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By any criterion, Turkey is a remarkablecountry. Standing at the crossroadsbetween Europe, Asia and Africa ithas always occupied a position of globalimportance and, for over a thousand years,was the heartland of the mighty EasternRoman Byzantine Empire which wasadministered from the magnificent capitalcity of Constantinople, known today asIstanbul. Later it became the centre of theOttoman Empire which extended beyondthe Mediterranean into North Africa andArabia and lasted for over 500 years untilthe foundations of modern Turkey were laiddown at the beginning of the 20th century.Archaeological remains of this colourfulhistory are found throughout the countryand included in this Naturetrek tour will bevisits to Ephesus and Hierapolis, two of thebest-preserved classical sites in the world!Turkey is also a wonderful destination forthe naturalist, especially in the spring. Bymid-April the stream of migrant birdsarriving from Africa has grown into averitable flood, bringing shrikes - includingMasked Shrike - to adorn roadsidetelephone wires and filling the air with thesong of countless Nightingales andwarblers. Coastal lagoons are crowded withflamingoes, pelicans, terns and migratingwaders, while the mountain forests echo tothe distinctive nasal call of the Krüper'sNuthatch. Throughout the countryside ofwestern Turkey, nature celebrates the newseason with vivid displays of colourprovided by the plumages of Bee-eaters,Rollers and Hoopoes and, above all, theprofusion of anemones, buttercups, orchidsand other wild flowers transforming themeadows with the brightness of theirblooms. Our tour begins with a flight to Izmir, theancient city of Smyrna and the third largestin Turkey. We will quickly escape the hustleand bustle, however, with a visit to theGediz Delta. The saltpans on the edge ofthe delta are home to 4,000 pairs of GreaterFlamingoes, plus colonies of MediterraneanGulls, Dalmatian Pelicans and a variety ofterns. Numerous migrating waders feed inthe shallows, while overhead patrol LannerFalcon, Marsh Harrier and the occasionalPallid Harrier, and in nearby villages springis announced by the arrival of White Storksand Lesser Kestrels.Next we transfer to the coastal town ofKusadasi, our base for two nights while weenjoy a pleasant mixture of natural historywalks and archaeological excursions,including a visit to the legendary city ofEphesus, one of the best-preservedclassical sites in the world and once theRoman capital of Asia. Nearby, DilekNational Park offers the most pristineMediterranean habitat in western Turkey andlies on the beautiful Aegean coast oppositethe Greek island of Samos. Above themaquis-covered slopes soar a variety ofraptors including Bonelli's Eagle, Peregrine,Eleonora's Falcon and perhaps a migrantLesser Spotted Eagle or Black Kite.Subalpine, Rüppell's and Orphean Warblerssing side by side from the low scrub, whileKrüper's Nuthatches inhabit the extensivetracts of Callabrian Pine and RockNuthatches scold noisily from their boulder-strewn haunts. Interesting flora includes theEastern Strawberry Tree, Oriental Bugle,Mandrake and a dazzling array of orchidsincluding Anatolian Orchid, Holy Orchid,Toothed Orchid and the endemicCephalanthesa kotschyaria.South of Dilek National Park lies the vastalluvial plain of the River Menderes and thefreshwater Lake Bafa. This area is home tolarge numbers of egrets and herons, alongwith White Pelicans, Spur-winged Plovers,Pygmy Cormorants, Ruddy Shelducks,Long-legged Buzzards and a variety ofmigrating waders. In the drier countrysidenearby we will enjoy a variety of westernTurkey's passerines including MaskedShrike, Rüppell's Warbler, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Isabelline Wheatear and the shyOlive-tree Warbler.For our final two nights we climb along theRiver Menderes to the town of Denizli, whichlies at an altitude of about 1,000 metres.From here we visit the ancient city ofHierapolis, a World Heritage Site which sitsatop an area of geothermal hot springs andthe terraced white calcium cliffs ofPamukkale (the 'Cotton Castle'). Hierapoliswas founded as a thermal spa early in the2nd century and today is one of the best-preserved classical cities in Turkey. Finally,as the birds and flowers beckon once more,we will end our tour with a visit to the salineLake Acigöl and freshwater Isikli Gölü.Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Slender-billedGull, Ferruginous Duck and Red-crestedPochard are all possible here, although itwill be the surrounding Central AnatolianSteppe and juniper scrubland that is likelyto produce the most exciting birds such asOrphean and Rüppell's Warbler andFinsch's Wheatear. If fortunate, we mayeven end the holiday with views of thebeautiful White-throated Robin - a fittingfinale to our time in Turkey before we retraceour steps back to Izmir to catch our returnflight home.Western Turkey - Birds,Flowers & History An 8-day wildlife holiday to the eastern Mediterranean to enjoy the birds, flowers and archaeologicalhighlights of western Turkey, a country at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa. Tuesday 16th April - Tuesday 23rd April Cost: £1,395Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Izmir.Day 2/3Kusadasi.Day 4/5Lake Bafa.Day 6/7Denizli.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotels withprivate facilities.FoodAll breakfasts and dinners areincluded in the price. Lunches arenot included; allow £5-£10 per day.GradingA. Gentle day walks only.FocusBirds, flowers andhistory/archaeology.LeadersAndy Harding and Kerem Ali Boyla.Single room supplement£195.Web quick search: TUR02150Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryTURKEYAEGEAN SEAEPHESUSKUSADASIDENIZLILAKE BAFAHIERAPOLISMOUNT BOZDAGIZMIRDILEKNATIONAL PARKOrchis italicaEphesusWhite-throated Robin

