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Georgia, September 2022 (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Finally decided to write a little report of my trip to Georgia in September 2022. Initially, I planned to visit the Caucasus and Batumi but I ended up staying in the Batumi area for six days and in Tbilisi for 4 days as I didn't feel confident driving mountain roads in Georgia and I also wanted to visit the capital.
This trip report will hence focus on my six days in Batumi. Lifers are in bold.
Not having a car wasn't a problem at all to get to the various birding locations around Batumi : I mostly used the Bolt app and marshrutkas (minibuses that drive on set routes, picking up passengers on the way).

Travel day and September 9th

I left Corsica on early September 8th and landed in Orly airport, then took the shuttle to Beauvais airport outside of Paris. From there, I took a flight to Kutaisi with WizzAir and arrived in Kutaisi around 2am (!) on the 9th. I had pre-booked a shuttle to Batumi and arrived to my final destination around 4:30am.
I dropped my suitcase at the hotel and as the room was not ready yet, I headed outside to explore the city a little. I was exhausted but eager to start birding as soon as the sun would rise.

My first birds were Cormorants, Yellow-Legged Gulls and Hooded Crows on the beach near the pier. It didn't take long before I notice my first migrants : Northern Wheatears and Whinchats, perched directly on the sand...
I then started to walk along the famous Batumi Boulevard, carefully checking the trees and bushes for passerines. I found a few Willow Warblers, Lesser Whitetroats, and a couple of Yellow Wagtails on the beach.
I walked until an artificial lake (Ardagani Lake) where I saw Common Sandpipers, a lone Little Gull, a Northern Shoveler and a Squacco Heron. Some passerines were in the bushes around the lake including the first Red-Backed Shrike of the trip and...at least 3 Barred Warblers ! I walked back to the start of the Boulevard and found 2 more of these in pine trees.
My hotel room was now ready and after breakfast, I rested for a few hours after that long day of travelling.

In the afternoon, I took a Bolt cab to the very end of Batumi Boulevard, near where the airstrip of Batumi airport ends. There (41.618558, 41.587973), on the fences, I quickly spotted my first Lesser Grey Shrike of the trip. This area was pretty birdy, Northern Wheatears, Greater Short Toed Larks, Common Cuckoos, a single Wood Sandpiper in a puddle, 6 juvenile Rosy Starlings and more...Suddenly birds flew off from the grass near the airstrip and an adult Levant Sparrowhawk appeared !

I continued walking towards the mouth of the Chorokhi river, this patch of habitat (41.615069, 41.585891) had a lot of birds : more shrikes, Turtle Doves, Black Kites, Ortolan Buntings...That's where I met Georgian hunters for the first time, one picked up a hoopoe he had just shot...
I didn't see that many hunters during my trip (apparently the situation is now a lot better than it was a few years ago), none of them behaved aggressively towards me.
My only Pallid Harrier of the trip, a young bird, flew over the meadows...

As I arrived near the end of the paved road, on which I spotted a couple of Tawny Pipits, I turned right to walk along the beach until I reached the river mouth. I found two Grey Headed Swamphens feeding along the reeds here (41.606340, 41.576403), sadly in bad light. A very cooperative Ortolan Bunting was feeding on the banks.
I then decided to call it a day and go back to my hotel.

September 10th

In the morning, I headed to Batumi Botanical Gardens, my main target there was Krüper's Nuthatch. I arrived at the south entrance of the gardens at 8:30am...The place opens only at 9am so I had a look around the entrance and about 10 minutes after my arrival, I heard the call I was hoping for ! I quickly spotted a Krüper's Nuthatch in the pines (41.691968, 41.706264) this was one of the species I wanted to see the most in Georgia. Unfortunately, it didn't stay long...
I entered the gardens at 9am and found two Nuthatches (41.692372, 41.706532), giving good views this time ! I walked the garden, and found one more in this area (41.695055, 41.709647). It was actually very similar to searching Corsican Nuthatch at home : find old pines, listen for the calls.
I didn't really see any birds of note in the gardens, only common species (except a sparrowhawk that might have been either Levant or Eurasian but I couldn't ID it because of extremely bad light).

