Tag Archives: Küçük Menderes

Fresh peas (and recipe), flamingos and other early signs of spring

Flamingosfeb2013Today, after what seems like more than a week of rainy days and grey skies, the sun came out. We went for a walk along the beach and through the wetlands at Pamucak.  Amongst a mass of gulls, a pair of migrating flamingos, an adult and a juvenile.  They were later joined by another juvenile which appeared to be injured, hard to be sure, wild flamingos do not tolerate people getting close to them.  Both of us, however, thought that it had an injured leg.

There was also a marsh harrier, larks, masses of plovers, gulls in weaving flocks, almost like a shoal of fish, shining in the sun, migrating geese, wild flowers, and tortoises freshly out of hibernation.  It really was a lovely afternoon out.

On the market spring fruit and vegetables are starting to appear. The first fresh peas and broad beans.  Tomatoes from Antalya, no doubt grown under glass.  Sorrel, gathered wild.  This all makes a nice change from the winter vegetables.    The Turks are very fond of the first fresh fruits and vegetable of the seasons, so are we.

The recipe Hilary used for these peas comes out of our Turkish Cookery book – ‘Lezzet peasSofrası’.  Hilary does tend to adapt everything…  First she sautéed an onion, cut in half moon rings (what they call piyazlık) in plenty of very good olive oil, then she threw in a cubed carrot, a potato cut into smallish dice, then she put in the peas, sauteed a little bit more,  seasoned the lot with salt, pepper and a cube of sugar then poured on hot water about half way up, covered the pan and cooked on low-medium heat till everything was done.  Towards the end she threw in some dried mint and finely chopped fresh dill.

Dead fish at Pamucak

Midweek we took the bike to Pamucak.  Walked along the beach as far as the Küçük Menderes, had a good look at the wetlands where we saw little egrets (we are sure they are little egrets, we had the binoculars and saw their black beaks), grey herons, several different sorts of gulls, a few Kentish plovers, larks, wagtails, finches, thrushes, and what were almost certainly a pair of eagles.  They were distant and hard to identify, even with binoculars, but definitely raptors and larger than a buzzard.  We also saw a great many dead fish.  Some washed up along the shore, and a whole wave of them to the Pamucak side of the river.  We also saw people fishing…

The pollution of the the Küçük Menderes is a well-known (and Nationally publicised) problem.  There is a campaign to clean it up and we signed the petition along with many, many others.  If we understand the news right, fines have been imposed on the worst industrial polluters, but the dead fish we saw indicate that the problem may persist.  The wetlands behind the beach are recognised as an ecologically sensitive area, the beach itself, particularly towards the channel up to Ephesus is an increasingly important tourist attraction.  The problem with the river has been recognised and, hopefully, things will soon start to improve.

Return of the bitey things

We were in Kuşadası today for our Turkish lessons and visited exciting places like Koçtaş and Tansaş.  Whilst wandering round the aisles looking for essentials (like grout whitener and Riviera olive oil) we could not help but notice the displays of insecticides for the home.  There is a new device out which sprays flies and crawly things automatically.  We didn’t check out whether it does this on a timer or whether it has some way of detecting the undesirables.  But it does seem to indicate that insect season is open.

We went walking on Pamucak beach a few days ago, up to the river and wetlands.  We noticed that the biting insects were back for summer.  This is something we live with, the wetlands are important for birds, those which stay here and those on migration.  The extensive wetlands support a range of creatures and farming activity, they also produce mosquitoes.

In the wetlands we saw egrets, heard warblers, tits, thrushes.  There were dragonfly which is good.  Dragonfly and their larvae are voracious predators of mosquitoes.  There are absolutely loads of swallows, both here in Selcuk, and over the wetlands, these too should help keep the bitey things down.

Hilary has a couple of insect bites, probably mosquito.  Mosquitoes like Hilary.  Ashley has a spider bite on his hand, nothing serious, but it was sore for a day or two and itchy for a week.  We hope that soon  the Belediye insect spraying truck will start on its rounds – keeping the mosquitoes down.

Flamingos

Not for the first time we took advantage of a bright and sunny but cold day to go walking on Pamucak Beach.  We were rewarded with this flock of flamingos taking a feeding break on their spring journey north from central Africa.  It really was a wonderful sight.    Sadly the pictures do not captiure the full glory of the colour, let alone the movement as the flock flew, in formation, around the bay.

Walks around Selçuk

We’ve taken a couple of very good walks this week.

For the first one, we headed upwards, behind our house and onto the hill where we watch the shepherd with the sheep and goats at sunset.  It’s steep.  We climbed that, scrambling in places, and stopping often to see if we could spot our roof.  It became clear precisely why we will never have a sea view, why our view of the castle can never be broken and why you can’t see our house from the hill on the other side of the tracks.  The house is part way down a little dip.  Just past the top of the slope we found a rough track which wound through olive fields.  There was surprisingly little birdsong, though Ashley did spot a greenfinch.  We saw a lot of tiny lizards and a chameleon.  The chameleon was crossing the road, very slowly, stopping and trembling with every step.  Then it climbed a wall.  We had plenty of opportunity to observe it change from road colour to wall colour and to take photographs.

We got some wonderful views of Goat Castle, the Kűçṻk Menderes valley, surrounding mountains and the sea (in the distance).  All this less than 15 minutes stroll from our own front gate.

Today we walked along the beach.  We got a dolmuş to Pamucak.  It dropped us right by where they are building the fake Roman galleons.  There is a carving there which has one of my favourite quotes ‘You can’t step into the same river twice’ – in both the original language of Heraclitus and in modern Turkish.

