Watching ducks in Ihlara valley

We had a wonderful walk through the Ihlara valley. Confusingly, the river which flows through it is the Melendiz river, and the valley is really named after a nearby town. It was a lovely spring day. The valley was full of families out for a walk. We’d climbed down some steps to look at the murals in the rock-cut church called the Ağaç Altı Kilise before starting on the walk. This is a narrow valley, with the river taking up more than half the width of the valley. Trees straggle down the slopes on either side; we’d passed almond and pistachio trees on the way down. Between the trees and the tall cliffs, the path is well-shaded.

We’d been so busy seeing all the wonderful sights that Cappadocia offers, that we’d not managed to keep much time for simple joys like this. At the end of the trek, we saw a little group of locals who were just chilling. The river bank on our side was too steep to follow their lead and dip our feet into the cold water. The Family had been keeping an informal count of the number of the number of women who cover their heads. Although most Turks are Muslim, the country’s secular constitution has allowed people personal choice in matters of religion. The clearest sign of this is the very large fraction of women who can be seen with their heads uncovered.

Although we couldn’t dip our feet into the water, I could spend some of my time watching ducklings. Elsewhere, we would meet a dedicated group of birders who had seen Dalmatian Pelicans nesting. We had no such luck. But it was pleasant to sit in the cool breeze next to the river and watch the clearest sign of spring: a melee of Mallard ducklings. The adults were in their glossy breeding plumage, but it was the chicks which caught my eye.

The chicks of the Mallard have stripes of black across the eyes, and black on the top of the head and back. I don’t know the identification of this chick. Several of these were mixed in with a bunch of Mallards. Could it be that new hatchlings do not develop black colouration till later? Idle thoughts come to a relaxed and idle mind. That’s a nice state to reach on a holiday.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

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