Turkey, Health

Bird count begins in Turkey's biodiversity-rich delta

60 different species, 64,325 individual birds counted in 2020 in Gediz Delta, says expert

Halil Fidan   | 20.01.2021
Bird count begins in Turkey's biodiversity-rich delta

IZMIR, Turkey

The midwinter waterfowl count has kicked off in Turkey's Gediz Delta, which hosts many bird species. 

Bird watchers gathered in the delta, formed by the accumulation of alluviums carried by the Gediz River in the Gulf of Izmir over tens of thousands of years, to join the counting activity, which takes place annually from Jan. 10 to Feb. 15.

The Gediz Delta is regarded as one of the biggest deltas of the Eastern Mediterranean with its area of nearly 99,000 acres.

The delta, which has the protection status of Ramsar Area, Wildlife Protection Area and Natural Protected Area and which has been applied to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosts approximately 300 bird species.

The area, which is also one of the two locations of flamingo breeding grounds in Turkey, hosts a large number of water birds each season.

The teams observed the Caspian gull, one of the rare species in the region.

Celal Murat Aslanapa, a field manager of Bird Paradise National Park, told Anadolu Agency that this study is recognized worldwide as an important tool for monitoring biodiversity, adding the first count in Turkey took place in 1967.

"Each team includes an expert bird watcher, assistant and observer. They are responsible for specific counting points and must finish the job from morning to evening. At each count point, all water birds in the field of view are counted individually or in groups with telescopes and binoculars and the teams move on to the next point after the assessments there," he added.

Hakan Ozdur, the local manager of Nature Conservation and National Parks, said the Gediz Delta was included in the scope of the International Ramsar Convention in 1998 due to the diversity of habitats that provide habitat and breeding areas for endangered waterfowls.

"300 different bird species have been observed in the area so far. Among these birds, the Dalmatian pelican, pallid harrier, Branta ruficollis and Cinereous Bunting are endangered species. The average number of water birds wintering in the area, including duck species in winter, is about 70,000-80,000," he noted.

Ozdur added that a total of 60 different species and some 64,325 individual birds were counted in 2020 in the Gediz Delta.

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