Sunday, 2 March 2014


Today I took a trip up to Namran to bird the coastal forest near the Russian border and hopefully find some wintering woodland birds. The woods are quite extensive and at this time of year devoid of people although the well worn paths and cafes closed for winter suggested that isn't always the case.

The shore and sea were almost devoid of birds except for a few LWHG's but the mixed deciduous woodlands were fairly lively.

Commonest birds were great tit and chaffinch but I did manage a few new Azeri birds such as treecreeper (not the short-toed variety though), together with wood pigeon, long-tailed tit and a couple of jackdaw on the open fields.

There were plenty of woodpeckers drumming, most of which were great-spotted woodpecker but I added middle-spotted woodpecker to my life list with a couple of individuals. It was also good to find several hawfinch which I haven't seen for a few years.

But perhaps the most interesting sightings were the two mammals I saw. Firstly a rather sleepy raccoon resting outside his home high in an old tree. These are an introduced species culled for the fur trade. Then in the early afternoon as I was slowly driving the back road I saw a very large cat wander across the road in the middle distance. It was twice the size of any feral cat I've ever seen with long legs and a long tail giving a very elegant appearance. Jungle cat?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Hajigabul lake

Hajigabul lake is about one and a half hours drive south of Baku. A large, shallow lake with a causeway dividing it from some abandoned fish farms it seems to be a much better site for winter wildfowl than Shirvan NP. Although 'Birdwatching in Azerbaijan' says it's a top spot for white-headed duck, marbled teal and black-necked grebe I didn't see a single bird of any of those three species.

The lake held about 10,000 ducks, mostly teal and shoveler and the shore held good numbers of waders mostly dunlin and pied avocet.

55 species in the day... and 9 new Azeri ticks in bold...

8 Mute swan
45 Ruddy shelduck
1,500 Shelduck
70 Gadwall
300 Wigeon
100 Mallard
2,500 Shoveler
400 Pintail
3,000 Teal
400 Red-crested pochard
300 Common pochard
200 Tufted duck
135 Greater flamingo
250 Pygmy cormorant
3 Dalmatian pelican
30 Grey heron
6 Great egret
5 Little egret
1 Golden eagle
50 Marsh harrier
1 Hen harrier
1 Little bustard
5 Moorhen
1 Coot
400 Avocet
1 Grey plover
50 Lapwing
45 White-tailed lapwing
6 Kentish plover
20 Ringed plover
6 Green sandpiper
200 Redshank
4 Ruff
1,200 Dunlin
10 Little stint
8 Snipe
20 Med gull
2 Pallas's gull
1 Black-headed gull
6 Kestrel
6 Magpie
50 Hooded crow
4 Bearded tit
25 Crested lark
15 Skylark
1 Great tit
70 Starling
1 White wagtail
1 Meadow pipit
50 Reed bunting
15 Corn bunting
30 Chaffinch
1 Brambling
50 House sparrow
5 Spanish sparrow