Len and Anne Murray
Trip Report: Central Mongolia June 5 – 16, 2013
by ANNE MURRAY Download full trip report pdf
Tour leaders: Mongolian Ornithological Society Unurjargal Enkhbat (Unuruu), Batmunkh Davaasuren, Moojii Myagmar; professional advice Professor Gombobaatar Sundev
Participants: Len and Anne Murray
Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides). One at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen; flock of about 25 at Lake Ugii.
This was our first tour in Mongolia, with the aim of finding birds and other wildlife in some of the more accessible parts of the Mongolian steppe. It would not have been possible without the expert assistance of our team from the Mongolian Ornithological Society who organized the itinerary, transportation, meals and accommodation, as well as providing full-time interpretation, birding and cultural guidance. We observed 145 confirmed bird species on the 12-day trip and several other possible species. Many thanks to our enthusiastic young guides and our reliable and friendly driver, Bayasaa.
Upland Buzzard (Buteo hemilasius). Close up views regularly from van as we drove through the steppe. First one seen at Hustai Nuruu NP; also seen around Lake Ugii environs and in Uvurkhangai province. Pair on nest with two large young at Lake Ugii.
Bird identification challenges for us included not having a detailed field guide specifically for Mongolian birds and little access to the internet for sound identification. During the trip we used Norman Arlott’s Guide to Birds of Europe, Russia, China and Japan, together with the Smithsonian Guide to the Birds of East Asia, together with a check list provided by Professor Gomboobaatar and his photographic guide book. Prof. Gomboo’s new guide book was not yet ready. Some European birds were already very familiar; the Central Asian species were generally new for us.
Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug). Mongolia’s State Bird and a regular feature of the steppe landscape. First seen near Hustai Nuruu NP and then at a number of locations where habitat was suitable. We found active nests at several rocky outcrops in Uvurkhangai province.
We were very pleased to get excellent views of the majority of the 145 species we confirmed, including sought after birds like the Great Bustard, White-naped Crane, Pallas’ Fish Eagle, Bar-headed Goose, Relict Gull, Pallas’ Sand Grouse, and Oriental Plover. Our distant sighting of the Dalmatian Pelican in very inclement weather at Lake Ugii was an exciting bonus! As well as birds, we saw many other wildlife species, beautiful scenery, and fascinating cultural sites. In all, it was an excellent tour and great fun.
Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo). We saw many pairs and flocks of these beautiful cranes throughout the trip. One flock had 75 birds. Chicks were just hatching (photograph) and a distraction display was observed in Uvurkhangai province.
12 Day Tour Itinerary
June 5 Departure from Ulaan Bataar 10.00 am (delayed start because of a visit to the clinic for Anne); overnight at Hustai Nuruu National Park (forest and mountain steppe)
June 6 Hustai Nuruu National Park for Przewalski wild horse, larks, vultures, then to . Borogchin Lake – Zaan complex near Dashinchilen (stepee and mountain steppe with lakes and marshes) for wetland species, especially White-naped Crane. Overnight in Elephant Complex Hotel, Dashinchilen.
June 7 Zaan Complex to Ugii Lake (large fresh water lake and caragana steppe) for fish eagles, waterfowl, shorebirds. Overnight in ger camp.
June 8 Another exploration of Ugii Lake then a drive to Kharkhorin through mountain steppe. Visited Turkish Museum and Erdene Zuu. Overnight in ger camp.
Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) Common around ger camps, where its cheerful call notes woke us in the morning. Also in UB. Breeding record at Lake Ugii: a parent and chicks on a nest in an outhouse.
June 9 Explored hillside slopes above Orkhon Gol at Kharkhorin then drove to Uvurkhangai town, Arvayheer. Night in hotel.
June 10 Explored mountain and stony steppe south of Uvurkhangai town; visited horse monument. Overnight in tent by Bulag Lake.
June 11 Continued exploration of stony steppe, then back to Arvayheer, then to Sangyin dalai lake for wetland species, Whooper Swans. Headed north east to Elsentasarkhai sand dunes (steppe and mountain steppe). Night in ger camp.
June 12 Explored sand dunes, and little lake nearby, which was very productive (Eurasian Spoonbills, nesting Arctic Loon, Bar-headed Goose.) Camel ride. Exploration of rocky hillsides north of dunes. Night in ger camp.
