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Central Anatolia's Flamingo Lakes

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  • TurkC-L
    Central Anatolia s Flamingo Lakes Tansu Gurpinar* Flamingos are fairly widespread in Turkey, and can be seen in almost every region of Anatolia apart from the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 1998
      Central Anatolia's Flamingo Lakes

      Tansu Gurpinar*

      Flamingos are fairly widespread in Turkey, and can be seen in
      almost every region of Anatolia apart from the region of Trakya
      to the northwest, the Black Sea and southeast Anatolia. They are
      most common in central Anatolia.

      Flamingos are striking birds with their bright colours - a
      combination of white, scarlet and black, their long legs, curved
      necks and blunt beaks, and elegant appearance in flight. And only
      in flight, or preparing for flight, is their brightly coloured
      plumage fully visible. They tend to congregate in large flocks of
      several thousand in Turkey's wetlands, and where conditions are
      appropriate will gather in groups of ten thousand or more. Most
      such sightings are in the central Anatolian region.

      It is no coincidence that flamingos are concentrated in this
      region of Turkey, because it is here that wetlands with an
      ecological structure suitable for flamingos are mainly to be

      At the centre of the region is Tuz Golu or Salt Lake, Turkey's
      second largest lake in terms of its area. This lake is the most
      important breeding ground and habitat for flamingos in Turkey.
      Five other lakes in the vicinity, Kulu, Tersakan, Bolluk, Kozanli
      and Esmekaya, and a little further away Lake Seyfe near Kirsehir,
      Sultansazligi marshes near Kayseri, and the Eregli reed marshes
      in the province of Konya are all home to large numbers of

      The ecological feature common to most of the lakes named above is
      that the water is saline and has a high soda content. Although
      flamingos prefer water of this type, they also sometimes gather
      at freshwater lakes with extensive reed beds such as Kozanli,
      Esmekaya and Eregli because of their proximity to wetlands whose
      ecology is salt based.

      The thick blunt beaks of the flamingos are designed to pick up
      the tiny marine life and algae which form their diet. They dredge
      the mud on the lake bottom and hold it between their thick
      tongues and palate. The edges of their beaks serve as a filter
      which holds back the microscopic foodstuffs on which they feed,
      while the grains of soil are washed away. That is the secret of
      how thousands of flamingos manage to survive in the seemingly
      arid wastes of salt lakes without any obvious food source in
      sight. They owe it all to their marvellous beak.

      Since very ancient times the people of Anatolia have been
      fascinated by flamingos, as we see from artefacts uncovered in
      archaeological excavations. At the Museum of Anatolian
      Civilisations in Ankara there are jars and jugs with pouring lips
      in the form of flamingo beaks.

      A flock of flamingos in flight is an awe-inspiring sight. When
      they first take to the air it is the flapping of thousands of
      wings which dominates the picture, then as they rise higher they
      seem to flow through the air rather than fly. Your horizon is
      transformed into bands of black, scarlet and white. The sky is a
      mass of colour and movement, and not birds but colour flows into
      the distance. This dream-like scene ends when they glide silently
      down to rest at the chosen point.

      * Tansu Gurpinar is a biologist and photographer.
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