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

Freitag, 2. November 2012

New bird species for Azerbaijan?

Text & Photos © M. Heiß

The results of a recently published article propose to differentiate four species within the greater spotted woodpecker complex. One of them is Dendrocopos (major) poelzami that occurs in northern Iran and the adjacent Talysh Mountains in Azerbaijan. The latter is the only place within the Western Palearctic where it can be found.
In field, it is distinguishable by its brownish underparts and softer calls, which support a soon split.

Perktaş, U. and Quintero, E. (2012), A wide geographical survey of mitochondrial DNA variation in the great spotted woodpecker complex, Dendrocopos major (Aves: Picidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2012.02003.x

Dendrocopos (major) poelzami
Note the brownish underparts

Samstag, 30. Juni 2012

Trip report from Swedish birders available

Text & Photos © M. Heiß

In April, a group of Swedish birdwatchers visited my counting spot at Besh Barmag during their trip through Azerbaijan. Please find their excellent trip report on Swedish Club 300 or

Birdwatching tourists - a rare sight, but with increasing annual numbers.

Freitag, 8. Juni 2012

May trip with Nakhchivan

Text & Photos © K. Gauger 

Again I did my every year's spring trip and it turned out to be one of the best ever! Manly because of my visit to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) with Mario Camici and others. But more of that later... Already the time in mainland Azerbaijan was great with 215 species in 11 days!
Just a few images here:

Penduline Tit in near Shirvan NP
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Shirvan
is this an orientalis Curlew?
Little Egret
some of the 120 Terek Sandpipers in Kizil Agach
amoung 800 waders of 20 species on the southern Kizil Agach beach were also 26 Broad-billed Sandpipers
Curlew Sandpipers

The Zuvand region was a bit disappointing for us after Mario had two Radde's Accentors and four Crimson-winged Finches a few days before. We didn't see those and also no sign of Irania. So the only special bird was Bimaculated Lark. Anyway, we had great observations!

two Lesser Grey Shrikes
Syrian Woodpecker
Tawny Pipit
Horned Lark
beautiful gladiolus
Caucasian Agama
ad and juv Isabelline Wheatear in the Candy Canes
male and female Black-headed Bunting
Steveniella satyrioides in Alti Agach

And then came the moment when I watered my camera while walking through the lagoon at Michas place at Besh Barmag... so I don't have any pics from the Greater Caucasus. We had at least eight Caucasian Black Grouse, a superb couple of Great Rosefinches for 20 minutes at close range and a group of more than 100 Caucasian Turs in Laza. In Khinalik we saw several Snowcocks and Güldenstadts Redstarts. In Quba forrest we had great views of a pair of Semi-collared Flycatchers and along the russian border there were Levant Sparrowhawks and Montagues Harriers. Other highlights were my first living Caspian Seal and at least 20 Arctic Skuas passing close the shore.
On our way back we stopped at Besh Barmag again and together with Micha we enjoyed the heavy migration of hundreds of Steppe Buzzards, dozens of Steppe Eagles and many other raptors.

Fortunately Christian Gönner borrowed me his camera. Although it was not the newest one it was essential to have it for Nakhchivan.
It was my first visit to the exclave and it was even better than what I dreamed of for years!
Here are some landscapes and the appendant birs.
Batabat region. At above 2000 m asl the lakes hold breeding Redshanks, Common Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, Little Grebes, Sedge Warblers... We didn't see Raddes Accentor, which Pavel Simeonow had here two years ago but many other subalpine birds.

Long-legged Buzzard
Ruddy Shelducks

On the way to Batabat at about 1500 m asl, the typical habitat of Irania which is very common here.

these Lesser Whitethroats occur in the mountains and look very much like althea
at several places we saw Upcher's Warbler

 View from the Alindja castle mountain towards the lowland.

Grey-necked Bunting, common in the lower mountains
In cultivations in the lowland we found many Desert Finches, the first breeding records for Azerbaijan.

In the negram mountains, the lowest and driest part of Nakhchivan. Probably the best place to see Mongolian Finch.

Mongolian Finch, we saw several in Negram region.

Persian Wheatears are widespread in the lower mountains and the Negram.

flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse, also seen or heard at several sites

quite common as well, Eastern Rock Nuthatch

Trumpeter Finch, there were families at different places

 In the mountains of Ordubad region. Dry mountain slopes and lush vegetation in the valleys.

 Steppes around Ilandag. Rich  in flowers and only slightly grazed compared with the mainland.

See-see Partridge, widespread in the dry regions
Bimaculated Larks are very common in the steppes
Pale Rock Sparrow, found at two places only but likely also widespread
Upcher's Warbler, typical for open habitats with small bushes

 The symbol of Nakhchivan, Mount Ilandag.

female Wild Goat, there seem to be many of them and we also saw a Moufflon with offspring

The place where we wanted to see Caspian Snowcock. Although our local guide has see them here before, we could not find any. Anyway, there are several places where they should occur.

Nakhchivan is absolutely great, not only the species but also the landscape! I'm already looking forward to our next year's trip ;-)