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

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