Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snooker and pool

I have got used to seeing pool snooker tables outside in the street, but this one seemed so Mongolian.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year

The new year dawned with a spectacular sunrise as the sun climbed over the mountains and hit Ulaanbaatar's pollution.
My main resolution is to spend more time birding,-last year i managed 199 species in Mongolia without really trying, if i make an effort how many can i see in 2009? 250, 275? ......

So far on 18 January i have seen 34 species,- winter birding is hard work here,the daytime max has been -11C, so its tough for the birds, and also for the birders. I started with two walks into the mountain forest to the north of UB, a short bus ride, then a walk-2km or so and i am into the woods. Highlights were three toed and black woodpeckers and bullfinches. One of the fun thing about birding here is that several species look completely different to those of the same species in england so the nuthatches here do not have any chestnut on the flanks as they do in uk, long tailed tits seem quite happy in the extreme temperatures whereas in the UK their numbers decline dramatically after a cold winter, and then the bullfinches look totally different, or some of them do. There are at least two races, one which has red or pink on the underparts as in England, tho there is less pink, and another which has no red or pink at all but is a grey bird, this is described either as a race of the Eurasian Bullfinch or as a separate species.

The last two weekends I have joined with Konchog, Abu (a visiting german birder) and Ishee to drive further afield, last weekend to the woods above Mansheer, this weekend 100om west of UB to Hustai.

On both trips mammals have been as interesting as the birds. Hustai is the main site where the Prewalzski horse has been successfully reintroduced to Mongolia and we saw several herds of the beasts. We also saw plenty of red deer, 10% of all Mongolian red deer occur here.But the most exotic mammal for me was the siberian flying squirrel we saw happily munching away on a larch tree. I did not know there were flying squirrels in the taiga, apparently they can be found from Finland to Kamchatka. Konchog has copied a picture onto his blog

So here are some pics of our multi national team, Konchog an american,Abu german, Markus Brazilian and Ishee, Mongolian.

and my quiz for the day, what is this bird?