Text & Photos © K. Gauger
It took a year until I was down in Aze again but I had a great month with two groups from Germany and Denmark. Although we didn’t see any vagrants, the trips were quite interesting with great observations and nearly all possible species!
Here are some note and pics from the trip with birdingtours:
Starting in one day down to the south, we spend the morning in Gobustan. There we had many migrating passerines, including a Barred Warbler and some Tree Pipits. We also saw Woodchat Shrikes, Rock Nuthatches feeding at the nest and some nice Chukars.The usual Pied- and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears and their hybrids would be a great topic for some genetic studies!
|probable hybrid of melanoleuca and pleschanka, Kai Gauger|
In Shirvan NP we saw 4 Griffon and 2 Black Vultures, several Menetries and Olivaceous Warblers, Penduline Tits at the nest and couple of Black Frankolins at the entrance. On the way to the lake there were about 100 Cuckoos, 12 Rollers, many Hoopoes, both bea-eaters and 19 Wimbrels. A Purple Swamphen, few Ferruginous Ducks, Red-crested Pochards and Pygmy Cormorants were at the lake house.
In the morning we spend some time around the hotel, where it took us about half an hour to find the Shikras. A female bird was sitting free in a tree and we had plenty of time to observe it. After breakfast we went further to the colony of Blue-cheeked Bea-eaters in Liman. Along the dam to Nerimanabad there were about 2000 White-winged Terns, still migrating birds, among about 5000 Wiskered Terns. There were also some waders, especially along the coast, where we found a single Red-necked Phalarope.
|Shikra in Masalli|
|Squacco Heron in Kizil Agach|
In the afternoon we went up the Talish mountains to our resort in the forest. Some birding around the huts produced several Red-breasted Flycatchers, Icterine Warblers and many other forest species.
Our first day in the Zuvand was great in the beginning with a Lesser Spotted Eagle in the meadows between Lerik and the canyon, a beautiful singing Blue Rock Thrush and nice observations of many other rock species. In the floodplain in Gosmalian there were couple of resting warblers, mainly Willows and Common Whitethroats, Grey Flycatchers, lots of Orioles and Cuckoos. In the afternoon we were unlucky with the weather and it got very windy. Unfortunately we could not find the Bimaculated Larks near Kalachan.
|Blue Rock Trush in the Lerik canyon|
The second day in Lerik we went strait up to Mistan. On the way from the village to the mountain ridge we had several Horned and Woodlarks, Stonechats, Rock Buntings and Ortolans. After reaching the rocks we saw four Crimson-winged Finches but could not find the Irania. Also the following groups didn’t see them and there was only a single bird recorded this year.
|Rock Martin in Zuvand|
A long day of driving back to the north, passing Baku and reaching Altiagach in the evening. On the way we had dinner in a roadside restaurant north of Salyan, where there is a mixed colony of Night Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets and Rooks in the park around.
|All three species of herons in the colony|
In the afternoon we stopped in the Candy Canes an had great migration of raptors. Within one hour we saw more than 100 Steppe and 26 Honey Buzzards, 2 Steppe Eagles, 4 Sparrowhawks, 2 Hobbys, 1 Booted Eagle, 20 Griffon and 3 Black Vultures. In the wadi there were a lot of migrating warblers, some Whinchats and flocks of together more then 200 Rosy Starlings. A Finschs Wheatear and several Short-toed Larks were singing in the hills.
|Willow Warbler in the Cany Cane wadi|
The night in Alti Agach was again great and we saw several Scops Owls and Nightjars around the hotel and I managed to get some nice pics. The Nightjars were sitting on the balustrade of one of the houses, catching insects in the light. The owls were easy to allure with piping and taping.
|Nightjar in Altiagach|
|Scops Owl in Altiagach|
We spend the morning around the hotel and on the way town to the coast. The bird concert after dawn was beautiful with all these Orioles, Common Redstarts, Green Warblers, two Wrynecks and many others. In the river valley we got again nice views on Eastern Black-eared and Pied Wheatears, Ortolan, Tawny Pipit and Woodlark.
I could also catch a Sheltopussik and found a Greek Tortoise.
|Wryneck in Alti Agach|
In the afternoon we arrived in Quba and spend the rest of the day aroud the resort in Nazli Bulag. And I found the time to try for Green Warbler. I think the result is quite good.
|Green Warbler in Nazli Bulag|
The big hike! After breakfast we started with an Uaz-bus to Khinalik and could get 2600 m asl by car and went up to more then 3100. It was a great day with nice weather and besides the numerous Horned Larks, Snowfinches, Rock Pipits, Wheatears and other mountain species, we saw of course also Güldenstads Redstarts and Caucasian Snowcocks, both with great observations. We also had all four vultures, a Golden Eagle hunting snowcocks and an immature Imperial Eagle.
|ad Bearded Vulture above Khinaliq|
|Red-billed Chough near Galachudat|
The second day in the region we spend along the road to Khinaliq. We found a pair of Wallcreepers in the canyon and saw lots of Red-fronted Serins, Alpine Swifts, Rock Martins, Choughs, Ravens and two Ring Ouzles. Plenty of Common Rosefinches and Whinchats were in the hay meadows around Cek.
|Walcreeper in the Gudialchay canyon|
|male Whinchat near Cek|
In the afternoon we went to Gusar and had a short stop in the forest where we saw several Red-breasted and also a singing male Semicollared Flycatcher. Around the hotel there were Lesser Grey and many Red-backed Shrikes, Wryneck and Barred Warbler in the garden. Especially the latter one was quite angry on my tape and gave very close views.
|Barred Warbler in Qusar|
We started very early in the morning by jeeps to get to the Caucasian Black Grouse lek. Just after reaching Laza we found several males displaying on the other side of the valley. After getting closer we had at least seven different males and two females. We also saw a group of eight Caucasian Turs on the flanks of Shahdag. Later in the day we walked around the Suvar resort which was still closed and found Alpine Accentor, Caucasian Chiffchaff and again many Red-fronted Serins and Common Rosefinches. Unfortunately we did not see the Great Rosefinches.
|Red-fronted Serin in Laza|
The last full day. After a morning walk around the hotel we went back to Baku. On the way we had hundreds of Rosy Starling and some migrating raptors and also few Red-winged Pratincoles around Besh Barmag.
Some sightseeing, souvenir shopping and a nice dinner completed this trip.