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Birding adventure in Terelj



The average altitude of the 293.168 ha national park is 1600 m above sea level and the highest point is 2664 m Av Khan Mountain. The national park is one of the most visited national parks due to its close location. There are many ger camps and resorts in the tourist zone before the Terelj River. Further east of the protection zones starts after the Terelj River and becomes less touristy, less inhabited with pristine nature. Here is an interesting blog written by a bird lover and traveler.


The climb to the plateau
The climb to the plateau

Just one hour's drive northeast of Ulaanbaatar the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park takes its start. Last Saturday Abu and I went to check the area north of the Aryapala Temple. After parking close to the temple, a long and steep ascend was ahead. Rocky screes, dense aspen forest, and large rocks needed to be conquered to reach the plateau further north.

The plateau is known for its population of Black-billed Capercaillies, and Abu has seen up to 16 birds in a day there. Other classic “Taiga Forest” species also occur there including Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Spotted Nutcracker, Ural Owl, Three-toed Woodpecker, and once Abu even found a molted primary of a Great Grey Owl there.

The ascend takes 1½ – 2 hours at a medium pace. Quite early on we decided to take different routes and cover more ground.

 


Three-toed Woodpecker – female
Three-toed Woodpecker – female

I went straight through an area with young aspen trees. First, I found a female Three-toed Woodpecker and then a Brown Accentor. It was a beautiful sunny day and as I slowly climbed higher up an adult Lammergeier flew right over my head.

As I reached the end of the forest, I took a rest. Soon I heard something scratching nearby. Initially, I thought it was a small mammal moving through the grass and didn’t pay too much attention. The noise was moving away from me and suddenly I found out who made the noise. A Hazel Grouse was slowly walking away from me in the dense understory and was now standing fully exposed just 10 meters away. Sadly, as I slowly got ready to get some photos without making sudden movements the bird took off and could not be relocated. But when the ascend alone produced such quality birds as Lammergeier, Hazel Grouse, and Three-toed Woodpecker, what would the plateau give?



Lammergeier
Lammergeier

I reached the forest on the plateau after a bit more than 1½ hours' climb and entered the forest – primarily a mix of Larch and Siberian Pine. The first hour on the top of the plateau didn’t produce other birds than Siberian Nuthatches and Willow Tits. Thus, I went a little bit lower and it soon paid off as I started to encounter more birds.



The plateau
The plateau

A family group of Siberian Jays gave me amazing views for as long as I wanted. They were feeding, playing, and checking me out for more than half an hour. It’s been almost 20 years since my last encounter with the species in Swedish Lappland. So, I was thrilled to see them again.


Siberian Jay
Siberian Jay

 At several points, I found the Black-billed Capercaillie’s droppings, which kept a hope of finding a bird alive.


Black-billed Capercaillie’s droppings
Black-billed Capercaillie’s droppings

The forest had a true Siberian flavor to it as several Spotted Nutcrackers and no less than 11 Siberian Tits were observed.


Siberian Tit
Siberian Tit


A Black Vultures also took an interest in me at one point as it circled the tree tops for a few minutes.


Vulture
Vulture

There was very limited phone coverage on the plateau, but I received a text from Abu, who had just seen a White-backed Woodpecker. But then his phone died and we only saw each other's tracks now and then.

After walking for about seven hours, I started descending, and shortly after Abu appeared further away. About halfway down our paths crossed and we got to share our sightings. And (of course) Abu had seen a female Black-billed Capercaillie just sitting in a tree until he left. Apart from the chicken he had also seen a Grey-headed Woodpecker, Siberian Tits, and a single Siberian Jay. Birding adventure in Terelj


Abu descending
Abu descending


All in all, I was really satisfied with the birds even though the Black-billed Capercaillie escaped for now. The whole experience of breathtaking scenery, hard-core rock-climbing, Siberian Jays, Hazel Grouses, Siberian Tits, Lammergeiers, and, Abu’s company are more than enough to make it an awesome day out.


Olympus 300 mm f4 vs 300 mm f2.8 or 1,5 kg vs 3,3 kg
Olympus 300 mm f4 vs 300 mm f2.8 or 1,5 kg vs 3,3 kg

And for the first time, I got to appreciate my new Olympus 300 f4 lens, which performed well despite its small size. It has the same magnification as my 300 f2.8 but is much smaller and lighter. With a 1,4 teleconverter, I get the equivalent of an 840 mm Full Frame camera weighing only about 2,3kg incl. camera, battery, and teleconverter. Even with my old 5.8 kg Olympus 300 f2.8 the 1½ climb would have been quite a challenge. And I am glad I don’t need to carry full-frame glass up there. Now if only I could afford the new Olympus EM1X …


 Terelj National Park offers a nice view and walking bi

birds in Mongolia

 bird lovers


Birding adventure in Terelj

Source: Silas Olofson

 

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