Birdwatching in Turkey

Turkey lies beneath several important avian migration paths, and birdwatching during migrations can be rewarding.

The best months tend to be April, May, June and September, October and November.

The Turkish government has established bird sanctuaries called Kus Cenneti (KOOSH jeh-neh-tee, “Bird Paradise”) in various parts of the country. Here are the main ones:

Bird Paradise National Park
Kus Cenneti Milli Parki is a 64-hectare bird sanctuary next to Bird Lake (Kus Gölü), the lake called Manias in ancient times. Located 19 km (12 miles) east and south of Bandirma, it hosts millions of birds of more than 250 varieties annually.

To get there from Istanbul, take the Istanbul-Bandirma fast ferry, then a taxi to the lake. You’ll probably have to arrange for the driver to wait, or to return and pick you up, as there is no other regular transport.

Plan your transport back to Istanbul as well. There are more frequent ferries to and from Yalova, and frequent buses between Yalova and Bursa, but then travel between Kus Cenneti Milli Parki and Bursa is more trouble than getting to Bandirma.

Avoid weekends as they tend to be busy, and the birds avoid noisy crowds of people. Bring binoculars. Picnicking at the site is prohibited, but as there are few services, you should bring “heavy snacks”—just don’t call it a picnic!

Göksu Delta
The 14,500-hectare delta of the Göksu(Blue/Sky Water) River near Silifke on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast is one of Turkey’s prime birdwatching areas. Several lakes, marshes and sandspits provide shelter for up to 332 species of birds.

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