Kazakhstan – 19-30 May 2019

Following our Uzbekistan trip, Brian and Pat Wetton transferred to Kazakhstan for twelve days further birding with Birdfinders. Vaughan Ashby and local guide Artem lead the first 8 days with a group of 13 birders: David Avis, Stephen Bolger, Steve Cooper, Peter Doyle, Steven Hughes, Maurice and Lynsey McCann, Henrik Pedersen, Brian Rasmussen, Ian Stewart and Alan Woodcock as well as ourselves. On one day in the Tien Shan we were joined by Vaughan’s wife Svetlana. We stayed in hotels at Kazachka (south of Almaty) and Kapchagay, a small guesthouse at Shonzhy and a yurt camp at Konchengil in the Taukum Desert.

The last four days in the steppes west of Nur-Sultan, we were only a group of four, the two Danes and ourselves. There we stayed in a family guesthouse in the village of Korgalzhyn where the wife of the family, Kenzhi, cooked for us. Our guide there was Ruslan who was responsible, in partnership with Bird Life International and the RSPB, for the conservation of steppe birds including Sociable Lapwings.

In total we recorded 225 species including 16 new ones for us.

 

Itinerary:

19 May – Kazachka Hotel near Almaty to Kaskelen Valley and back.

20 May – Kazachka via Almaty to Sorbulak Lakes, Kurty Canyon & Konshengel.

21 May – Konshengel into the Taukum Desert and the Tamgaly Hills & back.

22 May – Konshengel via Topar Lakes, Turanga Grove and Ile River to Kapchagay.

23 May – Kapchagay to Shelek, Kokpek Pass, Charyn Gorge & Surgaty to Shonzhy.

24 May – Shonzhy to Kokpek, Malybay, Boranzysu & Almaty to Kazachka.

25 May – Kazachka to Almaty Lake & lower Tien Shan Mts

26 May – Kazachka to upper Tien Shan Mts & Almaty Lake & lower Tien Shan.

27 May – Flight from Almaty to Nur-Sultan. Drive to Korgalzhyn & River Nura.

28 May – Korgalzhyn Steppes & lakes Zhumay, Ashykol & Sholak.

29 May – Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve and River Nura.

30 May – Korgalzhyn & River Nura to Nur-Sultan. Flight with Air Astana to London.

 

Site Maps:

kazakhstan.gif  

almatyregion.gif

 

Sites:

Kazachka (KZ): A resort hotel in the foothills of the Tien Shan south of Almaty. The Almaty River flowed nearby.

Kaskelen Valley (KK): A foothills valley of the Kaskelen River west of Almaty with open slopes and wooded riverside.

Sorbulak Lakes (SL): A series of varying size steppe lakes north of Almaty. Mainly grassland but with occasional grove of trees.

Kurty Canyon (KC): A steep canyon with caves and a grassy plant rich plateau above.

Taukum Desert (TD): An extensive desert south of Lake Balkash with sand barkhans and semi-desert scrub.

Konshengel (KO): A tiny hamlet with trees and a few waterholes acting as an oasis in the desert. Nearby was the yurt camp where we stayed.

Tamgaly Hills (TH): Rocky Hills west of Konshengel with steep ravines and grassy flower-rich lower slopes.

Topar Lakes (TL): A series of small lakes along the Ile River.

Turanga Grove (TG): An open wood of Euphrates Poplar in the Ile River valley.

Ile River (IR): A very large river between Lake Balkash and the Chinese border.

Shelek (SW): A willow wood along the A351 east of Almaty.

Kolpek Pass (KP):  A pass with steep sides and side valleys between Shelek and the Charyn Gorge on the A351.

Charyn Gorge (CG): A steep-sided canyon formed by a river of the same name.

Surgaty Valley (SV): An open valley with xerophytic scrub and rocky slopes with small springs attracting thirsty birds.

Shonzhy (SH): A small town with a guesthouse run by the Charyn Park authorities.

Malybay (MB): Near this village is a sand cliff occupied by a colony of Pale Martins.

Boranzysu (BO): Close to the railway line east from Almaty is an area of scrub with a small stream and waterhole attracting birds to drink.

