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Brown Fish-owl Exclusive

30 September–4 October 2013
8–12 July 2014
30 September–4 October 2014

For years Brown Fish-owl was considered to be extinct in the Western Palearctic. There are historic records from Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Turkey indicating a much larger range but, since the last records in Israel, there had been no sightings until a pair was found by chance in Antalya, Turkey. During extensive surveys in 2009 and 2010, an additional five pairs were found indicating that there may be a viable remnant breeding population present. This is possibly a separate species, based on vocalisation.

Day 1 We will take an afternoon direct flight from London Gatwick to Antalya and transfer to our base for the next four nights in the Taurus Mountains.

Days 2–4 We will spend all three days birding in the Taurus Mountains where we will visit a variety of habitats including Alpine slopes, coniferous forests, maquis, orchards and steppes. Species we will look for include Krüper's Nuthatch, Eastern Bonelli's, Olive-tree and Rüppell's Warblers, Masked Shrike, Finsch's Wheatear, White-throated Robin, Sombre Tit, Cretzschmar's Bunting and Fire-fronted Serin. We will take packed lunches with us and return in the early evenings for dinner before setting out on our night excursions to look for Brown Fish-owl. The tracks to the sites are extremely rough and not suitable for cars so we will use our high ground-clearance vehicle to drive as close to the site as possible before walking the remaining distance. We may spend up to midnight searching for the birds (their vocalisations are barely audible) and as soon as everyone has had a good view we will leave the site. Because of the amount of suitable habitat and the range of the birds, it is likely that we will have to return for a second or even a third night, which is why the duration of the tour is slightly longer than would normally be expected when looking for one species.

Day 5 We will spend the morning birding our way back to the coast and may visit some coastal birding sites before boarding our late evening flight home, arriving in the UK shortly after midnight.

General Information The pace of the tour is moderate with only a reasonable degree of fitness required, although walks at night will be over rocky terrain. The weather will be warm to very hot. Visas are required for EU citizens and can be purchased on arrival at a cost of around £10. There are numerous threats to this population which, based on vocalisation, may form a new species in its own right. These include habitat destruction, hunting and disturbance. It is therefore vitally important that conservation bodies receive funds to protect these birds and that landowners receive compensation and reward for allowing visitors on their land and ensuring the birds' wellbeing. The only way forward is through organised visits to the sites, from which conservation bodies and landowners will receive substantial benefits. Visits will take place only during the non-breeding season so that disturbance to the birds will be kept to an absolute minimum. For the birds' protection, anyone using a GPS or similar device will be asked to leave the tour immediately.

Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 12 with 1 leader.

Brown Fish-owl

Brown Fish-owl