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Russian Far East

Gull
Ross's Gull Rhodostethia rosea ©Ronald Groenink Website

Birding the Russian Far East

The Russian Far East is generally considered to consist of The 'Krays' of Khabarovsk and Primorsky along with the 'Oblasts' of Chukotia, Magadan, Amur and the Island of Sakalin and the Kuril Islands.

This region stretches out along the Pacific Ocean shore for thousands of kilometers. It is situated in an area of contrasting natural phenomena. Almost all of the mountain ridges run parallel to the shore. Earthquakes and tsunamis are very frequent here. The North lowlands are covered by tundra, and larch forests cross it along river valleys. To the south is situated the taiga zone, where larch is the dominant tree species. On the rocky shores and islands of the Okhotskoe Sea can be found a lot of rookeries.

But the most unusual landscapes is in the southern part of the region. Inside this territory taiga forest gets mixed up with subtropical woods, making incredible combinations. Spruces are wrapped round by wild grape. Larch forests and lime-tree forests with jasmine in the underbrush can be found just on the same mountainside. Such unusual forests tree species as Manchurian walnut, Cork oak and many others grow here. On the planes, foothills and river valleys broad-leaved forests consists of poplar, elm, hornbeam, maple and ash-tree. Such forest usually has well-developed underbrush of jasmine and honeysuckle, and a lot of vines such as magnolia-vine, wild grape and tara-vine. Ferns and mosses form continuous cover. Up on the mountainsides there are mixed coniferous forests of larch, spruce, cedar-pine and fir. Somewhere on the peaks there is a tundra level with cedar-pine elfin woods and lichens. In the big river valley it’s possible to find plots of wet meadows with high grass. The avifauna of this region is very multifarious.

Together with taiga birds you can see here such specialities as Broad-billed Roller, Mandarin Duck, Little Green Heron, Chestnut Bittern, Harlequin Duck, Scaly-sided Merganser, Siberian Spruce Grouse, Hooded Crane, Australian Curlew, Black-tailed Gull, Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo, Indian Scops Owl, Ashy Minivet, Bull-headed Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Parrotbill, Short-tailed Bush Warbler, Japanese Blue Flycatcher, Eastern Blue Magpie and White-eyes.

Top Sites

Chaivo Bay

Satellite View

This bay is a part of north-east shore of Sakhalin. It stretches out along the Sea of Okhotsk. Some rivers drain into the bay. There are small islands situated in the north and middle parts of the bay. The main landscapes here are sea-shore, larch forests, scrub, moss tundra and meadows. The most comfortable breeding and migrating sites for waterfowls, waterbirds and predatory birds are the sand banks & spits, lakes and wetlands. Such birds as Osprey, White-tailed Eagle, Steller’s Sea Eagle, Siberian Spruce Grouse, Spotted Greenshank, Red-necked Phalarope, Long-toed Stint, Black-bellied Sandpiper, Aleutian Tern and Little Crake breed here.

Komsomolsky Reserve

Information

Satellite View

This site is situated on the mountainous left bank of Amur-River in the mouth of Gorin-River. There are mostly coniferous forests here, but they include such broad-leaved trees as elm, ash-tree and corkoak. Close to the rivers grow willows, alders and poplars, and in well-drained places there are broad-leaved forests of elm, Manchurian walnut, Amur oak tree and maple. Falcated Duck, Goosander and Scaly-sided Merganser can be found on the rivers. Bird communities on the islands and floodplain forests are rich in species such as Masked Bunting, Narcissus Flycatcher, White-eye, Ashy Minivet, Mandarin Duck and Chinese Grosbeak. The most interesting birds of coniferous forests are White-throated Thrush, Chinese Meadow Bunting, Pallas’s Warbler, Japanese Waxwing & Siberian Spruce Grouse.

Sikhote-Alinsky Reserve

Information

Satellite View

The landscapes on the reserve are typical of the far east, which change markedly with altitude. On the shore, where a lot of rocky places Sooty Guillemot & Temminck’s Cormorant, and Blue Rock Thrush can be found. Plain oak forests hold such birds as Black-Throated Oriole, Brown Flycatcher and Masked Bunting. The most wonderful woods are the mixed cedar-broad-leaved ones. Many interesting species of birds live here, for example, Ashy Minivet, White-eye, Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo, Indian Scops Owl, Short-tailed Bush Warbler and Chinese Grosbeak. The floodplain forest consists mostly of poplars, alders and willows. Here you can find Broad-billed Roller, Eastern Blue Magpie, and also hollow-nesting Ducks, such as Mandarin Duck and Scaly-sided Merganser.

Wrangel Island

Information

Satellite View

This is an excellent site for anybody who likes northern nature. This island is a kingdom of tundra, stone, lichens and sedge bogs. Only in the middle part of the island is it possible to find willow bushes up to 1m height. There are some rare species here, for example there is a big breeding colony of Snow Goose. It’s easy to observe Brent Goose, Red-throated Diver, Eider and King Eider. Among the waders there are such specialities as Robin Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Black-bellied Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper. The most common Gulls are Glaucous Gull & Sabine’s Gull. The typical tundra birds, such as Snowy Owl also live here.

