Around 120 km east of the capital Ulaanbaatar, our first camp at Buuveit was situated in a dramatic landscape of rolling steppe with high rocky outcrops. The steeper hills had crests of larch Larix, which were still without needles during our visit. Although spring was well underway, the nights were very cold, and while we adjusted to the new time zone, I spent a good part of each night listening to the silence or, from about 04:00 onwards, the Isabelline Wheatears Oenanthe isabellina and congeners. The Isabellines fascinated me with their horse imitations. How strange to hear whinnying from the top of the traditional round tent or ger I was lying in! The three habitats – steppe, larchwood and rocky outcrops – offered a wide selection of bird species to record, and we also visited the nearby Gorkhi-Terelj national park where there are some larger areas of forest.

Buuveit, Mongolia

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 15 May 2008 (René Pop)

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 16 May 2008 (Magnus Robb). Song with horse imitations. Background: Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax centralis, Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka and Godlewski’s Bunting Emberiza godlewskii.

Buuveit, Mongolia

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax centralis, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 17 May 2008 (René Pop)

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops and Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax centralis, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 16 May 2008 (Magnus Robb). Song of hoopoe, with tumbling wingbeats and calls of choughs. Note that Red-billed Choughs from central Asia sound quite different from their Western Palearctic counterparts (eg, subspecies barbarus, docilis, erythrorhamphus and pyrrhocorax). Background: Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis and Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka.

Buuveit, Mongolia

Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 14 May 2008 (René Pop)

Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 16 May 2008 (Magnus Robb). Song of a male, with imitations including flight calls of Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii. Background: Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops, Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis and Godlewski’s Bunting Emberiza godlewskii.

Buuveit, Mongolia

Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla, Gorkhi-Terelj national park, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 15 May 2008 (René Pop)

Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla, Gorkhi-Terelj national park, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 15 May 2008 (Magnus Robb). Plastic song of a migrant in a large flock. Background: community singing of other individuals, and Willow Tit Poecile montanus.

Buuveit, Mongolia

Pine Bunting Emberiza leucocephalos, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 16 May 2008 (René Pop)

Pine Bunting Emberiza leucocephalos, Buuveit, Tuv Aimag, Mongolia, 16 May 2008 (Magnus Robb). Medley of calls by a male. The long note is much sweeter than in Yellowhammer E citrinella. Background: Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax centralis.