March 4 was a really beautiful day. With friends, we decided spontaneously go to the fossil forest, north of Ankara. It was my first nature trip with my friend group, so I chose an interesting place for the nature trip, full of trees, fossils and flowers.
Early in the morning, I woke up and prepared my bag, taking my beloved camera with me. After that I got in the car to go to the meeting place. I picked up my enthusiastic friends with me and continued the journey north. We had a brief stop at the northern neighborhood of Yenimahalle, to buy some things to eat and drink. We were also planning a picnic there. (without fire of course) After the stop, we continued our way through the villages of Yakacık and Memlik respectively. After passing through the village of Memlik, we arrived at our first stop, 3-4 km north of that village. The area, which is known as Memlik Pine Grove is locally considered to be sacred and used for rituals. There is a local belief that if you throw a coin under a pine tree and read some verses from Quran your skin problems will be gone. I didn’t test it but we can guess that this belief is really popular with the locals. We always find numerous coins when we visit the pine grove! However, our main focus this time were geophyte flowers like Crocus. The Crocus flowers were numerous! With different colors, like orange, yellow, white. There were many of them. Within the Crocus flowers, there was a similar but distinct purple flower. The Colchicum! Unlike Crocus, it has a bitter taste and locals don’t over harvest them to eat.
Suddenly, our joy and enthusiasm plummeted and got replaced by sadness. We saw that a really beautiful habitat, with bushes, trees and even newly growing young pine trees was converted into a monoculture by the forestry department. The main aim of this monoculture was to help locals, so it was a monoculture of walnut trees, with several almonds in between. I’m personally not against growing walnuts nor almonds, however this is not a suitable place for such a practice. This pine grove is a relict forest, which sheds light on the past vegetation of Central Anatolia. Even if the area was left on its own, together with decreasing the grazing pressure, it would have turned into a pine forest on its own by natural means. Unfortunately, all the bushes and native trees were destroyed and the soil was severely disturbed in order to establish the plantation.
After our first location north of the village of Memlik, we continued our journey north. First we passed through the village of Lezgi, where a natural grove of hazel trees exist inside a stream bed. After that we arrived at the fossil forest, located near the village of Kılıçlar. Together, we searched through the rocks to find interesting fossils of marine life. Luckily, we found many different fossils of different marine species, like gastropods, bivalves and echinoderms. After looking for fossils and finding many, we continued into the pine forest and had a brief picnic. I collected some pine cones, both for decoration and to harvest seeds. We also found several fossils inside the forest. The forest was really healthy despite the extremely alkaline soil. The only problem was that there were several trees infested with pine processionary.
After our journey we headed back to Ankara from the same route. We were really happy, joyful and enthusiastic. It was a really nice journey and we decided to go to different places together some time later.