Russia 2019

Mark Finn
May 24th-June 6th

This was our first visit to Siberia after a break of several years. Since the last visit the infrastructure has improved a lot plus the standard of accommodation has also been upgraded. The tour was again a great success with the majority of the specialties being observed. Unusual species which were unexpected included a flock of Swan Geese near Ulan-Ude, above average sightings of Oriental Honey Buzzards, a good selection of waders including a Lesser Sandplover, several Oriental Cuckoos, White-throated Needletail, six species of woodpecker including White-backed and Three-toed, out of range Red-billed Choughs, Spotted Nutcrackers at close range. On the steppes Mongolian and Asian Short-toed Larks were joined by displaying Blyth's Pipits. In the woodlands a great range of leaf warblers and thrushes with the latter including Red-throated and Eye-browed. Along the river courses we located the superb Siberian Rubythroat and Azure Tit. Near Arshan a singing White-throated Rock Thrush was an unexpected bonus. Finally we came across large flocks of Citrine Wagtails with one group numbering over a 100 birds. Within the bunting complex it was great to see Yellow-breasted and Pallas's Reed Buntings in increased numbers let us hope this trend continues.

Finally my thanks go out to Alexei for safely driving us around Siberia and supplying packed lunches. It was good to meet up again with my old friend Igor who was invaluable in the field with his knowledge of bird calls and song and finally Olga who was with us for the last few days. The next tour to Siberia is late May 2020

May 24th/25th: London, Moscow, Ulan-Ude
Daily 25 New 25 Running 25
Weather: Sunny and clear with NW winds 19C

The group assembled at Heathrow on the 24th for the flight to Moscow and then onto Ulan-Ude the capital of the Buryat Republic. The flights went smoothly and Igor and Alexei met us at the airport where we transferred to a city hotel to freshen up and take breakfast. En route to the city the commoner birds were recorded including Eurasian and Azure-winged Magpies, Oriental Crow and Baikal Wagtail. On arrival the blossom trees held migrant Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow-browed Warbler. High above the city Pacific Swifts were flying around with House Martins. At 1300 hours the group set off to an area of the Selenga River. On entering the area Northern Wheatears were perching on old poles whist a Richard's Pipit sang from a wire. In the distance we added Eastern Buzzard, Common Kestrel and Northern Raven. A walk along the river was quiet to start with although Mallard, Sand Martin and Siberian Terns were seen. Near the minibus on our return a remarkable session of birding started. Jean located a Long-tailed Rosefinch in a dead tree. In another bush with dead twigs we were treated to fantastic views of Siberian Rubythroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Black-faced Bunting. A bonus came in the form of a male Chinese Penduline Tit which showed briefly before flying off. The time changes and tiredness kicked in and a return to the hotel was welcomed by all of us.

May 26th: Ulan-Ude, Orongoy, Stepnoye, Abramovskoyel, Gusinoozersk
Daily 64 New 50 Running 75
Weather: Warm and sunny with S winds 9-18C

A walk around the grounds at Ulan-Ude gave us close views of Pacific Swifts. After breakfast the van was loaded and we set off for the rather depressed town of Gusinoozersk. Our first stop was after around 30km when a group of Demoiselle Cranes were seen feeding in an old maize field. Good views obtained along with Common Cranes, Eurasian Skylark and Isabelline Wheatears singing from telegraph wires. Further up the road another stop added prospecting Amur Falcons inspecting an old corvid nest for breeding use. Next on the agenda were the bird rich lakes and adjacent steppe habitat of Orongoy. In the sandy habitats surrounding the lake we observed both Asian and Greater Short-toed Larks which gave good comparisons in plumage details and behaviour. On the lake itself the margins attracted Eurasian Spoonbill, Northern Lapwing and Little Ringed Plover. The open waters were particularly attractive to Ruddy Shelduck, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintails. A scan of the reed edge added Reed Bunting and a singing Pallas's Bunting the latter being a scarce migrant and breeding bird of Buryat. A visit to Orongoy village had the unusual sight of at least thirty Citrine Wagtails perched on wires, and Baikal Wagtails and Wood Sandpipers in the flooded fields. Beyond the village the road passes through an area of shallow lakes which attracted huge numbers of birds. The first stop had Oriental Rooks and at least two Eurasian Curlews (eastern races) and a single Common Sandpiper. A larger lake around 2km further one was crammed full of Ruddy Shelducks, Little Stint and the commoner wildfowl. The larger 'Swan Lake' was more difficult to access but Alexei found a way with good access and viewing options. This proved to be a good move for Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, booming Eurasian Bitterns, Red-necked Stints, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshanks in black breeding plumage, Garganey, Asiatic Scoters and parties of White-winged Terns. In the surrounding fields Eastern Marsh Harriers put on a good show as they quartered the area. Time was getting on as we visited the lakes and scrub of Abramovskoyel. Initially it was quiet but we managed sightings of Brown Shrike, Eurasian Hoopoe, Pine Bunting and a Black-eared Kite. Base was reached at Gusinoozersk were trees in the old square added Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow-browed and Arctic Warblers and a party of Common Rosefinches.

