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If You Are Ever in Istanbul – 10,000 Birds


    Turkey appears to be having a second proper now. A shocking variety of our Mexican buddies wish to go there — get this — as a result of they love Turkish cleaning soap operas. And there are, amazingly sufficient, direct flights from Mexico Metropolis to Istanbul. I want we may have taken that flight, since we really took 4 flights to finally discover our approach there, on our latest Outdated World journey. (Flights #6 and eight additionally led to Istanbul.) Main kudos to Turkish Airways, by the way in which; I can’t bear in mind the final time I had a sizzling sandwich on a one-hour flight.

    As I discussed final week, our journey to Turkey was work-related. And Istanbul was solely a obligatory intermediate level for reaching our actual Turkish vacation spot. Nonetheless, it’s a world-class metropolis, so we selected to spend 24 hours there. And birding was undoubtedly not the principle function of this 5-week journey. (Not that that ever stops me.) So, we headed not into bird-heavy pure areas, however straight into the middle of this two-and-a-half-millenium-old metropolis. May I probably see some birds there?

    We took a bus, then a taxi, into the realm simply south of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. (Vacationer observe: Except you converse Turkish, take the taxi from the airport for the mounted value of fifty Euros. That sounds costly, however our makes an attempt at saving cash ended up costing extra. Higher but, wait to go till the brand new airport metro line to open, as is meant to occur quickly.)

    We stayed within the Dersaadet Lodge, an Ottoman Mansion from the late 1800s. This constructing is an efficient 200 m (660 ft) from the Bosporus. Nevertheless it has an exquisite roof terrace from which to look at birds on the waterway, in addition to on the close by rooftops. (One other vacationer observe: the complementary breakfast was considerably lower than lower than fantastic on the morning of our keep. Go for the birds, and the outdated constructing; they’re price it.)

    Whereas the town birds are unlikely to shock most Europeans, there supplied a number of good surprises for an American like me. Some needed to be seen at a distance, others prefer to stand up shut and private. Seabirds have been simply shut sufficient for pretty dependable IDs:

    The daring white main edges on the gull wings advised me these have been Black-headed Gulls. The shortage of black heads advised me they’d switched to winter plumage.

    A few of the many cormorants appeared noticeably bigger than others. Since Pygmy Cormorants appear to want inland waters, this implies I used to be seeing each Nice Cormorants and Europeans Shags. These floating gulls have been most likely Yellow-legged Gulls, however I noticed a couple of in flight that seemed to be Mediterranean Gulls.

    This 2nd-year winter Yellow-legged Gull wished me to get an excellent have a look at him. I’m fairly positive he wouldn’t have complained in regards to the high quality of our complementary breakfast, had I chosen to share it. Immature Yellow-legged Gulls have pink legs, as a result of, nicely, after all they do.

    Finally, their legs do flip yellow. And, apparently, they really feel fairly good about it.

    Some Alpine Swifts flew shut sufficient for me to get a great have a look at them. Which was very form, as a result of they have been considered one of my two lifers for the morning. My different lifer, the Laughing Dove, would change into fairly widespread within the Center East.

    Imagine it or not, we don’t see European Starlings in central Mexico. For those who ignore their invasive nature, they are surely beautiful little birds.

    We additionally don’t have any magpies in central Mexico, which is a pity. So I appreciated this lone Eurasian Magpie making its look. I like magpies.

    Istanbul is a metropolis of many mosques, and whereas our resort was fairly near the well-known Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, one set of minarets was even nearer. Now, for the vacationer, a close-by minaret means the decision to prayer will wake you up early every morning. However to Hooded Crows, a minaret apparently means… playtime! This went on for at the very least so long as I used to be prepared to look at.

    Chances are you’ll discover that the tip of the minaret has spikes hooked up. Apparently, minarets additionally imply perching, when allowed. So that they don’t.

    So, in case you are ever in downtown Istanbul, the excellent news is that there can be birds — even if in case you have dedicated to a strict plan of tourism. We have now our methods of getting round these limitations.