Almaty Lake (AL): Amid the lower slopes of the Tien Shan Mountains is a water supply lake for the city of Almaty. It has a silt delta and is surrounded by conifer woods and alpine pastures.

Tien Shan Mountains (TS): High snow-capped mountains forming an extension of the Himalayan chain and the border with Kyrgyzstan. Steep snow slopes and rocky crags form the high slopes. Flower-rich alpine pastures occur at various levels with belts of juniper scrub at the lower levels. A road to the Komostation at 3,300 metres allows easy access with the appropriate permit. Below the station is an observatory.

Korgalzhyn Steppes (KS): A huge area of steppes west of Nur-Sultan with a large number of lakes of varying salinity holding huge populations of water birds. Reed marsh fringes some lakes. The steppe grassland is pasture for herds of horses and cattle as well as breeding territory for many ground-nesting birds. Some areas have low scrub forming another habitat. Along some roadsides are planted trees with nesting rooks and other birds. A deserted village forms the base for the Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve (KR)           and its overgrown gardens form another habitat.

River Nura (RN): the river flows through the village of Korgalzhyn and its steep banks with scrub hold nesting sites for bee-eaters, bluethroats and penduline tits amongst others.

 

Birds Recorded:

Species

Days

Max

Sites

Greylag Goose

2

6

KS

Mute Swan

3

20

SL,KS

Whooper Swan

3

50+

SL,KS

Ruddy Shelduck

3

50

KK,SL,TL

Common Shelduck

5

100+

SL,KS,RN

Garganey

5

10+

SL,TL,KS

Northern Shoveler

5

10+

SL,KS

Gadwall

5

10+

SL,TL,KS

Mallard

6

20+

SL,TL,CG,KS,RN

Northern Pintail

1

3

KS

Red-crested Pochard

4

100+

SL,TL,KS

Common Pochard

3

30+

SL,KS

Ferruginous Duck

1

15

SL

Tufted Duck

2

6

SL,KS

Common Quail

1

H

KS

Chukar

2

2+

KP,CG

Himalayan Snowcock

2

2+

TS

Eurasian Black Grouse

1

1

TS

Ring-necked Pheasant

3

2

SL,TG,SW

Grey Partridge

1

2

KS

Species

Days

Max

Sites

Greater Flamingo

2

500

KS

Great Crested Grebe

4

10

SL,TL,KS

Black-necked Grebe

2

20

KS

Rock Pigeon

11

NC

Various

Pale-backed Pigeon

1

2+

TG

Common Wood Pigeon

5

5

KZ,KK,TG,CG,BO

Oriental Turtle-Dove

10

50

Various

Eurasian Collared Dove

3

4

KZ,SH

Laughing Dove

4

1

KZ,Kapchagay,SH

Pallas’s Sandgrouse

1

10

KO

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

3

400

KO

Macqueen’s Bustard

1

1?

