June 15, 2015, Gaziantep, Turkey — First thing this morning, Emin and I climbed into Aladaglar National Park to look for a few mountain birds. Aladaglar, in south-central Turkey, holds a range of rugged peaks stacked together like gnarled petrified wood, and among these summits live a few specialties: Yellow-billed Chough, Caspian Snowcock, White-winged Snowfinch, Finsche’s Wheatear, and Alpine and Radde’s accentors. We shivered next to a snowfield in intermittent rain showers until we had seen them all.
My favorite was the Crimson-winged Finch, a bird which reminded me of the rosy-finches in North American mountains. One landed on a rock not far away so I could admire its pink wings, tail, and face. I suppose not everyone would appreciate this bird (it’s small and mostly brown), but to me it seemed beautiful.
From the mountains, we descended toward Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast to spend the afternoon at Tuzla Lake, a large flat wetland with lots of habitat for shorebirds. There, two reporters from the country’s main news network met us for an in-the-field interview, of which I understood basically nothing save a few questions which were translated by Emin into English. When in doubt, smile and nod, smile and nod!
New birds today: 33
Year list: 2975