Saturday, 28 January 2012

Some sea birds at Istanbul

I said in my last blog that my next one would be on Saudi Arabia. However my business in Istanbul en route to Saudi Arabia took a day less than expected. As a result I had a free day to bird in Istanbul.

I started my birding on the coast of the Bosporus just south of the tourist attraction of the Topkapi.  The birding was so varied I am making three blogs out of it. The first is about the sea birds I saw.

black headed gull (adult - left and immature - right)

It began as a miserable, wet if quite warm day. However I wasn't miserable. It's good to have unexpected, carefree free time. 

View across the Bosporus from Europe to Asia

Walking passed a ferry terminal I immediately saw dozens of black headed gull in a small car park. One or two had started to gain their spring plumage. The chocolate brown head was beginning to appear.

 plenty of black headed gulls

Out and about were a smaller number of yellow legged gull.

yellow legged gull

Much of the action though was over the narrow sea which separates Europe from Asia. There were many more black headed gull and yellow legged gull in and over the water, often following the ships and ferries.


However the most striking feature was the fly past  and fishing of dozens of cormorant. Or at least I thought they were cormorant until closer inspection.


Looking at a bird fishing near the shore I realised I had been too hasty. It was a shag not a cormorant. Scanning the flying birds I discovered about a quarter of the birds were actually shag.


The other water bird I saw were coot. They were tamely gathering in small artificial inlet of the Bosphorus. 

plenty of coot in a bay

The only thing preventing them from coming even closer was the large number of feral cats which seem to live inside the collection of granite rocks piled up for miles along the shore as sea protection. 

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