istanbul and Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva in Sinop from previously unknown sites in NW Turkey. The mild autumn helped to stay some House Martin Delichon urbicum in Bursa city center on 22 Nov. This autumn few Siberian vagrants have been recorded, like a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus photographed near Okcular, Dalyan on 30 Oct. The first Common Myna Acridotheres tristis for Antalya was recorded at Atatürk Parkı on 25 Nov, which may be the start of further expansion along the Mediterranean coastline.