Contributor

Olga Batova

Ornithologist

Ecological Travel Center - Moscow

info@ecotravel.ru

http://www.ecotravel.ru

Useful Reading

Birds of Russian Far East

By Vitalii Andreevich Nechaev & TV Gamova | Amur-Ussuri Centre for Avian Biodiversity | 2009 | Paperback | 564 pages, 1 colour map | Russian Text |

ISBN: 9785804409587

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Marine Important Bird Areas of the Russian Far East

By Yu B Artiukhin | Avgust Borg | 2016 | Paperback | 135 pages, colour photos, colour maps, colour tables | Russian Text |

ISBN: 9785990759220

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

IBA Muraviovka Park

Information

Satellite View

Muraviovka Park, situated in Russia's Far East, is Russia's first privately owned and operated park. Dedicated to sustainable land use, Muraviovka exerts itself in the protection of natural areas for both wildlife and people, promoting community support and environmental education. Muraviovka Park certainly does much for local communities and the area's great natural life. Dedicated to the Preservation of endangered Cranes and the promotion of Sustainable Agriculture in harmony with nature - Tambovka District Amurskaya Oblast…

NR Komsomolsky Reserve

Information

Satellite View

This is a Russian 'zapovednik' (strict ecological reserve), encompassing the confluence of the Gorin River and the Amur River in the Russian Far East. The reserve protects a meeting zone of multiple ecoregions in the lower Amur, including the northernmost reach of Manchurian taiga. Located on an important migratory route for birds and waterfowl, the reserve has recorded 233 species of birds.

NR Lake Khanka

Information

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Lake Khanka in the Russian Far East is one of the largest bodies of freshwater in Asia. The wetlands of Lake Khanka, which reaches into China, provide important nesting and stopover areas for hundreds of migratory birds. 334 species have been recorded in the Reserve and its adjacent protected areas. Most of them are classified as endangered species; 49 species have been included in the Russian Red Book and 12 species in the International Red Book. In consideration of the number of bird species and the number of rare species, the Reserve has a leading position (among equally sized reserves) not only in Russia but also within all protected areas in temperate Europe and Asia…

NR Sikhote-Alin

Information

Satellite View

This is a biosphere reserve in Primorsky Krai. It is an important reserve for the endangered Siberian tiger. Hunting is forbidden.

NR Wrangel Island

Information

Satellite View

Most of Wrangel Island (which may have been the last place on earth where mammoths survived) and Herald Island, is a federally protected nature sanctuary administered by Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. During the summer it is visited by many types of birds. Arctic foxes also make their home on the island. Cetaceans such as bowhead whales, gray whales, and belugas can be seen close to shore.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Birds of Russian Far East

News & Sightings

The Main Site of Birdwatchers of Russian Far East, the largest database of photos of birds of Russian Far East.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Rubythroat Birding Tours

Tour Operator

This new Rubythroat Birding Tours venture beckons the adventurer birder to the Russian Far East. We will visit the oblasts (provinces) of Ussuriland and Amur in the southeast tip of the largest country on earth, amazing Russia! During this journey we will travel through varied habitats, from vast mixed taiga forests dotted with fresh-water lakes and agricultural lands to mighty Amazon-like rivers and a diverse coastline...

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2016 [06 June] - Lisle Gwynn - Russia's Ring of Fire

PDF Report

...Even before we’d stepped foot on the ship we were blown away by Kamchatka with the mythical Black-billed Capercaillie giving walk-away views, and a superb supporting cast of Siberian breeders like Eye-browed Thrush, Siberian Rubythroat and Kamchatka Leaf Warbler....

2016 [06 June] - Lisle Gwynn - Sea of Okhotsk

PDF Report

... Our first stop was at Piltun Bay where we cruised alongside Gray Whales and bobbed below flocks of Aleutian Terns, whilst in the Shantar Archipelago we faced thick ice that held hundreds of ‘Arctic seals’ like Ringed, Largha, Bearded and the most beautiful of all pinnipeds, and a Russian Far East speciality, Ribbon Seal. We also enjoyed watching Steller’s Sea Eagles hunting fish in their icy homeland...

2017 [06 June] - Jens Gregersen - Russkaya Koshka Expedition

PDF Report

Anadyr, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia - Including breeding bird monitoring in Golden Ridge Mountains at Trevozhnaya Upland Census Area and in surroundings of Ugolnye Kopi.

Museums

Sakhalin Museum

Website

As many as 372 bird species have been noted in the Sakhalin region. Among them are nesting birds of passage, nesting and wintering birds, wintering only species, and casual visitors. About 50 of them are rare in the fauna of Russia, and are entered and registered in the Red Book. The collection of rare birds includes the visiting White-naped Crane (Grus vipio) and two storks (Ciconiidae) - a Far Eastern Stork (Ciconia boy-ciana) and a Black Stork (Ciconia nigra); birds of prey (Accipitridae) - a White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla); and a White-shouldered Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus); falcons (Falconidae) - a Peregrine Falcon (Faico peregrinus) and Gyrfalcon (Faico gyrfaico); ducks (Anatidae) -Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata); sandpipers (Charadriidae); a Japanese Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) and a Mountain Great Snipe (Gallinago solitaire); and pigeons (Columbidae) like the Green Pigeon (Sphenurus sieboldii).

Blogs

Amur Bird Project Blog

BLOG

This Blog is about activities at Muraviovka Park in far-eastern Russia, focusing mainly on news from the Amur Bird Project (ABP).

Other Links

Amur Bird Project

Website

The aim of the Amur Bird Project is to study the avifauna along the middle stream of the Amur River – a species-rich and under surveyed area in Far East Russia. We collect data on distribution, ecology and threats of endangered and less-known species. Since that kind of information is lacking for this part of the world, we want to establish a long-term monitoring for both breeding birds and migrants. Our work is based at Muraviovka Park for Sustainable Land Use, a non-governmentally managed nature reserve in the Amur region. We are a small group of volunteer birders, biologists and students, working since 2011 on several projects at Muraviovka Park, hand in hand with the Park's staff.