The next birding area I visited whilst in Turkey was Cimikoy Meadows, up in the mountains near the town of Akseki. This was a notably different environment; high altitude, colder, mountainous and a lot less people. The habitat was mainly rocky valleys with pastures for cattle and goats, meadows, and sparse, mixed pine and decidious woodland. It was a truly beautiful area and arguably one of the very best birding locations I have ever been to anywhere in the world. It was literally teaming with birdlife, in a jaw dropping setting. So beautiful that I had to get my drone out and get some footage to show people, and I have made a short video below showing the area from above. Also, here is a map and the GPS location should you ever want to visit.
One of the target birds of the area is Finsch’s Wheatear, and when I arrived I was overwhelmed with Black and White wheatears everywhere. So overwhelmed that after reviewing my photos, I didn’t even get a picture of one. I was photographing Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, which were there in good numbers in all their different variations. Sometimes with photography, I am torn between quickly getting my camera on a subject, or quickly getting my bins on it to ID it. The camera normally wins as I can ID later.
Passerines were well represented in this valley, and there were some really special ones too. Whilst photographing a Western Rock Nuthatch, a lifer for me, I was interrupted by a pair of Rüppell's warblers that came in close to investigate, another tick for me, and a really nice bird. I thought I would get more opportunities to see it, but it was the only sighting of the whole trip.
Moving further into the valley, there were large mixed feeding flocks, which were predominantly made up of noisy Red-throated Serin, and breeding plumage Linnet, which both really stood out with their bright and attractive summer colours. Really lovely birds.
Amongst the flock I picked out this stunning Cretzschmar’s Bunting. Not the best photo as it was from distance, but it allowed me to pick out the subtle differences from Ortolan bunting which were also present in the area. Details like the reddish chin patch, and rich rusty tones in the belly combined with a blue-grey head. Luckily, I saw a separate flock of Ortolan’s in an adjacent field and I could see the differences, although tricky from afar and took some careful studying.
Whilst on the subject of buntings, this was an excellent habitat for them as I recorded three more species including Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting, and Black-headed Bunting. Five bunting species on one dirt track, impressive!
I kept pushing up the track and gaining altitude, almost till I was at the snow line. Bird species massively thinned out but I kept hearing a call I have never heard before, I knew it would be something I have never seen and it was. The most numerous bird at this altitude was these Eastern Bonelli’s warbler.
On the way down and back out of the valley back towards Akseki, there were numerous orchards where there was quite a bit of bird activity. Another lifer flitting around the fruit trees was these Eastern Orphean warblers.
It was also interesting to see how different the Jays looked here, with their black head and slight crests; further research shows that it’s a different race of Jay called Garrulus glandarius anatoliae that is distributed from Turkey to Iran and Iraq.
In the same Orchard I could hear a couple of Woodlark but couldn’t connect with them. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of Kruppers Nuthatch. I’ve never seen one before, but heard the call on Collins bird guide app, and it really is unique so I wasn’t about to forget it in a hurry. It wouldn’t let me get too close but I managed to get a few shots off, beauty! The last bird I saw before heading home was the European Roller below, stunning bird.