MONGOLIA: Wise Birding Holidays Bird & Mammal Tour Reports 1&2 2019

Two trip reports from Mongolia Jul/August 2019 and August/September 2019.
Species recorded include: Snow Leopard, Pallas’s Cat, Mongolian Wild Ass and Long-eared Hedgehog on both tours, plus Marbled and Steppe Polecat, Campbell’s Hamster, Daurian Hedgehog and more.
Packed full of photos and video links and annotated checklist.



  • CharlesHood

    Just a point of clarification — in the intro note to these pdf trip reports, Chris implies that both Wise Birding tours this summer got snow leopard. I was on the first tour and we looked and hiked and looked and hiked, and we did NOT see snow leopard. We did get steppe polecat but not marbled polecat — clearly, based on the trip lists, the second of the two 2019 tours had a different experience than the first one. If I remember correctly, neither of the Wise Birding 2018 tours had snow leopard either? Mongolia is an amazing place and the Wise Birding itinerary covers an interesting section of it, but if snow leopard is a priority, this may not be the best way to try. On my tour also, birding was a significant part of the trip. Not that that is good or bad, but after looking for an oriental plover for a substantial part of an afternoon, an potential evening target (pygmy jerboa, say) was just not going to get the same kind of energy / attention — at some point everybody just wants to get on with it and have dinner before 2200. It is all a matter of trying to juggle priorities. At the same time that Wise Birding was in Mongolia this summer, a mammal-centric private tour organized by Paul Carter was in country, and that report will come up here in due time. In some ways, it will rival Jon Hall’s famous Gabon list. When people see it, it is going to be a “holy sh*t” moment I suspect. But they got the list they earned: a lot of effort and planning went into that trip. Always a balance, isn’t it? If you want a good bird list AND some interesting mammals, the Wise Birding route is a good compromise between goals. And I do agree with everybody else: once you go to Mongolia the first time, you want to go back. As a final note, I came into the country from London via a transfer in Moscow using Aeroflot. They lost all the hold luggage for the tour on the in-bound flight, and just mine on the return flight. In both cases, it took 4 days finally to get it all sorted. / Charles Hood, California

  • Chris Townend

    Hi Charles – Thanks for the additional comment – Really sorry you weren’t on the second tour!
    Just to clarify further, both trips this year recorded Snow Leopard. However, unfortunately it was seen only briefly and distantly by just me on the first tour, compared to everybody at 300M range on the second tour! Both tours in 2018 were severely affected by exceptional rainfall which clearly affected our chances, despite SL still being caught on trail camera. The bottom line is the site we visit in Mongolia is great for a variety of mammals with 100% success with Pallas’s Cat and 3 out of 4 trips for Marbled Polecat. As with most cats, you just need a little bit of luck and as much time in the field with Snow Leopard, but they are certainly there!

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