Clients depart from home towards the largest city of eastern Russia, Vladivostok. Clients need to be in Vladivostok before June 03 – 04h00! Please note that it is necessary to be on time, as on June 03 we board our boat at 05h30 for our first pelagic cruise. If you’d like to come earlier please contact the RBT office which will gladly help with extra hotel bookings.
We shall arrive early morning at Vladivostok airport from a domestic flight from Moscow. After this we’ll drive immediately to the huge harbor of the historic city of Vladivostok. Over the next two days we’ll take pelagic trips in the Peter the Great Golf combined with making some very interesting stops on a few islands in the Gulf. Several large seabird colonies are a super spectacle and a true birders’ delight. Amongst others, we hope to come across large amounts of Spectacled Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, Black-tailed- and Slaty-backed Gulls, Temminck’s- and Pelagic Cormorant. Rarer sightings might include Marbled and Ancient Murrelet, Common Guillemot, Harlequin Ducks, Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel and Streaked Shearwater. Cute Spotted Seals are found sun-bathing on the rocks. As we are in the middle of migration time, we will encounter good waves with passerines. Popov Island offers some great birding in the open grasslands that are full of flowers and butterflies. On the scouting trip in 2017 we came across many Chestnut-eared Buntings, (stejnegeri) Japanese Stonechat, Oriental Greenfinch, Grey-backed Thrushes and if we are lucky again we will also bump into Latham´s Snipe or Baikal Grasshopper Warbler. The forested parts of the island are full of Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Pale-legged Leaf Warblers, Eastern Crowned Warblers, Ashy Minivets, Azure-winged Magpies, Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers and Japanese Tit. Every evening we shall return to Vladivostok where we can enjoy the large groups of foraging Pacific swifts. In our comfortable hotel we will enjoy a delicious dinner.
After breakfast we leave Vladivostok and we will head towards the region of Khanka Lake, north of the city. We leave the coastal habitats and exchange them for some very interesting extensive agricultural landscapes with taiga forests as far as the eye can see. In the open areas, large numbers of the mythical Pied Harrier are foraging, with Brown Shrikes hunting from a treetop. Enigmatic Siberian buntings like Elegant Bunting and Black-faced Bunting are found in some darker regions of the forests. In the evening we will check out the wetlands of Khanka Lake in the hope of discovering Falcated and wild Mandarin Ducks, the latter probably being one of the most attractive duck species in the world.
As usual on this tour we will have a very early start to go birding in the nearby forests where many gems are on the menu. We will do our best to show you Asian Stubtail, Black-naped Oriole, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Japanese Grosbeak and Azure Tit. Around noon there will be a significant dip in bird activity, we will use this time for an extended lunch and to drive back towards the Khanka Lake where in the evening we will explore its vicinity once more in the hope of seeing the aforementioned duck species plus more sightings of Oriental Stork, Amur Falcon and curious Black-browed Reed Warbler. In the evening we will drive to the village of Luchegorsk where we will lodge for the next two nights.
We will leave early and make our way towards a small authentic Siberian village where we will board our three-person boats and explore the Bikin River, sometimes called the Russian Amazon! This river is a best place for Scaly-sided Mergansers, Mandarin Duck and Long-billed Plover. In the adjacent marshes we hope to come across amongst others Far Eastern Curlew. This is also a good spot for the illusive Forest Wagtail. In the village, Daurian Redstart, White-cheeked Starling and Oriental Reed Warbler are present. In the evening – we will bird the marshes on our way back to Luchegorsk, where Eastern Marsh Harriers are seen, hopefully with more Falcated Ducks.
Today will be mostly a travel day (700km/9 hours) but we have some hours in the morning for birding around the village and near some of the marshes we visited the day before. We have staked out one stop with hopefully a very obliging Gray´s Grasshopper Warbler and Grey-backed Thrush. In the late evening, we will arrive at our tourist hotel in Komsomolsk-na-Amur.
Today we set sail for the Lake Udyl where we will make some round trips over the lake to find the breeding (and hopefully some hunting) pairs of Steller’s Sea Eagle! Here we also hope to see the strange Swan Goose. In the nearby forests, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Dusky Warbler, Pallas’s Leaf Warbler, Oriental Greenfinch and Grey-bellied Bullfinch are common. On the third day we will head back towards Komsomolsk-na-Amur and are expected to arrive in the early evening. .
In this State Nature Reserve we are after one of the most sought-after grouses of the northern hemisphere; the Siberian Grouse! In this taiga forest the endangered Black-billed Capercaille is also one of the main targets. Other birds might include Siberian Thrush, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Red-flanked Bluetail, Arctic Warbler, Two-barred Greenish Warbler and Black-faced Bunting! Here we shall put some extra effort into finding the gorgeous Tristram´s Bunting that is now in full breeding plumage. In the evening we will have a lovely dinner in the city of Komsomolsk-na-Amur and then board our night train to Khabarvosk.
In the morning we will arrive in Khabarovsk for our final day of birding. In the extensive marshes near Khabarovsk we have a whole new set of birds to discover-. In the open areas, Lanceolated Warbler and Pallas´s Grasshopper Warbler are commonly found singing. The gorgeous and declining Yellow-breasted Bunting might be found nearby while a couple of Long-tailed Rosefinches are calling loudly. Thick-billed Warbler might be one of the rare sightings of the day. In the evening, we will reach Khabarovsk where we will enjoy a large final dinner with a few shots of vodka
We have use of a day room until 11am in our tourist hotel in Khabarovsk before we fly back towards home.
**The tour schedule depends closely on internal flights, which may change from the itinerary listed. If so, the itinerary will be altered, with all of the special regions still being visited.DOWNLOAD TOUR ITINERARY IN PDF