|Bird migration count at Besh Barmag bottleneck|
Birding Azerbaijan in cooperation with Olive Travel Azerbaijan is offering a ten-day autumn birding tour through Azerbaijan covering
the famous Besh Barmag bird migration bottleneck, the Greater Caucasus and its
endemic species, coastal wetlands full of waterfowl and waders and the Talysh
Mountains in search for the enigmatic Caspian Tit.
Target species are: Caucasian Snowcock,
Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Red-fronted Serin, Caucasian Twite, Black Francolin, White-tailed
Lapwing, Desert Wheatear, Caspian Tit, White-winged Lark, Little Bustard, Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit, Finsch's Wheatear, Black-throated Thrush and the Great Spotted Woodpecker (ssp.
Group size: Max. 12 persons
The profit will support the Besh Barmag Bird Migration Count
18 November - Day 1:
The tour starts in the morning at the
airport in Baku, when most international flights have arrived. A short
drive in a comfortable bus will bring us to the Absheron National Park, where
we enjoy a picnic-like breakfast. The national park is featured by steppes,
dunes and the surrounding Caspian Sea with beaches, coastal wetlands and lagoons.
Here we will find a good number of waterfowl and waders. Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian Pelican or White-headed Duck are possible. On good
days we will see migration of passerines (larks, pipits, thrushes,
finches). Along the beach we look for Desert Wheatear and Lesser
Around noon we leave the national park and drive to our accommodation near the famous Besh Barmag bottleneck. On our
way we stop at lake Zabrat Gölü to look for White-headed Ducks and a proper
lunch. Another stop will be Yanar Dag, the ‘burning mountain’, demonstrating why Azerbaijan is called ‘the land of fire’.
We spend the next three nights in a hotel near
Besh Barmag bottleneck.
|Absheron National Park|
|Desert Wheatear between tripods|
19 November - Day 2:
We leave the hotel in the morning to drive to the observation spot of Besh Barmag bottleneck, where we join the bird migration count until noon. At this location migrating birds that avoid crossing of Caspian Sea and the Greater Caucasus are funnelled annually in this small coastal plain, where up to three million bird can be counted in an autumn season. On good days more than 100.000 birds can be seen on migration. Typical mid-November species are Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Egret and Little Bustard. Rare but regular highlights are Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit and White-winged Lark. Migration can be intense and you can check the daily totals of previous years on Trektellen to get an impression of what to expect, e.g. https://trektellen.nl/count/view/1533/20181119.
In the afternoon we explore the scrubland and lagoons for resting passerines and also drive to the
top of Mount Besh Barmag to look for Alpine Accentor, Wallcreeper, Rock Sparrow and Western Rock Nuthatch before we head back for
dinner in the hotel.
|Mixed flock of Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans|
20 November - Day 3:
After another morning at the observation spot at Besh Barmag we visit the beautiful red-white striped Candy Cane Mountains near Xizi, where we
look for Golden Eagle, Chukar and Finsch’s Wheatear. In the evening we drive
back to our hotel.
|Candy Cane Mountains|
|Searching for Finsch's Wheatear|
21 November - Day 4:
We leave the hotel early in the morning as
the Greater Caucasus is waiting for us. We drop our luggage in the hotel, change from bus to 4WD cars and leave to our first
birding stop in the mountains. Already at lower altitudes we can observe alpine species like Red-fronted Serin, Wallcreeper, Ring Ouzel, Bearded Vulture,
Golden Eagle, Rock Bunting or even Güldenstädt’s Redstart.
Higher up we add White-winged Snowfinch, Horned Lark and Red-billed Chough
to our list. Overhead soar Griffon and Cinereous Vultures. After a
full day of mountain birding, we drive back to the Nazli Bulaq resort, where we spend the next two nights.
