Monday, 30 January 2012

Exotic birds in the tea gardens

My last hour and a half birding Istanbul on Thursday was spent in the Topkapi tea gardens. This attractive area has plenty of very tall trees and well manicured grass.  

Superficially it looks peaceful but this was soon punctuated by a screeching I immediately recognised.

rose ringed parakeet

It was not long before I saw the first rose ringed parakeet. The tall sheltered trees are ideal habitat for these birds.

alexandrine parakeet

Moving on through the gardens I realised that some of the parakeets were larger. In fact more than half of them were Alexandrine parakeet. This was a lifer for me and a very pleasant surprise. My first edition of Helms guide "Birds of the Middle East" doesn't show it present in the region outside the Persian Gulf area.

mating alexandrine parakeet

They certainly looked like they are breeding there. The two birds above were actually mating.   

grey heron

Just as surprisingly as the sight of a Alexandrine parakeet was the sight of a heronry high in the trees. Furthermore, it was a semi-occupied heronry. Some of the grey heron were re-enforcing nests ready for breeding.  

grey heron on a nest

I don't know whether the grey heron have been there all winter however a couple of them at least were mobbed by the hooded crow in the gardens. I think this action is more likely for returning herons. The crows are certainly fighting a losing battle judging by the size of the herony.

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