WESTERN TURKEY, TRIP REPORT, 15 - 23 AUGUST 2019

ISPARTA AND KONYA PROVINCES, 15 - 20 AUGUST

From Antalya Alan and I headed north to our lakeside hotel in Egirdir – pronounced ‘Ayer-dish’ - to re-run a late season version of the old Greentours ‘Turkish Lake District’ trip we'd made in a wintery May some 20 years ago! Somewhere around Akbelenli towards Kovada Lake we stopped to stretch our legs and to inspect a small stream running through an essentially parched brown landscape. Amazingly, a Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) came to check us out, unusual being such a long way from the sea, and Grass Jewels (Chilades trochylus) nectared on the mint flowers, as did a fleeting Eastern Bath White (Pontia edusa).

 

On a visit to the Davraz Dagi (2,637m) ski resort off the ‘new’ dual carriageway to Isparta we were pleasantly surprised to find Cardinal (Argynnis pandora)Turkish Furry Blue (Polyommatus menalcas), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus), Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe) and Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea) nectaring mainly on a short bank of blue flax flowers.

 

 A sharp spell of rain coincided with lunchtime, taken inside the car, the only vehicle in the vast car park. Afterwards, we walked up the ski slope picking up very weary Balkan Marbled White (Melanargia larissa) but not a lot else. A sudden heavy downpour with hail had us dashing for cover.

 

The following day we explored the Sultan mountains taking the 695 to the Pass at Yellibel Geçidi, altitude 1600 metres in Konya Province, pulling in at a scruffy litter-strewn layby shortly after. It was fairly sheltered here and a running stream nourished mint and agrimony to flower, key to the presence of late butterflies.

 

A sliver of rich habitat supported Sooty Coppers (Lycaena tityrus) and Anatolian Fiery Coppers (Lycaena asabinus), False Graylings (Arethusana arethusa), Blue Argus (Ultraaricia anteros), a huge female Hermit (Chazara briseis), Spotted Fritillaries (Melitaea didyma), and the ubiquitous Cardinal. An excellent two hours passed here and after our meagre ‘lunch’ we began our return stopping at the Pass where a track forms a kind of crossroads. We walked up the quieter side which had a stream running down it leading to good butterflying and bringing a satisfactory close to the day.

 

The next day under a blue sky the brisk wind had now shifted from the north. On silky smooth roads we headed south along the lake taking the turn toward the range of Dedegol Dagi (2,998m) hoping to relocate some of the sites from our previous visit. A Jandarma road block beckoned us to pull over and Passports were duly inspected.

 

Through Aksu we took a left towards Yakakoy and Yenisarbademli but nothing looked remotely familiar in the parched terrain. Almost out of desperation we pulled in where a dry stream-bed crossed under the road at a hairpin and were surprised to find Cardinals on the thistles, including a mating pair, a Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja), Anatolian Chalk-hill Blue (Polyommatus ossmar), probably Eastern Rock Grayling (Hipparchia syriaca), Berger’s Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis) and more Turkish Furry Blues! Even though the stream bed was dry there may well have been an undetectable damper micro-climate sufficient to attract these butterflies.

 

We retraced our route until taking the left turn after Terziler towards Kocular and then, uneventfully, on to Katip. We turned back and pulled off the road close to a river and pleasingly found Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta), a female Cardinal and a new species, Freyer’s Grayling (Neohipparchia fatua) and Meleager’s Blue (Meleageria daphnis) on eryngium, so not a total waste of time.

 

Our final day in Egirdir dawned windy again as we headed for the hamlet of Bagoren, seemingly more delapidated than ever, but an Anatolian Skipper (Muschampia proteides) was a good find and a Southern Comma (Polygonia egea) called in briefly. A final visit to the Davraz Dagi ski station saw activity much reduced since our previous visit a few days ago but biting Stable Flies were a new and unwelcome addition.

 

Today we’d transit to our second centre, in Antalya’s old town. Past the turning to Adada an unusually wet area with abundant mint, bramble blossom and agrimony failed to produce a single butterfly despite! Running parallel to the river on the way to Sutculer we found several worn High Brown Fritillaries (Argynnis adippe) taking thistle nectar, plus Freyer’s Grayling and Anatolian Fiery Copper. Sutculer is a pleasant large agricultural town, its central square dominated by mature Plane trees, a couple of café restaurants and families sitting at tables. A Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) whistled around the square at eaves height.

 

ANTALYA PROVINCE, 21 - 23 AUGUST

The long trek west across to the 685 was an experience – a combination of lousy maps, poor signs, dusty forest tracks, counter-intuitive routes and passing through a stunning deep limestone gorge somewhere en route. Eventually we reached the main road and turned south hitting the evening rush around Antalya eventually reaching our hotel inside the walled old town. This is a city with a 1,33 million population, twice the size of Leeds, and once again road sign directions were a major problem.

 

Termessos, the classic ancient site sitting at 1,000m in the Taurus Mountains was the destination for our last full day and after paying a nominal charge proceeded up the 8km largely deserted road through green shrubbery and straw-coloured vegetation parking in the shade of a tree at the top. Butterflies were few and far between amongst the crumbling ruins with highlights being Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) and a sole, weary Nettle-tree (Libythea celtis) and when a cool gust came through a female Cardinal dashed for cover under a leaf in a tree.

 

On departure day the bin lorry came around at 5.30am making sure everybody knew about it, and breakfast was interrupted by a power outage. A final stroll down to the scenic harbour to take some photos of the tiny Indian Grass Blue (Zizeeria karsandra) completed the trip.

Given the lateness of the season, we considered it had been worthwhile, and good to take a trip down memory lane amongst friendly, hospitable people.

This article was previously published in the Newsletter of the European Butterfly Group