TRIP REPORTS – ARMENIA
JUNE 5th – 16th 2000.
June 5th: Heathrow – Zurich – Yerevan.
We assembled at London Heathrow Terminal 2 for the flight with Swissair to Zurich and eventually Yerevan the capital city of Armenia. Arrival time in Yerevan was thirty minutes late due to strong headwinds and turbulence. Zhanna was at the airport to greet us and transfer the group to Eribuni Hotel in the city centre.
June 6th: Yerevan – Armash Fishponds.
Daily total 77 New trip birds 77 Running total 77
Weather: Warm and sunny with light breezes, 26 c.
Our day began at 1030 with a visit to Armash Fishponds a privately owned complex situated next to the Turkish border. Along the road we recorded White Storks, Black-headed and Corn Buntings and roaming flocks of Rose-coloured Starlings. The entrance road to Armash attracted a pair of Montagu’s Harriers, Pygmy Cormorants, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Wagtail and a Little Owl sitting on top of a telegraph pole. Armash is badly in need of protection a wonderful area of freshwater ponds, reedbeds and adjacent areas of unimproved farmland. Our first birds included European Bee-eaters and parties of Little Egret and Grey Herons flying from ponds to nesting areas. The first stop was a memorable expperience for wildfowl. Great Crested Grebes were numerous along with Common and Red-crested Pochards, Ferruginous and Marbled Ducks, and Gadwall. The drier areas held breeding Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Northern Lapwing and a late Little Stint. The reeds themselves held large numbers of Bearded Tits and croaking Great Reed Warblers. We walked along a raised bund where we could see Gull-billed and Little Terns. Little Bitterns flitted from one area of reedbed to another. A picnic lunch provided an elevated position to watch birds. We were not disappointed as a female White-headed Duck was located amongst a raft of Red-crested Pochards. A Common Kingfisher flew over whilst in the distance Western Marsh-harriers patrolled distant reedbeds. Earlier we had seen a beautiful Short-toed Eagle. Our next stop was a drained fishpond where we found Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper and Common Ringed Plovers. Further species included Garganey, Common Shelduck and a pair of Whiskered Terns. The finale was to come when we returned to the first area visited. We were watching a reedbed with good numbers of Paddyfield Warblers when a Moustached Warbler suddenly came into view. The highlight however was a pair of White-tailed Lapwings flying just above our heads. The journey home to Yerevan went smoothly with the exception of a wheel problem. A fantastic day in Armenia.
June 7th:Atsavan – Garni Gorge – Azat Zabasov
Daily total 59 New trip birds 41 Running total 118
Weather: Hot and sunny, 30 c.
Outside the hotel we recorded Laughing Dove, European Goldfinch and European Greenfinch. After breakfast we headed towards the village of Atsavan. The suburbs of Yerevan held Black Redstarts and Common Whitethroats along with small numbers of Common Starlings. The road started to wind steadily into foothills and grassy valley areas dotted with rock outcrops. Stopping by the roadside produced Black-eared and Isabelline Wheatears, Black-headed Bunting and a pair of nest building Lesser Grey Shrikes. Further along the road we studied Woodchat Shrikes and the insect-calling Pale Rock Sparrow. Overhead a pair of Long-legged Buzzards were observed. We eventually entered a narrow road adjacent to a fast-flowing river. The cliffs held nesting House Martins, Alpine Swift and Eurasian Crag-martin. Along the river White-throated Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Blue Rock Thrush were recorded. Further down the gorge parties of Rose-coloured Starlings flew over with an adult Egyptian Vulture. Steep cliffs attracted Eurasian Jackdaw and Red-billed Chough. At lunchtime in the shade of a willow tree a Middle-spotted Woodpecker was seen plus a male Golden Oriole. The final birds along the valley were a particularly grey Lesser Whitethroat, Upchers Warbler and a pair of Eurasian Penduline Tits. Our final birding destination was in an arid region near Azat Zabasov. We located Black-eared and Finch’s Wheatears and Western Rock Nuthatch. Walking along a scrub lined valley we located a female White-throated Robin feeding young. Rufous-tailed Bush Robins sang from bush tops whilst the higher boulders held an Eastern Rock Nuthatch. Earlier a pair of Trumpeter Finches gave brief views feeding on seeding flower heads.
June 8th: Yerevan – Sevan – Hradzan – Tezh Mountain – Lake Sevan – Dilijan.
Daily total 75 New trip birds 37 Running total 155
Weather: Warm and sunny with aftenoon showers, 25 c.
We left Yerevan and headed towards Lake Sevan. A stop en route produced calling Common Quail and in nearby pine trees Common Rosefinch and Tree Pipit. Sevan was eventually reached where we left our luggage. We then retraced our steps to the industrial town of Hradzan. A river area near an industrial complex provided soaring Lesser Spotted Eagles and a passing Booted Eagle. Along the river a Little Bittern flew out from a degraded reedbed. Other species present included Marsh Warbler and Blue Tit. The next stop near a railway tunnel produced Red-fronted Serin and Rock Bunting and low flying Eurasian Crag-martins. We had a late breakfast  near a shepherds farm overlooking a river. Highlights included a White-throated Dipper carrying food to a nearby nest. Bushes had good numbers of Red-backed Shrike. High above the cliffs a Golden Eagle soared. From here a track meanders upwards passing through flower-laden meadows. This habitat yielded Water Pipit, Eurasain Linnet, Twite and Rufoous-tailed Rock-thrush. At the summit a breathtaking view of distant villages and mountains greeted us. We walked along another track recording Ring Ouzel, Dunnock and Common Raven. No sign of Caucasian Grouse. On the decsent we found a pair of Horned Larks and a Grey Partridge flushed from a ford. Sevan town was visited to pick up our luggage. Sevan Lake and Gull Island was our final birdwatching destiation. From a vantage point we could study Armenian Gulls in a colony numbering c1500 birds. Other species present included Ruddy Shelduck, Little Ringed Plover and fishing Common Terns. Dilijan, our base for two night was 60 kilometres away. We passed through dramatic sceneary before reaching or remote hotel set amongst a forest of oak and beech.
June 9th: Dilijan – Tezh Mountain.
Daily total 65 New trip birds 15 Running total 170
Weather: Warm with light breezes, 27 c.
The gardens around the hotel were excellent for woodland species. Holes in the hotel wall attracted the eastern race of Common Redstart to nest. Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Eurasian Nuthatch, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Hawfinch and Eurasian Bullfinch were all seen. After breakfast we headed towards Tezh Mountain from a different direction. We walked a long distance uphill through a mix of conifer and deciduous woodland. Tree Pipit, Green Warbler, Caucasian Chiffchaff and Blackcap were particularly common. The lower slopes produced similar birds to yesterday afternoon with the addition of a juvenile Lammergeier soaring over the slopes in search of food. On return to Dilijan good views of Long-legged and Common Buzzard sitting on an old railway stantion. After lunch we explored nearby woodland of oak and beech. This produced close views of nesting Semi-collared Flycatchers and Green Warblers. Walking along forest tracks we could clearly see footprints of Brown Bear, Roe Deer and Wild Boar. After crossing a rather muddy stream we encountered a family party of Red-breasted Flycatchers. Common Treecreeper also seen before retracing our route. Walking up the road we recorded Common Redstart, Coal Tit and several more Green Warblers. A distant Black Woodpecker called before calling it a day. Tawny Owl heard caling late evening.
June 10th: Dilijan – Sevan – Yerevan – Vike.
Daily total 118 New trip birds 10 Running total 180
Weather: Sunny with a cool breeze
We left Dilijan and travelled towards Lake Sevan. A bref stop allowed us to study Common Rosefinches at close range. A stop at Sevan to make an emergency repair to one Lada. Whilst waiting we recorded Common Whitethroat, Northern Wheatear, Corn Bunting and passing Armenian Gulls. Yerevan on a Saturday is a bustling pace full of markets and people wandering arond th opwn boulevards. I exchanged money and telephoned home. We decided to revisit Armash fishponds en route to Vike. Mount Ararat was quite a spectacle with snow-capped peaks jutting into a clear blue sky. The fishponds had similar birds to our first visit with the addition of Slender-billed Gulls,, White-winged Tern, Great White Egret and a hunting Eurasian Hobby. We left Armash travelling near the border with Azerbijdan to Vike. The road passes through spectacular gorges where we recorded Golden Eagle and Chukar. Vike was eventually reached another run down Armenian town with a small barracks. Our base for two nights is perched on top of a hill. Good location but the poorest facilities so far.
June 11th: Mount Gazma.
Daily total 65 New trip birds 7 Running total 187
Weather: Cool at higher elevations, overcast. 18c
We left our hotel with its nesting Eurasian Crag-martins and Rock Nuthatches and travelled to Yeghegnadzor. This small town is the entry point to Mount Gazma a spectacular region of outstanding natural beauty. The road leading into the mountains is rather tortuus in places. Our first stop had displaying Bimaculated Larks. Further up the valley an isolated church dominates the landscape. A well wooded and vegetated valley produced territorial White-throated Robins, Common Whitethroat and Rock Bunting. After climbing several thousand feet we reached a seasonal village used by shepherds. Nearby slopes enabled us to study Red-fronted Serin and Eurasian Linnets at cose range. Crimson-winged Finches were present along with another race of Black Redstart. Beyond the village alpine meadows and boulder strewn crags look down into a valley below. We parked the vehicles and walked slowly through the thin area along a track. This gave us close views of Tree Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Ortolan Bunting, Horned Lark and Eurasian Skylark. Higher up we found Alpine Accentors and White-winged Snowfinches and brief views of flying Caspian Snowcocks. A lone Eurasian Griffon Vulture perched on a rock below before gliding into the valley. As the weather closed in parties of House Martins and Alpine Swifts flew around us at low heights. On our decent we stopped at the village with further views of Red-fronted Serin and a male Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush perched on a rock. The journey down the mountain took less time. Stopping in a village produced Syrian Woodpeckers and Eurasian Hoopoes at their respective nest holes. Trees along a stream held Semi-collared Flycatcher, Grey and White Wagtails and Great Tit. The day finished with close views of nesting Black-eared Wheatears and near base flocks of Rose-coloured Starlings.