May 27th: Gusinoozersk, Temnik River, Selendum Lake, Beloozersk
Daily 70 New 19 Running 94
Weather: Sunny and warm with a S wind 7-22C

The group met up at 0600 to visit a nearby park which often holds migrants during spring migration periods. Pacific Swifts were around in good numbers as we walked towards the park. In trees we quickly located Common Rosefinch, Great Tit, Northern Wheatear and Yellow-browed Warblers. On the return walk a pair of Pallas's Warbler showed in a budding tree. After breakfast the journey west towards the almost abandoned town of Beloozersk was made with the first stop producing views of Steppe Eagle, Upland Buzzard, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Amur Falcon, Mongolian and Horned Larks. Our journey passed through rather arid habitats until reaching the Temnik River a rather beautiful area of fast flowing streams lined with scrub and willow trees. Parked up and walked along the bank where we watched family parties of Azure-winged Magpies, also present around the few remaining buildings were Barn Swallow, Arctic Warbler and singing Black-faced Buntings. A sandbar in the river held Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Siberian Tern. In the mature trees along the riverbank a Brown Shrike performed for us catching insects from a low perch. The icing on the cake here was a rather showy Willow Tit and a group of Azure Tits which fed right in front of us at close range. The next stop was Selendum Lake near the town of the same name. On arrival a scan of the open water added Great Cormorant, Eurasian Spoonbill, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail and Common Pochard. In the distance a muddy spit appeared to have larger birds on it and much to the groups delight this included the critically endangered Swan Goose with ten birds feeding on the lush grass. A careful check here also produced Marsh Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and an amazing flock of over 100 Citrine Wagtails following a herd of cows, this also had at least two Eastern Yellow Wagtails. Over a distant ridge a gathering of Cinereous Vultures put on a good show with one or two being wing-tagged (in Mongolia). Suddenly everything around the lake flew into the air as a White-tailed Eagle put in an appearance. We went further east towards Beloozersk and stopped in a slightly rising area of scrub dotted with rocks and low bushes. This was an excellent stop for displaying Blyth's Pipit, Mongolian Lark and a singing Pallas' Bunting. Lunch taken overlooking the lake where we added Common Shelduck to the list. It was time to head back with a stop at the highest point on the road. It was here that we located the rather uncommon Red-billed Chough, Northern Raven and Daurian Jackdaw. A few raptors were about notably Eastern Marsh Harrier, Black-eared Kite and a Lesser Kestrel.

Citrine Wagtail

May 28th: Guzinoozersk, Zhargalanta (old road and lake), Orongoy Lake, Ulan-Ude
Daily 65 New 13 Running 107
Weather: Rather cold with NW winds 1-12C

