Unfortunately, the flamingo was to remain unseen.
We learned that usually by this time in the year, the flamingos have returned to Lake Tengiz, a saltwater lake that has a type of shrimp that they like to eat. This spring has been unusually cold and wet, though, so while flamingos have been spotted in Kazakhstan, they haven't settled in Lake Tengiz yet. Additionally, the roads out to the lake were still too muddy, so we couldn't even make it out there. We saw flooding on the way to the nature reserve, so I could see how dirt roads in come locations may not have been passable.
Despite the notable absence of flamingos, it was a great day. We went to the Korgalzhyn nature reserve's visitor center and learned about various animals that can be seen on the steppe. After that, we had lunch at a guest house that I think may have doubled as the proprietor's home. We were served cabbage salad; a type of salad with corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and mayonnaise dressing; manti (Kazakh meat dumplings); and traditional fried breads. Then, we took off to see what we could see.
We actually saw quite a lot, although not all of it photographed well. I'm starting to realize that if I want to take pictures of critters on nature trips, maybe I should invest in a camera with a better zoom. Oh well. We did see several species of birds, including cranes, egrets, two species of swans, and bitterns. We also saw several steppe marmots, wildflowers, and the largest anthill I had ever seen. The scenery was very striking, with very flat land and very few trees.
|A swan! The one critter I can recognize from my photos.|
|Freakishly large anthill|
|More wild tulips!|
|I should note that the weird white oversocks are because of ticks, not a bizarre fashion statement!|