May 13, 2009

Mandshir Hiid and UB ponds, 2 May 2009
Axel Braunlich

After having been in email contact with Ulaanbaatar-based birders Tom Jenner and Brian Watmough for quite a while, I finally managed to find some time for a short trip together. On Saturday we met in downtown UB and went together with Amaraa, a young birder and ambitious student from the National University to Mandshir hiid, a monastery on the south side of Bogd Khan Uul, the mountain range to the south of UB (c. 1 hour drive).

Early spring near Mandshir hiid,
2 May 2009. Photo © A. Braunlich

Along the way we saw many singing and displaying Isabelline Wheatears. We arrived at the entrance to the Mandshir area at about 08:00 hours and started walking through coniferous forest with some interspersed deciduous trees and bushes. A thick cover of snow/ice was still present in the forest.

A flowering willow on ice.
2 May 2009. Photo © A. Braunlich

Bird activity in the area was rather low, the only species being common and very vocal were Willow Tit and Eurasian Nuthatch. The only woodpecker species we saw was Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (a pair), and we heard further two calling: Black Woodpecker and Grey-headed Woodpecker.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Mandshir.
2 May 2009. Photo © Tom Jenner

Eastern Buzzard, Mandshir, 2 May 2009.
Photo © Tom Jenner

The only passage migrants or summer visitors seen were one female Daurian Redstart, one Yellow-browed Warbler and one Two-barred Warbler. Other species seen include c. 20 Rook (a flock), 7 Black-eared Kite, 1 Eastern Buzzard, 2 Coal Tit, Common Magpie, and Northern Wheatear. Due to the few migrants present and the low bird activity we decided to leave the area and continue to the “famous” UB ponds.

Ulaanbaatar Ponds, 23 April 2009.
Photo © Axel Braunlich

We spent c. 3 hours at the ponds before lunch, and it was the right place to go: In addition to c. 50 Ruddy Shelducks, 2 Bar-headed Geese and 1 Swan Goose we saw c. 600 ducks of 14 (!) species:

Garganey 9 male + 5 female
Falcated Duck 8 male + 8 female
Eurasian Wigeon c.30
Mallard c.30
Northern Pintail 2 male + 2 female
Common Teal c.230
Gadwall c.50
Spot-billed Duck 2 male
Northern Shoveler c.30
Red-crested Pochard 1 female
Tufted Duck c.40
Common Pochard c.120
Common Goldeneye c.20
Goosander c.15

Bar-headed Goose. UB ponds, 2 May 2009.
Photo © Tom Jenner

Ulaanbaatar Ponds, 23 April 2009.
Photo © Axel Braunlich

A surprise was an adult Pallas’s (or Great Black-backed) Gull, a record rather far east within Mongolia. It was resting together with 6 Mongolian Gulls, 2 Common Gulls, and a Common Black-headed Gull.

Pallas’s Gull. UB ponds, 2 May 2009.
Photo © Tom Jenner

Male Citrine Wagtail. UB ponds,
2 May 2009. Photo © Tom Jenner

Also the first waders of the year appeared:
A male Ruff, 2 Common Redshank, 3 Common Snipe, 1 Pintail Snipe, 4 Northern Lapwing an 8 Green Sandpiper.

Other species seen include 2 Eurasian Spoonbill, 7 Great Cormorant, 16 Grey Heron, 1 White Egret, c.20 Black-eared Kite, 1 Black Vulture, 1 Upland Buzzard, 1 Common Kestrel, 5-10 Citrine Wagtail, c.20 Water Pipits, 1 Long-tailed Rosefinch, 1 Brown Accentor, 10+ White Wagtails, 1 Grey Starling, 1 Dusky Thrush and several singing Eurasian Skylarks.

Brown Accentor. UB ponds, 2 May 2009.
Photo © Tom Jenner

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