Archive for the ‘Pamukkale’ Tag

2015 – That was the year that was   Leave a comment

With 2015 over this post looks back over the year at some of the places we have been, birds we have seen, music we have heard and people we have met.

Of course, much more detailed accounts can be found clicking on the relevant month from the list on the left of the screen (or sometimes the month after if the post was uploaded a while after the event).

IMG_4325 Purps

The year started with the traditional New Year’s Day bird boat, kindly arranged by Mark and Mo Constantine for Dorset birders. These Purple Sandpipers were photographed on the Sandbanks side of the chain ferry on 1/1/15 . Also in early January I took part in the annual winter bird race, recording an amazing 126 species in Dorset in 12 hours.

IMG_0533 Lear's Macaws

The first foreign trip was to NE Brazil which lasted more than three weeks but resulted in me seeing over 70 life birds – by far the most of any trip of the year. There were many highlights, one being cracking views of the wonderful Lear’s Macaw in a very dramatic setting.

IMG_1818 rainbow

Here I photographed the nearby town through a rainbow whilst staying at the lovely and very birdy Serra Bonita reserve.

IMG_2550 Rick Wakeman

As well as travelling we both have a keen interest in music – be it old favourites from my past like Rick Wakeman, whose keyboard skills in the band Yes were much appreciated in my youth ….

IMG_0315 Paloma Faith

…. to more modern acts like Paloma Faith. We saw Rick Wakeman in February and Paloma about a month later in Poole and Bournemouth respectively.

IMG_2841 North Cape

In early March we took advantage of a charter flight to Tromso in arctic Norway where we boarded the Hutigruten coastal steamer and journeyed around North Cape at the top of Norway in the hope of seeing the Aurora Borealis ….

IMG_2713 aurora (best)

…. which indeed we did on four nights out of five. We were lucky as some do this trip yet come away disappointed, but if we had gone about 10 days later we might have had a truly spectacular display as the aurora was seen as far south as Norfolk.

IMG_3665 Sandhills

We booked on the Birdquest tour to Colorado that started on April 1st but we spent the last week of March on our own touring Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The main reason for this visit was to see the incredible gathering of hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes on Nebraska’s Platte River. We also visited the Badlands of South Dakota ….

IMG_3987 Mt Rushmore

…. saw the Presidents heads at Mount Rushmore, the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and even drove into Montana to look for the ‘dental floss bushes’.

IMG_4439 WT Ptarmigan

For one reason or another I never got round to editing all my photos of Colorado nor did I post any on the blog but it was a superb trip and one of the highlights was finding these almost invisible White-tailed Ptarmigan at 12500 ft in the Rockies. Perhaps I can find time this year to sort out the Colorado pics.

IMG_7191 The Matterhorn

Early May saw us taking a fortnight in the Alps and southern France, seeing such wonders as the Matterhorn (above), Mont Blanc and the Eiger. I also saw what was probably the last regularly occurring European bird that I needed, the elusive Rock Partridge.

IMG_8055 Elizabeth and Marc

The whole trip was a prelude to attending Margaret’s nephew’s Mark’s wedding to Elizabeth in Donbirn in western Austria. The only downside to the trip was that I found out whilst there that my next tour, a cruise in far North-east Russia had been cancelled as the necessary permit hadn’t been issued by the Russians.

IMG_8656 WW Black Tern

Late spring brought some great birds to the Poole Harbour area, such as the Red-footed Falcon that hung around the Wareham water meadows or this White-winged Tern at Swineham gravel pits.

IMG_8606 Margaret

In June Margaret had the privilege of being invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. It was the centenary of the WI and each one of the 8000 or so WI groups across the UK was invited to send one representative.

IMG_8696 Moody Blues

Back to music again: we went to a very entertaining concert by the Moody Blues in June. Some great old songs with a great visual effects, the three founder members and four new ones all performed very well.


During the summer our group was asked to undertake an intensive radio tracking study on Eurasian Nightjars on one of the local heaths. The data is still being analysed but the initial results seem very interesting.

IMG_8786 Amber and Kara

At the end of the spring term our granddaughter Kara (R) left school to attend a sixth form college. During the summer she and a friend visited relatives in the Caribbean. Her sister Amber (L) left Dorset to study and work in Cornwall.

