Birdwatcher captures photos of birds on railways

Birdwatcher captures photos of birds on railways

Birdwatcher captures photos of birds on railways

Birdwatcher Mustafa Erturhan, who has been working in the Turkish Railways (TCDD) for 30 years, has been photographing birds on rails during road maintenance works.

Revealing the relationship between birds and rails, Erturhan has so far photographed 21 bird species in 15 years and created a special series called the “Nature of Railway and Birds.”

Erturhan, a road maintenance chief at the TCDD, got involved in nature photography and birdwatching in 2002 while traveling many regions of Turkey by train for 30 years.

Also a referee for the Turkey’s Anonymous Birds (TRAKUS) observation team and e-Bird Turkey, Erturhan also photographed the birds perched on the rails and created a special series consisting of 21 species in 15 years.

In the series called “The Nature of Railway and Birds,” besides birds, there are other creatures that Erturhan has seen and photographed on the rails. Stating that he has been watching the birds around the railway, Erturhan said that he loaded the photo of a barn swallow, which he took in Zonguldak, on TRAKUS on April 21, 2011.

Stating that he received very good comments from bird watchers for the photo he uploaded, Erturhan said that he made an effort to display the birds on the rails during the road works.

Birds’ relation with rails

Erturhan said that during the 2013 spring migration period, he spotted more than 10 species on the rails, from wheatears to nighthawks, during the road maintenance works on the Konya-Akşehir-Argıthani stations.

“So, I saw that the birds were having a happy relationship with the rails. Rails are not very safe spots as said. Although the rails are made of metal at a height of about 20 centimeters, and their environment is minus 20 degrees in the winter and plus 60 degrees in the summer. They should not be attractive for birds, but it is possible to see birds on the rails all the time.”

Explaining that in the railway nature series, he has photographed many bird species that were guests on the rails in Zonguldak, Malatya, Konya, Afyonkarahisar and Isparta between 2007 and 2022, Erturhan said the finches he lately photographed on the rails in Burdur Station are the 21st bird species in the series.

“It is not as unsafe as it seems, but a six-meter platform in both directions creates an area overlooking the environment. It is an ideal area for predators to watch the environment from an area that is not too high, and for other birds to see the incoming predators,” Erthurhan said, detailing why the birds love the rails.

“It is an ideal area for predators to watch the environment from an area that is not too high, and for other birds to see the incoming predators. In the past, songbirds preferred roads to collect grain from trains carrying grain wagons. In addition, the gaps between the pebbles on the base of the railway host small reptiles such as insects and lizards,” he added.

“We can often see mouse nests under the spare road materials on the roadside. Small bridges and culverts create ideal nesting and resting areas for little owls, steel bridges for rock pigeons, and under bridges for swallows. The tunnels are home to bats, and sparrows and redtails prefer to nest in the waterspouts in the first 20 meters. Kestrels use the spaces under overpasses as nests, and many bird species are protected in these areas in the rain. Magpies like to nest on telegraph poles around rails passing through the open plains and steppes. Trouts and shorebirds can be spotted collecting frogs, snakes and small creatures on tracks on the wetlands. The crows bring the walnuts they collect and hide them between the ballast stones on the rails,” he said.