armtrip5

TRIP REPORTS - ARMENIA

4th to 15th June 2001

Leader: Vasil Ananian
Co-leader: Simon Busuttil
Observers: John Cole, Steve Gent, William Hughey, Michael Oliver, Steve Young
Number of Species Observed: 207

Itinerary

Monday 4th June
An uneventful journey included a stop at Zurich where we were able to leave the airport without a fuss and watch red kite and black kite and yellowhammer. Arrived at Yerevan in the early hours of the morning to be met by Zhanna and transferred to the Hotel Erebuni.

Tuesday 5th June
After three hours sleep most of us made a 10am start and a change of plan as we decided to go to Vedi and look for the Mongolian finches that the previous trip reported. Mike had already been up recording Syrian woodpecker. As we headed south and dropped into the Araks River Valley with a view of Mt. Ararat we began seeing the species that would later become staples of the trip - black-headed bunting, corn bunting, hoopoe and white storks. A first stop produced honey buzzards, a singing short-toed lark and marsh warblers in a wheat field. We arrived at Vedi Gorge (970m asl) and began watching the birds of this extremely arid area - Isabelline, Finsch's and black-eared wheatears, bee-eaters, crested larks and pale rock sparrows. After hearing them singing for some time we all managed finally to get telescope views of grey-necked bunting. The first of what was to prove a series of excellent lunches was taken and we moved on to Armash.

In baking heat we were able to watch marbled teal and white-headed ducks among the thousands of red-crested pochards and coot whilst white-winged black terns appeared in a myriad of plumages. After a coffee in some welcome shade, we returned to Yerevan and pizza.
92 species

Wednesday 6th June
We met at 9am and headed towards Garni. Bimaculated larks, rose-coloured starlings and roller were seen en route as we travelled across rolling steppe and cultivation coloured with poppies and other wild flowers. A stop at a rock face with scattered bushes produced white-throated robins, an Upcher's warbler, western and eastern rock nuthatches, blue rock-thrush and more buntings and wheatears. In the arid areas there were literally hundreds of Isabelline wheatears. We then set off walking down Garni gorge with steep cliffs to one side of us and a running river with willows, walnuts and poplars to the other. Alpine swifts and crag martins flew close by and choughs called overhead. The trees held Syrian and middle-spotted woodpeckers, golden orioles. Dippers flew along the river. The spectacular basalt rock formations supported a colony of cliff nesting house martins. We visited Garni Temple before returning early to Yerevan before a long day tomorrow.
61 species

Thursday 7th June
We started at 6 am in cold wet weather heading north towards Hrazdan. The vehicles became separated and whilst waiting for one,, we saw wheatears, stonechat, skylark and our first Armenian gulls. The road deteriorated as we neared the decrepid town before climbing up Mt Meghradzor to 2600m. The mountain meadows supported water pipits, rock thrushes and ring ouzels. It was cold at the top but we did not take long to find 3 male Caucasian black grouse. We had fantastic views when the clouds cleared. Dunnocks warbled in the high altitude and we took breakfast in the van. We returned stopping at an abandoned farm where we watched two Radde's accentors almost immediately. At the base of the hill we had lunch among the ruins of an abandoned gold mine buildings watching Caucasian chiff chaff in the woodland and a red-fronted serin clinging to the wall of one of the buildings.

 

SYSTEMATIC LIST

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 10
  Present in small numbers at Armash fishponds.  
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 200
  Up to 150 Armash and 50 on Lake Sevan.  
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis 12
  12 on Lake Sevan.  
Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmaeus 800
  Very common at Armash.  
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala 14
  At least 12 males and 2 females at Armash.  
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea 10
  Up to 10 on Lake Sevan including a pair with young.  
Gadwall Anas strepera 10
  Small numbers at Armash on all visits.  
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca 2
  2 at Armash.  
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 5
  Up to 5 at Armash on most visits.  
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata 12
  12 at Armash.  
Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris 12
  Present at Armash where it breeds in small numbers.  
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina 250
  Abundant at Armash.  
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 80
  Common at Armash.  
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca 10
  Good numbers on Armash fishponds where a female with one small chick was seen.  
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 5
  Up to 4 at Armash plus a male on Sevan.  
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 33
  Only recorded from the Armash area.  
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
  Two singles at Armash.  
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea 25
  Only recorded at Armash.  
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 17
  Scarce at Armash with one other in the Araks Plain.  
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides 55
  Common at Armash.  
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 45
  Only seen at Armash.  
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus 32
  Frequently seen at Armash with 2 at.Agarakadzor.  
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus 16
  All sightings from Armash with a max of 12.  
White Stork Ciconia ciconia 90
  Mostly found in Armash river valley with up to 40 seen – several nests with well-grown young.  
European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus 6
  Two at Garni, singles at Hrazdan and Dilijan and 2 at Goris.  
Black Kite Milvus migrans 1
  A single distant bird at Goris Gorge.  
Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus 5
  1 at Dilijan and 5 at Goris plateau/gorge.  
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus 11
  Singles at Garni and Dilijan and around Goris where a min. of 5 seen.  
Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus 6
  2 near Vedi on 4th and 4 on the Goris plateau on 11th.  
Black Vulture Aegypius monachus 1
  A single distant bird en route to Gladzor (MO).  
Osprey Pandion haliaetus 1
  Single at Armash on 4th.  
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus 2
  Singles at Megri and Goris.  
Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus 11
  Fairly common at Armash.  
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus 2
  Males recorded twice near Armash.  
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes 2
  Pair at nest site near Megri.  
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 4
  Four singles recorded.  
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentiles 2
  Two at Dilijan.  
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 35
  Common in wooded areas.  
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 57
  Common except in wooded areas.  
Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina 13
  Seen at several sites.  
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos 2
  1 at Mt Gazma and 1 at Meghradzor.  
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus 9
  Seen at several sites esp Goris and Dilijan.  
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni 7
  Breeding in old tower en route to Goris.  
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 37
  Widespread but nowhere common.  
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo 1
  1 at Megri (MO).  
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus brookei 1
  One at Sevan.  
Chukar Alectoris chukar 14
  Seen and heard occasionally throughout  
Grey Partridge Perdix perdix 6
  On Meghradzor mountain, Gazma and at Gnisheek.  
Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus caspius  
  Three at Mt Gazma  
Caucasian Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi 3
  3 males at Meghradzor.  
Quail Coturnix coturnix 5
  Heard only at three sites  
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 8
  Up to 7 Armash and 1 near Hrazdan.  
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 550
  Common at Armash fishponds (500) and on Sevan.  
Common Redshank Tringa totanus 2
  At Armash where displaying.  
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 2
  At Armash.  
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 2
  On fast-flowing river near Hradzan.  
Sanderling Calidris alba 1
  At Armash.  
Little Stint Calidris minuta 8
  At Armash fishponds.  
Curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea 20
  At Armash fishponds.  
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 20
  Present at Armash.  
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta 10
  Present at Armash .  
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola 5
  At Armash.  
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 2
  At Armash.  
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 20
  At Armash.  
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 10
  Breeding at Armash.  
White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus 2
  Pair breeding at Armash with 2 chicks on 9th June.  
Red-necked phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius 2
  Two at at Armash on 14th June.  
Armenian Gull Larus armenicus 2,000
  Huge colony at Lake Sevan with very small numbers of immatures elsewhere esp near Hradzan. Small numbers of young seen at colony.  
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 2
  Non-breeding birds at Armash.  
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei 3
  Two at Armash and one at Sevan.  
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus 6
  Present at Armash.  
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus 100
  At Armash.  
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 24
  Up to 20 at Armash.  
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica 5
  Present at Armash.  
Little Tern Sterna albifrons 50
  Present at Armash where breeding.  
Rock Dove Columba livia 6
  Pure or near-pure birds seen at the monastery en route to Gladzor and at another couple of sites  
Stock Dove Columba oenas 2
  Heard at Dilijan and seen at Aragats.  
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus 25
