When we started to plan our WP year and the first time heard of, and read about the birding site in southern Turkey called Birecik, we were fantasising over the amount of good WP species that were possible to find in that area. However, as the year has gone by, we have one by one found those good species in other countries. By now, we only had three remaining target species in Birecik.
We still were missing the Pale Rock-sparrow and Emin Yoğurtcuoğlu provided a spot close to Sanliurfa which was good both for the Sparrow, but even more interesting, See-see Partridge. At sunrise we drove on the dirt road into the right habitat. The Partridges were common, this was a bird we had been worrying quite a bit over.
We searched the area for hours for the Pale Rock-sparrow. We found a small pond in the dry area which attracted quite a few nice birds.
Crested Lark were ridiculously common everywhere. We’ll never forget the easily recognisable call of the Crested Lark for the remainder of our lives.
As opposed to the Nemrit Dagi, Finch’s Wheatear was common in this area.
No Pale Rock-sparrow though, and eventually we gave up. On the way out from the good habitat, through an industrialised area a Little Owl perched wonderfully.
Now, on to Pale Rock-sparrow. On our Facebook chat, Jani Vastamäki suggested to search the area around Yeniakpinar. We went there and spread out with the Walki-talkies. Short-toed and Lessed Short-toed Larks were extremely common in the area.
Mårten finally stumbles on to a nest of the Pale Rock-sparrow with a nesting female, and the male singing nearby. Took pictures and withdrew quickly.
Possibly the most boring bird in the Collin’s guide, but the more you bird, the more interesting the so called LBJs or Little Brown Jobs become. So, not boring at all, on the contrary, amazing.
Drove down to the wonderful little city of Birecik. The war in Syria is evidently near. Refugee camps along the road, and people we spoke to had recently lived in Kobane, occupied by Daesh devils just recently. On the Turkish side life goes on as usual though. On the way into the city, on a cliff we see the first of several Northern Bald Ibises.
We’re not sure if these birds are tickable, a few years ago the Ibises were extinct from this area and they have been re-introduced. Cool bird nevertheless. The ones we saw were all ringed.
Evening walk along the reeds of the mighty Euphrat river.
Soon we hear the target bird, the Iraq Babbler calling in the reeds.
In the last light, a group of Dead-sea Sparrows came chattering.
So, half a year ago, we though we were going to spend a week in Birecik – how wrong we were. On the other hand, Birecik has always been the placeholder as a backup site for various birds. Like Menetrie’s Warbler – if we don’t see it here, we’ll pick it in Birecik we have said. As it turned out, we only had three birds here, the Pale Rock-sparrow, the See-see Partridge and the Iraq Babbler.