Gun Guluut has several fresh water pools which are attractive to water birds. It is also well known for summering cranes.
When Oogii and I arrived early in the morning it was a grey day with showers.seeing birds was difficult in poor light. However persistence paid and there were a few bright spells.
We visited the main cluster of pools twice. The first time was grey but the second time was much better. Either way it is clearly a good place to see waders.
sharp-tailed sandpiper 1
On the first visit, we thought we had seen sharp-tailed sandpiper but the views were poor because of the light. On our return it was obvious there were two.
The species breeds on the East Siberian coast and migrated to Australasia for winter. Mongolia is towards the western edge of the migration route in autumn and too far west in spring when birds return north by a more easterly route. It is apparently not common in Mongolia even in autumn.
Our luck was in.
sharp-tailed sandpiper 2
Two birds came very close to the parked car at one stage and gave us excellent views.
two sharp-tailed sandpiper
In the same area as the two sharp-tailed sandpiper identified above (at least on the return visit) were eight other waders. I initially thought they were dunlin as the leaset worse option. However thanks to Bart de Schutter alerting me, it looks like they are also sharp-tailed sandpiper. These were all adults in breeding plumage. While in Mongolia I had no access to my guidebook which shows all palearctic waders in all plumages. Referring to that, I can see that Bart is right.
sharp-tailed sandpiper in summer plumage
On the earlier visit though the light was poorer there were actually more waders to see than later.
Two of them were red-necked phalarope.
There was a mobile flock of common redshank and a single spotted redshank which is so much easier to separate when both birds were still in breeding plumage.
Two black-tailed godwit were identified at distance and in the gloom.
Three types of stint were around: red-necked stint, little stint and a solitary Temminck's stint.
Other sandpipers included wood sandpiper.
Although I had seen ruddy shelduck at UB Ponds the day before, both it and common shelduck were present at Gun Guluut.
ruddy shelduck and common shelduck
There was solid evidence of common shelduck breeding. Two gaggles of young ducks were seen.
Blcck-necked grebe also breed there. One bird was seen with a chick taking a ride on the back though not in the picture below.
Black-headed gull breeds this far inland too.
Several white-winged black tern in breeding plumage were flying over the ponds.
white-winged black tern
Of course not all the birding took place at the ponds. In the fields were at least three types of lark.
In the shorter grass the more common one was horned lark.
Around or in the longer grass, Mongolian lark was more common.
Pere David's snowfinch
As in Hustai National Park, Pere David's Snowfinch was sighted here too. The one above is another juvenile.
Red-billed chough is an attractive bird. Four were seen.
There are three types of crane often seen in summer in the park: Siberian crane, white-naped crane and demoiselle crane. Unfortunately for me, only demoiselle crane was observed the day I was there and we searched hard and long. It was poor compensation that as many as 30 demoiselle crane were seen. Both of the other cranes would have been lifers.
We had seen a saker faclon briefly during our search for cranes in one of the inner valleys. I was very lucky to see another close up near the pools. This one rested on a pylon.
We stopped off to eat about half way back to Ulan Bator. It was here that Oogii pointed out a flock of jackdaw on the other side of the road from the restaurant.
By the end of the day, my Mongolian list had reached 76. I thank Ooggii for his guidance and driving. It was an excellent day.
Along with the day before, I had had two consecutive 12-15 hour days of birding. The day after (August 1st) I took a complete rest. However the birding wasn't entirely finished. I went to the Tuul river on August 2nd. This was my one foray into woodland birding. I will blog about this next.
Species seen at Gun Guluut National Park
Greater Short-toed Lark
Pallas's Reed Bunting
Pere David's Snowfinch
Species seen on road back to Ulan Bator