Rain Rain Rain

Filmmakers Blog, May 29, 2013

Our first major shoot for SongbirdSOS was in the Netherlands and Turkey. It rained almost every day, all the time, everywhere we went.  On this day in the Aras River valley, we were not soaking wet, but the rain water had run down the mountains, trickled into streams that poured into the valley. In order to reach the bird banding site in Aras where we were filming, we had to cross streams that had grown from mere trickles to rushing rivers.  We had to carry, piece by piece, all of our precious camera equipment across the stream. The rocks were slippery and the tug of the water was strong. It was quite treacherous, and we had to cross at least six times during our short stay.  Luckily, our crossings were successful with very wet feet but amazing footage to show for it.

Mike the ringer

Filmmakers Blog, May 28, 2013

This is Mike, a ringer from South Africa. He travels to Aras Turkey to volunteer at the bird banding station during migration season. How he got there is an interesting story… One year at the Aras Bird banding station  someone banded a “Turkish” barn swallow. This same swallow was later re-trapped in South Africa.  A dialogue between the banding stations started and Mike ended up following the swallows path, travelling to Aras Turkey to volunteer at the very place where the swallow was first caught. He’s retired now, spends each spring and fall banding birds at various places in the world and by doing so, contributes enormously to bird conservation. The planet needs more Mike’s.



Filming at Lake Kuyucuk near Kars Turkey

Filmmakers blog, May 28, 2013

Filming at Lake Kuyucuk near Kars Turkey

Lake Kuyucuk is near the far east border between Turkey and Armenia, near the Dead Sea. It is a beautiful spot, made more beautiful because of the conservation work of the KuzeyDoga Society. We filmed here during spring migration with Çağan H. Şekercioğlu. Çağan with KuzeyDoga played a key role in gaining international Ramsar recognition for Lake Kuyucuk. The lake is home to over 40,000 birds of 227 species, a key habitat for globally Endangered White-headed Duck and Egyptian Vulture. It also provides a safe stop over site for migrating songbirds, and it is mecca for international birdwatchers.


Bird Banding Hut at dusk. Lake Kuyucuk  near Kars, Turkey

There is an international convention going on inside that caravan!  Me a Canadian director with a crew from France, filming tireless volunteers from different corners of the earth who have come to Lake each spring to band migrating birds.  With mist nests out every morning and late afternoon, they have documented hundreds of species over the years. Çağan H. Şekercioğlu won a Whitley Award in 2008 and again in 2013 for his work here, which aims to protect wetland ecosystems whilst bringing real benefits to local people.

Çağan and road kill Near Kars, Turkey

May 27. 2013 Kars Turkey

Çağan and road kill Near Kars Turkey

Dr. Çağan H. Şekercioğlu is a conservation ecologist at the University of Utah, but it’s his field-work in his native Turkey that got us excited about including him in SongbirdSOS. Our trip to film with him near Kars was C R A Z Y. Cagan certainly is a guy on the go – a force to be reckoned with. We had just met and we were traveling with him in our rented mini van and he suddenly demanded that we stop immediately! He jumped out of the car, grabbed his camera, and began photographing. He had spotted a rare Egyptian vulture.  (This is a man who has a bird list nearly 600 species long). The vulture was circling road kill. The road kill being another bird. So we all jumped out filmed him telling us this story.


Amar Arhab

Zupten Netherlands, May 24, 2013

Here is Amar Arhab, our wonderful camera man, kindly draining the water out of the water jugs we used as counter weights for our high angle shots, while at the same tie trying to squeeze in a smoke break. That’s the truth of our shooting schedule — we never really stop moving.

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