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Armenia 12 to 25 May 2018 (1 Viewer)

KenM

Well-known member
A great read Richard, quite a few birds there that I'd like to catch up with one day!...Perhaps I will when you complete your narrative...yawn..yawn. :-O :t:
 

Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
Thanks Ken, a creative genius like me has to be in the right mood to compose you know, so as they said in 1914 “It will all be over and done by Christmas “ .
Anyway, lucky for you this is my abridged version, I’ve left out “The ‘starling’ that probably wasn’ t “ mystery.:-C
 

KenM

Well-known member
Thanks Ken, a creative genius like me has to be in the right mood to compose you know, so as they said in 1914 “It will all be over and done by Christmas “ .
Anyway, lucky for you this is my abridged version, I’ve left out “The ‘starling’ that probably wasn’ t “ mystery.:-C

The “Starling” sounds interesting...can you expand?....although not with the War and Peace version. :-O
 

Mark Harper

World Birder
Enjoying the report, having been in Armenia a few weeks ago. How did you rule out rubicola Stonechat, cannot see the tail pattern in the photo but the orange on the underparts looks too extensive for what I was expecting for variegatus. I only recorded rubicola in Armenia, but maybe I overlooked variegatus.
 
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Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
Enjoying the report, having been in Armenia a few weeks ago. How did you rule out rubicola Stonechat, cannot see the tail pattern in the photo but the orange on the underparts looks too extensive for what I was expecting for variegatus. I only recorded rubicola in Armenia, but maybe I overlooked variegatus.

Hi Mark,

The Stonechat complex is still a bit of a minefield isn't it! The males that I saw in flight seemed to have pale unstreaked rumps and the white neck patch was large compared to those I see here in eastern France/west Switzerland. A few years back in March in Israel we saw 'Caspian' Stonechats which had less reddish area on the breast but I've no idea where they were headed..
Have you read the following paper: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289695682 Taxonomy and nomenclature of the Stonechat complex Saxicola torquatus sensu lato in the Caspian region
Article (PDF Available)  in Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club

If I read their map correctly rubicola
doesn't seem to be in Armenia? Were your birds already paired up or were you there earlier in the spring?
 

Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
A fantastic read Richard, really enjoyable and fascinating!

Love Blue-Cheeked Bee-eaters.

Thanks Nick, they were the highlight (avian at least) for me.
I think we had similar emotions recently, you with your Dwarf Bittern and me with the Grey-necked Bunting!
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Thanks Nick, they were the highlight (avian at least) for me.
I think we had similar emotions recently, you with your Dwarf Bittern and me with the Grey-necked Bunting!

Yes indeed Rich :smoke:

That's the beauty of birding I guess, no guarantees !! As you say its almost more frustrating that we connected, but badly.
 

Mark Harper

World Birder
Hi Mark,

The Stonechat complex is still a bit of a minefield isn't it! The males that I saw in flight seemed to have pale unstreaked rumps and the white neck patch was large compared to those I see here in eastern France/west Switzerland. A few years back in March in Israel we saw 'Caspian' Stonechats which had less reddish area on the breast but I've no idea where they were headed..
Have you read the following paper: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289695682 Taxonomy and nomenclature of the Stonechat complex Saxicola torquatus sensu lato in the Caspian region
Article (PDF Available)  in Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club

If I read their map correctly rubicola
doesn't seem to be in Armenia? Were your birds already paired up or were you there earlier in the spring?

I was in Armenia from 17th to 21st May and saw birds that were paired up. I have had a look at that paper previously and I interpret the map as showing Rubicola (the blue line) circling an area of the Caucasus including the eastern end of the Black Sea and this ties in with other published maps I have seen. I agree on the fact that the birds all the birds I saw had pale rumps that appeared unstreaked, but in flight I never saw any white in the outer tail feathers.
 

Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
The Starling that probably wasn't

The “Starling” sounds interesting...can you expand?....although not with the War and Peace version. :-O

Now you've got me intrigued!

Cheers
Mike


Embarrassing incident No.94… Well, as this is a ‘warts and all’ account I have to come clean – while we were walking in the Vedi gorge (Véro with our one pair of binoculars, me with the camera stalking the Woodchats (unsuccessfully)), Véro pipes up, “Funny place for a Starling”, I barely glance at an all-black bird disappearing round the corner at the bottom of the wadi. We hadn’t seen any Common Starlings thereabouts, but all these exotic eastern WP species were occupying my mind so I quickly recommenced my photographic efforts. What do I discover upon our return from Armenia? Three days after our visit to Vedi, another visiting birder finds Armenia’s first-ever, you guessed it! Who knows? Maybe it WAS a Starling, I’m just glad I had to go to North Wales in June 2003 when the individual in the photo was visiting South Stack RSPB!
 

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KenM

Well-known member
Easily done Richard! Probably happens more often than you think, I’m sure Carrion Crow for Rook, Black Lark for Starling....and some people...Shag for Cormorant! ;)
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Now you've got me intrigued!

Cheers
Mike


Embarrassing incident No.94… Well, as this is a ‘warts and all’ account I have to come clean – while we were walking in the Vedi gorge (Véro with our one pair of binoculars, me with the camera stalking the Woodchats (unsuccessfully)), Véro pipes up, “Funny place for a Starling”, I barely glance at an all-black bird disappearing round the corner at the bottom of the wadi. We hadn’t seen any Common Starlings thereabouts, but all these exotic eastern WP species were occupying my mind so I quickly recommenced my photographic efforts. What do I discover upon our return from Armenia? Three days after our visit to Vedi, another visiting birder finds Armenia’s first-ever, you guessed it! Who knows? Maybe it WAS a Starling, I’m just glad I had to go to North Wales in June 2003 when the individual in the photo was visiting South Stack RSPB!

