Monday 10 August 2015

Banks of the Tuul river

It was nearly an hour's walk out of my hotel southward to the Tuul River but I did it on August 2nd. Either side of the river is light woodland which is mostly willow interpersed by grassy areas. These grassy areas seem to be favoured picnic spots for locals.

The woodland turned out to be a good place to see tits.

azure tit

Azure tit was relatively easily seen and it was a lifer for me. The bird above is a juvenile.

southern entrance to Ulan Bator

The most common tit however was great tit. Nevertheless I struggled to get straight views.

great tit 1

There were both adult birds (above) and juvenile birds (below) in the area. Some of the juveniles had barely any yellow but were an off white with small patches of yellow appearing. 

great tit 2

The third tit was long-tailed tit. Despite seeing fewest of these, the few I did see gave me the best views.

long tailed tit 

There are apparently 17 races of long-tailed tit. The ones near Ulan Bator belong to the race caudatus. This is the same as those found in Scandinavia and most easily characterised by their all white head.

long-tailed tit facing me

On two occasions I came across redstarts. The second time I got prolonged views.

Daurian redstart facing away

The bird photographed is a juvenile Daurian redstart. This was another lifer.

Daurian redstart

Another speckled juvenile bird observed was a taiga flycatcher.

juvenile taiga flycatcher

While walking through the woods, I flushed two woodcock in two different places. Unfortunately each time I failed to track where each bird landed. 

I must mention that tree sparrow was the most common bird of all.

tree sparrow

Only two types of corvid were encountered. One was carrion crow. These included two juvenile birds which were just sitting in branches over hanging my path. They did not budge as I walked slowly past. It was almost like they couldn't fly or were frozen.

juvenile carrion crow

The other corvid was the ubiquitous magpie.

common magpie

Remember that I was walking in woodland adjacent to the great Tuul River. This of course influenced the birds I saw.

white wagtail

The closer I got to the river, the more white wagtail and grey wagtail I saw.

yellow wagtail

However I didn't spot a single wader or heron family member at the river itself.

stretch of the Tuul River

The river wasn't barren though. At one stage I came across four goosander.

Two goosander

All were either female or juvenile. They were not easy for me to separate from red-breasted merganser. However the clean break between reddish head and white body at the neck as well as bill shape help define them as goosander.

four goosander

The water also attracted a small number of pacific swift and common tern to fly over head.

Pacific swift with black kite

The final bird to my day list was seen as I walked away from the river towards the hotel through some scrubby grassland. It was a northern wheatear.

Northern wheatear

This part-day session was my last in Mongolia. However before I arrived back in Bulgaria via Istanbul, I stopped off for two days in Bishkeke, Kyrgyzstan. I managed some birding there which I will blog about next.

Species seen at Tuul River
Black Kite (Black-eared) 
Eurasian Woodcock 
Common Tern 
Feral Pigeon   
Pacific Swift  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Common Magpie 
Carrion Crow 
Great Tit 
Azure Tit  
Long-tailed Tit 
Taiga Flycatcher 
Daurian Redstart  
Northern Wheatear  
Grey Wagtail 
White Wagtail  
Tree Sparrow 

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