January and April 2000

Wings Over Central Asia

Uzbekistan – January and April 2000

An ornithological survey of globally threatened birds


Simon Busuttil

1.0 Introduction

Following on from the successful expedition to Kazakstan in 1998 two expeditions to Uzbekistan to survey wetlands for their ornithological importance were mounted in 2000. In both cases British ornithologists working for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) joined colleagues from the Institute of Zoology in Tashkent.

2.0 Background

Central Asia including Uzbekistan currently lacks a list of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) which form a basic building block for planning the conservation of populations of wild birds. However, Birdlife International through the German BirdLife partner NABU is in the process of producing the IBA list for this region.

Within Uzbekistan, the loss of much of the Aral Sea has given rise to a redistribution of waterbirds across both the natural and artificial wetlands in the central and southern parts of the country. There is little data to show how these areas are being used by the enormous number of migratory birds that are known to winter in and migrate across this area.

The projects were designed to provide information on this use and to contribute towards the process of identifying Important Areas for Birds (IBA’s).

The result has been the provision of important ornithological data and a raising of the profile of the country for the species involved and the IBA process itself within Uzbekistan.

3.0 Aims and objectives

The aim of the expeditions was

· to increase the knowledge of sites and species of conservation importance in Uzbekistan and make this widely available to all those concerned with their conservation both in Uzbekistan and abroad.

The objectives of the expedition were;

· to carry out wetland bird counts of the following areas

Aydar Lake (Aydarkul) (40o 55′ N 66o 30′ E) an artificially created wetland near the Nuratau mountains
Tuzcan Lake (40o 47′ N 67o 30′ E) associated with the above
Tudakul (39o 53′ N 64o 50′ E) a natural lake near Bukhara in the basin of the Zarafshan river
Dengizkul ( ) Uzbekistan’s only RAMSAR site
Karakir (39o 45’N 63o 35′ E)
Kattarqorghan Reservoir (39o 47′ N 66o 13’E)
Ayakkogitma Lake (39o 05’N 64o 10′ E)

· to collect data on any of the following globally threatened species;

Siberian crane Grus leucogeranus
Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus
White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala
Marbled teal Marmaronetta angustirostris
Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca
Pallas’s fish eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus

· to identify areas requiring future ornithological survey

The output will be the final report to be made available to all those inside and outside Uzbekistan with a concern for and interest in the conservation and management of the populations of wild birds using that country’s wetlands.

4.0 Site descriptions

4.1 Aydarkul (Aydar Lake)

Aydarkul is an artificial lake created within the last 40 years situated in the desert region to the north of the Nuratau mountains in eastern Uzbekistan. Extending to 300 km in length and between 30 km and 50 km wide it is the second largest wetland in the country after the Aral Sea and is situated in the sand desert of the Kyzylkum. The average depth of the lake is between 10 and 12m and the lake is part of the 800km long Aydar-Arnasay Water System (AAWS). This lake is an important stopping place for migrating Dalmatian and white pelicans Pelecanus spp in September. The endangered Siberian crane Grus leucogeranus has been recorded amongst common cranes Grus grus in this area. In recent years flocks of the globally threatened white-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala have wintered here.

4.2 Tuzcan

Lake Tuzcan too is part of the AAWS and subject to the same ecological and anthropological pressures but is treated here separately from the point of view of bird data.

4.3 Tudakul

Tudakul is a natural lake 30km east of Bukhara with significant areas of fringing natural vegetation. Dalmatian pelican has been observed here on migration among flocks of white pelican. The globally threatened marbled teal Marmaronetta angustirrostris breed on this lake. Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca also breeds here sharing a similar habitat to the marbled teal.

4.4 Dengizkul

Uzbekistan’s only RAMSAR designated site.

4.5 Karakir Lake

A huge seemingly natural lake surrounded by desert. Small numbers of fishermen use the lake on a seasonal basis. Enormous reedbeds surround much of this lake which are certainly important for the breeding bird community.

4.6 Kattarqorghan Reservoir

A man made reservoir surrounded by varied agriculture including pistachio plantations, goat herding etc.

4.7 Ayakkogitma Lake

A shallow lake surrounded by steppe and desert vegetation. Large areas of shallow water make the area very attractive to migrant waders and birds of prey. The surrounding area is quite heavily grazed and several communities exist around the lake.

5.0 Details of the Expeditions

5.1 Expedition One

Participants Stephen J. Rowland, Lewis C. James, Elena A. Kreuzberg-Mukhina

Itinerary 17th to 30th January 2000

17th Arrive
18th Lake Tuzcan
19th & 20th Aydarkul
21st Zerefshan
22nd Kattaqorghan reservoir
23rd Tudakul west end pool and Bukhara Ecocentre
24th Tudakul complete circuit
25th Dengizkul
26th Dengizkul and Tudakul west end pool
27th Kyzyl Kum Nature Reserve – Amu Darya
28th Karakir
29th Nuratau Nature Reserve
30th Depart

5.2 Expedition Two 3rd to 14th April 2000

Participants Simon Busuttil, Elena A. Kreuzberg-Mukhina

Itinerary 3rd to 15th April 2000

3rd Arrive
4th and 5th Lake Tuzcan
6th and 7th Aydarkul
8th Tudakul
9th Bukhara Ecocentre.
10th Lake Karakir
11th Ayakkogitma Lake
12th Zerefshan nature reserve
13th Several stops including River Syr Darya
15th Depart

6.0 Participants

The following individuals participated in the expeditions;

· Simon Busuttil works for the RSPB (the UK’s BirdLife partner) and has carried out international wetland survey work in Albania, Armenia, Lebanon, Kazakstan and the Republic of Ireland

· Lewis James works for the RSPB in East Anglia where he manages the Wash and North Norfolk Coast a RAMSAR Site and Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds

· Steve Rowland works at Titchwell RSPB Reserve and has carried out international wetland survey work in Kazakstan (and Uganda?)