  Seen in a number of places esp woodland.  
European Turtle-Dove Streptopelia turtur 2
  Singles at Vedi and Aragats  
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaoto 2
  Only in Yerevan.  
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis P
  All records from Yerevan.  
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus P
  Widespread up to over 2800m.  
Tawny Owl Strix aluco 2
  Heard calling at Dilijan and Kapan.  
Little Owl Athene noctua 2
  Two en route near Goris.  
Scops Owl Otus scopus 1
  Heard at Gladzor (VA).  
Nightjar Caprimulgus europeaus 1
  One seen well and nest found at Aragats.  
Alpine Swift Apus melba 34
  30 Garni Gorge, 2 at monastery en route toGladzor and singles at Gazma and Aragats.  
Common Swift Apus apus P
  Abundant esp in Yerevan.  
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 5
  At Armash and Agarakadzor.  
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 82
  Common throughout but esp Armash.  
European Roller Coracias garrulus 38
  Widespread.  
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops P
  A common and widespread species.  
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor 2
  At least 2 at Dilijan feeding young.  
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius 4
  Two at Garni and at least 2 at Dilijan.  
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 5
  One or more at Dilijan and 4 at Kapan.  
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus 15
  Present in Yerevan, at Garni, Dilijan and Megri.  
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius 1
  Seen and heard at Dilijan.  
Eurasian Green Woodpecker Picus viridis karelini 8
  4 at Dilijan and 4 at Kapan.  
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius krynicki P
  Widespread esp woodland but also at Megri.. This race is distinct with a black cap.  
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica P
  Common and widespread.  
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax 29
  12 Garni Gorge, 6 near Gladzor, 5 Mt Gazma, 4 Goris Gorge and 2 Mt Aragats.  
Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula soemmerringii P
  Widespread eg Armash, Garni, Mt Aragats and Megri. This race has a wider, lighter collar.  
Rook Corvus frugilegus 130
  Present mainlyin the Araks River valley.  
Hooded Crow Corvus corone P
  Abundant.  
Common Raven Corvus corax 40
  Widespread with most at Goris (15).  
Eurasian Golden-Oriole Oriolus oriolus 10
  Widespraed, more often heard than seen..  
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio P
  Very common in any hilly area with bushes.  
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor 35
  Widespread in open cultivated areas with poplars.  
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus 2
  2 Garni Gorge.  
Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush Monticola saxatilis P
  Present on hillsides with some scrub.  
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius P
  Present in suitable habitat.  
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus P
  Present at higher altitudes and damper habitat.  
Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula P
  Present in woodland, trees by rivers.  
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos P
  Present only in woodland.  
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus 5
  Only at high altitude.  
Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus 505
  Small flocks encountered almost anywhere.  
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris 122
  Patchy distribution mainly in damper areas.  
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata 5
  Uncommon – only at Dilijan.  
Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata 5
  Two pair splus an intruder at nest sites at Dilijan.  
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva 1
  One seen in woodlsnd at Dilijan.  
European Robin Erithacus rubecula P
  Scarce. Only in wooded habitats.  
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos P
  Heard only, at Goris Gorge, Gladzor and elsewhere.  
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica magna 9
  9, some carrying food to nests, in dwarf juniper scrub on Mt Aragats. This is a real blue-throated  
White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis 16
  5 at Garni, 2 at Gazma, 6 Gnisheek and 3 Mt Aragats.  
Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas galactotes syriacus 6
  6 seen at three sites – Garni, Vedi and Aragats.  
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros semirufus P
  Patchily distributed but esp around dilapidated buildings and at altitude.  
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus samamisicus P
  Very common in open woodland areas, seemingly especially around buildings.  
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra P
  Present at higher altitudes.  
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata armenicus P
  Present in a number of areas esp on hillsides with bushes. At Dilijan a pr seen did not show the “Siberian” features seen on other birds elsewhere.  
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe P
  Common or abundant at higher colder altitudes.  
Finch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii 80
  Patchily distributed but especially in degraded habitat shared with O. hispanica.  
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica melanoleuca P
  Common primarily in dry stony country but also in other habitats. Both forms (black-throated and black-eared) seen. Often in more vegetated habitats than other wheatears.  
Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna chrysopygia 5
  Only at Megri primarily in old quarry workings.  
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina P
  Occasionally abundant as near Vedi. Only really in drier flatter habitats.  
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea P
  Very common in woodland at Dilijan and Kapan.  
Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer P
  Widespread and common.  
Persian Nuthatch Sitta tephronota P
  Widespread often commoner in arid areas than the former species..  
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria 1
  One or two seen briefly at Mt Gazma (SG/SY).  
Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris persica P
  In woodland at Dilijan and Kapan.  
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes hyrcanus P
  Present in wooded habitat.  
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus major P
  Present at Dilijan, Kapan, and perhaps surprisingly, at Megri.  
Sand Martin Riparia riparia P
  Abundant at Armash and occasionally encountered at other sites.  
Eurasian Crag-Martin Hirundo rupestris P
  Common and widespread.  
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica P
  Very common.  
Common House-Martin Delichon urbica P
  Locally common at Garni Gorge. Present in small numbers elsewhere.  
