Birding Tours in Kazakhstan

Birds of Silk Road (June 1 - June 11, 2018)

Day 1. Arrival to Almaty, departure to Berkara. The road distane is about 550 km, estimated time is about 8 hours including stoppings to birding. near Aspara vilage we will bo dirding near the nest of White Stork. After arrival to Berkara we will rets and lunch. In evening we will can watch the birds of gorge. The main target bird of this gorge and of thus tour is Asian Paradise Flycatcher. In the Berkara gorge this Flycatcher is easiest to watchung. In addition to Paradise Flycatcher the Wood Pigeon (local subspecies casiotis), Striated Flycatcher (sarudnii), Indian Golden Oriole (kundoo), Collared and Laughing Doves, Shikra, Common Myna.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi leucogaster) / Berkara

Day 2. Darbaza. This natural boundary is formeв by the several rocks of sedimentary origin. There is dry desert around these rocks. The boundary is located at about one hour from the place of stay. The gorge is the place of nesting of Egyptian Vulture, Common Raven, Long-legged Buzzard, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Isabelline Wheatear. The migrating birds often stay to rest in the nearby placed lake Taskol, also here we can watch Clamorous Reed Warblers. The target birds of the day are: Egyptian Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Clamorous Reed Warbler.

Day 3. The Ters-Ashybulak reservoir which will be visited by us is important place in migartion pass of birds directing to the breeding spots along the Tien Shan ridges. This pass is one of the most important ones in Central Asia, therefore there are always many birds here. In spring time the large flocks of Demoiselle and Common Cranes stay here to rest and feed; also different Ducks and Waders may be observed in Ters-Ashybulak. In the bushes and roadside thickets the Turkestan Shrikes, Pied Wheatears, Siberian Stonechats, Yellow-brested Tits will be observed; in the steppe we will watch Crested Larks, Ruddy Shelducks etc. The reservoir is surrounded by wet meadows where we can watch Little Bustard. Also we will have opportunity to watch migrating Osprey. The target birds of the day are: Demoiselle Crane, Litle Bustard, Collared Pratincole, Yellow-breasted Tit.

Demoiselle Cranes (Anthropoides virgo) / Ters-Ashybulak

Day 4. Berkara gorge. The walking trip up by Berkara gorge. The gorge is located in Karatau ridge and (as some similar neiboughr ones) is the green and cool oasis with strong borders with the dry slopes covered by low grass and rocks. In this oasis formed by little river and tall trees of local kind of Ash the Asian Paradise Flycatchers (main target), Striated Flycatchers, Wood Pigeons, Laughing, Collared and Oriental Turtle Doves regularly breed. The lenght of the trip is about 8 km. In the upper part of the gorge there is a chance to watch White-throated Robin, Golden Eagle, Upcher's Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat (halimadendri), Chuckar Partridge. The target birds of the day are: Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Golden Eagle, White-throated Robin.

Day 5. Departure to Chulak Kurgan. Chulak Kurgan village is located at the distance about 300 km from the Berkara, estimated travel time is about 7 hours including the birding time in Akkol lake. This large lake is important spot in migrating path of birds. Moreover, in the rocks surrounded th lake the Long-legged Buzzards and Great Eagle-Owls nest; we have opportunity to watch them. Also the Pied Wheatear, Desert Whetear, Chuckar Partrdge, Turkestan Shrike nest here.

Day 6. Kelinshektau Rocks. Kelinshektau is very beauty, almost vertical rocks, almost without any woody and shrubby vegetation. Rocks are bordered with the dry semi-desert. During the trip we will watch the inhabitants of both semi-desert (Calandra, Greater Short-toed, Crested and probably Bimaculated and Oriental Larks) and rocks (foremost among which are scavengers, such as Cinereous Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Common Raven). In the bushes of foothills we will watch Turkestan Shrike, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Chuckar and Grey Partridges. The target birds of the day are: Griffon Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) / Kelinshektau

Day 7. Kyzylkol lake. this lake is located in the foothills of Karatau at the distance about 25 km from Chulak Kurgan. in the migration time thousands of Ducks, Swans, Geese, Great White Pelicans, Waders accumulate in Kyzylkol. In the dry hills around the lake a lot of Calandra, Bimaculated, Oriental Sky and Greater Short-toed Larks, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouses live. The target birds of the day are:Great White Pelican, Oriental Skylark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse.

