Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Birding in Chachuna and around Lagodekhi NP

East Georgia Spring 2018 Early spring had arrived in east Georgia by the last weekend of February 2018. There were plenty of lambs enjoying sunshine in Chachuna and the winter wheat was lush green at Alazani valley. Around 200 Little Bustards were sunbathing from the safety of the olive plantation in Chachuna. Several other flocks were east of Tsnori and in both cases some of the males were displaying. We found ten species of raptor including White-tailed eagle already incubating on the nest, five Imperial eagles loafing around and also one Lesser Spotted eagle. There was a displaying pair of Saker Falcon, Hen and Marsh harriers as well. A Great Grey Shrike was seen attacking a Steppe Buzzard, pretty brave and another was at its winter home by Lagodekhi Fishponds. We found Griffon and Black vultures easily. Always good birds at the Dali reservoir. Mallard and Pochard were quite numerous with a few Smew and Pintail. Little and Great egrets, Grey heron, a few grebes, Caspian gull but no remaining geese or swans. Lots of Chukar have survived the hunters this year and were already paired up. Good passerines too. Abundant Calandra larks, still in the big flocks, Crested larks singing, plenty of winter visitors including Fieldfare and Brambling. Syrian and Green Woodpeckers calling. One highlight was the flock of about 30 Hawfinch reminiscent of our massive invasion in England this winter. Thanks to Levan, Ecotours Georgia, for good guiding and driving

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Weekend in Kazbegi November 2016

Weekend in Kazbegi November 2016 Clear skies, little wind and plenty of sun made for a scenic weekend in the Greater Caucasus at the end of November 2016. The road from Tbilisi is now so good that it only took a few hours to travel from Tbilisi via Goudari ski resort over the ridge to the northern slope and the first stop at Kobi. Almost immediately a Wallcreeper flew onto the vertical rock face and fluttered around in the sun. Good start! The Sea Buckthorn bushes were laden with a very heavy crop of pale orange berries and the special birds feeding there were soon located north of Stephansminda town. Great Rosefinch numbers were quite good, 20 plus seen, whereas the Guldenstadt’s Redstart number seemed lower, less than 10 seen. And both species were very skulky, just guessing the abundance of food meant they were well spaced out. The Bearded and Griffon Vultures put on a very good show, in the air in the valley most of the time looking for food. But a very long search failed to locate either the Caucasian Black Grouse or Snowcock which was disappointing; it is always harder when they are not calling or lekking. The usual big flock of Alpine Chough put on their acrobatic display and there were close views as they came in to feed on some bread. Red –billed Chough numbers were good too but they are much shyer and kept a distance away. A Ring Ouzel was a surprise, wonder if it will move on, to stay over? A few buntings, sparrows, finches and tits were around, especially several flocks of long tailed tits. The road back to Tbilisi has several nice stop off points and the beech mast seemed to be another good crop. Hawfinch and Brambling were around with the tits, finches, nuthatch and several Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Birding trip to Chachuna and Lagodekhi Nature Reserve

November birding Our November trip began in misty conditions and a very muddy road to Chachuna and for a while seemed not very promising. But plenty of birds were present at the lower elevations and it was great to find a total of six Imperial Eagles. They love sitting on the disused power pylons which makes for very good viewing. A huge murmuration of 5000+ Starlings was noticeable for their noise and wheeling flights. Very close views of Whooper Swan were supplemented by the usual ducks, grebes and herons: all were trying to avoid ever-present hunters. We did see Merlin, Kestrel, Long-legged and Steppe buzzard in numbers lower than previous visits. Also, it was odd to visit Chachuna and not see any Corn Buntings – no idea where they have gone. Weather conditions, the summer drought and changes to feed supply may have combined to send them elsewhere. The next destination was the Lagodekhi National Park where a lot of forest birds were present and all active in feeding parties. The species we found included Black, Middle-spotted and Great-spotted Woodpeckers. This habitat looked suitable for white-backed, but sadly not this time. All the normal tits were seen and a group of four very bright Bullfinch had us thinking of the northern form. This winter weekend is always full of surprises and can be done with ease from Tbilisi with one night and two days. By Debby Reynolds

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring trip to Dedoplistskaro region.

1st March 2014 was dry, sunny and warm in Taribani and Chachuna in East Kacheti beyond Dedopliskaro. Our birding group was very pleased to find Little Bustard for the 4th year running. This time we first saw a single bird briefly in flight, then a huge group of about 1000 was spotted , followed by two groups of about 100 and 80. So the total of 1181 was pretty good and the views were superb on the ground and in flight. A record 20 Cinereous (Black) vultures was notable for the very close views near the road on a corn field, accompanied by Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Imperial Eagle, Buzzard and Griffon Vulture. As usual Calandra Lark were numerous, several thousand at least, along with abundant Goldfinch, Skylark, Crested Lark and Corn Bunting. Winter visitors at the large lake included many Fieldfares, two Great Grey Shrike, four Smew, several Goldeneye, Ruddy Shelduck and a White-tailed Eagle. This place is always full of surprises and interesting birds, its all according to the season and weather, which can be harsh in winter. This was lucky trip for us and the total list was 50 species. By Debby Reynolds.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black-winged Kite

On 17th of September on Javakheti Plateau birdwatching group from Netherlands with our guide Levan Ninua have found unusual bird, which appeared to be Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus vociferus). After this occasion this bird was seen by other birdwatcher groups too. This picture was taken in October, after one month. It seemed that this bird was doing fine, hunting near the village and feeling comfortable, although we aren't sure if it will stay during the winter or will migrate in warmer place.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Birding trips for the Spring-Sumer season is over. We experienced rather warm spring, although end of the April was snowy. Consequently mountain birds such as great Risefinch and Guldenstads Redstart were moving up and down. Going from bushes nearby to Kazbegi up to 2500m and again were pushed down by snow. Base on feedback from different groups we think that it was successful year for our groups. Except the birds most of the groups were lucky enough to see some mammals as well: Eastern Caucasian Tur, Wolf, Brown Bear, Jackal,Fox, Hedgehog, Weasel . At the moment we are getting ready for the September to start our wonderful trips on Black see cost for raptor migration. Please visit the link below for some pictures.

Monday, April 15, 2013

First trip to kazbegi for the year 2013

Our first birding trip to Kazbegi was successful, group was able to see most of the target birds in two days. We had very good views of Great Rosefinch and Caucasian Snowcock, also Caucasian Black grouse. Unfortunately, due to unusual warm spring group have skipped Guldenstads Redstart, it seems that they have moved higher but some entrance roads for different gorges was still closed, so we were not able to drive there. Since we had only two mornings for this birds there was not time to do hiking. Anyway, I was informed that there was snowing in kazbegi few days ago, it is good news because snow will push down birds and will make easy to see for the groups which are coming to Georgia in couple of weeks.