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Demoiselle Cranes put on a wonderful show for us Elsen Tasarkhai. In all, we saw these beautiful birds on six days of the tour. Photo by participant Laszlo Czinege.
This was the second Field Guides tour to Mongolia, covering many of the key sites and habitats in central, southern and northern Mongolia, including steppe, desert and boreal forest, and we succeeded very nicely. It was a late, dry and rather cold spring here despite good snowfall over the winter, so water levels in the wetlands were low and some species were scarce, but breeding was certainly in full swing. Staying primarily in ger camps was fun, but you have to get used to the low doorways and starlit nocturnal treks to the bathroom.
Most came in early to get oriented, and also do a cultural tour, which included the National Museum, the brilliant UNESCO World Heritage lama temple at Choisin (with those wonderful metal 18th century sculptures by Zanabazar, the Mongolian Michelangelo), and a fantastic concert that included extraordinary throat singing, skilled musicians with horsehead fiddles, folk dancers and a contortionist, all well worth doing and recommended.
We went to Songino and some riparian habitat along the Tuul River on the first day, when it was atypically hot, albeit with a breeze, and we picked up the first Mongolian birds including Asian Azure-winged Magpie, White-cheeked Starling, a nice assortment of wildfowl and Demoiselle Crane.
Next it was off to Khustai National Park, stopping en route to see some Steppe Eagles with the striking Mongolian and much duller Asian Short-toed Larks being common as well.
Later that day we had a great experience watching the Przewalksi's Wild Horses (Takhi) in the park, a remarkable creature that has come back from near extinction and looks just like the cave paintings of those horses with erect manes. Beautiful pale buffy and blonde colouration too, a striking creature that is reintroduced here and looks to be doing quite well.
Other good mammals here were pikas, Red Deer, Mongolian Gazelle and the delightful marmots. Birds included Himalayan and Cinereous Vulture, Golden Eagle, Upland Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Rock Petronia and Meadow Bunting, and it was fun getting used to living in a ger, the large circular felt tents so common in Mongolia.
Heading west, we stopped at Dasinchilen wetland and Tsargaan lakes. Swan Goose, Grey-lag and Bar-headed Goose showed well, also summer plumage Asian Dowitchers, White-naped and Common Crane and the rather distinctive Mongolian Gull as well. Passerines included Pere David's Snowfinch and Eastern Yellow Wagtail as well as Reed Bunting.
Next day, the Ugii Lake area gave us terrific views of White-tailed Eagle, Whooper Swans, White-winged Scoter and Red-crested Pochard plus a good selection of shorebirds including summer plumage Red-necked Stint, Little Stint and Terek Sandpiper. It was unusually cold and windy for this section with some scant rain.
The ancient Mongol capital of Kharkorin had a large temple complex which was home to Red-billed Choughs and Desert Wheatear. A large wetland at Elsen Tasarkhai (Burd marsh) gave us breeding plumage Arctic Loon, a bonus adult Little Gull, a pair of White-naped Cranes, Swan Goose, Bar-headed Geese with goslings, and several Eastern Marsh Harriers. Pallas's Bunting was useful addition too, and some of us saw the first Lammergeier over the valley at the back of the ger camp (we could not use our usual one as the gers had been damaged in high winds).
Next we headed up to Terelj and stayed at a very remote ger camp close to a lovely boreal forest site for Black-Billed Capercaillie which had been lekking here the previous week. Despite the good conditions luck was not with us, but it was a superb area with Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Rubythroat and Pine Bunting singing. There is even a chance of wolf here as they often hear them at night by the camp.
Terelj NP had really beautiful Siberian larch and pine forest, with many lovely wildflowers like globeflower, grass of Parnassus and yellow pasque flower. Birds included Gray-headed, Great, Lesser Spotted and White-backed Woodpecker, Common and Himalayan (Oriental) Cuckoo, Pine and Black-faced Bunting, Red-throated Thrush, Nutcracker, Willow and Marsh Tit and Long-tailed Rosefinch.
Back to Ulaanbaatar next day, then our large bags headed south with the vehicles to Dalanzadgad whilst we took the early morning Mongolian Airlines flight and met up with them for the Gobi -Altai sector of the trip.
