The days before the official start of the count I explored the Chorokhi Delta with fellow travellers. While we were there perhaps a bit too early in the season to really experience the potential of the delta, the area was already chock full of birds: there were thousands of Yellow Wagtails, plenty of waders, good numbers of terns, most bushes were already filled with warblers and there was a nice diversity of raptors present. We later on discovered the big news: from this year on hunting was banned entirely in the Delta and the army was enforcing that. As this was only my first ever visit to the delta, I cannot compare the birding with previous years, but the lack of hunters sure made it an incredible birding experience!
A rare sight: White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) passing De Vulkaan on the west side in between the top of the dune and the sea. Nice visitors in an otherwise relatively toothless count (but quite good for in December).
During yesterday's count I saw a fantastic — and my first — (sub)adult Iceland Gull. A real rarity in the region, with the previous record of a similar bird being more than 4 years ago. Today two Glaucous Gulls turned up. It's clear: the white-wingers are back. And that in combination with a rough sea… What's more to wish for?
Yesterday's count didn't disappoint in other respects as well, with 2 Great Northern Divers, 7 Black-throated Divers, quite a bunch of Chaffinches for the end of November, 500+ Redpoll spec. and a calidus-type Peregrine (which I failed to realise fully until the bird had flown past already, so I have no photos). Today on the other hand, was rather calm, except for the white-wingers.