May 25, 2009

Gun-Galuut reserve, 23 May 2009
Tom Jenner

On Saturday 23 May Brian, Ishee, Konchog and Tom checked out Gun Galuut, c. 125 km ESE of Ulaanbaatar. We had heard that it is a sight for the endangered White-naped Crane and that non-breeding Siberian Cranes occasionally summer there.

White-naped Crane.

The Gun Galuut website includes a satellite map, described the site as being only 2 hours from Ulaanbaatar, which turned out to be accurate. The road was very good, especially from the big Chinggis Khan statue onwards. The last 17 km to the Steppe Nomads ger camp is on dirt tracks that were good quality and useable by any vehicle. A big sign shows you where to turn off and you have to look out for arrows painted on stones to avoid missing turns thereafter.

Before reaching the first pool we ran into good birds with Oriental Plover, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, (Asian) Lesser Short-toed Lark and Mongolian Larks.

Mongolian Lark.

Displaying Mongolian Lark.

The pools themselves had a great mixture of birds, mostly migrant ducks and shorebirds that were passing through.

Pacific Golden Plover & Spotted Redshank.

Swan Geese.

The first pool has no vegetation around it, while the second has some marshy ground that held a few passerines, such as Little and Pallas’s Reed Bunting and a Pallas’s Warbler.

Little Bunting.

Pallas’s Leaf Warbler.

Brown Shrike.

From here on it was a bit harder to follow the signs (which are probably only on the main track to the ger camp that avoids the second pool), but we asked directions and headed down the big valley towards the park entrance, where we paid the entrance fee (3000 tugrigs per person). A few km further on we entered another valley with the ger camp, which looks to be good quality (44 dollars per night, or 40,000 tugrigs for locals) and has a restaurant that is open to non-residents. Beyond the ger camp there are some marshy areas, especially in the valley that heads off to the right, where we saw two pairs of White-naped Cranes.

White-naped Crane.

This is an endangered species and any visitors should be very careful not to disturb the birds in any way.

Overall we had a fantastic trip with 81 species seen, including a number that were new for each of us. Now that we realize how easy this place is to access we will be doing trips more regularly.

(Asian) Lesser Short-toed Lark.

All photos taken at Gun-Galuut, 23 May 2009 © Tom Jenner

species list Gun-Galuut, 23 May 2009
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis – 6
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus – 4
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo – 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea – 6
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia – 4
Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus – 4
Swan Goose Anser cygnoides – 10
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus – 40
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna – 40
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea – numerous
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos – 40
Common Teal Anas crecca – 20
Falcated Duck Anas falcata – 2
Gadwall Anas strepera – 20
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope – 25
Northern Pintail Anas acuta – 3
Garganey Anas querquedula – 50
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata – 30
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina – 3
Common Pochard Aythya ferina – 40
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula – 80
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula – 30
White-winged Scoter Melanitta deglandi – 5
Goosander Mergus merganser – 10
Black (-eared) Kite Milvus (migrans) lineatus – 2
Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius – 2
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis – 1
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos – 2
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus – 3
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug – 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus – 1
White-naped Crane Grus vipio – 4
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius – 20
Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus – 3
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva – 15
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus – 60
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus – 1
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta – 35
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola – 30
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia – 1
Common Redshank Tringa totanus – 10
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus – 4
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis – 1
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos – 5
Ruff Philomachus pugnax – 1
Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta – 3
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii – 10
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa – 6
Common Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus – 10
Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus – 6
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus – 50
Common Tern Sterna hirundo – 10
Pallas’s Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus – 20
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris
Common Swift Apus apus
Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus – 100
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops – 1
Sand Martin Riparia riparia – 1
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica – 4
(Asian) Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella (rufescens) cheleensis – 10
Greater Short-toed Lark – Calandrella brachydactyla - 1
Mongolian Lark Melanocorypha mongolica – 30
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris – abundant
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis – 6
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi – 1
Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii
Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola – 1
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea – 1
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus – 1
Common Magpie Pica pica
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Daurian Jackdaw Corvus dauuricus – 5
Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Common Raven Corvus corax
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus – 1
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe – common
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina – common
House Sparrow Passer domesticus – common
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus – common
Pallas’s Bunting Emberiza pallasi – 3
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla – 1


Alan Tilmouth said...

Fantastic day list, particularly like the shot of the Cranes with the yurt in the background, 'back to basics' birding.
Great blog.

sfox said...

I was at Gun-Galuut July 13-17. Saw all three pairs of Siberian white-napped cranes and got some great photos. Also demoiselle cranes, cinerous vultures, Pallas' sandgrouse, shelduck and some passerines that I haven't ID'd yet.

I stayed at the ger camp and it was really nice. Good food, good staff. Hope to stay there again next year.