Birding in Xinjiang, China- Day 1 新疆白湖,石河子

Just back from an awesome 8 day adventure in Xinjiang, China! Xinjiang is in my “Must Visit” list, but with so many news of terrorism in the province, my plan has been put on hold until now!

Upon arrival, we were quickly whisked off to see my dream bird- Donald Duck! About 20km away from Urumqi Airport, there is a place called White Lake (白湖), nestled on the foothill of a mountain, surrounded by Industrial works…!

Not sure how the lake got its name, but it certainly didn’t look white to me! But the lake seems to be a favorite hangout for Donald ducks (White headed duck, 白头硬尾鸭), who return every year to this place. Others included the Black-necked Grebe (黑颈䴙䴘), Gadwall, Greater-crested Grebe (凤头䴙䴘), and horned larks (角百灵) and wheatears also visit this area!

Below are some photos taken..! 🙂

white-headed duck at White lake, Xinjiang

white-headed duck at White lake, Xinjiang

black-necked grebe, Xinjiang

black-necked grebe, Xinjiang

From left- Isabelline wheatear, Horned lark

From left- Isabelline wheatear, Horned lark

By the time we’ve finished our birding session, it was already 3pm…and there was no sign of lunch! 😦  Quickly, I suggested to have some dumplings before driving to the next location which was about 2-3 hours away!

Dumplings!

It was about 2 hours drive to our pit stop, Shihezi (石河子) city for the night! As day is longer in Xinjiang, we quickly scanned the Moguhu Reservoir (蘑菇湖水庫). Here, we found plenty of Peewits, Collared Pratincole, and common starling, gulls, etc! I wished we’ve spent more time in this place, but by 7pm we’re knackered, and we checked ourselves into a dodgy inn! It was  a brilliant half day of birding! 🙂

Birding in Morocco- Mount Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate to Merzouga

Driving along Mount Atlas Mountains was not easy at all, especially with so many hours of twirls and curls through mountains! But whenever there’s an area to pull over and take a break from the treacherous driving, I savored those opportunities to look into trees and scrubs and one of my best catch was the Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker. 🙂 Other findings include Cirl Bunting, and European Goldfinch!

European Goldfinch and Levaillant's Green Woodpecker

European Goldfinch and Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

The drive from Ouarzazate to Merzouga Desert along N9 highway was pretty straightforward! Along the way, there were nomads with their herd of sheep, camels and of course there were birds around those large patch of desert scrubs! Woodchat Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Spectacled Warbler were some of the birds seen!

Woodchat Shrike and Great Grey Shrike

Woodchat Shrike and Great Grey Shrike

Spectacled Warbler and Streaked Scrub Warbler

Spectacled Warbler and Streaked Scrub Warbler

A small flock of Fulvous Babbler, also known as Fulvous Chatterer  gave away their hiding spot easily by their noisy calls! But at the same patch, another lark, later identified as Bar-tailed Lark (note the black band at tail end) was seen! 🙂  Amongst the Crested Larks seen wandering around, there was one in particular with a longer bill, the Long-billed Crested Lark. Will there be a split soon? 🙂

Fulvous Chatterer or Fulvous Babbler

Fulvous Chatterer or Fulvous Babbler

Bar-tailed Lark

Bar-tailed Lark

long-billed crested lark (right) and crested lark (left) comparison

long-billed crested lark (right) and crested lark (left) comparison

At Ouarzazate, there is a barrage at Mansour Eddahbi known for waders and ducks. But I didn’t see much- just Ruddy Shelducks, Moroccan Wagtail and Collared Pratincole!

Right to left- collared pratincole, ruddy shelduck, Moroccan wagtail

Right to left-collared pratincole, ruddy shelduck, Moroccan wagtail