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti P
  Encountered regularly in typical habitat Garni, Agarakadzor etc.  
Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia 1
  Single bird heard at Agarakadzor.  
Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides 3
  Seen and heard at Armash only.  
Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola 1
  One only seen well (VA). Another at least, heard singing - both at Armash fishponds.  
Eurasian Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus fuscus P
  Fairly common at Armash.  
Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris P
  Frequently seen and heard, often in arable fields eg Vedi, near Hradzan, Agarakadzor.  
Great Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus P
  Common at Armash fishponds. Recorded at almost all other wetlands and in ditches in Araks Valley  
Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida tamariceti 7
  6 at Agarahadzor and 1 at Sevan.  
Upcher's Warbler Hippolais languida 22
  2 near Vedi and 20 near Megri.  
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita abietinus P
  In woodland. Only seen well at Kapan.  
Mountain Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus lorenzi P
  Song and brown colouration of bird lacking any yellow/green help identification. Seen well near Hradzan and at Sevan.  
Green Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus P
  Common in woodland at Dilijan and Kapan.  
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla P
  Frequent in woodland at Dilijan and Kapan.  
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin 1
  A single bird at Garni gorge.  
Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis icterops P
  Locally common in any area with bushes and trees.  
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca caucasica/althea P
  Locally common but especially in drier habitats. This race emphasis the “whitethroat-like” song rather than the rattle and the eye-mask is much less distinct.  
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria 15
  Locally common on Mt Aragats.  
Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis crassirostris 12
  Only at Megri where locally common.  
Menetries' Warbler Sylvia mystacea 4
  A max of 3 at Armash and 1 at Vedi (VA)  
Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicuss P
  Very common at Armash.  
Coal Tit Parus ater michailowski P
  Abundant in woodland at Dilijan and Kapan.  
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris 1
  One at Megri.  
Great Tit Parus major P
  Common.  
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus P
  Common.  
Eurasian Penduline-Tit Remiz pendulinus P
  Heard at Garni Gorge, Lake Sevan and armash with one seen at Armash.  
Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata P
  Locally common on rolling grassland.  
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla artemisiana 9
  Only recorded on dry sandy ground at Armash.  
Crested Lark Galerida cristata P
  Common throughout.  
Wood Lark Lullula arborea P
  Heard more often than seen, in a variety of habitats.  
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis P
  Abundant especially at altitude in wetter, colder habitats.  
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris penicillata P
  This distinctive colourless race was abundant at altitude eg on Mt Gazma and Mt Aragats.  
House Sparrow Passer domesticus P
  Common.  
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus P
  Scarce at a few sites eg Megri, often associated with dilapidated buildings.  
Rock Petronia Petronia petronia P
  Common in suitable habitat throughout. Highest day count 150.  
Pale Rockfinch Carpospiza brachydactyla P
  Very common in all sorts of habitats esp in arid areas. Fledged young seen at Vedi.  
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis 12
  12 Mt Gazma.  
White Wagtail Motacilla alba P
  Common.  
Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg 42
  Most seen at Armash but 2 near Hrazdan  
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea P
  Regular in suitable habitat including towns.  
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 6
  Scarce – mainly at altitudes eg Meghradzor, Gnisheek and Mt Aragats.  
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis 20
  Scarce - found in odd locations not particularly associated with trees eg near Hrazdan. Gnisheek  
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis P
  Abundant at altitude and in colder habitats - Mt Gazma, Gnisheek, Mt Aragats and Hradzan. Often at higher altitude than A.spinoletta.  
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta P
  Abundant at altitude eg Meghradzor, Mt Gazma and Mt Aragats.  
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris montana 9
  1 Mt Aragats, 8 Mt Gazma.  
Radde’s Accentor Prunella ocularis 5
  3 Mt Aragats and 2 Meghradzor.  
Dunnock Prunella modularis obscura P
  Scarce - in wooded habitats and at altitude eg Meghradzor.  
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs P
  Common in woodland.  
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris bilkevitchi P
  Widespread in small numbers esp in woodland around buildings eg in Yerevan.  
Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus 15
  1 Hrazdan, 12 Mt Gazma, 2 Megri.  
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis loudoni P
  Common.  
Twite Carduelis flavirostris brevirostris P
  Common at altitude. This race is very distinct.  
Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina P
  Locally common in mountain ranges and agricultural areas.  
Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguinea 11
  3 en route to Gladzor, 2 Mt Gazma, 2 near Goris, 2 Mt Aragats and 2 at Vedi.  
Trumpeter Finch Rhodopechys githaginea crassirostris 6
  Only at Vedi.  
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus P
  Abundant in places – eg 200 around poplar plantation at Sevan. In almost all habitats.  
Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula 5
  Only recorded at Dilijan.  
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes 1
  1 at Dilijan (WH).  
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia prageri P
  Present on hillsides with scattered bushes.  
Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani cerrutii 3
  Only at Vedi where up to 3 seen well and heard.  
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana P
  Present in suitable habitat.  
Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala P
  Abundant in almost any agricultural habitat – cultivated or grassland.  
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus caspia 5
  Single birds at Armash, near Hradzan and near Agarakadzor.  
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra P
  Common and widespread in agricultural habitats..  

Simon Busuttil

For more information about birdwatching tours to Armenia contact

Simon Busuttil at Dungeness RSPB Reserve, Boulderwall Farm, Dungeness Road, Lydd, Kent, TN29 9PN, UK