Incredible Okçular!

. . It’s A Duck!

The last post (blogging as opposed to bugle calls) had J and me diving out of the house for a breath of fresh air between the downpouring, monsoon-like rains. We decided to wander around to our beautiful Kocadere Valley and check the water flow situation and see what we could see along the way. Flowing water is only visible in the valley after heavy rain as it generally flows underground so it would be a chance to get a few photographic impressions.

Kocadere is, in my opinion, an impressively beautiful place and it’s hard not to feel a sense of deep satisfaction at having been instrumental, along with many others, in helping to preserve its uniqueness whenever I walk there. It is, after all, the home of many rare or beautiful species of flora and fauna.

Iurus dufoureius ssp asiaticus (4)_1

Iurus dufoureius – Europe’s largest scorpion and one of the rarest

Alkanna muhglae

Alkanna muhglae – in all its glory

Lyciasalamandra fazliae

Lyciasalamandra fazliae – Fire Salamander


rushing water and towering cliffs


Whilst we were poking around inside the valley we spotted these beautiful Horseshoe Orchids . .

Horseshoe Ophrys

Ophrys ferrum-equinum – Horseshoe Ophrys

Horseshoe Ophrys

. . amidst masses of Crown Anemones.

crown Anemone

We also gathered an audience who were very curious about what we were up to . .

kocadere sheep
The real highlight of the day happened on the way to the valley when we had to divert off the track and through an olive grove because of flooding. There, under a couple of the trees lay a group of Ophrys (a large family usually referred to as Bee Orchids) of a species that I had not seen before.

Orchids in general and Ophrys in particular can be notoriously difficult to pigeon-hole because of their ‘life-style’ which is best described as promiscuous! Here is a quote from the research unit at Reading University;

‘Orchids can often generate great taxonomic challenges due to interspecific and even intergeneric hybridization. However they are often eye-catching and something people want to be able to identify with confidence. With Ophrys, at least, the more specimens you see the more convinced you become that the plants are not following any rule book when it comes to behaving as species, and genes flow between one species and another to form recognizable hybrids and sometime these give rise to new species.’

In other words, they sleep around a bit and not just with their own! (if I may be permitted such a politically incorrect term) Anyway, when we got home out came my various reference books and for me it has to be Ophrys isrealitica so-called because it was first recorded and tagged in Israel in 1988. I sent photos to various (orchid) groups who did not dissent and also put it up on Facebook for those who are interested because, although not rare for the Eastern Mediterranean or several of the Aegean Islands, it has not been recorded this far west here in Turkey.

There was one person who questioned the ident, but as a non-academic enthusiast without access to sophisticated DNA analysis equipment – if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck!

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

And it’s another new species for Okçular – I think that is 39 now!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps the stormy weather seems to have done many strange things including messing up my previous WP theme. I’m not that enamoured of this one, but it will have to do until I summon up the will to do something about it.

20 thoughts on “. . It’s A Duck!

  1. Merhaba Alan, super post and I liked the new look of your blog, very handsome! Gorgeous photos as always and Mark will be in for a treat – that scorpion and the Fire Salamander quite something! Beautiful part of the world, many thanks for sharing with us. Cok selam ve sevgiler, Ozlem

  2. Hi Alan. Beautiful pictures from a wonderful place. Hope to be walking round the Valley soon.mbest wishes. Mary

  3. Alan, Not only are we impressed by your new discovery (really, one of these Kocadere valley species should be named after you), we are also dazzled by your orchid’s impeccable taste. Love the chartreuse-mauve-burnt sienna combo! Love to you and J. (BTW, did I see some more rain coming your way this week?)

    1. . . it is a pretty little thing, isn’t it? I think we have a couple of days of possible sun during the next week – not so hard to deal with if we have rain and sun during the same day, we get out and everywhere is so fresh.

  4. How exciting Alan! I’ve never seen orchids growing in the wild! Orchids are a big favorite of mine. Love to grow them indoors. I have found little here in stores – no variety at all. If you have any insight on where to get them for indoor growing, please share!

    1. . . the wild orchids should stay where they are and not be touched because they are under threat everywhere and also they are dependant on specific fungi in order to flourish. Transplant them and they will die! We have plenty of examples of exotic, hothouse orchids to choose from, even here in Ortaca, so they should certainly be available in the big city.

    1. sorry T, can’t help you with any specialist growers. I know the forestry people grow great plantations of native species for salep production to help stop the plundering in the wild – beyond that I have no info

    1. . . there was a time, in a valley a couple of hours from here when I really thought I had one – turned out to be a sort-of albino orchid rather than something new to science – ho-hum!

  5. hi alan, love all your writing/walking/okcular stuff, been wanting to find a way to contact you for ages. could you email me or contact on facebook please..
    l don’t do tweets/blogs.

    1. Good morning, Naomi! Lovely to hear from you and I’ve got your email and will contact you. Anyway, welcome to Archers – I hope you’ll overcome your ‘aversion’ to blogs and follow J and me as we wander about and explore this remarkably beautiful country.

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