This tour provides excellent opportunity to explore tremendous wintering beauties of Azerbaijan, offering giant numbers and great diversity of terrestrial and waterfowl species on plains and wetlands. This fabulous country, which is still remains undiscovered for the majority of birdwatching society worldwide, is a real piece of paradise and one of the best birding hotspots in the Caucasus. Large part of it consists of dry subtropical climate, making winter soft and pleasant. Its flat plains, giant lakes and shallow waters along the Caspian Sea provide unique conditions for up to 1.5 million wintering water birds, while its semi-desert plains attract dozens of wintering terrestrial specie, including massive flocks of Little Bustards. 8 days of this highly exciting birding is a true New Year Gift!
Within this tour we aim to support conservation activities in Azerbaijan.
Over 50% of the tour profit will flow to AOS Ornithological Society – BirdLife partner in Azerbaijan.
Caspian Winter Adventure
10 – 19 January 2020
Target species: Black Francolin, Little Bustard, Greater Flamingo, Mute, Whooper and Bewick’s Swan, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Purple Swamphen, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Eurasian Curlew, Dunlin, Greater and Lesser White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Common Goldeneye, Ferruginous Duck, White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck, Purple Gallinule, Mallard, Eurasian Wigeon, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Redshank, Common Snipe, Common Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Little Gull, Great Black-headed Gull, Caspian Gull, Eurasian Collared Dove, Red-fronted Serine, Linnet, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Horned Lark, Calandra Lark, White-winged Lark, Skylark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Northern Lapwing, White-tailed Lapwing, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Saker Falcon, Hen Harrier, Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, White-tailed Eagle, Imperial Eagle.
Day 1: Shirvan National Park & Flamingo Lake
We start from a historical city of Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) and drive 90km south towards Shirvan National Park, which consists of mainly semi-desert steppes and fascinating spot for wintering grounds. Its often provides flocks of wintering terrestrial specialties and large flocks of Calandra Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Skylark, possibly a few White-winged Larks among, and well approached resident Black Francolin. Raptors are also one of the attractions here and we shouldn’t miss good views of a few including Imperial Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard and Merlin.
In the afternoon we’ll change the spot and move to the unique Flamingo Lake. This site provides another set of interesting waterfowl including resident Ferruginous Duck, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Purple Gallinule, Little Grebe, Great and Pygmy Cormorant, Mallard, Common and Red-crested Pochard, Common and Ruddy Shelduck, Bewick’s and Mute Swan, Dalmatian Pelican, Greater Flamingo, Northern Lapwing, Little Bustard, possibly a few Globally Threatened Lesser White-fronted Goose and many other goodies. Shirvan NP inhabit by biggest population of Goitered Gazelle in the South Caucasus and in the evening we’ll spend some time scanning surroundings to approach a few.
Day 2: Kure River Delta
In the morning we’ll drive towards the Kure River Delta, our spot for entire day. This site composed by partially natural and artificial shallows located on important migratory route along the Kure River and Caspian Sea and providing suitable conditions for wintering birds stretching the coast and inland areas. Here we’ll be able to enjoy brilliant diversity; thousands of water birds and waders, including White-tailed Lapwing, Northern Lapwing, Avocet, Dunlin, Common Ringed Plover, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Common and Red-crested Pochard, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Great Crested Grebe, Great and Pygmy Cormorant, Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian and Great White Pelican, Mute, Whooper and Bewick’s Swan and many others.
There is a chance also for Whiskered tern occurring in small numbers.
Day 3: Mahmudchala Lake and Ghizil-Agaj State Reserve
This day we’ll mainly spent birding around Ghizil-Agaj State Reserve, while on the way to Reserve we’ll make a few hours stop at the famous Mahmudchala Lake, which occupies the area of about 8 000 ha, however most of wintering birds are concentrated on relatively small area and we’ll pick one viewpoint to scan surroundings.