Khanbogd ger camp had a nice rocky valley behind it that gave us Chukar, Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush, Eastern Black Redstart, Mongolian Finch, Grey-necked Bunting and Godlewski's Bunting. It was also quite nearby the gorgeous Gobi Altai Mountain valley of Yolyn Am (Lammergeier Valley), where we saw Lammergeier, as well as Cinereous and Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Saker, Wallcreeper, Mongolian (Kozlov's) and Brown Accentor, Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch, and many tame White-winged Snowfinch and Horned Larks. Altai Snowcock drew a blank as usual, you need great luck to see that species here. We also had a fantastic mammal day with Ibex, Argali and an incredible encounter between a Golden Eagle and a Pallas's Cat!
Driving into the edge of the Gobi proper was about 120 km on a dusty corrugated road, and the birding en route gave us a Barbary Falcon, the remarkable Henderson's (Mongolian) Ground-Jay, Asian Desert Warbler and both Desert and Pied Wheatear (including the rare white-throated "vittata" morph). The ger camp was sited nearby to the great Khongor sand dunes, and the saxaul forest there gave us the rare and localized Saxaul Sparrow, Daurian and Great-Grey Shrike and Hill Pigeon next day, with terrific looks at Pallas's Sandgrouse along the river there.
A nocturnal mammal foray here was terrific as we had a fabulous Long-eared Hedgehog, a nice look at a several Gobi Jerboa, (remarkably like a diminutive kangaroo!) plus Siberian Jerboa, Fat-tailed Dwarf Jerboa and Mid-day Gerbil, not bad for a 45 minute tour of the camp perimeter.
Heading back towards Dalanzadgad we took a different more remote route to the famous dinosaur site of Flaming Cliffs, (seeing the rare Black-tailed or Goitered Gazelle and Godlewski's Bunting en route). The ger camp was close to this, and we found summer plumage Oriental Plover with 2 attendant Greater Sand Plover females in the steppe here next day, plus Eurasian Golden Oriole, Steppe Grey Shrike and vagrant Chinese Pond Heron at a plantation when the wind died down. Then it was back to the town, seeing another Oriental Plover and Pallas's Sandgrouse en route, and a nice look at some springs at Dalan Bulag that gave us Paddyfield Warbler as the final addition to the trip.
Our bags met up with us the hotel in UB that night, and we had an enjoyable farewell dinner at a Mongolian barbecue restaurant. Many thanks to our very hard working and careful drivers Odhoo and Tumruu, and to Bayanaa, our local guide and organizer who did a terrific job. We are grateful to them for making the tour so memorable and for many small kindnesses to a demanding group. Also thanks to Sue and Rowan of Sicklebill Safaris who basically arranged things in Mongolia, and to Mandy at Field Guides who co-ordinated the whole enterprise and did a great job.
Thanks also to the group for coming along, I am glad we shared this adventurous trip with generally good humor, and enjoyed so many memorable sightings, I hope the photos turn out nicely. Safe travels and I look forward to seeing you again on future trips.
Mongolia is a great trip for landscapes in a very unusual country, with some rare and seldom-seen birds, and an unexpectedly good selection of mammals- why not join us for another memorable adventure there in 2019?
Phil Gregory, UB, Hong Kong and Kuranda, June 2018.
• Wed May 30 Arrival in Ulaanbaatar (UB) for those doing the cultural option. Zuchi Hotel overnight.
