Our 9-day journey to Turkey in September was quick, and it was not about birding. Even so, our quick keep did permit me contact with a superb variety of habitats. The historic center of Istanbul supplied city and coastal birds. The wetlands of Izmir’s bay have been filled with flamingos and different shorebirds. A number of days later, I noticed woodland birds in a forested valley.
Our hosts wished us to see no less than considered one of Turkey’s biblical websites, together with a small archaeological web site within the heart of Smyrna that we had visited. It wasn’t sensible to make a facet journey to Ephesus, the crown jewel of this archaeology. So, as a substitute, we made a morning journey to Bergama, which is the Turkish identify for the Biblical metropolis of Pergamum.
The stays of the Biblical (and pre-Biblical) metropolis are on a mountaintop, excessive above the fashionable metropolis. The terrain is rocky and dry, with solely a only a few bushes. And that meant an entire new set of birds. I didn’t see many species. However most of them have been distinctive to this sort of terrain.
Far under the ruins, a reservoir supplied me a single Dalmatian Pelican. I had seen Nice White Pelicans in Izmir, however the Dalmatian Pelican was a new-to-me inland chicken. Overhead, a Booted Eagle rode thermals slowly upward. I had already seen this raptor in Spain, making ready to cross the Straits of Gibraltar. Might this particular person have accomplished the identical, throughout Turkey’s Bosphorus straits, just lately?
However it was on the bottom that probably the most attention-grabbing species turned up. (The place else might they be, with so few bushes?) There, to our proper, was an Isabelline Wheatear, my first of this group. Wheatears are ground-loving Outdated World Flycatchers, fairly unrelated to Mexico’s many Tyrant Flycatcher species. Many males sport daring black-and-white plumage, shocking for birds that spend most of their time on sandy and dry floor. The Isabelline Wheatear is an exception; its identify apparently refers back to the shade of parchment.
In distinction, 4 Jap Black-eared Wheatears definitely did rock the black-and-white look. Very editorial, as the style world would say.
After which I noticed my largest shock of the day. Nuthatches, in my New World thoughts, are solely woodland birds. They like to climb every-which-way on tree trunks; I can’t bear in mind if I had ever seen one on the bottom. And but, right here was an unmistakeable Nuthatch, hopping over a rocky outpatch, removed from any bushes in anyway. It regarded similar to Mexico’s arboreal White-breasted Nuthatch. I shortly checked my birding app, and located a reputation that sounded to me like a contradiction in phrases: Western Rock Nuthatch. “There are extra issues in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Two days later, the story obtained even stranger, after we went to that wooded canyon. A rockslide had occurred within the midst of those dense woods. And there was one other Rock Nuthatch, fortunately climbing on the rocks, utterly ignoring the encompassing bushes.