A rarity in Khovd

Brandt´s Mountain Finch

The last weeks have been exciting when it comes to birding in western Mongolia. I’ve spent some time both in Khovd and the westernmost province of Bayan-Ulgii. On the drive between the two cities I came across a flock or approximately 1000 Brandt’s Mountain Finches. By far the largest flock I have ever seen.

In Khovd I have visited the plantation Otzon Chuluu, which is located just 5-10 minutes drive from home. As it is getting colder more and more birds gather in the plantation to feed on seed and sea buckthorn berries, which are present in good numbers this autumn.

Red-mantled Rosefinches are present with up to ten birds seen in a single day, though I have only seen a single red male thus far.

Long-tailed Rosefinch

Long-tailed Rosefinches are quite common and more than 20 birds seem to be present daily in the plantation. They also spread to the city itself and I have even seen it in our garden.

A beautiful trio of Brown, Siberian and Black-throated Accentors are also present in the plantation. They are not that easy to photograph, but with patience they eventually come close.

Siberian Accentor

A few White-winged Redstarts have come down from the mountains. Even though they are quite common it remains a truly wonder species to observe.

White-winged Redstart

A Rustic Bunting has been present in the plantation for weeks. It is not that common in Khovd, but during autumn they pass through in small numbers. If it winters it might be the first wintering record for Mongolia.

Rustic Bunting

On December 2nd I found a true mega in Otzon Chuluu in the form of a Eurasian Blackbird. It is only the second documented record for Mongolia. Admittedly it was a strange feeling skipping Siberian and Black-throated Accentors, Rustic Bunting and different rosefinches to look for a Blackbird. But in birding geography defines the megas.

Eurasian Blackbird

Very conveniently some of Mongolia’s top birders were just passing through Khovd an hour after I found the Blackbird. They of course made a stop and after 30 minutes of searching we relocated the Blackbird, so people from the Khurkh Ringing Station, Khurelsukh from the Khovd Ringing Station, Tseveenmyadag and Tovshintogs from Daringanga Ringing Station and of course their leader Batmunkh along with others connected with the bird.

Batmunkh and I celebrating the Blackbird… a Mongolian tick!

After seeing the bird the birders headed to Ulgii, where they ringed all the eagles of the Kazakh eagle hunters.

Interestingly on their return from Ulgii they stopped at the Khovd Stadion as they saw a flock of 13 Wood Pigeons. As they checked the area further they found a further two Blackbirds and a Redwing. Mongolia really is the place of mouth-watering rarities for a Faroese birder…

Male Eurasian Blackbird in Khovd

Silas

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