IMG_8829 Margaret & Jennie

Staying on the subject of family; during late June and early July Margaret and I visited her daughter in Essex and my brother in Derby. We also visited several sets of friends including Jennie, a friend from university days, seen here with Margaret at Wicken Fen reserve in Suffolk.

IMG_9006 Leds Town Hall

We continued on to Leeds where we spent time with Nigel, another friend from school and university days.

IMG_6416 Lytchett Heath dawn

Much of July and August (and indeed the rest of the autumn) was spent in our ongoing ornithological research at Lytchett Bay and Durlston. We were able to start ringing at a new and highly productive site at the north end of Lytchett Bay where this photo was taken soon after dawn.

IMG_9121 Hen Harrier Day Poster_edited-1

One issue that featured heavily during the summer was the campaign to save England’s remaining Hen Harriers. Although this has highlighted before on the blog it deserves repeating. All the evidence points to a systematic, ruthless and totally illegal program of raptor extermination in Britain’s uplands by a small number of people in an attempt to raise grouse stocks to hugely inflated numbers. The loss of these beautiful raptors is a national disgrace and the campaign for their protection will continue unabated in 2016.

IMG_6399 Killian and DIMW

We met many old friends at the Bird Fair in Augustand attended a number of talks. Without doubt the most inspiring was vetran birder Ian Wallace’s account of his best ever day’s birding. His contribution to ornithology and birding is immense. Here he is seen talking to another birding legend, Killian Mullarney fro Ireland.

IMG_6430 Wryneck DCP

Ringing continued on a regular basis throughout the autumn producing many interesting recoveries and useful data. The most unusual aspect was the enormous influx of Goldcrests in late October and November, but I suppose the individual bird that gave me the most pleasure was this Wryneck that I trapped at Durlston in September.

IMG_6437 Guy & Lila

It’s always good to stay in contact with old friends and it was good to see Guy Dutson in early September, back for a short visit from Australia with his daughter Lila.

IMG_0585 dawn Laguna Blanca

In late September/early October I went on a tour to Paraguay. The birding was excellent and the company good but it was very hot, particularly in the first week and the mammal sightings were disappointing. Compared the mountainous parts of South America, the scenery wasn’t that awe-inspiring, but the mists over Laguna Blanca at dawn were most photogenic.

IMG_0328 WW Nightjar

We saw some wonderful birds, non more so than these two species: White-winged Nightjar ….

SW Nightjar J Newman

…. and Sickle-winged Nightjar. The latter was of particular importance to me as it was the 8000th species I have seen. The bird was trapped by the tour leader as he is taking part in a research program on this threatened species and he wanted to see if it was one of the individuals he had already ringed. In my photo the bird has closed its eyes which looks less appealing so I have used one taken by my friend Jonathon Newman.

IMG_1444 Hagia Spohia

The last trip of the year was in late November to Turkey. It was a cultural, rather than a birding trip and we visited some great sites in Istanbul such as the magnificent Hagi Sophia ….

IMG_1769 calcite formations

…. and some natural one too like the beautiful calcite formations at Pamukkale.

IMG_2244 Jools Holland

Also in the latter part of the year we went to a couple more musical performances, veteran folk singer Judy Collins in Wimborne and Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at the BIC.

IMG_6777 Boxing Day dinner

And the year ended, as all years should with get togethers with family and friends at Christmas time.

As I said at the start each picture above is taken from a blog post during the year. If you wish to see more photos from that event then cloick on the relevant month on the side bar.

Well, may I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy 2016, if you are a birder like me, may the year bring you lots of excellent sightings, if you are not perhaps you ought to give it ago, buying a pair of binoculars and a field guide back in 1977 was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Turkey for £99 part 2: Troy, Sardis, Pamukkale and Laodicea – 27th – 29th November 2015   Leave a comment

For an explanation of why this wasn’t really ‘Turkey for £99’ see my first post on this trip, published a few days ago.

This post covers the second, third and part of the fourth day in Turkey and our journey from Istanbul in the European part of Turkey, across the Dardanelles, to the ruins of Troy, Sardis and Laodicea and the calcite formations at Pamukkale.

IMG_1678 Dardanelles ferry

it took all morning to drive along the northern shore of the Sea of Marmora to the ferry terminal at Kilitbahir.

