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

Montag, 16. Oktober 2017

The first Little Buntings for Azerbaijan and other nice eastern species at Besh Barmag

Text © Pia Fetting

Little Bunting (juvenile) © Pia Fetting

In the first half of October rain and a low cloud cover brought some real ornithological goodies to the study site!

  • The second Yellow-browed Warbler for Azerbaijan was heard calling on 12th of October close to one of our nets, unfortunately without any records.
  • The first documented record of Little Bunting for Azerbaijan: One juvenile was trapped on 13th of October! Later that day even two birds were calling close to the camp site. One was also observed on 14th October.
Despite it is difficult to count the migrating birds during our bird ringing, we try our very best to count at least the more attractive species. At the moment migrating Little Bustards are a regular sight. So far 5519 individuals headed south with a peak of 4398 birds on 12th of October (check: More will surely come within the next weeks.

Flock of migrating Little Bustards © Jonas Buddemeier

Samstag, 14. Oktober 2017

September at Besh Barmag – Much heat, less birds

Text & Photos  © Pia Fetting

Volunteer Esther releasing a Wryneck
After some stormy and colder days in the beginning of September, temperatures rose again and it was once more like midsummer; still very hot (30+°C) and very dry. After more than three month without rain in this region, all ponds and lagoons were empty.
Additionally, strong winds almost every day resulted in low activity of resting birds and thus often empty mist-nets. Furthermore, kettle, dogs and other animals around posed a threat to the nets.

Trying to fix by cows destroyed nets
Excursion in the surroundings
Seawatching at the Caspian Sea
 Bonfire in the evenings
Together with the arriving volunteers I caught well over 500 birds in September. Sylvia warblers were still very common, but more and more autumn species like Common Redstarts, Common Rosefinches and Red-breasted Flycatchers mixed with them. In particular, we were glad about catching each one male Siberian Stonechat ssp. maurus and variegatus at the same day.

Though common around, still impressive in hand (f.t.l.t.b.r. Nightjar, Kingfisher, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Hoopoe)
One of the most common species in autumn: Red-breasted Flycatcher (adult male)
Siberian Stonechat ssp. maurus

By the end of the month cloudy and rainy days brought some more birds to the bushes and nets and we also had some more intense migration days with many terns, raptors, herons and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters being noticed while bird ringing ( As the first volunteers already had to leave and new people were coming, we met with some people of NatureFriends Azerbaijan in a traditional restaurant in Baku and had a nice farewell- and welcome- Dinner.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters on roosting site

Dinner in Baku

Samstag, 7. Oktober 2017

Finish of the wader study at Gyzylagach

Text & Photos © Christoph Himmel

Mixed flock of Kentish-, Ringed Plovers, Collared Pratincole and Little Stints

Now my time in Azerbaijan comes to an end and I prepare to go back to Germany.
Besides my counts during the last weeks, I also examined some specimens at the Zoological Museum of the Institute of Zoology in Baku. I checked the specimens of Whimbrels and Curlews for Steppe Whimbrel, but unfortunately couldn’t find a possible candidate.

Whimbrel specimens of the Zoological Museum in Baku
Examining Little and Temminck Stints in the Zoological Museum

The 11.000 counted waders mentioned in a previous blogpost was thought to be extraordinary, but I recently counted nearly 30.000 waders near Gyzylagach State Reserve on a single day. This is really an incredible number for this site, which doubles the numbers of individuals ever counted!
With the last counts at Gyzylagach, the total number of 186.000 resting waders was reached, which may also include double counts.
What a great finish, but, fingers crossed, not a final one. Stay tuned for a possibly extension next year!
A small area of a mudflat with nearly 30.000 waders
A serious-looking Broad-billed Sandpiper
Part of a flock of more than 1.500 Dunlins The numbers of Dunlins constantly increased during the last two weeks of September