This was our first walk with Zirve this year. They have been on two outings but we were in Lesvos for the first one and Bodrum for the second.
This walk started in Guzelcamli, up, over part of a hill then down to the coastline. Along the shore to Aydinkoy (which is the second beach and one much favoured by wild boar). The weather was absolutely perfect for walking. I think the high was around 26 degrees, the sky was blue and the sun shone upon us.
We started with a minute’s silence for those affected by the bombs in Ankara last weekend. We then walked a marked trail – it was mostly very easy going with a few steep bits. There were a total of 170 of us. Rather too many for our liking though, as ever, there was a great sense of camaradie, our Turkish was practiced and new friends were made. There were about 25 of us on the bus from Selcuk, plus the Mugla, Izmir and Soke branches and a busload from Kusadasi.
All along the way we came across indications that refugees had also taken this path. We found discarded clothing, bags, certificates, ID papers, exercises in English for Arabic speakers, water bottles, juice cartons, medicine packaging, food packaging, cigarette packs. On the shoreline we found a pump, clearly used to inflate a boat. Several life jackets were retrieved. Yes, it makes a mess in a National Park, but people are people and people are more important.
After lunch at Aydinkoy (with the boars) some swam and others didn’t. We then walked up, mostly along paths and road, back to Guzelcamli where we had a chance to visit Zeus’ cave before getting the bus back home.
Leaving aside the ongoing human tragedy and the biker stuff which will be the subject of a later post.
There was another ride out planned for the Sunday, but we had to be back in Mitilini for 4pm so would have needed to leave mid lunch. So, we made our own fun. We went bird watching around Skala Kaloni. Early October is not the best time, the Bee Eaters are gone south for winter, many other species have migrated, and the wetlands are at their driest, so waterbirds are more scarce.
In a couple of hours and not really trying hard. 2 Black Storks, a Peregrine Falcon, a juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle, Little Egret, Night Heron. Along with all the usual suspects, Grey Heron, finches, larks, sparrows, buzzards, gulls. Sadly not many pictures, we only had the pocket camera with us.
Oh, and for completeness on avian matters, from the day before, Theo, Hilary’s friend. Theo is multilingual, speaks, Greek, English and Turkish.
Meanwhile, as the Izmir festival continues…… Back to Kerkini, Greece.
As you can probably tell Lake Kerkini is fabulous for watching water birds. It is also good for eagles, buzzards, black kites, bee eaters, rose starlings, and more. There are also water buffalo, easy to see, and by repute other large mammals including wolves and jackals which of course are less easy to see.
There are a few hotels in the area, two in Kerkini, and others nearby in other villages. The hotels may fill up at the weekends (Kerkini is less than an hour from Thessaloniki) and during migration but, when we were there we had no problem finding a place to stay. We chose Oikoperiigitis which is in the village of Kerkini. Not the cheapest option, but is it a lovely hotel which does really great inexpensive food. One of the specialties is lumps of slow cooked buffalo on pasta, simple and utterly delicious, even more so with a carafe of local wine.
There are a few other bars and tavernas in the village, along with loads of nesting white storks. We have got a bit blase about white storks, we see them all summer back home in Selçuk.
The hotel is able to organise various tours and boat trip in and around the lake, but we guess all the hotels in the area can do this. We took an early morning boat trip with Vasilis, a friend, who we met the year before. Vasilis is fantastic, really knowledgeable about the area and birds, and incredibly helpful. The boat trip was amazing and the source of most of the bird photos from an earlier post including this one of a spoonbill and pygmy cormorant
It is a stunningly beautiful area, one we will return to. We are already thinking about next year and maybe getting to Lake Prespa as well.
We may publish flocks of corvids sitting on buildings, in trees, on wall, watching humans and muttering nevermore….. But we can do most of that here at home in Selcuk with the vast flock of jackdaws. Oh and a shower scene, or am I getting fiction and film mixed up?
Poe and Hitchcock aside……
We will say more on Kerkini soon, but for now, the bird photos.
