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WINGS Birding Tours – Photo Gallery

Central Asia: Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

Birding the Silk Road

We’ll begin in the Chimgan Hills above Tashkent; here the group pauses to take photos of the local yellow wild roses… …and perhaps find some local specialities such as White-capped Bunting… …and the localised Yellow-breasted and Rufous-naped Tits are often just around the hotel grounds. Following the ancient Silk Road, we’ll reach our guesthouse in the fabled city of Samarkand… …and later study the detail on the Timur’s mausoleum. We’ll spend a pleasant morning birding in hills south of the town… …where almost every bush holds a singing Red-headed Bunting. Moving further along the Silk Road we’ll reach another gem – the ancient city of Bukhara and sights such as the Kalen Minaret… …and perhaps  local woman weaving one of the famous silk and wool Bukharan rugs. Bukhara is the gateway to the Kyzl-kum Desert where we’ll seek out more special birds… …none more so than Pander’s Ground Jay, a bird restricted to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Other birds in this landscape include lots of colorful Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters… …and equally stunning Citrine Wagtails… …while the monotone Eastern Olivaceous and Sykes’s Warblers present something of an identification challenge. Not all of the attractions are avian – this Toad-headed Agama is one of several distinct lizards found in the desert. Flying to Kazakhstan, we’ll spend two nights at the first of two camps. something the nomadic Kazaks do really well. From this base we’ll explore the foothills of the Tien Shan mountains where Pine Buntings breed… …while on the plains beyond we can usually find Pallas’s Sandgrouse . We’ll use our second camp as a base to reach the huge Ili River delta, where small patches of ancient <em>Turanga</em> woodland can still be found… …with wonderful birds as Yellow-eyed Stock Dove… …Saxual Sparrow… …and Azure Tit. The delta is also home to the world’s largest gathering of Dalmation Pelicans. Back at our camp we’ll scan the desert for some of its many inhabitants… …ncluding Greater Sand Plover (right) and the scarce Caspian Plover. Another special pair of birds await us in the vast northern steppes are White-winged and Black Larks. Back in Almaty, the view from the hotel window reveals our final destination – the Tien Shan Mountains… …and we stay in a small hotel surrounded by spruce forest close to the Big Almaty Lake… …home to probably the most accessible Ibisbills in the world. Birding among the flower-strewn slopes is delightful… …especially with birds like Güldenstadt’s Redstart and Himalayan Rubythroat to look at.