At time posting, I have done two very full days of serious birding at hot spots local to Ulan Bator. However as ever I like to start with just a walk or two straight out of my hotel and see what there is around the block.
On Wednesday morning, I walked out of the hotel south towards to national amusement park. The tour maps show it is heavily wooded and it looked a good prospect. However it was all locked up and looked too manicure anyway
Instead I crossed the road and found some wasteland alongside part of the city's Selbe river which is an off shot of the much larger Tuul river. It was here most of my urban birding took place.
The river is barely more than a stream in this section. Yet the birding was satisfactory. Three lifers were quickly obtained.
long-tailed rose finch 1
In the scrub close to the river, I came across a number of plain looking birds with very small bills and long tails.
long-tailed rose finch 2
There also had two quite strong white wing bars.
long-tailed rose finch 3
After checking with birdforum, it appears they are long-tailed rose finch. The was one of my lifers. It is a shame I din't see any males which are brightly coloured and the difference between the sexes (and juveniles) explains why over 90% of images on-line are of males. Three pictures here helps the balance!
Only in the heavily built up areas is house sparrow as common.
Two old favourites were seen near the river. One was white wagtail.
The second was grey wagtail. True to form it was found near a fast running section of the river.
It isn't the only corvid either. The city has many carrion crow.
Carrion crow next to Selbe River
Some were seen not only by the Selbe river but along Peace Avenue which is the main street in the centre of the city.
Carrion crow on Peace Avenue
Near the river though there is more variety of birds. I was quite surprised to see northern wheatear. I hadn't realised there were present in Mongolia.
first northern wheatear
Indeed this was the first of many sightings on this holiday as further blogs will tell.
second northern wheatear
I must mention that throughout my walk there were screaming pacific swift over head and especially over the river where presumably the insect density is highest. Smaller numbers of common swift were also seen in more built up areas.
Pacific swift was my second lifer in the city.
There are no pictures of this fast moving bird nor arguably the best bird of the day: Daurian partridge, two of which I flushed as I walked in slightly longer grass and bushes in the long ditch next to the railway line.
This was my third lifer.
After this sedate introduction, The "real" birding started on Thursday when I met up with birdingpal Gansukh Namgar. My Mongolian list shot up from 12 to 51 species including several lifers. The next series of blogs chronicles the 15 hours birding that day. It was excellent.
Peace Avenue Feral Pigeon