In May 2011, Magnus and René visited Armenia on an expedition that was partly for owls and partly to fill in some Caucasian and Eastern European gaps in the collection. The highlight of this trip was two days on Armenia’s highest mountain, Aragats mountain. Unlike most other mountains of similar altitude, Aragats has very gentle slopes. Usually, when a bird changes perch to another some 20 m away it can cost a good bit of time and energy to clamber to the new spot. On Aragats there are no such problems. Their visit also happened to coincide with calm weather, and they took full advantage of the ideal conditions. In particular, Radde’s Accentor Prunella ocularis, White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis and Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis demanded their full attention. They also enjoyed close encounters with Asian Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguineus, Twite Linaria flavirostris and… a Wolf Canis lupus !

 

Aragats Mountain, Armenia

Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (René Pop)

Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Male singing at very close range. Background: Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Woodlark Lullula arborea, White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis, Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, Radde’s Accentor Prunella ocularis and Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis.

Aragats Mountain, Armenia

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitaria, Amberd castle, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 12 May 2011 (René Pop)

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitaria, Amberd castle, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 12 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Male singing from ramparts, including an imitation of Common Rosefinch Erythrina erythrina. Background: Common Swift Apus apus and European Bee-eater Merops apiaster.

Aragats Mountain, Armenia

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica magna, Aragats mountain, Turkey, 12 May 2011 (René Pop)

 

 

Aragats Mountain, Armenia

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (René Pop)

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Song of male at close range. Background: Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis, White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis and Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis.

Aragats Mountain, Armenia

Radde’s Accentor Prunella ocularis, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (René Pop). Male (left) and female just before copulation.

Radde’s Accentor Prunella ocularis, song of adult, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Background: Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis and Common Linnet Linaria cannabina.

Aragats Mountain, Armenia

White-throated Robin Iranian gutturalis, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (René Pop)

White-throated Robin Iranian gutturalis, Aragats mountain, Armenia,12 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Singing male, the same individual as in the photograph. Background: Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis and Common Linnet Linaria cannabina.

Aragats Mountain, Armenia

Wolf Canis lupus, Aragats mountain, Armenia, 13 May 2011 (René Pop). Running away from us along the road until it could find a spot where the bank of ploughed snow was low enough for it to escape.