At over 17 000 000 square kilometres, Russia is the largest country in the world by surface area. From north to south, the Russian Plain is clad with Arctic tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and broadleaved forests, steppe grasslands and semi-desert. Such a massive area cannot be birded in a single tour, but our first land based offerring to the Ural Mountains take in some of the finest Russian birding possible, all within the Western Palearctic.
The Ural mountain-range, or simply The Urals, is the longest mountain-range in Russia at over 2000 kilometres long. Spanning from north to south through western Russia – the Urals are geographically significant as it forms part of the conventional boundary between Asian and European Russia. The Urals are some of the oldest mountains in the world, approximately 500 million years old and are remarkably high in elevation for a mountain of its age. With the discovery of mineral resources, extraction began as early as the beginning of the 17th century and the Urals have since, always been treasured highly by the Russians. We set out to explore this area for a different reason – its rich biodiversity with a whole host of mouth-watering localized species such as Black-throated Accentor, Three-toed Woodpecker, Siberian Rubythroat, Lanceolated and River Warblers, Ural Owl and White’s Thrush. A highly diverse terrain has resulted in the fauna and flora being very rich, changing quite rapidly as we move from central to northern Urals. Besides targeting many species that are tricky on any world birders list – this tour is of particular interest to western Palaearctic birders – as our this tour will put us within the borders of the western Palaearctic and in direct contact for species that are notoriously difficult to connect with otherwise.