Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Urumqi to the desert.....

Yet another early start as we left Urumqi on the 650+ kms drive south to Luntai in the Tarim Basin, passing through stark grey and arid mountains where a male Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush posed nicely - and was the first of several surprises today. As the road dropped down into the desert-like plains, Long-legged Buzzards and Pied Wheatears became more prominent. 

Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush

After lunch we reached some marshes at the edge of the huge Bosten Nur Lake and followed a path through lush reedbeds teeming with Great Reed Warblers. It was fantastic habitat, with numerous Bearded Reedlings all around, at least 10 Little Bitterns flying across the area (an Asian mega-tick!), Western Great Egret, Citrine Wagtails, Common Reed Buntings of the Pyrrhuloides race, a couple of Paddyfield Warblers, and both Black and Whiskered Terns hunting the channels. 

Bearded Reedling was very common at Bosten Nur

Little Bittern - an Asian mega tick..!

However, best of all were at least 7 singing Savi’s Warblers, and we took some time to get crippling views of this rare China bird. We also had several Isabelline Shrikes, that along with most of the other birds seen here was extraordinarily pale – possibly as a result of the extremely high temperatures and reset habitat nearby? Leaving here we stopped the coach to look at our first Turkestan Shrike and noted plenty of Eurasian Starlings.

Savi's Warbler - wasn't expecting this open at all....

As we approached Luntai a Black Stork circled over the road before dropping down into a surprisingly green area and it was with some relief that we arrived at our hotel just before 9pm and a late dinner.

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