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Bulanik is a small village in the valley of the Murat River to the northwest of Lake Van in eastern Turkey.
It is famous as one of the very few reasonably reliable sites in the Western Palearctic for Demoiselle Crane. However, even here the birds cannot be guaranteed as they are not always present and can be difficult to locate even when they are and the numbers involved are very small.
The floodplain of the Murat is bordered to the north by hills and there is a gorge at the western end. is wide and flat, largely cultivated land with areas of wet grassland and the river here is fast-flowing with islands and sandbanks. Much of the valley is cultivated land with wet grassland and hay meadows.
Although Demoiselle Crane is the main target species for birders in this area, other breeding birds include Ruddy Shelduck, Common Crane, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pygmy Cormorant and Gull-billed Tern, mainly on islands in the river.
Montagu's Harrier breeds on the floodplain, probably also Short-eared Owl and Black-winged Pratincole and Caspian Tern have bred. Black-bellied Sandgrouse probably breeds, the area is important for Great Bustard and Little Bustard occurs in autumn. Collared Pratincole and Spur-winged Plover have recently been found breeding here.
Birds you can see here include:
Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greylag Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Gadwall, Garganey, Western Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe Eagle, Northern Hobby, Saker Falcon, Common Quail, Spotted Crake, Common Crane, Demoiselle Crane, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Stone-curlew, Collared Pratincole, Black-winged Pratincole (Su,PM), Spur-winged Plover, Northern Lapwing, Great Snipe, Common Redshank, Gull-billed Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Short-eared Owl, Calandra Lark, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, European Stonechat, Marsh Warbler, Rose-coloured Starling, Rook
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Most birders gain access to the floodplain via the village of Yoncali about 8km to the west of Patnos. The road into the village leads to a ridge from which the floodplain can be viewed. A track to the south from Yoncali, beside a petrol station, leads to an area of marshland, good for Glossy Ibis and waders.
For the Demoiselle Crane continue past Yoncali to the turn-off for Balutu (Balatos) on the left. Opposite this is a track towards the river about 4km to the north. This track can be driven for part of its length but this very much depends on water levels. Close to the river it usually becomes necessary to walk. Head westwards along the riverbank and the cranes (if present) can often be seen on the islands in the river or sometimes feeding on the floodplain. The Demoiselle Cranes do not appear every year but when they do they are present from mid May until late August.
There are other tracks leading over the floodplain from Bulanik and Rustemgedik, a small village to the east. On the higher ground between Bulanik and Lake Van is Ha�li Golu, a stream-fed lake well worth visiting during passage periods for the birds feeding aound its shallow, muddy margins and in the surrounding grazing marshes and hay-meadows. Gadwall and Eurasian Spoonbill breed, Ruddy Shelduck and Great White Pelican are regular on passage and Saker Falcon can be found in the nearby hills. It is located about 12km south of Bulanik on the Ovakisla road.
Access and Facilities
Bulanik lies on Route 280, the Mus-Patnos road, about 65km from Patnos.
Bulanik has the only hotel accommodation in the area and it is rather basic. Camping is a possible alternative.
Content and images originally posted by Steve