Incredible Okçular!

Stalking the Storks

With the threat that this might be our last season with a view over Black Lake and its wonderful variety of wildlife, ( J and I have spent a lot more time just liggin’ about and soaking up the view. If our farming neighbours go ahead and put in the drainage pipes then next year might well be very different. There’s a chance that it might not be as well because pretty much every drainage pipe, of whatever size, that I’ve seen installed over the past 14 years has simply disappeared and within no time at all has become a misty memory. They disappear because of the sheer volume of water in the winter time and the rocks and debris that get swept in and over them. About 7 years ago our former muhtar and his crew arrived and laid some enormous concrete pipes across the road near our house in order to divert the course of a, mostly dry, stream bed that becomes a raging torrent when it rains. We ended up with a humped-back bridge that had the virtue of slowing down the turbo tractors and their 7 year-old drivers! Within a year the hump had disappeared along with the concrete pipes and to finish the whole thing off, 2 years ago the road was asphalted; plus we have a new muhtar – ‘Pipes? What pipes?’

Anyway, back to our story which is not about pipes – this spring has seen a huge increase in the numbers of birds on Black Lake. It’s as though they know this might be their last banquet and that next year they’ll have to work a bit harder for their meals. That’s because this shallow, seasonal, patch of water is home to countless millions of frogs and dragonfly larvae at just the right time for breeding and chick-raising. The storks mostly nest down at the famous Ley Ley Restaurant where there are suitable trees and special nesting poles. The owners and staff at the restaurant provide care and a permanent home for those birds that get injured by falling from the nests so it is a great place to visit because the ‘permanent staff’ get so used to people that they will feed from your hand. It really is amazing how precise and gentle they are with those enormous and powerful beaks.

Why am I telling you about this? Because I don’t know for how much longer we will be privileged to have these beautiful and graceful creatures around. I understand why my lovely farming neighbours need to be able to make use of their land for more profitable crops; at the same time I’m a bit of a ‘NIMBY’ about my view and the wildlife it attracts. I know that the new environment will attract new and different creatures and my beautiful storks love to forage around in fields anyway, so I do expect them to come back. And the various herons and egrets? Well, they’re a different matter so I’ve been spending much more time than usual stalking the storks and liggin’ about watching them in the reflections on Black Lake. Ahhh! Another beautiful day in Turkey!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

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