The Sultan Marshes

After spending the night in a hotel in Urgup, which cost about 10 each we headed to the Sultan Marshes. On the way there we saw a juvenile Imperial Eagle on a telegraph pole fairly close to the roadside and just before reaching the marshes we saw two Egyptian Vultures and a Black Kite circling over the hillsides that surround the marshes.

We followed the map in the updates section of Gosneys guide and headed down a track alongside Kanal II. No Pygmy Cormorants were seen in the canal which contained mostly tall reeds. However, there were large numbers of Great Reed Warblers in the canal and Black-headed Wagtails, Calandra Larks and the occasional Bimaculated Lark were seen on the track. Before reaching Yay Golu the track was blocked and we took a left turn over a bridge over the canal heading towards Soysali (I think?) and ended up more or less driving over a meadow where we saw a Green Sandpiper. Once on the main road it was possible to stop and scope over a low bank to what I assume was Yay Golu and other marshy areas.

Marsh transport In this area we saw numerous White Storks, a Black Stork, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron and Greater Flamingo. An Eleonoras Falcon could also be seen in the distance hunting over the marsh along with a profusion of Marsh Harriers.

Having our fill of these birds we headed off and eventually found Ovaciftlik (not easily) where we parked at one of the tea houses to purchase a boat trip through the marshes. At a cost of 30 I thought this a little expensive, but needs must as there was no obvious way of walking through the marsh and after seeing the number of snakes on the marsh I wouldn,t recommend it.

We walked from the tea house to the boat, a small punt, with our guide, the owners son who spoke no english at all, but who pointed out several birds to us throughout the boat journey. Before reaching the boat we had seen a Great Spotted Cuckoo flying over, several Squacco Herons close to the landing point and a Lesser Spotted Eagle hunting low over the marsh.
A short stroll The first part of the journey through the reedbed was fairly quiet for birds with nothing on the water. A few Great Reed Warblers could be heard in the reeds and Black-headed Wagtails, Squacco Herons and Little Egrets were seen overhead. However, their were large numbers of dragonflies, the most interesting being Norfolk Aeshna. In the water were a great many Pond Terrapins and several snakes which looked like some type of viper.

After punting for approximately 1 hour we landed the boat and walked through the reeds to the main lake. Whilst walking we saw and heard Marsh Warbler, Reed Warbler, Moustached Warbler and Savi's Warbler, the latter being very prominent on the tops of the reeds.
Main Lake On reaching the main lake we looked through a gap in the reeds. On the lake were Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck and a good number of Pygmy Cormorant, which could be seen fishing and flying to and from the lake. The birds here were excellent as all were in breeding plumage.
After viewing the lake for about an hour, whilst standing on a snake, which I didn't see until I moved and it shot off into the water, we headed back to the tea house for a well earned drink. Beware! the drinks here are expensive and it would be best to take your own. I think that if you are prepared to barter the price of the boat journey may also be reduced a little.

On the whole I think it was probably worth the 30 we spent as it was the only area of marsh that appeared to be left in central Turkey and the young lad who punted us through the marsh was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the trip.

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