July 1, 2007

Gobi breeding birds, late JUN 2007 - D. Mantle

Not a wide variety of birds around at present at Shinjinst but the remaining residents are busy breeding and finding whatever shade they can. The Desert Wheatears at camp now spend half their time under the parked cars. I have managed to find several Saker Falcon nests recently including one in a working mine site (a few hours west of Shinejinst) and several Upland Buzzard nests.

Saker Falcons. Photo © D. Mantle

Upland Buzzard. Photo © D. Mantle

Young Isabelline, Desert, and Northern Wheatears are everywhere and extremely inquisitive, generally flying up to the pick-up when I stop it rather than flying away.

Juvenile Desert Wheatear. Photo © D. Mantle

Juvenile Isabelline Wheatear. Photo © D. Mantle

Whilst the various local larks (Horned, Eurasian Sky, Mongolian, Lesser and Greater Short-toed Larks) are less confiding there are always a few individuals that allow closer approach.

Horned Lark at nest. Photo © D. Mantle

I only started to notice the Greater Short-toed Larks a few weeks ago and was wondering if they are late arrivals to the area but some of their young are already on the wing. So maybe I just missed them earlier in the spring.

Greater Short-toed Lark. Photos © D. Mantle

The Greater Sand Plover young have grown quickly and many of the young birds are flying by now. Strangely they only breed in one of the local basins/valleys and avoid many of the others that seem identical to me. And their chosen basin is one of the busiest for our work. I also found a Little Ringed Plover nest on a completely dry river bed. I have always thought they needed some water and I can guarantee that this river bed has had absolutely no recent water. The Rock Sparrows seem to be amongst the busiest parents constantly ferrying large mouthfuls of insects back to the nests among the rock crevices. Their colonies seem to consist of between 5 and 15+ pairs.

Rock Sparrow. Photos © D. Mantle

The Bearded Vulture pair that went missing for most of May and June are back but I have no idea where they may nest. I haven’t seen any young on the wing but will keep my eyes open as the summer continues.

The only other recent bird of note was the first Common Tern at the exploration site. At least a 100km from water, but still only a short journey for such an accomplished flier.

Cheers, Dan

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