Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Mongolia - 23rd and 24th May (Day 15 and 16) - Gachuurt and International Flight

It was a bitterly cold night in the tent last night and it was somewhat of a relief to awake and stand in the sun at the camp site at Gachurt. It then dawned on me that it was to be another morning in the somewhat sterile pine forest looking for Siberian jay, a bird I had already seen in Finland. I considered simply birding from the campsite and a walk up the hill but as the entire team were heading up to the forest I didn't want to miss out. So, after a quick coffee and some bread we headed back up the hill and into the forest. We saw very little all morning, the highlight was another Nutcracker which may well have been the same bird as yesterday - it was only around 100m away from that sighting. We also saw Olive-backed Pipit now on territory, 10 CrossbillWillow Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler and Hawfinch. Still, it was a beautiful day and the forest was beautiful and we got distracted by a diversity of butterflies and my first ever Argent and Sable moth, a localised species in the UK which I had not seen previously. On the descent back to the camp site a male Pine Bunting showed well beside the track.


Nutcracker - Gachuurt

Yellow-browed Warbler - Gachuurt

Olive-backed Pipit - Gachuurt

Siberian Chipmunk - Gachuurt

Willow Tit - Gachuurt

Willow Tit - Gachuurt

Hawfinch - Gachuurt

A species of Skipper - Gachuurt 

A species of White - Gachuurt 

A species of Clouded Yellow - Gachuurt 

A species of Clouded Yellow - Gachuurt 

A species of Blue - Gachuurt 

A species of Fritillary - Gachuurt

Our final campsite at Gachuurt

Forest at Gachuurt

Left to right Jon, Marc, myself, Barry, Duncan, Richard and Lorand

Gentian at Gachuurt

Argent and Sable - Gachuurt

A species of Skipper - Gachuurt

Pine Bunting - Gachuurt

 Pine Bunting - Gachuurt

Heading for our hotel at around 13:30 we made a stop on the meandering Tuul River where the highlights were approximately six White-crowned Penduline-tit and further views of Azure Tit and a skulking pair of Long-tailed Rosefinch. This was to be your final birding and as we skirted the southern outskirts of Ulaanbaatar my thoughts turned to the flight home and seeing Sarah and Tobias. We passed the airport and then turned off road for one last time bumping along a dusty track and via a lagoon which held Demoiselle Crane, White-winged Black Tern, Ruddy Shelduck and Goldeneye. A flock of 12 Azure-winged Magpie showed in scrub adjacent to the river and then we headed for the hotel. Having checked in at the comfortable Mongolica Hotel I dumped my bags and went for a short walk around the hotel grounds seeing Dusky Warbler, Two-barred Greenish Warbler and Amur Falcon.

The Tuul River south of Ulaanbaatar

White-crowned Penduline-tit - Tuul River, Ulaanbaatar

White-crowned Penduline-tit - Tuul River

White-crowned Penduline-tit - Tuul River

Long-tailed Rosefinch - Tuul River

Ulaanbaatar Power Station

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Mongolica Hotel

Dusky Warbler - Mongolica Hotel

Dinner was held in a private dining room with Tumen, Oyunna the support team and us. Jon was noticeably late and after checking his room it was apparent that he had dumped his bags and gone out but had not returned. A search team was sent out and soon returned with a dishevelled looking Jon, it turns out he had left the hotel grounds and got lost in the scrub along the river. We enjoyed a tasty meal and copious amounts of Vodka. I crashed at around 11:00.

I awoke fairly late on 23rd and decided to skip breakfast, packed my bags and we were picked from the hotel at 07:30 for our transfer to the Chinggis Khaan International Airport for a 11:05 departure to 
Istanbul. We departed late at around 13:05 landing at 18:15. Our onward flight to London Heathrow left at 18:35 but the Turkish Airline staff assured us that it would wait - off course it didn't and as we departed the plane it was clear we had missed our onward flight. Fortunately we were quickly rescheduled and were put on the 20:20 flight which landed at Heathrow at 22:30. After saying our goodbys I was on the road and home by 01:30 after being diverted half way around Surrey due to a closed M3.

It had been a great trip, Mongolia is a fantastic country and the birding was great, only 10 ticks but some fantastic species and a good range of eastern species which occur as rare vagrants in the UK. Tumen, Oyunna and the support team did a fantastic job of organising and running the trip and I would definitely recommend them if one is contemplating a trip to Mongolia.


Trip List
Total of 222 species with 10 ticks (shown in bold). World-list now 6,208 (HBW Alive taxonomy).

