August 28, 2009

Five days birding in August
Tim Edelsten

August 20, 2009
Starting in Ulaanbaatar, I quickly found House Sparrow, Eurasian Magpie and Tree Sparrow; Black-eared Kites and Ravens were plentiful soaring over the city outskirts.

Black-eared Kite. © Tim Edelsten

Unable to locate the famous UB ponds, I instead explored some mountainous area further on from the airport, which soon provided Upland Buzzard, Steppe Eagle, Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, Isabelline Wheatear, White Wagtail, and small flocks of Yellow Wagtail.

Isabelline Wheatear. © Tim Edelsten

Red-billed Chough. © Tim Edelsten

A cloud of Red-billed Chough was seen to mob a very darkly marked Saker Falcon, with a Eurasian Sparrowhawk nearby. Another interesting raptor was a Peregrine Falcon, which to me showed a slenderer structure than would a typical Peregrine.

Peregrine Falcon. © Tim Edelsten

At a very broad section of the Tuul river, dotted with lush islands, I noted Grey Wagtail, Common Tern, Collared Dove, Carrion Crow, Cinereous Vulture, Daurian Jackdaw, and a Eurasian Kestrel. A pair of Amur Falcon noisily tended their nest and chicks.

Common Tern. © Tim Edelsten

Amur Falcon. © Tim Edelsten

In the Children’s Park in UB I added 2 juvenile Brown Shrikes.

August 21st
Heading west from the city was the first of several flocks of Demoiselle Crane. An isolated pond on the steppe further provided Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Mallard, Slavonian Grebe, Common Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Common Teal, Red-necked Stint, Wood Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper. A group of Pere David’s Snowfinch roved nearby, and a Sand Martin was among thousands of swallows on the wires.

A brief stop at the fringes of Byaan Nuur lake revealed 2 clearly Western Marsh Harrier (as opposed to Eastern), a Great Cormorant, Mongolian Lark, Gadwall, Ruddy Shelducks, Black-tailed Godwits, migrating flocks of Pacific Golden Plover, and a pale-looking Saker. Horned Larks and Lesser Short-toed Larks were abundant. Also on the water, a family of Whooper Swan and 3 Swan Goose.

August 22nd
At Ogij Nuur, the main lake hosted good numbers of Common Pochard , Mongolian Gull and Black-headed Gull, less abundant were Great Crested Grebe, Bar-headed Geese, Grey Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, and one Great Egret. In grasses fringing the lake, several Chestnut-eared Bunting.

Chestnut-eared Bunting. © Tim Edelsten

Most productive however was a shallow area of temporarily flooded freshwater separate from the main lake, where crowded together were Northern Lapwing (1), Common Shelduck (10+), a Temminck’s Stint, a synchronised flock of feeding Pied Avocet, several Common Redshank (4), Red-necked Phalarope (8), White-winged Tern (15), Red Knot (2), Northern Pintail (c.12), Curlew Sandpiper (c.25), Garganey (2), Pintail Snipe (1), Ruff (4), Kentish Plover (c.10), Common Greenshank (c.10), Ruddy Turnstone (2), a lone Broad-billed Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper (2), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (c.6), Long-toed Stint (2), and most interesting to me personally, 5 Little Gull. On nearby Steppe, a juvenile Richard's Pipit and a Northern Hobby.

Northern Hobby. © Tim Edelsten

August 23rd
A fuller investigation of the lake at Bayaan Nuur added c. 70 Eurasian Curlew, 2 Far Eastern Curlew, c. 10 Black-winged Stilt, and several Little Curlew amongst the large numbers of Pacific Golden Plovers. Towards the reeds, numerous Common Snipe, 1 White-cheeked Starling, and c.20 Common Coot. At around sunset 4 Bearded Tit emerged from the reeds and I located a Citrine Wagtail in the swamp.

Eurasian Curlew. © Tim Edelsten

August 24th
The main shallow wetland near the entrance to Gun-Galuut held a Eurasian Spoonbill; inside the reserve, 2 Black Stork and a family of Brown Shrike.

At Terelj, a Lammergeier finally soared low overhead as I ascended one of the crags, making for a trip total of 97 species.

Demoiselle Crane. © Tim Edelsten