I walked back to the south entrance of the gardens, stopping to watch the Nuthatches a little more in the same area as I saw them first. Then, it was time to go to Sakhalvasho, one of the two raptor migration watchpoints where the Batumi Raptor Count takes place every spring and autumn.
Unfortunately, this type of migration watchpoints are a hit or miss, sometimes it's full of birds, sometimes there's no or very little migration and it was one of those days...
I still managed to see a few new birds for the trip but in low numbers : European Honey Buzzards, Steppe Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Booted Eagles and the only Black Storks of the trip...
European Bee Eaters were calling constantly around the migration watchpoint and a juvenile Levant Sparrowhawk passed close by.

After a few hours there with nothing new, I went back to Batumi and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city and relaxing.


  • Kruper's.JPG
    1.3 MB · Views: 21
  • Krüper's nuthatch.JPG
    Krüper's nuthatch.JPG
    3.4 MB · Views: 22
  • Levant Sparrowhawk.JPG
    Levant Sparrowhawk.JPG
    258.4 KB · Views: 23
September 11th

I woke up early and headed straight to the Chorokhi river mouth. There, I spotted waders on a little shingle "island" in the middle of the estuary : Little Stints, Common Ringed Plovers, a Ruff...A groupe of five Glossy Ibises landed on the little Island in front of me and a little flock of Black Crowned Night Herons flew over.
I noticed passerines moving among the waders : two Citrine Wagtails, a grey and white 1cy bird and an adult.
After a while watching the wagtails and no new birds except for a Kingfisher, a Squacco Heron and Hoopoes, I turned back to bird along the road that leads to the end of the airstrip that I had visited on my first day.
I hoped to see the Swamphens again in the same area but no luck, the only birds of note were two Little Bitterns that flew from the reeds.
From the beach, I spotted a small group of Slender Billed Gulls flying south. Many passerines were in the bushes along the road, a Roller and Hobby were new for the trip.

At some point, I turned right (towards the karting), again, in the bushes were many passerines but nothing new (Lesser and Greater Whitethroats, Ortolan buntings, Willow Warblers...) until I reached this place (41.609478, 41.584842), two Nightingales were calling loudly from the bushes on the side of the track...knowing that Thrush Nightingale was possible there, I waited quietly...One showed up briefly, a rather dull bird with mottled breast ! Then it showed up again and I managed to get a terrible pic through the vegetation, I didn't even get the head of the bird in the frame, but a wing is visible and it shows 8 primary tips, Thrush Nightingale it is !

I arrived back at the end of the airstrip and prety much the same birds were present as during the first day...in good light this time so I managed to get some pics.

citrine wagtail.JPGRosy Starling.JPGLG Shrike.JPG

In the afternoon, I wanted to visit the southern side of the Chorokhi Delta. The Bolt cab dropped me and I started walking this track (41.588203, 41.593390), it was very hot in the middle of the afternoon and I saw few birds excepts for some shrikes, wheatears and Whinchats. A Short Toed Snake Eagle and a couple of Steppe Buzzards flew by.
I then noticed two White Storks flying towards me and landing only about 30 meters away from me (41.592756, 41.582082) !
I reached the beach and walked north, toward the river mouth. Along the shore were Sanderling, Turnstones, Common Ringed Plovers...At the river mouth, I didn't see much except for some Black Winged Stilts and another juvenile Citrine Wagtail.
I made my way down south along the beach to explore this area that seemed promising (41.592098, 41.570430) but it turned out be not very birdy, only a few Greater Short Toed Larks, Common and Greart Reed Warblers...apparently this is a good location for Swamphens but I didn't see any.
A little further, I met some Georgian ornithologist that were running a ringing program there...They confirmed that today wasn't to great for birds, while I was there only caught a couple of Reed Warblers. They also told me about a place, north of Batumi called Poti that was good for waders.

I continued south until I reached the main track. A little pool just north of the track had Garganeys and a Purple Heron (41.587724, 41.569025). On the Black Sea, among a large group of gulls, I spotted some Bottlenose Dolphins...
As I walked the track, a car stopped and the owners kindly offered to give me a ride back to Batumi which I accepted.

