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Armenia Birding Sites (near Yerevan)

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Old Thursday 5th September 2019, 18:55   #1
rylirk
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Armenia Birding Sites (near Yerevan)

Hi all,
I'm going to be in Yerevan next week for a work trip, and was wondering if anyone knew how feasible it is to bird there without a car? Unfortunately I cannot drive. Armash Fishponds looks like its a very good site, but unless anyone knows of a guide who could take me there it looks unlikely I'd manage to get there.

Perhaps Sevan would be a better option? Looks like there are some transport options there from Yerevan, or perhaps I could take a taxi (assuming I'd be able to get a taxi in Sevan to take me home?). Does anyone know if Uber or any related apps have a presence in Armenia?

Or perhaps, staying even more locally,

My target birds for the trip are European Roller, European and/or Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eater and Armenian Gull, but it looks like a massive fraction of the expected birds there would be lifers for me! I'm not sure how likely Wallcreeper, White-Tailed Lapwing or Red-Billed Chough are in Armenia, but any of those would be fantastic too.

Thanks!
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Old Friday 6th September 2019, 09:20   #2
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Hmmm tricky.
I've spent several days in Yerevan, and birded the city, and also sites which are not too far from there (eg Armash, Vedi). Also birded Sevan. However, i rented a car for Armash and Vedi (and was guided round Sevan). Access to Armash isn't straightforward.
So you may want to try the Facebook Birding Armenia group for more info.
There is an excellent park, with botanical gardens (name escapes me - ?Yerevan Botanical Gardens?) which i accessed by public transport where i had really close views of perched Levant Sparrowhawk, and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler among others (my memory isn't great!).
One option is Mt Aragats, it's supposed to be good birding, not too far from Yerevan, and fairly easy to get to (i haven't been). Depending on your budget you may find it easiest just to hire a car and driver for the day.
I recommend trying the FB group and also the Birding Armenia website for further info (assuming it's still online).
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Old Friday 6th September 2019, 11:05   #3
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A slight problem is in the "next week" part, I would guess some birds are already gone - rollers left Greece anfew weeks ago already according to a facebook acquitance, not sure about Armenia. Bee-eaters may have a similar issue. Armenian gulls will be plentiful probably though.

The only place where I saw Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters in Armenia was Armash fish ponds, which is also the only sitefor White-tailed Lapwing (a true rare bird in the area) and the ponds have limited access indeed (we only got in thanks to other group that had prepared).

Aragats was superb in spring, again in autumn before snow comes birds are gonna be hiding higher up the slopes, but it could still be nice.
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Old Friday 6th September 2019, 11:11   #4
Andrew Whitehouse
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Ebird has a hotspot at Masis Fishponds, which are quite near Yerevan and seemingly close to a train station.
https://ebird.org/hotspot/L6295709
This September checklist suggests some promise:
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S39369446
I don't know anything about this site or how best to access it though.
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Old Friday 6th September 2019, 11:47   #5
Richard Prior
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehouse View Post
Ebird has a hotspot at Masis Fishponds, which are quite near Yerevan and seemingly close to a train station.
https://ebird.org/hotspot/L6295709
This September checklist suggests some promise:
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S39369446
I don't know anything about this site or how best to access it though.
Re: Masis, the trip report here: https://www.cloudbirders.com/be/down..._0810_2015.pdf
has a satellite image map of Masis ponds and also one for Mt Aragats showing where the group of Belgian birders saw certain species. As long as you're not carrying a fishing rod/net you should be able to view the ponds
Your best bet in my opinion is to hire a driver with car for your explorations, all the Yerevan hotels are used to arranging this sort of thing. You could easily combine Aragats and Masis the same day like that. Another nice trip not too far from Yerevan is to Garni and Gegherd, Garni had a nice flock of Red-billed Chough(on your wish list!) when we were there last year, we also saw a Cinerous Vulture on the way up there, Western Rock Nuthatch, Eastern black-eared Wheatear etc etc.
You don't need to go to Lake Sevan for the Armenian Gull, in Yerevan itself there should be a few on the lake just south of the Yerevan Wine Company factory(and at Masis of course). A park we found productive (perhaps it's the same one Jogresh refers to) was up above the Cascades, a big monument (I think it was originally to commemorate 50 years of the Soviet Union) dominates the park, nice habitat for warblers and flycatchers).
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Old Friday 6th September 2019, 14:02   #6
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Thanks all! Unfortunately I can't seem to find the Birding Armenia facebook group, perhaps it is gone?

Are these Fish Ponds active businesses? I would love to try and bird one of them, but if they are commercial property I guess I might not be welcome? I'd be more than happy to hire a driver to Amash for a chance at the lapwings, but I wouldn't want to get there and find myself stuck behind a gate...

I think Gegherd & Garni are where we are going for the conference trip? And to some observatory on Aragats too, so hopefully I can pick up a few of the birds at those sides incidentally.
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Old Friday 6th September 2019, 17:56   #7
opisska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rylirk View Post
Thanks all! Unfortunately I can't seem to find the Birding Armenia facebook group, perhaps it is gone?

Are these Fish Ponds active businesses? I would love to try and bird one of them, but if they are commercial property I guess I might not be welcome? I'd be more than happy to hire a driver to Amash for a chance at the lapwings, but I wouldn't want to get there and find myself stuck behind a gate...

I think Gegherd & Garni are where we are going for the conference trip? And to some observatory on Aragats too, so hopefully I can pick up a few of the birds at those sides incidentally.

Armash is commerical and locked, but you can get in for ten bucks. The only problem is that this generally works only upon advance notice as if you just show up, where won't be anyone to let you in. There are some people you can contact in Yerevan to arrange this, but I do not know details. But it's a wonderful site for sure.
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