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