The day dawned rather cold and windy an omen for things to come. At 0700 hours a walk to the local park had a few birds in Eurasian Hoopoe, Baikal Wagtail, Northern Wheatear and groups of Pacific Swifts. Back for breakfast and on the road at 0900 to visit an area of seasonal wetlands, tamarisk and meadows the latter being grazed by horses. On the lake we located White-winged Tern whilst the edges had Pacific Golden Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Oriental Rook and Ruddy Shelducks. A walk on the tamarisk edge which was sheltered from the wind proved to be very productive. In the first section of bushes a flock of Common Rosefinches feeding on berries. In a dead willow tree at least two Little Buntings, Arctic and Yellow-browed Warblers, singing Siberian Rubythroats, Brown Shrike and a showy Dark-sided Flycatcher. The old road at Zhargalanta is an exceptional place for birdlife and it proved to be again on this visit. On exiting the bus we were greeted by singing Pine Buntings in all directions. A scan of the bushes quickly revealed Daurian Redstart, Taiga Flycatcher, Common Whitethroat and Olive-backed Pipits in a bare tree. In the scrubby bushes calling Dusky Warbler. Further along the road a perched Black-eared Kite and tremendous views of Eurasian Hobby perched in a dead tree. The wind was getting stronger so a short diversion down an enclosed track worked for the group. An area near the river held a male Siberian Blue Robin, Great, Willow and Long-tailed Tits and a pair of Lesser Whitethroats. After lunch another look at Orongoy Lake where birds were similar to two days ago with the bonus of a Slavonian Grebe and six Whimbrel on a northerly migration route. An early finish today was appreciated as it cooled even further in Ulan Ude.

May 29th: Ulan-Ude, Glubokaya, Zhilischenskaya Lake, Posolske, Utulik
Daily 58 New 10 Running 117
Weather: Sunny with SW winds 5-16C

After leaving Ulan-Ude our journey took us along the main route towards Irkutsk and Lake Baikal. Our first birding stop was the meadows at Glubokaya a few kilometres north of the city. A walk towards the river system proved to be productive as a Booted Eagle was patrolling the skies looking for prey. The bushes had Brown Shrike, Black-eared and Pine Buntings, Lesser Whitethroat, Siberian Rubythroat and Great Tits. Further north another town with a roadside lagoon attracted Black-eared Kite, Common Kestrel, House and Sand Martins, Barn Swallow and a White-tailed Eagle being pursued by numerous kites. A detour towards the Selenga Delta was made which borders Lake Baikal. A stop near a small village with pools was good for Whooper Swan, Mongolian Gull, Richard's Pipit and Northern Wheatear. Zhilischenskaya Lake was next on the agenda a huge marsh bordered by pine woods. On arrival a Black Stork flew over and landed in the marsh. A walk into the forest and an overlook (into the wetland) proved to be very productive. Along the way we recorded Olive-backed Pipit, Pine and Little Buntings and Willow Tit. Once at the overlook an area of silver birch dotted with pines was productive for a showy Oriental Cuckoo, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Yellow-browed and Radde's Warblers and a singing Brambling. Back to the bus for lunch and then onto Posolske a village with a large monastery on the shores of Lake Baikal. This was an area for large numbers of Siberian Terns plus a few non-breeding Caspian Terns, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Garganey, Little Ringed Plover, Citrine and Baikal Wagtails. Back to the main highway and onto Utulik which passed through impressive vistas with snow-capped mountains and extensive forests of silver birch and Siberian Pine. Another feature was the Trans-Siberian railway which was busy with freight traffic. Arrived at our delightful family run hotel at Utulik for two nights.

May 30th: Utulik, Vydrino, Gorie Ski Station
Daily 50 New 19 Running 136
Weather: Sunny with no wind 10-20C

At 0800 hours we set off in an easterly direction to visit the forest habitats near Vydrino. En route brief views of Eurasian Jay. Once on the track which runs through the forest a Song Thrush showed on the grassy edge. The first stop on the track was productive for singing Red-flanked Bluetail, Dusky Warbler, Mugimaki Flycatcher singing from a pine tree, Two-barred Greenish Warbler and the short song of Brambling. In the river itself a few Goosanders, Baikal and Grey Wagtails and Little Ringed Plovers. On the next sector of track a different set of birds included Pallas' and Arctic Warblers, Rufous-tailed Robins giving their distinctive songs but being elusive, Siberian Rubythroat, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Black-faced Buntings. Overhead a party of White-throated Needletails showed well. The area of forest near our lunch stop was good for a Eye-browed Thrush feeding quietly on the road, Asian Brown Flycatcher, drumming Black Woodpecker, Eurasian Bullfinch and Coal Tit. After lunch back to the main road to travel towards the ski station at Gorie. Around the car park Barn Swallow and House Martin. The ride to the top gave us great views over the forest with an Olive-backed Pipit sitting on the cable wires. On reaching the summit a walk up to the platform gave us views over Lake Baikal and the north shore. This proved to be good for Oriental Honey Buzzard and a Spotted Nutcracker which came in to investigate us. A few of the group then located a Three-toed Woodpecker before we made the journey back down. Back to our accommodation where the gardens added Great Spotted and White-backed Woodpeckers and a male Daurian Redstart to the list.


