Due to work I've not managed to get out much at all yet but I've just got a 4WD and hope to start getting out and about now to nab some winter goodies. I also have an excel list of birds from the Azerbaijan Ornithological Soc that will go up on the Bubo Listing site but if anyone wants a copy let me know. It only stands at 390 but I think that reflects the lack of birders rather than the paucity of birds. There's certainly some scope to add to it.
OK So I got out yesterday for a few hours in the afternoon and as I'm back in UK for new year this will be my December round up. I drove south about 30 kms from Baku to check out two huge lakes by the coast. The rocky islands held at least a hundred pygmy cormorant and a family party of four dalmatian pelican. Several little gull were hanging in the breeze and a walk around the reed beds disturbed two great bittern that were out in the open.
I then took a stroll along what passes for a beach on the Caspian Sea. Decent sized duck rafts out on the water were mainly shoveler and tufted duck with a few pochard and two red-breasted merganser. But was nice to see was a flock of 28 whooper swan looking at home out on the water. Good to see them away from a lake.
Finally a brief view of a merlin as it flew over the car on the way home.
15 New Azerbaijan ticks taking my paltry total to 75. Here's to much more birding in January.
I had a trip to Shirvan National Park yesterday, it's lies about 100 kms south of Baku on the coast and is a massive area of coastal scrub with a large lake/reed bed in the middle. It's not the sort of place to go for scenery but it's one of the best winter birding sites in the country.
20 Miles and a puncture later I'd added 16 species to my fledgling Azerbaijan list.
First I drove the tracks through the scrub. I flushed an adult male hen harrier, an adult male merlin, a male black francolin and the first of several little bustard flocks (my eventual day count was over 1,000). Large flocks of (proper wild) greylag were feeding by the tracks and the telegraph poles provided perches for long-legged buzzard and rough-legged buzzard.
The central lake and reed beds were fairly lively with 25 marsh harrier, several bittern, seven red-head smew, a flock of dalmatian pelican, a Pallas's gull almost in summer plumage and plenty of common ducks.
I was in Baku about 20 months ago on a working visit The obvious secret police (or what I took to be) made me nervous about using my binoculars and even my colleagues were careful about taking photos. Was this a needless reaction?
From my hotel room I did see a few distant birds including one that may have been a roller and would have been a lifer had I got it confirmed.
Hoping to get out there again in next 12 months, fingers crossed.
Best of luck and will be following this thread and your blog.
I've had no problem at all Steve, except the usual questions at the airport about whether my bins are NVG's... but that's standard in many countries.
I went back to Shirvan NP this weekend, added greater flamingo, water rail, corn bunting and pintail to my Azeri list. Also saw hen harrier, little bustard, dalmatian pelican, merlin and a wild boar. Still haven't found any white-headed duck or marbled teal either at Shirvan or at Red lake near Baku which is still rumoured to hold a few of each species.