kirgtrip6

Kyrgyzstan
6 to 29 August 2003

Birds and Mammals

General
When the chance came up to join the snow leopard conservation project in NE-Kyrgyzstan (sponsored by the german nature conservation society 'NABU') for 2 weeks as a so called Ecovolunteer (basically a paying guest) in august 2003, I did not hesitate a second. I always had intended to visit central asia, and the snow leopard is my favourite animal.
Off course, I did not see the king of Tienshan. But I saw his / her habitat, potential prey, and a lot of exciting birds.

Organization
I am used to independent travel, but this time I used the service of Thorsten Harder and his crew ( environment@infotel.kg resp. http://www.ecovolunteer.org ).

Limitations / Highlights
August had excellent weather, and is a good time for breeding records. These breeding records (e.g. Ferruginous Duck at Song-Kul and Black-throated Accentor in upper Chong-Aksu valley ) actually increased the impetus to write this little report.
But singing has largely ceased, activity is much reduced, and some birds have left their breeding grounds already. Thus, I managed to stay in the middle of Himalayan Rubythroat habitat for over 2 weeks without ever observing them, and Demoiselles Crane seems to have left Song-Kul long before we arrived.
The plains were not visited at all, not even their best wetlands. Off course, this prevented Crakes, Pallas Sandgrouses, Social Plovers, and others from showing up. Excellent reasons to return (e.g. in spring).

On the other hand there were countless marvellous moments.
Around Bishkek Hoopoe, Roller, European Bee-eater, and Rose-coloured Starling were as common as Chaffinch is near my home.
Many of the migrating songbirds (esp. warblers) at Issyk-Kul left unidentified, but e.g. Citrine Wagtail, Bluethroat and Scarlet Rosefinch added some colours.
In upper Chong-Aksu valley, a single Ibisbill was observed 3 times under excellent conditions, and Himalayan Snowcocks of any age and sex were encountered in virtually any side valley we visited. Lammergeier and Himalayan Griffon, Daurian Partridge, Black-throated Accentor (plus three other Prunella species), Eversmann's Redstart, Wallcreeper, Gray-necked Bunting, and last not least the group of Marco Polo Sheep were other highlights in this area. And then there was this surprise punk bird, Severtzov's Tit-Warbler.
At Song-Kul I will never forget the Saker Falcon devouring an unlucky Kestrel just 100m opposite on the next slope for half an hour, showing me the brownish stripes on the white crown every 20 seconds. A visit to the south shore of this lake produced 10 Mongolian Plovers, 2 very welcome Terek Sandpipers, and a Great Black-headed Gull. The most unusual bird for landlocked Kyrgyzstan however might have been the single Turnstone.

Dates
All dates follow the sequence day-month-year. This may not be typical for the english language, but otherwise I would make too many mistakes.

Numbers
Numbers given are numbers of birds observed. We did not do complete counts at any location.

Itinerary
05.08.03 Arrival Bishkek
06.08.03 - 07.08.03 Birdwatching southern edge of Bishkek
08.08.03 - 09.08.03 Issyk-Kul near Tory-Aygur (nw - coast)
09.08.03 - 21.08.03 Upper Chong-Aksu Valley (northern Tianshan)
21.08.03 - 22.08.03 Issyk-Kul near Tory-Aygur (nw - coast)
22.08.03 - 28.08.03 Song-Kul (w-central Tianshan)
29.08.03 Birdwatching south of Bishkek (Koy-Tash)

Sites
Accomodation at Issyk Kul, Chong-Aksu and Song-Kul was in yurts (gers).
Location of the yurts at Tory-Aygur close to the shore of Issyk-Kul was around 42:30 N / 76:22 E.
Location of the yurts in upper Chong-Aksu valley at around 2700m was approximately 42:51 N / 77:18 E (NABU camp) in northern Tianshan, in the border region towards Kazakhstan.
Location of the yurts near Song-Kul at around 3000m was approximately 41:47 N / 75:22 E in west central Tienshan.
Altitudes were estimated using the not really precise 1:200000 maps (see below), and subsequently Eschenbach ALPIN-EL altimeter.