22 November - Day 5:
After an early breakfast we drive
further into the mountains. We pass the picturesque
mountain village Xinaliq and enter the Shahdag National Park. A steep, but
short and slow birding-paced hike will bring us to the high mountain zone of
Qizilqaya, where we search for Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Caucasian Snowcock,
Alpine Accentor, Wallcreeper, White-winged Snowfinch, Caucasian Twite, Horned
Lark and others. We spend the whole day in this area with excellent bird
species in a dramatic scenery. In the later afternoon we have a short walk
through the ancient Xinaliq, which offers interesting insights into the Caucasian culture and traditions.
|Qizilqaya in Shahdag National Park|
|Birding group in Shahdag National Park|
23 November - Day 6:
We leave the hotel in the morning reaching Gobustan petroglyphs around noon. The site is famous for ancient rock engravings, but is good for
birding as well. Along the trails we might see Western Rock
Nuthatch, Chukar, Red-billed Chough, Finsch’s Wheatear, Rock Sparrow,
Red-fronted Serin, Wallcreeper and Rock Bunting.
In the afternoon we visit the wide steppes of Shirvan National Park with its healthy
population of Goitered Gazelles. But there will be also birds around. We will see Black Francolin, Long-legged Buzzard, Calandra Lark and huge flocks of Little Bustards are possible.
A lake holds good numbers of
waterfowl including Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Grey-headed Swamphen,
Dalmatian Pelican and several species of heron. Cetti’s Warbler, Bearded Tit and
Penduline Tit can be found in red beds. In the evening thousands of birds
fly to the lake for roost. Usually a spectacular finish of the day. We spend the
night in a hotel in nearby Salyan.
24 November - Day 7:
Today we focus on the vast wetlands of Azerbaijan with stops at lake Mahmudchala and Qizilagach National Park. Here, waterfowl can be observed in its tens of thousands including
Marbled Duck, Dalmatian Pelicans and Greater Flamingos. Chances are good to find White-tailed
Lapwing among other wader species, such as Marsh Sandpiper, Avocet,
Black-winged Stilts and many others. Pallas’s Gull and Slender-billed Gull are regular. The sought-after Siberian
Buff-bellied Pipit is an easy target at the known locations. Merlins and Short-eared Owls are in coastal lagoons.
In the evening we drive into the Talysh
Mountains, where we spend the next three nights.
25 November - Day 8:
On our 8th birding day we awake in cosy wooden cabins
of the Tebessüm resort in the colourful autumn forests of the Talysh Mountains. A bunch of 4WD
cars are waiting for us. They bring us to the mountain town of Lerik, where we
search for the enigmatic Caspian Tit that was recently re-discovered at a very
few locations. This species is endemic to the South-Caspian region and despite
its inconspicuous brownish appearance, it is a true highlight during the trip. Other
forest species in this area are well-known for many European birdwatchers: Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Wren, Robin, Blackbird and Nuthatch, but the Great
Spotted Woodpecker of the poelzami-subspecies looks slightly different to its European counterpart and is currently
under consideration to become full species status.
|Tebessüm resort in the Talysh Mountains|
26 November - Day 9:
|Talysh Mountains near Lerik|
Today we drive up to the higher altitudes of
the Zuvand upland. The landscape is featured by dry mountain semi-deserts with
riparian forests and rocky outcrops. Local resident species are Chukar, Horned Lark,
Western Rock Nuthatch, Ring Ouzel, Rock Bunting and Red-fronted Serin. Black-throated Thrush and Pine Bunting are possible. In the evening we drive back to
our cosy cabins, where the traditional dish 'Plov' is waiting for dinner.
27 November - Day 10:
We have a short morning walk through
the pristine forest around our accommodation in the Talysh Mountains before driving back to Baku. Our hotel is in Baku's city centre and we will use the
afternoon and evening hours for a combined urban birding and sightseeing walk. Ringed-necked
Parakeet and Laughing Dove are maybe the last species that we can add to our
28 November - Day 11:
The bus will bring us to the
airport for our flights back home.
Further information about birding in November in Azerbaijan can be obtained from a scouting trip in a previous blog post:
entry fees according to the program
- all accommodations
- all meals (breakfast, lunch
tea and water
entry e-visa and registration
to the hotel bellboys
service with a comfortable bus
- airport transfers
WD Lada Niva service in Greater Caucasus (2 days) and Talysh Mountains (2 days)
Please contact email@example.com for detailed information about prices and booking. Don't hesitate to ask any question.
It is also possible to combine your birding trip with a stay at the upcoming Besh Barmag Bird Migration Count in autumn 2020.
extra and personal expenditure