I’m going to start a short series for the holidays of “albums” with images I’ve shot of various types of animals and species that I’ve seen on my travels to Mongolia.
First up are the birds I saw on this latest trip in August 2011. If you see a mis-identified bird, please let me know. The field guide situation for Mongolian birds is still not what it needs to be.
Finally, we didn’t go hunting for any of these birds. They are what I saw as we drove around or walked in the reserves and parks. Mongolia is an extraordinary birding destination that deserves to be better known.
We arrived at the Steppe Nomads ger camp at Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve with a broken rear spring on the Land Cruiser, not sure what this meant for the remainder of the trip. While Pokey and I settled in, Khatnaa got on his mobile phone and called the Nomadic Journeys’ office to sort things out. We got laundry done and took welcome hot showers.
That night, at dinner, Khatnaa explained the situation. He would need to take the car out to the tarmac road (13km on earth road each way to get to and from the reserve) the next afternoon to meet up with someone from UB who would bring the new spring out. Then it would have to be installed. How long? Half a day. Did we want the office to also send out a new guide and driver to finish the trip or would we wait for the repair? That decision took about two seconds….we’d wait and finish the trip together. In any case, Pokey and I weren’t sorry to have a break to simply hang around camp and relax.
Khatnaa then said that the car was drivable, with care, and we would go out the next morning at 6am, which is exactly what we did. I was impressed by what he considered staying on “easy” roads. We parked and took a good, long hike down to where he thought we might see argali, which we spotted off in the distance almost as soon as we stopped to glass the mountain.
We also got great photos of a big herd of Mongol horses and cranes, but really had to dodge the mosquitos. Back at the ger camp around 1pm, Khatnaa grabbed a quick lunch and took off. To our surprise and pleasure he was back at 5:15, after having to replace BOTH back springs because the replacement was longer than the original one. Dinner was quite festive with beers all around.
We only had one day at Gun-Galuut, but it was a full one, packed with great scenery and animals.
That evening Khatnaa told us that the next day’s drive wouldn’t be a long one, so we would go out into the reserve in the morning and leave after lunch. We went around the “backside” of the mountain, the side away from the river, parked in a draw, got out and almost immediately spotted four big rams running over a ridge to our right. I only was able to get a couple of butt shots before they were gone. But, within minutes, we spotted an argali ewe and lamb to our left. And then a large group moving up the draw directly in front of us, but a pretty long ways off. It’s estimated that there are less than 100 argali in Gun-Galuut, so we saw a fairly good percentage of the population in two tries.
We drove to the next draw over where we hoped the argali rams had gone, but saw no one. Pokey wanted to do some sketching, so she stayed with the car while Khatnaa and I hiked up onto the mountain again. Coming around a ridge, the view opened up to the entire river valley. We found a couple of rocks to sit on and simply enjoyed the scenery for a half hour. It was so quiet, except for the occasional animal. No cars, no planes, no radios, no voices. Just. Quiet. One of the things I treasure about being in the Mongolian countryside.
Next week: Onward to Jalman Meadows in the Hentii Mountains
I last sat at my easel with a brush in my hand at the end of June. So, how to get rolling again?
I decided to do some small studies, only 5″x7″, and only spend about an hour on each one. After four, I felt like starting a larger piece, which I’ll post once I’m sure it’ll be a keeper. Then I did a fifth study because I wanted to do a bird.
The purpose was to get my hand moving and my mind thinking about, well, what it needs to think about when I’m painting. I also solved a nagging problem – I have been struggling with the greens in my Mongolia subjects. I’ve had My Beloved Sap Green on the palette, along with Viridian. The first study was a struggle because I couldn’t get the green tones I wanted. So I dug into the paint drawer and pulled out tubes of Terre Verte and Chromium Green Oxide, both of which had been sitting for so long that I almost twisted a split in them opening the caps with pliers. But…Bingo!, those more muted colors were exactly what I needed. A quick repaint and Study #1, of the Gobi, worked much better.
So, without further ado, here are the quick studies:
With luck, you can see some improvement between the first one and the last in confidence and brushwork as I get warmed up.