My objectives were to visit and assist the snow leopard project in nw Tianshan mountains, and thereafter to do relaxed birdwatching in a different habitat (steppe and water). Reducing driving to a minimum, with maximum time devoted to walking, horse riding, and wildlife watching.
Hardcore birdwatchers are advised to choose a different travel plan!

Field Guides
Most of the birds and the best illustrations are found in:
Lars Svensson, Peter J. Grant, Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterstroem: Der neue Kosmos Vogelfuehrer. Stuttgart (Franckh-Kosmos-Verlags-GmbH & Co.) 1999
(Or any other guide for western palearctic birds in any language).

However, quite a few Kyrgyz species are ignored here for good reason. Examples are Himalayan Snowcock, Ibisbill, Himalayan Rubythroat, and Fulvous Accentor.

For a description of these species, and for a distribution map of any species within former Sovjet Union, the best source remains:
V. E. Flint, R. L. Boehme, Y. V. Kostin & A. A. Kuznetsov: Birds of the USSR. Princeton (Princeton University Press) 1984

Sequence of birds in this report (and systematic decisions, with random exceptions) follows the latter.

Travel Guides / Maps
1:200000 maps of the whole country were available in Bishkek exactly as described in the Lonely Planet guide.
Otherwise, Lonely Planet Central Asia is highly outdated, and better guides are not available! But nowadays, the internet fills any such gaps.

Acknowledgement
Many birds were initially detected by my travel companion Gerhard Bronner, Achmet Umetbekov and his crew, or one of our translators or drivers.
Aside from bird watching, I would like to thank all our Kyrgyz hosts for their warm hospitality, flexibility and enthusiasm!

Conservation Issues
I do neither speak the kyrgyz nor the russian language, and our tour came close to a package tour. Thus, my observations are anecdotal.

Issyk-Kul near Tory-Aygur:
No indication of any conservation effort.

Upper Chong-Aksu valley
In theory, to all of my knowledge, this is part of a biosphere reserve.
There is an entry / exit checkpoint. No idea who is checking whom for which reason. Our driver was known to the guards, so this was just a face check.
This is not an uninhabitated mountain valley, but a place, where many shepherds (together with their sheep, cows, horses, and dogs), and other people (e.g. mushroom-seekers) spend their summer.
The Tianshan-Spruce-Forest here is heavily fragmented. The NABU-camp was felling only dead trees for firewood. But, lower in the forest near mushroom-collector-tents, I found at least 3 truncs of recently felled trees (18.08.03), which must have been alive before. Apparently, forest destruction goes on!
I did not hear a single gun-shot in the 2 weeks I was here. On the other hand, I suspect that in mountain regions shots are not audible easily.
On 17.08.03 (15:45) I saw 2 men carrying guns riding uphill at 3100m in the main valley. One of them tried to hide the gun from me.

Song-Kul
The western part of the lake and all adjacent land up to the circular road are strict nature reserve. There are guards to make sure that no tourists enter this area.
Horses, cows, shepherds, and their dogs ignore theses restrictions.

Overgrazing
There are disquietingly large herds of sheep everywhere. On the other hand, all our Kyrgyz hosts pointed out, that livestock numbers nowadays are considerably lower than during the times of the Soviet Union.
The mountains around Tyulek were depressingly bleak and eroded. In the other highland locations, grass (green and yellow) was abundant. And there was always enough vegetation for our horses.

Birds

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus Haubentaucher
Observed Issyk-Kul and Song-Kul (here also juveniles on 23. and 27.08.03).

