Friday, 12 May 2017

Armenia birding - Urts Ridge (Day 2 of 3; part 2)

May 5. We left Vedi and drove the short distance to Surenavan and the access track to the Urts Ridge for our next target species - Menetries Warbler.

We heard the warblers singing even before stopping the car. Both sides of the track had several singing birds. We'd seen Menetries a few days previously in Georgia but the views we had here were incredible. 

(defending his patch against Whitethroats)

(nice view of the tail spots)

The trees along the track also held a couple of female Common Rosefinches (hard to photograph against the sky),

Bee-eaters, Nightingales, Goldfinches, Spotted Flycatchers, Olivaceous Warbler,

Wood Pigeon

while singles of Levant and Eurasian Sparrowhawks flew overhead along with myriad Swifts, Swallows and Sand Martins. We had lunch while being serenaded continuously by a Menetries Warbler and then headed further up the track seeing a single Golden Oriole, Corn Buntings, Lesser Grey Shrike

Woodchat Shrike

and so many Red-backed Shrikes (40 to 50).

A Barred Warbler showed itself briefly but headed for the deep undergrowth as soon as cameras were raised. Isabelline Wheatears, Chukars, Rock Sparrows,

Short-toed Larks (this one with curiously well defined wing markings)

and a Rufous Bush Robin
kept us busy.

Higher still and White-throated Robins were seen every 100 m or so, including a curious partnership of a male and a pale variant. 

Closer views of the Pale Male - an unusual form and an exciting find (~ 10% can be the pale variant - Yoav Perlman pers. comm.). 

A stunning Redstart showed up.

Blue Rock Thrush was expected but still good to see.

And more great views of Eastern Rock Nuthatch

On the way back a couple of Lammergeier drifted out from behind the ridge.

Final bird was Bimaculated Lark on the track. 
Between this site and the Vedi wadi we had an extraordinary variety of bird species including a couple of mouth-watering lifers. What a day! 

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