Western Turkey Birds and History: Aug 26—Sep 09, 2007

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Please contact us if you would like more information on upcoming departures for this tour.

Departs: Izmir, Turkey (ends in Istanbul)
Tour Limit: 14
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Pergamon Amphitheater

Pergamon Amphitheater— Photo: Brad Schram

Experience a very special range of middle-eastern birds amidst the world’s finest, most spectacular ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman sites—historical and birding overload with expert local guides.

Timed to catch the end of summer breeding and the onset of fall migration, this tour offers, in one package, some great birding within a phenomenal historical setting. Tens of thousands of raptors—Eurasian Honey-buzzards, Eurasian Buzzards, Booted and Lesser Spotted eagles, and Eurasian and Levant sparrowhawks (among over 25 raptor species), plus huge numbers of White Storks and smaller counts of Black Storks—migrate from Eurasia into Africa via the narrow Bosphorus Straits every fall. They do so in a magical setting overlooking one of Eurasia’s most exotic cities, Istanbul—the former Constantinople, crossroads between Europe and Asia, and the only city in the world to straddle two continents. This gives a wonderful opportunity for birders interested in the ancient history of the Greek, Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires to combine both interests in a single tour.

White Stork, Villamarique

White Stork— Photo: Brian Gibbons

We will have several days based in the fabulous city of Istanbul sampling the incredible historical sites within walking distance from our lovely, small private hotel, and birding the environs whenever the weather looks promising for migration. We’ll also go further afield to Bursa, Izmir, and Kusadasi areas of western Turkey on the shores of the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, and up into the rugged Uludag Mountains. Habitats from pine forest to olive groves and huge wetlands should provide a wonderful array of eastern Mediterranean specialties such as Yelkouan Shearwater; Pygmy Cormorant; Dalmatian Pelican; Ruddy Shelduck; Mediterranean and Slender-billed gulls; Marsh Sandpiper; Temminck’s Stint; Syrian Woodpecker; Masked and Woodchat shrikes; Eastern Olivaceous, Eastern Orphean, and Rueppell’s warblers; Sombre Tit; Rock and Kreuper’s nuthatches; Finsch’s, Black-eared, and Isabelline wheatears; Collared and Red-breasted flycatchers; Cretzschmar’s Bunting; Spanish Sparrow; Fire-fronted Serin; and Rufous Scrub-Robin. These, along with a wide variety of more widespread southern European birds, can be viewed amidst relics of bygone millennia. We will visit such fabled sites as Ephesus, Didyma, Miletus, Pergamon, Pirene, and Hierapolis where huge and impressive Roman amphitheaters and aqueducts, Greek ruins, and Islamic mosques are liberally dotted across this lovely Mediterranean landscape which has been at the center of civilization for more than 3,000 years.

We will maintain a flexible approach so that you can opt in or out of historical or birding activities depending on your particular interests. Daily activities with excellent local guides can combine both birding and historical exploration—often at the same place at the same time! Much of the birding is close to or amongst famous historical sites, where Rock Nuthatches and Finsch’s Wheatears use 2,000-year-old carvings as nest sites and perches!

Very good accommodations; easy-paced, but action-packed tour in hot, dry weather.