Coming out of Hibernation

10th Feb 2021

Crocus biflorus lyciotauricus © Ian Green

Winter is starting to move into spring here. Seems early especially when we see the weather in the UK! January was cold at times with icy mornings and temperatures down to minus 4 or 5, but any snowfall was in the mountains. Some of the pictures here will show you the variation in weather we get at this time of year. A beautiful warm sunny day at the beach on Patara, the bottom of the land after heavy rain which we’ve had a few times this last month. One rain storm deposited at least 300mm on us and our water storage tells us that we’ve had a metre of rain since the start of November. Some of the farmers between us and the coast can only use water that they’ve collected – usually from the tops of the plastic houses – and so such winter largesse is really important.

Flowers have been in short supply only now just beginning to show. In the mountains there’s plenty of Colchicum atticum, a hardy little beast whose flowers are open and attracting the bees well below freezing, I know that it went down to minus 11 one night where they were flowering! Cyclamen alpinum also seems to like those conditions. Mount Assos already has the first Snowdrops blooming and lovely little Crocus (biflorus) lyciotauricus is a fine sight. Already though the warmer areas around sea level have bees a-buzzing around bushes of not-so-fragrant Anagyris foetida and lovely shows of multi-coloured anemones. Painted Ladies are starting to migrate through.

Its been mostly birding though the last month. Around the house the local birds are starting to get the hang of the feeders with Great Tits, Chaffinches and Robins the main beneficiaries. A pair of Sombre Tits are frequent visitors too and a Middle-spotted Woodpeckers come by several times a day. Lockdowns are only at weekends here in Turkey so I’ve been heading for the main local wetlands quite a bit on weekdays, particularly Avlan which is an hour away up in the mountains. This beautiful large lake has been full of ducks – mainly common species but also one Ferruginous Duck – which have been looking great in the spring plumage. It’s a good spot for raptors with a couple of Greater Spotted Eagles in residence for the winter, many Marsh Harriers, a Hen Harrier or two, a Merlin, Long-legged Buzzards and Peregrine. A Short-eared Owl was a surprise this close to the Mediterranean. One of the beauties of Avlan is the variety – fields on the north side have wintering flock of finches, buntings, larks and pigeons, the west and east sides have open juniper woodland with Firecrests and Rock Buntings, and the south side has Cedar Forest. Down on the coast Patara and Andriake continue to provide great birding. I’ve seen several Bluethroats as well as Moustached Warbler, Greater Flamingos, Audouin’s Gulls, Jack Snipe, Spotted Redshank, White-breasted Kingfisher, Common Quail, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and a nice adult Bonelli’s Eagle in recent weeks.