IMG_1675 Ferry terminal European side

Here, accompanied by many Black-headed and a few Yellow-legged Gulls, we left Europe behind. Few other birds were seen on the crossing with the exception of a distant skua which was harrying Black-headed Gulls. From its size and jizz it looked like a Long-tailed. Whilst most skuas will travel from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to more southerly waters for winter via the coasts of Europe, those in central Siberia will follow rivers southwards and then head for the Black Sea and then on into the Med. Even so, seeing a skua this late in the year was a surprise.

IMG_1684 Galipoli memorial

The peninsula south of Kilibahir on the European side was the scene of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in WW1. There were over 200,000 British and ANZAC casualties and a similar from the Turkish side, yet little was achieved militarily. Here, photographed at some distance and from a moving bus, is the War Memorial to those who died at Gallipoli.

IMG_1690 Trojan war era walls

It was dry up to the moment we arrived at Hissarlik to see the ruins of Troy, it then started to rain and rained heavily until the moment we got back in the bus! Nine city levels have been excavated dating from 3000 BC until the start of Byzantine period, but the walls seen above have been dated to the 12th or 13th century BC, making them concurrent with the Troy of Homer’s Iliad ie the setting of the famous Trojan Wars. It is still a matter of debate whether the Homeric Troy actually existed, let alone whether any of Homer’s heroes are anything more than fictitious characters.

IMG_1695 Troy early levels

The earliest walls are not built with stone but with mud bricks and have been covered with an awning to protect them from the elements.

IMG_1700 Schliemann's ditch

The following is copied from Wikipedia: ‘In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık, and in 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale. These excavations revealed several cities built in succession. Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hisarlik with Troy, but was persuaded by Calver and took over Calvert’s excavations on the eastern half of the Hisarlik site, which was on Calvert’s property. Troy VII has been identified with the Hittite city Wilusa, the probable origin of the Greek Ἴλιον, and is generally (but not conclusively) identified with Homeric Troy’.


Schliemann’s young wife Sophia, wearing the ‘Jewel’s of Helen’ part of the so-called ‘Priam’s Treasure’ that he unearthed at the site. Schliemann smuggled the treasures out of Turkey to Germany where they were taken after WW2 by the Red Army and now reside in the Pushkin museum in Moscow. The level the treasure was found corresponds to Troy II, dated to about 2500 BC whilst the Troy of the Homeric tales lies at Troy VII some 1300 years later, so they have no association with Helen or King Priam! Photo taken in c1874 copied from Wikipedia.

IMG_1703 Troy layers

As I said before nine layers have been excavated at Troy and most can be seen in this photo. According to Wikipedia the layers have been dated as follows: Troy I 3000–2600 BC, Troy II 2600–2250 BC, Troy III 2250–2100 BC, Troy IV 2100–1950 BC, Troy V: 20th–18th centuries BC, Troy VI: 17th–14th centuries BC, Troy VIIa: c. 1300–1190 BC, most likely setting for Homer’s story, Troy VIIb: 12th century until c. 950 BC, Troy VIII: c. 700–85 BC, Troy IX: 85 BC–c. AD 500.

IMG_1710 Troy theatre

We were pretty wet by the time we reached this Roman theatre (apparently not an amphitheatre, as that only applies to theatres that do the full 360 degrees).

IMG_1715 the horse

The archaeology does not disprove that this site is the Troy of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey nor that there was a war between Greece and Troy; but was Helen of Troy abducted from Sparta by King Priam’s son Paris? did her ‘face launch a thousand ships’? did Hector and Achilles fight a duel? and was Achilles killed by an arrow to his only vulnerable spot, his heel? and finally did the Greeks take the city by hiding in a wooden horse? Journalists, then as now, never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

IMG_1716 Sardes temple

We stayed a bit further down the coast and we woke up the next morning to more wet and windy weather.

IMG_1728 Sardes temple

Today we headed inland to Sardis, to visit the Greek Temple to the goddess Artemis.


IMG_1726 Sardes temple

Unfortunately, like yesterday the rain started just as we arrived and eased off just as we left.

IMG_1732 Sardes temple

Dating to the third century BC, much of the temple became buried by landslides allowing for a high level of preservation.