• Thursday May 31 Optional tour of Ulaanbaatar for early arrivals, including National Museum, Choisin Lama temple and the Mongolian culture troupe of singers, dancers and a contortionist. Highly recommended! Overnight Zuchi Hotel
• Friday Jun 1 Tuul River riparian habitat at Songino and damp thickets near the Kuwait-Mongolia Research Centre at Bogd Mt. Overnight at Zuchi Hotel. Warm to hot
• Sat Jun 2 Steppe areas en route to Khustai NP, overnight Khustai ger camp. Very cold, some rain
• Sun Jun 3 Khustai NP: Baishant dry valley area and Tuul River plain. Overnight Khustai ger camp. Warm and sunny
• Mon Jun 4 Depart Khustai NP for Dashinchilen wetland, overnight Ugii Lake ger camp. Warm but windy
• Tues Jun 5 Ugii Lake and wetlands, then to Kharkorin, overnight Anja ger camp. Very cold and windy, some rain
• Wed Jun 6 Kharkorin temple then to Burd marsh/Elsen Tasarkhai and Khugnu Khan ger camp. Cold and wet early but cleared off nicely
• Thurs Jun 7 Khugnu Khan to Ulaanbaatar via Tuul River bridge, overnight at Khadag ger camp in Terelj NP. Fine conditions
• Fri Jun 8 Early morning to Shar Guy, afternoon Tuul River near Terelj and overnight Tumen Khaan ger camp. Warm and sunny
• Sat Jun 9 Tuul River at Terelj riparian and boreal forest above Tumen Khaan, sunny with no wind
• Sun Jun 10 Tumen Khaan area then Tuul River riparian; journey to Ulan Bataar and overnight Grand Hill Hotel. Fine.
• Mon Jun 11 Mongolian Airlines flight to Dalanzadgad (1 hr.) then steppe en route to Khanbogd ger camp, and nearby valley, Fine.
• Tues Jun 12 Yol Am valley to 2600m (8200’), overnight Khanbogd ger camp. Fine.
• Wed Jun 13 Khanbogd to Gobi Erdene, 120 km on dusty corrugated road, birding en route. Overnight Gobi Erdene ger camp. Fine
• Thurs Jun 14 Saxaul forest habitat and Khongor River and sand dunes. Overnight Gobi Erdene ger camp. Fine
• Fri Jun 15 Gobi Erdene to Flaming Cliffs, fine early but wind rising and very windy at that site with a little sprinkle of rain! Overnight Gobi Tour ger camp.
• Sat Jun 16 Steppe around Flaming Cliffs, then Dalan Bulag Springs in Dzalangadzad. Mongolian Air from Dalanzadgad to UB at 1400, overnight Grand Hill Hotel
• Sun Jun 17 Departures home
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
We took some time to admire the impressive Chinggis Khan Mounument near the Tuul River. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BAR-HEADED GOOSE (Anser indicus)
GRAYLAG GOOSE (SIBERIAN) (Anser anser rubrirostris)
SWAN GOOSE (Anser cygnoides)
MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor)
WHOOPER SWAN (Cygnus cygnus)
RUDDY SHELDUCK (Tadorna ferruginea)
COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna)
GARGANEY (Spatula querquedula)
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)
GADWALL (Mareca strepera)
Bar-headed Geese were present in good numbers at several sites. Photo by participant Don Burlett.
EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope)
EASTERN SPOT-BILLED DUCK (Anas zonorhyncha)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (EURASIAN) (Anas crecca crecca)
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (Netta rufina)
COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina)
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (SIBERIAN) (Melanitta fusca stejnegeri)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)
One of the tour highlights was seeing this interaction between a Golden Eagle and a Pallas's Cat at Yol Am. Participant Nancy Hoffman was able to snap this image of the cat running from the eagle. While the adult cat was apparently not hurt, it looked like the eagle was able to grab a kitten.
SMEW (Mergellus albellus)
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
CHUKAR (Alectoris chukar)
ARCTIC LOON (Gavia arctica)
GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus)
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)
CHINESE POND-HERON (Ardeola bacchus)
The Crested Larks in Mongolia have very large crests. Photo by participant Don Burlett.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (EURASIAN) (Nycticorax nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BEARDED VULTURE (Gypaetus barbatus)
CINEREOUS VULTURE (Aegypius monachus)
HIMALAYAN GRIFFON (Gyps himalayensis)
STEPPE EAGLE (Aquila nipalensis)
GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos)
EASTERN MARSH-HARRIER (EASTERN) (Circus spilonotus spilonotus)
BLACK KITE (BLACK-EARED) (Milvus migrans lineatus)
WHITE-TAILED EAGLE (Haliaeetus albicilla)
EASTERN BUZZARD (Buteo japonicus)
LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD (Buteo rufinus)
UPLAND BUZZARD (Buteo hemilasius)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)
Here is one of the Saker Falcon nests we found, with an adult sitting tightly on the chicks. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
DEMOISELLE CRANE (Anthropoides virgo)
WHITE-NAPED CRANE (Antigone vipio)
COMMON CRANE (Grus grus)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
NORTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus vanellus)
GREATER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius leschenaultii)
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (CURONICUS) (Charadrius dubius curonicus)
ORIENTAL PLOVER (Charadrius veredus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa limosa)
This Buzzard nest appears to be inhabited by a mixed-pair, one hybrid bird, and one Upland Buzzard. Photo by participant Laszlo Czinege.
