This week has been pretty busy. Lots of different field work which always keeps me on my toes.
The first birding day was spent with Mat. I took him to 4 different wetland sights. Kalkanli, Gonyeli, Haspolat and Balikasir. The weather first thing in the morning was really hazy, so for half an hour or so we danced around and sang along to gangsta rap. As you do… I love showing everyone the different birding sights. They always react really nicely and say how beautiful they are. That’s the thing with birding, most places are remote, beautiful and peaceful. Partner that with some amazing bird species and a flask of coffee and it’s pretty much a utopia. Anyway… The bird surveys went really well. We saw a good variety of species including my first ever red-crested pochard! The haspolat site is a working sewage plant. It was extremely smelly. But sewage attracts insects, which in turn, attracts birds. Cattle egrets were in the 100’s. Spur winged plover squawked overhead as they were flushed by the truck. Cetti’s warbler were bursting into song in the reeds surrounding us. If you ignore the sewage, it’s pretty nice. Honest. We drove away from the smell to stop for lunch. Unfortunately for us, about half way through our sandwiches, a huge truck came and unloaded lots of smelly waste right next to us. We managed to find the funny side. Unbeknownst to me, Sav and Stacey had been making a surprise banoffee pie for a belated birthday treat (it’s my all time favourite pudding). Mat had been the distraction. I arrived home to a glorious toffee, banana creation! I was so chuffed. The afternoon was spent learning about CPOD’s. These are devices that are attached to fishing nets in order to detect any dolphin activity (vocalisations). Today was the first day we had positive recordings. 8 minutes of dolphin clicks!
Mid week I had planned to meet Olkan to monitor the Bonelli’s eagle nest sites. This is a hush, hush operation as hunting pressure and illegal poisoning are a huge threat to these birds. Their whereabouts needs to be kept secret. The trip was temporarily postponed as I got a call from Robbo saying a small turtle had been caught in a fishing net in Lapta and that I had to go and teach the fisherman how to flipper tag it. Flipper tags are used for individual ID of the turtles. I took Stacey along and we arrived at the harbour to be greeted by a smiling Ertunc aka Billy. He showed us the turtle, a juvenile green. I talked him through the flipper tag procedure and took some body measurements and a biopsy. We released the turtle back into the Mediterranean sea and enjoyed a turkish coffee with our new fisherman friend. My planned day could then start. I met Olkan and we spent the day driving mountain roads in search for nests. We didn’t see any eagles but observed one nest and found a potential site for another pair. En-route we had the lovely opportunity of seeing a pair of sparrowhawks. I’ve never seen a pair together before. A beautiful adult female with a juvenile male. The juvenile kept coming back to investigate, not quite as cautious as his older mate…
Finally got to do some bird ringing this week. My first session since getting my C permit! I took Stacey along so she could do some observation. We met Robbo and set up the nets and we were joined by Damla later on. The session was quite slow, only a handful of birds. BUT…. I got to ring my first ever Cetti’s warbler and bluethroat! Such beauties! It’s always nice to get a ringing tick. The session had a negative turn though. We found 2 dead marsh harriers. They had been poisoned. We are not sure who, but someone had distributed chicken breasts laced with insecticide around the area (probably to kill stray dogs). The raptors ate the bait and died. A cat and a dog were also found dead. I could rant and rant about this. But I’m going to keep it simple. I just don’t understand this human behaviour. So after the ringing session we went to Bayrak radio station for an interview. It hasn’t aired yet but I will post a quick reminder for anyone that wants a listen!
In-between all of the field work I’ve been cracking on with my PhD. I’m shattered, but I love pushing myself! I can’t get enough experience and I’m feeling really good about my research!
What a fab week! Can’t wait for the next one!