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Shirvan is one of Azerbaijan’s top allround nature sites which is best known as the home of the iconic Goitered Gazelle.
This huge area (54,000 hectares) is a paradise for birdwatchers as it has recorded over 270 different bird species, many of which this is the most accessible site in Azerbaijan. The reason for such an abundance is its location on the Caspian Sea coast bird migration path and its importance as a breeding, resting and wintering site. The huge flocks of Little Bustard, sometimes numbering more than 25,000 birds, that spend the winter in the lowland steppes like in Shirvan is one of the top attractions for birdwatchers in Azerbaijan! They can also be seen further west inland and are usually present from mid-November to early March.
Target species in winter: Little Bustard, Imperial Eagle, Hen Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Goldeneye, Greater Flamingo, Great White Pelican, White-winged Lark and Eurasian Curlew. In spring and early summer: Black Francolin, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Greater Sand Plover, Caspian Plover, Terek Sandpiper and Stone-curlew.
When to visit: All year there is good birdwatching but try November-February for the flocks of Little Bustard and April-June for the breeding species. Also a visit in September-October will produce a good range of raptors, passerines and on the lake also ducks and waders.
The entrance to the national park is located on the southern highway. For this reason, it is possible to go to the park by any bus and shared taxis serving the southern regions. Observers traveling in private or rented cars can take a short break for the birds in the fishing grounds by entering the dirt road along the Shirvan Canal on the right 4-5 km before the entrance to the national park. To enter Shirvan National Park by car, you need to turn right at the State Traffic Police post. There are signs on the curve leading to the National Park, and it is easy to follow these signs.
En route to Shirvan National Park from Baku is the UNESCO-listed Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, home to over 6,000 prehistoric petroglyphs, as well as nearby mud volcanoes. Also, consider spending longer in Shirvan National Park, which besides its rich fauna is also home to several mud volcanoes, plus local shrines (pirs) and wild Caspian beaches.