Altai Snowcock
Chukar
Hazel Grouse
Black-billed Capercaillie
Mute Swan
Whooper Swan
Bar-headed Goose
Greylag Goose
Swan Goose
Siberian Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Smew
Goosander
Common Shelduck
Ruddy Shelduck
Mandarin Duck
Red-crested Pochard
Common Pochard
Tufted Duck
Garganey
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon
Chinese Spot-billed Duck
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Common Teal
Great Crested Grebe
Horned Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Rock Dove
Hill Pigeon
Oriental Turtle-dove
Eurasian Collared-dove
Laughing Dove
Pallas's Sandgrouse
Pacific Swift
Common Swift
Common Cuckoo
Eastern Water Rail
Baillon's Crake
Common Moorhen
Common Coot
White-naped Crane
Demoiselle Crane
Common Crane
Black Stork
Eurasian Spoonbill
Eurasian Bittern
Chinese Pond-heron
Grey Heron
Great White Egret
Pied Avocet
Black-winged Stilt
Pacific Golden Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Greater Sandplover
Oriental Plover
Northern Lapwing
Whimbrel
Black-tailed Godwit
Ruff
Curlew Sandpiper
Temminck's Stint
Long-toed Stint
Sanderling
Little Stint
Asian Dowitcher
Eurasian Woodcock
Swinhoe's Snipe
Common Snipe
Terek Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
Common Redshank
Wood Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Black-headed Gull
Brown-headed Gull
Pallas's Gull
Relict Gull
Arctic Herring Gull
Common Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Whiskered Tern
White-winged Tern
Common Tern
Little Owl
Northern Long-eared Owl
Ural Owl
Eurasian Eagle-owl
Osprey
Bearded Vulture
Himalayan Griffon
Cinereous Vulture
Greater Spotted Eagle
Steppe Eagle
Golden Eagle
Booted Eagle
Western Marsh-harrier
Eastern Marsh-harrier
Hen Harrier
Japanese Sparrowhawk
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Northern Goshawk
Black Kite
Upland Buzzard
Eastern Buzzard
Common Hoopoe
Eurasian Wryneck
Grey-faced Woodpecker
Three-toed Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Kestrel
Common Kestrel
Amur Falcon
Eurasian Hobby
Saker Falcon
Brown Shrike
Isabelline Shrike
Chinese Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike
Red-billed Chough
Asian Azure-winged Magpie
Eurasian Jay
Mongolian Ground-jay
Eurasian Magpie
Northern Nutcracker
Daurian Jackdaw
Rook
Common Raven
Carrion Crow
Coal Tit
Willow Tit
Siberian Tit
Azure Tit
White-crowned Penduline-tit
Lesser Short-toed Lark
Mongolian Lark
Horned Lark
Eurasian Skylark
Crested Lark
Eurasian Reed-warbler
Northern House Martin
Barn Swallow
Eurasian Crag Martin
Pale Sand Martin
Yellow-browed Warbler
Hume’s Leaf-warbler
Pallas’s Leaf-warbler
Dusky Warbler
Siberian Chiffchaff
Two-barred Warbler
Asian Desert Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Bearded Reedling
Eurasian Treecreeper
Eurasian Nuthatch
Wallcreeper
Common Starling
White-cheeked Starling
White’s Thrush
Eyebrowed Thrush
Naumann’s Thrush
Dusky Thrush
Red-throated Thrush
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Siberian Blue Robin
Siberian Rubythroat
Orange-flanked Bush-robin
Red-throated Flycatcher
Black Redstart
Common Redstart
Daurian Redstart
Guldenstats Redstart
Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush
Common Stonechat
Northern Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Brown Accentor
Mongolian Accentor
Saxaul Sparrow
House Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Rock Sparrow
White-winged Snowfinch
Small Snowfinch
Tree Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Water Pipit
Richard’s Pipit
Blyth’s Pipit
Grey Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
White Wagtail
Brambling
Hawfinch
Chinese Grosbeak
Common Rosefinch
Beautiful Rosefinch
Long-tailed Rosefinch
Mongolian Finch
Twite
Redpoll
Red Crossbill
Two-barred Crossbill
Eurasian Siskin
Lapland Longspur
Meadow Bunting
Godlewski’s Bunting
Pine Bunting
Pallas’s Bunting
Yellow-breasted Bunting
Little Bunting
Black-faced Bunting

Links to Other Days of the Trip (Click to View)
Day 1 and 2 – International flight then Ulaanbaatar to Mungum Sum
Day 3 -  Mungunmorit and Gachuurt area
Day 4 - Drive to Dalanzadgad
Day 5  – Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 6 - Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 7 - Gobi Desert and Khongor Sand Dunes
Day 8 – Gobi Desert to Bogd
Day 9 - Baga Bogd Mountain and Kholboolj Lake
Day 10 - Kholboolj Lake and Barig Mountain
Day 11 - Barig Mountain and Sangiin Lake
Day 12 (Part 1) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 12 (Part 2) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 13 - Hustai National Park and Terelj National Park
Day 14 - Terelj National Park and Gachuurt Area

