22/11/2018
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Azerbaijan

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Dalmatian Pelican (KaiGauger, courtesy of Birding Breaks)
Dalmatian Pelican (KaiGauger, courtesy of Birding Breaks)

Dates: 28 October-8 November 2019

Price: €2,795

Azerbaijan is the largest country of the Caucasus region and is situated next to the Caspian Sea. It contains many different habitats, from the high mountains of the Caucasus to large plains with rivers and lakes. Because of this diversity, 370 bird species have been recorded in Azerbaijan. It is especially famous for the impressive migration that occurs during autumn. At the coastal town of Besh Barmag an observation station has been founded where at times more than 350,000 birds pass in a single day.

The observation station is situated 55 miles north of the capital, Baku. It is bordered on one side by the Caucasus mountains and on the other by the Caspian Sea, turning this location into a real bottleneck for migrating birds. Every autumn, 2 to 4 million birds pass over Besh Barmag on their way from their breeding grounds in the north to their wintering areas in the south. It is not only the large numbers that are impressive, though, but also the diversity, with sometimes more than 100 species being recorded in a single day. In late autumn, passerine migration is at its peak, with huge counts of larks, finches and pipits including White-winged Lark and Buff-bellied Pipit. Another striking species that is recorded in large numbers is Little Bustard, with sometimes more than 1,000 individuals passing by in a single day. There is also a good chance of rare vagrants from the east showing up.

We will visit other areas close to Besh Barmag to boost the trip list. One such location is the Besh Barmag mountains, where we will have a chance to look for species such as Rock Sparrow, Wallcreeper, Western Rock Nuthatch, Alpine Accentor and Blue Rock Thrush. In the neighbouring Candy Cane Mountains, we will search for Chukar Partridge and Finsch’s Wheatear.

During the trip we will try to find Caucasian endemics which will have descended to lower altitudes in preparation for the coming winter. At Khinalik we will have a chance to see Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Great Rosefinch and Caucasian Snowcock.

One of the main attractions of the region is Gobustan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. More than 6,000 petroglyphs, which are 20,000 years old, have been found here. Apart from this extraordinary cultural highlight, mud volcanoes can be found here too. As for birds, the area holds populations of Rock Bunting, Alpine Chough and Long-legged Buzzard.

Shirvan NP is the oldest national park in Azerbaijan. It holds the last remaining population of Goitered Gazelle. We will also have a chance of seeing Wolves and Jackals. The large wetland in the park provides good chances of waterbirds including Marbled Duck, Dalmatian Pelican and Greater Flamingo.

 

This tour is operated for Birdwatch and BirdGuides by Birding Breaks (registered with the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam under licence number 54226104). The price includes all accommodation and meals, as well as expert guiding; international flights, airport taxes, drinks, gratuities and personal expenses are not included. For further information, reservations and full details, please call the company on 0031 20 77 92 030 or email info@birdingbreaks.nl.

 

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