There was great excitement today as our region’s local newspaper ‘Güneyege’ hit the news stands and it was revealed that Okçular ex-pat resident, John Codling had become the first person to photograph a previously unknown species of bird.
Avid nature lover, bon vivant, amateur photographer of considerable skill and all round good egg, John was with a few friends attending the village picnic day at our neighbouring village of Kemaliye. The picnic this year had proved to be a great bore compared with other years when there had been plenty of singing, dancing and raki to be had, not to mention side stalls and the odd brawl! Kemaliye picnic day was something to be talked about for weeks afterwards (and sometimes longer for those carted away by the Jandarma!).
Anyway, this year all that changed and the picnic became nothing more than a glorified political rally because, would you believe, even the Minister of State for Industry turned up to make a speech in support of the muhtar who this year will be a candidate for the current ruling party. All a bit like having Tony Benn (alright, alright, I’ve been away for a long time!) turn up to support the election for chairman of the parish council – but it really happened. This surely put the dampers on any partying (as opposed to political partying) as huge numbers of Jandarma, black 4x4s and ‘Men-in-Black’ with funny wires coming out of their ears and very suspicious bulges under their jackets suddenly appeared. They didn’t stay long but somehow the zing had gone out of the day and a sort of melancholy settled over our group.
This was broken momentarily when I spotted ‘something’ on a rock not far away; I pointed it out and John, true to his calling of building a vast collection of pics of Okçular’s wildlife, leapt from his seat and set about getting some close up shots. His unusual speed of movement attracted the attention of a group of kids who, being kids, set about scaring the bejeezus out of whatever was there by getting between camera and subject. John also attracted the attention of local ‘Güneyege’ reporter Zayit İzmir who is a newshound of great initiative and resourcefulness as attested by his regular, two-page spread in the paper. Zayit was too late to see what all the fuss was about so he set about ‘pumping’ some of us for information. He then demonstrated his quickness of mind for a scoop when, using his secret mini-camera he got a shot of John’s camera’s screen as John was reviewing his pics.
Zayit’s audacity and cunning meant that he got the drop on John, who has been faffing about trying to sell his photos of this new species to the Sunday Sport for loads of dosh. John’s tragedy is Zayit’s triumph as this previously unrecorded species was named ‘Yusufçuk kuşunu’ (Dragonfly Bird) and unveiled to the world.
ps Zayit was later asked to refund his bonus when the creature was identified as the Odalisque damselfly Epillage fatime.
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü