Lost in translation

Kazakhstan should be more popular with birders.

It's an unsung gem of a country, one I visited very briefly in 2008, working on a communications campaign for the Kazakh government.

Birding-time was fleeting; snatched moments and quick glimpses between work and client dinners (one which involved getting driven miles out of the city to a strangely palatial restaurant where we sat in a private room, smoked weed and politely drank sour yak milk - a delicacy here and utterly rancid).

Anyway, having just taken delivery of the (mighty) new Chats and Robins monograph, I was trying to work out a couple of female-type redstarts that went frustratingly unidentified at the time.

To help me, I turned to the Kazakh birders Facebook page, which is all in Russian.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to the point of this post; the Russian names, once Google has auto-translated them into English turn out to be awesome!

Barred warbler, becomes Hawk warbler! How apt is that for this giant of warblers?

The lowly water rail becomes the water shepherd...

And the sought-after Himalayan specialty, the white-browed tit-warbler, simply becomes PAINTED BIRD;

Changes your perceptions of things seeing new names, right?

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I work in NYC and own a wildlife and wilderness agency specializing in the southern cone of South America. I still do some guiding down there, especially looking for Fuegian and Patagonian avifauna. I'm particularly interested in the wintering ecology of neotropical migrants, and in avian biogeography in general. You can follow me at - @domhall And find me at - AventuraArgentina.com