Small Snowfinch (Pere David's Snowfinch) Montifringilla davidiana Quite commonly seen on the steppe. Our first sighting in a field of camels and horses en route from Hustai to Dashinchilen was one feeding two chicks on the ground.
June 13 After a brief stop at the rocky hillsides for Rock Thrush we drove to Moltsog Els tourist camp, via Zaan complex at Dashinchilen again (This detour was at Len and Anne’s request as we enjoyed the birding there on June 6 and also hoped for a reported nesting Asian Dowitcher. However, herds of horses and clouds of mosquitoes made our birding less productive than the earlier visit, although we did get Bearded Tit and a few other species, including two pairs of White-naped Crane). Overnight in ger camp.
June 14 Moltsog Els to Terelj Taiga forest via UB. 4 hour horse riding trek. Overnight in ger camp.
June 15 Terelj Taiga forest, for woodpeckers, warblers, Olive-backed Pipit, Pine Bunting.
June 16 Early morning birding at Terelj then return to UB.
Bird Species List
Black-throated Loon (Arctic Loon) Gavia arctica Great views of a pair nesting at Elsentasarkhai Lake.
Black-necked Grebe (Eared Grebe) Podiceps nigricollis Several nesting pairs at Elsentasarkhai Lake.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus Regularly seen on steppe lakes, e.g. Lake Ugii (several pairs)
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena One only, at Zaan complex, Dashinchilen. Pelicans
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus An extraordinary sighting at Lake Ugii, far out in the lake, in windy conditions.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Good numbers on Lake Ugii (at least 100) and occasional on smaller steppe lakes.
Bitterns, herons and egrets
Gray Heron Ardea cinerea 3 in Uvurkhangai province steppe; 2 at Sangyin dalai lake, 2 over Elsentasarkhai sand dunes and one at lake there, one at Terelj, by Tuul River.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra One nesting in the granite gorge of Hustai Nuruu NP; one flying up from the Orkhon Gol at Kharkhorin (Harhorin); and two overhead at the desert steppe south of Arvayheer.
Ibises and spoonbills
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia Excellent sighting of 5 together at Elsentasarkhai lake.
Ducks, geese and swans
Mute Swan Cygnus olor One with Whoopers on Lake Ugii
Whooper Swan Cygnus Cygnus Several flocks at Lake Ugii (20 plus) and other steppe lakes. We counted at least 200 swans at Sanyiin Dalai lake and many smaller steppe lakes had one or two swans. Breeding record (swan with five cygnets at Sanyiin Dalai).
Swan Goose Anser cygnoides One at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen; flock of about 25 at Lake Ugii.
Greylag Goose Anser anser A couple at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen
Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen; flock of ~ 20 in Lake Ugii, 40 or so at Elsentasarkhai lake including many large goslings, a few at Sanyiin Dalai lake and other smaller steppe lakes.
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea The common duck of Central Mongolia. We saw them in a wide range of habitats from rocky outcrops and salt lakes in the desert steppe, to larger lakes, uplands, and river valleys. Often in flocks but also breeding pairs. One pair on a salt lake in Uvurkhangai province had 6 ducklings, another pair at Bulag Lake had 9.
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna Fairly common, Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen, Sanyiin Dalai lake, and on many of the smaller steppe lakes.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope A few at Sanyiin Dalai lake, Bulag Lake (Bulag Khairkhan) in Uvurkhangai province, occasional at other steppe lakes.
Gadwall Anas strepera A few at Lake Ugii, steppe lakes in Uvurkhangai province.
Eurasian Teal (Common Teal) Anas crecca Several at Bulag Lake (Bulag Khairkhan) in Uvurkhangai province, Sanyiin Dalai lake, and at other steppe lakes.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Steppe lakes throughout trip.
Northern Pintail Anas acuta A few at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen; Sanyiin Dalai lake, occasional at other lakes.
Garganey Anas querquedula A male at Bulag Lake (Bulag Khairkhan) in Uvurkhangai province.
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen, Sanyiin Dalai lake, and at smaller steppe lakes.
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina A flock of 10 - 20 molting birds was present at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen on our second visit there, and an individual was seen flying at Lake Ugii.
