So our planned day out yesterday in the Kazakhstan Steppes failed to materialise because of unexpected and unavoidable commitments. That’s twice now that I have published my intentions and they have failed – maybe I should keep my keyboard finger to myself in future. In truth though, business takes precedence every time unfortunately. It is a fact of life that necessity comes before desire. I’ll go again soon enough.
So as a consolation gift to myself, I took an early walk around Almaty’s Gogol Park this morning , two blocks from our apartment. It was a beautiful sunny warm autumn morning with temps reaching into the high teens and a warm sun beaming down. Not too many people about early on unlike in the height of summer – just a few passing through on the way to work, a few joggers & strollers and of course the (noisy) park maintenance teams. The park always looks good and clean so no complaints there.
I approached as usual through a small west gate and strolled to the north of the park lake. I often also take a stroll around the zoo to the East of the park – entrance fee 700 Tenge in summer and 500 Tenge in winter – that’s <US$4 and <US$3 respectively. In summer the zoo gates open at 09.00 but the summer is apparently over and opening time is now 10.00. That put paid to a visit today. The zoo is run well-enough but it’s never a pleasure to see caged animals. However, that’s not what I go for. The bird life in the zoo area is better than the main park – greater variety of types and sizes of trees, bushes and shrubbery, food to be scavenged, small ponds and lakes of varying depths kept ice free in places in winter. Its good for migrating birds too.
My stroll in the park continued to the south a little way, where there are some smaller bushes -the rest of the park has mainly tall trees – oaks and elms in the main, with a few birch too and several Scots Pines. I then wandered back northwards and left through the same gate.
I invariably see Feral Pigeons, Great Tits and Common Mynas in great numbers. I always see Magpies, Blackbirds and House Sparrows. I often see Collared Doves. I sometimes see Wood Pigeons and Great-spotted Woodpeckers. In winter large numbers of Rooks and Hooded Crows are present (they migrate North in summer) – although the Rooks have returned now (mid-Sept EVERY year without fail), I have yet to see a Hoodie this autumn. Everything else I see in the park is seasonal, migratory or occasional. Today’s highlight in addition to a fine male Great-spotted Woodpecker was a migrating Rock Bunting. My count for this walk was 11 – about average. In all this year I have spotted 35 different species on this walk – there is usually something to excite.
Photos from this mornings stroll: