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

Montag, 22. Oktober 2018

First half of October at Besh Barmag Bird Migration Count 2018

Text © Pia Fetting

Daily counting routine starts early © Leyla Muslim

October brought new species for the season such as Yellow-browed Warblers and Oriental Sky Lark ( as well as Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit (, increasing the touch of east by that . But also the intense migration of all possible occurring heron and bittern species except Cattle Egret, continued, which makes Besh Barmag an extraordinary site for the migration of these groups. Days like the 8th of October ( with huge numbers of almost all possible the mentioned above species were experiences that will stick in one´s mind.

Migrating flock of Great White Egrets © Christoph Himmel
Great Bittern © Christoph Himmel
Yellow-browed Warbler in the bushes © Christoph Himmel

During the following days, numbers of counted birds rose rapidly with the migration of Starlings and Calandra Larks ( This caused for several days in a row the highest numbers so far of the season, with the peak on 15th of October, when 170.000 birds were counted  (
Especially the 14th  ( was characterised by big flocks of different species, like several clouds of 1000+ Rooks, or the wall of 28.000 Starlings along the shore, blocking our view to the sea. Also the passage of raptors was good that day, with several eagles and 180 Marsh Harriers, passing the counting spot in flocks and small streams.

Greater Spotted Eagle overhead © Christoph Himmel
Booted Eagle © Christoph Himmel
Peregrine chasing a massive flock of Starlings © Christoph Himmel

At the very same time, seawatch was dominated by ducks. Mixed flocks of up to six species in one, in case of beneficial wind directions sometimes close to the shore, offered good practice of duck ID in flight ( &

Mixed flock of ducks above the Caspian Sea © Christoph Himmel
...and another one © Christoph Himmel more © Christoph Himmel
Busy counters © Leyla Muslim
Never tired © Leyla Muslim
In the beginning of October, an excursion of the Baku State University visited the spot despite strong winds and thereby unpleasant weather conditions. The students listened interestedly to explanations about the discovery, development of the bird migration bottleneck and current bird counts.

Students from the Baku State University visited the counting spot © Rovshan Allahverdi
Presentations informed about the importance of the Besh Barmag bottleneck © Rovshan Allahverdi

The long-awaited observation shelter finally found its way to the counting spot. It was built and brought by people from Zarat village. With this big improvement, the count can even continue in unfavourable weather conditions. The shelter was welcomed by the counters at that time and subsequently used the day after in strong winds.

The shelter arrived © Pia Fetting
Pure excitement © Pia Fetting
Back to work © Leyla Muslim
Short-eared Owl in the dunes © Christoph Himmel

Prepared for the colder days and with the mass migration period still ahead, there surely will be more astonishing observations, numbers and unprecedented news. Stay tuned!

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