June 12th: Vike – Gnisheek – Tsghook – Goris – Kapan.
Daily total 82 New trip birds 5 Running total 192
Weather: Warm and sunny then turning to low cloud. 24c
We were all pleased to leave the hotel in Vike. Our first birding spot was the mountain road leading to the village of Gnisheek. This produced the now familiar range of Armenian mountain birds. Close views were obtained of Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush, Upchers Warbler and overhead Common Buzzard, Golden Eagle and a party of Red-billed Chough. Further up the valley Bimaculated Larks gave their impressive song flight. We then headed to a valley with wild rose bushes a favourite haunt of White-throated Robins. Good views obtained along with almost tame Rufous-tailed Rock-thrushes, Tawny Pipit, Rock Sparrow and Ortolan Buntings. Lunch was taken near a stream where Pale Rock Sparrows came down to drink. Eurasian Turtle-dove added for the trip list. After lunch we visited a rocky gorge near Yeghegnadzor. A small marsh held singing Great Reed Warblers and nearby European Roller and White Stork. The rocky hillside held Black-eared and Finsch’s Wheatears. At 1400 hours we left on the long journey to Kapan. Birds en route included Lesser Kestrel. A highlight for most of us was a huge flock of Rose-coloured Starlings feeding on the ground. Behind us a Peregrine Falcon flew past. As we climbed in altitude low cloud made driving difficult in poor visibility. Two Long-legged Buzzards were observed plus a lone European Black Vulture. Progress was slow to Goris and beyond to Kapan. A wooded gorge near Goris had Egyptian Vulture, Golden Oriole and singing Thrush Nightingales. The drive to Kapan was somewhat arduous in dreadful conditions. Kapan itself is a city of total dereliction of defunct factories and ugly high rise flats. Our base for two nights is based in secluded countryside a far cry from Kapan.
June 13th: Megri and the Iran Border.
Daily total New trip birds Running total
Weather: Warm and sunny, 27 c.
Around the hotel gardens we recorded Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Redstart, Red-backed Shrike and Common Cuckoo. We passed through Kajaran and into the mountains towards Megri on the border with Iran. At Megri hospital we observed a female Levant Sparrowhawk on the nest, shortly afterwards the male was seen soaring nearby. Our next stop was a rocky gorge with Eurasian Sparrowhawk Blue Rock-thrush, Lesser Whitehroat, Eastern and Rock Nuthatches, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock and Pale Rock Sparrows, Red-fronted Serin, Rock Bunting and a Chukar perched high on a boulder. We stopped in Megri before travelling along the border with Iran. Our first stop at a rocky gorge provided us with excellent views of Persian Wheatears. This species only occurs in the extreme eastern part of the Western Palearctic. The rufous tail shows well in flight. Along the border fence a European Roller perched near an army post. Today we had our picnic near a pomegranite orchard with close views of Menetries Warbler. A walk was taken through another orchard where Orphean Warblers were quite numerous plus a pair of Woodchat Shrikes. On our return to Kapan we located single Egyptian and Eurasian Griffon-vultures flying over the border from Iran. We rechecked the gorge again without much success apart from a pair of Upchers Warblers. In the evening we had a memorable meal and drinks with the hotel staff and our hosts. An early start tomorrow for the journey back to Yerevan.
June 14th: Kapan – Goris – Vedi – Yerevan.
Daily total New trip birds Running total
Weather: Warm with strong winds, 28 c.
Our departure from Kapan was delayed by forty minutes. This was mainly due to the celebrations of last night. The first birding stop was in the gorge near Goris. The high cliffs attracted several raptors including Lammergeier, Eurasian Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Common Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle and Eurasian Kestrel. The shrubbery allowed us close views of a singing Thrush Nightingale and in the valley below calling Golden Orioles. We passed through Vike and onto Vedi with its sub-desert habitat. A natural spring attracted Pale Rock Sparrow, Trumpeter Finch and Grey-necked Bunting down to drink. We could study these species at close range despite sttrong wind conditions. It was a short drive up to Yerevan and a return stay at the Erebuni Hotel. A long but rewarding day from Kapan to Yerevan.
Systematic List 5th to 16th June 2000
English name (latin name) total for trip
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) c.6
Only recorded from Armash fish ponds.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) c.200
Very common at Armash FP where it breeds. Not recorded away from this area.
Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) c.70
Regularly seen flying to and from Armash FP. In flight and in the water almost appears ‘duck like’ in appearance.
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) c.25
Fairly common in marshes and adjacent areas of Armash FP.
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) c.11
Present at Armash FP but appears to be present in low numbers.
