Nature Getaways | Weekend Birding Trip Mongolia

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Our latest bird photography trip to the Gun Galuut NR was remarkably successful. We saw and photographed rare birds and iconic wild animals. The beginning of June is a good time to see migratory birds in Mongolia. The wetlands of Gun Galuut NR transform into the true paradise for birders, offering some of the best birding in Mongolia.

Top Birds: White-naped Crane, Siberian Crane, Black-tailed Godwit, Swan Goose, Eastern Imperial Eagle

Mammals: Argali wild sheep, Corsac Fox, Marmot , Gazelle  


Birding Spots: Lake Gun, Mt. Baits, River Kherlen, River Galuut, Ayga Pond

Trip Date: May 30, 2020

Duration: 1 night/2 days

Trip Type: Bird Photography 100%

Meals: Mongolian and western style meals

Accommodation: Tented camp

Transportation: 4x4 vehicle  

Road Condition: RW on paved-road, on earth-road during the trip

Weather condition: May - June: Mostly sunny and windy, 16-19 Celsius degrees during the day and -2 – 0 Celsius degrees at night.

Group size: 5 persons

Report written:


It was an incredibly beautiful summer day, we drive through the contrasting colors of mountains with snowy white tops and the green forested skirts. After arriving at the birding destination we had mid-morning snacks near the lake shore. There were some Demoiselles around us and plenty of water birds around the Lake Gun. We prepared our cameras and moved to the lake, birds were sensitive so we were driving slowly on the lake shore with the car to capture better pictures. Our birding guide was spotting and tell us what species of birds were opposite of the lake. Two photographers were in the group of this trip and thanks for our excellent driver Muugii, he knows and acts what the photographers’ needs and drive into the right directions for better captures. We spotted Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa), Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides), Whooper Swans and other water birds such as ducks, plovers, sandpipers, grebes, terns and gulls.  

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) – Гангар Хун

Demoiselle Crane (Grus virgo) - Өвөгт Тогоруу

There is another smaller lake next to the Gun where we settled up our kitchen for lunch and had Mongolian style pasta, called Tsuivan in Mongolian language. The weather was getting better, after having lunch we spent about an hour for photographing lake birds, then had left the site for another beautiful wetland in the nature reserve for spotting beautiful White-naped Crane (Antigone vipio) and had spent about an hour to photograph this splendid bird at the wetland.

White-naped Crane (Antigone vipio) – Цэн Тогоруу

Demoiselle Crane (Grus virgo) - Өвөгт Тогоруу


Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) - Улаан Хөлт Хөгчүү

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) – Эгэл Хилэнжигүүр

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) – Гангар Хун

Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) - Бүрдний Хөгчүү

We got to see cute cubs of Corsac Fox (Vulpes corsac), known as the central Asian fox. At first we saw the seven cubs and then three of them are creeped in their den. We waited for a while to photograph them and did it successfully. 


Also we walked around the wetland to capture beauty of the area during the golden hour. There we also luckily spotted another beautiful couples of White-naped Crane and their adorable juvenile.

White-naped Crane (Antigone vipio) – Цэн Тогоруу

Evening comes, and we the lucky birders got to see another iconic wild mammal, the wild Argali sheep on the Mt. Baits during her evening watering-time while she was going over the mountains from the river. How lucky we are, also had possibility to photograph that wild one. We arrived to settle up our wild camping along the River Kherlen, one of the biggest rivers in Mongolia, a great habitat of iconic Taimen (Hucho taimen), Siberian giant trout and Northern Pike (Esox lucius), a species of carnivorous fish. We settled beside the bush trees, having dinner around the campfire. It was an incredible day for us.

Argali (Ovis ammon darwini),Wild Sheep

On the he second day after having breakfast, we left the river side and headed back to the Lake Gun, on the way we stopped at small pond, the Ayga to enjoy lunch and photograph surroundings. Here we saw magnificent Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) which we haven’t photographed on our previous trip.

