Its hard to beat autumn in Almaty Kazakhstan. From mid-September until mid-November, sometimes later, apart from the odd wet snowy squall, the weather is fine, mild and usually sunny. And this was exactly what we enjoyed at Sorbulak on Monday: sunny day, +16C, no breeze (except on high exposed places on the steppes). The leaves may be all but gone and daylight shortening, but it is still very comfortable and pleasant to be out in the wilderness. Spring is good too but often wet; summer is hot, sometimes very hot; winter is snow covered, windy but very often sunny. I have to close my south-facing office blinds on sunny mornings all year round to be able to see my computer (and to stop it from melting) and there are not many days in the year when I don’t have to close my blinds.
On Monday, we headed out into the Kazakh Steppes to check out the latest migration situation. The highlights (with some photos at the end of post) were:
– huge numbers of Tree Sparrows at several locations – where did they all suddenly come from?
– over 100 Steppe Eagles at a chicken farm waste dump
– Upland Buzzards on the steppes, or were they dark Long-legged Buzzards? So difficult to identify Buteos in Central Asia. Still debating my photos with friends and experts.
– About 20 White-tailed Eagles at Sorbulak Lake
– A first sighting for me in Kazakhstan of Black-throated Loon/Diver Gavia arctica in winter plumage (unless it was immature) at Sorbulak. A little bit south in the range so a good sighting
– First pair of Goosander (Common Merganser) of the winter at Sorbulak
– Huge raft of over 200 wildfowl offshore at Sorbulak Lake, including Red-crested Pochard (mostly), Tufted Ducks, Mallard, Gadwall and Coots
– Approx 70 Whooper Swans including several cygnets
Bird list for the day (44 species):
Upland or Long-legged Buzzard – the jury is still out