Birding Tours in Kazakhstan

50 Mountain Species (July 1 - July 11, 2018)

Day 1. Big Boguty mountains, Kokpek. Big Boguty is dry low mountains bordered with the stony desert. In Big Buguty there are some wells which are the main watering places to the all birds breeding here including Mongolian Finch, Crimson-winged Finch, Grey-necked Bunting, Linnets, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, and Calandra, Horned (brandti) and Greater Short-toed Larks. Photographers will have chance to take very good photos because birds in this location are not timid. Also the Black-bellied and Pallas's Sangrouses and Chukar Partridges could ve observed in watering spots. In the gorges of Kokpek pass there are White-headed Bunting, Hume's Whitethroat, Rock Buntings, and we will have apportunity to watch them. Also we know the location of nest of Golden Eagle where birds regularly breed recent years. One more attraction of the day is colony of Pale Sand Martins. The target birds of the day: Mongolian Finch, Crimson-winged Finch, Grey-necked Bunting, White-headed Bunting, Golden Eagle, Pale Sand Martin.

Day 2. Canyon of Charyn river. In morning we will drive to upper of Charyn river where we plan to watch Himalayan Vultures. In the rocks of canyon there are also Common and Alpine Swifts, House Martin and Craig Martin. In the bushes of foothils we will sure to watch Meadow, Rock, Red-headed, Pine and Grey-necked Buntings, Turkestan Shrikes, Tawny Pipits. Also we will have opportunity to watch Griffon Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Lammergeier, Black Stork, Barbary Falcon, Common and Long-legged Buzzard. The target birds of the day: Himalayan Vulture, Meadow Bunting, Rock Bunting, Turkestan Shrike.

Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus hemachalanus)/ Ile Alatau National Park

Day 3. Day of moving to Big Almaty Lake. Distance is about 300 kms. The destination is Observatory in the highlands where we will stay two days and watch birds. During the road we will make stopping to rest and birding. Our road is passed in foothills of Tien Shan, we will saw Isabelline and Pied Wheatear, Turkestan Shrikes, Tawny Pipits. The roadside thickets is the habitat of Wood Pigeon (casiotis), Oriental Turtle Dove (meena), Indian Golden Oriole, Black-headed Penduline Tit. After arriving to Observatory we will rest and watch birds in vicinity.

Day 4-5. Big Almaty Lake. Two days we will be in the highlands of Tien Shan. In the first half of each day we will visit rocks near Cosmos-station (3400 m) where we watch Hodgson's Rosefinch, Guldenstadt's Redstart, Himalayan Accentor, Brown Accentor, Red-billed Chough, Yellow-billed Chough. Also in this habitat Alpine Accentor, Wallcreeper, Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeier, Golden Eagle live. Since some of the lowlanders may experience the altitude sickness' symptoms, therefore we limit the staying of our guests in highlands by 4-5 hours per day. After lunch we will watch the birds in low juniper thickets at altitude 2500 m. Here we will see Black-throated Accentor, White-winged Grosbeak, Eversman's and Blue-capped Redstarts, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Hume's Warbler, Spotted Nutcracker, White-browed Tit-Warbler, Red-mantled Rosefinch, Himalayan Rubythroat. Some of birds of juniper thickets we may watch right in the territory of Observatory where we will stay. All the birds of highlands are interesting, but we belive that Himalayan Rubythroat, White-browed Tit-Warbler, Guldenstadt's Redstart are most

Himalayan Accentor (Prunella himalayana)/ Chimbulak

Day 6. Day of moving to Western Tien Shan. Distance about 600 km. In the midway we will make a short stopping for lunch near the nest of White Strok (Ciconia ciconia asiatica). In evening we arrive to Berkara gorge where we will stay during next three days. In gorge there are Asian Paradise Flycatchers and some Eurasian species of local subspecies, such as Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus casiotis), серая мухоловка (Muscicapa striata sarudnyi), which we can to view in evening time.