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) - Хан Бүргэд

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) - Хар Өрөвтас

 Also had a good shot of Black Stork and other water birds, Whooper Swans with juveniles, Shelducks, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Little-ringed Plover and Northern Lapwing. And sure there are also some cute passerines occurred, Citrine Wagtail, White Wagtail, Horned lark, Mongolian Lark, Tree sparrow and Northern Wheatear.

Mongolian Lark (Melanocorypha mongolica) – Монгол Болжмор

Around 1 pm, we arrived at the Lake Gun again on the way back to Ulaanbaatar, we spotted Black-tailed Godwit, globally threatening species, Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), not so popular in central Mongolian region. The lake gave us another chance to see the different species of birds such as Eurasian Spoonbills, Black-winged stilt, Pied Avocet, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Kentish Plover and the others that we saw before. Also we spotted Mongolian Gazelles which are not so commonly seen in this area in the beginning of summer. 

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) - Морин Цууцал

Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa)

By the end of the trip, our bird list had reached 51 species. It was an absolutely awesome trip, with full of surprising lucks. 


  1. Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) – Хошуу Галуу
  2. Bar-headed goose (Anser indicus) – Хээрийн галуу
  3. White-naped Crane (Antigone vipio) – Цэн Тогоруу
  4. Demoiselle Crane (Grus virgo) - Өвөгт Тогоруу
  5. Siberian Crane (Leucogeranus leucogeranus) - Цагаан Тогоруу
  6. Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) – Гангар Хун
  7. Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) - Морин Цууцал
  8. Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) - Бүрдний Хөгчүү
  9. Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) - Улаан Хөлт Хөгчүү
  10. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - Эгэл Хайргын Хөгчүү
  11. Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) - Хар Өрөвтас
  12. Siberian Scoter (Melanitta stejnegeri) – Тольт Монхдой
  13. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) – Халзан Түнжүүр
  14. Eurasian Goosander (Mergus merganser) - Хумхин Бохио
  15. Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) – Хондон Ангир
  16. Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) - Анхидал Ангир
  17. Northern Shoveler (Spatula Anas clypeata) – Халбага Нугас
  18. Northern pintail (Anas acuta) - Шовтгоралаг нугас 
  19. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) – Зэрлэг Нугас
  20. Eurasian wigeon (Mareca penelope) – Зээрд Нугас
  21. Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) - Хан Бүргэд
  22. Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) – Эдлэг Шонхор
  23. Upland Buzzard (Buteo hemilasius) – Шилийн сар
  24. Black Kite (Milvus migrans) – Сохор Элээ
  25. Daurian Redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) – Дагуур Галсүүлт
  26. Grey-headed Lapwing (Vanellus cinereus) – Саарал Хавтгаалж
  27. Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) – Умардын Хавгтаалж
  28. Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) – Хүрэн Толгойт Цахлай
  29. Mongolian Gull (Larus vegae mongolicus) – Монгол Цахлай
  30. White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) - Буурал Хараалай
  31. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) – Эгэл Хараалай
  32. Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) – Тэнгисийн хиазат
  33. Little-ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) – Нарийн Хиазат
  34. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) – Эгэл Хилэнжигүүр
  35. Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) – Алаг Ээтэн
  36. Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) – Халбаган Хошуут
  37. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) – Хөх Дэглий
  38. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) – Тураг Гогой
  39. Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)  – Бөвөөлжин Өвөөлж
  40. Common Magpie (Eurasian magpie)– Алаг Шаазгай
  41. Common Raven (Corvus corax) – Хон Хэрээ
  42. Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) – Улаан хошуут Жунгаа
  43. Mongolian Lark (Melanocorypha mongolica) – Монгол Болжмор
  44. Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) – Эвэрт Болжмор
  45. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) – Асарын хараацай
  46. Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)  – Адууч Чогчиго
  47. Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola) – Шар түрүүт Цэгцгий
  48. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) – Хөх Цэгцгий
  49. Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) – Хээрийн боршувуу
  50. Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia) – Хадны боршувуу
  51. Pacific swift (Apus pacificus) – Хондлой цагаан ураацай
Category: Trip Reports