RED-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis)
LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta)
ASIAN DOWITCHER (Limnodromus semipalmatus)
TEREK SANDPIPER (Xenus cinereus)
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus)
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)
MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis)
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola)
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)
We had some very good views of the uncommon Saxaul Sparrow at Khongoryn. Photo by participant Don Burlett.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
LITTLE GULL (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
PALLAS'S GULL (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)
HERRING GULL (MONGOLIAN) (Larus argentatus mongolicus)
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)
WHITE-WINGED TERN (Chlidonias leucopterus)
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)
COMMON TERN (LONGIPENNIS) (Sterna hirundo longipennis)
PALLAS'S SANDGROUSE (Syrrhaptes paradoxus)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
HILL PIGEON (Columba rupestris)
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)
COMMON CUCKOO (Cuculus canorus)
ORIENTAL CUCKOO (Cuculus optatus)
Participant Laszlo Czinege got this evocative image of dunes with a single black bird.
LITTLE OWL (LITTLE) (Athene noctua plumipes)
LONG-EARED OWL (EURASIAN) (Asio otus otus)
COMMON SWIFT (Apus apus pekinensis)
PACIFIC SWIFT (Apus pacificus)
EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops)
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos minor kamtschatkensis)
WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos leucotos)
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos major)
EURASIAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (Picoides tridactylus) [*]
GRAY-HEADED WOODPECKER (Picus canus)
We found the "Mongolian" Herring Gull at several lakes; this individual was one of the ones from Ugii Lake. Although many authorities consider them a subspecies of Herring Gull, they seem to be distinctive enough to be split into a separate species. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
LESSER KESTREL (Falco naumanni)
EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus)
AMUR FALCON (Falco amurensis)
EURASIAN HOBBY (Falco subbuteo)
SAKER FALCON (Falco cherrug)
PEREGRINE FALCON (RED-CAPPED) (Falco peregrinus babylonicus)
RED-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius phoenicuroides)
ISABELLINE SHRIKE (DAURIAN) (Lanius isabellinus isabellinus)
BROWN SHRIKE (Lanius cristatus)
GREAT GRAY SHRIKE (Lanius excubitor)
We had some wonderful looks at Przewalksi's Wild Horses in Khustai National Park. These wild equines were re-introduced, but seem to be doing well, with more than 200 horses roaming the grasslands. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
SOUTHERN GRAY SHRIKE (STEPPE) (Lanius meridionalis pallidirostris)
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE (Oriolus oriolus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
EURASIAN JAY (BRANDT'S) (Garrulus glandarius brandtii)
AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE (AZURE-WINGED) (Cyanopica cyanus cyanus)
EURASIAN MAGPIE (EURASIAN) (Pica pica bactriana)
MONGOLIAN GROUND-JAY (Podoces hendersoni)
EURASIAN NUTCRACKER (Nucifraga caryocatactes)
RED-BILLED CHOUGH (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
DAURIAN JACKDAW (Corvus dauuricus)
ROOK (Corvus frugilegus pastinator)
Participant Laszlo Czinege captured a video of the singing Siberian Rubythroat we found at Shar Guy.
