Sunday, 21 May 2017

Mongolia - 21st May (Day 14) - Terelj National Park and Gachuurt

After a great nights sleep in a bed at the Ulaanbaatar Hotel 2 in Terej National Park we were up at 05:00 to a very cold and frosty morning. Birding the woodlands near to the hotel it was quickly evident that most of the migrants from yesterday had departed and largely we were left with the breeding species. A quick check of the bushes near the rubbish dump produced no Siberian Rubythroat unlike yesterday but a single male Common Redstart showed well. Waking into the forest a pair of Goosander fed along the river. A bit of pishing near to some willow scrub produced a few Willow Tit and then a call which I knew immediately was an Azure Tit, I called Barry and Jon over and we were soon getting great views of this fantastic bird. The rest of the morning produced a range of nice species but no hoped for White-backed Woodpecker, we saw Grey-faced Woodpecker, Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Wryneck, Lesser Whitethroat and Brown Shrike.

After breakfast at 08:00 we birded an area of Birch forest a short way up the road but it was fairly slow going and we saw only Two-barred Greenish WarblerPine Bunting, Taiga Flycatcher and a singing Red-flanked Bluetail.

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Azure Tit - Terej National Park

Great Tit - Terej National Park

Willow Tit - Terej National Park

Grey-faced Woodpecker - Terej National Park

Wryneck singing from the top of an Ash tree - Terej National Park

Wryneck - Terej National Park

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - Terej National Park

Brown Shrike - Terej National Park

Goosander - Terej National Park

Goosander - Terej National Park

Red Squirrel - Terej National Park

Carrion Crow of race orientalis - Terej National Park

Chough - Terej National Park

Redstart - Terej National Park

Birch forest at Terej National Park

Birch forest at Terej National Park

Bird's-eye Primrose Primula farinosa, or a species similar to this - Terej National Park

Siberian Chipmunk - Terej National Park

We then drove back towards Ulaanbataar and up the valley to Gachuurt where we visited earlier in the trip for a final look for Siberian Jay. As we drove through the valley we stopped for Rook which here is of the subspecies pastinator and a potential split as Eastern Rook, other than a feathered face in Eastern Rook the differences between the two appear very marginal. A short way up the road a pair of Stonechat were eventually identified as Stejneger's Stonechat but they were not especially obliging.

Rook of subspecies pastinator - Gachuurt 

Stejneger's Stonechat - Gachuurt 

We arrived at our campsite and found the tents already erected and after dropping our bags to the tents we spent a little time birding the clearing and the adjacent area of damp scrub. Here were a few Black-faced Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler and Two-barred Greenish Warbler plus a rather spectacular dark Red Squirrel.

Campsite at Gachuurt

Campsite at Gachuurt

Pasqueflower Campsite - Gachuurt

Pansy - Gachuurt

Red Squirrel - Gachuurt

Our optimism that we may see Siberian Jay due to a GPS reference that Tumen had obtained soon dwindled as we realised that the positioning was from last year! Regardless, we drove up through the forest to the conifers and slogged up the hill to the GPS reference and there were no jays. In fact, it was extremely slow going with just Siberian Chipmunk, Pallas's Pika and Willow Tit to keep us interested - our enthusiasm soon wained. We decided to cut our losses and head back to the campsite, a jay-like call as we defended produced some excitement but lead us to a stunning Nutcracker which showed extremely well in the evening light.

Siberian Chipmunk - Gachuurt

Pallas's Pica  - Gachuurt

Nutcracker - Gachuurt

 Pine Forest - Gachuurt

 Pine Forest - Gachuurt

Rod enjoying the view at Gachuurt

Back at the campsite a beer was very welcome as was a stunning Ural Owl which showed well at dusk around the clearing. The temperature dropped and a session on the vodka warmed the body and facilitated sleep in the now freezing temperatures.

