The ‘Vedi Hills’, as they are known to birders, form the northern edge of the Araks river valley in Armenia. An arid landscape of moderately sloping, rounded hills with small gorges between them, this is the only known, albeit unreliable, site for Mongolian Finch Bucanetes mongolica in the country. We didn’t find the finch, but took the opportunity to study Eastern Rock Nuthatch Sitta tephronota, Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani, and other specialities. In fact, we enjoyed this site so much that we returned nine days later when passing through the area again.

‘Vedi Hills’, Armenia

Eastern Rock Nuthatch Sitta tephronota, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 14 May 2011 (René Pop)

Eastern Rock Nuthatch Sitta tephronota, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 14 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Song reverberating off a small cliff. Background: Woodlark Lullula arborea, Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca, Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia and Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana.

‘Vedi Hills’, Armenia

Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 5 May 2011 (René Pop)

Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 5 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Song in the rain, with Crested Lark Galerida cristata interrupting towards the end. Background: Common Swift Apus apus, Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops and Corn Bunting E calandra.

‘Vedi Hills’, Armenia

Finsch’s Wheatear Oenanthe finschii, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 14 May 2011 (René Pop)

Finsch’s Wheatear Oenanthe finschii, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 14 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Midday song. Background: European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear O melanoleuca and Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia.

‘Vedi Hills’, Armenia

Eastern Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes familiaris, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 14 May 2011 (René Pop)

Eastern Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes familiaris, ‘Vedi Hills’, Ararat, Armenia, 14 May 2011 (Magnus Robb). Song of a male. Background: Crested Lark Galerida cristata and Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra.