Sept 14-15th : Asku Zhabagyly Nature Reserve

Published: September 16th 2014
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Sept 14 and 15. had a great train ride in a 2 bunk sleeper compartment on Kazakh Railways on train #33 leaving Almaty 2 at 2133 and arriving on the dot at Tulkibas station at 0927. Was meet by our guide for the 2 days and a Russian made Lada Niva 4WD jeep, so roared off to our home stay. The Asku - Zhabagvly Nature Reserve is one of the largest Nature Reserves in Khazakhstan at 13000 sq kms, and 'allegedly' is the home to a vast number of birds, and animals including bears, ibex, marmots, fixes, wolves, goats, boars, etc. It is crushingly dry and this excludes weeds that simply can't hack the conditions. Lots of plants,biodiversity is immense 1,400 flowering plants.....some surprising...the clear ancestor of our beloved Rhubarb for example. A few remaining flowers...many seed pods in a great range of shapes and colours. A bears ears plant looked exactly as it's name suggests. Berries are everywhere, ourguideSvetlana who was an absolute mine of information told us which we could eat...very tasty but tart. About 90 Bears live in the reserve and they are vegetarian which apparently makes them timid. Svetlana said this bear is eating rose splash on the path this one elderberries...purple splash. Rose hips come in several different types,hairy ones and smooth ones. All provide the bear with his full dose of vitamin C. Deep scratches on the window of the ranger station showed where one had tried to help himself to the rangers food. A massive pig dig had torn up the ground ....nightly boar activity. A wolf howling ground was indicated guessed it more poo. Mice are the chief food. Lovely look out ,I guess wolves like a view too. We clambered oversome precipitous cliffs to view a waterfall. Svetlana pointed outa narrow ledge way below, vertical cliff above, plunging cliffs immediately below. Pregnant ibex give birth on the ledge and the baby is able to follow Mum 2 hours later. The park kindly closes the cliffs for the two weeks of the birthing season. A griffon vulture soared overhead higher and higher til a tiny speck. Few raptors at the ravine, but at last what I was eager to see, a group of 30 kestrels flying high in a loose group migrating to their new feeding grounds. Steve caught a weird praying mantis, grey and wingless. If you live on a mountain and get blown away, you inevitably end up some where unsuitable. Give up your wings and don't get blown away. Butterfly's are mountain species and are very diverse. The park is a centre of diversity for little blues butterflies.

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