Finally work has eased off and I am able to start getting out and about to do some birding. I've also now got access to a 4WD so I took the chance to visit the Caspian coast some 20 kms south of the capital.
I've visited the area around Bakmi market before but was hoping for some wintering wildfowl on the two large lakes around the market area. They didn't hold the large numbers of ducks I'd hoped for but there were a few tufted duck and great crested grebe and I had close up views of several mediterranean gull hanging in the breeze. My shiny new swarovski scope came in handy for picking out large numbers of pygmy cormorant on the rocky islands and my first lifer of the day was four dalmatian pelican on the same rocky outcrops.
Parking up I took a rather muddy walk around the eastern lake and soon startled two great bittern that were out in the open. A far off eagle was probably a steppe eagle but not much else to report.
I then drove a few miles further down the coast to an area near one of the ubiquitous oil refineries. Spotting a raft of wildfowl out to sea I took a walk out to the waters edge to find quite large numbers of tufted duck, pochard and shoveler but most impressive was a flock of 28 whooper swan on the water. I also picked out two far off red-breasted merganser.
The best bird of the day was a merlin that flew over the car, oddly a common enough bird back in England but one I've not managed to see over the years. So two new lifers and 15 new birds for my Azerbaijan list, not bad for an afternoon.