We turned right along the perfect sand and walked on the waterline as walking in that deep soft sand is very tiring.  We were approached by the owner of a beach business.  He has beach chairs and umbrellas and a little café.  He asked us where we were from and where we were living.  He lives in the same Mahalle as us.  We chatted for a while and said we might call in for tea on our way back.  We walked along all the way to the river.  We didn’t see any wildlife at all, just the beach with no one on it (except one naked sunbather) until we got to the wetlands behind the beach.  There we saw some ducks we were not able to identify (they were little round diving ducks), gulls and some kind of tern probably.

Today we forded the river.  Ashley left all the valuables with me and tried it out first then came back.  We took off our shoes and rolled up our trousers.  The water was not much over knee deep.  I’m really glad we did this as, after the rains, it might be too deep to cross, especially with identity papers, a digital camera, mobile phones and binoculars.

We continued to walk up towards Yoncaköy.  There was more litter on the beach here but also more wildlife.  We saw heaps and heaps of what we are pretty sure are Kentish Plovers (though, at our level of expertise, it can be hard to tell one kind of plover from another) and some kind of sandpiper.  We saw fields full of herons and ibis.

Found our way back to the road just before Yoncaköy and waited for a dolmuş back to Selçuk.  A quiet and shady stretch of road, surrounded by pines, not an unpleasant place to sit for twenty minutes or so, watching the cows cross the road via a special underpass.

Walking from Zeytinköy to Selçuk

We got the dolmuş from Selçuk to Zeytinköy – actually we didn’t.  There was a longish wait for the  Zeytinköy dolmuş so we flagged one down as it left the bus station for Őzdere and hopped off at the Zeytinköy turn off.  A walk of about 3 Km brought us into Zeytinköy centre (two general shops, a butchers, a bakers and a mosque).  It’s a pleasant walk and quite interesting.  We passed the little lake – last time we were there it was full of wildlife.  This time it was full of local kids swimming.

We got some water in Zeytinköy and headed off to look for the big lake which we didn’t find.  We walked for an hour or so, through farms and countryside and some very attractive scenery.  We saw a large raptor, soaring,  Ashley thinks these are buzzards but I am not sure.   I also saw what looked very much like a stork. I thought they had gone. They have certainly left their nests but maybe, like the swallows and martins, they are fattening themselves up before migrating.

We decided that we were not about to find the lake so headed back to the village then we took the  Selçuk road.  That’s 11 Km (to the outskirts, not our actual house).   It was a wonderful walk.  The road follows the Küçük Menderes nearly all of the way and we could smell the brackish water. We couldn’t work out what the smell was at first but it was certainly persistent.  I think it was the fact that the smell disappeared as the road peeled away from the water that made us realise what it was.  The fields were full of ripening fruit (not sure whether they are oranges or the green skinned fruits they call mandolins, pomegranates, olives, not sure whether they were apples or quinces – probably some of both) and cotton. The cotton surprised me. I’m not sure that I have ever seen cotton growing and ready for harvest before. I thought it would be taller, I didn’t think the flowers would be so pretty. We saw another bird that might have been a buzzard, we saw probably chaffinches (or something very similar), birds that were probably some kind of flycatcher (really hard to identify when they’re against the bright, bright sun), we saw what was almost certainly a kingfisher (we thought it might have been a roller but those are blue on their fronts and this was blue on its back – a stunningly luminous blue). We saw a turtle in the river from a bridge. We saw a little owl just as we were coming back into Selçuk.  Swallows and martins all along the way.

There are places round here where the mountains drop away in sudden cliffs. Unless you know your way I guess it’s safer to stick to the roads.  We could see parts of Ephesus (the covered bit where the mosaics are on show and the theatre) for a lot of the time. That was beyond Selçuk from our point of view. At various points we could see the castle and the new buildings up on the hill and the quarry behind the town.   It was interesting to see Selcuk from the distance – we tried to spot our house but our house hides behind taller buildings so we didn’t.

Birdwatching – late summer

We took a stroll along Pamucak beach, away from the three big hotels at the southern end.  There were a few people bathing in the sea and / or enjoying the beach, mostly locals.  Rather than going swimming our plan was to take a look at the wetlands behind the beach to see what birds might be around.  This time of year the wetlands are reduced so we had a fairly lengthy walk along the beach past the Dereli (supposedly a good fish restaurant which we need to try at some stage) over the small bridge where there are some imitation ancient boats on what was the channel to the harbour of Ephesus.  The story with these is that it is hoped to dredge the channel and use them as an alternate means of accessing Ephesus at the ancient harbour/ transporting tourists to Ephesus.   There seems to be some uncertainty about whether this will actually happen.  The idea is to dig a channel from where the sea is now to the ancient harbour.   Excavation will probably be slow due density of antiquities in this area.

After about an hour of walking along the beach we got close to where the Küçük Menderes flows into the sea and expanses of wetlands opened up behind the beach.  Bird watching wise it was not a huge success, high summer is not the best time for seeing birds on the wetlands.  We need to check out when the migrations take place since this should be when there will be far more to see.

Being on the coast there were of course Mediterranean gulls.  Also spotted on the beach were Kentish Plovers, and more gulls and plovers on the wetlands behind.  In the wetlands there was a small bird we could not identify, might have been a pipit of some kind but even with binoculars we were not able to get a good view.  A Little Egret was hunting the riverbank.  Sand Martins were hunting insects above the river and lagoons, along with some House Martins and Swallows.  A Magpie.  A Great Tit was heard but not seen.  The peace was occasionally disturbed by tourists on quad bikes. The cattle men grazed their cattle and  there was the occasional splash as nets were cast upon the water. We didn’t see any frogs or snakes.  They’re probably deeper into the water than they were last time we walked that area.