Antalya to Cukubag
This was to be THE day of travelling – Google directions excitedly mapped out a journey of 8 hours and 40 minutes from Antalya to our target of Cukurbag. While we didn’t reach the pension until 10˝ hours later, this was in part due to some excellent birding during part of the journey. If we hadn’t stopped, it’s likely that we would have spent more like 7 hours or so on the road. The journey was very varied, passing through 4 distinct phases:
· From Antalya to the turn off to the North just after Manavgat on the coast road was busy, sprawling, and uninteresting
· More or less as soon as we left this coast road, we gained altitude through some impressive montane areas. The views were good enough to sustain interest on their own, but one or two decent birds were also thrown in – kicked off by a handsome male Black-eared Wheatear, this was the only area where we saw Blue Rock Thrushes on the journey
· The trip from Seydisehir to just South of Nigde, which was the main part of the journey, was through monotonous and on the whole boring flat arable land, with very few birds to show (Hoopoe during our sandwich break was the highlight)
· We decided to take a minor road from the South of Nigde to Camardi, which ran West to East, and took what was probably a much better birding road than the two suggested from the Ozsafak Pension directions
All of the best birding of the day was spent on this road, and this started almost as soon as we joined it, with Lesser Grey Shrikes, Corn Bunting and larks along the way. One of the best spots was about two thirds of the way along, in open upland, where we kept stopping for 5 different species of larks, of which Bimaculated Lark was the most obvious, and possibly also the most numerous. Black-headed Buntings were also common here, with Isabelline Wheatear verging on the abundant. A group of Rock Sparrows continued to be mobile, but mammalian interest in the form of European Ground Squirrels were much more approachable.