Common Pochard Aythya ferina Several at Sanyiin Dalai lake in Uvurkhangai, Elsentasarkhai lake (pairs) and at smaller steppe lakes.
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula Finally got some of these ducks on Sanyiin Dalai lake, second visit and then at Elsentasarkhai lake there were several pairs.
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula Flocks of several hundred at Lake Ugii; individuals at other steppe lakes.
Common Merganser Mergus merganser At least two pairs were present in the upper reaches of the Tuul valley at Terelj. A male did circular flights at dawn around the area we were birding.
Hawks, kites and eagles
Black Kite Milvus migrans Very common throughout Central Mongolia; breeding (nest) in Hustai Nuruu NP.
Pallas's Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus An immature was successfully found and observed for some time at the west end of Lake Ugii. Originally located by some other European birders who were camping there.
White-tailed Sea Eagle (White-tailed Eagle) Haliaeetus albicilla Great views of a pair interacting and a juvenile being fed at Lake Ugii. Another juvenile was later observed on the north side of the lake.
Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus Great views of two with other vultures at Hustai Nuruu NP.
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis Several in Hustai Nuruu NP in flock with Cinereous Vultures. One seen on a mountain peak southwest of Avayheer town, Uvurkhangai province (early morning birding with Batmunkh).
Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus One seen in mountain steppe southwest of Arwaikheer town, Uvurkhangai province (early morning birding with Batmunkh).
Cinereous Vulture (Eurasian Black Vulture) Aegypius monachus Excellent close up views of 3 at Hustai Nuruu NP, followed by a mixed flock of 16 CIVU and HIGR wheeling in the sky and hopping on the ground. Also seen in mountain steppe southwest of Arwaikheer town, Uvurkhangai province.
Eastern Marsh-Harrier Circus spilonotus One flying low over reed beds and ponds at Zaan complex near Dashinchilen on our first visit.
Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo One, seen in steppe habitat.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus Dark morph observed close to road in Arwaikheer Steppe, Uvurkhangai province.
Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius Close up views regularly from van as we drove through the steppe. First one seen at Hustai Nuruu NP; also seen around Lake Ugii environs and in Uvurkhangai province. Pair on nest with two large young at Lake Ugii.
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis Regularly sighted, including from road west of UB; 3 juveniles play-fighting in Hustai Nuruu NP; road to Lake Ugii; around Kharkhorin, and in the desert steppe of Uvurkhangai.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos Good views at Hustai Nuruu NP; a juvenile from road to Lake Ugii; one overhead in mountains north of Elsentasarkhai.
Booted Eagle Aquila pennatus Good views at Hustain Nuruu NP (3) and Uvurkhangai Province.
Caracaras and falcons
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Quite regularly seen hunting over steppe, e.g. between Dashinchilen and Lake Ugii, in Kharkhorin town centre and a pair in a poplar hedgerow south of the city,
Amur Falcon Falco amurensis Our only sighting of this beautiful and sought after species was one sitting on a roadside wire in Hustai Nuruu NP.
Merlin Falco columbarius One in flight over steppe during drive to Elsentasarkhai.
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo A pair sat quietly in birch trees in the Tariat valley in Hustai Nuruu NP; a couple of other sightings later in the trip.
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug Mongolia’s State Bird and a regular feature of the steppe landscape. First seen near Hustai Nuruu NP and then at a number of locations where habitat was suitable. We found active nests at several rocky outcrops in Uvurkhangai province.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus AM saw one interacting with a Black Kite and calling, in lightly forested hillside habitat at Orkhon Gol valley, Kharkhorin.
Anne caught fleeting glimpses of a large black grouse species while we were horse riding and we heard grouse sp. calling on a couple of other occasions but could not see them. Not sure which one or both of these species they were.
Black-billed Capercaillie Tetrao parvirostris
Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix
Pheasants and partridges
Daurian Partridge Perdix dauurica We roused several coveys while hiking in Hustai Nuruu National Park.
Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo We saw many pairs and flocks of these beautiful cranes throughout the trip. One flock had 75 birds.
White-naped Crane Grus vipio All sightings tat the Zaan complex near Dashinchilen, one individual seen on June 6 and then two pairs on June 13.
Rails, crakes, gallinules, and coots
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Several seen on lakes, e.g. Zaan complex near Dashinchilen, Elsentasarkhai Lake.