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis Schwarzhalstaucher
23.08.03 8 corpses (adults and immatures) found near a fisher hut at Song-Kul! Apparently, Black-necked Grebes often drown in fisher's nets.
27.08.03 about 300 along about 1km shoreline of Song-Kul, including many juveniles. The whole population for this lake could be into the thousands.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Kormoran
09.08.03 5 flying along Issyk-Kul.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Graureiher
23.08.03 5 Song-Kul.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia Weissstorch
22.08.03 2 Tyulek Valley.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra Schwarzstorch
23.08.03 6 and 28.08.03 2 ad. Song-Kul.

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea Rostgans
09.08.03 2 ad. 3 juv. at the lakes at 3100m south of the NABU camp in upper Chong-Aksu valley indicate possible breeding (though all able to fly).
10.08.03 3 lake at 3500m south of the NABU camp in upper Chong-Aksu valley.
21.08.03 flying along Issyk-Kul.
22. - 28.08.03 common (30 seen) along Song-Kul, also using the smaller wetlands along the small streams.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Stockente
27.08.03 small numbers Song-Kul.

Green-winged Teal Anas crecca Krickente
18.08.03 observed at 2700m upper Chong-Aksu.
27.08.03 small numbers Song-Kul, 3 on a small creek about 10km ne of the lake.

Pintail Anas acuta Spiessente
22.08.03 6 flying along Issyk-Kul.
22. - 27.08.03 numerous on Song-Kul.

Garganey Anas querquedula Knaekente
18.08.03 observed at 2700m upper Chong-Aksu.
22. - 27.08.03 numerous Song-Kul.

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata Loeffelente
27.08.03 small numbers Song-Kul.

Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca Moorente
23.08.03 1 female with 4 pulli northern shore of Song-Kul.
27.08.03 1 female with 8 pulli southern shore of Song-Kul.

Black Kite Milvus migrans Schwarzmilan
Observed in upper Chong-Aksu valley and near Song-Kul.

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Sperber
Observed near Bishkek and in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus Adlerbussard
Abundant around Bishkek, around Issyk-Kul, in upper Chong-Aksu valley, and near Song-Kul.

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos Steinadler
1 - 2 observed circling in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus Bartgeier
Often observed in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis Schneegeier
1 - 3 observed circling in upper Chong-Aksu valley, se of Song-Kul, and at Kalmak-Ashu pass (ne of Song-Kul).

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus Rohrweihe
Several along Song-Kul.

Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides Wuestenfalke
27.08.03 An adult F. p. babylonicus was posing prominently on a 1m high road post approximately 80m in front of our car, about 1 km w of the bridge over Song-Kul river (se of Song-Kul).

Saker Falcon Falco cherrug Wuergfalke
22.08.03 (16:00) An adult caught a female or immature Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) about 200m nw of the bridge over Song-Kul river (2 other Kestrels and 2 Choughs stooped on the Saker thereafter), and fed on it for 30 minutes. Then it took off with the prey to higher grounds, leaving behind a few feathers and the complete head of the Kestrel.
24.08.03 (13:50) I flushed a Saker from an unnamed 3400m summit (approx. 41:43 N / 75:25 E) se of Song-Kul.

Hobby Falco subbeteo Baumfalke
18. and 20.08.03 a very confiding immature on top of a 10m Tianshan Spruce (flushing impossible, though I did not climb the tree) at 3100m in upper Chong-Aksu valley was uttering food-calls.
24.08.03 1 ad. Song-Kul.
28.08.03 1 ad. E of Kochkor.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Turmfalke
Commonly observed throughout the country. In upper Chong-Aksu valley, feeding of juveniles was observed several times.

Quail Coturnix coturnix Wachtel
Commonly heard near Bishkek (one flushed 07.08.03), and near Issyk-Kul.

Chukar Partridge Alectoris chukar Chukarhuhn
12.08.03 a group of about 30 was flushed by our group at around 2900m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Daurian Partridge Perdix dauurica Bartrebhuhn
Several observations on open south exposed slopes interspersed with rocks in upper Chong-Aksu valley up to about 3250m, including immature birds (Face and flank pattern like adult, but no rufous. Immatures not depicted or described in any field guide I know!).

Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis Himalaya-Koenigshuhn
11. - 17.08.03 6 observations of together 33 birds (1, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 10) between 3000m and 3600m in upper Chong-Aksu valley. This included several young birds, notably on 16.08.03 a female with 3 not fledged chicks at 3400m.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus Fasan
Frequently heard and a few observed in the bushes close to the shore of Issyk-Kul. Here, at last, within its natural distribution!

Coot Fulica atra Blesshuhn
23. and 27.08.03 at least 20 on north respectively south shore of Song-Kul.

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Teichhuhn
22.08.03 observed Issyk-Kul.

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus Wasserralle
22.08.03 (06:10) 1 heard Issyk-Kul.

Lesser Sand Plover / Mongolian Plover Charadrius mongolus Mongolenregenpfeifer
27.08.03 10 southern shore of Song-Kul.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus Kiebitz
Several troops around Song-Kul.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Steinwaelzer
27.08.03 1 on shingle bank of southern shore of Song-Kul, loosely associated with 5 Little Stints.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Sichelstrandlaeufer
27.08.03 5 on shingle bank of southern shore of Song-Kul.

Little Stint Calidris minuta Zwergstrandlaeufer
27.08.03 9 on shingle bank of southern shore of Song-Kul.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax Kampflaeufer
27.08.03 about 70 southern shore of Song-Kul.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus Waldwasserlaeufer
11.08.03 1 lake at 3100m upper Chong-Aksu valley.
Common Issyk-Kul and Song-Kul.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Bruchwasserlaeufer
27.08.03 at least 6 south shore of Song-Kul.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia Gruenschenkel
26.08.03 2 at creek (tributary to Song-Kul).

Redshank Tringa totanus Rotschenkel
Abundant Song-Kul.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Flussuferlaeufer
09.08.03 1 Issyk-Kul.
09.08.03 1 lake at 3100m upper Chong-Aksu valley.
10.08.03 4 (including 1 imm.) upper Chong-Aksu at 2700m.
27.08.03 at least 3 southern shore of Song-Kul.

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus Terekwasserlaeufer
27.08.03 2 on shingle bank on southern shore of Song-Kul.

Curlew Numenius arquata Grosser Brachvogel
27.08.03 11 southern shore of Song-Kul.

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago Bekassine
09.08.03 1 Issyk-Kul and 27.08.03 at least 8 southern shore of Song-Kul.

Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersi Ibisschnabel
14., 15. and 17.08.03 1 at 3000m upper Chong-Aksu.

Great Black-headed Gull Larus ichthyaetus Fischmoewe
27.08.03 1 adult south shore of Song-Kul.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Lachmoewe
Common Issyk-Kul and Song-Kul.

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei Duennschnabelmoewe
23.08.03 at least 1 north coast of Song-Kul.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo Fluss-Seeschwalbe
09.08.03 1 -2 Issyk-Kul
27.08.03 at least 5 adults and 1 juvenile (fed by adults) south shore of Song-Kul.

Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia Haustaube
Abundant throughout.

Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus Ringeltaube
Common Issyk-Kul and upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Oriental Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis Meenataube / Orientturteltaube
Observed Issyk-Kul and upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto Tuerkentaube
21.08.03 1 Issyk-Kul.

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Palmtaube
29.08.03 1 Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.

Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus canorus Kuckuck
10.08.03 1 around 3000m upper Chong-Aksu valley.
21.08.03 1 flushed from road, insect in bill, e of Cemenowka.
21.08.03 2 very confiding birds Issyk-Kul.

European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus Ziegenmelker
08.08.03 (20:40) 1 Issyk-Kul.

Swift Apus apus Mauersegler
21.08.03 Issyk-Kul.

Eurasian Roller Coracias garrulus Blauracke
Abundant around Bishkek.

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster Bienenfresser
Abundant around Bishkek and at Issyk-Kul.

