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TURKESTAN

Tuesday 12th May - Sunday 31st May 2009

Mark Van Beirs

The bird of the trip on this Palearctic extravaganza was the exquisite, little Severtzov’s Tit-Warbler that showed so extremely well in its attractive juniper habitat high in the Tien Shan. Birding the deserts, marshes, steppes, lakes, stony hills and alpine forests, meadows and rocky crags of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the best time of year produced a mouth-watering list of exciting birds. An abundance of birdsong was definitely a feature of this tour, as was the opportunity to visit some of the ancient wonders of the Silk Route at Samarkand and Bukhara. We recorded 285 species and among the many highlights we should mention Dalmatian Pelican, Marbled and White-headed Ducks, Lammergeier, Pallid Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, Saker, Black Grouse, Himalayan Snowcock, Demoiselle Crane, Macqueen’s Bustard, Ibisbill, Black-winged Pratincole, Caspian Plover, Sociable Lapwing, Pallas’s Gull, Yellow-eyed Dove, White-winged Woodpecker, White-winged and Black Larks, Black-throated Accentor, White-tailed Rubythroat, White-throated Robin, Eversmann’s and Güldenstädt’s Redstarts, Sykes’s, Ménétries’s, Asian Desert, and Sulphur-bellied Warblers, Rufous-naped and Azure Tits, Wallcreeper, Black-headed Penduline Tit, Pander’s Ground Jay, Saxaul Sparrow, Mongolian finch, White-winged Grosbeak and Pine Bunting. The most unusual bird seen on this great tour was a vagrant Namaqua Dove that we encountered at an oasis in the Kyzyl Kum desert.