Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Alamedin Valley, Bishkek

I had only one full day in Bishkek so I really had to choose a birding venue near-by. A couple of previous birders recommend Alamedin valley and that's where I headed.

It is about 40 kilometres south of Bishkek and climbs steadily from the city's 800 metres to over 2000 metres though I didn't walk quite that far up.

hobby looking away

The area has a fast flowing and cold river with juniper and pine forest broken by grassy clearings either side. There are also plenty of blackcurrent and dog rose bushes as well as a few birch trees next to the river.

One of the best birds seen was indeed the only bird of prey I sighted there.It was a hobby.

hobby looking round

It swooped twice into my vicinity about half an hour apart. Both times the magpie scattered though I doubt they were endangered. Other birds probably panicked too but the magpie were the most visible.

The second time I tracked it and found it had settled on top of a juniper tree from where I got some pictures.

This habitat is classic hobby breeding territory though I have no proof in this particular case.

the river in Alamedin valley

As I have already alluded magpie were common.

common magpie

Northern raven was the other corvid in the area.

northern raven

There were plenty of feral pigeon in the valley but I regret not looking closer at some as hill pigeon was a possibility there that I over-looked. Hill pigeon is a very smilar looking bird.

wood pigeon 1

On the other hand, I didn't miss the wood pigeon. Helpfully they were willing to perch on exposed positions although they still would not allow close approach.

wood pigeon 2

Next to the river were a different set of birds. Grey wagtail was the most common although white wagtail were present in numbers early on. I wonder what happened to them later in the morning?

grey wagtail

From distance I spotted a pair of blue whistling thrush. Until I saw them I had no idea their range came so far west. I had mistakening though of it as only an East and South East Asian bird.

blue whistling thrush

One bird which is more localised is black-breasted tit a.k.a. rufous-naped tit. This bird is only found in countries north west of India. This was a lifer for me. I only saw it close to the one setllement in the valley. 

black-breasted tit

In the blackcurrent bushes and dog roses, greenish warbler was numerous.

greenish warbler 1

It was not the only warbler in the bushes.

greenish warbler 2

I also spotted a Blyth's reed warbler.It did not give such good views as the greenish warbler but has been positively identified by those with local expertise on birdforum.

Blyth's reed warbler 1

Interestingly this (adult) bird is moulting early. Work carried out on the west of the range shows they normally moult in their wintering grounds in September to December. 

Blyth's reed warbler 2

Apart from Alamedin valley, I managed two shorter sessions of birding in the city. One was in the neighbourhood of my hotel and the other was at the botanical gardens. I will blog about that next.

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