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Top Bird Watching Destinations

Russia is the largest country in the world, offering a multitude of exciting bird watching opportunities in diverse natural habitats – forests, mountain, tundra, swamps, lakes, rivers and seacoast.

In the beautiful Lake Baikal area of Russia, the Baikalo-Lensky Reserve, which includes part of the Lake Baikal shoreline, mountain landscapes and the source of the Lena River, has more than 230 recorded species of birds. White-winged Scoter, Shoveler, Falcated Duck and Gadwall, as well as waders such as Common Sandpiper, Pin-tailed Snipe and Common Snipe can be found along the shoreline. The forested areas are home to a huge number of owls including the Long-eared Owl and Tengmalm’s Owl, and scrub covered areas are the habitat of the Yellow-breasted and Chestnut Bunting. Lower mountain slopes are rich in birdlife and birders can expect to see Siberian Ruby-throat, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler and Daurian Jackdaw. The high mountain areas are the only place to find the Brown Accentor, Red-Bellied Redstart, Polar Bunting and Water Pipit while the steppes of the reserve are home to the Isabelline Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, Meadow Bunting and Rock Thrush. The nearby Selenga River Delta, which does not fall within the boundaries of the reserve, is one of the best places in Russia to observe both breeding and migratory waterfowl, with more than 300 species on record. Still within the Lake Baikal area, the Toreyskie Lakes serve as a site for about 120 migratory and wintering species as well as over 150 breeding species.

The Altaisky Reserve, situated in the north-eastern region of the Altai Mountains, consists of the typical taiga and tundra landscapes of the South Siberian Mountains. More than 300 species have been recorded in the reserve, which is home to the Saker Falcon, Golden Eagle, Long-tailed Eagle and White-tailed Eagle as well as nine species of owls. Also in the Altai region, the Chumysh Rivermouth is a unique wetland with sedge marshes and floodplain willow forest, which are favored habitats for a wide variety of waterfowl, both permanent residents and migratory semi-residents.

There are a number of nature reserves in the area around Moscow, all of them with varying habitats and rich in bird life. The Bryansky Les Reserve is known for its superb broad-leaved forests of primarily oak and lime trees. The reserve is home to one of Russia’s biggest breeding groups of Middle-spotted Woodpeckers. Cranes, White and Black Storks, Honey-buzzard and Booted Eagle are also found in the reserve, which has more than 200 recorded species of birds. The Ugra National Park, with its large mixed forest and swampland, is home to some unusual species such as the Widgeon, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Marsh Harrier, Common Redshank and Black Kite. The Zhuravlinaya Roina Reserve is best visited in August, when birders will have the opportunity of observing thousands of Cranes foraging and resting in preparation for the autumn migration. Other species likely to be seen are Willow Grouses, Curlews, Black-tailed Godwits, and Capercailyes, as well as passerines such as Nightingales, Warblers and Pipits.

The Nyzhneswirsky Reserve in Northwest Russia has a rich diversity of habitats, supporting more than 256 bird species of water-dependent, forest-living and meadow birds. Birders can expect to see Honey Buzzard, Merlin, Great Gray Owl and Ural Owl, as well as Osprey, Willow Grouse and Eagle Owl. The Polistovskie Swamps with its abundance of small rivers, streams and lakes supports more than 140 species of birds, as well as large numbers of migrants.

Certainly, birders who choose to spend a birding holiday in Russia will find that they are spoiled for choice.


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