bird migration, Qizilagach, science

Pacific Golden Plover and more

Text & Photos © Christoph Himmel 

This is the second blog post about my wader project in Azerbaijan and after nearly two months of fieldwork, I have to say I’m quite overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of waders, especially in Gyzylagach State Reserve. 

After my friends Stella and Sönke had left some weeks ago, I continued my counts and day by day the mudflats and the coast gets more and more crowded.

Many waders at Gyzylagach
Mixed flock of waders…
…dominated by Broad-billed Sandpipers
Especially one day was incredible. On this day I counted Gyzylagach and it was a quite strong wind from northern directions. After I reached the counting site the waders started flying very close by. It was really amazing to stand on the mudflats and everywhere around me were waders flying on eye level 3 meters away against the strong wind. Besides nice photos and a really cool experience, I also observed incredible numbers. During two hours I counted almost 800 Broad-billed Sandpipers, 900+ Curlew Sandpipers and 3200 Black-tailed Godwits. In total, I counted more than 11000 waders on this day. Furthermore, the numbers of Marsh Sandpiper also increased to 4000+ individuals, which was something I never expected to see in my life.

Caspian Plovers are always a pleasure
Besides these great numbers I also got a nice sighting of a rare species. An observed Pacific Golden Plover seems to be the first since more than 100 years for Azerbaijan, when checked with the available literature.

The highlight of the last days…
…a Pacific Golden Plover!
Field work at the Caspian beach

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