Hoopoe Upupa epops Wiedehopf
Abundant around Bishkek, Issyk-Kul and Song-Kul.
19.08.03 1 at 3000m upper Chong-Aksu valley.

[ Woodpeckers Piciformes Spechte ]
Not a single woodpecker was observed on this trip!

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla Kurzzehenlerche
08.08.03 1 Issyk-Kul.

Horned Lark / Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris Ohrenlerche
Abundant Song-Kul, including juveniles.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Rauchschwalbe
Abundant around Bishkek, and at Issyk-Kul. Feeding behaviour observed within ruined building at Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.
Never observed in upper Chong-Aksu valley around or above 2700m (14 days)!

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica Roetelschwalbe
07.08.03 singles s of Bishkek.

Northern House Martin Delichon urbica Mehlschwalbe
Common around Bishkek, and at Issyk-Kul.

Martin sp. Riparia sp. Schwalbe sp.
29.08.03 2 light brown Riparia-Swallows joining Barn Swallows at a sandy slope south of Bishkek (a possible breeding site even, far away from water though) appeared to be very small, and did not have a collar, and thus were immediately identified as Plain Martin (Riparia paludicola). However, the so called Pale Martin Riparia (riparia) diluta was not mentioned in my guide books, and thus can not be excluded.
Future visitors of Kyrgyzstan should be aware of this situation!

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris Brachpieper
Observed Issyk-Kul and upper Chong-Aksu valley (here juveniles included).

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis Baumpieper
Observed upper Chong-Aksu valley and near Bishkek.

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta Bergpieper
Observed upper Chong-Aksu valley and Song-Kul.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava Schafstelze
Observed Bishkek, Issyk-Kul and Song-Kul.

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola Zitronenstelze
09.08.03 Issyk-Kul.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea Gebirgsstelze
1 - 2 upper Chong-Aksu, and Kumdu-Suu (eastern tributary to Song-Kul).

White Wagtail Motacilla alba Bachstelze
Abundant Bishkek, Issyk-Kul, upper Chong-Aksu valley, and Song-Kul.

Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor (sensu largu) Raubwuerger
10.08.03 many south of Bishkek.

Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor Schwarzstirnwuerger
10.08.03 1 south of Bishkek.

Longtailed Shrike Lanius schach Schachwuerger
Severals observed south of Bishkek and at Issyk-Kul.

Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus / phoenicuroides Isabellwuerger
Very common around Bishkek and at Issyk-Kul.

Eurasian Dipper Cinclus cinclus Wasseramsel
Common in upper Chong-Aksu valley, including immatures.
22.08.03 1 Kumdu-Suu (eastern tributary to Song-Kul).

Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii Flusswasseramsel
10.08.03 (07:30) 1 at 2700m Chong-Aksu.
(Excactly at this location Cinclus cinclus had been observed at 06:30 and again at 07:40 the same day.)

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Zaunkoenig
18.08.03 1 clearing in Tienshan Spruce forest at 2600m upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus Misteldrossel
21.08.03 1 Tianshan Spruce forest at 3100m upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula Amsel
Quite rare around 2750m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Blue Whistling-Thrush Myophonus caeruleus Purpur-Pfeifdrossel
10.08.03 1 at 2700m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis Steinroetel
Abundant above 3500m in upper Chong-Aksu valley, and above 3300m near Song-Kul.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Steinschmaetzer
Common in in upper Chong-Aksu valley above 3100m.
26.08.03 1 Song-Kul.

Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka Nonnen-Steinschmaetzer
29.08.03 1 near Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina Isabellsteinschmaetzer
Common in the semidesert bordering Issyk-Kul.
Abundant near Song-Kul, where this species together with Horned Lark was the only passerine inhabitant of the pastures.

Stonechat Saxicola torquata Schwarzkehlchen
Single birds at Bishkek (juveniles included), in upper Chong-Aksu valley, and at Song-Kul.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros Hausrotschwanz
Common in upper Chong-Aksu valley, including juveniles. Also observed near Song-Kul.

