Monday, 12 June 2017

Kazakhstan 19th May to 31st May Part Two : Next 4 Days

                                       Kazakhstan   Day Four :  22nd May

                                       Sogety Plains  &  Kokpek Pass

'Eastern' Nightingale.

I had another early morning solo birding session around the accommodation before we set of on our days birding , i saw pretty much the same as yesterday : 4 Azure Tits , 1 Common Rosefinch & 2 Eastern Nightingales plus i heard a Grasshopper Warbler.

We set of early to the Sogety Plains again in another search for Asian Desert Warbler and this time after some searching we were lucky  to finally see one , not great views but good enough to get a positive id , i have been lucky enough to have seen 2 before in the UK .

Asian Short Toed Lark.

There were plenty of Asian Short Toed Larks and i was lucky enough to spot 2 distant Black Bellied Sandgrouse which were new species for me however to far for a photo (on this occasion).

Black Eared Kite.

I had great views of a Black Eared Kite as it flew overhead , we also saw another Steppe Eagle & 2 Long Legged Buzzards.

We were then taken to the Kokpek Pass to see a Pale Sand Martin colony which had about 100 pairs nesting in a sand bank , these were another new species for me, there are a few little differences between these and Sand Martin , the most noticeable difference being the breast band doesn't meet in the middle which is quite obvious when they fly right overhead.

Note gap in breast band.

Pale Sand Martin.

There was also a few Indian House Sparrows on wires near the colony , as far as i know these are a 'race' of House Sparrow and not a full species?! 

Indian House Sparrow.

There were lot's of Rollers , European Bee-eaters & Lesser Grey Shrikes in the surrounding area.

Lesser Grey Shrike.

Our final destination was for a bird that can be tricky to see and luckily our guide knew the exact location for this species , Hume's Whitethroat , once again i had great views but struggled to get any decent photos , but as i always say 'seeing them is what counts'.

Hume's Whitethroat.

Kazakhstan  Day Five : 23rd May

Sorbulak Lake  &  Taukum  Desert

Plus  The Wishing Tree.

Dalmatian Pelican.

We started the day at Sorbulak Lake and the first birds seen were approx 10 Dalmatian Pelicans and although they were quite distant you could appreciate the sheer size of them , these were a new species for me (not counting the Cornwall bird...).

Other birds seen were several Ruddy Shelduck , Garganey , Gadwall , Common Shelduck , Mallard & Shoveler which were all new birds for the trip list.

Then 2 White Headed Ducks were added to the list quickly followed by Great White Egret , Grey Heron & 2 Black Winged Stilts.

White Headed Duck.

Nearby was a superb Hobby perched and a stunning European Bee-eater adding a flash of colour.


European Bee-eater.

There were Blyth's Reed Warblers calling from the reeds plus an Oriental Turtle Dove flew through , then someone picked out 2 Terek Sandpipers.

1 of 2 Terek Sandpipers.

We also saw our first Gulls of the trip with both Caspian & Black Headed Gulls seen , this was a really great birding session however we had to drag ourselves away as we had other sites to visit.

The Wishing Tree.

I was really pleased to visit the Wishing Tree as when i was researching this trip most people had mentioned this tree in their trip reports , it's basically a tree in the desert which is a migrant magnet for birds , sadly it looks like this tree is on it's last legs (or trunks..) however there was a great selection of migrants on it when we arrived : 3 Spotted Flycatchers , 1 Blyth's Reed Warbler , 4 Hume's Leaf Warblers , 3 Greenish Warblers , Lesser Whitethroat , Common Rosefinch , 3 Barred Warbler (including 1 stunning adult bird) , Rose Coloured Starling & 1 Red Headed Bunting all on one lone tree, incredible!!

Greenish Warbler on the Wishing Tree.

Whilst looking at all the birds on the Wishing Tree a Demoiselle Crane flew overhead , a Bimaculated Lark was close by , Long Legged Buzzard , Little Ringed Plover & Pied Wheatear were all seen nearby.

Demoiselle Crane.

The Demoiselle Crane was yet another new bird for me , this was once again a great place to bird but we had to move on as our next stop was the Taukum Desert.

Greater Sand Plover.

We soon arrived at the Taukum desert and was greeted with 20+ Greater Sand Plovers in a whole range of plumage including some very bright adult birds.

Greater Sand Plovers in flight.

