Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spring 2010 Volunteer Positions at Aras & Kuyucuk Bird Ringing (Banding) Stations in northeastern Turkey

The environmental NGO KuzeyDoga Society has been monitoring and ringing birds at Aras and Kuyucuk Bird Ringing (Banding) stations in northeastern Turkey's Kars and Igdir provinces. We have so far recorded 313 bird species in the Kars region, over two-thirds of the country’s species, including most of eastern Turkey specialties. 170 bird species have been ringed and both numbers are still rising. A bird list is here:

This is a part of the Kars-Igdir Biodiversity Project led by ornithologist, ecologist and conservationist Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu (, senior scientist at Stanford University Biology Department and the president of KuzeyDoga. As a result of our multi-year efforts to protect and monitor the region’s bird diversity while benefiting local people from ecotourism, KuzeyDoga was honored to receive from HRH Princess Anne the 2008 Whitley Gold Award, the most presitigous grassroots conservation award of the United Kingdom (

Our conservation and ecotourism efforts have culminated in the designation of Lake Kuyucuk as Turkey’s 13. and eastern Turkey’s first RAMSAR wetland, and Kuyucuk’s election as Turkey’s 2009 European Destination of Excellence by the European Commission.

Aras Station (950 m a.s.l., 40º 07' N, 043º 35' E) is in a wetland by the Aras river and is surrounded by reeds and willows. Kuyucuk Lake (1627 m a.s.l., 40º 45' N, 043º 27' E) is a bird-rich steppe lake surrounded by wheat fields and alpine meadows. Photos can be seen on

You can see the lists of species ringed daily at both stations in the following blogs:

Both stations have over 200 bird species, collectively exceeding 270 species, 60% of the entire avifauna of Turkey. Over 22,500 birds of 170 species have been ringed, including many Turkey specialties and rarities such as Spotted Crake, Great Snipe, Long-legged Buzzard, Ruddy Shelduck, Levant Sparrowhawk, Pallid Harrier, Little Crake, Syrian Woodpecker, Citrine Wagtail, Corncrake, River Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Caucasian Chiffchaff, Green Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Short-toed Lark, Siberian Stonechat, Finsch’s Wheatear, Moustached Warbler, Upcher’s Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Menetrie’s Warbler, Barred Warbler, Red-throated Flycatcher, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Rose-colored Starling, Common Rosefinch and Black-headed Bunting.

In spring 2010, ringing will begin at Aras station on March 15, 2010 and will end on May 31, 2009. The start date of Kuyucuk station depends on the weather but will be around April 1. We are looking for volunteers who will help ring birds at our stations between these dates. The facilities are basic but comfortable, with amenities such as hot showers and Western-style flush toilets. Minimum participation must be at least 15 days, ideally one month or more.

Accommodation at the Aras station will be provided in the former teacher's house with a capacity of 5 beds. Western-style flush toilet, hot shower, kitchen, and stove are available in the house. Volunteers are responsible for preparing the breakfast whereas delicious lunch and dinner are cooked locally.

At Kuyucuk, accommodation will be provided in the former teacher's house with 6 beds in the village and in a cabin by the lake with a capacity of 4 beds. Western-style flush toilet, hot shower and kitchen are available in the house. Volunteers are responsible for preparing the meals with supplies provided by KuzeyDoga. Since Lake Kuyucuk is mile-high in elevation, we recommend our volunteers to bring their own sleeping bags and cold weather clothes, particularly in April. During the day, it will be 15-20 C, warming up as spring progresses.

Each station will be led by a licensed master ringer(s) and volunteers will be responsible for checking the nets hourly, collecting birds from nets, bringing to the ringing center, recording the data on data sheets, making orientation experiments, releasing the ringed birds and preparing the meals. We usually have English speaking ringers at the stations and our English-speaking staff can be reached at all times. KuzeyDoga Society may move volunteers between stations depending on available capacity.

At our stations, you can, by alternating, go hiking, go birdwatching, look for herbs, butterflies, and dragonflies, go fishing at Aras river as long as it is catch and release, watch fall raptor migration, stargaze, ride horses and have exciting cultural experiences, such as participating in village festivities.

Anybody who is interested and can volunteer at least 15 days between the dates mentioned above should get in touch with and let him know your name, last name, the dates you are available, and any questions.

KuzeyDoga Society
Projects Coodinator

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Turkey names 13th Ramsar site


The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has designated Lake Kuyucuk (Kuyucuk Gölü) (416 hectares, 40°45’N 043°27’E) as Turkey’s 13th Wetland of International Importance. As summarized by Nadezhda Alexeeva from the RIS, this Wildlife Reserve is one of the most important wetlands of Kars province in northeastern Turkey – the freshwater stream- and spring-fed lake is surrounded by treeless steppe and sparse Phragmites reed patches, and the area may be typical of what much of the Anatolian Steppe grassland-wetland community used to consist of before widespread degradation of its water bodies over the past several hundred years.

