Birding in Van

The trip from Georgia to Lake Van, in eastern Turkey was a bit awkward. We flew via Istanbul, an alternative would actually have been a bus trip from Tbilisi to Van. Had a bit of luck with the rental car at Van airport. This is the second time we are sloppy entering the arrival time at the airport, and when we arrive the car is gone. A local company had a car though, which was better than the one we had booked. We want to return the car in Antalya, making car rental a bit more complicated.

Van appears to be a very nice little city, friendly atmosphere, restaurants everywhere. It appears as if European visitors are rare here too, wherever we go people gawk curiously, albeit friendly.

First day birding started with pouring rain, thus we got a few well deserved extra hours of sleep. In the late morning, we went to a spot an hour away we received by Emin Yoğurtcuoğlu, turkish top birder who has been very helpful. It is very valuable to have a local birder to talk to when visiting foreign countries, Emin is the guy!

Just after a few kilometers up the mountain side, we connect with the first target bird. We hear it singing, and soon see it.

Grey-necked Bunting
Grey-necked Bunting

A very good WP bird, soon after we hear (and see poorly) over flying Crimson-winged finches. Very characteristic flight and call, after a few kilometers more up the mountain we get close.

Crimson-winged Finch
Crimson-winged Finch

The price bird of this mountain though is the Mongolian Finch. This is a bird Mårten has searched for in Armenia on numerous occasions without ever finding the bird. The tactic according to Emin Yoğurtcuoğlu is to just sit and wait at the spot. We do that for a while but soon get restless and spread out. After an hour or so, we find one, and then later two birds.

Mongolian Finch
Mongolian Finch

What we thought was going to be one of the hardest birds to locate in Turkey bagged on the first day.

Happy Campers
Happy Campers

Down by the car again, we see a couple of Black-headed Buntings. We’ll probably see lots of those as we travel Turkey. And finally, driving down the mountain we’re talking about Bimaculated Lark, and Mårten reads from the Collins Guide – They like high elevation area, just where agriculture is almost not longer possible. We all look out and say, well that’s here then and stop the car. First thing we hear is a singing Bimaculated Lark high in the sky.

Bimaculated Lark
Bimaculated Lark

Six new ticks in a day, we’ll probably never do that again during the year. Or maybe on Madeira in August!!

4 thoughts on “Birding in Van”

  1. Hi guys, Great job! What was the sixth tick this beautiful Day? Is it safe to go to eastern Turkey these days? Kaj

  2. Hi! Great trip to lake Van! We also think of going there in June:
    Could you send us more detailed information about good birding spots?
    Is driving a rental car ok in that area? Did you have police controls?
    We wish you a successful BY,
    Klemens

    1. Car rental easy, hotels easy. Buy the Gosney leaflet over the area. Check ebird and Observado for spots. Check coordinates on our pictures at klacke.smugmug.com
      Good luck
      /klacke

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