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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Spring birding day in East Georgia

Early spring migrant birds were found to be present in small numbers in East Georgia already on 23rd March 2013. The weather was dull and foggy to start but warmed up later, but with not much sunshine. A single Hobby, one Northern Wheatear, two Isabelline Wheatear and two Lesser Short-toed Larks were around David Gareji. The Skylark, Crested and Calandra Larks were already in full song and display. Several Chukar were calling loudly near the monastery, a safe haven from hunters. Very smart single male Rock bunting, Eastern Stonechat and Black Redstart were there too. Several Chiffchaffs were found, some singing, at a warm spot by the Mkvari River at Pontichala near Tbilisi. And one Hoopoe and 20 Garganey were at Kumisi Lake. White Wagtails were around in small numbers. Winter visitors including Fieldfare and Pintail were still present and passerines such as Linnet, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch were still in small flocks, proving winter is not quite over yet. Other birds including Laughing Dove, Black and Griffon vultures, Great and Little Egret and Pygmy Cormorant made up a very good day out.

 By Debby Reynolds

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February winter weekend

The first winter birding weekend of February 2013 started well with a Rough-legged Buzzard outside Dedopliskaro in eastern Kacheti. This bird had a very pale head and neck, whitish iris, feathered legs and the typical white upper tail band in flight. Saker Falcon and Imperial Eagle were both seen, probably on return to breeding areas where they lay first eggs in March. Other raptors included Peregrine, Kestrel, Hen harrier, Marsh harrier and Common buzzard. Little Bustard were found eventually at Taribani on the way to Chachuna after a lot of searching. We saw one, another four and then two of our target species, they were all in flight and in the same general area as the huge flock we found during the February visit two years ago in 2011. The reservoir at Chachuna was quite full of water and held a lot of waterfowl including Smew, Red- breasted Merganser, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted duck, Great white egret, Great cormorants, grebes and gulls. However the highlight was a family of seven Whooper Swans, four adult and three juveniles, which are uncommon in Georgia. As usual hunters were active in this region, as was evident from the nervous behaviour of the bustards and also the carcase of a freshly shot Bittern. We found this casualty hanging up in a thorn tree near a small pond. Passerine flocks were impressive with many thousands of Calandra larks, which occupied all the semi-desert and cultivated areas, sometimes associated with Crested larks, Starlings, Corn bunting, Yellowhammer, Linnet and Greenfinch. There was a single Woodlark found in Vashlovani with several flocks of Mistle Thrush and Fieldfares moving through the juniper bushes. Two Western Rock Nuthatch were located in the dry valleys calling loudly. This is a great area for winter birding and it was another productive trip with fantastic views of the Caucasus mountains. Day one weather was fog with some rain, day two was sunny and bright, all the lakes were open this year. A 4WD vehicle is essential.

By Debby Reynolds

For pictures please visit the link below