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Mongolia - 21st May (Day 14) - Terelj National Park and Gachuurt

After a great nights sleep in a bed at the Ulaanbaatar Hotel 2 in Terej National Park we were up at 05:00 to a very cold and frosty morning. Birding the woodlands near to the hotel it was quickly evident that most of the migrants from yesterday had departed and largely we were left with the breeding species. A quick check of the bushes near the rubbish dump produced no Siberian Rubythroat unlike yesterday but a single male Common Redstart showed well. Waking into the forest a pair of Goosander fed along the river. A bit of pishing near to some willow scrub produced a few Willow Tit and then a call which I knew immediately was an Azure Tit, I called Barry and Jon over and we were soon getting great views of this fantastic bird. The rest of the morning produced a range of nice species but no hoped for White-backed Woodpecker, we saw Grey-faced Woodpecker, Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Wryneck, Lesser Whitethroat and Brown Shrike.

After breakfast at 08:00 we birded an area of Birch forest a short way up the road but it was fairly slow going and we saw only Two-barred Greenish WarblerPine Bunting, Taiga Flycatcher and a singing Red-flanked Bluetail.

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Great Tit - Terej National Park

Willow Tit - Terej National Park

Grey-faced Woodpecker - Terej National Park

Wryneck singing from the top of an Ash tree - Terej National Park

Wryneck - Terej National Park

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - Terej National Park

Brown Shrike - Terej National Park

Goosander - Terej National Park

Goosander - Terej National Park

Red Squirrel - Terej National Park

Carrion Crow of race orientalis - Terej National Park

Chough - Terej National Park

Redstart - Terej National Park

Birch forest at Terej National Park

Birch forest at Terej National Park

Bird's-eye Primrose Primula farinosa, or a species similar to this - Terej National Park

Siberian Chipmunk - Terej National Park

We then drove back towards Ulaanbataar and up the valley to Gachuurt where we visited earlier in the trip for a final look for Siberian Jay. As we drove through the valley we stopped for Rook which here is of the subspecies pastinator and a potential split as Eastern Rook, other than a feathered face in Eastern Rook the differences between the two appear very marginal. A short way up the road a pair of Stonechat were eventually identified as Stejneger's Stonechat but they were not especially obliging.

Rook of subspecies pastinator - Gachuurt 

Stejneger's Stonechat - Gachuurt 

We arrived at our campsite and found the tents already erected and after dropping our bags to the tents we spent a little time birding the clearing and the adjacent area of damp scrub. Here were a few Black-faced Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler and Two-barred Greenish Warbler plus a rather spectacular dark Red Squirrel.

Campsite at Gachuurt

Campsite at Gachuurt

Pasqueflower Campsite - Gachuurt

Pansy - Gachuurt

Red Squirrel - Gachuurt

Our optimism that we may see Siberian Jay due to a GPS reference that Tumen had obtained soon dwindled as we realised that the positioning was from last year! Regardless, we drove up through the forest to the conifers and slogged up the hill to the GPS reference and there were no jays. In fact, it was extremely slow going with just Siberian Chipmunk, Pallas's Pika and Willow Tit to keep us interested - our enthusiasm soon wained. We decided to cut our losses and head back to the campsite, a jay-like call as we defended produced some excitement but lead us to a stunning Nutcracker which showed extremely well in the evening light.

Siberian Chipmunk - Gachuurt

Pallas's Pica  - Gachuurt

Nutcracker - Gachuurt

 Pine Forest - Gachuurt

 Pine Forest - Gachuurt

Rod enjoying the view at Gachuurt

Back at the campsite a beer was very welcome as was a stunning Ural Owl which showed well at dusk around the clearing. The temperature dropped and a session on the vodka warmed the body and facilitated sleep in the now freezing temperatures.

Ural Owl around our campsite at Gachuurt

Ural Owl around our campsite at Gachuurt

Links to Other Days of the Trip (Click to View)
Day 1 and 2 – International flight then Ulaanbaatar to Mungum Sum
Day 3 -  Mungunmorit and Gachuurt area
Day 4 - Drive to Dalanzadgad
Day 5  – Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 6 - Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 7 - Gobi Desert and Khongor Sand Dunes
Day 8 – Gobi Desert to Bogd
Day 9 - Baga Bogd Mountain and Kholboolj Lake
Day 10 - Kholboolj Lake and Barig Mountain
Day 11 - Barig Mountain and Sangiin Lake
Day 12 (Part 1) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 12 (Part 2) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 13 - Hustai National Park and Terelj National Park
Day 15 and 16 - Gachuurt Area, Tuul River and International flight