Ural Owl around our campsite at Gachuurt

Ural Owl around our campsite at Gachuurt

Links to Other Days of the Trip (Click to View)
Day 1 and 2 – International flight then Ulaanbaatar to Mungum Sum
Day 3 -  Mungunmorit and Gachuurt area
Day 4 - Drive to Dalanzadgad
Day 5  – Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 6 - Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 7 - Gobi Desert and Khongor Sand Dunes
Day 8 – Gobi Desert to Bogd
Day 9 - Baga Bogd Mountain and Kholboolj Lake
Day 10 - Kholboolj Lake and Barig Mountain
Day 11 - Barig Mountain and Sangiin Lake
Day 12 (Part 1) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 12 (Part 2) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 13 - Hustai National Park and Terelj National Park
Day 15 and 16 - Gachuurt Area, Tuul River and International flight

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Mongolia - 20th May (Day 13) - Hustai National Park to Terelj National park

We awoke at the research station at Hustai National Park to a strange light, much to our surprise there had been overnight snow fall and the snow was still falling. Chough were calling around the accommodation and the outside toilet facilities were snow filled and not functional. Barry, Richard and I headed out into the snow to look for birds – the Chough dug in the snow for sustenance and the Tree Sparrows scrapped around under the buildings. I wandered up a steep valley opposite the accommodation while Richard and Barry walked along the valley leading from the accommodation. I was stunned by the number of birds I encountered, the snow had clearly resulted in a fall. In the first bush I came to there were six Siberian Rubythroat, then four Eye-browed Thrush, a Cuckoo and a Hobby in the snow, Two-barred Greenish Warbler, Pallas’s Warbler, Brown Shrike, Little Bunting and Black-faced Bunting – all sheltering in scraps of vegetation. After a quick coffee back at the accommodation, I joined Barry and we walked up the valley that ran away from the accommodation and that he had birded earlier, we added more species to the list, Common Redstart, Daurian Redstart, White’s Thrush, a male Siberian Blue Robin, Meadow Bunting, Dusky Warbler, Siberian Chiffchaff, Taiga Flycatcher and best of all, a stunning male Yellow-breasted Bunting. The commonest birds were Two-barred Greenish Warbler, Taiga Flycatcher and Siberian Rubythroat with 10’s of each species in the small area that we had birded, the bushes were hoping with birds – this was perhaps the most exciting birding that Barry and I had experienced and at 10:00 we were very reluctant to leave.

A bed at last - Hustai National Park

View from our window

The view that awaited us - Hustai National Park

I birded the small valley that runs away from the toilet block - Hustai National Park

Our accomodation- Hustai National Park

The morning washing facilities - Hustai National Park

 Hustai National Park

 Hustai National Park

 Hustai National Park

This valley was alive with birds after the snow fall - Hustai National Park

Chough foraging in the snow - Hustai National Park

Chough in our bathroom - Hustai National Park

Chough - Hustai National Park

Eurasian Cuckoo - Hustai National Park

Siberian Rubythroat - Hustai National Park

Breakfast - Hustai National Park

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Hustai National Park

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Hustai National Park

Barry - Hustai National Park

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Hustai National Park

Taiga Flycatcher - Hustai National Park

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Hustai National Park

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Hustai National Park

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Hustai National Park

Daurian Redstart - Hustai National Park

Hobby - Hustai National Park

Hobby - Hustai National Park

Brown Shrike - Hustai National Park

Daurian Redstart - Hustai National Park

Taiga Flycatcher - Hustai National Park

 Hustai National Park

Barry - Hustai National Park

Taiga Flycatcher - Hustai National Park

Taiga Flycatcher - Hustai National Park

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Hustai National Park

Black-eared Kite - Hustai National Park

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Hustai National Park

Pallas's Warbler - Hustai National Park

Eye-browed Thrush - Hustai National Park

Heading back through the park towards the park gate we dropped below the snow line, a few stops to bird scrub patches produced further migrants, another Eye-browed Thrush, White’s Thrush, 15 Meadow Bunting, Wryneck and more Siberian Rubythroat, Two-barred Greenish Warbler, Little Bunting and Taiga Flycatcher. We stopped for a small group of Przewalski's Horse, while meant to be the stars of the site, were pretty dull in comparison to the bird activity despite their rarity. At the park gate a Siberian Rubythroat foraged amongst the litter while an Asian Brown Flycatcher was new for the trip.