May 31st: Bayalsk, A164, Zaktoy, Arshan
Daily 66 New 10 Running 146
Weather: Sunny and warm with light NW winds 27C

A look in the hotel grounds added a calling Common Cuckoo to the list. Afterwards we headed a short distance east to Bayalsk and the shoreline of Lake Baikal. En route a pair of Hawfinch were in the top of a poplar tree. A walk along the shore with its pools and silver birch scrub was productive for Arctic and Dusky Warblers, Olive-backed Pipit, Pine, Black-faced, Yellow-breasted and Little Buntings, Oriental Cuckoo, Common Crossbill and overhead White-throated Needletails. On the road again and turning west on the A164 road towards Arshan. A stop near a village with extensive forest had Asian Brown and Dark-sided Flycatchers, singing Mugimaki Flycatcher and brief views of Eurasian Bullfinch and Eurasian Siskin. The A164 eventually runs through an extensive area of meadows and farmland which attracts birds of prey. Upland Buzzard, Black-eared Kite and Oriental Honey Buzzards were observed plus a pair of Eastern Imperial Eagles near their large nest. At Zaktoy a small wetland attracted the commoner ducks including a drake Garganey, Demoiselle Cranes and stunning views of two Greater Spotted Eagles one of which was in display mode. The village of Arshan was reached nestling in the shadows of impressive snow-capped mountains. A walk in the park was made with the first thirty minutes or so being very quiet for birdlife. An area in the centre of the park suddenly came alive with birds with sightings of Daurian and Common Redstarts, Eurasian Nuthatch, Great and Coal Tits, Common Chaffinch and a surprise find in Mistle Thrush. However the stars of the afternoon were prolonged perched and flight views of a male Black Woodpecker plus a feeding Grey-headed Woodpecker and also at least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers. We called it a day around 1730 hours and set off for base on the outskirts of Arshan.

June 1st: Arshan, Tunka
Daily 50 New 5 Running 151
Weather: Rain showers followed by sunny spells on a NW wind 5-17C

A later start today was justified as the weather overnight had brought in a low front with rain. At 0900hours we set off for the park in Arshan again where many traders were setting up stalls for the weekend. Daurian Redstarts were singing from the stalls whilst Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also present. On the fast-flowing river brief views of White-throated Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Grey and Baikal Wagtails and a pair of Red Squirrels which you could hand feed with seeds. The rain started to stop when a Grey-headed Woodpecker and Olive-backed Pipit were in a dead tree. A diversion back into the park had singing Siberian Blue Robin, Radde's and Pallas' Warblers. A pair of Taiga Flycatchers showed sallying for insects and a Dusky Warbler gave us views whist delivering his song. Another walk into the forest was productive as a rare White-throated Rock Thrush was located singing from the top of a dead tree. Back to base for lunch followed by a visit into the Tunka Marshes. A stop in Tunka village was productive for the locally scarce Common Starling and a Eurasian Wryneck calling from a telegraph pole. In a silver birch a flock of Hawfinch flew in an unexpected sighting. Beyond the village the road becomes dirt and is not maintained as it runs through steppe and poor quality land. A few birds were seen including our first Siberian Stonechat, Richard's Pipit, Black Woodpecker, Pine Bunting and Isabelline Wheatears. The latter part of the day was spent looking for Thick-billed Warblers without success. The only species of note were numerous Brown Shrikes, Common Kestrel, a female Eurasian Hobby catching dragonflies and a Common Cuckoo perched low in a pine tree. Back at base a party of Common Crossbills flew over the hotel gardens towards Arshan village.

