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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

White-winged Snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis)

© Vladimir Vorobyov
VKO Katon-Karagay

The first record of the species in the Kazakh part of Altai, confirmed by a photo.

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)

© Qanatbek Kenzhegulov

The first reliable record of the Great Black-backed Gull on the territory of Kazakhstan. There are indications of finds of this gull in the Caspian Sea between the mouths of the Volga and the Urals, as well as near Omsk (Dolgushin 1962). Vagrant are known to the Makhachkala region (Tatarinkova 1970).

Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus)

© Askar Isabekov
Uzunagach, Almaty oblast.

A rare vagrant species for Kazakhstan. On February 27 and 28, two birds kept in the thickets of silverberries near the village of Uzynagash (43 km west of Almaty). This is the sixth record of the Dusky Thrush for Kazakhstan. Records of this species are known for the Syrdarya, near the village of Dzhulek (October 16, 1927), near Almaty (February 16, 2013), as well as Ust-Kamenogorsk (October 14 and 16, 2016), Kurgaldzhino (May 7, 2020).

Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus)

© Askar Isabekov
Almaty, Aitykov str.

The first record of Pygmy Cormorant in Almaty in general and, in particular, during the winter. The expansion of the Pygmy Cormorant to the northeast concerns not only the probable nesting area, but also the wintering grounds. The nearest winter finds are Sorbulak and Taldykorgan (winter 2017-18, one bird each). In this connection, it is worth noting a significant number of birds in the Almaty (40) and Sorbulak (20) records this winter.

unidentified birds


Анна Ясько: Сложно сказать, хохотунья или барабинская. Птица еще не во взрослом наряде, это усложняет задачу.


Анна Ясько: Каменка-плешанка, самка.

more unidentified birds...