Aladag mountains offers you a wide range of possibilities to go bird watching. Turkey is well known as a country where migratory birds settle for a while in springtime and autumn. But our country also has its own regulars. Beautiful colourful birds, but also the more modest types. Small and big birds. Great whistlers or the more silent ones. Let yourself be surprised and know that we have cooperated with famous fowlers such as Dave Gosney and Ian Green. I am proud to say they (and co-author Nigel Moorhouse) mentioned Özşafak Pension in their book ‘A Birdwatchers' Guide to Turkey’. ‘Finding birds in Turkey: Ankara to Birecik’ of Dave Gosney is one of the best books on birding in central south Turkey. This book is a must have. But if you don’t have it, you can borrow my copy from my little library. In the Aladag mountains you can do a special tour to see the famous Caspian Snowcock and other endemic type birds.
To see the Caspian snowcock there are several alternative options. It depends on the season where the bird is. Before planning your trip it is advisable to consult me. As the season goes by birds retreat higher into the crags and it becomes essential to visit nearby sites that are at higher altitude. Full directions and an excellent map can be found with us.The Aladag mountains are a National Park and there are over 15 mountains that are higher then 3.000 metres. Going into the mountains can be dangerous at any time. So make sure you are well prepared.
1. Arpalık plateau (2.200 metres)
You can visit Arpalık plateau between March and early June. You should wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and take the jeep or a 4x4 to go to the plateau. The ride takes about an hour. To get to the bird spot you should do a little walk and try to see the main species of the Aladag mountains.You can watch birds until around 9 o’clock depending on the situation. After when you return pension you can have a breakfast and you can take a nap. If you want to, you could also stay at the plateau and explore the area a bit more by making a 2-3 hours walk.
In the afternoon you can visit Emli Valley or the Cımbar Canyon to watch different types of birds, such as Bimaculated Lark, Eagle Owl, Red fronted Serin, Wallcreeper, Blue rock thrush, White throted Robin, Lammergier, Golden eagle, Snowfinch, Finch’s wheatear, Chukar, Alpine accentor, Isabelline Wheatear, Scops Owl, Rock bunting, Ortolon bunting or Rock sparrow.
2. Chromium mine above Pinarbası village (3.150 metres)
You can visit this wild and high area when the summer starts in July until it finishes at the end of October. After early June it becomes hard to find and see the Snowcocks on Demirkazik or Arpalik plateau, because snowcocks and other species follow the snow and so should you in order to spot those birds.
3. Alaca plateau (3.000 metres)
The first time Snowcocks were seen in this area was by my father Ali Şafak (as a guide) and Dave Gosney in 1992. You can read their story in ‘Finding Birds in Turkey’. This area cannot be reached by jeep or 4x4 drive. So in order to get there you have to camp one day.
Nearby birdwatching areas to visit.
You can find a lot of bird species in the Aladaglar. But I am also happy to tell you other birding areas in Turkey, such as: Van Lake, Kulu Lake (best bird lake in Turkey), Sultan Marshes (number and variety of ducks which can be very impressive), Seyfe Lake (famous flamingo area), Konya (Eregli Marshes) and Göksu Delta (southwest of Mersin and passing the Tarsus Delta) where there are over 300 bird species among others: Warblers, Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Herons Gulls, Nightingales and Flamingos. In the south near Gaziantep there is the bird colony of Birecik at the river Euphrates where the Northern Bald Ibis gets its rest while flying North or South. Here you can also find the Rufous Bush Robin, Desert Finch, Yellow-throated Sparrow, Syrian Woodpecker, Barn Owl and if lucky the Eagle Owl. Northwest of Gaziantep - my hometown - there is Yeşilce. This area is famous for some very special birds including the Red-tailed Wheatear, Great Eastern, Rock Nuthatch and White-throated Robin
As you can see there are many possibilities for birdwatchers. To get to the places you can organise transport fron rental car companies. For birdwatching into the mountains you have to use jeep, tractor or 4x4 wheel drives. At some points you have to walk of course, but we can arrange lunch and small picnics so basically the only thing you have to do is enjoy and take pictures and watching birds.
For a full list of all birds to be seen in our area check this pdf.