This place hosts of over 40,000 wintering water birds and waders of an amazing diversity, including Greater Flamingo, White-headed Duck, Dalmatian Pelican, Marbled and Eurasian Teal, Ferruginous Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Mallard, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Greylag Goose, Whooper and Mute Swan, Avocet, Northern Lapwing, Redshank and many other attractions. This hotspot is great also for raptors, so most likely to twitch a White-tailed and Imperial Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and occasionally Saker Falcon.
Day 4: Lesser Ghizil-Agaj Bay and Caspian Sea Coast
We’ll spend most of the day birding around the Dam at the Lesser Ghizil-Agaj Bay, which is part of the Ghizil-Agaj State Nature Reserve and one of the biggest wetland sites in Azerbaijan, also one of the largest wintering sites in Europe, covering the area of over 100,000 ha along the Caspian Sea coast. Here we’ll enjoy another selection of interesting species, such as Dalmatian and Great White Pelican, Night Heron, Eurasian Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Common Ringed Plover, Common Snipe, occasionally Jack Snipe and many others. Here we’ll also be able to twitch again Black Francolin.
If there is enough time in the afternoon, we’ll move towards the relict wet subtropics of unique Talish Forest in the Foothill Zone, which is part of the Hikan National Park, and this forest provides nice set forest birds, including Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Little and Middle and Spotted Woodpecker, but one should be the most interesting highlight and really worth seeing a local subspecies of Hirkan – endemic Poelzami (Great) Woodpecker.
Day 5 and 6: Aggol National Park
Two days of birding at the Aggol National Park should provide another great boost and exciting moments to our adventure. Upon arrival after 4 hours of long drive, we’ll be warmly welcomed by enormous number of Little Bustards; flocks of thousands can be seen in and around the Aggol National Park. This is second greatest wetland in Azerbaijan with concentration tens of thousands wintering water birds aurally. Besides Bustards, we’ll also get a nice views of Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Dalmatian Pelican, Great and Pygmy Cormorant, Greater Flamingo, Lesser and Greater White-fronted Goose, Mute, Whooper and Bewick’s Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Common and Red-crested Pochard, Tufted Duck, White-headed Duck, Purple Gallinule, Goldeneye, Black-winged Stilt, White-tailed Lapwing, Redshank and many others. Among raptors, we shouldn’t miss here nice flights of Sparrowhocks, Falcons, Harriers and White-tailed Eagle.
Day 7: Varvara Water Reservoir and possibly Ajinohur Steppe
Varvara Reservoir and Ajinohur Steppes provide another great view of Little Bustards and up to 10,000 individuals can be seen on a single spot, while surroundings of this area should also offer a nice diversity of raptors, including Black and Griffon Vulture, Imperial Eagle and Hen Harrier. A small patches of bushes along the steppe should provide nice diversity of passerines, including Red-fronted Serine, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Brambling, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Siskin, Goldfinch and flocks of Calandra Lark, Skylark, Lesser Short-toed Lark.
Day 8: Driving back to Baku and birding on the way
On the way back to Baku we will make a few long birding stops, including one at the Hajigabul Lake. This is an ancient lake originated from the gulf of the Caspian Sea, when it had decreased to modern size centuries ago. During the summer lake remains dry, but in the winter lake provides a shallow water surface and attracts thousands of water birds, including Greater Flamingo.
This pack includes following services:
- Visa to Azerbaijan
- Transportation from and to the airport
- Full-board accommodation
- Guiding and transportation
- Entry tickets and permits
- Maps and other printed handout materials
This pack doesn’t include:
- Flight cost
- Personal expenditures
- Travel insurance
Group Size: 7 persons maximum.
Arrival date: January 11, 2019
Departure date: January 20, 2019
For additional information (Itinerary and Quote) and reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Goitered Gazelle, Great Flamingos, Dalmatian Pelican, Black Francolin and Little Bustards by Ilya Ukolov
- Imperial Eagle by Hugh Jansman
- White-Headed Duck by John Andersen
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