Having only been to the gravel pits in the heat of the day, we decided to spend the last morning here again, but hopefully in somewhat cooler temperatures, and also with less of the works traffic going past. Both worked. We initially went past the main gravel pits, towards the workings at the end (which was also at the bend in the river). This was the best spot for close views of European Bee-eater, which were hawking dragonflies from the water and then landing on the reeds. We spent some time here, and this also gave time to dig out a couple of Iraq Babblers.
After spending some time here, we headed back to the main pools, parked up the car, and wandered around for some time. Dead Sea Sparrows were much more evident than on the first visit, and a small party of Iraq Babblers was found in a similar place, but more in the open this time. A couple of Great Reed Warblers were again singing from the reeds, and an unexpected Menetries Warbler was closer to. For the first time, a Pied Kingfisher flew over the pools, caught a fish, and headed in a straight direction back towards the gravel pits workings. As we walked back, we also had 3 Little Bitterns flying over the reeds. 2 landed next to one of the pools, giving distant views of one of the birds.
With the heat rising and bellies calling, we popped into the graveyard back along the track to search for Yellow-throated Sparrows. House and Dead Sea Sparrows were abundant around the large site, but no sign of the more mundane quarry. However, a singing Rufous-tailed Bush Robin was more than adequate compensation.
Another long but decent journey from Birecik found us quite some way West, in the small resort town of Tasucu, the base for the Goksu Delta. The roads were a lot more acceptable than the initial part of the first leg to Birecik, with a lot of the driving on motorways. All but the last 80km or so, which were on the E400, which passes through a lot of faceless and slow moving towns. Since Tasucu is a resort type of town, there is a reasonable choice of accommodation. There are three obvious hotels on the through road, with more in the centre of town. We were happy with our choice on the main road of the Hotel Fatih, since it had working air conditioning and also free wifi (and the rooms were clean and basic but more than served our needs).
The heat of the day had subsided by the time we went in search of the Goksu Delta. A little has changed since the publication of the Gosney guide – we turned on to the track next to the derelict paper factory opposite an orange “TTNET” sign, and noticed that the Delta was also signposted here (the one and only sign). This track followed a dry man made concrete “canal” to the left, and the bridge over this was eventually met. The best way is then to go straight on over the bridge, and then turn right after 100m through the centre of the holiday village. This eventually got us on to the old airstrip. A short way after the end of the airstrip, the observation tower was clearly signposted, and we turned left down the track to investigate. There was a nice cooling breeze at the tower platform, and the extent of the lagoons could clearly be seen. Apart from a couple of distant Mute Swans and ducks spp shimmering in the heat, the only excitement was a female Marsh Harrier, marked with unusually white shoulder patches. A calling finch caused some consternation, due to its unusually large convex curved upper mandible, but this turned out to be a young Greenfinch.
The majority of the track which we followed was bounded to the left by reed fringed lagoon, and on the right by open scrub. Most of the birds were on the lagoon side, but a couple of White Storks and small numbers of Spur-winged Plovers were to the scrub side. The birds at the edge of the lagoon were mainly Kentish Plovers, with smaller numbers of Purple Heron, Little Egrets, Great White Egret, and Ruddy Shelduck. A single Temmick’s Stint was picked out of a handful of Kentish Plovers. One of the latter took off to hassle an overflying Marsh Harrier.