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493 photographed species of 521 (94%)
found 21 new species for Kazakhstan


Birding Tours in Kazakhstan

One-day birding tours

Almaty city. There are some intersting birding spots in Almaty area. They are located both in highlands of Tien Shan mountains and desert area. All year around we have possibility to watch birds. Vicinity of Big Almaty lake (2500 m) and Sorbulak lakes are the good examples of the year-round birdwatching spots.

Big Almaty Lake is located in Ozernoe gorge of Ile-Alatau ridge. In spring and summer seasons the most intersting habitat in this location is the juniper thickets, which are the breeding habitat for many of little Passerines of Tien Shan highlands, such as Black-throated Accentor, White-browed Tit-Warbler, White-winged Grosbeack, Himalayan Rubythroat, Blue-capped Redstart. Up of juniper thickets, in the rocks of the alpine belt the Himalayan Accentor, Guldenstadt's Redstart, Brown Accentor live. Some of birds are available for watching both in summer and in winter, for example Brown Accentor and White-winged Grosbeak. Ibisbill, the rare bird of highland gravels, is also watchable year-round.

Sorbulak lakes are located at 80 km from Almaty. The spring and autumn migration seasons are the most interesting times in Sorbulak, these seasons thousands of Ducks and Waders stay to rest in lakes. In summer the Dalmatian Pelicans, Great Cormorants, White-tailed Sea-Eagles, Black-winged Stilts, Caspian Gulls, Black-headed Gulls breed in lakes. Recent years the rare and unusual White-headed Duck nests in Sorbulak. Winter is the time when in unfreezing channels and wormwoods we have chance to watch different Ducks, Green Sandpipers, Little Grebes, sometimes Whooper Swans, but in near-lakes fields the Long-eared Owls, Rough-legged Buzzards, Eastern Buzzards, White-tailed Sea-Eagles, Great Grey Shrikes, and different species of Buntings too.

In addition to these popular birding spots there are some other ones, which priority could be mainest depending on season or specific situation. When you select the spot of watching, please keep in mind that guide's recommendation is always based in his knowlages of local birds, thier biology and habitat.

There are some restrictions on movement in mountains in the time of avalanches and floodwaters. Mostly short birding tours means movement by car with the short distance hiking in points of watching. But for customers the long distance (10-15 kms two way) hiking birding tours in mountains are also available. In two-days tours the spending the night is in tents.

Astana. The best birdatching spot in Astana area is Korgalzhyn. The presence of numerous of fresh and salty lakes, unique steppe landscapes means the plenty of birds. Birding in this area is available from end of April to September. During the spring and autumn migration you have opportunity to watch many siberian birds, mostly Waders and Waterfowls. In spring and summer the Greater Flamingos are available to watch here. Korgalzhyn is the northern-most breeding spot of Greater Flamingo in the world. But the most interesting species for birdwatchers are the special steppe birds, such as Black Lark, White-winged Lark, Sociable Lapwing, Black-winged Pratincole. Definitly Korgalzhyn is the best spot in the world to watch these birds.

Watching the White-headed Ducks / May 2013

Group of birdwatcher in highlands of Tien Shan/ February 2018

At the colony of Sand Martins / May 2013

Canyin of Ili river / July 2015

Conditions of tour:

program is free, depanded to season and wishes of customer
duration: 1 day (3 days in a row maximum)
destination < 150 km
season: year-around
number of customers: 1-2
food: 1 time (lunch)
no accommodation
no transfer from/to airport
Almaty. 1-day tour - € 70-120 one person, depending the duration of tour.
Astana. 1-day tour - € 95 евро one person, transfer from/to Astana is available for additional payment.

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

rare birds records

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

© Askar Isabekov
Sorbulak lake system. Almaty oblast.

First winter record for Sorbulak (-10 ° С). Before that, the latest sighting at Sorbulak was on November 24, 2006 (3 birds, Belyalov, Karpov, 2013). Twice the wintering of Pied Avocet were recorded on Shardara (7 birds on January 14, 2018 and 35 birds on January 11, 2020, B. M. Gubin, S. Baskakova, A. Isabekov).

Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens)

© Askar Isabekov
Komsomol. Sorbulak lake system. Almaty oblast.

First winter record of the Buff-bellied Pipit.

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

© Vladimir Vorobyov
VKO Katon-Karagay

The third record of the species for the Katon-Karagai state national nature park and the fourth for the Southern Altai. Before single birds were seen during spring migration and in winter on April 30 and December 11, 2005 in the gardens of the village Katon-Karagai (Starikov 2006, Chelyshev 2006), as well as on December 3, 2018, two robins were seen in the northern spurs of the Narym ridge (Berezovikov 2019).

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)

© Alexandr Fedulin

A rare record for the Korgalzhyn reserve. In total, 3 sightings are known: one bird each on December 5, 1986 and November 27, 2008, two birds - on May 1, 2009. // Кошкин А.В. 2017. Орнитофауна Тениз-Коргалжынского региона (Центральный Казахстан) // Рус. орнитол. журн. 26 (1415): 909-956.

unidentified birds


Сергей Л. Волков: Чтобы такие признаки смущали не столь сильно, надо выкладывать фото в разных ракурсах или позах, если, конечно, таковые есть.На мой взгляд, [....]


Robert Parker: Hello Sergey, yes I also think it is a thrush. But the bird's beak looks unusual so I was confused.Google: Здравствуйте Сергей, да я тоже думаю, что это молочница. Но клюв птицы выглядит [....]

more unidentified birds...