Ninotsminda steppes and lake
Habitat near the Armenian border is again completely different. It consists of high steppe grasslands and extensive agriculture. Several lakes can be found in the region, but one of the better lakes birdwise is situated near the small village of Ninotsminda. This lake is of great attraction to passing migrants and a great variety of birds can thus be found here. Especially in dry seasons with lowered water levels, these lakes hold great numbers of migrants having a break. It is for example an important stop for thousands of waders with concentrations of over 1000 Little Stints, 1000's of Ruffs and 10's of Black-winged Pratincoles.
You may expect to see a high amount of wader species including: Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Curlew Sanspiper... Around late August these lakes should prove to be reliable sites for Terek and Broad-billed Sandpiper. Demoiselle Crane might be possible as well. In previous years, BRC project volunteers were lucky enough to find several Sociable Lapwings (1 in 2008, 2 in 2009) among thousands of waders feeding on the muddy plains. In a lake in the midst of the arid steppes sustained high water levels are particularly dependent high rainfall. In the wet autumn of 2009 for example most mud flats were flooded, although high numbers of waders still resided on the remaining available mud. Apart from waders, and particularly in wetter seasons one can also enjoy a wide variety of tantalizing waterbirds including Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Pelican and Ruddy Shelduck. Common Crane, Little Crake, ... are regular migratns.
Many flocking passerines such as larks, pipits and wagtails are heard constantly. The Citrine Wagtail (above) was photographed by Pieter Vantieghem in 2008. Many often shy species are quite approachable around the lake. Given the abundance of both species and numbers this produces very good observation possibilities for any serious ornithologist. Raptors like Pallid Harier, Osprey Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe Eagle and many more can also be seen hunting around the area. The steppes surrounding the lake hold good promise for overwintering Bustards. Truely a great place to study European birds at their finest.