Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Kazakhstan 2

After a pleasant night in an Al Maty Hotel we set off out of the city early the next morning (27th June).  We were heading east & for the first 50 kms or so it was farmland but this soon give way to the steppes, which stretched as far as the eye could see. 

What a lot of the country looks like!

White crowned Penduline Tit

Young bird

We stopped briefly at a spot for White crowned Penduline Tit & after a short while found a family in the trees, but they proved difficult to photograph!

Kokpek Gorge

Exploring one of the tracks going into the hills.

Golden Eagle

A pair were on territory in the gorge.

Pied Wheatear

I am not 100% sure what these 
next three photos are!

A young Hume's Whitethroat?

Comments welcome.

Rock Bunting

Our first major stop was the Kokpek Gorge which rises up out of the plains. It is an interesting area giving different species from the steppes. We were here for Hume's Whitethroat & White capped Bunting, both proving elusive, but in the end we saw them.

Only 200 kms. from the city, but a different world!

I loved these wide open spaces.

Tolai Hare


Long legged Buzzard

Isabelline Wheatear

Male Turkestan Shrike


The waterhole was at the base of these hills.

Mongolian Finch.

Horned Lark

Greater Short toed Lark

Rock Sparrow & Mongolian Finch

c 90 birds at the waterhole.

Not a species I see very often!

Male Grey necked Bunting

Young Greater Short toed Lark

Asian Crimson Winged Finch

The rest of the day was spent on the Sogaty Plains, exploring the area around a small waterhole which proved to be a big draw for birds. It was a superb few hours watching a great selection of semi arid species come to drink in great numbers.

Male Eastern Orphean Warbler

Young bird.

In the late afternoon we birded a small range of hills close by, which yielded among other species Eastern Orphean Warbler.

The former Hunting Lodge.

It was then time to find our accommodation by the night in the form of a former Hunting Lodge by the river. It proved to be an excellent choice & we just had time to wander around the woodland before dark.

White winged Woodpecker

Two birds present but difficult to see well.

Azure Tit!

We birded the woodland around the lodge on the 28th June. It was a beautiful morning & I finally got to grips with Azure Tit!

Not the best promotion for what turned out to be
 a stunning place.

The road into the gorge.

The recently constructed eco-camp.

We didn't stay here, but it looked fine.

The river cuts a mighty swathe 
through the mountains!

We drove to Charyn Gorge, which held few birds but more than made up for it in superb scenery. I really enjoyed our time here. After lunch by the river we climbed up to the scenic viewpoints to over look the gorge.


Tawny Pipit

Male Grey necked Bunting

Corn Bunting

Long legged Buzzard were quite common
 in this area.

Flocks of Rose coloured Starlings were a
 feature of the steppe.

On the 29th we birded around the river area of the national park. Before having a final look at the steppes around the waterhole & making our way back to Al Maty. It had been a great few days in a totally different environment than at the start of the trip.

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