June 2nd: Arshan, Zaktoy, Kultuk, Irkutsk
Daily 71 New 8 Running 159
Weather: Sunny although cloudy later 11-19C

Checked out of Arshan with the first stop planned at Zaktoy. This changed as Baz had forgotten his fleece so we made an unexpected stop near a river bridge. This had an added bonus in a fly-by Oriental Turtle Dove plus views of Great Spotted and White-backed Woodpeckers, Demoiselle Crane, Common Redstart, Common Rosefinch and a calling Eurasian Wryneck. Back on the bus and onto Zaktoy where the elevated viewing area added close views of Willow and Marsh Tits, Eurasian Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Brown Shrike and a singing Siberian Rubythroat. In the valley an adult Greater Spotted Eagle was soaring on the thermals whilst the marshy areas gave us sightings of singing and displaying Common Snipe. On the water edge a pair of Wood Sandpipers were also seen. Back on the road again with the next stop at Kultuk a small town situated on the edge of Lake Baikal. A stop at a petrol station had a male Citrine Wagtail on the forecourt. Our main interest was in the bushes and marsh plus the shore of Lake Baikal itself. A bonus was a male Yellow-breasted Bunting singing from a willow - great views. The walk across the marsh was challenging in places until reaching the beach. The birds here included Great Cormorant, Whooper Swan, Grey Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Asiatic Scoter, the commoner duck species including our first Red-breasted Mergansers, Mongolian Gull, Siberian, White-winged and Black Terns. A few waders were seen including Grey Plover, Lesser Sandplover and three Red-necked Stints. The walk back towards the bus allowed views of Richard's Pipit and a Eurasian Hobby. Lunch taken followed by a visit to another area of Kultuk with overgrown gardens and old houses. It took several minutes to locate Thick-billed Warblers which eventually showed well in rose bushes giving their repetitive songs. It was time to go towards Irkutsk our base for the next two nights The road was busy with trucks and car traffic so progress was rather slow. Checked in at our hotel near the Angara River where Olga our new guide was waiting for us. Before arriving at the hotel we dropped Igor off as he had to go to the Selenga Delta for survey work.

June 3rd: Irkutsk, Tompson Park, Novoleninskye Marshes
Daily 39 New 2 Running 161
Weather: Heavy rain showers 1-10C on a W wind

Today dawned with low cloud, heavy rain and mist. Initially we went to one of the parks in Irkutsk but quickly I made the decision to abandon the morning’s birding due to weather (this was only the third time in over 25 years). Arranged to meet up at 1300 hours and visit Tompson Park a protected area within the city limits. On arrival the trees were alive with Taiga and Asian Brown Flycatchers, Yellow-browed and Arctic Warblers, singing Rufous-tailed Robins and a reeling Lanceolated Warbler. High up in the trees a Common Redstart was located along with several Hawfinch. It was time to visit Novoleninskye Marshes an important area for wetland birds which is situated in an area of roads and railway tracks. On arrival several Eastern Marsh Harriers were quartering the reedbeds. In the reeds and bull rushes we had sightings of Reed Bunting, Citrine Wagtail and Siberian Stonechats. In addition to these species close up views of Yellow-breasted Buntings and Bluethroats both of which were very territorial. An open area of water attracted several duck species notably Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Garganey, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Common Coot and a few fishing Siberian Terns. The weather started to draw in again so I called it a day and went back to base.

Yellow Breasted-Bunting

June 4th: Irkutsk, Ushakovka River, Solnopechnoye, Bolshoye Goloustnoe
Daily 52 New 5 Running 166
Weather: Rather mixed with sunny spells and showers on a W wind 6-17C

Thankfully the weather of yesterday had cleared up to leave a fresh feel to the day. By the hotel an area of trees had singing Arctic Warblers. The journey out of Irkutsk was slow to start with and a stop for supplies was made in the suburbs. Our first stop was the meadows and scrub habitat bordering the Ushakovka River. From an elevated position the group watched Radde's Warblers, reeling Lanceolated Warblers, Brown Shrike, Common Rosefinch and a showy Yellow-breasted Bunting. A track leads to the river where Tree Pipit and Yellowhammer were singing from bushes. In distant pine trees we finally located a Rufous-tailed Robin giving its loud song. The cloudy weather had forced a few birds to lower levels including the eastern race of Common Swift and White-throated Needletails with one bird passing by at high speed. Near the river we finally had good views of Siberian Chiffchaff and Oriental Turtle Doves plus singing Siberian Rubythroat and a calling Black Woodpecker. Lunch was taken further on by the river with a dark phase Booted Eagle, Black-eared Kite, Grey Wagtail, Black-faced Bunting and Lesser Whitethroat for company. The road passes through an area of dead/burnt trees where a trio of Oriental Honey Buzzards were seen. Jean then located a male Red-throated Thrush perched in the top of a dead tree a real bonus for the tour. Solnopechnoye was next on the agenda which is almost abandoned by people. The grassy areas held Citrine Wagtail, Richard's Pipit and Pine Bunting. The old houses attracted Asian Brown Flycatcher, Daurian Redstart, Siberian Stonechat and a calling Oriental Cuckoo. A brief stop in the next village added Northern Wheatear and Reed Bunting. The journey down to Bolshoye Goloustnoe went through an area which has been recently affected by forest fires. A stop at an old campground proved to be productive for a Golden Eagle flying over the valley. On reaching Lake Baikal checked into a guesthouse for two nights.