· Dr Elena Mukhina-Kreuzberg a Research Scientist specialising in ornithology from the Institute of Zoology in Tashkent. Dr Mukhina-Kreuzberg is the foremost field ornithologist in Uzbekistan and responsible for the programme of identifying Important Bird Areas in Uzbekistan.

7.0 Partners and support

The partner in Uzbekistan was the Institute of Zoology through the renowned ornithologist Dr Elena Mukhina-Kreuzberg. We were ably supported by Djamshid who ably drove the 4WD vehicle on both expeditions and Elena A. Bykova who supported us on the second. Special thanks to Elena’s husband Alec who ably negotiated with everyone from customs officials to police to shopkeepers and showed us all his beloved Bukhara. We are especially grateful to Professor Asimov of the Institute of Zoology for supporting these expeditions.

The expeditions had the support of BirdLife International, the international bird conservation organisation, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) – the German BirdLife partner which has responsibility within BirdLife for the Central Asia programme and the RSPB (the UK BirdLife partner).

The Thriplow Charitable Trust made both expeditions possible through their financial support.

Thanks to Viking Optics for supplying a spotting scope which remained behind in Uzbekistan to help Dr Mukhina-Kreuzberg in her ongoing work.

8.0 Output

A detailed report of the findings of the expedition will be published and made available to all those concerned with the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in Uzbekistan.

9.0 Results

9.1 Introduction to results

Both expeditions encountered large numbers of migratory birds using some of the areas visited both as wintering grounds and as a stop-over site whilst on migration. The results are represented in the attached tables.

Table 1 Wetlands qualifying for IBA status
Table 2 List of bird species counted during the spring survey 3 – 14 April 2000
Table 3 List of bird species counted during the winter survey 17 – 30 January 2000

9.2 Summary of the results

9.2.1 Species

Data was collected on the following three Globally Threatened species that were the objective of the expedition

Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus
Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca
White-headed duck Oyura leucocephala

In addition data were collected on the following two Globally Threatened species

Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni
Sociable plover Vanellus gregarius

and on the following four near threatened species

Pygmy cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus
Eurasian black vulture Aegypius monachus
White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
Houbara bustard Chlamydotis undulata

9.2.2 Sites qualifying for Important Bird Area status

No criteria currently exist for the selection of IBA’s in Central Asia. However the following criteria have been adapted and used to select IBA’s in both Europe and the Middle East. It is sensible to use them here to provisionally select IBA’s in Uzbekistan.

The criteria are

1. Sites which support Globally Threatened Species where these species are included in the 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened animals (Collar and Andrew 1998 and Groombridge 1993). These are the species shown in 9.2.1 above.
2. Sites where birds concentrate in important numbers either when breeding, on migration or in winter. In this category, following the example of Important Bird Areas in the Middle East (Evans, M.I., 1994) cranes are included in the criterion. These are sites which
hold an average of 1% or more of a species’ biogeographical range
hold an average of 20,000 or more waterfowl
are migratory bottlenecks holding over 5000 storks or 2000 cranes
3. Sites for species which are declining throughout all or large parts of their Central Asian range

Table 1 Wetland sites qualifying for IBA status

The following wetlands met one or more of the criteria outlined above and therefore it is the recommendation of this report that they are recognised as Important Areas for Birds.

 Criteria 1 Criteria 2* 
Tuzcan LakeYesDalmatian pelicanNo 
Aydar LakeYesDalmatian pelican
Ferruginous duck
TudakulYesDalmatian pelican
Ferruginous duck
White-headed duck
DengizkulYesFerruginous duckNo 
KarakirYesFerruginous duckNo 

*NB IBA status criteria require wetlands to “hold an average of 20,000 or more waterfowl…”. This is usually based on the mean peak counts over say five years. The counts above are single counts but it is reasonable to suppose that they are at least representative of the sorts of numbers of waterfowl that these wetlands support.

9.2.3 Tuzcan and Aydar

It is difficult to assess the ecological status of this wetland complex. A number of factors are operating. The lake is an important hunting and fishing resource with both activities appearing to be well regulated.

The main influence appears to be the management of the Syr Darya river where it flows through Kazakstan. Damming of the river at Chardara to protect agricultural land to the north and to impound water to create a fishing resource is causing ground water levels to rise in Aydarkul as a result of filtration through the sand substrate. The resulting water level rise is relatively rapid and apparently unrelenting resulting in flooding of the surrounding desert and the formation of many pools in depressions surrounding the main lake.

The inundation of desert appears to be outpacing the spread of peripheral vegetation and much of the former reed fringe and islands that have been home to colonial breeding species including Dalmatian pelicans have been lost. This is clearly damaging but the temporary pools created by the rising water appear to provide a rich feeding ground for many species. This in turn must be weighed up against the loss of the desert ecosystem and the habitat of species such as houbara bustard.

These factors seem set to continue their influence since though the result of management instigated in Soviet times it remains to the benefit of fishing and agriculture across the border in Kazakstan.

Aydar supports over 20,000 waterfowl and plays hosts to important numbers of Dalmatian pelican at least on spring migration. Dalmatian pelicans nested here in the early 1990’s but the subsequent rise in water levels have submerged their breeding islands. The lake is also very important for migratory species such as white pelican (972 present in April) and shoveler(2244) and the surrounding desert areas are extremely important for migrating demoiselle cranes (10881 present in April)

9.2.4 Tudakul

Huge numbers of birds (over 40,000) were encountered on this lake on the January expedition including 7,800 great cormorants, 285 great white pelicans and over 800 black-necked grebes. A raptor roost discovered in reedbed at the western end of the lake held over 200 marsh harriers, 40 hen harriers and 15 peregrines. In addition there were over 2,000 pygmy cormorants roosting in the same area.
In the spring, again huge numbers of birds were counted – 1203 black-necked grebes, 404 pygmy cormorants and 2178 shoveler. Small numbers of both ferruginous duck (17) and white-headed duck (2) were found.

