After our relatively short trip from Astana to the Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve made long by we birders insisting that we stop for every good bird*, we arrived at the headquarters of the park where a bunch of cabins, some larger buildings, and the outhouses are clustered by the lakeshore. Once we dropped our gear off in our assigned cabins we had the run of the place until dinner time so we all decided to take naps. No, of course we didn’t take naps: we’re birders so we birded!
The area around the buildings had some bushes so species like the Eurasian Tree Sparrows above had shelter. Swallows that we American birders would refer to as Barn Swallows, and Sand Martins, which we Americans would refer to as Bank Swallows, were both common around the buildings, and it was nice to see familiar birds that I could identify without fear of screwing up, even if they do have different names across the Atlantic. Even nicer to see, however, were Oriental Turtle Doves, a bird I had never seen but really appreciated, especially as the setting sun illuminated them. What more can a birder ask for than beautiful new birds in great light in a new place?
Also nice to see were the very pale nesting Merlins which I managed to not photograph, as well as the occasional fly-by Red-footed Falcon or Pallid Harrier. In the bushes around one of the houses a veritable treasure trove of species awaited, species like the Spotted Flycatchers, Siberian Stonechat, and Lesser Whitethroat below.
It was difficult to tear ourselves away from so many great birds but somehow we did (but only because dinner was involved). As soon as we finished eating Clay and Dale and I walked down to the lake and enjoyed the last of the sunset before night fell.
So ended day one of the trip to Kazakhstan. I can’t believe that I have been home for over a week and have only blogged about the day in Frankfurt and most of the first day of four full days in Kazakhstan…I’ll try to pick up the pace a bit but it seems kind of nice to slowly tell the Kazakhstan tale. I just hope I don’t bore all of you and drive you away from 10,000 Birds!
*Some of which I am skipping to get to this post so don’t be surprised when a future post messes up the nice chronology I have mostly followed so far in relating the Kazakhstan trip.
My trip to Kazakhstan was made possible by the wonderful folks at Swarovski Optik who sponsored the trip not only to draw attention to their marvelous optics but to the fact that Swarovski Optik is, with the RSPB, the Species Champion for the Sociable Lapwing, a critically endangered species that breeds almost entirely in Kazakhstan. We here at 10,000 Birds, the only blog designated a Species Champion by BirdLife International, salute Swarovski Optik‘s commitment to conservation.
To learn more about 10,000 Birds’ commitment to conservation through BirdLife International’s Species Champion program and what it means to us at 10,000 Birds (or to donate to the program through 10,000 Birds) just click on the nice Species Champion logo to the right.
First: those Swallows / Barn Swallows… watch out for taxonomic changes in the future, right? I don’t know if anyone has split them yet but having had the opportunity of getting to know both forms very well means I am more than ready to embrace anyone who dares to promote a split.
“As soon as we finished eating Clay and Dale…” Come on, the food in Kazakhstan is pretty good, there was no need to eat fellow digiscopers! Now, really, that was shameful!
Jochen, ever read the book “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss?
Hey lookie, there’s me and a spectacular sunset! What a wonderful evening it was. And you failed to even mention the billions of Paddyfield Warblers chorusing down the sun, and the swarms of mosquitoes sacrificing themselves to hungry migrants.
Dale, of course Corey forgot to mention the Paddyfields, he’s from North America and Paddies are Acrocephalus-warblers!
Dale, now you’ve gone and given away my next post about the joy of seeing a brief flash of bland bird the next morning and knowing it was Paddyfield Warbler. Oh well, I guess I’ll use that description for the Booted Warblers…
Corey, I really don’t know what you are talking about when you say “bland”: the Paddyfield Warbler is one of the most vividly patterned species in the genus Acrocephalus! You’ve just got to apprechiate that.
And grammar, you see, it’s all about the reluctance of using commas within an English sentence. I know that there basically are no comma rules in English and when we asked our English teacher at school if he didn’t want to teach us the English comma rules, he said something along the lines of “Don’t ask. And don’t ever use commas anywhere within an English sentence. Never. Just write on and on.”
On my blog, I have basically decided to apply the German comma rules to my English texts as I feel it makes reading them easier. I know it is incorrect, but I don’t give a … you know … whatever it is one doesn’t give when one doesn’t care. I like it better that way.
Whatever, I was just wondering how you prepared a meal from Clay and Dale as there is so little fire wood in the steppes. Sun-dried and salted?
“the joy of seeing a brief flash of bland bird”. well, pretty much describes most of the birds we saw in Kazakhstan. South Africa is no different. but I do love Jochen’s eloquent statement:
“one of the most vividly patterned species…” but not sure I have ever heard anything quite this flamboyant about an Acrocephalus. lol
I look forward to the booted warbler post!
We definitely have comma rules in American English. It’s just that most writers tend to ignore them!
And Jochen, I didn’t realize you still had a blog…
Mike, I am sure you have and would absolutely love to learn them, I just can’t find anyone who’s willing to teach me, not even people who blog in English 🙂
Yes, I have tried to re-vive Belltower Birding a few months ago and must say that I am not doing abysmally badly, with around 4 to 5 posts per month now for the 4th month running.
And 20 readers a day is not bad, especially when the quality of my readers is taken into consideration. Much better then the 5 or so accidentals I had during my … well … let’s call it hiatus.
It is so good to be back, not only on Carrie’s and the 10,000birds’ comment section but on my own blog.
I’ve missed it!
It was late when I was reading this post and at 1st I thought Corey had gone out with some Chip and Dales…
And Jochen I was one of those 5 accidentals, I had your blog on my favorites list and needed to remind myself every now and then what it was 🙂
Beautiful pictures, Corey! And thanks for the linkage.