March 8, 2017

Winter Cutie
17 February 2017

text & photos by ABu

People have nicknamed UB “Utaanbaatar” (Utaan = smoke)
UB seen from Bogd Khan Mountain, February 2017

For me, Bogd Khan Mountain is conveniently located and I can reach the parking lot of the Zaisan Valley within 10 minutes. On 17 February I spent six hours on the mountain by walking up (and later also down) the valley to what is called “West Table Rock” in hope of taking pictures of the birds. The trail in the valley is always very busy with hikers and it was just the same that day. Birds proved to be extremely uncooperative and I ended up in having just a single bird photographed. The jays were cautious and the Bramblings preferred to spend their time on the ground on a big, snow-covered scree on the other side of the valley and hence out of my reach. Even the tits were very successful in avoiding me. Then, near the “Western Table Rock” I spotted a group of Alpine Accentors just in the very moment when a hiker came around the corner and spooked them all (allowing me to count them: 10). I waited for about one hour and as soon as I had decided to climb down I heard them call and they all returned. So I did, but yet again, a hiker spooked them before I could start taking pictures. While walking down I heard the calls of a Goldcrest, a tiny bird that is mostly associated with pine forest. I looked around and quickly found a pair of these hardy birds. By leaving the trail I found myself walking through ankle-deep snow and I could fired a few shots (no sun by then!) before the birds were spooked by something. I couldn’t find them again. These birds are wintering in our forests while others breed here: I found a nest-building female Common Crossbill, a very early breeder, and Grey-headed Woodpeckers as well as Eurasian Treecreepers were already singing.

Bogd Khan Mountain, UB, February 2017

Bogd Khan Mountain, UB, February 2017

Birdlist (22 species)

Grey-headed Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Bohemian Waxwing 1
Alpine Accentor 10
Siberian Accentor 2 (flushed from a dense part of the forest and not seen again)
Goldcrest 2
Great Tit 3
Coal Tit 20, some singing high up in the trees
Eastern Marsh Tit
Willow Tit
Eurasian Nuthatch 4
Eurasian Treecreeper c10
Common Magpie 2 down in the valley
Eurasian Jay c9
Spotted Nutcracker c7
Oriental Crow c25
Common Raven 4
Eurasian Tree Sparrow c250 at the picnic area
Brambling c70
Pale Mountain Twite 2
Eurasian Siskin c100
Common Crossbill c25

Bogd Khan Mountain, UB, February 2017