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TURKESTAN

Wednesday 15th May - Sunday 2nd June 2013

Mark Van Beirs

Barred Warbler and Azure Tit (Mark Van Beirs)

Barred Warbler and Azure Tit (Mark Van Beirs)

The rocky hills, saxaul deserts and marshes of Uzbekistan and the rock-strewn gorges, snow-capped mountains, semi-deserts, dry steppes, reedy wetlands and extensive lakes of Kazakhstan offer the resolute birder some of the most memorable bird spectacles of the Palearctic. That magnificent Himalayan Snowcock walking amongst patches of snow, those multiple, extremely attractive male White-tailed Rubythroats singing their hearts out from the top of juniper bushes, those five playful, so endearing, young Marbled Polecats exploring the Taukum desert, those immaculate, fluffy Azure Tits foraging only metres away in a seeding willow, that unique Ibisbill feeding in its mountain stream, those superbly elegant Demoiselle Cranes and that rare Sociable Lapwing in the rippling feather steppes and the incredible sight of 60,000 Red-necked Phalaropes in breeding plumage dotted like midges over a huge lake were the unforgettable highlights of our Central Asian adventure. Other goodies seen on our travels include White-headed Duck, Dalmatian Pelican, Horned Grebe, Pallid Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, Saker, Macqueen’s Bustard, Black-winged Pratincole, White-tailed Lapwing, Pallas’s Gull, White-winged Tern, Yellow-eyed Dove, European Scops Owl, White-winged Woodpecker, White-winged and Black Larks, Black-throated Accentor, White-throated Robin, Eversmann’s, Blue-capped and Güldenstädt’s Redstarts, Finsch’s Wheatear, Sykes’s, Upcher’s, Menetries’s, Asian Desert, Eastern Orphean, Barred and Sulphur-bellied Warblers, Desert Whitethroat, Severtzov’s Tit-Warbler, Rufous-naped and Yellow-breasted Tits, Pander’s Ground Jay, Rosy Starling, Saxaul Sparrow and Pine, Meadow and Red-headed Buntings. Corsac Fox and Saiga got the blood of the mammal enthusiasts pumping. We also visited a couple of historic cities along the old Silk Road and the Registan complex of Samarkand and the Citadel of ancient Bukhara made quite an impression. Our very international group recorded 277 birds and 14 mammals.

Rose-coloured Starling (Mike Rodegerdts)

Rose-coloured Starling (Mike Rodegerdts)