Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola ©Machiel Valkenburg Website
Birding Baikal

The Baikal area consists of the Republic of Buryatia and the ‘Oblast’ of Chita.

The most famous place in the region is, of course, Lake Baikal; the deepest freshwater lake in the world. Large expanses of open water and wonderful banks and shoreline, where rocks make way to forests, are always attractive for travelers. On the lake you can find a great diversity of waterfowl, which can be a great spectacle even for experienced birdwatchers. This variety has a peak at the delta of big rivers, such as Selenga and Barguzin. Rocky banks are inhabited by special group of birds including several different Swifts, Hoopoe & genuine Rock Doves. The banks are interesting too. This is a kingdom of mountain taiga forests; Cedar-pine, spruce and pine form largely unbroken cover. There are a lot of mosses, lichens, ferns and fungi here too. The avifauna consists of typical taiga species. You can find here different Owls, Falcons, Thrushes, Nightingales and also Booted Eagle & Daurian Jackdaw. In the high mountain forests and on the alpine meadows it’s possible to observe Redstarts & Accentors. On the south of the region there is steppe zone. Large feather-grass and bush grasslands is the commonost flora here. These exceptional habitats consist of steppe lakes which are the breeding sites & migration stops of great number of waterfowl and other birds including such rare ones as Swan Goose, Relict Gull and White-naped Crane.

Top Sites
  • Baikalo-Lensky Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    This site includes part of Lake Baikal shoreline, mountain landscapes and the Lena River source. Different natural conditions define the great number of birds. More than 230 species of birds have been recorded in the reserve territory, including 146 breeding ones. On the Baikal-lake common species are White-winged Scoter, Shoveler, Gadwall, Falcated Duck and Ruddy Shelduck. In the different kinds of waterside habitats breed waders, such as Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Pin-tailed Snipe & Common Snipe. The forests are full of owls, for example, Long-eared Owl, Marsh Owl & Tengmalm’s Owl. On the rocky banks you can find Rock Dove, three Swift species: Siberian, Black & Needle-tailed; and Hoopoe. Areas of scrub are bird rich with species such as Yellow-breasted Bunting and Chestnut Bunting. Lower mountain slopes hold a great number of Thrushes, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Siberian Ruby-throat, Siberian Blue Robin & Daurian Jackdaw. The avifauna of the high mountains is more special: it is the only place to find Red-bellied Redstart, Polar Bunting, Water Pipit & Brown Accentor. Such interesting birds as Isabelline Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, Rock Thrush and Meadow Bunting live on the steppe areas on the lake banks.
  • Selenga River Delta

    InformationSatellite View
    This site is a great place for both breeding and migration concentrations of waterfowl. About 300 species of birds have been recorded in this territory. Great foraging conditions, and safe cover are created by a lot of shallow water, former river-beds and streams. You can easily find here such interesting breeding birds as White-tailed Eagle, Red-breasted Snipe, Caspian Tern, Bittern, Whooper Swan and Black Mallard. But the most interesting time here is spring and autumn. At migration birds are concentrated in great numbers. The most common of them are Pintail, Shoveler, Bean Goose, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper & Black-tailed Godwit. Also, if you are lucky you may see Siberian Crane, Bewick’s Swan, Swan Goose, Falcated Duck and Little Crake.
  • Toreyskie Lakes

    This site is in the south-east part of the region. It consists of a group of steppe lakes, the largest of them are Barun-Torey and Zun-Torey. The lakes are surrounded by meadows and grasslands. More than 150 breeding and about 120 migrating and wintering species of birds have been recorded in the site. The steppes are useful for different kinds of Larks and Pipits, and it
  • Baikal Ringing Station

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    Baikal Ringing Station of Baikalsky Nature Reserve is situated in 600m from small village “Rechka Mishiha”, Russia, Buryatia. For Research colaboration, Volunteering, Birdwatching and other questions contact us: The ringing station had been working at the same place in 1976-1994 yy. We started every year ringing in 2012.

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Tunkinsky

    InformationSatellite View
    As a bio-diverse and isolated park, Tunkinsky is home to a wide variety of animals: over 305 vertebrates have been identified, of which 62 have been characterised as rare or endangered. The endangered species include the snow leopard (with confirmed presence at the northern edge of its range), and the Asiatic wild dog (dhole, or Cuon alpinus) also at the northern edge of its range. Park researchers have identified 54 species of mammals (including Siberian roe deer, wolverine, elk, and the steppe polecat), 18 species of fish (mostly grayling, carp, dace and roach), 207 nesting species of birds and another 30 transitory, 4 species of amphibians and 5 of reptiles.
  • NR Baikal-Lena

    InformationSatellite View
    This is a Russian 'zapovednik' (strict nature reserve) located on the northwest coast of Lake Baikal in southern Siberia. It protects both lake shore and the source of the Lena River. There are swamps and marshes on the lowland river floodplains. There are 58 species of mammals in the reserve. The common predators are the sable, ermine, weasel, otter, and the wolverine.
  • NR Tunguska

    InformationSatellite View
    Tungussky Reserve is located in Tungussko-Chunsky district of Evenkiysky autonomous okrug. Reserve was organized in 1995 with the purpose of studying the effects of a meteorite`s impact on a natural system. The area - 296,600 hectares. The animals of the reserve are characteristic of the central Siberian taiga. Mammals include elk, brown bear, sable, squirrel, wolf, caribou, and wolverine. Scientists on the reserve have recorded 41 species of mammals and 19 species of fish. Birds are mostly wetland species; 170 species have been recorded in the territory.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Ecological Travel Center

    Tour Operator
    Birds of southern Siberia and Baikal Lake
Trip Reports
  • 2008 [August] - Scott Bowers

    I flew from San Francisco to Irkutsk via New York and Moscow with the primary goal to view the total solar eclipse of August 1, 2008. I visited a few areas in the region including Lake Baikal at Listvyanka, Tuva, the Altai mountains region, and Krasnoyarsk
Other Links
  • Baikal Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula cineracea

    Although sometimes considered a full species Pyrrhula cineracea, most authorities treat it a subspecies of the Eurasian bullfinch. It migrates attitudinally from its summer breeding range in the Altai Mountains to its winter range in the adjacent foothills and plains.
  • Baikal Teal Sibirionetta formosa

    The Baikal teal (Sibirionetta formosa), also called the bimaculate duck or squawk duck, is a dabbling duck that breeds in eastern Russia and winters in East Asia.
  • Where to watch birds at Lake Baikal

    Baikal has everything you need for ornithological tourism: a large variety of bird species, a good coverage of studies on them and the presence of working professionals at Baikal. As a rule, each team consisting of amateur ornithologists is accompanied by a high-class professional guide with technical equipment. Thus, the Lake and its surroundings can be confidently called one of the territories where ornithological tourism is being developed.

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