The lake is an important hunting and fishing resource, both activities appearing to be well regulated.

9.2.5 Dengizkul

During this survey this turned out to be a disappointing wetland in terms of birds. Where previous reports had indicated large numbers of birds and a thriving fishing community, we encountered very few birds and the fishing huts deserted. However there were 757 pygmy cormorants and 36 ferruginous ducks present in January. This site was not visited in April.

The area contains gas installations and pipelines but no obvious pollution was apparent. The manager of a gas mine we interviewed considered the lack of fish to be attributable to a change in agricultural practise. Under the soviets there had been much greater attempts at irrigation which post-soviet is now reduced to a great extent. This has led to reduced freshwater inputs to the lake and a greater salinity which may have impacted on fish, invertebrate and bird populations.

However this lake supported 1100 white-headed duck in the 99/00 winter prior to our survey which would qualify it for IBA status.

9.2.6 Karakir

This lake turned out to be almost impossible to survey from land due to wide and almost continuos fringing reed beds. These huge reedbeds are clearly important breeding habitat for many species. The January expedition counted over 10,000 wildfowl here but the April expedition encountered fearsome winds which ruled out using a boat and limited the survey to a small section of the lake. Over 600 red-crested pochards were present on the small area of water counted indicating a potentially huge population using the lake. What we did manage to count clearly indicates the value of a more complete survey by boat.

Like Aydarkul there was thriving hunting and fishing activity which again was regulated by inspectors.

9.2.7 Non-qualifying sites

Kattarqorghan Reservoir

Whilst this site failed to meet the qualifying criteria for IBA status when visited in January it did hold a community of species which were not encountered elsewhere. 100 red-necked grebes were present along with 143 goosanders and 310 great black-headed or Pallas’ gulls. The April expedition did not visit this site.

Ayakkogitma Lake

This site did not qualify for IBA status but supported 35 species of wetland bird many of which were migrants. The surrounding desert was also of interest with eagle owl and black-bellied sandgrouse.

9.3 Report on Globally Threatened and near threatened species

9.3.1 Globally Threatened species

Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus
This species is recorded breeding, wintering and on migration In Uzbekistan. There was no evidence of any breeding activity by the birds observed by the spring expedition although the species has nested at Aydar Lake in the past (E Kreuzberg-Mukhina pers com.). This species was recorded only by the second (spring) expedition. 176 birds were counted at three sites. There were 114 at Tudakul, 39 at Tuzcan and 23 at Aydar.

Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca
This species is distributed widely but in low numbers across the Country as a wintering and breeding species. This species was recorded by both expeditions. The first expedition recorded 67 at three sites; 36 at Dengizkul, 17 at Tudakul and 14 at Aydar. The second expedition recorded 32 at four sites; 17 at Tudakul, 7 at Aydar, 7 in the Southwest Kyzylkum area and 1 at Karakir Lake.

White-headed duck Oyura leucocephala
This species was until recently recorded only as a migrant in Uzbekistan. Recent field work has shown it to be both a breeding and wintering species in the Country. Three birds recorded by the second expedition only. Two were seen at Tudakul and one at Aydar Lake.

Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni
This species breeds in Uzbekistan and migrants are recorded passing through. 64 were recorded in small flocks whilst en route between Samarkand and Bukhara near Dzhizak (47o 05′ N 67o 50’E). These were migrating birds either from the local population or from further north.

Sociable plover Vanellus gregarius
This is a rare migratory species in Uzbekistan. One at Aydar on 7th April was later than the texts suggest is normal for a spring migrant. Mitropolski et al 1990 give the spring passage period as end of February to the end of March.

9.3.2 Near threatened species

Pygmy cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus
This species appears to be increasing as a breeding species in Uzbekistan away from its historic nesting colonies in the delta of the Amu Darya River. It winters and migrates through the rest of the Country. The expeditions counted substantial numbers of this species; 4204 pygmy cormorants were counted on the first (winter) expedition, at three sites; Tudakul held 3258 Dengizkul 757 and Tuzcan 189. 675 were recorded on the second (spring) expedition. Tudakul supported 404, Tuzcan 180, there were 35 in the southwest Kyzylkum desert area and 35 on the Syr Darya River/Zeravshan nature reserve area and 20 at Lake Karakir. The winter counts are of particular interest since data on this species during the winter has been poor.

Eurasian black vulture Aegypius monachus
There are about 60 breeding pairs of this species in Uzbekistan. The winter expedition counted 5 individuals and the second expedition counted 53.

White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
This species is basically a wintering species in Uzbekistan but may still breed in the Amu Darya River delta. 81 were recorded by the winter expedition. 24 at Aydar, 21 at Dengizkul, 20 at Tuzcan, 7 at Tudakul, 6 at Karakir and 3 at Kattakurgan. Only 1, at Tuzcan Lake was recorded by the April expedition.

Houbara bustard Chlamydotis undulata
A single male at Aydar on 6th April. This species is now absent from many of the areas in the Country where it was present ten years ago despite apparent continuing suitability of the habitat. Hunting is almost certainly to blame.

10.0 Endpiece

The expeditions were made possible and pleasurable by the hospitality of many Uzbeks who accommodated and fed us and were willing to talk openly about the wetlands on which many of them literally rely on to live. It is the hope of the author of this report that the wealth and sustainability of these wetlands can continue to provide not only for these people but the tens of thousands of birds that too rely on these wonderful places.

