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Birds in Paradise

The Göksu delta is a wild and windy wetland of marshes, reeds and just the occasional bird-watcher. Here, thousands of the rarest birds break their journey across the Levant. By Alice Carswell with photographs by Nâfiz Güder.

If we could fly over the Göksu Delta like the cranes and geese that wing their way between food and roost, we would be struck by the sweep of lakes, rushes and reeds in this dusty and rocky corner of Turkey, near the Mediterranean town of Silifke. The jarring proximity of a monstrous paper mill and sprawling holiday developments further belies the existence of a wetland idyll that is a sanctuary for birds. Known locally as kuş cenneti (bird paradise), the Göksu Delta boasts the longest avian checklist of any site in Turkey. One of the few places in Europe where the Purple Gallinule, Smyna Kingfisher and Imperial Eagle can be seen, it has become a mecca for bird-watchers.

The Göksu Delta is a mosaic of habitats lying along the last few kilometres of the majestic Göksu river. Rising in the heart of the Toros Mountains, the river has over the centuries repeatedly rearranged its meeting place with the sea, slowly shaping the landscape. More recently, man has coaxed the waters into chennels and ditches which fan out between the tamed parts of the delta. The whole – lakes, salt-steppes, dunes and fields – provides an environment of contrasts which is ideal for some 300 species.

Cornucopia 9 (1995/96) for the five-page feature including a full glossary of the birds of the Göksu Delta

Alice Carswell fell in love with Turkey and spent 10 very happy years there involved in various environmental projects. She died in 2001

To read the full article, purchase Issue 9

Buy the issue
Issue 9, 1995/96 Ideal Worlds
£100.00 / $126.69 / €118.29
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 9
  • A Room for the Books

    The library of Ahmet Vefik Pasha, by Patricia Daunt with photographs by Simon Upton. Secluded on a cliff beside the fortress of Rumeli Hisarı is a kiosk that was once the retreat of a bon vivant bibliophile.

  • Stone Age Renaissance

    Turkey’s most innovative architects are learning from the nation’s fast vanishing heritage. Barnaby Rogerson and Rose Baring report on the work of Ahmet Igdirligil, a man dedicated to bringing the logic and fabric of the past into the present day.

  • On the Roof of the World

    The sixteenth-century Atik Valide Mosque in Üsküdar was built as a tribute to the beautiful Venetian woman, captured by Hayreddin Barbarossa, who went on to dominate the Ottoman court. Godfrey Goodwin witnesses the skilful recladding of the mosque’s magnificent dome.

  • The Changing Amazon

    Scholars are exploding the stereotype of the submissive sex. Depictions of Anatolian women through the ages, seen at a memorable exhibition at the Topkapi Palace, are part of their ammunition. Report by Jennifer Scarce

  • Jewels of the Fall

    Along with salads, pickles are an important part of Turkish cookery throughout the year. They range from simple sweet and sour vegetable relishes marinaded in vinegar, or quick-brined side dishes of fish or cucumber, to serious vinegar-based preserves that last well into winter.
    More cookery features

  • Artistic Licence

    Kámil Gök lived all his life in the village of Dereliköy, among people who neither sculpt nor paint. In 1972 he became an impulsive sculptor. As his work proliferated his neighbours turned against him…

More in the Guide
Buy the issue
Issue 9, 1995/96 Ideal Worlds
£100.00 / $126.69 / 4,161.47 TL
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