Thursday, 11 May 2017

Mongolia - 11th May (Day 4) - Travel from Ullanbataar to Dalanzadgad

Today was mainly a driving day 570km south from Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzadgad passing through the Gobi Desert with a few stops, mainly at lakes, en-route. The landscape was vast, stark and barren, mainly flat with a few rocky outcrops and dominated by gravel plains with sparse grass. The common birds here were Horned Lark, Asian Short-toed Lark and Isabelline Wheatear and we also saw a good number of Pallas’s Sandgrouse (30+), eight Demoiselle Crane, two Upland Buzzard, Cinereous Vulture, Steppe Eagle and two Saker. Stops at three smallish lakes produced Shelduck, Ruddy Shelduck, Shoveler, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Avocet, Temminck’s Stint, Long-toed Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Mongolian Finch, Rock Sparrow, Grey Wagtail and Citrine Wagtail.

At one small roadside lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi (45°55'34" N 106°20'30" E) the vehicles pulled up close to the muddy shore and we waited for Pallas's Sandgrouse to arrive to drink. Here there were Rock Sparrow, Asian Short-toed Lark, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Shelduck, Teal and five Green Sandpiper while at least 15 Pallas's Sandgrouse dropped into drink although not close enough to the vehicle for good photographs - they were always very wary of the vehicles.

Pairs of Demoiselle Crane were scattered along the roadside

Horned Lark was one of the commonest roadside birds - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Horned Lark - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Pallas's Sandgrouse - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Pallas's Sandgrouse - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Female Pallas's Sandgrouse - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Pallas's Sandgrouse - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Green Sandpiper - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Eurasian Teal - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Ruddy Shelduck - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Asian Short-toed Lark - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Demoiselle Crane - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

Demoiselle Crane - Lake between Delgertsogt and Mandalgovi 

The Middle Gobi Desert

Steppe Eagle - Gobi Desert

The next lake we stopped at was at Luus (45°30'5" N 105°45'34" E) and was far larger than the previous lake. The cars drove opposite ways around the shores in order to cover the ground. It was quite a novelty driving through miles of vast desert to be confronted with a lake with teaming birdlife. Here there were flocks of Shoveler, Pintail and Teal in the open water while around the lake margins were Temminck's Stint, Long-toed Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Avocet, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Citrine Wagtail.

Temminck's Stint - Luus Lake

Temminck's Stint - Luus Lake

Citrine Wagtail - Luus Lake

Citrine Wagtail - Luus Lake

Citrine Wagtail - Luus Lake

Citrine Wagtail - Luus Lake

Citrine Wagtail - Luus Lake

Little Ringed Plover - Luus Lake

Long-toed Stint - Luus Lake

Long-toed Stint - Luus Lake

Marsh Sandpiper - Luus Lake

Avocet - Luus Lake

Time was running tight as we wanted some birding time around Delanzadgad before dark and so we left Luus Lake reluctantly and continued our journey south-west. The desert scenery was amazing with barren landscapes dotted with camels and as we continued eventually we saw the mountains of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park with the town of Dalanzadgad situated at its northern base.

Camel - Gobi Desert

Camel - Gobi Desert

Gobi Desert

Gobi Desert

Gobi Desert with the mountains of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan above Delanzadgad coming into view

We arrived at our Guest House at Dalanzadgad at around 17:30. The guest house is owned by Tumen and we soon found our bed space and settled in, I opted for a bed on the landing for some unknown reason while others shared. We spent a couple of hours settling in and birding from the balconies before heading in to the adjacent habitat. We then spent the rest of the day birding the small lake and area of scrub opposite the guest house (43°33'7" N 104°25'1" E). Highlights included HobbyOspreyLong-toed StintCitrine WagtailIsabelline ShrikePale MartinPallas’ Bunting  and Red-throated Thrush. Dalanzagad is a small town located close to a mountain range of the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan and within the middle of the Gobi Desert and as a result any small areas of scrub attract migrating birds. Tumen has put considerable effort into influencing the creation of habitat for birds on this edge of the desert, and hence the areas around the Guest House are a magnet for migrant birds and we enjoyed a fantastic couple of hours birding before the sun went down.

Isabelline Shrike - Delanazadgad

Isabelline Shrike - Delanazadgad

Isabelline Shrike - Delanazadgad

Ruddy Shelduck - Delanazadgad

Snipe species (Common Snipe?) - Delanzadgad

Snipe species (Common Snipe?) - Delanzadgad

Isabelline Shrike - Delanzadgad

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 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
Day 15 and 16 - Gachuurt Area, Tuul River and International flight