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  • Photograph of Ibisbill

    The unique Ibisbill by Roger Wyatt.

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Best Wildlife in Kazakhstan

    Mammals
    Turkestan Red Pika, Bobak, Grey and Long-tailed Marmots, Great Gerbil, Red Squirrel, and Large-toothed, Little and Yellow Ground Squirrels (Sousliks). Also a chance of Brown Bear, Arkhar, Siberian Ibex, Goitred Gazelle, Corsac Fox and Small Five-toed Jerboa, and an outside chance of Saiga and Marbled Polecat.

    Birds
    The lists below are for the peak of the northern spring (mid-May to early June)

    Specialities
    White-headed Duck, Himalayan Snowcock, Macqueen’s Bustard, Demoiselle Crane, Caspian Plover, Sociable Lapwing, Ibisbill, Black-winged Pratincole, Great Black-headed (Pallas's) and Steppe Gulls, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Yellow-eyed Dove, White-winged Woodpecker, Black and White-winged Larks, Azure, Songar, Turkestan and Yellow-breasted Tits, White-browed Tit-Warbler, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, White-tailed Rubythroat, Blue-capped, Eversmann’s and Güldenstädt’s Redstarts, Altai and Black-throated Accentors, Grey-necked, Pine and White-capped Buntings, Mongolian Finch, Red-mantled Rosefinch, White-winged Grosbeak and Saxaul Sparrow. Also a chance of Saker Falcon, Brown Accentor and Crimson-winged Finch.

    Others
    Chukar, Whooper Swan, Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers, Golden, Short-toed and White-tailed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Shikra, Red-footed Falcon, Black-winged Stilt and other shorebirds including summer-plumaged passage migrants such as Ruff and Red-necked Phalarope (over half a million have passed through the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn wetland complex during the spring and hundreds of thousands pass through in autumn too), Slender-billed Gull, Black and White-winged Terns, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Golden (European) Bee-eater, European Roller, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Lesser Grey, Long-tailed and Steppe Grey Shrikes, Indian Golden Oriole, Bimaculated, Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Reedling (Bearded Tit), Brown Dipper, Barred, (Asian) Desert, Moustached and Paddyfield Warblers, Desert, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Bluethroat (pallidogularis), Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, Blue Whistling Thrush, Rosy Starling, Common Myna, ‘Black-headed’ Yellow Wagtail (feldegg), Red-headed Bunting, Twite, Red-fronted Serin and Plain Mountain Finch. Also a chance of Lammergeier, (Eurasian) Black and Egyptian Vultures, Steppe Eagle, White-tailed Lapwing, (Eurasian) Three-toed Woodpecker, (Spotted) Nutcracker, Brown-necked Raven, Black-headed Penduline Tit, Wallcreeper and Meadow Bunting.


    Plants
    Some of the rarest and most beautiful flowers on Earth grace the Tien Shan mountain range, including Primula minkwitziae, Paraquilegias, Trollius lilacinus and a wide range of bulbs such as many colourful Tulips, as well as Geraniums and Violas.

    Other Natural Wonders in Israel

    'Red Canyon'
    Where the Charyn River has helped carve the red sandstone into beautiful formations as impressive as those found in the famous canyons of Utah in North America.

    Tien Shan Mountains
    The scenic snow-topped, aptly-named (in ancient Chinese) ‘Celestial Mountains’, the Central Asian extension of the Himalaya, extend along Kazakhstan’s southern border all the way to China where the mountains rise to a lofty 7439 m (24,406 ft) just across the border.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Kazakhstan

    Best Times for Wildlife in Kazakhstan

    The peak time for spring passage migrants such as herons, raptors, shorebirds, terns, larks, warblers and shrikes is April to mid-May but the second half of May to early June is the best time to visit because most of the birds which breed in the country have arrived and are at their most active and attractive at the start of the nesting season. The best times to look for flowers are April (tulips) and June. The peak time for autumn passage migrant birds including raptors, bee-eaters and passerines is September and one of the best places to observe them is the Chokpak Pass in the Tien Shan mountains in the south of the country.

    Recommended Books etc. for Kazakhstan

    Helm Field Guide: Birds of Central Asia by M Schweizer et al. Helm, 2012.

    The New Birds of Kazakhstan by A Wassink. A Wassink, 2015 (Second Edition).

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.


    Apps etc.

    Collins Bird Guide.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Kazakhstan

    Many trip reports, some for Kazakhstan, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Kazakhstan. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Kazakhstan' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Kazakhstan

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Kazakhstan