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

Sonntag, 5. August 2018

Final month of the breeding bird survey in western Azerbaijan

Text & Photos © Max Baumgarten

Back home in Germany I found some time to finally give an update on what happened in Azerbaijan's birdlife in June. Most apparent were the omnipresent babies of various species. Although some species were already in the second round others just started breeding or were still courtshipping.

Crested Lark fledling
Can you ID this bird?

Besides babies and rather secretive parents, June started with something nice and unexpected. Oystercatchers could be observed in Kura River close to the Georgian border where they were described breeding back in 1884 in Radde's „Ornis Caucasica“. The birds showed typical breeding behaviour and were once observed laying down in a way they would only do on eggs, shaking left and right while slowly laying down.

The Kura river also held good numbers of Terns (Little, Common & Whiskered), Little ringed Plovers and Common Sandpipers. Everything that was supposed to be in a natural river of that size was present.

Whiskered Tern
Little Ringed Plover: Common breeder along the Kura river

From the Georgian border where Raphael had his last day in early June I moved on to close gaps and visit places that I had not been to before. Some still holding surprises like the highest density of Western Rock Nuthatches (8 Ind. in 10 minutes) so far.

This is where Nuthatches thrive
Injury feigning clearly shows it's a wader!

In mid June a good friend of mine Simon Ostermann joined and we made a little tour around the country also visiting the Caspian Tit and Shikra sites. In one week we managed to observe nearly 200 species and had very nice observations of elsewhere rare species like Imperial Eagle on the nest or Marbled Teal close to the sleeping place. We even managed to find an Eastern Rock Nuthatch in Zuvand upland.
Simon making his way toward Caspian Tit
Beautiful place to pitch a tent
Horned Larks can be relatively tame

In the Zuvand area we encountered comparably high densities of Pale Rock Sparrows which occur only sporadically.

Only present in some years: Pale Rock Sparrow
Herding is often done in Suits
After Simon had left I had only a couple of days left which I used to try to confirm some previous breeding suspects and map some more agricultural areas which I had not done before in June.

Turtle Dove: In Azerbaijan still a common bird

In total I saw 250 species over the three month of my fieldwork and found several new breeding sites for species of conservation concern which makes the time a full success and proves once more that Azerbaijan is still hiding some nice secrets!