Mongolia then stayed off my radar for many years. Even when it opened up for tourists it was a destination that wasn't very practical to do independently and the early 'overland' type tours were not at all bird oriented and likely to be intensely frustrating. Bird Tour companies started going (e.g. Birdquest from 2010) but it was quite expensive and, by then having travelled to the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau and Japan, there were not many new birds on offer.
In 2016 Jon Hornbuckle asked me if I'd be interested in a reasonably priced private trip organised by local tour operator and birdguide Tumen Khumbaa of TUM-ECO Tour. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss and didn't take long to decide that I definitely was. Eight of us went in May 2017, the others being Marc Brew, Duncan Brooks, Simon Colenutt, Rod Martins, Lori Szucs and Barry Wright.
A couple of weeks before departure I bumped into Alan and mentioned I was going and had a brief chat about the country and his trip. I returned home the next evening to find he had very generously left me his field notebook and an article he had published in Country Life to borrow. His notebook was a real treasure and put my efforts completely to shame, so much so that I felt like binning the lot!
|pages from ARK's notebook - Pallas's Reed Bunting|
|Ortolan Bunting and Mongolian Lark|
|my notebook 7 December 1979 - barely legible pencil scrawl (pencil used to allow corrections), no attempt at artwork, very scant detail|
|my notebook 19 May 2017 - now reduced to species lists and if lucky brief diary entries but at least digital photography enables images of varying quality to be captured of many birds|
|Pallas's Reed Bunting Mongolia 13 May 2017|
|Asiatic Dowitcher with Black-tailed Godwits Mongolia 18 May 2017 - second bird from the right, note thicker bill and red belly|
|Mongolian Lark Mongolia 18 May 2017|
|Swan Goose 19 May 2017|
More detailed postings of the trip are in the May 2017 folder.