28 APR 2007, SW-side Khar Us Nuur, c.40 km ESE from Khovd
- K. & A. Braunlich
The ice which still covered large parts of Khar Us Nuur (Khar Us Lake) about two weeks ago (see photo; the visible shoreline is about 20 km long) has completely melted away. Despite strong (and warm) wind 56 spp were logged today.
Ice breaking up at southern Khar Us Nuur, 16 April.
Photo © A. Braunlich
The southern part of Khar Us Nuur consists of a reedbed-island zone, measuring c.17 x 8-11 km. This huge wetland is very difficult to overlook and hundreds of waterfowl seen here today (16 species; the commonest species being Red-headed Pochard) are only a tiny fraction of the overall number which may reach many thousands during this time of the year.
The reedbed-island zone of southern Khar Us Nuur, c.17 km across.
© Google Earth
The lake is important for the globally threatened White-headed Duck, being the easternmost breeding site for the species world-wide. Today 9 males and 6 females were seen. The large congregations of ducks, shelducks and geese attracted an adult Golden Eagle, a species breeding in the nearby mountains. First observations for the spring included 4 pairs of Demoiselle Crane, 3 Black-winged Stilts, a flock of 7 Caspian Terns resting in the mixed colony of Pallas’s and Mongolian Gulls, 33 Eurasian Spoonbills, 1 Black-necked Grebe, >10 Western Marsh Harriers, and 1 Grey Plover. Among the dozens of Common Redshanks, Kentish Plovers and Avocets feeding along the muddy shoreline several Greater and Lesser Sandplovers (the latter of the northern subspecies group mongolus/stegmanni) were spotted. Passerines were more difficult to find due to the strong wind. Of interest were two loose groups of Desert Wheatears, totaling c.40 birds.
Reed dwellers at Khar Us Nuur. Photo © A. Braunlich