KO

Common Cuckoo

8

5

Various

Common Swift

4

10

KZ,KC,TH

Eurasian Coot

5

10+

SL,TL,KS

Demoiselle Crane

4

4

KC,KS,KR

Eurasian Thick-knee

1

2

KO

Black-winged Stilt

4

30

SL,TL,KS

Pied Avocet

2

20

SL,KS

Ibisbill

1

2

AL

Eurasian Oystercatcher

4

3

SL,TL,RN

Grey Plover

1

1

KS

Northern Lapwing

8

20

Various

Sociable Lapwing

1

14

KS

Greater Sand Plover

1

10+

KO

Caspian Plover

1

1

KO

Little Ringed Plover

4

5

SL,TL,KS

Kentish Plover

1

1

KS

Whimbrel

1

1

SL

Ruddy Turnstone

1

2

KS

Black-tailed Godwit

5

4

SL,KS

Ruff

1

10

KS

Broad-billed Sandpiper

1

1

TL

Curlew Sandpiper

3

2

SL,KS

Temminck’s Stint

3

15

SL,TL,KS

Little Stint

4

50+

TL,KS

Dunlin

2

4

KS

Terek Sandpiper

3

28

SL,TL,KS

Red-necked Phalarope

2

4000

KS

Common Sandpiper

1

1

RN

Green Sandpiper

1

1

KS

Spotted Redshank

2

10+

SL,KS

Common Greenshank

2

2+

SL,KS

Species

Days

Max

Sites

Common Redshank

3

10

SL,KS

Black-winged Pratincole

4

50+

KS,KR

Slender-billed Gull

2

50+

KS,KR

Black-headed Gull

7

oos

Various

Pallas’s Gull

4

100+

KS

Common Gull

2

100+

KS

Caspian Gull

5

10+

SL, KO,IR,KS

Steppe Gull

4

100+

KS,KR,RN

Little Tern

4

8

SL,KS

Gull-billed Tern

3

6

SL,TL,KS

Caspian Tern

2

15

KS

Black Tern

2

10

SL,KS

White-winged Tern

5

200+

SL,KS

Common Tern

5

30+

SL,TL,KS

Black-throated Diver

1

H

KR

Black Stork

1

1

KC

Great Cormorant

4

50+

SL,TL,KS

Great White Pelican

1

50+

TL

Dalmatian Pelican

3

100

SL,KS

Common Bittern

2

H

KS,KR

Grey Heron

6

10

SL,TL,KS

Great Egret

5

20

SL,TL,KS,KR

Black Vulture

1

6

KK

Himalayan Griffon

1

1

KK

Eurasian Griffon

3

2

KK,KZ,CG

Short-toed Eagle

1

1

TL

Booted Eagle

1

1

KP

Steppe Eagle

2

1

SL,KR

Golden Eagle

2

2

KP

W Marsh Harrier

6

7

SL,TL,KS

Pallid Harrier

5

8

KS,KR

Montagu’s Harrier

1

1

TL

Shikra

1

1

TG

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

1

1

CG

Black-eared Kite

8

20

Various

White-tailed Eagle

1

2+

SL

Steppe Buzzard

3

3

SL,KS

Long-legged Buzzard

7

8

Various

Eurasian Eagle-Owl

1

1

KC

Short-eared Owl

1

2

KS

Eurasian Hopoe

7

4

Various

European Bee-eater

7

20+

Various

European Roller

6

50+

Various

Species

Days

Max

Sites

Eurasian Wryneck

1

1

RN

White-winged Woodpecker

1

1+

TG

Common Kestrel

9

8

Various

Red-footed Falcon

3

4

KS

Merlin

1

3

KS,KR

Eurasian Hobby

3

10

KZ,SL,TL

Red-backed Shrike

3

1

KO,KS

Turkestan Shrike

6

2

KO,SV,BO,AL,KR

Long-tailed Shrike

1

1

SH

Steppe Grey Shrike

1

1

KO

Lesser Grey Shrike

4

2

SL,TL,KS

Eurasian Golden Oriole

2

1+

RN,KR

Indian Golden Oriole

3

2

KO,SH,BO

Eurasian Magpie

11

20+

Various

Red-billed Chough

1

5

TS

Alpine Chough

1

2

TS

Western Jackdaw

11

20+

Various

Rook

8

‘000s

Various

Carrion Crow

8

‘00s

Various in south

Hooded Crow

4

20

Nur-Sultan,KS

Brown-necked Raven

2

4

KO

Common Raven

2

2

AL,TS

Shore Lark

1

2

SV

Greater Short-toed Lark

1

1

KO

Bimaculated Lark

1

1+

KO

Calandra Lark

3

50

SL,KO,TH

Black Lark

4

500

KS

