Text © K. Gauger & M. Heiß
After the awful dump at Besh Barmag we drove via Quba into the Greater Caucasus in order to see a much nicer landscape. Our plan was to reach Xinaliq regardless the possible snow cover or expected cold temperatures high up in the mountains. Nobody of us has ever been there in winter, so we were pretty excited.
The first kilometres offered us brilliant views of the Caucasian winter, but we missed the birds along the road in the lower forested altitudes. We saw mainly Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes and three Goshawks.
|Driving through the Caucasus © Michael Heiß|
|Caucasian winter wonderland © Michael Heiß|
|Impressive Lammergeier © Lukas Pelikan|
|Less snow than expected © Pia Fetting|
|Checking Cek for birds © Michael Heiß|
|Wallcreeper © Kai Gauger|
The asphalted road led us further to Xinaliq and arriving there we were happy that we had no trouble with snow and the sun warmed us with about +6°C. The weather conditions above 2.000 m asl were much more comfortable than in the lowland. A little hike up to 3.000 m asl produced more sightings of Lammergeiers, Griffon Vultures, Horned Larks, 27 Chukars, 42 Alpine and about 220 Red-billed Choughs. We also observed the spectacular hunting of up to 3 Golden Eagles preying on Caucasian Snowcocks at Qizil Qaya.
After a long day we left Xinaliq in the evening and had once again a comfortable night in our hotel.
|Flock of Red-billed Choughs © Kai Gauger|
|Picturesque Greater Caucasus © Michael Heiß|
|Road to Xinaliq © Michael Heiß|
|Red-billed Chough along the road © Michael Heiß|
|Xinaliq in winter © Michael Heiß|
|Impressive rock formation named Qizil Gaya... © Michael Heiß|
|...where we observed Golden Eagles hunting for Caucasian Snowcocks © Steve Klasan|
|High mountain birding can be very relaxing © Lukas Pelikan|
|Great panorama © Pia Fetting|
|Sunlit Xinaliq in the evening © Michael Heiß|
|Yellowhammers and a possible hybrid (upper left) © Michael Heiß|
|Long-legged Buzzard © Michael Heiß|
|Beautiful Red-fronted Serins © Michael Heiß|
|...and a short video of them © Lukas Pelikan|
|Azeri birdwatcher © Michael Heiß|