 Hustai National Park

Meadow Bunting - Hustai National Park

Eye-browed Thrush - Hustai National Park

Taiga Flycatcher - Hustai National Park

Mongolian Marmot - Hustai National Park

Przewalski's Horse - Hustai National Park

 Hustai National Park

Asian Brown Flycatcher - Hustai National Park

Asian Brown Flycatcher - Hustai National Park

Tree Sparrow - Hustai National Park

Lesser Kestrel - Hustai National Park

Heading out of the park and back through Ulaanbataar a surprise stop at a Korean restaurant for lunch produced an absolute taste sensation after the last few days cooking which, while tasty and miraculously conjured in the back of the support vehicle, lacked spice and variety. Meanwhile Richard birded the riverine scrub seeing more migrants and a rather gripping Azure Tit.

White Wagtail of subspecies baicalensis - Ulaanbataar

White Wagtail of subspecies baicalensis - Ulaanbataar

Suburbs of Ulaanbataar

Suburbs of Ulaanbataar

Suburbs of Ulaanbataar

After Ulaanbataar we headed to Terelj National Park enjoying the spectacular scenery in an area which was clearly popular as weekend retreat for Ulan's population. Stopping at a small area of Oak dominated woodland we saw Pine Bunting and Hawfinch before heading on to our hotel. In the car park of the hotel we were attracted to the garbage dump where Daurian Jackdaw, Brown ShrikeCommon RosefinchSiberian RubythroatBrown Shrike and a single Dusky Thrush entertained us. The Ulaanbaatar Hotel 2 was quite a welcome site, we knew that beds and showers awaited us, but this was clearly quite a tired hotel with rather crumbling facade and austere staff. We checked into its rather frigid rooms and were quite pleased to head into the nearby forest. Walking across the bridge from the hotel we had superb views of Goosander and in the forest enjoyed great views of Eurasian Nuthatch of the pallid race baicalensis. A small damp area produced around 20 Siberian Rubythroat and a pair of Siberian Blue Robin, the male of which showed particularly well but there was no hoped for White-backed Woodpecker. A bland dinner at the hotel was followed by a much needed sleep in a bed.

Outskirts of Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park

Siberian Rubythroat - Terelj National Park

Common Rosefinch - Terelj National Park

 Brown Shrike - Terelj National Park

Daurian Jackdaw - Terelj National Park

Dark phase Daurian Jackdaw - Terelj National Park

Eurasian Nuthatch of subspecies baicalensis - Terelj National Park

Presumed Common Snipe - Terelj National Park

Siberian Blue Robin - Terelj National Park

Siberian Blue Robin - Terelj National Park

Siberian Blue Robin - Terelj National Park

Siberian Blue Robin - Terelj National Park

Siberian Rubythroat - Terelj National Park

Carrion Crow and Black-eared Kite - Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park

Links to Other Days of the Trip (Click to View)
Day 1 and 2 – International flight then Ulaanbaatar to Mungum Sum
Day 3 -  Mungunmorit and Gachuurt area
Day 4 - Drive to Dalanzadgad
Day 5  – Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 6 - Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Day 7 - Gobi Desert and Khongor Sand Dunes
Day 8 – Gobi Desert to Bogd
Day 9 - Baga Bogd Mountain and Kholboolj Lake
Day 10 - Kholboolj Lake and Barig Mountain
Day 11 - Barig Mountain and Sangiin Lake
Day 12 (Part 1) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 12 (Part 2) - Sangiin Lake and Bayan Lake
Day 14 - Terelj National Park and Gachuurt Area
Day 15 and 16 - Gachuurt Area, Tuul River and International flight