11.0 References

Collar, N.J., Crosby, M.J. and Stattersfield, A.J. (1994) – Birds to watch 2: the world list of threatened species
Evans,M.I. (1994) – Important Bird Areas in the Middle East
Groombridge, B., ED. (1993)- 1994 IUCN Red List of threatened animals
Knystautas, A. (1993) – Birds of Russia
Tucker, G.M. and Heath, M.F.(1994) – Birds in Europe: their conservation status

12.0 Glossary

Globally Threatened. A species at risk of global extinction and classed as Critical, Endangered or Vulnerable under the IUCN criteria used by Collar et al (1994)

Table 2 List of wetland species counted during the spring survey 3 – 14 April 2000

Areas: 1 – Tuzkan Lake; 2 – Aydar Lake; 3 – Tudakul Lake; 4 – Karakir Lake; 5 – Ayakkogitma lake; 6 – Central Kyzylkum desert (near Nuratau); 7 – Southwest Kyzylkum desert (Bukhara and Navoi regions); 8 – “Tugai” – Gallery river forests in Zeravshan nature reserve and Sirdarja river; 9 – mountain ecosystems (Nuratau nature reserve); 10 – irrigated areas and human settlements,

Little Grebe35941682
Great Crested Grebe736251213111213
Black-necked Grebe249471203542228
Pygmy Cormorant1804042013535675
White Pelican1979721169
Dalmatian Pelican3923114176
Night Heron102102
Little Egret24410
Great White Egret66?611620163++
Grey Heron24841441220379303
Purple Heron28313
White Stork44
Black Stork11
Glossy Ibis11
Mute Swan24125
Greylag Goose543?1897163++
Ruddy Shelduck2982734296
Shoveler1922442178158442 5041
Red-crested Pochard19301360622241326
Ferruginous Duck7171732
Tufted Duck69962601171280
Smew 55
White-headed duck123
Griffon Vulture3567223
Black Vulture1311271153
Egyptian Vulture325
White-tailed Eagle11
Golden Eagle111227
Steppe Eagle213
Booted Eagle415
Short-toed Eagle11
Black Kite41822
Marsh Harrier40130493030141020323
Hen Harrier1315
Montagu’s Harrier33751652
Long-legged Buzzard21312361129
Common Buzzard2503321051287
Lesser Kestrel6464
Peregrine Falcon11
See-see Partridge11
Demoiselle Crane86108814511012
Houbara bustard11
Black-winged stilt64015715804302
Collared Pratincole12101181112253
Little Ringed Plover528134
Kentish Plover310340146
Grey Plover1         1
Sociable Lapwing11
White-tailed Plover14352082089
Temmick’s Stint10205181
Little Stint2200202
Wood Sandpiper325
Green Sandpiper 16823 21 32
Spotted Redshank22
Marsh Sandpiper111719
Black-tailed Godwit11112
Black-headed Gull61469668162
Slender-billed Gull7395520242143
Common Gull112
Great Black-headed Gull12315
Yellow-legged Gull203857361179
Little Tern33
Gull-billed tern5192070114
Common Tern4-210319
Caspian Tern542263067
Whiskered Tern22

Table 3 List of bird species counted during the winter survey 17 – 30 January 2000

SpeciesWaterfowl and raptorsTuzkan LakeAydar LakeKattakurgan water-reservoirTudakul LakeDengizkul Lake and aroundKarakir Lake
Little Grebe412892
Great Crested Grebe2416339246
Red-necked Grebe10014
Slavonian Grebe5
Black-necked Grebe637181
Pygmy Cormorant1893258757
White Pelican23362852
Little Egret1
Great White Egret31490857244
Grey Heron23811567
Mute Swan12250
Greylag Goose14081562711751256
Ruddy Shelduck63615
Common Teal303176507
Red-crested Pochard186530139015227
Ferruginous Duck141736
Tufted Duck5425101825215
White-tailed Eagle202437216
Marsh Harrier22119477
Hen Harrier2m545
Peregrine Falcon25
Ringed Plover1
White-tailed Plover2
Little Stint8
Temminck’s Stint15
Green Sandpiper12
Black-headed Gull848
Slender-billed Gull32
Common Gull412060080
Great Black-headed Gull33102
Yellow-legged Gull812221628
Other species recorded      
Black-bellied Sandgrouse    1 
Little Owl   12 
Eagle Owl    1 
Common Kingfisher   1  
Calandra Lark3000     
Cetti’s Warbler   5 3
Bearded Tit   35 65
Penduline Tit    37
Starling 1220 50 
Spanish Sparrow    150610
Chaffinch7  505061
Brambling   305070
Twite 40    
Desert Finch   41120240
Pine Bunting23     
Reed Bunting2  7538
Corn Bunting102     


Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus
A common species on lakes. 250 on Tuzcan Lake. 100 on Aydar lake. Display noted. Smaller numbers at Tudakul Lake, Bukhara Ecocentre and surrounding lakes, Karakir, Lake Ayakkogitma and on River Syr Darya.

Black-necked grebe Podiceps nigricollis
A common species on several lakes – small flocks and in pairs. 50 on Tuzcan Lake, 947 on Aydar Lake and 1203 on Tudakul Lake and smaller numbers on Lake Ayakkogitma. Clearly a common wintering/migrant species.

Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
A breeding species on several lakes especially those with reeds. eg Aydar Lake, Tudakul Lake. At Bukhara Ecocentre and surrounding lakes, Lake Ayakkogitma

Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus
39 at Tuzcan Lake, 23 at Aydar Lake and 114 at Tudakul.

Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
197 at Tuzcan Lake and 972 at Aydar Lake. None at Tudakul.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
1614 present on Tuzcan Lake, 1413 on Aydar lake, breeding at Tudakul Lake, a single at Bukhara, and at Lake Karakir and Lake Ayakkogitma.

Pygmy cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus
Common on lakes and irrigation canals with phragmites. 180 at Tuzcan Lake, 404 at Tudakul Lake, 30 at lakes near Bukhara, 30 on River Syr Darya and small numbers at Lake Karakir.

Bittern Botaurus stellaris
Single heard at Lake Karakir on 10th April.

Night heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Breeding colony of over 100 pairs at Zeravshan Reserve.

Little egret Egretta garzetta
Scarce. Two at Tuzcan Lake and 4 at Tudakul Lake.

Great white egret Egretta alba CHECK figs
30+ seen at Tuzcan Lake, 15 at Aydar Lake, 50 at Tudakul Lake, 30 on River Syr Darya.

Grey heron Ardea cinerea
Breeding species and migrant. 24 present on Tuzcan Lake, 84 at Aydar Lake, 144 individuals some nesting in reeds at Tudakul Lake and at Bukhara lakes, at Lake Karakir, 20 at Lake Ayakkogitma, 8 on Syr Darya.

Purple heron Ardea purpurea
Present where there were large reedbeds; 2 at Tudakul Lake, 2 at Bukhara Ecocentre and surrounding lakes and 8 at Lake Karakir.

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Migrant; two at Tudakul Lake on 8th April.

White stork Ciconia ciconia
Nests seen near Tuzcan Lake but no birds (still early?). 4 seen along River Syr Darya on 13th.

Black stork Ciconia nigra
A single bird at Aydar Lake on 7th April.

Glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus
A single bird at Tudakul Lake on 8th April.

Mute swan Cygnus olor
Twenty four at Aydar Lake on 7th April and one at Karakir.

Greylag goose Anser anser CHECK figs
Fourty three at Aydar Lake on 7th April, 70 at Tudakul Lake, 2 at Bukhara and 20 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Ten at Aydar Lake, 8 at Tudakul, 12 at Bukhara and 4 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Ruddy shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Two at Tuzcan Lake, 9 at Aydar Lake, 8 at Tudakul, 2 at Bukhara and a wonderful 273 on the steppe at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Two at Tuzcan lake, 75 at Aydar Lake, 88 at Tudakul, 24 at Bukhara and at 9 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Gadwall Anas strepera
Twenty-one at Tuzcan Lake, 487 at Aydar Lake, 238 at Tudakul, 7 at Bukhara, 25 at Lake Ayakkogitma and 25 at Samarkand.

Pintail Anas acuta
Fourteen at Aydar Lake and 14 at Tudakul.

Shoveler Anas clypeata
Nineteen at Tuzcan Lake, 2244 at Aydar Lake, 2178 at Tudakul, 442 at Bukhara, 158 at Lake Ayakkogitma and 3 at Samarkand.

Wigeon Anas penelope
Eighty-two at Tuzcan Lake, 983 at Aydar Lake, 658 at Tudakul, 25 at Bukhara, 310 at Lake Ayakkogitma and 5 at Samarkand.

Teal Anas crecca
60 at Tuzcan Lake, 90 at Aydar Lake, 1322 at Tudakul, 16 at Karakir, 23 at Bukhara and 347 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Garganey Anas querquedula
Thirty at Tuzcan Lake, 8 at Aydar, 4 at Tudakul and 11 at Samarkand.

Pochard Aythya ferina
199 at Aydar Lake and 70 at Tudakul. A further 10 elsewhere.

Red crested pochard Netta rufina
Nineteen at Tuzcan Lake, 301 at Aydar Lake, 360 at Tudakul, 24 at Bukhara, 622 at Lake Karakir west of Bukhara on 10th. Probably many more (thousands) at this lake where the count was called off due to strong winds.

Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca
Seven at Aydar Lake, 17 at Tudakul, 1 at Karakir and 7 at Bukhara.

Tufted duck Aythyafuligula
Six at Tuzcan Lake, 996 at Aydar Lake, 260 at Tudakul, 17 at Bukhara and 1 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Fifteen at Aydar Lake and 2 at Tudakul.

Smew Mergus albellus
Five late winter visitors at Aydar Lake.

White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephalus
Three females recorded – one at Aydar and two at Tudakul.

Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus
A total of six seen in the Nuratau Mountains including one carrying a hare as prey.

Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus
Three at Tuzcan Lake, 10 near “Life” village and 4 in Nuratau on 5th April and 5 at Aydar Lake.

Black vulture Aegypius monachus
Ten at Tuzcan Lake, 13 in and around “Life” village in Nuratau on 5th April, several overhead at Aydar Lake on 6th. 6 around Dzhizak on 13th.

Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus
Three adults above cliff near Lake Ayakkogitma and 2 near Dhizak on 13th.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Migrant; One at Aydar on 6th April, 24 at Tudakul on 8th April, 8 at Lake Ayakkogitma, 2 in Nuratau and 1 at Zerafshan.

Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos
Three at Tuzcan Lake with 2 in Nuratau Mountains on 5th April, 1 over Aydar Lake on 6th April. 1 near Dzhizak on 13th.

Steppe eagle Aquila nipalensis
Two sub-adults with vultures near Nuratau Mountains on 5th April and a single overhead en route to Aydar Lake on 6th April.

Short-toed eagle Circaetus gallicus
One at Tuzcan Lake.

Booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Two dark phase adults in lightly wooded valley above “Life” village on 5h April (ca1800m asl) and a dark phase near Dzhizak on 13th, both breeding sites. Has decreased in recent years.

