November 30, 2011

A wonderful day at Gun Galuut

text & photos ©  Andreas Buchheim

Just prior my return to Europe I had the opportunity to visit Gun Galuut Nature Reserve for the first time. Brian, who had organized transport, came along in the morning of 27 August to pick us up. After my family and I had made ourselves comfortable the 2-hour journey to the east began.

We first stopped at one of the small lakes to check for water birds. These lakes, the biggest being Ikh Gun Nuur, are unfortunately not part of the reserve but had received a bigger fame since Siberian (White) Cranes are known to over-summer here. The cranes are not seen every year and in 2011 no cranes had been reported yet, so we were both much surprised and much delighted to see two of them walking slowly as they foraged in the wet meadows. Both birds were immature which was quite obvious on one (some rusty colored areas on the neck) but less so on the more advanced bird. This one easily could be mistaken for an adult as the few juvenile brownish wing-coverts that were remaining could be seen only if it stretched or ruffled its wings. The ranger told us that she had not seen them but we were wondering for how long those birds could have gone undetected as we had found them outside the warden’s ‘home range’. And indeed, they had been seen before: The Belgian birdwatcher Rik de Jaegher had taken pictures of the two on 22 August already.

This is the more adult-like Siberian Crane,
Aug 2011, lakes west of Gun Galuut

Siberian Cranes, Aug 2011, lakes west of Gun Galuut

Other birds we saw at the lakes were: a flock of 20 Eurasian and 3 Far Eastern Curlews plus another flock of about 20 Eurasians was coming in. There were 7 Eurasian Spoonbills, a Grey-tailed Tattler, about 100 Mongolian Gulls, a group of 7 juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes, about 600 Eastern Black-tailed Godwits, 5 Little Curlews, 15 Ruffs, only 1 Black-winged Stilt, 2 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and approx. 10 Black-necked Grebes.

Flock of Eurasian Curlews, Aug 2011, lakes west of Gun Galuut

2nd calendar year Eurasian Spoonbill,
Aug 2011, lakes west of Gun Galuut

The majority of the more than 1200 ducks present was Eurasian Teals and we failed to find any rarer one among them. The species list was completed by the usual set of waders, cranes and raptors but not a single passerine was seen around the lakes.

Juvenile Little Curlew  and juvenile Eastern
Black-tailed Godwit, Aug 2011, lakes west of Gun Galuut

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, Aug 2011,
lakes west of Gun Galuut

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope (different bird),
Aug 2011, lakes west of Gun Galuut

After lunch at the well-run ger-camp we went down to the river to look for migrants. It turned out that migration was not yet in full swing and that finding the few birds within the bushes was quite time-consuming. Apart from a big flock of Eurasian Magpies we saw only 3 Pied Wheatears, 2 Brown Shrikes, a single Mongolian Lark, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, few Dusky Warblers, 3 Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers and a Black-faced Bunting. Nevertheless it was a great day out. Thanx Brian for inviting us!

Pied Wheatear, Aug 2011, Gun Galuut

Pied Wheatear (different bird), Aug 2011, Gun Galuut

Eurasian Magpie, Aug 2011, Gun Galuut


Nyamba said...

These are wonderful photos of Siberian Cranes. Two tumbs up!

Rik De Jaegher said...

Great you picked up the birds a couple of days after me. On 22th there was also a great bustard in gunn galuut reserve. I've never seen them there before.

By the way, I'm a Belgian birdwatcher, not Dutch.

Rik De Jaegher