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CYPRUS & SOUTHERN TURKEY

Endemics, restricted-range specialities and spring migration

Cyprus and Turkey Birding Tours: our Cyprus & Southern Turkey bird watching holiday is a unique combination of two splendid bird watching destinations. Our Cyprus & Southern Turkey birding tour records a fantastic suite of regionally-endemic (or breeding-endemic) specialities. These include Yelkouan Shearwater, Caspian Snowcock, Cyprus Scops Owl, Bimaculated Lark, White-spectacled Bulbul, Radde’s Accentor, Cyprus, Kurdish and Finsch’s Wheatears, White-throated Robin, Olive-tree, Upcher’s, Cyprus, Rüppell’s and Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Sombre Tit, Krüper’s, Western Rock and Eastern Rock Nuthatches, Masked Shrike, Pale Rockfinch, Desert Finch, Red-fronted Serin, Asian Crimson-winged Finch, Cretzschmar’s and Black-headed Buntings, Cinereous Bunting (both forms!) and, following its recent rediscovery, the magnificent Brown Fish Owl (the western form being a potential split).

Wednesday 1st May — Thursday 9th May 2019
(9 days)


Eastern Taurus Extension: Thursday 9th May — Monday 13th May (5 days)

Leader: Pete Morris

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

The gorgeous Masked Shrike is a fairly common breeding species in Cyprus and southern Turkey (Pete Morris)

The gorgeous Masked Shrike is a fairly common breeding species in Cyprus and southern Turkey (Pete Morris)

The mere mention of the name Cyprus conjures up images of warm sunshine, classical ruins overlooking an azure sea and villages of whitewashed houses with red terracotta roofs. Cyprus never disappoints the visitor and for the birdwatcher it offers some of the most enjoyable birding in the Mediterranean.

Spring arrives early in Cyprus and at this season ‘Aphrodite’s Isle’ will be at its freshest and best as we explore this varied island. Cyprus boasts three very exciting specialities, the recently split Cyprus Scops Owl (which is probably an endemic resident), Cyprus Warbler (some of which leave the island to winter in the Middle East) and Cyprus Wheatear (which breeds only on Cyprus but winters in northeast Africa, and which is a bird very hard to see away from the island). Other birds of particular interest include Black Francolin, Masked Shrike, Black-headed Bunting and the restricted-range Cretzschmar’s Bunting. Throughout Cyprus’s long history, as Greeks, Romans, Ottoman Turks, Crusaders, Venetians and the British successively battled for control of the island, the spring and autumn migrations continued unabated.

We will be based throughout our stay in the Kyrenia (or Girne) area, strategically positioned on the north coast. The sheer pleasure of watching birds in the Mediterranean spring sunshine, when the air is permeated with the scent of aromatic herbs, the attractive landscapes are enlivened by wildflowers and birdsong, and there is the constant promise of some new migrant just around the corner, make this a most enjoyable and rewarding island to visit.

Southern Turkey in springtime offers some of the most exciting birding in the ‘Western Palearctic’ (the zoogeographer’s term for the avifaunal sub-region encompassing Europe, North Africa and Southwestern Asia). Here is some of Turkey’s finest scenery, some of its most hospitable people and undoubtedly some of its best birding. In no other region in the Western Palearctic can one see such a range of environments from semi-desert to dense forest, from high steppe to Mediterranean maquis, from saline lagoons to volcanoes, from marshes to snow-capped peaks, from cotton fields to alpine meadows, and from mud-walled villages to modern cities. This diversity explains Southern Turkey’s extraordinary avian riches, which include a host of specialities.

From Cyprus we travel to the beautiful western Taurus Mountains of southwestern Turkey, where our first birding site will be the inland town of Pamukkale, famous for its cascade of travertine terraces formed by natural, calcium-rich springs and now a World Heritage Site. Here we will be seeking out the uncommon and very restricted-range nominate form of the Cinereous Bunting.

After returning to the Mediterranean coast, we will explore the maquis-covered and wooded slopes of the western Taurus where the major specialities include White-spectacled Bulbul, Olive-tree, Rüppell’s and Eastern Bonelli’s (or Balkan) Warblers, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch and the near-endemic Krüper’s Nuthatch. We will also visit a recently-discovered site for the splendid Brown Fish Owl, here of the rare but distinctive western form that is a potential split.

