Friday, 28 February 2014

February round up

Although I didn't get out as much as I would have liked in February I did add Finsch's wheatear and white-tailed eagle to my life list which is now 1,025. My Azerbaijan list now stands at 129 although my year list is still a very slow 104.

Bird of the month has to be the obliging white-tailed eagle that posed for photos on some ice at Red Lake.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Gobustan and the coast

South again and a couple of Azerbaijan ticks. First was red-crested pochard, around 200 were in a couple of large rafts of ducks off shore at Sangachal, on the coast just before Gobustan:

18 Whooper swan
20 Mallard
1 Shoveler
200 Red-crested pochard
3,000 Common pochard
500 Tufted duck
150 Greater scaup
2 Goldeneye
2 Red-breasted merganser
1 Great-crested grebe
200 Coot

Second tick of the day for Azerbaijan was chukar at Gobustan. Highlights as follows:

8 Chukar
1 Marsh harrier
2 Hen harrier
7 Rock nuthatch
2 Finsch's wheatear

And at Red Lake on the way home I had a high count of 31 dalmatian pelican.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Absheron NP... I give up

Still closed today but as I can't speak Azeri or Russian I have no idea why, maybe it's closed all winter?

A quick stop on the Pirallahi causeway on the north of the peninsula gave up the following...

500 Tufted duck
300 Coot
113 Whooper swan
40 Pochard
15 Mallard
2 Gadwall
2 Black-necked grebe
2 Red-breasted merganser
1 White-tailed eagle
1 Pygmy cormorant

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Absheron National Park... almost

Only in Azerbaijan would a national park be closed on a Sunday, the one day when most people would want to visit.

I drove out to Absheron NP today only to be met by locked gates but the drive out there past miles of grassy sand dunes made me think this could be one of the great passerine migration points in the whole of Europe... think a twenty mile long Blakeney Point curving out into the Caspian.

There are several miles of dunes before the (closed) park gates which at this time of year were largely empty but off shore there were several large rafts of duck. Amongst some 800 tufted duck I picked out 5 black-necked grebe, a single male greater scaup (although I'm sure there were more further out) and a female goldeneye.

And like London buses, I followed yesterdays white-tailed eagle with two more drifting along the shore.

I just hope I can make it back before I leave for Egypt.

A flock of dalmatian pelican seen on the drive home

January round up

Although my life list is probably around 1,500 I have only been listing seriously on ebird for the past couple of years. That list is now 1,017.

In January I added serin, twite, caspian gull, little bustard, black francolin and lammergeier (all in Azerbaijan).

My Azerbaijan list is now 118 and my world list for the year is 90.

Bird of the month was a lammergeier life-ticked in Jek in the northern Caucasus Mountains.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

White-tailed eagle at Red Lake

Another fruitless trip to Red Lake today in search of white-headed duck but I did fluke a fabulous adult white-tailed eagle that settled on a sheet of ice some 50 yards from me.

These beautiful eagles, with a wing span of eight feet are never common in their range but they winter in Azerbaijan in reasonable numbers.

I then rounded the day off with a drive through Gobustan National Reserve and added a second lifer, two fabulous male Finsch's wheatear.