May 20, 2007

Khovd, mid-MAY 2007 - A. Braunlich
A selection of observations from the last ten days (first observations in Khovd for this spring marked with an asterisk*):

20 May: A warm day, but strong wind made observations difficult. c.40 Rose-coloured Starlings, 230 Black-earded Kites, 1 Dusky Warbler, 2 male Lesser Kestrels, 1 male Taiga Flycatcher*.

Black-eared Kites at their roost in Khovd.
Photos © A. Braunlich

19 May: 29 Ortolan Buntings, 2 immature Daurian Jackdaws, 7 cuckoos (Common or Oriental), 3 Temminck’s Stints (rare here, almost no suitable habitat), and 4 Mongolian Finches*.

During birding in a plantation at the edge of town we met Adja, a plantation owner who allows me since my arrival in Khovd to enter his premises for birdwatching. He invited Katja and me to join a planting session which was blessed by a Buddhist monk (Mongolia’s main religion is Tibetan Buddhism; see also the blog of my friend Konchog Norbu). Most of my observations in Khovd come from irrigated areas in and near town. So, the small-scale farming, often in combination with mobile livestock keeping can not only successfully secure a living for hundreds of families in Khovd, but also provide additional habitat for birds and other wildlife in this semi-desert region.

Planting poplar saplings. Photo © A. Braunlich

Adja’s family among black currant bushes. Photo © A. Braunlich

18 May: After warm (23˚C) and oppressive weather yesterday temperatures dropped to 10˚C today, it was windy, overcast and raining in the evening. A short walk in the rain produced 2 Rose-coloured Starlings*. Since several days now everywhere in town Hume’s Leaf Warblers.

Isabelline Shrike. Photo © A. Braunlich

17 May: 20 Ortolan Buntings, a flock of 80 Twites, a male Lesser Kestrel, 14 Paddyfield Warblers, and 1 Blyth’s Reed Warbler,

16 May: Two new arrivals were 3 Booted Warblers* and 1 Spotted Flycatcher*, other observations include 1 female Brambling among Tree Sparrows and Ortolan Buntings, and 2 Great Reed Warblers (one singing in dense foliage of some bushes).

15 May: At the edge of town migrants included 3 Isabelline Shrikes, c.70 Hume’s Leaf Warblers, and 9 Eastern Stonechats. In the afternoon I checked some small flooded areas in the river valley, just outside town. I saw a single Green Sandpiper which was joined by a Wood Sandpiper* (species no. 203 for Khovd since late October 2005), and an adult Bearded Vulture (just my second observation of this species over Khovd town) was a nice bonus.

Bearded Vulture. Photo © A. Braunlich

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