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) c.30
Fairly common breeding species in reedbeds of Armash FP. Not recorded away from this important wetland site.
Great White Egret (Egretta alba) c.1
Single bird seen in drained fish pond at Armash on 10th.
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) c.14
Uncommon but seen regularly in fields with cattle near Armash FP.
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) c.50
Common to abundant at Armash FP. In flight appears almost all white with a coffee coloured back.
Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) c.13
Several birds seen in flight on both visits to Armash FP.
Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) c.11
Often seen flying across open water at Armash FP. Distinctive wing pattern in flight. 10 Armash and 1 near Hradzan in a degraded marsh. Probably under recorded.
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) c.80
Fairly common along lower river valleys with nearby villlages in which to nest in. Most birds had well grown young. 30 Armash village, 1 Astavan, 20 Yeghednazor, 5 en route to Gnisheek and c30 birds in fields near Vike.
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) c.30
Recorded from Armash FP where it is slowly increasing in numbers.
White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) c.1
Rare vagrant to Armenia but breeds in eastern Turkey. Female present with other wildfowl on 6th.
Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) c.10
Uncommon breeding bird with 6 Armash FP and 4 near Gull Island on Lake Sevan.
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) c.1
Female at Armash FP on 6th.
Gadwall (Anas strepera) c.52
All sightings from Armash FP.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos) c.10
Appears to be uncommon or almost rare as a breeding bird. 10 Armash FP.
Garganey (Anas querquedula) c.10
Recorded on drained fish pond at Armash on 10th.
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) c.2
Rare breeding bird with a pair at Armash FP on 10th.
Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) c.40
Very good numbers of this rare and little known species at Armash FP. Wary and easily disturbed, probably breeds at Armash in small numbers.
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) c.300
Abundant on open waters of Armash FP.
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) c.51
Numerous on Armash FP.
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) c.32
Good numbers at Armash FP. Distinctive in flight with broad white wing bars. At rest a rich chocolate brown with a contrasting white eye are good features.
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) c.1
Single drake at Armash FP on 6th.
Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) c.3
Juvenile bird over Tezh on 9th. Pair in gorge south of Goris on 14th.
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) c.23
Commonest and most widespread of the vultures. 1 Garni Gorge, 1 Goris – 12th, 1 Megri and up to 20 north of Goris on return journey to Yerevan.
Eurasian Griffon-vulture (Gyps fulvus) c.8
Uncommon with 1 Mount Gazma, 1 Megri and 6 over gorge near Goris on 14th.
Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) c.1
Single bird seen en route to Goris on 12th.
Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus gallicus) c.2
Single birds at Armash FP and Goris. Best told by white under parts combined with chocolate head. Often hovers when hunting.
Western Marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus) c.14
Only seen over reeds at Armash FP.
Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) c.3
Seen on entrance road to Armash FP. Probably rather late migrants rather than local breeding birds.
Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) c.2
Pair at traditional nesting site near Megri.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) c.2
Up to 2 birds around Megri. Favours rocky gorges with bushes to hunt small birds.
Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) c.1
Male seen at the top of Garni Gorge (MF & DM).
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) c.38
Regularly seen in forested areas or in mountains. Recorded on a daily basis from 8th. Majority of birds seen of the sub-species menetriesi. Can be confused with the next species.
Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) c.19
Widespread in small numbers, often seen in pairs. Best feature being a pale red tail and reddish belly. 4 Astavan, 3 Hradzan, 4 near Dilijan, 1 Mt Gazma, 6 en route to Goris and 1 Mt Aragat.
Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) c.7
Usually found near forested regions. 4 Hradzan and 3 near Vike.
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) c.8
A bird of high mountains and gorges at lower levels. Sub-species homeyeri present in Armenia. Up to 2 birds Tezh Mountain, 2 Vike, 2 Mt Gazma and 2 Goris.
Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) c.1
Pale phase bird in flight over power station at Hradzan.
Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) c.6
Up to 6 birds near Tsghook.
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) c.28
Widespread throughout Armenia although absent from forested areas of Dilijan and Hradzan.
Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo) c.1
Single bird hunting dragonflies at Armash FP (NY).
Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) c.1
Very rare breeding bird of the race feldeggii. Single bird hunting along gorge on Mt Aragats.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) c.2
Small race brookei present in Armenia. Single birds near Goris and on Gnisheek.
Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius) c.2
Pair seen in flight on Mt Gazma. (AV & DM). Rare breeding bird of high mountain ranges.
Chukar (Alectoris chukar) c.8
Resident in rocky gorges and other dry barren area. Distinctive sub-species kurdestancia present. 1 Vike, 3 Mt Gazma, 1 Gnisheek, 2 Megri and 1 near Vedi.
Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) c.1
Single bird flushed from stream near Hradzan. Another sub-species of Caucasian region canescens.
Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix) c.8
Heard in undisturbed meadows of flowers. Single bird flushed on Mt Aragats (SZ). 2 Tezh Mountain, heard Goris and Megri.
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) c.2
Heard calling at Armash FP.
