January 8, 2017

“Gulling” the East

part four: plantation of commons

text and photos by ABu

(links to part 1, part 2, part 3)


The degraded Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

The degraded Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

This post will feature some of the commoner birds I encountered and photographed while staying in the Khalkhgol plantation (26 to 29 May). Eastern Mongolia is probably the most under-watched part in this generally under-watched country! So especially for "half rare" species it is difficult to draw the line between what is considered to be common and what is considered to be rare. My selection of common species can be found below. Common does not necessarily mean that I saw larger numbers of the mentioned species but it characterizes species that are commonly seen in Mongolia.

The plantation, a former site for agricultural research, had almost become totally destroyed: The fence, already mainly fallen down when we first visited this site in 2011 (see here) was now fully gone and every day lots of livestock entered for grazing (and to a much lesser extent for browsing). The quality of the bushes had changed accordingly: Not many sites to hide away are left. It is only a matter of time until the whole plantation will be gone. Repeatedly, cars were crossing the plantation causing disturbance to the birds and their observer!


Male Amur Falcon, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Female Taiga Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim


2cy male Taiga Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Amur Falcons breed in the plantation and I counted 15 pairs that had started to prepare for this year's breeding season. Most eye-catching was the abundance of flycatchers on 26 May (with about 60 Taiga, 25 Asian Brown and 5 Dark-sided) and again on 28 May (about 20 Taiga, 160 Asian Brown and 180 Dark-sided) but almost zero of each on 27 May.


Asian Brown Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Asian Brown Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim


Asian Brown Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Asian Brown Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim


Asian Brown Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Asian Brown Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Asian Brown Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Dark-sided Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Dark-sided Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Dark-sided Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Dark-sided Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Dark-sided Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Dark-sided Flycatcher, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

I also witnessed a fall of leaf warblers on 28 May with c.200 each of Arctic and Two-barred Warblers. Naturally I turned them all, both, the warbler and the aforementioned flycatchers, twice to find the odd one but no success, though.

All Brown Shrikes (up to 22 counted on a single day) belonged to the nominate subspecies and I wondered how regular lucionensis might be (compare here) and whether it could be a later arriving taxon. On 27 May a group of 350 Bean Geese migrated north but they had been too distant to allow a more detailed ID (i.e. which taxa was/were involved).


Nominate Brown Shrike, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Female Garganey, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Female Garganey, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Male Garganey, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Male Garganey, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Male Gadwall, Khalkhgol plantation
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Other common species encountered were: Garganey, Gadwall, Eurasian Spoonbill, Oriental Turtle Dove, Siberian Blue Robin (seen daily with up to 7), Common and Long-tailed Rosefinches, including an orange-plumaged male of the former, Oriental Greenfinch (probably breeding as they behaved quite secretly and one bird was always singing from the same tree) and several flocks of eastern Yellow Wagtails (either macronyx or thunbergi, or both).


Orange male Common Rosefinch, Khalkhgol plantation,
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim


Male Siberian Blue Robin, Khalkhgol plantation,
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Male Siberian Blue Robin, Khalkhgol plantation,
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

Eurasian Swallowtail Papilio machaon, Khalkhgol plantation,
Eastern Mongolia, May 2016 © Andreas Buchheim

It remained windy with force 7 (bft) winds and chilly night temperatures down to 2°C (35.6°F) which meant that I could not erect any mist nets and therefore daily walked the area twice in search for birds. As mentioned before, finding birds when everything is moving is already a difficult task, but taking pictures is even more difficult. Unless a bird is on the ground (which ideally should not shake…) the twigs, branches and trees were shaken to death by the gale force winds and keeping my arms steady was almost impossible, too. From my trashy photos I extracted the best ones and hope they are, although very flycatcher-biased, pleasing enough. Enjoy!

The rare species will be covered in the next post so stay tuned!

1 comment:

best resume writers said...

You can find a wide range of birds here in Mongolia and I personally have visited this place and enjoyed a lot. This blog is a good attempt to promote birding.