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Birding Tours in Kazakhstan

Pander's Ground Jay tour (April 18 - April 28, 2022)

Day 1. Arriving to Zhabagly village. Visiting Ulken Kaindy gorge of Aksu-Zhabagly Reserve (Talas Alatau ridge). The main habitat of gorge is grove of tall junuper. Most intersting species for birdwatchers are Rufous-naped Tit, White-capped Bunting, Yellow-breasted Tit, Hume's Whitethroat, and also Whit-winged Grosbeak, Red-mantled Rosefinch, Blue-capped Redstart, Golden Eagle, Lammergeier, Booted Eagle. In this gorge we have a chance to view Himalayan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus). Spending night is in guest house in Zhabagly village. Main birds of the day: Rufous-naped Tit, White-capped Bunting, Yellow-breasted Tit.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi leucogaster) / Berkara

Day 2. Darbaza. This natural boundary is formed by the several rocks of sedimentary origin. There is a dry desert around these rocks. The boundary is located at about one hour driving 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.

After the lunch we visit the Berkara gorge. This gorge is located in Karatau ridge and (as some similar neighbour ones) is the green and cool oasis with strong border 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 Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Pigeon, Laughing, Collared and Oriental Turtle Doves regularly breed. The target birds of the day are: Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Egyptian Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Eastern Rock Nuthatch. Spending night is in Zhabagly village.

Days 3-4. Go to the plain part of Southern Kazakhstan. The distance of the road is 220 km. Two day we will stay in Shoshkakol. Shoshkakol is the system of marshy lakes covered by reeds. There we watch Pygmy and Great Cormorants, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Garganeys, Red-crested Pochards, Ferruginous Ducks, White-tailed Lapwing and probably Spoonbill and Great White Pelican. In migration tome large flocks of Greylag and Greater White-fronted Geese and also different species of Ducks and Waders are observed in lakes. The target birds of the day are: White-tailed Lapwing, Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck, Great White Pelican. Spending night is Arstanbab village.

Pander's Ground Jay (Podoces panderi) / Kyzylkum desert

Day 5-6. Kyzylkum desert is one of largest deserts of Central Asia. We are go to Kyzylkum for Pander's Ground Jay. Places of habitat of this bird are located quite a far from the main roads, Ground Jay lives by the secret way of life. We start the looking for this bird in early morning. After the watching of Ground Jay we visit some of desert wells in which we have possibility to view desert birds coming to drink water. We have two days for finding Pander's Ground Jay, second day is second chance in case of unsuccessful firs day. The main target bird of these two days is of course Pander's Ground Jay. Other interesting birds are Desert Finch, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Steppe Grey Shrike, Little Owl, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Finsch's Wheatear, Syke's Warbler. Also we have a chance to watch Macqueen's Bustard. Spending nights is in Arstanbab village hotel.

Day 7. 200 km distance driving to foothills of Karatau ridge. In the mornig we visit the important historical landmark, the mousoleum of Hodja Akhmet Yassavi in Turkestan city. After the lunch we go to Karatau mountains. In this part Karatau is very scenic rock massive with a lot of streams and little rivers. There is a habitat of Chukar Partridges, Eastern Rock Nuthatchs, Eurasian Crag Martins, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Golden Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Egyptian Vulture. Spending night is in hotel of Chulak-Kurgan village.

Day 8. Kelinshektau Rocks is very scenic, almost vertical rocks, almost without any woody and shrubby vegetation. Rocks borders with the dry semi-desert. During the visit this place we watch the inhabitants of desert (Calandra, Greater Short-toed, Crested and probably Bimaculated and Oriental Sky 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. After the lunch we visit 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: Griffon Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Oriental Skylark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Spending night is in Chulak-Kurgan.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) / Kelinshektau

Day 9. Day of transferring to Shymkent (200 km). Visitng of Koshkarata gorge. In the valley of Koshkarata river there are many wild fruit and berry trees and bushes. Coasts of river are covered by the dense thickets of Ash trees. During two-hour birding in the gorge Koshkarata we see White-crowned Penduline Tit, Black Stork, Egyptian Vulture, Pied Wheatear, and probably Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Indian Golden Oriole. Spending night is in Shymkent city.

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

Black-breasted Tit (Parus rufonuchalis)/Таласский Алатау

Day 11. Departure from 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 6 people. Citizens of 56 states can visit Kazakhstan without visas. Foreign citizens can freely move in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Price € 1800. Deposit € 270.

Contact person. Anar Issabekova (anarissabekova@birds.kz)

rare birds records

Trumpeter Finch (Bucanetes githagineus)

© Fedor Shakula
The second record of the species on the territory of Kazakhstan. Observed by a group of 6 ornithologists on the eastern coast of the Aral Sea on May 11-12, 2022 and on the northern coast on May 12-13, 2022, where, according to S. Baskakova, it was especially numerous - several males singing at the same time on clayey chinks. For the first time this species was recorded on May 9, 2018 in Mangistau in the Karagie depression near the Ashibulak spring (see the site gallery).

The northernmost record of the Trumpeter Finch on the territory of Kazakhstan. A few more southern records are known: on the territory of Mangystau, on artesians near the village of Kanshengel, both in nesting and non-nesting time. Also recently, in the Turkestan region in the Karatau mountains in the eastern part of the Kyzylkum desert, on May 9-10, 2021, two pairs of the Trumpeter Finch and an unfinished nest, subsequently abandoned, were found (Fedorenko, 2022).

Pale Rock-Finch (Carpospiza brachydactyla)

© Fedor Shakula
Kyzylorda region, northern coast of Butakov Bay on the Aral Sea

The second record of the species on the territory of Kazakhstan. Observed by a group of 6 ornithologists on the eastern coast of the Aral Sea on May 11-12, 2022 and on the northern coast on May 12-13, 2022, where, according to S. Baskakova, it was especially numerous - several males singing at the same time on clayey chinks. For the first time this species was recorded on May 9, 2018 in Mangistau in the Karagie depression near the Ashibulak spring (see the site gallery).

Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)

© Anna Yasko
Aktau, Mangystau

Rare record to western part of Kazakhstan. Prior to this, two birds were observed in Kenderli on May 6, 2009 (Neve et al., 2010), one bird - in the northern Caspian on April 10, 2015 (Karpov, 2015).

Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata)

© Alexandr Fedulin

The first registration in Central Kazakhstan and the farthest record to the east from the range and, possibly, the most northern one. In Kazakhstan, the Semi-collared Flycatcher occurs on migration off the coast of the Caspian Sea.

unidentified birds


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