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) c.1
Almost certainly under recorded. 1 Armash FP on 6th.
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
Abundant bird of Armash FP. Not seen in other areas.
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) c.50
Breeding bird at Armash FP. Not uncommon at this location.
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) c.20
Small nesting colony at Armash FP.
Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) c.3
Very few present at Armash FP this year. Numbers vary from year to year at this locality.
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) c.2
Late migrants at Armash FP.
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) c.17
Up to 12 Armash FP, 4 Lake Sevan and 1 on road near Dilijan. Sub-species curonicus in Armenia.
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) c.20
Present in drier areas of Armash FP where it nests in small numbers.
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) c.7
Scarce breeding bird at Armash FP.
White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus) c.2
Pair in flight at Armash FP. Recent colonist and breeding bird in Armenia.
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) c.2
Pair on drained fish ponds of Armash.
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) c.14
Only recorded from drained ponds at Armash FP.
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) c.8
Late migrants at Armash FP.
Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos) c.3
Breeding birds present along rivers near Garni Gorge and Hradzan.
Little Stint (Calidris minuta) c.2
2 summer plumaged birds at Armash FP.
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) c.3
Summer plumaged birds with other waders at Armash FP.
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) c.7
Late migrants at Armash FP.
Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus [argentatus]) c.1132
Huge colony on Lake Sevan with non-breeding birds at Armash FP. Only record outside these areas on a reservoir near Tsghook.
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei) c.2
Non-breeding birds at Armash FP.
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica) c.11
Present at Armash FP. Slow buoyant flight draws attention to this ‘gull like’ tern.
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) c.10
Fishing in sheltered bay on Lake Sevan.
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) c.12
Breeding in dry areas of Armash FP.
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) c.9
All sightings from Armash FP plus 1 on Lake Sevan.
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) c.2
Late migrants at Armash FP on 10th.
Rock Dove (Columba livia) c.50
Found in rocky gorges and adjacent agricultural land. Highest numbers on plateau near Goris 30+ birds. Sub-species gaddi present.
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) c.9
Surprisingly scarce. 2 Astavan, 3 Dilijan, 2 Lake Sevan, and 2 Mt Aragats.
European Turtle-dove (Streptopelia turtur) c.3
Scarce breeding bird. 2 Gnisheek and 1 Mt Aragats.
Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis) c.11
Uncommon bird of towns and villages. Sub-species phoenicophila present in Armenia. 6 Yerevan, 3 Vike, 1 Goris and 1 Vedi.
Eurasian Collared-dove (Streptopelia decaocto) c.1
Single bird at Astavan (DM).
Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) c.23
Recorded daily in small numbers. Widespread although absent from dry area around Vedi.
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) c.2
Very scarce bird of forested areas and gardens. Sub-species willkonskii . Single calling birds at Dilijan and Kaplan.
Little Owl (Athene noctua) c.2
Pair at Armash FP near the farm on old buildings. Sub-species indigena.
Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba) c.225
Increase in numbers with 200 Garni Gorge, 2 Vike, 5 Mt Gazma (low flying), 10 Goris, 5 Vedi and 3 Mt Aragats.
Common Swift (Apus apus)
Abundant in all areas visited.
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) c.1
Single bird over Armash FP.
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) c.68
Colourful breeding species. 18 Armash FP, 20 Astavan, 20 Goris, 5 Megri and 5 Vedi.
European Roller (Coracias garrulus) c.27
Up to 8 Armash FP, 6 Astavan area, 2 Goris, 10 Megri and 1 Vedi. Often seen perched on telegraph wires.
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) c.106
A common and widespread species of towns and villages. Often encountered in areas with boulders and rocks which provide nesting aites.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius) c.2
Endemic sub-species caucasicus in willow trees at the southern end of Garni Gorge.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) c.17
Another sub-species tenuirostris. 1 Hradzan, 6 Dilijan, 2 Vike, up to 5 Kapan, 1 Vedi and 2 Mt Aragats.
Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus) c.7
Sub-species present in Armenia transcaucasicus. 1 Garni Gorge, 5 in gardens of Yeghednadzor and 1 Goris. Uncommon resident found in village gardens.
Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) c.1
Heard calling in woodlands of Dilijan (MF).
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) c.3
Localised race karelini present. 1 Dilijan and 2 in lightly wooded slopes of Gnisheek.
Bimaculated Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata) c.15
Up to 5 en route to Mt Gazma and 10 Gnisheek. Prefers lower elevations of mountain ranges.
Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla [cinerea]) c.11
Up to 10 Armash FP and 1 near Goris. Essentially a bird of dry arid regions.
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) c.45
Recorded daily along roadsides but also in lower mountain regions. Sub-species subtaurica.
Wood Lark (Lullula arborea) c.13
Often heard singing its distinctive song. Most birds of pale race pallida. 1 Vike, 1 Mt Gazma, 4 Goris, 3 Megri and 4 Mt Aragats.
Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis) c.60
Common throughout especially at high elevations. Most birds of armenicus sub-species. 3 Tezh Mountain, 3 Vike, 20 Mt Gazma, 4 Gnisheek, very common on mountain road Kapan to Megri and en route to Yerevan.
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) c.43
Distinctive race penicillata lacks the yellow of other Horned Larks. Found at high altitudes in flower meadows. 3 Tezh Mountain, 30 Mt Gazma and 10 Mt Aragat.
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Abundant in and around Armash FP.
Eurasian Crag-martin (Hirundo rupestris) c.167
A common bird of mountain ranges and gorges. 100 Garni Gorge, 20 Tezh Mountain, 2 Dilijan, 10 Mt Gazma, 20 Goris, 5 Megri and 10 en route to Vedi.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
House Martin (Delichon urbica) c.190
Sub-species meridionalis present on cliffs and old buildings. Generally encountered in gorges and mountain ranges quite unlike Europe. 100 Garni Gorge and 30 Mt Gazma. Remainder in other areas with cliffs.
Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris) c.9
Easy to miss due to pale plumage patterns. Sub-species boehmei found at Amash, Astavan, Mt Gazma and Gnisheek.
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) c.60
A common bird encountered from woodlands to mountain tops with bushes. 10 Hradzan, 20 Dilijan, 10 Mt Gazma, 1 Gnisheel and 5 Mt Aragats.
Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta) c.87
Variable in plumage with coutellii sub-species occurring. 42 Tezh Mountain, 30 Mt Gazma, 10 Megri and 5 Mt Aragats.
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba) c.103
Recorded daily in a wide range of habitats and locations.
Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg) c.20
Commonest wagtail at Armash FP. Probably a full species in its own right with a different call and plumage.
Syke’s Yellow-wagtail (Motacilla flava beema) c.5
A few birds showing characteristics of this steppe species were seen at Hradzan and Armash FP. Presumably late migrants.
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) c.14
Up to 5 Garni Gorge, 2 Tezh Mountain, 1 Dilijan, 1 Vike, 2 Mt Gazma, 2 Goris and 1 Mt Aragats.
White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus gularis) c.7
Frequent on mountain streams. 2 Garni Gorge, 2 Tezh Mountain, 1 Lake Sevan, 1 Gnisheek and 1 Mt Aragats. caucasicus sub-species.
Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes troglodytes) c.6
Another sub-species hyrcanus . Up to 3 Dilijan, 2 Mt Gazma and 1 Megri.
Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) c.12
Distinctive sub-species montanus with orange breast sides. 6 Mt Gazma and 6 Mt Aragats. Often seen near snow line at high altitudes.
Radde’s Accentor (Prunella ocularis [fulvescens]) c.8
Only recorded from stunted juniper forest on Mt Aragats. Sings from boulder or other prominent vantage point. Not uncommon in suitable habitat.
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) c.7
High altitude sub-species obscura present at Tezh Mountain, Dilijan, Vedi and Mt Aragats.
Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas galactotes galactotes) c.8
Paler eastern race familiaris observed in dry habitats of Azat Zabasov.
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) c.2
Caucasicus race seen in woodlands of Dilijan.
Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) c.6
Present in gorge near Goris. Not uncommon in suitable habitat of well-vegetated valleys.
Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) c.8
Breeding race magna present in boulder and juniper scrub of Mt Aragats.
White-throated Robin (Irania gutturalis) c.12
Distinctive when seen, extremely skulking on breeding grounds. 6 Azat Zabasov, 1 Mt Gazma, 3 Gnisheek and 2 Mt Aragats.
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) c.50
Common in mountains and in some areas with ruined buildings. Ochruros sub-species seen plus some birds showing plumage characteristics of semirufus. 3 Garni Gorge, 20+ Tezh Mountain, 3 Dilijan, 6 Mt Gazma, 6 Gnisheek, 2 Megri and 10 Mt Aragats.
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus phoenicurus) c.8
A few birds seen of the nominate race at Lake Sevan, Goris and en route to Vedi.
Eastern Common Redstart (Phoenicurus samamisicus) c.35
Common in villages. Distinctive white-wing panels and different song may eventually make this bird a full species. 2 Hradzan, up to 30 Dilijan, and 3 Megri.
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) c.23
A species found regularly in high mountain meadows with bushes for nesting. 6 Tezh Mountain, 2 Dilijan, 5 Mt Gazma and 12 Gnisheek.
Common Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) c.24
Another possible split into Armenian Stonechat toquata amenica. 4 seen near Vike, 10 Mt Gazma and 10 Gnisheek. This race shows extensive white in the tail and a contrasting white rump.
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) c.100
Very common in all high mountain areas with boulders for nesting under.
Finsch’s Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii) c.14
Not common with sub-species barnesi occurring. 7 Astavan, 1 Sevan, 4 Mt Gazma and 2 Vedi.
Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) c.131
Very common everywhere with the eastern race melanoleuca present.
Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina) c.37
Rather localised preferring lower areas with slopes and bushes. 30 Astavan area, 1 Lake Sevan, 4 Goris and 2 near Vedi.
Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush (Monticola saxatilis) c.44
Common in high mountains where males were seen doing their display flight. 10 Tezh Mountain, 2 Dilijan, 1 Vike, 20 Mt Gazma, 5 Gnisheek and 6 Mt Aragats.
Blue Rock-thrush (Monticola solitarius) c.20
Another species preferring high mountains. 6 Garni Gorge, 1 Tezh Mountain, 3 Lake Sevan, 1 Mt Gazma, 3 Gnisheek, 4 Megri and 2 Vedi.
Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) c.23
Patchy at higher elevations. Sub species amicorum. 5 Tezh Mountain, 4 Dilijan, 1 Vike, 10 Mt Gazma, 1 Gnisheek and 2 Mt Aragats.
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) c.60
Widespread with sub-species aterrimus present.
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) c.20
Migrant flock? Seen flying away from Tezh Mountain on 9th. Common winter visitor to Armenia.
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) c.3
Uncommon to rare with 1 Dilijan, heard singing at Kapan and Goris.
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) c.4
Prefers alpine meadows. 1 Tezh Mountain, 1 Dilijan, 1 Sevan and 1 Megri.
Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti) c.7
Only heard at Armash FP, Hradzan, Lake Sevan and Mt Aragats.
Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides) c.2
Heard reeling at Armash FP. According to information only a casual visitor. Probably overlooked due to lack of coverage.
Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) c.1
A bonus with 1 bird at Armash FP, sub-species mimica.
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) c.3
Up to 2 birds Armash FP and another outside the police station in Hradzan.
Paddyfield Warbler (Acrocephalus agricola agricola) c.15
A skulking inhabitant of reedbeds. Appears to be breeding in reasonable numbers at Armash FP.
Eurasian Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) c.3
Eastern form fuscus seen at Armash FP.
Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris) c.1
Heard singing at Hradzan. Normally a common species but most had taken up territories before our visit.
Great Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) c.40
Common inhabitant of reedbeds from where it delivers its frog like songs. 35 Armash FP, 2 Hradzan and 3 Goris.
Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida) c.2
Greyish race tamariceti seen at Vike (AW) and nearby Yeghednadzor (DM).
Upcher’s Warbler (Hippolais languida) c.16
Large warbler preferring dry rocky slopes with bushes. 2 Garni Gorge, 4 Azat Zabasov, 5 Vike area, 3 Goris and 2 Megri.
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) c.15
Often heard singing from forested areas. Seen at Dilijan where the race dammholzi occurs.
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) c.100
Extremely common and abundant in some regions. Very grey in appearance showing little or no rufous in the wing panels. Distinctive sub-species icterops. Highest numbers on lower slopes of Mt Gazma, My Aragats and Gnisheek.
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) c.16
Another complex race with 1 Garni Gorge and up to 15 near Megri. All birds of large grey caucasica race.
Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis) c.6
Found in orchards and adjacent dry scrub near Megri. Eastern race crassirostris is a possible split due to a different song and plumage caharcters.
Menetries’ Warbler (Sylvia mystacea) c.15
A delightful little sylvia warbler. 4 Armash FP, best views of 10+ in orchard near Megri and 1 Vedi.
Mountain Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita sindianus) c.15
A debatable split occurring in woodlands around Dilijan. Different songs and plumage may be crucial in identification.
Green Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus) c.47
Very common around in woodland at Dilijan and Megri. Best located by distinctive song.
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) c.2
Pair at Dilijan.
Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata [albicollis]) c.6
Uncommon and thinly distributed. 1 Garni Gorge, 4 Dilijan and 1 Yeghednadzor.
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) c.9
Observed in the beech forest of Dilijan. One pair feeding well grown young.
Bearded Tit (Panurus biarmicus) c.150
Very pale race russicus resident at Armash FP. Abundant at this location.
Coal Tit (Parus ater) c.30
A distinctive race occurs in the Caucasian Mountains – michailowski. Distinctive head pattern, largish dark throat and two wing bars.
Great Tit (Parus major major) c.50
Present in small numbers throughout.
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) c.40
Fairly common in woodland and gardens. The race satunini has a bright blue crown.
Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) c.15
Another distinctive race caucasica occurs in mature woodlands of oak and beech. 10 Dilijan and 5 Kapan.
Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer) c.28
Best told from the next species by calls and smaller size. Stripe behind head is crucial in identification, narrower than Eastern Rock Nuthatch. 10 Garni Gorge, 1 Vike, 3 Mt Gazma, 10 Megri, 2 Vedi and 2 Mt Aragats.
Eastern Rock Nuthatch (Sitta tephronota) c.11
Uncommon with 3 Azat Zabasov, 1 Mt Gazma and 7 Megri region.
Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) c.2
2 in woodlands of Dilijan of the Persian race persica.
Eurasian Penduline-tit (Remiz pendulinus) c.2
Pair nesting in willows of Garni Gorge. Race present in Armenia is menzbieri.
Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) c.22
Widespread in areas with poplar trees. 2 Garni Gorge, heard Dilijan, 2 Mt Gazma, 15 Goris, heard Megri and Vedi.
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio [cristatus]) c.65
Numerous in higher mountain meadows. Race kobylini present where the female often has a grey nape and shoulder. Recorded daily from 8th.
Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) c.15
Often encountered in pairs. 3 Astavan, 4 Vike, 2 Goris, 4 Vedi and 2 Mt Aragats.
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) c.4
Eastern race niloticus present with pairs at Astavan and Megri.
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) c.50
Common in any area with oakwoods. Sub-species krynicki present with black crown, white forehead and face. Quite different from those occurring in Britain.
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) c.28
Mountain species with 20 Garni Gorge, 2 Mt Gazma, 4 Goris and 2 Mt Aragats. Sub-species docilis is larger than the nominate race but shorter billed.
Eurasian Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Abundant in all areas with the eastern race soemmerringii with white neck collars in residence.
Rook (Corvus frugilegus) c.25
5 Lake Sevan and 20 in fields near Armash FP.
Hooded Crow (Corvus corone cornix)
Abundant resident of sharpii race.
Common Raven (Corvus corax) c.10
Found in highest mountains. 4 Tezh Mountain, 1 Dilijan, 2 Mt Gazma, 1 Goris and 2 Vedi.
Rose-coloured Starling (Sturnus roseus) c.1365
A spectacular and gregarious species seen throughout. Roams around in large flocks rarely seen perched or on the ground.
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) c.100
Eastern races purpurascens and caucasicus seen. Both appear to have a purple glossy sheen lacking in western birds. Almost close to plumages of Spotless Starling of SW Europe. Common around Dilijan and in small villages.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Common around human habitation.
Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia) c.91
Sub-species exigua present. Common in suitable habitat with 6 Garni Gorge, 20 Hradzan, 10 Lake Sevan, 30 Gnisheek, 5 Megri, 10 Vedi and 10 Mt Aragats.
Pale Rock-sparrow (Carpospiza brachydactyla) c.150
An irruption year for this species. Insect like calls draw attention to singing males. 40 Astavan/Azat Zabasov, 1 Hradzan, common en route to Vike, 10 Mt Gazma, 40 Gnisheek, 10 Megri, and 20 Vedi.
White-winged Snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis) c.32
Spectacular mountain species with brilliant white wings in flight. 30 Mt Gazma and 2 Mt Aragats. Sub-species alpicola in Armenia.
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) c.50
Local race caucasica in Armenia. Common around Dilijan and Sevan, 5 in woodland at Kapan.
Red-fronted Serin (Serinus pusillus) c.23
A delightful little bird with 3 Hradzan, 15 at shepherds village on Mt Gazma and 5 Megri.
European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) c.18
Little known sub-species bilkevitchi present. Up to 4 Yerevan, remainder around Dilijan.
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis carduelis)
Very common in all areas visited.
Twite (Carduelis flavirostris) c.29
Distinctive sub-species brevirostris found in high alpine meadows. 3 Tezh Mountain, 1 Mt Gazma, 25 Mt Aragats.
Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) c.110
Sub-species bella has bright red chest patterns and stronger red poll than nominate species. Widespread with highest numbers on Mt Gazma c50 birds.
Crimson-winged Finch (Rhodopechys sanguinea) c.12
A beautiful bird of high mountains and meadows. 3 Tezh Mountain, 4 Mt Gazma, 4 Gnisheek and a female at a nest site on Mt Aragats.
Trumpeter Finch (Rhodopechys githaginea) c.4
Eastern sub-species crassirostris is much duller in plumage than the nominate race. 2 Azat Zabasov and 2 Vedi.
Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus) c.71
Fairly common in farmland and areas with bushes for nesting. Sun-species kubanensis present with 20 Hradzan, 10 Dilijan, 6 Lake Sevan, 25 Mt Gazma, 5 Goris, heard Megri and Vedi and 3 Mt Aragats.
Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) c.9
Another Caucasian sub-species – rossikowi. All sightings from woodland at Dilijan.
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) c.8
Seen in small numbers around the hotel at Dilijan.
Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia) c.22
Found in small numbers in a wide range of mountain habitats. Sub-species prageri. 3 Tezh Mountain, 5 Mt Gazma, 6 Gnisheek, 6 Megri and 2 Vedi.
Grey-necked Bunting (Emberiza buchanani) c.5
Up to 5 birds at a traditional watering hole near Vedi.
Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) c.23
Common in mid-altitude meadows with rocks. 10 Mt Gazma, 3 Gnisheek and 10 Mt Aragats.
Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala) c.500
Extremely common throughout Armenia.
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) c.10
Only at Armash FP where the heavy billed race caspia was recorded.
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) c.400
Extremely common in lowland areas with nearby farm land.
For more information about birdwatching tours to Armenia contact
Simon Busuttil at Dungeness RSPB Reserve, Boulderwall Farm, Dungeness Road, Lydd, Kent, TN29 9PN, UK