Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lake Bird Paradise

We were picked up at 3:00pm by three PhD students and driven to Kuyucuk Lake where there is a bird tagging project going on

We stopped for gas at a large station on the outskirts of town.  Immediately a young boy appeared carrying 5 glasses of juice for us to enjoy.  I initially thought that it had been ordered by one of our hosts but saw him run out to a car that had just pulled up as well.

The head of the project is Sedat Inak who is a PhD student at Kafkas University in Kars.  He is extremely knowledgeable and has an obvious love for these beautiful creatures.……_6056302

He is collecting and banding birds at three locations in Turkey and is looking at the diversity of birds and also how and where the move.    He is also on the lookout for endangered species and is looking for ways to conserve the habitat.

This particular site is located about 40 kilometers outside of Kars and is a beautiful area.  He has already found around 360 species of birds in this one spot.

When we arrived there was a flurry of photographs with everyone wanting to have their photo taken with Dr. Arnold (with him is Mohammet, Orkun and Dogan)……_6056290

….including ME……_6056289  We hiked to the observation tower……_6056299  ….and began looking at the birds on the lake……

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Sedat could easily identify each of the birds and would tell us about their habitat and other interesting information.

I loved this apple……

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There were LOTS more photos taken.  Mohammet had a new camera so he tried every setting and lens.  Here I am with Esma.  We are both laughing because she is standing on her tip-toes….._6056320 

We met two very interesting couples from France who were volunteering with the program.    This couple own a farm in France but came here for holiday……._6056329

This couple were very interesting.  They are living nomadic lives, traveling where there are volunteer projects that they can be involved with.  He is an engineer working with water purification projects in Africa and she is a Forester.  They were such fun to talk to……_6056359

This is the camp set up.  They sleep in tents or on bunk beds in the stone building.  The portable building is where they cook and do the tagging._6056328  _6056364

They normally open the nets early in the morning before the sun is up and then close them mid morning.  They are re-opened around 6:00 and closed after sunset.  However, since we were coming they had opened them early and had caught two birds for us to see.

The tags are store on long ropes and each one has a number etched in the metal.  There are different sizes for each type of bird._6056357

Sedat carefully banded the bird….._6056353_6056355

He blew on the chest feathers and would look for the amount of fat on the bird and assign a number from 0 to 8.  He told us that the birds would add fat when they were getting ready to migrate so that was a good indicator to be noted.  He said that the fat was yellow in color so it was easy to determine.  He then took lots of measurements of the wings and body length._6056336

And finally weighed the bird by putting his head into a cardboard cone.  Immediately the bird would become stiff and stay still while his head was covered……_6056342

Look how carefully he holds the bird and how relaxed the bird is….._6056346    The second bird that he tagged was a Sedge Warbler and when it was time to release it, he handed it to me.  He showed me how to carefully hold its neck between two fingers and then cradle it with my other hand.   And then….viola it was gone……._6056358   If you know how a cat will shake his leg when there is something foreign on his paw….we figure that the little bird is shaking his leg trying to figure out what is going on.

We then walked around to see some of the nets.  The first one was set up on dry ground and was for smaller birds and had much smaller openings in the netting.  _6056367

The second net was set over water and was designed to catch the larger birds.  (you may have to click on the photo to actually see the net)_6056371 

While we were at these nets, there was a lot of yelling from the camp and Sedat used his binoculars to see what they were saying.  Apparently a large bird (a Harrier) had flown into one of the nets but had escaped…..too bad….it would have been fun to see!!!

We ended the afternoon all sitting around an talking.  Everyone was so kind and answered our millions of questions and it was so fun to realize that we were part of this very special group….._6056384 DSC03108 DSC03109 DSC03110 We arrived back at the hotel around 8:00pm and Muhammet called to say that he needed to meet with us.  He told us that his wife, Hulya, was having complications with her pregnancy and that the hospital here wasn’t prepared to take care of her.  So, they were getting ready to travel to her home town where the medical care was better.  Unfortunately this is a 13 hour drive!!!!  Since he was not going to be here we decided that it would be best for us to leave Kars early (once Michael finished teaching on Friday) and travel to Istanbul.  We confirmed that our hotel would be available for the extra days and then asked the hotel staff to help us change our airline reservations. 

As of the writing of this post,  Thursday morning, we have heard that they arrived safely and that Hulya is in the hospital.

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