Day 7. 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 8. Aksu-Zhabagly State Reserve. Depending on the traing level of the participents of group, we either have tracking in Kshi-Kaindy gorge or visit the canyon of Aksu river. In both cases we will watch the representatives of Himalayan fauna, such as Black-breasted Tit, White-headed Bunting, Blue Whistling thrush. We also will have a good chance to view many other species, for example Eurasian Griffon, Lammergeier, Hume's Whitethroat, Yellow-breasted Tit. The target birds of the day are: Black-breasted Tit, White-headed Bunting, Blue Whistling thrush, Yellow-breasted Tit.

Guldenstadt's Redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogaster grandis)/ Cosmostation

Day 9. 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.

Day 10. 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 Golden Eagle, Upcher's Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat (halimadendri), Chuckar Partridge. The target birds of the day are: Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Golden Eagle.

Day 11. Departure to Almaty.

Himalayan Rubythroat (Luscinia pectoralis ballioni)/ Big Almaty lake

We will spend 10 days in the mountains of Tian Shan during which we will be able to see 50 different species of mountain birds:

1. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

2. Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus)

3. Eurasian Gryphon (Gyps fulvus)

4. Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)

5. Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides)

6. Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar)

7. Eurasian Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris)

8. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

9. Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)

10. Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes)

11. Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)

12. Yellow-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus)

13. Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris)

14. Himalayan Accentor (Prunella himalayana)

15. Brown Accentor (Prunella fulvescens)

16. Black-throated Accentor (Prunella atrogularis)

17. Hume's Whitethroat (Sylvia althaea)

18. Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides)

19. Hume's Warbler (Phylloscopus humei)

20. Sulphur-bellied Warbler (Phylloscopus griseolus)

21. Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)

22. White-browed Tit-Warbler (Leptopoecile sophiae)

23. Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis)

24. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)

25. Blue-capped Redstart (Phoenicurus caeruleocephalus)

26. Eversmann's Redstart (Phoenicurus erythronotus)

27. Guldenstadt's Redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogaster)

28. Himalayan Rubythroat (Luscinia pectoralis)

29. Blackbird (Turdus merula)

30. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

31. Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus)

32. White-crowned Penduline Tit (Remiz coronatus)

33. Songar Tit (Parus songarus)

34. Coal Tit (Parus ater)

35. Black-breasted Tit (Parus rufonuchalis)

36. Yellow-breasted Tit (Parus flavipectus)

37. Azure Tit (Parus cyanus)

38. Eastern Rock Nuthatch (Sitta tephronota)

39. Common Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)

40. Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia)

41. Red-fronted Serin (Serinus pusillus)

42. Grey-headed Goldfinch (Carduelis caniceps)

43. Hodgson's Rosefinch (Leucosticte nemoricola)

44. Brandt's Rosefinch (Leucosticte brandti)

45. Crimson-winged Finch (Rhodopechys sanguinea)

46. Mongolian Finch (Bucanetes mongolicus)

47. Red-mantled Rosefinch (Carpodacus rhodochlamys)

48. Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

49. White-winged Grosbeak (Mycerobas carnipes)

50. White-capped Bunting (Emberiza stewarti)

51. Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)

52. Meadow Bunting (Emberiza cioides)

53. Grey-necked Bunting (Emberiza buchanani)

General Information. July in Tian Shan is usually sunny with very rare precipitation, and temperatures around +25 to +30 C during daytime, and +10 to +15 C during nighttime. You need to bring warm clothing with you, a warm sweater along with a light jacket should suffice. There are no specific health requirements, but travellers need to be ready for long hikes lasting several hours. Since we are going to be spending time in the mountains, there will be vertical climbs several hundred meters long. All accommodation is provided and included in the price, and will consist of resorts and various camping spots. Several nights will be spent in tents. 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 inside the country. The list of such countries can be found here.

Price € 1180. Deposit € 350.

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.