For a thousand years the seeminglyimpregnable fortresses ofConstantinople exemplified thestrength and dominance of the EasternRoman, or Byzantine, Empire. Then, as theRoman influence diminished, the citybecame the heart of the ascendantOttoman Empire, a rule that would last intothe 20th century, until the gradual evolutionof the present Turkish Republic. Throughoutthis vast span of history, Istanbul (formerlyConstantinople) has always been at thecentre of the world stage and each passingdynasty has left reminders of theirpresence in the architecture of the old city.Today, with Turkey seeking membership ofthe EU, the country is once again lookingtowards the future as part of Europe, butthe blend of cultural influences in Istanbulhave helped create one of the mostfascinating and cosmopolitan cities in the world. The location of Istanbul, at the junction ofEurope and Asia, is also directly on thetraditional migration route for vast numbersof storks, birds of prey and other diurnalmigrants which use the thermals developingover the surrounding hills to soar and glideacross the waters of the Bosphorus.Although this phenomenon has been notedfor centuries, it was not until intensivewatches were organised in the 1960s thatthe true scale of this remarkable trafficbegan to be fully appreciated. Teams ofobservers carefully counted each passingflock of raptors and storks from vantagepoints on the Camlica Hills and the resultingcounts demonstrated that, during thesouthward autumn passage, in excess of70,000 raptors, 6,000 Black and 200,000White Storks choose to depart from Europeby this ancient fly-way. We capture the bestof both worlds in this 9-day tour whichcombines comprehensive sightseeing ofIstanbul with the exciting prospect ofwitnessing the spectacular raptor passageover the city. Like all migration movements,the prevailing weather conditions will be acrucial element in our success, but bystaying at an hotel near the famous CamlicaHills we have the flexibility to make last-minute decisions about each day'sprogramme, devoting more time to theobservation points when warranted but,during quieter moments, catching a ferryacross the Bosphorus to explore thewonders of Istanbul. With so much history todraw upon, the city has enough attractionsto occupy a visitor for weeks, but among the'must see' buildings is the extraordinaryHaghia Sophia, the triumph of Byzantinearchitecture that for over a millenium was thelargest enclosed space on the planet. Anequally impressive edifice of the Moslemfaith is the massive Blue Mosque and furtherbreathtaking examples of Moslem art arecontained in the Topkapi Palace. Thismagnificent trio of buildings would be reasonenough to visit Istanbul, but our experiencedlocal guide will be keen to show us manymore facets of this remarkable city.Watchers from the Camlica Hills will findtheir vigil an exhilarating experience aswave after wave of migrants spiral into thethermals and drift away south, only to bereplaced by yet more birds using the samemethod to cross the water. There is arelentless momentum to these dailymovements; when conditions areunsuitable only the occasional bird will beseen, but as soon as the avian log-jam isreleased by a change in the weather, theresulting stream of raptors and storkscreate the kind of unforgettable spectaclethat the Bosphorus is famous for. With themigration period extending from August toOctober, no one week tour can capture thepeak for all species, but statistically thetiming of our visit should ensure we arepresent for some spectacular movementsinvolving White and Black Storks, LesserSpotted, Short-toed, Booted and ImperialEagles, Black Kites, 'Steppe' Buzzards andLevant Sparrowhawks, with good chancesof appearances by less numerous travellerssuch as Spotted Eagle, Griffon andEgyptian Vultures, Osprey, harriers, Hobby,and Eleonora's and Red-footed Falcons.Stand by for the field guide illustrations tocome to life in this remarkable pageant ofraptors and storks!As a diversion from looking skyward, we also include a 2-day excursion toUludag, with an overnight stay in nearbyBursa. Uludag is the highest mountain inWestern Anatolia and in addition to easilyaccessible montane scenery, a visit offersthe chance of seeing such species asKrüper's Nuthatch, Alpine Accentor, AlpineChough and Red-fronted Serin. It may seem strange for a bird tour to becentred in a huge city, but it should alreadybe evident that Istanbul is no ordinarymetropolis and regardless of the vagariesof migration we are assured a mostunusual and entertaining week. Turkey - Istanbul &the Bosphorus Migration A 9-day tour to observe visible migration over the Bosphorus and to investigate the rich cultural heritage of Istanbul. Saturday 14th September - Sunday 22nd September Cost: £1,395Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationTURKEYBLACK SEASEA OFMARMARAAEGEAN SEABULGARIATURKEY(THRACE)GREECEULUDAGISTANBULBOSPHORUSOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Istanbul.Day 2/3 Migration-watching andsightseeing, Istanbul.Day 4/5Uludag; overnightBursa.Day 6/8Migration-watching andsightseeing, Istanbul.Day 9Fly London.AccommodationA 2-centre holiday usingcomfortable tourist hotels withprivate facilities. FoodBreakfast and evening meals areincluded in the tour cost. Pleaseallow £5-£10 per day for lunches.GradingGrade A. A leisurely birdwatchingand sightseeing tour, includinggentle walking. FocusBirds and sightseeing in Istanbul.LeadersAndy Harding and Kerem Ali Boyla.Single room supplement£125.Web quick search: TUR01151Lesser Spotted EagleIstanbul