Welcome to Birdquest
Saturday 26th May - Wednesday 13th June 2012
Mark Van Beirs
Mongolia is one of our classic eastern Palearctic destinations and although it does not yield a long birdlist, it holds a fabulous array of attractive specialities, including many species that are only known as vagrants to Europe and North America. The bird of the trip was the magnificent Black-billed Capercaillie that showed so very, very well in its pine-larch habitat. We first found a female at her nest and later saw two cracking males at close range on our first morning on the mountain. Oriental Plovers also gave a heart-warming show as three males performed their superb petrel-like display for us. 221 species were recorded on the tour and other highlights included Swan Goose, Stejneger’s Scoter, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Lammergeier, Amur and Saker Falcons, Altai Snowcock, Daurian Partridge, Eastern Water Rail, White-naped and Demoiselle Cranes, Macqueen’s Bustard, Pallas’s and Relict Gulls, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Eurasian Eagle Owl, White-backed and Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, Mongolian Lark, Blyth’s Pipit, Kozlov’s Accentor, Siberian Rubythroat, Güldenstädt’s and Eversmann’s Redstarts, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Pallas’s Grasshopper, Lanceolated and Asian Desert Warblers, Azure and White-crowned Penduline Tits, Henderson’s Ground Jay, Saxaul Sparrow, Asian Rosy Finch and Pine, Meadow, Grey-necked, Yellow-breasted and Pallas’s Reed Buntings. Interesting mammals included Corsac Fox, Mongolian Gazelle and Przevalski’s Horse. Camping is the only way to discover the real Mongolia, as there are no hotels or ger camps away from the well-known tourist haunts. Our camping crew did a terrific job and provided tasty food and more than adequate facilities. Travelling in Mongolia is a fantastic experience as the scenery is some of the best in the world. We wandered for 19 days through the wide and wild steppes, deserts and semi-deserts, mountains, marshes and taiga of this thinly-populated country. The unfamiliar feeling of ‘space’ charged our batteries and we experienced both icy cold and rather hot circumstances.