Friday 24 May 2024

Armenia 2023 - Part 2

Day 2 began early as Nick had organised for two rangers from Arpa Protected Landscape to pick us up at our B&B and drive us up the mountains to see Caspian Snowcock. Our mode of transport was a rather rickety Lada Niva 4x4 which at first didn't look up to the job but in reality it had no problems hauling all four of us plus our gear up the steep, narrow and rough mountain tracks to where the Snowcocks were. I'll refer readers now to Nick's blog for photos and videos.

After 30 minutes or so our guides pulled the Lada over and shut the engine off. We hauled ourselves out, set up our scopes and began to scan the sheer rock face opposite us for Caspian Snowcock. It was really chilly at first but as the morning warmed up the first few plaintive notes of Caspian Snowcock echoed out across the crags. Thankfully we had our guides with us and they were soon able to pinpoint the bird, no mean feat given the vast expanse of rock!

Having both enjoyed good views and sounds of the Snowcocks, our guides returned to our B&B where we enjoyed a fine breakfast!

Breakfast time

Nicely re-fuelled we headed out once again, this time to the nearby Noravank Monastery. The main target here was Persian Wheatear. We birded around the monastery itself and on the rocky slopes behind, which, being away from the visitors, is where we had most of the birds. There was a pair of Eastern Black-eared Wheatears, a pair of Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, a small flock of Red-fronted Serin, plenty of Crag Martins and several White Wagtails. 


Female Blue Rock Thrush


Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Noravank Monastery, Armenia     

Crag Martins, Noravank Monastery, Armenia

To be fair to Nick, he made more of an effort to locate Persian Wheatear than I did. He did suceed too although views were brief. By the time I caught up with him the bird had disappeared further up the steep rock face behind the monastery and I never got sight of it. We decided the best idea was to return to the B&B for an afternoon siesta, let the crowds dwindle a little at the monastery and then return later in the afternoon in the hope that the Persian Wheatear would have come back down the rock face.


Back to our B&B for a welcome siesta

We did score an unexpected bonus bird as we climbed out of the car at the B&B when a Lammergier drifted over - lifer for me!

Fortified by our mid-afternoon nap, we returned to Noravank and tackled the steep and rocky slope once more. I managed to hear and briefly see a Persian Wheatear, Nick was less successful. 


A truly rubbish record shot of a Persian Wheatear!

The birds soon booted right back up the steep cliffs behind the monastery and we decided at that to call it a day. We returned at around 8pm to our digs, where we enjoyed a fine dinner of minced lamb wrapped in vine leaves all washed down with a glass of our proprietors eight year old red. We hit the hay early ready for a day at Armash Ponds.

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