Ring Ouzel at the reservoir for snow cannons in Palandöken Ski resort in eastern Turkey

A water retention basin for the ski canons is surrounded by a chain link fence and some willow trees. I park the car half hidden by a willow bush on the bank. The early morning dawns. The stony shore seems to be a very good bird attraction here in the barren landscape. I can quickly spot a young Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) on the bank. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough in terms of photography. But then comes the next Ring Ouzel, who sits down on a willow branch and can be photographed well. A Ring Ouzel is dripping wet. The birds seem to bathe not far from the willows. Then they come out and shake their feathers and dry themselves. The thrushes look pretty bright. Another subspecies? It could actually be the dark subspecies amicorum. However, the birds I photographed appear rather light-colored and the “scales” on the flanks also look more like those of alpestris. Then come buntings; they are Rock Buntings (Emberiza cia). A few Greater Whitethroats (Sylvia communis) also hang around in the early morning light. I am briefly approached by an attendant from the nearby hotel. When he sees me taking pictures, he excuses himself and disappears.

I then drive up the mountain to the barrier that opens up the upper areas. Here it is only a little parallel to the slope to the ski slope – or you can stand above a spring. A nice family troop of Chukar (Alectoris chukar) hang around the barrier but are very shy. I then drive the car to the ski slope and can see some Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra), a juvenile Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) and even a Radde’s Accentor (Prunella ocularis) there.

I was woken up at 5:30 am by the alarm clock. It’s already reasonably light outside. I get up quickly, pack up and drive the car to the upper part of the ski area. Unfortunately, I notice that the barrier that opens up the upper areas is closed. So I have to turn around and decide to devote myself to the reservoir, which most likely serves as a collecting basin for the snow cannons. A great morning light in a barren landscape. It was a good decision treating ourselves to 3 days here in Palandöken, a district of Erzurum in eastern Turkey. Palandöken takes its name from the mountain Palandöken Dağı, which is south of the city. The area is a well-known ski resort that gets overrun with snow lovers in winter. Now in early autumn the rush is very limited and in the early morning you can bird alone.

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