Probably my biggest dip was that. Wheel came off my car en route! Never really appreciated the rarity value at the time.
 

Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
Thanks for sparing me the insults I probably deserve :t:
21 May
We were the only guests in the 40 bedroom hotel so no breakfast was available on our first morning, we bought some fruit and yoghurts and found a picnic table and bench along a quiet road just west of Vayk. A local man walking along the road put paid to my attempt to take a nice Lesser Grey Shrike picture but he was (typically for Armenia) a very friendly chap, and pointed out that a nearby puddle was actually a thermal spring! He filled one of our water bottles with water bubbling out of the ground and took a mighty swig to show it was safe. I waited a sensible couple of seconds;) and followed suit. The water had a slight metallic taste but wasn’t unpleasant. With our rudimentary Armenian phrases we had a stumbling conversation and we think he offered to guide us to a ruined monastery a few kms away. As we had planned to visit elsewhere we declined but as a gesture of French-Armenian friendship gave him one of the saucissons we’d brought from home. We hope he and his wife enjoyed it (washed down with mineral water no doubt).
We headed towards Areni then turned south alongside a small river into the Noravank gorge. Lush vegetation and trees on one side contrasted with a cliff face on the other We saw our first Woodpigeon, Grey Wagtail, Blue Rock Thrush (adult and young) in the gorge and an Eastern Orphean Warbler flew in front of the car. Golden Orioles were chortling away. Up at the very picturesque Noravank monastery there was a good selection of species, a smart male Black-eared Wheatear, Common Rosefinch, Cetti’s Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, nesting Crag Martin, Black-headed and Rock Bunting, Red-billed Chough and two Chukar having a noisy chase down the hillside (we had heard but not seen Chukar at Vedi Gorge the day before). The icing on the cake for me though was a group of five or six Red-fronted Serin feeding on wildflower seedheads beside and even on the building where the flowers had sprouted from cracks between the ancient stones.
In the afternoon we walked down the road signposted Zeida just west of Vayk, a real gem in many ways, though the area by the bridge over the river was a mess with rusting hulks of old Ladas. We turned around and retraced our steps, forking off the road down a track before we got back up to the car. The only Short-toed Snake Eagle of the trip hovered over the hillside and Bee-eaters were calling high overhead, we eventually spotted them, a flock of at least 70 which seemed to be migrating north. The sweet song of White-throated Robin resounded and we saw at least three males in the sector. More Blue Rock Thrush action and a briefly obliging Eastern Orphean posed to have its picture taken. Other species much as in the Noravank Gorge, plus a Roller past and a Linnet family.
Non-avian highlighs were a superb Caucasian Agama sunbathing and we had an exciting brief encounter with a Golden Jackal along the track! As we drove east past Yeghandzor our only Laughing Doves away from Yerevan were seen. The mother of all thunderstorms broke as we approached Vayk so we sat out the bad weather in a roadside diner as the road became a river. When it all eased off we continued east and turned up the old road to Jermuk, a spa town. The old road is blocked by a landslide after 13kms so not surprisingly we saw only two other cars in the hour or more we were on it. It runs along the bottom of a deep but fairly wide valley and is known to be the haunt of Brown Bear. With two exceptions the birdlife reminded us of home, Blackbird, Garden and Cetti’s Warbler, Buzzard, Hobby, House Martin, Alpine Swift and Red-billed Chough. The two eastern exceptions were the ever-present Common Rosefinch and at dusk a nice Syrian Woodpecker in a tree beside the road. Véro decided to scan the mountainside pasture and crags for Bear but covered herself in glory by finding a group of four or five Bezoar Ibex instead, males complete with their little black beards.
Back at the hotel the manager and his friend told us we were really lucky, they’d never seen Ibex themselves despite being interested in wildlife!
 

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KenM

Well-known member
Great shot of an ''out in the open'' Orphean Richard, most of mine have been right little skulking buggers! Albeit my 1st was singing briefly atop adjacent bush on Crete, some 30+ years ago...and it sang like a ''supercharged'' Blackcap!
 

Richard Prior

Halfway up an Alp
Europe
I was in Armenia from 17th to 21st May and saw birds that were paired up. I have had a look at that paper previously and I interpret the map as showing Rubicola (the blue line) circling an area of the Caucasus including the eastern end of the Black Sea and this ties in with other published maps I have seen. I agree on the fact that the birds all the birds I saw had pale rumps that appeared unstreaked, but in flight I never saw any white in the outer tail feathers.

Thanks Mark, I guess I’ll have to ‘downgrade’ my variegata to rubicola, don’t want Jos S to start casting more stringy aspersions in my direction!
 

Dave Pullan

Active member
Thanks Mark, I guess I’ll have to ‘downgrade’ my variegata to rubicola, don’t want Jos S to start casting more stringy aspersions in my direction!

Though the Svensson and co. paper also states "white on the tail base ... often not visible even in flight" for variegatus.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
The RF Serin are real little corkers - amazing plumage. It looks as if someone was given the task of designing a finch plumage from a mix of a load of other finches but never quite finished the job!
 

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