While in Armenia recently on a cultural trip arranged by the Washington Textile Museum, I eluded the churches and museums for a couple of days of birding. I had two specific primary target birds: Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi and Caspian Snowcock Tetrogallus caspius, as well as two secondary targets, Grey Partridge Perdix perdix and Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis.
Our time was organized to find these species. Anything else we might see was fine, but we made no attempt to maximize the number of species that could be viewed in the time available.
My guide was Vasil Y. Ananian, a very capable young ornithologist attached to the American University of Armenia. He was one of the field researchers who contributed to A Field Guide to Birds of Armenia, by Martin S. Adamian and Daniel Klem, Jr. He is particularly knowledgeable about raptors, has excellent command of English and is very good in the field. He can be reached by email: email@example.com, fax: (3741) 151413 and phone: (3741) 343202. He can make arrangements for a four-wheel drive vehicle, driver, camping gear, etc.
We did not see the Caspian Snowcock, but did have excellent views of the other target birds, as well as the other species in the list attached to this note.
Sites for both the Grouse and Snowcock are reachable by four wheel drive vehicle - anything less will leave you stranded some distance from the birds. Once at the end of the respective tracks, you have an easy ten minute walk to where the birds are known to be. One male grouse flushed and provided excellent views, after we spent about a half hour trying to locate it. There may be about six pairs at the site we visited, but incursions by cowherds and grazing animals may be making the birds more wary. Vasil mentioned a second site for grouse, which we did not try to reach. As for the snowcock, my speculation is that a bright full moon may have altered their early morning pattern of activities: in any event there was no sound or visible movement during the several hours we viewed their habitat from cliff edges above where they should have been.
On the way back in to Yerevan on the second afternoon, we spent a couple of hours in a large old fish-farming area, which produced the waterbirds, warblers and some others in the following list. This is an area of large ponds, extensively overgrown with reeds, but with no visible mudflats. It is private property, but access is readily provided to staff of the American University's Birds of Armenia Program.
The only species of note not seen in the company of Vasil was the Eurasian Griffon. A roost with about a dozen birds was on a cliff overlooking the road the museum tour took to Georgia, and an extended viewing stop proved highly interesting to a busload of non-birders.
In addition to A Field Guide to Birds of Armenia, I used Lars Svensson's new guide to the Birds of Europe.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficolis Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmaeus Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Little Egret Egretta garzetta Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus Montague's Harrier Circus pygargus Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes (unconfirmed) Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Common Buzzard Buteo buteo Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo Common Teal Anas crecca Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina Common Pochard Aythya ferina Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi Chukar Alectoris chukar Grey Partridge Perdix perdix Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Common Coot Fulica atra Common Redshank Tringa totanus Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus Armenian Gull Larus armenicus Common Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Slender-billed Gull Larus genei White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica Rock Dove Columba livia Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus Little Owl Athene noctua (heard) European Bee-eater Merops apiaster Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus Sand Martin Riparia riparia Eurasian Crag-martin Ptonoprogne rupestris Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Yellow Wagtail Motocilla flava Grey Wagtail Motocilla cinerea White Wagtail Motocilla alba Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio Northern Shrike Lanius excubitor Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes (heard) Radde's Accenter Prunella ocularis Bluethroat Luscinia svecica Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Common Stonechat Salaicola torquata Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula Song Thrush Turdus philomelos Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola Eurasian Reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus Mountain Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis Menetries Warbler Sylvia mystacea Spotted Flycatcher Musicapa striata Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus Great Tit Parus major Blue Tit Parus caeruleus Western Rock-nuthatch Sitta neumayer Rock Bunting Emberiza cia Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Twite Carduelis flavirostris Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus House Sparrow Passer domesticus Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius krynicki Black-billed Magpie Pica pica Redbilled Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula Rook Corvus frugilegus Carrion Crow Corvus corone Common Raven Corvus corax
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