Like any other big capital city, Moscow is heavily developed, polluted and busy with millions of people hurrying to get on with their day. At first glance, it seems that there could be no room for wildlife in this buzzing metropolis that’s steadily expanding in all cardinal directions. But surprisingly, there is quite a number of ‘green islands’ studded across the city, some of which are closer in description to wilderness areas than to city parks.
It has to be noted, that Moscow is not one of the world’s safest cities and I didn’t have the courage to explore some of the isolated birdlife hot spots, or visit any of the parks after dark. The summer days are long, it gets dark only after 10pm. In winter, however the sun might disappear at 4 pm. The wildlife tourism is next to non-existent in Russia, with the exception of some parts of Siberia and Kamchatka perhaps.
But even exploring Moscow alone, visiting only ‘civilized’ areas at respectable time of the day it is possible to see quite a bit of wildlife.
Vorob’evy Gory in Moscow south-west is an inner city nature reserve that sits on a very tall and steep bank of Moscow River. The river bank is disected by deep ravines and covered in thick forest. The birdlife of Vorob’evy Gory is similar to that of Kuzminskiy forest: Great tit (Parus major), Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), White wagtail (Motacilla alba), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Fieldfare (Turdus merula), Song thrush (Turdus philomelos) and Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix). In winter 2009 I spotted a Eurasian treecreeper or Пищуха (Certhia familiaris) there.
This park is good for Field mice (Apodemus agrarius). They seem to be everywhere in the park, scurrying around in the leaf litter looking for seeds and grains. And off course there are plenty of European red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris).
Any city park that has a pond, always has a few waterfowl species. Chistie Prudy is good for Ruddy shell ducks (Tadorna ferruginea), while in Partiarshie Prudy there is a pair of Mute swans (Cygnus olor). A quick trip to the pond at Novodevichiy convent turned up a few Tufted Duck or Хохлатая чернять (Aythya fuligula).