Lesser Short-toed Lark

2

10+

KO

White-winged Lark

5

30

KC,TH,KS

Eurasian Skylark

5

50+

SL,KC,KS

Crested Lark

2

2

KC,KO

Sand Martin

5

100+

TL,KS

Pale Sand Martin

1

50+

MB

Eurasian Crag Martin

1

4

CG

Barn Swallow

10

‘00s

Various

Common House Martin

2

10+

SH

Coal Tit

2

3

TS

Songar (Willow) Tit

1

1

TS

Azure Tit

5

2

KZ

Great Tit

7

20+

Various

Turkestan Tit

1

6

KO,TG

Eurasian Penduline Tit

1

4

RN

White-crowned Penduline Tit

1

2+

SW

Species

Days

Max

Sites

E Rock Nuthatch

1

3

TH

Wallcreeper

1

1

TS

White-throated Dipper

1

1

KK

Brown Dipper

2

2

KZ

Cetti’s Warbler

4

3+

SH,RN

Hume’s Warbler

4

10+

KO,TS

Sulphur-bellied Warbler

1

2

TS

Greenish Warbler

3

20

KZ,KO

Booted Warbler

1

10+

KS

Sykes’s Warbler

1

H

TL

Paddyfield Warbler

1

5

KS

Blyth’s Reed Warbler

5

50+

KZ,KO,TL,KS

Great Reed Warbler

2

3

SL, KR

Savi’s Warbler

1

H

KR

Asian Desert Warbler

1

1

SV

Barred Warbler

2

3

KO,KR

Lesser Whitethroat (curruca)

4

3

KS

Lesser Whitethroat (halimodendri)

1

2+

KO

Greater Whitethroat

3

1

KO,KZ

Spotted Flycatcher

4

20+

KO,TG,RN,KS

Common Nightingale

3

5

KO,CG,SH

Bluethroat

2

3

RN

Blue Whistling Thrush

3

3

KZ

Himalayan Rubythroat

2

5+

TS

Eversmann’s Redstart

2

2

TS

Blue-capped Redstart

1

2

TS

Common Redstart

1

1

KO

Guldenstadt’s Redstart

1

2+

TS

Rock Thrush

1

3

SV

Blue Rock Thrush

1

2

KP

Siberian Stonechat

2

3

TS,KS

Pied Bushchat

1

1

KO

Northern Wheatear

4

20

KS

Pied Wheatear

5

6

KC,KO,CG,SV,BO

Desert Wheatear

1

2

SV

Isabelline Wheatear

7

30+

Various

Mistle Thrush

4

6+

KZ,TS

Eurasian Blackbird

7

4+

Various in south

European Starling

6

30

SL,TL,KS

Rosy Starling

6

‘000s

Various

Common Myna

8

30+

Various

Altai Accentor

1

3

TS

Brown Accentor

2

4

TS

Species

Days

Max

Sites

Black-throated Accentor

2

6

TS

Grey Wagtail

2

1

TL,KZ

Sykes’s Wagtail

4

100

KS,KR,RN

Black-headed Wagtail

1

2

BO

Citrine Wagtail

1

10

KR

White Wagtail (alba)

3

2

KS

Masked Wagtail

5

6

KK,SL,KC,TL,CG,SH

Tawny Pipit

3

1

KO,KS

Tree Pipit

2

3+

TS

Water Pipit

2

4

TS

White-winged Grosbeak

2

8

TS

Common Rosefinch

7

2

Various

Red-mantled Rosefinch

2

3

TS

Crimson-winged Finch

1

6

SV

Mongolian Finch

1

30+

SV

Plain Mountain Finch

2

100+

TS

Desert Finch

1

2

BO

European Greenfinch

2

6

Nur-Sultan, SH

Twite

3

4

KS,KR

Eurasian Linnet

1

5+

SV

Red-fronted Serin

2

10+

TS

Red-headed Bunting

3

20+

SL,KC,KO

Corn Bunting

1

1

KO

Rock Bunting

2

3

KK,KP

Meadow Bunting

!

1

KK

Chestnut-breasted Bunting

1

1

KP

Grey-necked Bunting

2

1

KK,SV

Reed Bunting

1

5

KS

Saxaul Sparrow

1

4+

TL

House Sparrow

8

20+

Various

Indian Sparrow

4

20+

KO,BO

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

5

10+

Various

Rock Sparrow

1

2

SV

 

Mammals Redcorded: Wild Boar, Goitered Gazelle, Toloi Hare, Grey Marmot, Bobak Marmot, Yellow Suslik, Little Suslik, Muskrat, Red Fox

 

Herpetiles Recorded: Central Asian Tortoise      



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