Sunday, March 31, 2013


One of the most marvellous things in nature happens every year, like clockwork. Thousands of storks— both black and white, as well as a wide variety of raptors, cross the Bosphorus on sunny days, making their way into Europe. At times, the sky is so full of birds, that you don't know where to point your telescope or binoculars, and while you are eyeing those beautiful storks, a Steppe Eagle slips silently by. We packed a picnic lunch of tuna sandwiches and potato salad, with the added treat of a bottle of wine. I carried the food, and Pedro was in charge of the equipment.

We headed to the hills behind Sarıyer, the northernmost district of Istanbul, just before the mouth of the Black Sea. As we hopped off the bus, the blue above us was already dotted with Lesser Spotted Eagles, Goshawks, and legions of White Storks circling within the thermals. We found an open spot with a view to set up, and settled in. Unfortunately my camera cannot handle the distance or movement of the birds, so all the raptor photos I have are fuzzy at best, making them look like moustaches in the sky, but I managed to get some of the White Storks.

So far, the highlights of the migration for me have been the elegant Black Storks (see one above) and a Griffon Vulture, neither of which I had ever seen before— and wow! Griffon Vultures are HUGE. I also really enjoyed seeing a lone Egyptian Vulture gliding past the cloud of White Storks, which caused a commotion among some nearby Turkish birdwatchers. I saw my first Egyptian Vulture in Pokhara, Nepal, while taking refuge from the heat in the shade of a tree. I looked up into the sky, and there it was: circling above, its white and black feathers contrasting vividly against a deep blue. I had seen them in Oman, and now, like an old familiar face, one was flying above me on the edge of Istanbul.


dinahmow said...

Magnificent! I've never seen those vultures. Here (Australia) we have one stork, the Jabiru.The most common raptor here in the central coastal tropics is the fork-tailed kite.

szaza said...

I would love to visit Australia someday. I bet the birds are marvellous!