Landlocked in the heart of central Asia, Kazakhstan is a country of vast steppe, desert, lakes and mountains. After visiting in June, Lance came back convinced it would make an exciting addition to our calendar.
Starting on the vast steppe west of Astana, the exciting central Asian lark specialities, Black and White-winged both performed well and in good numbers, whilst nearby Demoiselle Cranes and Pallid Harriers were nesting. Freshwater lakes provided staging areas for migrant waders, including one lake which hosted over 2500 Red-necked Phalaropes as well as half a dozen Terek Sandpipers. A main target of this area is of course the Sociable Plover and though they remain rare and declining, with the help of our guide, we managed to find several here in its World breeding stronghold.
Following the ancient Silk Road towards China, the Sogaty Plain is a birders paradise. Sought-after species are many including both Pallas's Sandgrouse and MacQueen's Bustard on occasion. Low arid hillsides are home to five notable species of bunting; Red-headed and Grey-necked being the commonest, Rock and White-capped less so and Meadow Bunting somewhat more scarce,here at the western edge of its range.
North of Almaty, the Sorbulak lakes area is a magnet for waterbirds, with both Dalmatian and White Pelican, White-headed Duck and White-tailed Eagles all regular. Little Bustards can be found nearby and flocks of Rose-coloured Starlings form a wonderful sight. Last but not least, the mighty Tien Shan mountains form an wonderfully impressive backdrop to Almaty itself. Climbing up through woodlands of spruce, Greenish and Hume's Warblers are common, occupying meadows alongside Black-throated Accentors and Red-fronted Serins. Montane juniper scrub is the ideal habitat for Himalayan Rubythroat and the enigmatic Severtzov's Tit-warbler. The highest peaks hold Himalayan Snowcock and Guldenstadt's Redstarts whilst lower down Ibisbill frequent fast flowing streams.
With stunning scenery and comfortable accommodation, Kazakhstan comes highly recommended!
Asian Crimson-winged Finch, now split from its African counterpart
Te number one target species - Black Lark (actually it is very common west of Astana)
Black-winged Pratincole, showing why it is so-called
Bluethroat of the local red-spotted form pallidogularis
Grey-necked Buntings are common in the dry rocky hillsides of the Sogaty Plain
Guldenstadt's Redstart, the largest of the family, rarely drops far from the snowline
Himalayan Rubythroats prefer montane juniper scrub
A male Mongolian Finch - easier to see here than in Mongolia!
Red-headed Buntings soon become familiar
The enigmatic Severtzov's tit-warbler. Patience may be required for a good view
Range restricted and rapidly declining, the exquisite Sociable Plover
The mighty Tien Shan
Yellow-eyed Dove, formerly known as Eversman's Stock Dove
Please note: The above photographs were taken on previous trips. Itineraries change from time to time and therefore you cannot rely on these photographs as being an exact representation of what can be expected on a future tour. For details of the each tour, you should refer to the brochure write-up.