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A few days in the Azerbaijani Caucasus

A few days in the Azerbaijani Caucasus

We have arrived in the Caucasus! The plan was to see the Siberian Crane Omid on migration during the first week of our time in Azerbaijan, but Omid decided otherwise and stayed in Iran, for the time being, in its wintering area. Before our stay in Azerbaijan would end we had planned a few more days of birdwatching in the Caucasian mountains and so we decided to go do that. The plan is to immediately return to southern Azerbaijan if Omid does fly. So we are now in the Caucasus! Along the way we already enjoyed beautifully colored rock formations, but in the higher areas there is mostly a lot of snow.

When we arrived in the evening I took some pictures before going to sleep. Then the sky was very clear.

However, we wake up in foggy surroundings. That doesn’t look good! We expect that we will only be able to see our most important target species such as the Caucasian Grouse and the Caucasian Snowcock at a great distance, so good visibility is essential. However, we will do our best! With our cars we drive to a military guard post where we have to submit our passports to the soldiers so they can write down all our information. This takes time. In the meantime I take some pictures of Rock Pigeons that feel a lot more wild here than I’ve seen them in other places and maybe they are actually wild!

Rock Pigeon

Then we are good to go and we walk the last part up the mountain and we on the snowy slopes, looking for wild fowl. Of course we also enjoy the beautiful surroundings and every now and then the sun even shows itself!

Grouse Territory…

Our target species do not show themselves, however, and when the sky closes up again at the end of the morning, we know that we have no choice but to go back without our desired species. A beautiful Alpine Accentor is still waiting for us below though.

Alpine Accentor

The car ride back to our accommodation gets unexpectedly a bit more exciting when our car slips and slides down, but luckily we manage to avoid major accidents. In the afternoon the sky really closes up and we only see a few Rocking Buntings foraging with the chickens around our homestay.

Rock Bunting

I also take a picture of a Great Tit in nice lighting.

Great Tit

All in all, it’s a pretty quiet day, so we’ve pinned all hopes on the next day.

The next day we wake up to a crystal clear morning! There is not a cloud to be seen and that bodes well! The day also starts well when a Caucasian Grouse is found from our homestay with the telescope! The grouse stands out against the mountainside like a little black dot. Unfortunately, that is really too far for the photos, so I limit myself to taking pictures of the beautiful surroundings.

Our Homestay!

We have learned from our slip-up from the previous day and this time we let the owner of our homestay drop us off with his old Lada Niva on a higher ground. Our luxury SUVs (with 4×4) lose out against this old cart! Once we’re dropped off, we can resume our search.

The environment here is also very beautiful, so I mainly take a lot of landscape photos.

A frozen waterfall in particular attracts my attention because I have never been able to see something like that so well before. Walking through the snow gets a little slower for me because every time I get a different perspective on the waterfall!

At a certain point, however, I go a lot faster because I hear the others shouting that they have found East-Caucasian Turs! These mountain sheep have a limited range and we are therefore very happy to have found them. In the end it turns out that there are quite a few even: we get to 14 individuals. It is remarkable how easily these animals can blur in with the mountainside. Although they are quite far away, it is still possible to take some pictures in which they can be recognized.  

East-Caucasian Tur

Watching the sheep attentively gives another nice result, because suddenly a Caucasian Snowcock flies in! Soon we see about five of them! We are very happy with that and through the telescope we have amazing views of the snowcocks while they race through the snow, showing their thickly feathered legs nicely. I actually manage to get some recognizable pictures of these as well despite the great distance! The clear sky helps with that.

Caucasian Snowcock

So we spend our morning well and in the end we return satisfied to our homestay. Still we sadly won’t see the much desired Güldenstadt Redstart. I do get to take some nice pictures of Ravens and a Kestrel in the snowy environment. We also see a nice Lammergeier but that one remains at a large distance.


Eurasian Kestrel

In the afternoon it is already time to leave. On the way we get a good bye from a beautiful Rough-legged Buzzard that soars over.

Rough-legged Buzzard

Unfortunately we would have to leave Azerbaijan without Omid in the end, but all in all it was definitely a successful trip!

Want to read more of what did find in Shirvan National Park where we hoped to see Omid? Click here!

Want to see more pictures of some beautiful Azerbaijani rock formations? Click here!


2 comments so far

Patrick GijsbersPosted on9:21 am - Nov 12, 2022

Super! Wat een gave locatie Lennart. Wel veel bekende vogelsoorten 😉

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