Black kite Milvus nigrans
Four at Aydar Lake on 7th April. 18 near Dzhizak and on River Syr Darya on 13th.

Marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus
Fourty at Tuzcan Lake, 49 at Tudakul, 130 at Aydar, 10 at Bukhara lakes, 20 on migration over the desert west of Bukhara on 10th, 30 at Lake Karakir, 30 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus
A single at Tuzcan Lake, 3 at Aydar Lake and 1 at Karakir.

Montagu’s harrier Circus pygargus
Thirty seven at Aydar Lake, 3 at Tuzcan Lake, 5 at Lake Karakir and 1 at Lake Ayakkogitma and 6 over the desert near Nuratau – all migrants.

Common “Steppe” buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus
Four at Tuzcan Lake, 5 at Aydar Lake on 5th and 50 moving through on 6th, 4 at Tudakul on 8th April, 12 west of Bukhara in the desert on 10th, 10 at lake Lake Ayakkogitma. 30 seen en route from Samarkand to Tashkent on 13th. All records are of migrant “steppe” buzzards Buteo buteo vulpinus.

Long-legged buzzard Buteo ruffinus
Regularly encountered migrant and breeding species eg 4 at Tuzcan Lake, 5 at Aydar Lake on 5th and 20 there the next day, 1 at Tudakul, several in the desert west of Bukhara on 10th, 3 at Lake Ayakkogitma. 1 near Dzhizak on 13th.

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Ten moving through at Aydar Lake on 6th, 1 at Aydar Lake on 7th April, 1 at Tudakul and 1 in Nuratau the next day, 1 at Lake Ayakkogitma and on 13th near Dzhizak.

Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Singles at Tuzcan Lake on 5th April, in Nuratau and at Aydar on 6th, at Lake Ayakkogitma and on 13th April – all migrants.

Shikra Accipiter badius
Two at Tuzcan Lake on 5th April and single nesting in park in Bukhara on 9th.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Migrant. Four at Tuzcan Lake on 5th April, 3 at Aydar Lake on 6th/7th April, 1 at Tudakul the next day, 1 at Bukhara Ecocentre, 7 at Lake Karakir and at Lake Ayakkogitma. Also encountered in the desert and en route.

Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni
Between Samarkand and Tashkent mainly near Dzhizak 64 seen in small flocks on 13th April. Presumably migrants, but also breeds in the area.

Peregrine Falcoperegrinus
One at Tudakul.

Merlin Falco columbarius
Five at Tudakul, 1 at Bukhara Ecocentre, at Lake Karakir and at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Chukar Alectoris chukar
Very common in the Nuratau Hills. Also heard above Lake Ayakkogitma.

See-see partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis
One heard calling from rocky outcrop in foothills of Nuratau hills on 5th April.

Quail Coturnix coturnix
Two calling at Aydar Lake on 6th April.

Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Five at Lake Tuzcan, 4 at Aydar, 3 at Tudakul and 6 at Zeravshan. Two sub species observed – one with no white collar and a noticeable white forewing “zaravanicus” and one with a huge white collar “syrdarya”.

Coot Fulica atra
A very numerous species with large concentrations on some lakes – 519 at Tuzcan Lake, 6387 at Aydar Lake, 6290 at Tudakul, 155 at Bukhara lakes, 1203 at Lake Karakir on 10th and 2760 at Ayakkogitma.

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Singles at at Tuzcan and at Aydar.

Crane Grus grus
Five at Aydar on 6th April and 12 there the next day.

Demoiselle crane Anthropoides virgo
86 at Tuzcan on 5th April. 10,881 present at Aydar lake on 6th and 7th April.

Houbara bustard Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii
A single male at Aydar on 6th April. This species is now absent from many of the areas where it was present ten years ago despite apparent continuing suitability of the habitat. Hunting is to blame.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Two at Lake Ayakkogitma and a flock of 30 along Syr Darya on 13th.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
One at Tuzcan, 9 at Aydar, 41 at Tudakul and 6 at Bukhara.

Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus
Six at Tuzcan, 40 at Aydar, 157 at Tudakul, 80 at Bukhara, 15 at Ayakkogitma and 4 at Samarkand.

Stone curlew Burhinus aodicnemus
Two at Aydar on 6th April.

Collared pratincole Glareola pratincola
All identified pratincoles were of this species and most if not all unidentified pratincoles were also probably of this species so all records are included here. 12 unidentified at Tuzcan on 5th April, 10 unidentified at Aydar on 7th, 118 collared at Tudakul on 8th April, 112 identified as Collared at Lake Ayakkogitma on 11th and 1 at Karakir.

Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius
Five at Aydar and 28 at Tudakul.

Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Three at Tudakul, 40 at Bukhara and 103 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Grey plover Pluvialis squaterola
1 heard flying over Lake Tuzcan on 5th April.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
26 at Lake Ayakkogitma

Sociable plover Chettusia gregaria
One at Aydar on 7th April – the first record in the Country for thirty years.

White-tailed plover Chettusia leucara
A breeding species with 14 at Aydar, 35 at Tudakul, 20 at Bukhara and 20 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Dunlin Calidris alpina
200 at Tudakul and 7 at Bukhara and a single at Aydar.

Temminck’s stint Calidris temminckii
Ten at Tudakul where a further 200 unidentified Calidrid spp were probably this species. 51 at Bukhara and 20 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola
Three at Aydar on 7th and 2 at Ayakkogitma.

Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Sixteen at Aydar, 8 at Tudakul, 2 at Lake Karakir, 3 at Lake Ayakkogitma and 2 on Syr Darya.

Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
One at Aydar on 7th, 11 at Tudakul and 7 at Bukhara.

