A Weekend of Nature

This weekend was mostly spent communing with nature. Istanbul, a city that has been a city for thousands of years, now is a true concrete jungle with few parks and no quiet places. The few green places inside the city are cemeteries and the occasional trash-filled park. On Saturday, I went with a friend to pet feral dogs in a little visited Adile Sultan Kasrı which is not even featured on maps as a park. There I identified a number of plants which, like most of the plants on this planet, I did not know.

I guess some of my favorites include:

  • Muscari Botroides
  • Veronica sp.
  • Euphorbia Helisconia
  • Borago officinalis


One of the cool surprises of the day was seeing the wild form of Rocket (Roka) otherwise known as Eruca sativa! Like so many of the foods of Europe it also belongs to the cabbage family (just like canola, mustard, and brusselsprouts).

I took my friend to this park because many of the wild dogs who live there had puppies about a month ago. She, like any decent being, loves puppies.


The next day I went to Kuş Cenneti –a poorly kept little bird reserve on the south side of the sea of Marmara. This was my second visit. As right now birds are making their way north I saw a very different set of birds from the ones I saw three weeks ago. In total I saw 42 species of birds.

Highlights include:

  • Common Moorhen
  • Flamingo
  • Spoonbil
  • Black-tailed Gotwit
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Lapwing
  • Syrian Woodpecker
  • Night Heron

I also got to see two species of turtle and one species of tortoise.

Walking back from the park to the highway, I saw the carcass of what was probably a Scops Owl. I suspect it was it by a car and later mauled by the three Kangal dogs that also harassed me as I walked by. After seeing the owl, I walked into the cemetery across the road. I thought it would be a good place to look for woodpeckers and possible sleeping owls. I didn’t hear any woodpeckers and so I decided to rest for a while. Cemeteries are great places to rest. I put my gear down by a nice shady tree and rolled up my coat to use as a cushion. As I looked down to clear the ground of pine cones, I saw a familiar shape: an owl pellet.

I didn’t get to see a living owl this trip – just the carcass of one and the balled up indigestible parts of the voles and mice that some owl, perhaps even the deceased one, ate.

Back in Bandırma, the town closest to Kuş Cenneti, I had some of the best tavuk şiş that I have ever had. The soup was good too. The veggie plate came with two pieces of Çiğ Köfte which was made very differently from what I am used, yet very delicious. It reminded me of Mercimek Köftesi as it had parsley in it and the bulgur was coarse. I also treated my waist-line to a portion of Kadayıf.


I took a long walk out the jetty into the Marmara and enjoyed watching the Yellow-legged Gulls having their supper.




The Waterleaft!
Hydrophyllum macrophyllum — The Waterleaft!

I have spent the last month or so riding around Bloomington, identifying wildflowers, birds, and stuff like that.  Much of my time is spent doing this, when I am not wallowing in self-pity given my current academic situation and my still worse but intimately connected financial situation. And it is cool to see the fruits of my labors. Spend enough time outside and you will see very cool things. I guess I know why people are attracted to cities –I certainly am. Everything in there is digested, designed for people. Cities are great places to meet people safely. The food is prepared, the sights, smells, and sounds carefully prepared, rationed and delivered to your door. Living in a city truly is similar to life in the honeycomb, where each worker has her job, and her senses are stimulated just so.

What follows are some highlights from my cycle rides, walks, and climbs. There are deadly snakes, parasitic plants, ancient streams, and gorgeous flowers (all captured with varied results with a questionable camera). I hope you enjoy them –some images need to be looked at large!

At Cedar Bluffs
At Cedar Bluffs
bulbosa I think
Cardamine — bulbosa I think
Blue-Eyed Mary Figwort family
Collinsia verna — Blue-Eyed Mary
Figwort family
Eurycea cirrigera — The southern two-lined salamander

Continue reading “Spring”

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