I really enjoyed watching these waders (one of my fav family of birds) , they were quite approachable ,all this with a constant bird song of both Calandra & Bimaculated Larks, then all of a sudden we had very close views of 2 Black Bellied Sandgrouse as they flew by us.

Black Bellied Sandgrouse.

Kasakhstan  Day Six  :   24th May

Taukum Desert  & Turanga Woodland

Small portion of a flock of  Rose Coloured Starlings.

This morning we headed to the Turanga Woodland where we were hoping to see some very special birds , on route through the Taukum desert we encounted 1000's of  Rose Coloured Starlings with their very bright pink plumage .

We also had another main target species to try for before we went to Turanga and that was Saxaul Sparrow , our guide knew of a nest site on route and sure enough after a little wait we saw both male & female Sauxaul Sparrows.

Male Saxaul Sparrow.

I had really great views of these birds however getting a clear photo wasn't that easy, we also saw Ferruginous Duck , Great Crested Grebe & Great White Egret before we reached the Woodland.

One of the main target birds at Turanga woodland is Yellow Eyed Pigeon which is a declining world species with only a population of approx 25,000 left in the World.

We were very lucky with the Yellow Eyed Pigeon as our keen eyed guide found 2 birds almost straight away, they were quite distant but great scope views were obtained.

2 Yellow Eyed Pigeons.

Whilst watching these a White Tailed Eagle was spotted overhead and was joined briefly by a Short Toed Eagle.

White Tailed & Short Toed Eagles.

Wow what a start, we then carried on our walk in this quite open woodland and the next bird to appear was another new species for me Shikra , not the best of views at first but later we saw a 2nd bird which showed much better but sadly i never managed a photo.

Next up was Turkestan Tit which is a 'race' of  Great Tit and not a full species in it's own right as far as i know ?!

Turkestan Tit.

It's a much paler , greyer  version of Great Tit but really a smart looking bird. As i was the only one of our group to have already seen White Winged Woodpecker the rest of the group were keen to see one so that was our next target bird at this wonderful woodland , it didn't take long to find them either as 2 White Winged Woodpeckers were playing chase nearby , i didn't manage to get a clear photo this time but you can still see the huge white patch on the wings.

White Winged Woodpecker.

This is a fantastic woodland to bird in and great views were obtained of all target species , we were in for one more special bird before we left , on the edge of the woodland the habitat was low bushes and scrub which held several Syke's Warblers and we were lucky enough to see 2 birds which were yet again another new species for me.

Syke's Warbler.

Kasakhstan   Day Seven :  25th May.

Taukum Desert  & Area of Ancient Petroglyphs

Greater Sand Plover.

We started off in the desert again this morning and our main target bird and my most wanted bird on this trip was Caspian Plover , we saw the now regular Greater Sand Plovers which are cracking birds to see.

2 Greater Sand Plovers.

We drove further into the desert and stopped the mini bus and had a scan across the steppe , someone picked out a 'White head' , on closer inspection it was a CASPIAN PLOVER !!!

My first view of a Caspian Plover.

The views got better & better !!!!!

Caspian Plover , what a bird !!!!

We saw 7 adult males  in total, i was so very happy to see these , we spent quite sometime looking at these superb birds before it was time to head off , we called into a small lagoon  area which was surrounded by farm buildings , i picked out a large bird of prey which on closer views turned out to be a Eastern Imperial Eagle , before this trip i had only seen 1 before but nothing compared to these views.

Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Around the lagoon was a imm. Black Crowned Night Heron and several Little Ringed Plovers plus a female Citrine Wagtail.

Black Crowned Night Heron.

There had been a fall of migrants around the farm buildings , there seemed to be Blyth's Reed Warblers everywhere with at least 30 birds.

Blyth's Reed Warbler.

There was also several Spotted Flycatcher and a number of Black Eared Kites in the area.

Spotted Flycatcher.

A really great birding session here (i seem to be saying that alot) , we had quite a journey ahead as we were going to an ancient  petroglyph's site which is also a site for nesting Eastern Rock Nuthatch.

Eastern Rock Nuthatch near the nest.

Eastern Rock Nuthatch.

One of the Petroglyph's.

I also saw another Indian Golden Oriole plus there were more Blyth's Reed Warblers calling from deep inside the reed beds and i had great views of a Red Headed Bunting.

Red Headed Bunting.

Well that's the end of the first seven days , once again well done if you have managed to read it all , Part three is about my time in the Mountains .

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