Redshank Tringa totanus
Small numbers present at Tuzcan, Aydar and Lake Ayakkogitma with 72 at Tudakul and 25 at Bukhara.

Spotted redshank Tringa erythropus
Two in the Navoi region.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Two at Aydar, 5 at Tudakul, 2 at Bukhara and 14 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Black-tailed godwit limosa limosa
Eleven at Tudakul and 1 at Bukhara.

Curlew Numenius torquata
One at Tuzcan and 5 at Tudakul.

Snipe Gallinago gallinago
One at Aydar

Ruff Philomachus pugnax
479 at Aydar, 203 at Tudakul, 24 at Bukhara and 351 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Black headed gull Larus ridibundus
Six at Tuzcan, 14 at Aydar, 69 at Tudakul, 66 at lake Lake Ayakkogitma, 8 on Syr Darya

Slender-billed gull Larus genei
7 at Lake Tuzcan on 5th April, 39 at Aydar 55 at Tudakul, 24 at Bukhara, 12 at Lake Ayakkogitma, 4 on River Syr Darya.

Pallas’ gull Larus ithyaetus
12 adult and second-year birds at Tuzcan on 5th April, 3 at Lake Ayakkogitma

Yellow-legged gull Larus (argentatus) cachinnans
Twenty at Tuzcan, 38 at Aydar, 57 at Tudakul, 3 at Karakir and 61 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Little tern sterna albifrons
3 at lake Tuzcan on 5th April

Gull-billed tern Gelochchelidon nilotica
5 at Tuzcan on 5th April, 19 at Aydar on 6th, 20 at Tudakul on 8th, 70 at Lake Ayakkogitma

Caspian tern Sterna caspia
5 at Tuzcan on 5th April, 4 at Aydar, 22 at Tudakul, 6 at Ayakkogitma and 30 along Syr Darya on 13th

Common tern Sterna hirundo
4 at Aydar, 2 at Lake Ayakkogitma on 11th, 3 at Samarkand on 13th.

Whiskered tern Chlidonias niger
2 at Tudakul on 8th April

Black-bellied sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis
Six at Bukhara Ecocentre on 9th April, several in desert on 10th and 6 in desert on 11th. Reported to be much reduced in recent years.

Feral pigeon/Rock dove Columba livia
Present in cultivated areas, villages and towns

Stock dove Columba oenas
Scarce. One in “Life” village on 5th April and one at Tudakul on 8th.

Wood pigeon Columba palumbus
Recorded displaying in the Nuratau hills (1000m asl and above) and at Zeravshan Reserve

Collared dove Streptopelia decaocto
Present in all towns and villages around Nuratau

Laughing dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Common in gardens etc at Bukhara, Samarkand.

Scops owl Otus scops
Single heard on night of 5/6th April at “Life” village.

Eagle owl Bubo bubo
Single in the desert near Karakir on 10th April

Swift Apus apus
Small numbers seen on migration anywhere and common in Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand.

Alpine swift Apus melba
30+ at Samarkand on 12th April where they apparently nest.

Hoopoe Upupa epops
Regular around gardens and villages

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Single at Tudakul and on River Syr Darya on 13th April.

White-winged woodpecker Dendrocopos leucoptera
One seen and another heard at stop on River Amu Dara on 13th April.

Crested lark Galerida cristata
Incredibly common in steppe and desert around Tuzcan, Aydar, Karakir and towns and villages elsewhere.

Short-toed lark Calandrella brachydactyla
A party of 20 migrants near Lake Ayakkogitma on 11th April.

Lesser short-toed lark Calandrella rufescens
Probably more common than observed and identified. Around Tuzcan and Aydar

Calandra lark Melanocorypha calandra
Incredibly common in steppe around Tuzcan and Aydar.

Bimaculated lark Melanocorypha bimaculata
Very common on foothills around Tuzcan and Aydar. Several near Lake Ayakkogitma

Swallow Hirundo rustica
Small numbers seen throughout trip – all on migration.

Red-rumped swallow Hirundo daurica
1 over Tuzcan and 1 near Dzhizak on13th.

House Martin Delichon urbica
A single migrant with swallows on 13th.

Tawny pipit Anthus campestris
One record – of a single migrant in a cafe garden anongst other migrants duringa sandstorm west of Bukhara on 10th April.

Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis
Small numbers mixed in with vast numbers of pipits around Lake Tuzcan on 5th April. There could have been more among the vast numbers of tree pipits heard and seen.

Red-throated pipit Anthus cervinus
One identified by call with other Anthus spp around Tuzcan on 5th April. There could have been more among the vast numbers of tree pipits heard and seen.

Tree pipit Anthus trivialis
This species made up 99% or more of pipits seen. The volume of migration was staggering with thousands on the steppe and individuals could be heard flying over almost every stop for the whole period including over cities. The total for the period 5th to 14th April must have numbered hundreds of thousands.

Masked wagtail Motaacilla personata
A regularly encountered species around human habitation usually in pairs.

White wagtail Motacilla alba
A common migrant encountered especially at lake edges amongst other Motacilla spp.

Black headed wagtail Motacilla feldegg
Thousands of this race/species present along lake shores, and around wet steppe.

Yellow wagtail Motacilla flava
Tens of thousands of Motacilla spp were encountered – the race Motacilla flava beema appeared to be most numerous.

Grey wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Several seen and heard in Nuratau Hills always near running water

Citrine wagtail Motacilla citreola
Regular to common passage migrant amongst other Motacilla spp. This was the commonest species at Lake Ayakkogitma where thousands were present.

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
Single at Tudakul, Bukhara lakes, at Lake Karakir, at Lake Ayakkogitma – those identified were of the red spotted form.

Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Commonly encountered as a migrant in the desert and on the steppe.

Isabelline wheatear Oenanthe isabellinus
Commonly encountered in the desert and on the steppe as a migrant and presumably an arriving breeding species.

Desert wheatear Oenanthe deserti
Regularly encountered in the desert.

Pied wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka
Regularly encountered in the desert and on the steppe.

Variable (Eastern pied) wheatear Oenanthe picata
A single male in the Nuratau mountains near the 2000 year old tree on 6th April.

Finch’s wheatear Oenanthe finschii
Two encountered in the Nuratau mountains on 5th and 6th April.

Siberian stonechat Saxicola (torquata) maura
Three on migration at Aydar, 1 at Lake Ayakkogitma.

Pied stonechat Saxicola caprata
Single males at Bukhara Lakes and Lake Ayakkogitma. Usually near man-modified habitat.

Rock thrush Monticola saxatilis
A single migrant male near Lake Ayakkogitma on 11th April.

Mistle thrush Turdus viscivorus
Eight in river valley in Nuratau Hills.

Blackbird Turdus torquatus
Twenty in the Nuratau Hills in a wooded river valley. Also recorded in wooded gardens in Tashkent and at Zeravshan reserve.

Dark-throated thrush Turdus ruficollis
Twelve remaining wintering birds seen in river valley above “Life” village at ca 1500m asl on 6th April.

(Hume’s) Lesser whitethroat Sylvia (curruca) althaea
All lesser whitethroats seen were of this race – big with dark shrike-like ear coverts. Treated as a separate species in Russian taxonomy. Seen on migration on several days from the desert through to 1500m asl.

Reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Several heard singing at Lake Karakir on 10th.

Paddyfield warbler Acrocephalus agricola
A single singing at Tudakul on 8th April.

Savi’s warbler Locustella luscinioides
Singles at Tuzcan, Tudakul and Lake Karakir.

Cetti’s warbler Cettia cetti
Present at Tuzcan, Tudakul, Lake Karakir and up to 1000m asl in Nuratau Hills.

Clamorous reed warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus
A single at Tuzcan, several at Tudakul, over 20 singing at Bukhara lakes and at Lake Karakir. Common in reedbeds.

Olivaceous warbler Hippolais pallida
A single migrant in the desert near Lake Ayakkogitma on 11th April.

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis
Regularly encountered as a migrant in shrubs in mountains and by lakes throughout the trip. Call and plumage of all individuals indicated Siberian chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis.

Greenish warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
One on migration at 1800m+ asl in Nuratau on 5th April

Red-breasted flycatcher Ficedula parva
A single male in tamarisk by Lake Karakir on 10th April.

Turkestan tit Parus bokharensis
Several pairs seen and heard eg in the village in Nuratau Hills at 1500m asl, near Lake Ayakkogitma and at Zerafshan.

Bearded reedling Panurus biamarcus
Heard and seen where there were large reedbeds eg at Tudakul and Karakir.

Penduline tit Remiz pendulinus
Seven pairs of the black-headed (white-crowned) penduline tit Remiz pendulinus coronatus were seen and heard around “Life” village, nest building in poplars at an altitude of 1000m asl. A single was heard on migration flying over the desert at Tudakul on 8th April.

Eastern rock nuthatch Sitta tephronota
Heard in Nuratau Hills on 5th and 6th April.

Isabelline shrike Lanius isabellinus phoenicuroides
Regularly seen throughout the trip in desert, steppe and in wetland scrub.

Long-tailed shrike Lanius schach
A single newly arrived birds on telegraph wires in a town (a typical habitat) on 13th April.

Steppe grey shrike Lanius excubitor
Several seen en route in desert on several days

Magpie Pica pica
Common in towns, in gardens and around human habitation and farmland.

Pander’s Ground Jay Podoces panderi
A pair in the desert on 10th and 3 near Lake Ayakkogitma on 11th.

Jackdaw Corvus monedula
200 on the steppe at Tuzcan. Otherwise widespread often nesting in roadside cuttings with common mynahs.

Rook Corvus frugilegus
Associated with area where both wheat and grass are present. 400 on steppe at Tuzcan, 300 at Aydar, rookery of 150 nests near Lake Ayakkogitma

Carrion crow Corvus corone corone
Regularly seen. Two migrant hooded crows (Corvus corone cornix) at Aydar on 7th April.

Brown-necked raven Corvus ruficollis
Distant views of 4 ravens at Tuzcan. I was informed that all were of this species.

Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Not common. 4 at Tuzcan, 250 at Aydar

Common mynah Acrithoideres tristis
Very common urban and village species.

House sparrow Passer domesticus
A regular rural species.

Tree sparrow Passer montanus
A common urban species eg Tashkent, Samarkand etc.

Spanish sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
A desert species usually seen in flocks eg 100 at Bukhara Ecocentre.

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Only recorded in lightly wooded river valley in Nuratau Hills above 1000m asl where ca 20 preseent.

Grey-headed goldfinch Carduelis (carduelis) caniceps
Ca 10 seen in Nuratau Hills on 6th April and a pair nesting in poplars by a roadside cafe on 13th.

Desert finch Rhodospiza obsoleta
A single at a roadside cafe on 10th and common in the desert around Lake Ayakkogitma on 11th.

Reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
A single heard at Tudakul.

Grey-necked bunting Emberiza buchanani
A single male in the desert near Lake Ayakkogitma.

Rock bunting Emberiza cia
Heard in Nuratau Hills on 6th April above 1600m asl.

Corn bunting Miliaria calandra
300 in small flocks and singing on steppe near Tuzcan -these were migrants apparently. Later seen on the plateau near Lake Ayakkogitma a more typical breeding habitat.

Simon Busuttil