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Biggest Twitch
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21st May  Well before sunrise we were ready for our assault on the mountains of Demirkazik in the search for some very special birds.  This year as there were only 4 of us we were to travel in style in the dilapidated Russian 4x4 as opposed the tractor-and-trailor combination we
'enjoyed' last year!  Regular stops were made on the steep climb for our driver to leap out and hurl buckets of ice cold mountain spring water over the engine in a bid to cool it down enough to carry on.  We were incredibly lucky: it was a stunning morning, clear, calm,
and the most spectacular views all around.  We stood on a high tiny plateau with jagged peaks to our right, a deep chasm in front of us from which a sheer cliff wall rose and towered above us.  We didn't have long to wait before we heard the first eerie wavering whistle of
Caspian Snowcocks.  Enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, a truly evocative experience. But where were the birds?  Frantic scanning of the ridges, peaks and scree slopes.  The calls are incredibly difficult to pin down as they echo off the rock wall and
drift through the clear air.  But at last, we picked out the distinctive silhouette of two Snowcocks on the ridge.  Not a briliant view, but huge relief as this bird was added to our year list.  These high peaks hold an amazing array of birds and we enjoyed views of such
charismatic species as Radde's Accentor, Alpine Accentor, Rufous-tailed Rockthrush and Lammergeier in addition to all the species we'd seen on the lower slopes the previous day.  Just as we were about to head down, more Snowcock calls drew our attention to a nearby hillside.
We couldn't believe our eyes as not one, not two but three of these huge grouse charged across the rocky slope right in front of us.  Easily the best views any of us had ever had, as one male chased off another and then promptly mated with the female.  A fantastic climax (!) to
our morning on the mountain!  The afternoon was spent birding a lake near Nigde which gave our trip list a huge boost with such birds as singing Corncrake, Greater Flamingo, Eared Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Garganey and many others.  On the way back to Demirkazik
we took a minor road through rolling hills, where the undoubted highlight was the spectacular view we enjoyed of Bimaculated Larks.


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