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Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

The landscape on Adakoy

The landscape on Adakoy

At the end of May last year I was off on holiday, wandering around Turkey looking for wild tortoises.  Well, we’re creatures of habit here in the BWM household, so guess what?  I’ve been doing the same thing this year.

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks in Turkey again, in a place called Adakoy near Marmaris.  It’s a fantastic place – mountains and pine woods sweeping down to the sea, and all pretty unspoilt still.  Our hotel was on a small island  about five miles across, which apart from a few other houses was entirely deserted.   I doubt if many people have ever walked for fun across the island, but the craggy rocks, steep hills and pine trees were crying out to be explored.

Once again, I found tortoises.  Lots of tortoises.  I came across a dozen or so on an afternoon’s walk.  They’re still odd things to come across in the wild, but I’m getting more used to them now.

Wild Turkish Tortoise

Wild Turkish Tortoise

On a slightly more scary note, I also came across a snake crossing one of the rocky paths, black in colour and at least three feet long.  I was too slow to take a picture, and at the time I had no desire to plunge into the undergrowth after it.  Looking it up on the internet later, it seems to have been a type of whip snake – impressive but not venomous.

Here’s an interesting creature which was quite common – the Dung Beetle.

Dung Beetles

Dung Beetles

You see, I didn’t lose my fascination with poo just because I was on holiday…

This is the scarab of Egyptian mythology, the kheper hieroglyph.  The Dung Beetle builds itself a round ball of dung, which it then pushes into a hole in the ground and into which it lays its eggs.  The larvae hatch and feed on the dung.  To the Egyptians it symbolised life, and the sun was sometimes thought to be pushed across the sky by a huge dung beetle.  They were fascinating to watch, particularly since they seemed to have no scruples about stealing the dung ball off another beetle.

The hills were home to a variety of birds.  Buzzards were common, soaring on the thermals, as were a group of Ravens.

Raven in Turkey

Raven in Turkey

The whole landscape was very interesting.  Whenever I go on holiday, I’m amazed that so few people ever set foot outside their hotel or off the road.  I had a great time and got to see a whole new part of the world.

Anyway, I’m back in Bedfordshire now and catching up on work, correspondence and general chores.  The weather has obviously been good here because everything in the garden seems to have grown by a couple of feet.  After all my travels lately it’s good to settle down for a long weekend.

 

 

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This is the last of the tortoises, I promise.  I finally got round to downloading some photos off my phone today, including one of this little chap – a tiny little baby tortoise.

Wild Baby Tortoise in Turkey

I came across him (or her – it’s very difficult to tell with tortoises) during a mountain bike ride.  He’s being shy, but I promise that he had the full complement of head and legs.  I’m no expert, but he can’t be more than a year or two old.  It’s a good sign that the population of tortoises in Turkey is a healthy one.

And yes, he is in the palm of my hand.  I did pick it up.  I know this goes against my earlier advice, but I did it because the little fella was making his way across the road when I found him.  I think I was justified in moving him away from the traffic in the interests of safety.

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Yesterday I decided to escape the hurly-burly for a little while and wander off on my own – something I do from time to time.  I like to get off the beaten track.  Yesterday was a new experience for me though, as I went out with the objective of tracking down and finding wild tortoises in the scrub on a nearby hill.

Now, since tortoises are not native to Bedfordshire (not even the 11th Duke of Bedford, who was responsible for introducing so many alien species, managed to introduce tortoises) it’s reasonable to assume that I’m not at home.  In fact, we’re on holiday in Turkey this week.
The coastline at Teos, Turkey
I’m no expert on tortoises, but I came across one a few years ago in a similar environment and at the back of my mind I’ve wanted to find another.  When we arrived at our hotel I noticed the undeveloped countryside in the vicinity and decided to have a look.  The land here in Turkey is arid and dry and the ecosystem is characterised by water saving species.  The vegetation is scrubby and thorny, designed to resist being eaten by the few animal and bird species. Tortoises fit in well here, being able to conserve water and go without drinking for long periods, getting most of the fluid they need from the plants on which they feed.

Wild tortoise in Turkey

Anyhow, I decided to take a walk and look for tortoises. I’m used to having odd ideas like this.  Most of the time they come to nothing.  Sometimes, just sometimes, they’re successful.  After a couple of hours of hopping over limestone outcrops and thrashing through thorn bushes I’d managed to find a couple of splendid tortoises.  They’re funny things to see in the wild – I think I’m used to seeing them as pets and they seem somehow out of place in the countryside.  I was jolly pleased to have found them because they’re a new species that I deliberately set out to find (based on a minimum of knowledge) and I actually managed to do so.

Wild tortoise in Turkey

The only thing I can remember about wild tortoises is that you shouldn’t pick them up.  Apparently they’re quite sensitive to stress.  One of their defensive behaviours is to urinate when attacked.  Not only does this mean you could get covered in tortoise pee, it means that the tortoise loses vital liquid that it may have difficulty replacing.  So, if you come across a tortoise in the wild please leave it where it is, unless it is in obvious danger (like in the middle of the road or something).

Wild tortoise in Turkey

This post is nothing to do with badgers, I’m afraid, but it was an interesting diversion nonetheless.  As I always say, wherever you are, there’s always wildlife to be found…

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