The wonderful Tien Shan mountains south of Almaty / Kazakhstan, with Big Almaty Lake in the background. Aside from its astounding landscape and a plethora of highly sought-after alpine species, this is arguably one of the best places to go and see the mythical and charismatic Ibisbill.

 

 

The alluvial fan south of the lake is the place to scan for Ibisbills, unless of course it is largely covered in snow, which is a very unfortunate thing to endure.

 

 

Knowing where to scan doesn’t necessarily mean spotting an Ibisbill is easy.

 

However, a certain amount of patience will invariably lead to success, unless of course there’s snow. Have I mentioned just how frustrating a thing that must be?

 

Big Almaty lake is a very popular recreation area for everyone living in Almaty, and thus the Ibisbills are under severe pressure from mountain tourism and the disturbance that brings. Therefore, the following pictures aren’t great as they were taken at a distance of more than 300 metres (uncropped version above) to ensure the birds were not disturbed. And while this may impair your visual pleasure, you may rejoyce in knowing that no baby birds were harmed in the making of these pictures.

 

During my short stay at Big Lake Almaty in June 2012, I was fortunate in that there wasn’t only no snow but an adult Ibisbill instead – no, there were even two newly fledged baby Ibisbills working the pebbles with mom!  Above, you can see them in the fast flowing waters, pretending to be Torrent Ducks.

 

Here is a heavier crop of mom joining the two youngsters in the water.

 

 

 The stars – baby Ibisbills!!

 

And if the image above doesn’t really convey the cuteness to you, clicking through this gallery of Ibisbills on the Oriental Bird Club site will surely do the trick.

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Written by Jochen
Jochen Roeder was born in Germany and raised to be a birder. He also spent a number of years abroad, just so he could see more birds. One of his most astounding achievements is the comprehension that Yellow-crowned Night-herons do not exist, as he failed to see any despite birding in North America for more than two years. He currently lives near Heidelberg, one of the most boring places for a birder to live, a fact about which he likes to whinge a lot. When he is not birding or trying to convince his young son that patiently scanning some fields for migrants is more fun than working the jungle gym of a playground, he enjoys contemplating the reasoning behind the common names of birds. He first became famous in the bird blog world on Bell Tower Birding.