October 26, 2012

Zaisan Valley walk

by Andreas Buchheim

On 14 October I met Tuvshin Unenbat and a bunch of students of the State University of Mongolia to walk up Zaisan Valley. We started at 10 am, walked all up (about 650 m altitudinal, c. 6 km one way) to a forest clearing called “Sukhbaatar Square” by some locals and went down again to arrive at the bus stop by 5 pm. It had been rather cold during the night with minus 15°C but it was sunny until the afternoon. Most larch trees had dropped their leaves which now were covering the 0.5 cm of snow that had fallen the previous day. The small stream that runs down the valley was frozen over but some parts remained open. Apart from the birds which can be seen in the list below we saw several Eurasian Squirrels, many Northern Pikas and a Red-backed Vole.

Eurasian Black Vulture: 2 soaring high above the valley
Northern Goshawk: an adult female dashed through the forest
Three-toed Woodpecker: 1 female
Great Spotted Woodpecker: 1
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: 1
Black Woodpecker: 1 seen flying south and 1 heard (at another site thus apparently not the same)
Eurasian Waxwing: 2
Goldcrest: 4, giving brilliant views at close range
Great Tit: only a 3–4 seen
Azure Tit: 4–5
Coal Tit: excellent views of several individuals down to 0.5 m
Willow Tit: excellent views of several individuals down to 0.5 m
Long-tailed Tit: about 6–7 flocks seen, totaling about 35–50 birds
Eurasian Nuthatch: excellent views of several individuals down to 0.2 m!
Northern Grey Shrike: 1 adult sibiricus seen well as it sat on one of its lookouts
Common Magpie
Common Jay: at least 5 seen
Eurasian Nutcracker: hard to tell how many we actually saw; the birds were busily collecting pine nuts and many were seen flying high over the forest; I guess that we saw more than 50 (biggest flock: 7)
Red-billed Chough: seen only in the lower part of the valley
Oriental Crow: about 12 at “Sukhbaatar Square”
Common Raven: 8–10
House Sparrow: few near the bus stop
Eurasian Tree Sparrow: many near the bus stop
Hawfinch: 40 in a single flock
Common Crossbill: biggest flock contained about 50, 1 or 2 smaller groups heard and partially seen

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