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Like many Turkish wetlands this site can be among the best birding areas in the Western Palearctic or virtually birdless depending on water levels.
This large lake, in the south-west of Turkey, is rather saline and can cover more than 6,000ha with extensive marshes on the western shore. The surrounding area is largely cultivated with some woodland patches and Salicornia flats close to the lake.
To the south there are wooded hills with breeding raptors and forest birds. The lake is an important stopover site for large numbers of migrant waterfowl and waders and a wide variety of species occur here in winter.
Breeding species at Bafa Golu include Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole and Spur-winged Plover with Great Reed Warbler and Eurasian River Warbler in the waterside vegetation. Dalmatian Pelican is present most of the year but does not breed and White-tailed Eagle is present in small numbers and may still breed in the area. Pied Kingfisher is sometimes recorded.
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, shrikes and Black-headed Bunting and Ortolan Bunting are common in the surrounding farmland as well as Spanish Sparrow and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. The wooded hills to the south hold Cretzschmar's Bunting, Krüper's Nuthatch and Sombre Tit.
Passage periods bring Dalmatian Pelican (and occasionally Great White Pelican) and Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis and various herons to the lake in addition to many species of wader including Broad-billed Sandpiper. Mediterranean Gull and Whiskered Tern and White-winged Tern are common during spring and autumn.
The farmland has European Roller and European Bee-eater and raptors occur in good numbers and can include Black Kite and harriers, Lesser Kestrel, Northern Hobby and Red-footed Falcon can all be seen and Eleonora's Falcon hunt along the shores. Bonelli's Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard breed in the nearby hills and can often be seen around the lake.
In winter the lake supports grebes, Dalmatian Pelican and Pygmy Cormorant and variable numbers of waterfowl.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Cormorant, Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Pochard, Black Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Northern Hobby, Eleonora's Falcon, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Spur-winged Plover, Dunlin, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Black Tern, Pied Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Calandra Lark, Black-headed Wagtail, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Cetti's Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Sombre Tit, Krüper's Nuthatch, Spanish Sparrow, Ortolan Bunting, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Black-headed Bunting
The Bafa Golu area is of great interest to botanists with a colourful array of orchids in bloom in May. These include Holy Orchid Orchis sancta, Bug Orchid Orchis coriophora, Anatolian Orchid Orchis anatolica, Yellow Bee Orchid Ophrys lutea and the related O. reinholdii and mammosa, and the Tongue Orchid Serapias lingua.
Reptiles are well represented with Agama and Glass Snake particularly common. The wooded mountains to the south-east may still hold a few Brown Bear.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
Bafa Golu lies about 150km south of Izmir on the southern edge of the Buyuk Menderes river valley. It can be reached via Route 525, the Izmir-Milas road which follws the western shore of the lake. The birding interest lies mainly in the northern quarter reached by turning east off Route 525 at a roundabout confusingly known locally as 'Dalyan'; located at the southern end of the valley floor just prior to the hills. Continue along this track past a cypress plantation and on towards the lake. A track off to the right leads to the lake or follow the main track which becomes a raised embankment eventually leading to Sercin. However, there is a gate before the start of the levee which may be locked.
There are two campsites and hotel accommodation at the southeastern end of the lake and further afield there are hotels in the town of Selcuk. Kusadasi is now a very popular tourist destination and for Bafa Golu is within easy reach of visitors staying there.
WWF Turkey 
Content and images originally posted by Steve