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

Freitag, 28. Oktober 2011

Start of Sandgrouse and Bustard migration

Text & Photos © M. Heiß

I am currently in Tbilisi (Georgia) due to some trouble with the prolonging of my visa. I hope to get it as soon as possible to continue the bird counts.
The last counting day was quite surprising as obviously a shift in species composition took place and several further species increased in numbers. The day started with an unusual observation short after sunrise with a flock of 500 high migrating Pygmy Cormorants. The next eight hours of counting produced:
130 Ruddy Shelducks
850+ Stock Doves
the first few Wood Pigeons
30 Hen Harriers
1 Rough-legged Buzzard
60 Black-bellied Sandgrouses
6 Black Storks, rare sight
800 Common Cranes in several flocks
5500+ larks, mainly Sky, but also Calandra and a few Woodlarks and Lesser Short-toed Larks
thousands of Rooks and Common Starlings
the first Little Bustards with a flock of 300 birds migrating south and further 6 individuals resting in the steppe
1 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
and many others...
Pygmy Cormorants on migration. Two Rooks flew at lower elevations.

Flock of Little Bustards

Hen Harrier

Migrating flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Flushed Black-bellied Sandgrouses

Sonntag, 23. Oktober 2011

Autumn migration continuous

Text & Photos © M. Heiß

Temperature dropped the last few days and obviously forced some more migrating birds to past through the Besh Barmag bottleneck. Thousands of Sky and Calandra Larks are heading south. The number of migrating finches and buntings increases every day, whereas the number of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, White Wagtails and Yellow Wagtails is decreasing.
Along the coastline flocks of Dalmatian Pelicans can be observed. Furthermore, ducks, cormorants and Black-headed Gulls are common.

Red-breasted Flycatcher are still common in the bushes at the study site.
Numbers of Goldfinches increase day by day.

I am still waiting for White's Thrush but this shy Song Thrush was also nice.

This Greater Flamingo was found resting in a lagoon with another juvenile bird. Both were quite exhausted and not shy, which led to some great photo opportunities.
A rare but probably a regular sight in Azerbaijan - a Baltic Gull.
Single Heuglin's Gulls are still around with a maximum of about 10 birds two weeks ago.

This Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) was also checking the bushes for some resting passerines.

Montag, 3. Oktober 2011


Text © M. Heiß

Chris Gibbins visted the study site to check the gulls at the Caspian Sea. He has already posted some stunning photographs on his blog!

Find his website at:

bird migration

Text & Photos © M. Heiß

Currently, I am conducting a bird migration study in Azerbaijan. The study site is situated between Greater Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Both are migration barriers and large amounts of migrants are funnelled through a narrow coastal plain. This area offers the great opportunity to study migrants at the very edge of the WP. My study includes seawatching, passerine and raptor migration.
Now, the evenings are getting longer, so I have time to sum up some interesting observations. The most surprising was a SPOTTED NUTCRACKER. The bird was coming from the North and I was glad to see him landing in bushes some hundred metres next to me. So, I grabbed my camera and took photographs of the bird. This is the first record for Azerbaijan!
Some days of rainy and windy weather conditions produced further interesting species like a flock of Demoiselle Crane, a total of 15 Sociable Lapwings and thousands of Black-winged Pratincoles.
Another nice WP species was Oriental Skylark. I observed 6 birds in the end of September.
Despite raptor migration is rather weak a true highlight was the observation of a hybrid between European x Oriental Honey Buzzard. The photographed bird shows features of both species.