Trip Report: Armenia, September 2000

Ken Cole, Washington, D.C., USA;

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:, 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.

Birds Seen

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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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; October 25, 2000