June 5th: Bolshoye Goloustnoe
Daily 48 New 1 Running 167
Weather: Sunny with little wind 5-19C

Today was spent in around the village searching for birds and in Lake Baikal itself. After breakfast we headed towards the road end. En route we looked into the lake and located groups of Asiatic Scoter, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser and Mongolian Gulls. A scan of the cliffs and pines had a pair of Eurasian Hobby perched in a dead tree and an unidentified falcon flying along the forest edge. Parked up at the end of the road in a pinewood habitat where close views of Common Crossbills were made feeding on pine cones. Also present were Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black-eared Kite, Great and Coal Tits, Common Rosefinch and a migrant Oriental Reed Warbler searching for insects in a pine tree. The next birding stop was the steppe like habitat bordering Lake Baikal which is heavily grazed by livestock. On arrival Northern and Isabelline Wheatears were numerous along with Richard's Pipits and Citrine Wagtails. A real conundrum was dumped vegetation which attracted Thick-billed Warblers and two first year Siberian Rubythroats the latter proved to be hard to identify as they flicked around the bush and kept to cover. After lunch I went towards the village boundary and river which held Common Sandpiper, Grey and Citrine Wagtails and a Common Kingfisher seen by Yvonne. Further north another stop in an area of burnt woodland provided us with Siberian Blue Robin, Radde's, Yellow-browed, Two-barred Greenish and Pallas' Warblers, Willow Tit and calling Oriental and Common Cuckoos. Our final birding stop of the day was adjacent to the lake where Booted Eagle and Black-eared Kites hunted for sousliks. The usual birds were on the steppe and in the lake so we headed back to base.

June 6th: Bolshoye Goloustnoe, Ushakovka, Irkutsk
Daily 68 New 4 Final 171
Weather: Warm and sunny with occasional showers 7-24C

Our last full day in Siberia started with a pre-breakfast walk outside the hotel on the shore of Lake Baikal. The usual birds were around including a group of Asiatic Scoters sitting quietly offshore. Our journey back to Irkutsk started with a visit to the bridge area with similar results to yesterday afternoon. I decided to stop in the forest areas again which were close to cliffs and scrub habitats. The first stop had an adult Eastern Imperial Eagle perched in a dead pine which allowed good and prolonged views. Overhead sightings of Oriental Honey and Eastern Buzzards and a unidentified accipiter species which may well have been a Northern Goshawk. Within the forest several Siberian Blue Robins were calling from cover whilst sightings of Arctic, Yellow-browed, Pallas' Leaf, Dusky and Radde's Warblers were made. Before leaving the area a dark phase Booted Eagle appeared along with a showy Daurian Redstart and Common Rosefinch. Further up the road an area of cliffs with adjacent scrub had singing Thick-billed Warblers and a Grey-headed Woodpecker which perched in a pine tree. In the distance we could hear the calls of Eurasian Wryneck, Black Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush. Finally it was back to Irkutsk to a park which Olga knows well from her work. A pleasant walk eventually produced the resident Fieldfares plus Siberian Stonechat, Siberian Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Eurasian Wryneck perched in a stunted bush. The day ended with another visit to the marshes with similar birds to a few days ago. In the evening a visit to a local restaurant where we celebrated the success of the tour. On the 7th we left Irkutsk for the flight to Moscow and onto London, some of us extended the trip with a visit to Moscow whilst Baz return to Sydney via Beijing.

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