Friday, 16 June 2017

Kazakhstan 19th May to 31st May : Part 3 : The Mountains

                                    Kazakhstan    Day Eight  :   26th May

                                             The Tien Shan Mountain

Male Eversmann's Redstart.

Today was the day we headed to the Tien Shan Mountains and i couldn't wait , there were so many mouth watering target birds on offer not to mention the superb scenery.

Our first target bird to head for was the quite stunning  Ibisbill , firstly we  had to get our permits from boarder control , whilst we waited for our guides to sort these out we had superb views of a male Eversmann's Redstart on the wires and an Azure Tit showed well on the boarder control building.

Azure Tit.

With permits granted we made our way around to the Big Almaty Lake , we eventually reached the furthest point we could possibly go and were treated to 3 adult Ibisbill's !!!

Really great looking birds and although they were quite distant we had fantastic scope views.

1 of 3 Ibisbill 

We watched these birds feeding & preening for quite sometime and could also hear a Himalayan Snowcock but sadly could not locate it, there were plenty of Tree Pipits doing their display flight calls with a wonderful back drop of snow covered mountains, there was also 5 Ruddy Shelducks on the lake.

The weather turned rather wet & windy which is often the case in the mountains , we tried another area but the rain never let up , we decided to head down the mountain for some lunch and hopefully try again later in the afternoon.

Red Fronted Serin.

I did add Red Fronted Serin to my life list during lunch , the weather cleared up abit so we had a walk around the Alpine Hotel grounds and were treated to a rather wet looking Blue Capped Redstart.

Blue Capped Redstart.

This was once again a new bird for me , whilst watching this a small flock of Tits appeared which included 3 Coal Tits & 3 Songar Tits , wow what cracking looking birds these Songar Tits are , sadly the photos once again don't do them justice.

Songar Tit.

There were plenty of birds calling in the wooded areas including Mistle Thrush , Great Tit & Hume's Leaf Warbler plus we could hear Black Throated Accentor , rather frustratingly these were playing hard to get with only glimpses being seen , however on the way back down i luckily found  one alot closer and we all managed to get great views of another lifer : Black Throated Accentor.

Black Throated Accentor

Kazakhstan  Day Nine  :  27th May

Tien Shan Mountains

Altai Accentor.

Another great day in the Tien Shan Mountains started of with my 1st of 9 lifers today and that was a superb Altai Accentor , in fact i saw 5 of these cracking birds around the Cosmo weather station .

Another Altai Accentor.

The very next bird i saw was a stunning male Guldenstadt's Redstart ,wow what a cracking looking bird , although i saw it very well several times i struggled to get a decent photo .

Digi scoped Guldenstadt's Redstart.

I also saw a female Guldenstadts Redstart  which seemed more happy to pose for a photo.

Female Gudenstadt's Redstart.

There were several  Red Billed Chough nesting around the old buildings.

Red Billed Chough.

Whilst watching the Chough's someone picked out a Lammergeier  which was my 3rd lifer of the day so far, however this was quickly followed by several Plain Mountain Finches.


Plain Mountain Finch.

We added a single Golden Eagle & 3 Common Ravens plus a Northern Wheatear from the Cosmo weather center but had no luck with our hoped for Brown Accentor .

We decided to head back to a lower altitude to check an area of juniper habitat for some other special target birds , as we walked back to the mini bus one of the guides said he could hear a Brown Accentor calling , we soon all started scanning the rocks and finally i picked out a distant Brown Accentor which had 3 Altai Accentors for company , luckily everyone got onto the Brown Accentor .

Digi scoped Brown Accentor.

I was really pleased to see this bird as it completed my 3 hoped for Accentor species on this trip, all of which were lifers for me, whilst watching the Accentors another  Lammergeier flew right over our heads.


We eventually reached the Juniper trees and we started our search for some very special birds , first up was a stunning male White Tailed Rubythroat.

Male White Tailed Rubythroat.

We then saw both male & female Red Mantled Rosefinch , the males being like flying strawberries , unfortunately i never managed a photo of these cracking birds.

However 2 superb White Winged Grosbeaks were great to see and i did manage a couple of photos this time.

White Winged Grosbeak.

We heard and saw a very very distant Himalayan Snowcock and then had great views of a Sulpher Bellied Warbler carrying  nest material.

Carrying nest material.

Sulpher Bellied Warbler.

We didn't stay to long with the Sulpher Bellied Warbler as it was actively nest building and didn't want to disturb to much , that was my 9th new species of the day and pretty much all our target birds seen except one very ,very ,very special bird  on everyone's want list for the trip.

Kazakhstan  Day Ten  :  28th May

The Tien Shan Mountains

Red Fronted Serin.

Our final days birding on the Mountains had come with one very special bird still evading us , we set of and once again had to wait for boarder control to issue permits (which was a theme throughout our time on the mountains).

We did have some great views of  Red Fronted Serins whilst we waited.

Red Fronted Serin.

We headed higher again today to try a get better views of Himalayian Snowcock but our luck run out with this bird , we did see another Lammergeier though.


After awhile we headed back down the mountain to the juniper  bushes again in the very much hoped for sighting of a White Browed Tit Warbler.

We had already put alot of time in for this most wanted bird over the last couple of days , we saw 2 more White Winged Grosbeaks & 1 female Red Mantled Rosefinch, both male & female White Tailed Rubythroats & Eversmann's Redstarts were seen but still no Tit Warbler.

Female White Tailed Rubythroat.

Male White Tailed Rubythroat.

We have seen some fantastic birds today and we had only approx 10 mins left before we had to say goodbye to the Tien Shan Mountains , we were just heading back to the mini bus conceding defeat  in  seeing the Tit Warbler  when our guide stopped in his tracks and said i can hear a White Browed Tit Warbler  he then set off at a fast speed to find it.......

WOW, WOW ,WOW is all i can say as i set my eyes on a stonking male ........................................


White Browed Tit Warbler.

The whole group was in complete melt down with joy ,  the vibrant colours on this bird were amazing , fantastic scope views and what a bird to end our mountain adventure with !!!!

The final part of my holiday to Kazakhstan is in the Korgalzhyn State National Park area with some special Larks & Gulls and an extremely rare Wader .

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