Eastern Turkey May 1989
One of the best and funniest birding trips I’ve been on. I had scanned these old prints of a twentysomethings clean-up, mega-trip to Turkey with some of my birding pals, Simon “shag” Smethurst, Guy “shocker” Shorrock, Bernard “chin” Lee and yours truly! Time waits for no man! A little bit of nostalgia from days gone by.
Somewhere in the Eastern Caucasus Mountains. One of the many times our Fiat Miriafuri did us proud! This car got stuck in marshes, served as a platform for seeing over tall reedbeds, as well as providing a place for us to eat and sleep. Picture taken shortly after ‘shocker’, cheered on by a convoy of stalled Turkish truck drivers, drove the car deftly through a muddy, washed out area of road on the side of a cliff after a mudslide rendered it impassable. En route to Caucasian Blackcock lek, the alternative was a 3 1/2 hour detour. From left to right: Guy, Bernard and moi!
Where are the F!!%%$$$ Greater Sandplovers??? “Shag”, after showing off his James Hunt skills and showing that ‘doughnuts” can be done on a dry lake bed, suddenly found us a wetter spot than we’d have liked. No town for many miles. We sent our ‘driver’ in the direction of those far hills to look for help. After many hours had passed, a bunch of villagers appeared complete with tractor. After seeing women pulling yokes by hand to till the fields, this was possibly the only tractor in Eastern Turkey! After several hours of trying to dig out by ourselves, all it took was giving away an alarm clock, two pens and $10 and we were on our way. And we still never saw a Greater Sandplover!
The car never let us down. We drove it over mountains, through rivers, got it stuck in an old well, drove it down wadis, across flood plains, river estuaries and down a track of acacia trees that we found was a little too narrow for the car. It was brand new when we picked it up. When we took it back two weeks later, it had a cracked headlight, a busted windshield wiper (that we tied back on with a shoelace) and we’d put 4000km on it. When we brought it back, all ‘cleaned’, we were all quite proud of the restoration until the woman from the rental desk came out and on seeing the car and the mileage, just burst into tears!
Having just bagged White-breasted Kingfisher on the way to the airport, we found a suitable river to drive the car into to give her a ‘clean’. Bernard, myself (with the only clean clothes I had left) and Guy complete with signature, banana-hammock speedos!