Some people may have gathered we went to Greece for a few days. Our first stop in Greece after a leisurely ride north via Ayvalik and Canakkale was Dadia. Dadia is a small village to the south of Soufli (nearest cash machine) with a couple of eateries and hotels. More on those later. Our reason for going to Dadia Forest was to see birds of prey. It is one of only two mainland sites in Europe where it is possible to see Black Vultures and Gryphon Vultures. It is also very good for other large raptors. As such the forest is carefully managed and the birds protected. Just outside the village of Dadia is the visitor centre www.dadia-np.gr from where it is possible to get up to date information on the forest, details of walking trails and more. On our first day we took a walk up to the hide by one trail, and back by another, both clearly marked, rated as easy, and very pleasant. On our walk up we saw Buzzards and a Gryphon Vulture in flight. We spent ages up at the hide, there was an Egyptian Vulture, a Black Kite and an eagle, almost certainly Lesser Spotted Eagle, Schoolchildren were being brought into the hide, given access to telescopes, given the eco drill in Greek, noisy at times but the hide is well away from the birds and none were bothered. When the children were not there we got to use the telescopes. One or second day we took the harder trails, one up to Gibrena Peak and another down. These were graded as medium as indeed they turned out to be. We were good and followed the rules, left our details and walking plans at the visitor centre, checked back in with them on return. Again both trails we were marked and easy to follow, giving great views at times. There was lots of wild flowers, would have been more a month or so earlier, something to maybe bear in mind for the future. Near the peak we came across an eagle sat in a small tree, unfortunately it did not hang around for photographs. We would recommend decent walking shoes for the climb to Gibrena Peak which Ashley did not have so took the risk with sport sandals, the only real risk being snakes, and well, not really a big risk. Back to Dadia village. The village appears to have two hotels, but one seemed closed. The other is next to the visitor centre www.forestinn.eu It is a lovely place, we think it used to be part of the visitor centre, but is now being run privately. Our room was lovely, and we spent ages sat on the sunny balcony watching Hoopoes flying back and forth. One morning when we were leaving the accommodation block to get breakfast there was a Sparrow Hawk in the garden, though most of the time it was populated by Swallows. Breakfast was good. The cafeteria also provided us with a steady supply of frappe, the occasional beer and did some snacks and ice cream. Sitting in the café garden, at times a vulture passed overhead and further in the distance there were storks in flight. At the time we were there the hotel was not doing meals, but there are a couple of eateries in the village, one inexpensive Taverna, and a take out souvlaki place that needless to say did excellent take out souvlaki. Being Greece, neither opens much before 9pm, so we relaxed in the hotel garden and had another beer. It is a lovely place, we will go again.
After what has been a cold March, cold in the UK, then cold here, the weather is finally warming up. The storks have arrived, the first of the swallows have arrived, but as the say, one Swallow does not make spring.
So, on the first warm and sunny day, we decided to take a stroll around some of the local archaeological sites. Ephesus on a Sunday is never going to be empty, but it is nice to stroll through, laugh at some of the tours and, well we have Muze Kart so it costs nothing.
The Artemis Temple is now as deeply flooded as it ever gets. There are a few guys selling post cards, guide books, and dodgy coins. Mostly it is a quiet place, the tours rarely stop and those which do move on pretty quickly. So we were left with the geese, the turtles, frogs, a snake, storks, and a visiting heron.
Confirmed by a friend and others as a Night Heron, this one clearly did not know is was early afternoon.
Last February we went walking on Gumuş dağ with Zirve Mountaineering club. It poured with rain and there are pictures of us looking like drowned rats, trying to get a fire going. Last Sunday the exercise was repeated, in much better weather. The walk was defined as ‘medium difficulty’ and there was a certain amount of scrambling involved.
We opted to join the picnic group rather than the younger and fitter group (including two children) who were headed for the summit.
We got lost. I think they got lost. We ended up having a very long lunch break in a rather attractive spot. And we didn’t get back to the coach till dark.
It was a brilliant walk, quite challenging, with some great views and good company.
Well, actually, there are four:
This one is from Çandır Canyon
And another veiw
Kovada National Park
And an intimate portrait of a lizard
Few tourists seem to get to Zindan Cave. It’s just out of Aksu, so not far from Eğirdir. We visited last year, the cave is fascinating. There is a restored Roman bridge nearby and it appears the cave has been used for various purposes for thousands of years. So this year rather than repeating steps and going into the cave again we decided to explore the river valley heading upstream. It is a pretty easy walk, the river lined with trout farms most of which seem to offer fresh grilled trout. It is a pretty valley, with paths to high meadows and some impressive wildlife not all of which we have managed to identify. We will go back and explore some more.
After this we went to Lake Kovada National Park. Like Zindan it is possible to get to Lake Kovada on public transport, the Aksu dolmus for Zindan and the Sütcüler dolmus for Kovada, but having our own transport made getting to both in one day a great deal easier. Lake Kovada is a very special place, stunningly beautiful and mostly well managed. Like last time we were there, despite the signs saying no hunting there was a certain amount of shooting taking place nearby but this time with police seeming to be attempting to put a stop to it. On a more positive note it was nice to see others enjoying the lake and national park, making use of the picnic spots and walking some of the trails.
It took us a while to get round to posting our photo for July. It’s been hot and we’ve been busy.