CARRION CROW (Corvus corone orientalis)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
HORNED LARK (BRANDT'S) (Eremophila alpestris brandti)
MONGOLIAN LARK (Melanocorypha mongolica)
ASIAN SHORT-TOED LARK (Alaudala cheleensis cheleensis)
EURASIAN SKYLARK (ASIAN) (Alauda arvensis kiborti)
CRESTED LARK (Galerida cristata magna)
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)
PALE SAND MARTIN (Riparia diluta)
EURASIAN CRAG-MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne rupestris)
These Black-tailed Godwits at Ugii Lake showed well for us. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
BARN SWALLOW (TYTLER'S) (Hirundo rustica tytleri)
COMMON HOUSE-MARTIN (EASTERN) (Delichon urbicum lagopodum)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
COAL TIT (Periparus ater)
MARSH TIT (Poecile palustris)
WILLOW TIT (WILLOW) (Poecile montanus baicalensis)
AZURE TIT (AZURE) (Cyanistes cyanus yenisseensis)
GREAT TIT (Parus major)
WHITE-CROWNED PENDULINE-TIT (Remiz coronatus)
EURASIAN NUTHATCH (Sitta europaea)
WALLCREEPER (Tichodroma muraria)
We passed by the famous Flaming Cliffs this year, where we had wind, and even a little rain. This site is well-known for dinosaur-bones, but we were also able to find some very nice birds in the area! Photo by participant Laszlo Czinege.
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
DUSKY WARBLER (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
SULPHUR-BELLIED WARBLER (Phylloscopus griseolus)
PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus proregulus)
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER (Phylloscopus inornatus)
HUME'S WARBLER (Phylloscopus humei)
ARCTIC WARBLER (Phylloscopus borealis)
GREENISH WARBLER (Phylloscopus trochiloides trochiloides)
Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)
THICK-BILLED WARBLER (Iduna aedon)
PADDYFIELD WARBLER (Acrocephalus agricola)
ORIENTAL REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus orientalis)
Mongolia has a long and colorful cultural history, and we were able to see a number of amazing places on the tour. This Buddha statue is one of the treasures in the temple at Kharkorin. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER-WARBLER (Locustella certhiola)
Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers)
ASIAN DESERT WARBLER (Sylvia nana)
BARRED WARBLER (Sylvia nisoria)
LESSER WHITETHROAT (CURRUCA/BLYTHI) (Sylvia curruca blythi)
GREATER WHITETHROAT (Sylvia communis)
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa sibirica)
ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa dauurica)
SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT (Calliope calliope)
RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL (Tarsiger cyanurus)
TAIGA FLYCATCHER (Ficedula albicilla)
COMMON REDSTART (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
BLACK REDSTART (EASTERN) (Phoenicurus ochruros phoenicuroides)
DAURIAN REDSTART (Phoenicurus auroreus)
RUFOUS-TAILED ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola saxatilis)
SIBERIAN STONECHAT (Saxicola maurus)
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe)
PIED WHEATEAR (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Here is our group, spread out in the Western Beauty Valley in the Gobi. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
DESERT WHEATEAR (Oenanthe deserti)
ISABELLINE WHEATEAR (Oenanthe isabellina)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
RED-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus ruficollis)
WHITE-CHEEKED STARLING (Spodiopsar cineraceus)
BROWN ACCENTOR (Prunella fulvescens)
MONGOLIAN ACCENTOR (Prunella koslowi)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (MANCHURIAN) (Motacilla tschutschensis macronyx)
CITRINE WAGTAIL (GRAY-BACKED) (Motacilla citreola citreola)
CITRINE WAGTAIL (BLACK-BACKED) (Motacilla citreola calcarata)
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea)
Participant Laszlo Czinege posted this video of a Gobi Jerboa; we had a great experience watching this amazing little animal at Gobi Erdene.
