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Georgia - 12th > 26th September 2019...

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Old Yesterday, 10:30   #76
rollingthunder
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Probably the final post from me until i hopefully return next year - if i get feedback from either BRC or the Adjara Tourism Dept i will post accordingly

The season ended, predictably, with a whimper and not a fingers-crossed bang

The dedicated and to be congratulated observers recorded in excess of 1,138k raptors Yet another year of hitting the 1M mark - not bad for a site that was a blip on the birders radar 15 years ago. The record of 1.4M several years ago will take some beating. It does make me wonder how many birds were displaced in the Northern Greater Caucasus during the period of bad weather that dogged my 4 visits to Sakhalvasho? Maybe stats over at the Bosphorous might shed some light.

Flights from the UK are more than reasonable particularly if you fly to Kutaisi rather than Batumi via Istanbul. Kutaisi is only 2 hours in a Minibus at less than 3 quid or a 0.75p 4-hour train ride in former Soviet ‘Cattle-class’ rolling stock!
We have paid about 125 return Luton>Kutaisi. Our 7 nights in a lovely hostel in Old Quarter Batumi was 130 including en-suite and a kitchen if required. The Georgians are lovely welcoming people with a varied cuisine and the oldest Wine cultivation in the World at 6000BC - need i say any more. There is a burgeoning ecofriendly accommodation scenario in Sakhalvasho or ypu can stop in Batumi and taxi up as we do because of more evening options.

My list of Raptors are as follows. The BRC counts do not generally include Sprawks or small Falcons on the day list but they along with passerines are recorded.

Egyptian Vulture - 2 birds, both Juv types recorded.

Osprey - half a dozen including a bird fishing.

Imperial Eagle - 2 individuals including an overhead smart Juvenile.

Lesser Spotted Eagle - several dozen ranging from birds at Shuamta to middle distance to very close birds.

Greater Spotted Eagle - nearly double figures including 2 close birds.

Steppe Eagle - a handful including a couple of close individuals.

Short-Toed Eagle - <50 a species nowhere near as abundant as at Tarifa where, in a good year, i saw in excess of 5k.

Booted Eagle - ca250 mainly juv/dark birds. I have read that the populations darken the further East they breed.

Red Kite - only 2 birds noted compared to several dozen last year although care must be exercised when claiming (or keep it to yourself).

Black Kite - several thousand. It is one of the key spp with usually about 250k being recorded.

Marsh Harrier - lots, certainly in excess of 200 but a lot less than last year.

Monague’s Harrier - 100+ as with the other Cirus spp Batumi is *the* place to experience Harriers

Pallid Harrier - less than half a dozen for me but all relatively close but no adult males unfortunately.

Steppe Buzzard - <500 another key species at 300k his year and an excellent species to get to grips with this far East.

Honey Buzzard - 5k+ small beer by local standards as this bird at 500k+
outnumbers everything else. Always nice to look at no matter what plumage and the dusky juvenies almost look edible with a pot of cream. He locals did used to eat them by the way.....

Sparrowhawk - i never tire of this species and to see them thermalling with Bee Eaters is etched in my memory.

Goshawk - the closest views i have ever had of a non-nesting bird was a hunting individual less than 5M eyeball-to-eyeball at Tblisi.

Black-winged Kite - statistically the star bird of the Autumn with the 4th record for Georgia following hard on the heels of the 3rd this Spring down at Chorokhi Delta. Again this bird was an ‘Eastern’ type with dusky secondaries.

Kestrel - only a handful and probably local birds.

Lesser Kestrel - as only a handful of ‘Kestrels’ were seen i scrutinised every one of the buggers and was satisfied with a female-type Lesser (honestly).

Red-Footed Falcon - 5 birds including 3 adults hawking above the Station.

Hobby - 20+ and all were juveniles that i saw.

Peregrine - ca15 individuals noted.

22 species in total beating last years by 1 and my previous best at Sariyer on the Bosphorous one Spring 10myears ago with 19 species for the day.

In addition the following extra species were recorded at both stations...

Griffon Vulture.
Black Vulture.
White-Tailed Eagle.
Golden Eagle.
Hen Harrier.
Long-Leggd Buzzard.
Crested Honey Buzzard.
Levant Sparrowhawk.
Merlin.

That makes 31 species

Again i did not click with Roller which had several good day counts of upto 700.
Or Ortolan with 600+ day count.
Both species of Stork were down in numbers but lots of Bee Eaters particularly inland where i saw little else. I did not make it to Choroki this year and my only new bird was Mountain Chiffchaff.

Bi for now and good birding -

Laurie
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Old Yesterday, 20:14   #77
Swissboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rollingthunder View Post
Probably the final post from me until i hopefully return next year - if i get feedback from either BRC or the Adjara Tourism Dept i will post accordingly

...........

Again i did not click with Roller which had several good day counts of upto 700.
Or Ortolan with 600+ day count.
Both species of Stork were down in numbers but lots of Bee Eaters particularly inland where i saw little else. I did not make it to Choroki this year ............Bi for now and good birding -

Laurie
Laurie, thanks for your most enjoyable lively reporting. Just accidentally it also suited me for our own tour. While we had larger numbers, over all, I would think the main experience is similar whenever one visits from mid September. We had more individuals of eagles, but the species were pretty much the same. Missed Be-eaters (my brother at least heared some at a distance), and the Rollers must have passed earlier as well. Interestingly, we mostly had male Pallid Harriers, so they might pass a bit later, maybe.
My personal highlight was probably the Eleonora's Falcon passing at some distance, seen from Shuamta. Though it was only officially recorded as falcon sp., I have spent so much time with them on the island of Sardinia (San Pietro in particular) over the years that I simply could not think it was anything else. But the sheer numbers of raptors passing this site is what every raptor lover should try to experience at least once.
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