Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Inside Bishkek

I had tine for two short sessions in isde the city of Bishkek last week. One was a walk round the area (Lebedinovka) where my hotel was situated. The other was a trip to the Gareev Botanical Gardens in the city cenre.

Birding conditions weren't ideal as it was 37C at the height of the day. Nevertheless I birded around my hotel early evening and in the Botanical Gardens until mid monring to give myself a chance. 

I like Botanical Gardens for many reasaons including a sentimental one concerning Oxford where I was a student.

However the gardens in Bishkek are in a sad condition despite evidence of foreign partnerships aiming to maintain the area.

Some of the taller trees had died and the undergrowth looked untended.

On one of the dead trees ironically I was given very good views of an adult male sparrowhawk.

sparrowhawk 1

Not all adult males acquire eyes as deeply coloured as this one. Some maintain yellow eyes like females and juveniles.

sparrowhawk 2

The gardens are still a pleasant enough walk and there are shaded areas.

path in Gareev Botanical Gardens

There were wood pigeon in the denser areas.

wood pigeon

While feral pigeon were in the more open spaces.

feral pigeon

Common magpie was everywhere.

common magpie

The two most common birds in the trees were great tit. 

great tit

Though spotted flycatcher was more easily seen as they adopted more exposed positions.

spotted flycatcher

On one bush in clearing was a Turkestan shrike. This is a bird I see in large numbers in Arabia on migration and in winter.

Turkestan shrike

The botanical gardens are also home to several red squirrel.

red squirrel

Turkestan shrike was also one of the birds observed when I walked around the hotel one evening.

Turkestan shrike in Lebedinovka

In a sense I was disappointed to see laughing dove. This bird is still spreading north out of Africa and has reached Bishkek and even southern Kazakhstan to its north. It would never survive in winter without human settlements providing scraps of food.

laughing dove

Another and even more invasive species is common myna which is indeed common in the city.

common myna

More interestingly I came across goldfinch in gardens. These are of an eastern race which doesn't have a black head.


I would have loved to have had more time in Kyrgyzstan. I have checked whether it can be visited en route to anywhere else I am likely to visit in my quest to see every country in the world. There are a couple of options. Who knows I may return some day.

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