Myangin Ugalzat and Tsetseg Nuur

Mountain slopes at Myangin Ugalzat

On the last leg of our trip to south-western Mongolia we drove north from the Great Gobi B.

There we reached the Myangin Ugalzat National Reserve, which is a mountainous area known for its population of Argali Sheep.

As we reached the mountains we passed a place with junipers and other bushes. Bolormunkh said it looked good for Sulphur-bellied Warbler (just like he had said about the Saxaul Sparrows), so we stopped to check it. I’ve looked for for Suphur-bellied Warblers quite a few times, but never found one.

Breeding site for Sulphur-bellied Warblers

We climbed the rocky slopes and soon we found several Sulphur-bellied Warblers, which eventually showed really well. A quite nice phylloscopus reminding me most of Dusky Warbler – both the song and the appearance. It is a very attractive warbler, with its prominent yellow eyebrow and dark olive coloration.

Sulphur-bellied Warbler

The birds were busy catching insects and we found a few nesting sites in dense bushes though we didn’t search for the nests themselves.

Other birds at the side included Bearded Vulture, Pallas’s Leaf Warbler, Grey-necked Buntings, White-winged Snowfinch, Brown Accentor and a likely Rock Bunting seen only by Bolormunkh.

We also had good views of the eastern Black Redstart ssp. phoenicuroides. I was surprised that it was so similar to Common Redstart even showing lots of white on the forehead.

After spending three hours at the site we drove on and camped in a mountain valley. In the valley we didn’t see many birds, but Marmots, Silver Voles and a Red Fox gave good views. And a Shorelark was breeding near to our camp.

Red Fox

There weren’t many birds in the morning around the camp, so we left early for Tsetseg Nuur a bit further north. The lake is known for hosting a breeding population of Relict Gulls in certain years, but the gulls seem to breed in different places each year.

Bolormunkh at Tsetseg Nuur

As we arrived we were a bit disappointed with the general conditions of the area. Severe overgrazing had left the shore almost totally void of vegetation, but on the salt pans there were hundreds of Pied Avocets, two Red-necked Phalaropes, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers and a few Gull-billed Terns flew by.

Gull-billed Tern laughing at us

We decided to end our trip there as Bolormunkh and Sakna could catch a bus to UB from a village near by. But we still had a few hours before we need to leave, so I went on a hike along the shore.

The further north I got the more birds I saw. In a pond lots of gulls were roosting and soon I found about 20 Relict Gulls along with plenty of Black-headed and Mongolian Gulls.

Relict Gull

A few of the Relict Gulls came quite close by and I managed a few pictures of this beautiful and rare gull.

When I came back to the car Bolormunkh and I looked at a map and realized that we had been using our time at the wrong place. North of the large salty lake is a smaller fresh-water lake surrounded by reeds and it looked absolutely awesome. But sadly the tickets had been ordered, so we only had time to look at the area from a distance. But surely a place ripe for future explorations.

We drove to the village where Bolormunkh and Sakna got on the bus – a ride that takes more than 24 hours – and I drove back to Khovd.

In total we saw 155 species, which ain’t too bad since we didn’t go for quantity but quality. At last a photo from one of our first days. Little Bittern!

Little Bittern – photo by Bolormunkh

Thanks to Bolormunkh and Sakna for a great adventure!

Silas

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