WHITE WAGTAIL (TRANSBAIKALIAN) (Motacilla alba baicalensis)
RICHARD'S PIPIT (Anthus richardi)
BLYTH'S PIPIT (Anthus godlewskii)
OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT (Anthus hodgsoni)
Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)
PINE BUNTING (Emberiza leucocephalos)
GODLEWSKI'S BUNTING (Emberiza godlewskii)
MEADOW BUNTING (Emberiza cioides)
GRAY-NECKED BUNTING (Emberiza buchanani)
BLACK-FACED BUNTING (SPODOCEPHALA/SORDIDA) (Emberiza spodocephala spodocephala)
PALLAS'S BUNTING (Emberiza pallasi lydiae)
REED BUNTING (Emberiza schoeniclus pyrrhulina)
Chukar have been introduced in many places, so it was nice to see some in their native habitat. Photo by participant Laszlo Czinege.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
HAWFINCH (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
COMMON ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus erythrinus)
HIMALAYAN BEAUTIFUL ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus pulcherrimus argyrophrys)
LONG-TAILED ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus sibiricus)
MONGOLIAN FINCH (Bucanetes mongolicus)
TWITE (Linaria flavirostris)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
SAXAUL SPARROW (Passer ammodendri)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus)
ROCK PETRONIA (Petronia petronia)
Black Kite was an every-day bird for us. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
WHITE-WINGED SNOWFINCH (Montifringilla nivalis)
PERE DAVID'S SNOWFINCH (Montifringilla davidiana)
LONG-EARED DESERT HEDGEHOG SP. (Hemiechinus auritus)
DAURIAN PIKA (Ochotona daurica)
MONGOLIAN (PALLAS'S) PIKA (Ochotona pallasi)
TOLAI HARE (Lepus tolai)
SIBERIAN CHIPMUNK (Tamias sibiricus)
SIBERIAN MARMOT (Marmota sibirica)
LONG-TAILED GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus undulatus)
DAURIAN GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus dauricus)
Long-tailed Ground Squirrel was very common; it is probably a food item for many of the raptors we saw. Photo by participant Don Burlett.
RED-CHEEKED (PALLID) GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus pallicauda)
EUROPEAN RED SQUIRREL (Sciurus vulgaris)
BRANDT'S VOLE (Lasiopodmys brandtii)
MONGOLIAN GERBIL (JIRD) (Meriones unguiculatus)
MID-DAY GERBIL (JIRD) (Meriones meridianus)
GREAT GERBIL (Rhombomys opimus)
GOBI JERBOA (Allactaga bullata)
MANCHURIAN ZOKOR (Myospalax psilurus)
RED FOX (Vulpes vulpes)
CORSAC FOX (Vulpes corsac)
PALLAS'S CAT (Felis manul)
WILD HORSE (Equus caballus)
RED DEER (Cervus elaphus)
GOITERED GAZELLE (Gazella subgutturosa)
ZEREN (Procapra gutturosa)
IBEX (Capra ibex)
ARGALI (Ovis ammon)
For the first time ever we had almost no duplication for the favourite birds, and the following all rated highly:
Arctic Loon, Oriental Plover, Swan Goose, Demoiselle Crane, Chukar, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Hoopoe, Mongolian Lark, Taiga Flycatcher, Azure Tit, the vittata morph of Pied Wheatear, Siberian Rubythroat, Mongolian Finch, Pine Bunting and Saxaul Sparrow
The favourite sighting was almost unanimously the Golden Eagle stooping on the Pallas's Cat (Felis manul), one of those once in a lifetime occurrences.
Fat-tailed Pygmy or Dwarf Fat-tailed Jerboa (Pygeretmus pumilio) On the night walk at Gobi Erdene, a small greyish jerboa with a long, bare and quite fat tail.
Siberian Jerboa (Allactaga sibirica) One on the night walk at Gobi Erdene, it has shorter ears than Gobi Jerboa.
Sand dwarf hamster Nancy saw one of these on her night walk with Bayanaa at Gobi Erdene
Gobi racerunner (Eremias przewalskii) The dark stripy lizard from the Gobi
Mongolian racerunner (Eremias argus) Seen near Khustai
Toad-headed agama (Phrynocephalus versicolor) Common in the Gobi, this is the variably patterned one with the pink armpits and curled up tail
Siberian toad (Radde’s Toad) Bufo raddei. Seen well at Ugii Lake and Burd marsh, quite well-patterned above.
Quite a good spring for them but mostly awaiting photo identification, I saw over a dozen species. There was something very like a Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and a Mourning Cloak /Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) type, also Small White (Pieris rapae). The large Lycaenid type blue butterfly at Dzalangadzad was intriguing but no-one got a photo!
Totals for the tour: 190 bird taxa and 25 mammal taxa