Day 8. Shoshkakol. The day of moving to Sairam Ugam National Park. At early morning after the breakfast we will leave Chulak Kurgan and start the road to Shoshkakol. Shoshkakol is the system of marshy lakes covered by reeds. Here we will watch Pygmy and Great Cormorants, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Garganeys, Red-crested Pochards, Ferruginous Ducks, and probably Spoonbill and Great White Pelican. We will have birding in Shoshkakol during about 3 hours anf then will go to the Talas Alatau ridge where we will be stay and watch birds for 2 next days. The target birds of the day are: Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Great White Pelican.

Day 9-10. Sairam Ugam National Park. We will visit the gorges of Talas Alatau ridge. mostly we will watch birds of juniper forest, rocks and adjacent bushes of dry slopes. Here we will see Black-breasted Tit (which lives only in Asian mountains from the Western Tien Shan to Himalayas), White-headed Bunting, Blue Whistling Thrush, Hume's Whitethroat, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Grey-headed Goldfinch, Striated Flycatcher, Yellow-brested Tit. The target birds are: Black-breasted Tit, Yellow-brested Tit, Blue Whistling Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush.

Black-breasted Tit (Parus rufonuchalis)/Таласский Алатау

Day 11. Departure to Almaty.

General Information. Weather during beginning of June is usually sunny with a very low chance of precipitation, with an average temperature of +25+30 degrees Celsius. However, mountain areas are slightly colder, with an average temperature decrease of 10-15 degrees Celsius, which is why travellers need to bring warm clothing (sweaters, hats, light jackets should be sufficient). There are no special requirements for the tour in terms of health risks and physical shape. There are only one long walk (about 10 km) without a risk of malaise at high altitudes. Main accommodation will be resorts and various camping spots. In terms of food, local cuisine slightly resembles Middle Eastern. Most of the food is not spicy. Size of the group is minimum 4, and maximum 10 people. Citizens of 56 states can visit Kazakhstan without visas. Foreign citizens can freely move in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Price € 980. Deposit € 250.

Contact person. Anar Issabekova (

Big Year 2018

supported by

1. Askar Isabekov (134)
2. Boris Gubin (112)
3. Alexandr Belyaev (84)
4. Alexandr Katuncev (71)
5. Anna Yasko (67)

rare birds records

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)

© Askar Isabekov
Sorbulak lake system. Almaty oblast.

First photo of rare wintering species in Sorbulak, and generelly in SE Kazakhstan. Before this record male and female were observed in flock of Tufted Ducks at February 2nd, 2003; and single bird at Jabuary 18th, February 21st, and March 13th of 2004 (Belyalov, Karpov 2012).

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

© Alexandr Belyaev
Almaty region, g. Taldykorgan

Second record of Dunncock in South-Easten Kazkahstan. Only one record for region was known before: at January 10, 1993 in northern foothills of Zailisky Alatau ridge, in sandthorn thickets of Chilik river four Dunncocks were recorded (Губин, 2002).

Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus)

© Askar Isabekov
Sorbulak lake system. Almaty oblast.

First winter record in Sorbulak lakes. Only spring records are known before this one: May 30, 1995 (Erokhov, 2002), April 11, 1999 (Grachev, 2002), and April 23, 2017 (Dyakin, In winter time Pygmy Cormorant is not rare in Chardara reservoir (Erokhov et al, 2006; Kovalenko, Kravchenko, 2007; Kovalenko, Karpov, 2008); recent years was observed in Taraz (Kolbintsev, 2009; M.Nukusbekov,; A.Balykin,, in foothill part of Chu river valley (Belyalov, Karpov, 2009), one specimen was photographed at December 23, 2017 in Taldykurgan vicinity (A.Belyaev,

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

© Malik Nukusbekov
Ertai. Zhambyl oblast.

Rare observation of Black Kite in Kazakhstan in winter time. Previously in winter time recorded in Almaty oblast (Karpov, Belyalov, 2009; Berezovikov, 2014; S.Shmygalev,; in Mangyshlak (Yasko, 2017); and in Chardara (A.Kovalenko,

Березовиков Н.Н. 2014. Зимняя встреча черноухого коршуна Milvus migrans lineatus в городе Алматы // Рус. орнитол. журн. 23 (1082): 3957.
Карпов Ф.Ф., Белялов О.В. 2009. О зимней встрече чёрного коршуна в Алматинской области // Selevinia: 234.
Ясько А.О. 2017. Орнитологические наблюдения в городе Актау // Рус. орнитол. журн. 26 (1399): 382-394.