Birdwatching news and bird photography from Azerbaijan- by Kai Gauger and Michael Heiß

Mittwoch, 5. Oktober 2016

Bird Camp Besh Barmag 2016

Participants of the camp © Harald Ris

During 16-19 September the Bird Camp Besh Barmag was arranged at the watchpoint areas of the bottleneck. It was a joint arrangement by Nature Friends Azerbaijan, SOF BirdLife (the Swedish BirdLife partner) and the AOS (Azerbaijan Ornithological Society, the Azeri BirdLife partner). The camp was sponsored by BirdLife partners in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland and also by OSME (Ornithological Society of the Middle East).

We were 8 Swedes, 16 Azeris and 3 Germans covering the bird migration passing this important bottleneck for four full days and during the process also learning, socializing and enjoying camping in the bushland near the Caspian Sea. We also had a day visit with another 20 Baku ecology students one day and the RSPB-run Sociable Lapwing survey also camped with us.

Enjoying bird migration at Besh Barmag © Michael Heiß
Spotting a harrier © Michael Heiß
Stunning close encounter with a Pallid Harrier © Emil Lundahl
Hoopoe in flight © Emil Lundahl
Greater Flamingo on migration © Michael Heiß

Birds in the sky © Michael Heiß
Some 150 (!!) species, of which 20 raptor species, were recorded during those four days alone and some 65.000 birds noted on migration. The weather was overcast with drizzle the first two days and sunny the last two days so bird migration intensity varied. Besh Barmag continues to impress with spectacular migration birding and we hope that migration & conservation activities here can be more firmly established.

Migration was strong of sea birds with more than a thousand of herons/egrets/spoonbills, nearly 10.000 dabbling ducks (of which 4.000 Garganeys), 3.000 White-winged Black Terns and among many waders both Sociable Lapwings and Black-winged Pratincoles. About 20 Montagues Harriers passed us as did 4 fine males Pallid Harrier and six species of eagles (single digit numbers). Eastern delights among passerines overhead included tens of Citrine Wagtails, Tawny Pipits, Rose-coloured Starlings and Rollers. More than 3.000 Blue-cheeked bee-eaters were counted!
In the drizzle the bushes and scrubs were alive with migrants; warblers, Red-backed Shrikes, Thrush Nightingales, lots of Red-breasted Flycatchers, a few Nightjars, a Corncrake, hemprichii-Stonechats and among those single Paddyfield Warbler, Green Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Pied Wheatear and a trapped Scops Owl.

Migrating flock of Black-winged Pratincoles © Michael Heiß
Tomas pointing at a flushed Nightjar © Emil Lundahl
Resting Tawny Pipit in the steppe © Emil Lundahl
Rosy Starling among Common © Emil Lundahl

European Bee-eater on migration © Emil Lundahl
Often mixed with the greener counterpart the Blue-checked Bee-eater © Michael Heiß
Migrating Ruffs were a regular sight © August Thomasson
Mixed flocks of Spoonbills and ducks © August Thomasson
Glossy Ibis © August Thomasson
Up to 117 migrating Caspian Terns were observed per day © August Thomasson
Spotted Flycatcher resting in bushes © Michael Heiß
Great Reed Warbler © Emil Lundahl
Pia giving a lecture in bird ringing © Emil Lundahl
Setting up the mist-nets © Sabina Bunyatova
Everybody helps © Sabina Bunyatova
A trapped Lesser Whitethroat © Sabina Bunyatova
Garden Warbler © Sabina Bunyatova
Tomas releasing a trapped bird © Michael Heiß
Final dinner with excellent Azeri cuisine in a traditional restaurant in Baku © Michael Heiß

More about the Bird Camp and our records and many more photos can be seen at our Facebook pages and the daily numbers at

Tomas Axén Haraldsson
camp initiative holder and organiser

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