Great Bustard Otis tarda Spectacular sighting of one strolling right beside the road as we were driving; between Dashinchilen and Lake Ugii. Bird of the trip!
Avocets and stilts
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Common breeding birds in the wetlands: Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen (distraction displays by a pair), salt lakes in desert steppe, Uvurkhangai province.
Pied Avocet (Avocet) Recurvirostra avosetta Common breeding birds in the steppe wetlands, especially salt lakes in desert steppe, Uvurkhangai province.
Plovers and lapwings
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus In wet grassland around steppe lakes: Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen; Sanyiin Dalai lake; salt lakes in desert steppe, Uvurkhangai province.
Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulva One at west end of Ugii Lake with P. squatarola
Black-bellied Plover (Grey Plover) Pluvialis squatarola One at west end of Ugii Lake with P. fulva
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Very common, one or two seen at most steppe lakes we visited, including Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen, Lake Ugii, and salt lakes in desert steppe of Uvurkhangai province.
Snowy Plover (Kentish Plover) Charadrius alexandrinus One with Little Ringed Plovers at salt lake south of Avayheer town, Uvurkhangai province and one at Bulag Lake.
Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus Spectacular bird of the desert steppe. Our first one was spotted south of Arvayheer town, Uvurkhangai province, with many more seen as we looped south over the steppe. Breeding records: female sitting on nest and other pairs with chicks.
Sandpipers and allies
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa Three in full breeding plumage at Bulag Lake (Bulag Khairkhan)and six at Sanyiin Dalai lake in Uvurkhangai province.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus Regular in small numbers: Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen; Sanyiin Dalai lake in Uvurkhangai; salt lakes in desert steppe, Uvurkhangai;
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Seen at Lake Ugii, Sanyiin Dalai lake, a couple of other steppe lakes and rivers, and also Tuul River, Terelj NP.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Flock of five birds at west end of Lake Ugii together with a Curlew Sandpiper.
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis 3 on salt lake in Uvurkhangai province.
Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii 3 at west end of Lake Ugii.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea One at west end of Lake Ugii, with Ruddy Turnstones.
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus One at west end of Lake Ugii, with Temminck’s Stints.
Possible Herring Gull Larus argentatus Some gulls seen at Lake Ugii looked like classic Herring Gulls with their usual pink legs but apparently some Mongolian gulls have pink legs too. Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus Several seen at Lake Ugii (pale yellow legs, darkish backs).
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen and a few at Lake Ugii.
Relict Gull Larus relictus Careful observation resulted in reasonable views of several of this interesting species at the west end of Lake Ugii, despite clouds of mosquito, strong winds and intermittent driving rain!
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica Sangyin dalai lake (5) and Elsentasarkhai lake (>6)
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia Two at west end of Lake Ugii.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo longipennis Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen and groups on gravel bars at Lake Ugii. They were mostly the dark billed longipennis ssp, although a few red-billed birds were also seen.
White-winged Tern (White-winged Black Tern) Chlidonias leucopterus Spectacular bird. We had great views of a large feeding flock (over 400) at west end of Lake Ugii, doing a sort of fly-by rotation to feed on something near the ground (mosquitoes hatching?). Smaller numbers were seen at subsequent steppe lakes. Also at steppe lakes.
Pallas's Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus We had close up views of over a dozen of these beautiful birds at steppe lakes in Uvurkhangai province, as they came in to drink around 4.30 pm, and again at dawn.
Pigeons and doves
Rock Pigeon Columba livia Flocks in urban areas: UB, Arvayheer, Kharkhorin.
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto Dashinchilen town Cuckoos and anis
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus The calls of the cuckoos were the sound track for our trip! One called at Moltsog Els until the moon rose at 9.30 pm, and it was calling again as the sun rose at 5.30 am the next day. As well as hearing them frequently, we also managed to locate many and get good views. Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus This cuckoo was often heard in the same area as the Common Cuckoo, especially in Terelj. In Uvurkhangai province we saw a rufous morph on a rocky outcrop in the steppe.
Little Owl Athene noctua A pair at rocky outcrop in desert steppe, Uvurkhangai province.
Common Swift Apus apus A regular sight overhead throughout the trip, in towns and on the steppe..
Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus A regular sight overhead throughout the trip, in towns and on the steppe.
Hoopoe Upupa epops Seen in various locations: Lake Ugii (Len); Erdene Zuu monastery; Orkhin Gol valley, Kharkhorin, Uvurkhangai province
Woodpeckers and allies
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla One seen and its distinctive “quee quee quee” call heard in habitat of meadow and mature deciduous trees in the Tuul valley, Terelj.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos Great views of five individuals altogether. Males drumming and interacting in an area of meadow and mature deciduous trees in the Tuul valley, Terelj. Breeding record.
Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus We had good views of a pair in the same area of the Tuul Valley as the other woodpecker species. Breeding record (mating).
Mongolian Lark Melanicorypha mongolica A beautiful lark which was seen throughout the trip in suitable grassy steppe habitat.
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella cinerea Good view of two in desert steppe south of Arvayheer. May have been more common but generally while travelling we just recorded “steppe larks” without differentiation.
Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella cheleensis Seen close up on approach to Hustai Nuruu NP, at Moltsog Els and at salt lake in Uvurkhangai province. A common lark of the steppe.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata Seen close up by roadside Moltsog Els. May have been more common but generally while travelling we just recorded “steppe larks” without differentiation.
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis In steppe pastures, Uvurkhangai province and on northward drive from there. Often heard singing in meadows.
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris One seen at Lake Ugii, and they became much more common as we drove south. Regularly seen in steppe pastures in Uvurkhangai province.
Swallows and martins
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica A common bird in suitable habitat, around steppe lakes and ger camps. Several nests under road bridge at Zaan complex near Dashinchilen, nest in washroom block at Lake Ugii Ger Camp.
Common House-Martin Delichon urbica Quite common in suitable habitat, near lakes and ger camps.
Wagtails and pipits
White Wagtail Motacilla alba Several seen; breeding recorded at Terelj Ger Camp (carrying food for young)
Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola Excellent views at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava Most numerous at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen.
Gray Wagtail Motacilla cinerea One at Sanyiin Dalai lake
Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi One seen close to road in Uvurkhangai province.
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni Several good views obtained in forest habitats at Terelj NP.
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus 2 were seen quietly feeding in a deciduous tree in the side valley at Hustai Nuruu NP.
Thrushes and allies
Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush (Rock Thrush) Monticola saxatilis After searching for two hours one afternoon around the granite rocks north of Elsentasarkhai, we got great views early the following morning of two males interacting.
Red-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis Seen and heard in larch forest, Terelj NP.
Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus A female was skulking in a granite rock gorge in Hustai Nuruu NP, presumably a late migrant.
Old World warblers
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler (Pallas’s Warbler) Locustella certhiola Two really good views of this skulking warbler: one in streamside vegetation in steppe south of Kharkhorin and the other in reedbeds at Sanyiin Dalai lake.
Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola Heard singing in reeds at Zaan complex lake near Dashinchilen, fleeting glimpse only.
Oriental Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis A regular and conspicuous inhabitant of mature reed beds in steppe lakes. One rather disoriented bird was seen unexpectedly at a rocky outcrop in dry desert steppe, Uvurkhangai province.
Thick-billed Warbler Acrocephalus aedon Found singing and skulking in a tree in Dashinchilen community park; location previously identified by other birders staying at the hotel.
Pallas's Warbler (Pallas’ Leaf Warbler) Phylloscopus proregulus Fleeting glimpses, but we managed to positively confirm the identity of this “canary of the taiga” in several locations around Terelj using in the field iphone recordings.
Inornate Warbler (Yellow-browed Warbler) Phylloscopus inornatus A good view of this tiny bird was obtained in the granite gorge of Hustai Nuruu NP, where it was feeding fairly low down in a deciduous tree. Also heard in Terelj NP.
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis One seen and heard in small trees at Hustai NP while we walked up the side valley.
Two-barred Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides plumbeitarsus Two seen in forest edge at Tumen Khan Ger Camp, Terelj NP.
Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis Seen and heard singing in shrubby area of the valley, south of Terelj village.
Old World flycatchers
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata One in poplar hedgerow, edging farmland, south of Kharkhorin.
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica Several seen in Terelj National Park.
Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla One observed in lightly forested side valley of the Orkhin Gol, Kharkhorin.