IMG_1762 row of shops

A few miles away are a synagogue, a gymnasium and other buildings dating from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. These buildings were once a line of Byzantine shops.

IMG_1739 the Loo

And here the public toilets, with stone seats (rather too close for modern-day sensibilities) and channels of flowing water to provide the necessary sanitation. Apparently in cold weather slaves would be sent in advance to warm up the seats for their masters.

IMG_1746 gymnasium Sardes

We were surprised that we were allowed to walk on these wonderful mosaics close to the synagogue, but our guide said that there were so many ancient mosaics in Turkey, many with even better preservation than these, that is wasn’t deemed necessary to cordon them off.

IMG_1755 gymnasium Sardes

The partially restored Roman gymnasium was a fine sight, even on a wet day.

IMG_1757 gymnasium Sardes

The River Pactolus, that runs nearby, contains gold and silver washed down from the nearby mountains. In the 6th century BC during the reign of King Croesus metallurgists learned how to separate gold and silver by smelting and produced coins of great purity and value, which made the king very wealthy and led to the phrase ‘as rich as Croesus’.

IMG_1758 gymnasium Sardes

The legend of King Midas, who was granted his wish by the god Dionysus to turn everything he touched into gold, appears to originate in this area. The story says that after he accidentally turned his daughter into gold he pleaded with Dionysus to remove the ‘gift’ and was told to wash it away in the River Pactolus. King Midas’ golden touch can still be seen along the river banks today.

IMG_1759 Sardes

After a final look around the gymnasium we headed off to Pamukkale for the night.

IMG_1764 baloons

We woke the following morning to blue skies – at long last. These balloons are running sightseeing flights over the famous calcite formations of Pamukkale.

IMG_1765 calcite formations

It looks like snow but in fact it is white calcite formations, the name Pamukkale means ‘cotton castle’.

IMG_1777 calcite formations

The white rock is travertine ….

IMG_1784 calcite & baloon

….deposited by a series of hot springs.

IMG_1769 calcite formations

The hot water is super-saturated with calcium carbonate which comes out of solution as the water cools.

IMG_1766 calcite formations

The best views seem to from the hotel grounds at the top. I never found out if this was reserved for hotel guests but we were not offered the chance to go there.

IMG_1799 Syrian Road

We continued on to Laodicea, originally built in the 3rd century BC and occupied first by the Grecian and then Roman empires.

IMG_1789 Syrian Road

This (and the photo above) shows the so-called Syrian Road, a well-preserved Roman Road.

IMG_1812 Laodicea excavations

Excavations are still going on and we were able to walk on glass partitions that cover newly excavated areas.

IMG_1813 Laodicea

The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Emperor Nero in AD 60 but was restored by its inhabitants.

IMG_1807 Laodicea

The city is mentioned in the Bible in the Epistle to the Colossians and is mentioned as one of the seven churches of Asia Minor in the Book of Revelations.

IMG_1795 Laodicea

Many stones had interesting (presumably Roman) carvings.

IMG_1796 pipe connections Laodicea

This stone was used to connect stone pipes together, either to transport water or as part of the hypocaust for under floor heating.

IMG_1816 Black Redstart

Birding was good around the ruins with plenty of Black Redstarts (above) and Crested and Wood Larks. A group of eight Lesser Kestrels was unusual at this time of year. Of particular note was a Finch’s Wheatear, a winter visitor from eastern Turkey or Central Asia but it was flushed by a tourist before I could get a photo.

IMG_1821 m at Laodicea

Margaret enjoying the sights of Laodicea.

IMG_1826 Laodicea

A wonderful colonnade.

IMG_1808 group photo at Laodicea

We tried to get a group photo but people kept leaving the group to take their own shots. There were 32 clients plus the guide Sarkan (crouched at the front) so I suppose I did well to get 28 in one shot.

IMG_1832 Laodicea

After the tour we were given just 20 minutes to go round on our own ….

IMG_1805 Laodicea

…. I would have liked a lot more time as not only was the architecture awe-inspiring but the birding was good too. 

IMG_1829 Laodicea

So with a final shot of the colonnade (without a load of tourists in front) I had to rush back to the bus. Unfortunately the next destination was nowhere near as exciting but that’s a story for the next blog post.