Located along the African-Eurasian migration flyways, the lake is a crucial stop-over and breeding site for many bird species, including ten globally threatened. Every fall the site hosts up to 30,000 Ruddy Shelducks. The lake is currently the only source of water for the three surrounding villages. Human activities around the lake include cereal production and livestock grazing. The area is attractive for birdwatching and nature tourism; in 2009 it received the European Destination of Excellence award. Threats are seen from over-grazing (especially in reed beds that provide important habitats for birds), disturbance for birds caused by cattle, and pollution from surrounding villages and livestock farming.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Internation Nature School visited Lake Kuyucuk

United Nations Award-Winner, International Nature School, an education program organized by Nature Society, was held for the fifth time this year and brought together fifteen young students from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey. Open to those undergraduates and final year’ undergraduates who wish to take an active part in the conservation of nature and to improve their understanding on natural world, and to apply for participating free-of-charge, Nature School started in Sarıkamış Çamkar Hotel in Kars, in cooperation and hosting of KuzeyDoğa Society on 26 October 2009. Four Azerbaijani, three Armenian, four Georgian, and four Turkish students will participate in the 5th semester of Nature School that provides the youth in search of taking an active part in conservation efforts with experiences, and that aims at establishing a human resource in this field for the sake of effectively preserving the environment of Turkey and Caucasia Biodiversity hotspot.

To be organized in two one-week’ sections, Nature School will start with fundamental ecology and biology knowledge and end with the subjects of problem analysis and sustainable solutions. Able to provide the young ones with the on-site opportunity to see the nature-related problems and their solutions and to gain experiences through the lectures of different experts, Nature School will also play a significant part in the fulfillment of the lack of human resources regarding the nature conservation in the participating countries.

In Nature School, for which admissions are free-of-charge, the young individuals from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey will be educated in Kars and Rize in the form of two modules as fieldworks and interactive events.

During the initial 4 days of the education, which will last 6 days, the students will be lectured by experts in many subjects varying from general ecology to the geology of Caucasia, from the biogeography of the Caucasian area to the analysis of utilization of natural lands, and they will visit the important natural areas of the province of Kars during the remaining two days. Nature school participants will on the first day of the fieldworks visit Sarıkamış Forests and Allahuekber Mountains, an important natural region, and on the second day, will go to the Lake Kuyucuk, Turkey’s 13th East Anatolia’s first and unique RAMSAR area, selected by the European Commission as European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) in 2009, around which fieldworks are carried out by KuzeyDoğa Society.

By now, 75 young nature conservationists have graduated from blue-roofed, green walled, Nature School that provides, in addition to the theoretical information, practices focused on “learning by experiencing”. A significant portion of the Nature School graduates are actively working for many nature conservation institutions such as TEMA, WWF Turkey, Nature Society, Ege Natural Life Conservation Society and KuzeyDoğa Society. Thanks to the newly graduates, Nature School, which has come to be an international institution, will contribute to conservation of not only Turkey’s nature but of Caucasian Biodiversity Hotspot, one of the most important 34 hotspots of the world.

Kuyucuk Station 2009 Fall Season Volunteers

1-Güler Bozok (Hacettepe University)
2-Yiğit Ozan Çolak (Hacettepe University)
3-Abdurrahman Sefalı (Yüzüncü Yıl University)
4-Libor Praus (Czech Republic)
5-Jindrich Sedlacek (Czech Republic)
6-İlknur Çelebi (Kafkas University)
7-Remzi Cevher (Kafkas University)
8-Taner Şimay (Kafkas University)
9-Jerry Lewis (England)
10-Ron Clevely (England)
11-Cihangir Kirazlı (Anadolu University)
12-Seda Önemci (Uludağ University)
13-Esma Akdoğan (Gazi University)
14-Kerem Soyöz (Istanbul)
15-Kirsty Jane Lees (Scotland)
16-Ahmet Yesari Selçuk (Hacettepe University)
17-Cihan Odabaşı (Hacettepe University)
18-Ayşen Erdil (WWF - Turkey)
19-Nergis Yazgan (WWF - Turkey)
20-İlker Burgaç (WWF - Turkey)
21-Dave Hazard (England)
22-Robert Shaw (England)
23-Vedat Güç (Istanbul)

Kuyucuk Bird Ringing Station End Season

Two of Turkey’s three bird-ringing stations, namely Kuyucuk and Aras Bird-Ringing Stations, have just ended their fall 2009 studies. Total number of the birds ringed in both stations through the fieldworks conducted by KuzeyDoğa Society, Kars Directorate of Environment and Forestry, Iğdır Directorate Environment and Forestry and Kafkas University, reached collectively to 5439.

Kuyucuk Bird Research and Education Center is situated by the Lake of Kuyucuk, in the district of Arpaçay, province of Kars. In fall 2007, the bird-ringing studies were initiated at Kuyucuk Bird Research and Education Center, and this year’s works started on 21 August 2009 and ended on 26 October 2009. For the period of the aggregate 66 days of ringing, 2571 birds from 67 species were ringed. 17 persons from Hacettepe, Gazi, Anadolu, Yüzüncü Yıl, Uludağ and Kafkas Universities worked voluntarily, and 5 expert ringers provided us with support during the activities. And also, during the observations by Kirsty Jane Lees, a Scottish volunteer of us, a goldeneye was classified to be a member in the fauna of Kuyucuk whose number of the species then became 212.

26 October 2009

Today is the last day of fall season 2009 at Kuyucuk Bird Research and Education Center. We ringed 30 birds out of 9 species.

Today's birds are:

Corn Bunting
Reed Bunting
Water Pipit
Moustached Warbler
Calandra Lark
Jack Snipe

25 October 2009

Today we ringed 18 birds out of 6 species.

Today's birds are:

Corn Bunting
Reed Bunting
Calandra Lark
Jack Snipe