Eversmann's Redstart Phoenicurus erythronotus Sprosserrotschwanz
18.08.03 and 21.08.03 1 male at forest edge around 3100m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Nachtigall
29.08.03 1 garden in Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica Blaukehlchen
3 observations of white-starred males in upper Chong-Aksu valley, 2 observations of red-starred males at Issyk-Kul and 1 observation of a red-starred male near Song-Kul. The Song-Kul-bird was found in absolutely open habitat without any bushes, and therefore it was hiding among the rocks available.

Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides Gruenlaubsaenger
Abundant upper Chong-Aksu valley, where feeding of young birds was observed.
Also observed near Song-Kul, even where there was no single bush nearby!

Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus humei Tienshan-Laubsaenger
Abundant upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Olivaceous / Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus Pamir-Laubsaenger
16.08.03 1 pair (male singing) at 3300m upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Cetti's warbler Cettia cetti Seidensaenger
Common Issyk-Kul, including juveniles.

Blyth's Reed-warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum Buschrohrsaenger
16.08.03 1 on top of vegetation on moraine at 3400m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria Sperbergrasmuecke
07.08.03 2 south of Bishkek.

Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis Dorngrasmuecke
Common near Bishkek, at Issyk-Kul, and in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca Klappergrasmuecke
15.08.03 1 singing at 3250m in upper Chong-Aksu valley (probably subspecies althea).

Menetries's Warbler Sylvia mystacea Tamariskengrasmuecke
22.08.03 at least 1 male, and 2 females or immatures Issyk-Kul.

Goldcrest Regulus regulus Wintergoldhaehnchen
12. and 18.08.03 1 respectively a group at around 2800m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Severtzov's Tit-Warbler Leptopoecile sophiae Purpurhaehnchen
15. and 21.08.03 groups of 3 to 5 at 3100 - 3200m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata Grauschnaepper
29.08.03 Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.

Great Tit Parus major Kohlmeise
06.08.03 southern edge of Bishkek.

Azure Tit Parus cyanus Lasurmeise
06. and 07.08.03 southern edge of Bishkek.

Coal Tit Parus ater Tannenmeise
Common in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Willow Tit Parus montanus Weidenmeise
Several in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus Beutelmeise
07.08.03 A little group in the foothills south of Bishkek, far away from any wetlands.

Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria Mauerlaeufer
19.08.03 1 at around 3300m in side valley (Yu-Bulak) of upper Chong-Aksu valley. In this case the microhabitat was not rocky, but an earthy slope of 45° caused by a stream.

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis Schwarzkehlbraunelle
14.08.03 1 pair feeding at least 1 immature bird at 2900m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.
20.08.03 1 pair, male bird singing, at 3100m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens Fahlbraunelle
Abundant above 3200m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris Alpenbraunelle
16.08.03 some birds at 3300m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Himalayan Accentor Prunella himalayana Himalayabraunelle
12.08.03 some birds above 3500m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra Grauammer
29.08.03 4 Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.

Gray-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani Steinortolan
15.08.03 1 male at 3450m on south exposed rocky slope in upper Chong-Aksu valley. Later the same day, a small group was observed at 2900m on the same slope.
29.08.03 1 Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia Zippammer
Some birds observed in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes Wacholderkernbeisser
Common in upper Chong-Aksu valley. Immatures present, adult male singing at 3150m on 15.08.03.

Eurasian Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Stieglitz
Common near Bishkek and in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Linnet Carduelis cannabina Haenfling
Common in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Twite Acanthis flavirostris Berghaenfling
Abundant in upper Chong-Aksu valley. On 16.08.03, feeding of young was observed at 3300m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.
28.08.03 3 to 4 groups of around 50 birds Kalmak-Ashu pass.

Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus Rotstirngirlitz
Abundant in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys Rosenmantelgimpel
14.08.03 1 male in trees lining the river at 2800m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Scarlet Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus Karmingimpel
Abundant around Issyk-Kul and in upper Chong-Aksu valley up to 3450m.
25.08.03 1 Song-Kul around rocks (far away from bushes of any size).

Snow-Finch Montifringilla nivalis Schneefink
11.08.03 1 in typical alpine habitat at 3700m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Rock Petronia Petronia petronia Steinsperling
29.08.03 at least 1 Koy-Tash south of Bishkek.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus Haussperling
06. and 29.08.03 Bishkek.

Tree Sparrow Passer montanus Feldsperling
Common near Bishkek and at Issyk-Kul.

Starling Sturnus vulgaris Star
Common near Bishkek and at Issyk-Kul.

Rose-coloured Starling Sturnus roseus Rosenstar
Common near Bishkek and at Issyk-Kul.

Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis Hirtenmaina
Common near Bishkek, at Issyk-Kul and in upper Chong-Aksu valley.
07.08.03 40 Indian Mynas actively drove away 2 Hoopoes in secondary growth at southern outskirts of Bishkek.

Raven Corvus corax Kolkrabe
Abundant Bishkek, upper Chong-Aksu valley and Song-Kul.

Carrion Crow Corvus corone Rabenkraehe
Single birds Issyk-Kul, upper Chong-Aksu valley and Song-Kul.

Rook Corvus frugilegus Saatkraehe
Single birds lower Chong-Aksu valley.

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Alpenkraehe
Abundant upper Chong-Aksu valley and Song-Kul.

Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus Alpendohle
Frequent upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes Tannenhaeher
Single birds observed upper Chong-Aksu valley at 2700m.

Magpie Pica pica Elster
Abundant Bishkek, upper Chong-Aksu valley and Issyk-Kul.

Mammals
Footprints and / or droppings of Snowleopard, Lynx, Bear and Wolf have been observed. Details are not given here, because I am unexperienced in their identification. Anyway, this is the work of Achmet Umetbekov.
I am very happy that all these Carnivores are still there.

Royle's Pika Ochotona roylei Grossohriger Pfeifhase
14.08.03 1 at 3450m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Brown Hare Lepus capensis Feldhase
Bishkek, at Issyk-Kul, and up to 3600m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris Eichhoernchen
Bishkek, and at 2700m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Marmot sp. Marmota sp. Murmeltier sp.
Marmots were frequently encountered in upper Chong-Aksu valley, and around Song-Kul.
Although they were seen very well several times, and I took pains estimating the tail length in comparison to hole body length (among other field marks), I feel unable to securily identify the species. In theory, Marmota caudata, Marmota (bobak) baibacina, and Marmota menzbieri (the latter probably not at Song-Kul) could be expected.
G. B. Corbet: The Mammals of the Palearctic Region: A taxonomic review. London (Brit. Mus. Nat. History) 1978 (& Supplement 1984) provides a key, which would direct me to Bobak (Marmota bobak) for the Marmots seen well. However, I have read contradictory descriptions of Bobak, and it is not sure that Corbet took into consideration the central asian forms for his key (Marmota baibacina is considered a full species by other authors).
A Field Guide to the Mammals of Asia is more than overdue!

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes Rotfuchs
18.08.03 (7:00) 1 at 2850m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Stoat Mustela erminea Hermelin
17.08.03 (8:30) 1 at 3300m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Marco Polo Sheep Ovis ammon polii Marco Polo-Schaf / Pamir-Wildschaf
17.08.03 (12:45 - 13:00) a group (1 female with 2 small young of same year + at least 3 females / older young) observed at 4000m in upper Chong-Aksu valley, close to Kazakhstan border.

Ibex Capra ibex Steinbock
Twice observed far away at 3500 - 3600m in upper Chong-Aksu valley.

Outlook
A very hospitable and interesting region, with excellent opportunities for exciting wildlife encounters. I will return!

Henning Lege