Red-flanked Bluetail (Orange-flanked Bush-robin) Tarsiger cyanurus Rather strangely, a female was seen hopping around the forecourt of the gas station a Dashinchilen
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus Singing males seen at a side valley of the Orkhin Gol, Kharkhorin, and at Terelj.
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus Good views of a pair at a granite gorge in Hustai Nuruu NP and a single bird at Terelj NP.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe A common bird, seen throughout the trip, from UB city centre to the desert steppe of Uvurkhangai province.
Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka We found one or two in all suitable rocky valleys. They perched conspicuously while singing.
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina Common in most of the steppe habitat. Parrotbills
Bearded Reedling (Bearded Tit) Panurus biarmicus One seen in reedbeds at Zaan complex, near Dashinchilen, on second visit.
Chickadees and titmice
Willow Tit Poecile Montana Its distinctive call was heard several times in larch forest at Terelj NP.
Coal Tit Periparus ater Several seen and heard in larch forest at Terelj
Great Tit Parus major Several seen and heard in floodplain forest at Terelj
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea Seen and heard a couple of times in forest at Terelj
Isabelline Shrike (Rufous-tailed Shrike) Lanius isabellinus Excellent view of one perched in sea buckthorn plantation south of Arvayheer town.
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus AM saw one at lightly forested hillside in Orkhin Gol valley, Kharkhorin. Small group of birds gave chase to it through trees so view was brief.
Crows, jays, ravens and magpies
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica A very commonly seen bird.
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Common around ger camps, where its cheerful call notes woke us in the morning. Also in UB. Breeding record at Lake Ugii: a parent and chicks on a nest in an outhouse
Buntings, sparrows, seedeaters and allies
Pine Bunting Emberiza leucocephalos First observed in lightly forested hillside habitat outside Kharkhorin, then saw several in forest at Terelj.
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides Found in small numbers in the same habitat as the Pied Wheatear: rocky side valleys in the steppe, with small bushes; sings from an exposed perch.
Siskins, crossbills and allies
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus Seen and heard at Hustai Nuruu NP and on several occasions in river valley forest at Terelj NP.
Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus A couple in Terelj forest edge habitat.
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes At least half a dozen of these large finches were seen during the trip, usually at less than 3m height in deciduous trees: 2 at Hustai Nuruu NP, one in poplar hedgerow south of Kharkhorin.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Some seen in UB.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus Very common in urban areas, in rocky outcrops in the steppe, and around ger camps and communities. One observed at its nest in the lower part of a Black Kite nest.
Rock Sparrow (Rock Petronia) Petronia petronia Common in suitable habitat, e.g. rocks at Lake Ugii, mountain southwest of Avayheer town and rocky outcrops throughout Uvurkhangai province. Breeding records: several seen carrying food for young.
Small Snowfinch (Pere David's Snowfinch) Montifringilla davidiana Quite commonly seen on the steppe. Our first sighting in a field of camels and horses en route from Hustai to Dashinchilen was one feeding two chicks on the ground.
Takhi (Przewalski Horse)
Mongolian Ground Squirrel
Red Deer Roe Deer (heard, two occasions)
Daurian Hedgehog (dead)
Eurasian Red Squirrel (black morph)
Red Fox – several Corsac Fox kits
Steppe Rat-eating Snake Frogs 2 Lizard species
Birds we looked for, or had hoped to see, but missed; we will have to look for them next time!
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii
Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus reported by another birder from Zaan complex near Dashinchilen
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus Reportedly present with White-winged Tern flock at Lake Ugii.
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus – we had a good look at suitable habitat where they were reported near Kharkhorin but it was middle of the day and also windy, so we were out of luck.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major - possible sighting in hill forest, Terelj.
Siberian Thrush Zoothera sibirica Siberian Rubythroat Luscinia calliope
White-cheeked Starling Sturnus cineraceus - seen in Beijing subsequently
Mongolian Finch Rhodopechys mongolica – we searched many rocky outcrops without success.
Pallas's Bunting Emberiza pallasi
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Birds that we saw in Beijing, en route
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos Eurasian Magpie Pica Pica Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus White Wagtail Motacilla alba White-cheeked Starlings Sturnus cineraceus Tree Sparrow Passer montanus