During the optional extension we shall climb high into the rugged and spectacular eastern Taurus Mountains in search of specialities such as Caspian Snowcock, Radde’s Accentor, Finsch’s Wheatear, Red-fronted Serin and Asian Crimson-winged Finch amidst some dramatic alpine scenery. Bonus birds here are Bearded Vulture (or Lammergeier) and the wonderful Wallcreeper. We will also explore the superb wetlands and strangely eroded uplands of the Central Plateau, home to Long-legged Buzzard and Greater Sand Plover.

We end our birding in the arid landscapes of the southeast Taurus. Here we shall explore rocky, scrub-covered hills that are home to Bimaculated Lark, the fantastic White-throated Robin, Kurdish Wheatear (the western component of the split Red-tailed Wheatear), Upcher’s Warbler, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Pale Rockfinch (or Pale Rock Sparrow), Desert Finch and Cinereous Bunting of the very distinctive eastern form (a potential split).

Birdquest has operated tours to Cyprus since 1995 and to Turkey since 1981.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good or medium standard throughout (and many people rate the food in southern Turkey highly). Road transport is by minibus or car and roads are nowadays mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there some moderate grade walks. In the Aladag it is usually possible to arrange for a tractor trailer to take those who wish much of the way up the mountain, which avoids a fairly demanding hike.

Climate: Rather variable. It is generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, although cool and overcast conditions are not infrequent. There may be some rain. At high altitudes during the extension, temperatures can be cool or even cold early in the day.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £2190, €2410, $2840 Cyprus/Antalya. Single Room Supplement: £240, €264, $312. Deposit: £300, €330, $390.

Eastern Taurus Extension: £1050, €1160, $1370 (ending at Adana). Single Room Supplement: £96, €106, $125. Deposit: £150, €170, $200.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes this flight: Cyprus (Ercan)-Antalya.

Base prices for this tour are in Euros. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = €1.100 and €1 = $1.180.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The handsome Black-headed Bunting is a common species (Paul Ellis)

The handsome Black-headed Bunting is a common species (Paul Ellis)

Cyprus hosts three endemic breeding species, Cyporus Scops Owl, Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear, the latter pictured above (Pete Morris)

Cyprus hosts three endemic breeding species, Cyporus Scops Owl, Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear, the latter pictured above (Pete Morris)

The smart but usually skulking White-throated Robin is easy to see when singing and display-flighting in spring (Paul Ellis)

The smart but usually skulking White-throated Robin is easy to see when singing and display-flighting in spring (Paul Ellis)

The smart Black-headed Wagtail is the local representative of the Yellow Wagtail complex (Nik Borrow)

The smart Black-headed Wagtail is the local representative of the Yellow Wagtail complex (Nik Borrow)

Pale Rockfinch (or Pale Rock Sparrow) is a summer visitor to southeastern Turkey, where numbers can vary greatly from year to year (Paul Ellis)

Pale Rockfinch (or Pale Rock Sparrow) is a summer visitor to southeastern Turkey, where numbers can vary greatly from year to year (Paul Ellis)

Rock Sparrows (or Rock Petronias) chirp away from rock piles, walls and old buildings (Paul Ellis)

Rock Sparrows (or Rock Petronias) chirp away from rock piles, walls and old buildings (Paul Ellis)

The pretty Red-fronted Serin is yet another of the many specialities of this fantastic region (Paul Ellis)

The pretty Red-fronted Serin is yet another of the many specialities of this fantastic region (Paul Ellis)

The localized Radde's Accentor inhabits rather arid and bleak mountainsides in the eastern two-thirds of Turkey (Paul Ellis)

The localized Radde's Accentor inhabits rather arid and bleak mountainsides in the eastern two-thirds of Turkey (Paul Ellis)

The noisy Chukar is often first detected by voice (Paul Ellis)

The noisy Chukar is often first detected by voice (Paul Ellis)

Syrian Woodpecker takes over from Great Spotted Woodpecker in most habitats (Nik Borrow)

Syrian Woodpecker takes over from Great Spotted Woodpecker in most habitats (Nik Borrow)

The bulky Long-legged Buzzard is a common raptor of the Turkish interior (Paul Ellis)

The bulky Long-legged Buzzard is a common raptor of the Turkish interior (Paul Ellis)

Careful scrutiny of this female kestrel reveals the pale claws and elongated shape which are characteristic of Lesser Kestrel (Nik Borrow)

Careful scrutiny of this female kestrel reveals the pale claws and elongated shape which are characteristic of Lesser Kestrel (Nik Borrow)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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