Turnstones.JPGPurple Heron.JPGWhite Stork.JPG
September 12th

I woke up early to meet with the Georgian ringers again, hoping there would be more activity. I walked this track (41.586997, 41.580322) to the beach and saw many Northern Wheatears, Whinchats, shrikes, Yellow Wagtails...
A Red Throated Pipit flew over me just before arriving at the beach, giving its distinctive call.
Things were quiet at the ringing station again today, the most interesting bird was a Wryneck, caught in the nets. An Osprey flew over and was followed a few minutes later by a Great Bittern !

I walked on the beach a little, saw Sanderlings, Turnstones, Greater Short Toed Larks, a Citrine Wagtail...a Sparrowhawk flew by and turned out to be an Eurasian.

I walked the track again to get back to the main road and spotted a bird of prey on a tree : my only Long Legged Buzzard of the trip !

After lunch in Batumi, I went to the northern side of the Chorokhi Delta again, Common Greenshanks and Black Winged Stilts were seen, as well as hoopoes, a cuckoo and various common passerines.
Hunters saw I was watching the birds and started chatting with me, they said there were less birds than before in the delta (not very surprising...) but they said that I should visit Poti and the Maltakva river mouth, which had a lot of birds.
I then walked back to my hotel as it the weather was pretty gloomy and it was starting to be late. On the way back, a Stock Dove was a new trip bird.

LL Buzzard.JPGsanderling.JPGHoopoe.JPG

September 13th
It rained all night and it was still rainy in the morning so after breakfast, I decided to go birding along the Batumi Boulevard so I could easily find shelter if it started raining too hard.
It was obvious that the rain had forced some passerines to stop in the trees and bushes along the boulevard : there were Spotted Flycatchers, Whithethroats, some Greater Short Toed Larks on the beach...I also seen a couple of samamisicus Common Redstarts. At least 3 Red Breasted Flycatchers were calling loudly under a light rain !

RB Flycatcher.JPG

I didn't spend much time birding in the afternoon and on September 14th, no new birds were added to the trip list.
September 15th

I followed the advice of the ringers (and hunters) and took a Bolt cab to Poti. It dropped me there (42.095562, 41.703721) and I made my way to the beach. It was quickly very obvious that today would be a busy migration day : I started seeing dozens of Black Kites and Honey Buzzards heading south as soon as I got out of the cab !
I ended up seeing thousands of Kites and hundreds of Honey Buzzards this morning ! Flocks of Yellow Wagtails, Bee Eaters, and Swallows were constantly passing.

On the beach were Northern Wheatears, Greater Short Toed Larks and a couple of Citrine Wagtails. I walked along the river to its mouth as an Osprey flew over me...I carefully checked the banks of the river for waders, spotted a Shelduck and found two Common Greenshanks, a Grey Plover and a Marsh Sandpiper resting on the shore.
Near the sea, a few Oystercatchers and a Bar Tailed Godwit were feeding, the only ones I saw in Georgia.
Further, I found a little mixed flock of waders : Sanderlings, Little Stints, Dunlins, Curlew Sandpipers...and 6 Broad Billed Sandpipers ! I sat on the bank and the birds came very close to me, allowing great views.
Then, a Pratincole flew south but sadly against sun, making it impossible to ID...
I scanned the Honey Buzzard flocks, hoping to find a Crested HB among them but I couldn't find one.
After enjoying the great migration for a while, I walked back to the road, picking up 2 new trip birds : Little Ringed Plover and Green Woodpecker.
I returned to Batumi using a marshrutka.

Osprey.JPGBroad Billed Sand.JPGDunlin.JPGMigration....JPG

I spent the next few day in Tbilisi, I didn't do much birding but I easily found my lifer Armenian Gull on the Koura river in the center of the city. Laughing Dove was also pretty easy to see in the city.

In total, this trip allowed me to see 115 species, 10 of which were lifers for me.
Thanks for this report Val35. Makes me realise how much I miss migration birding. The shot of the Broad-billed Sandpiper is excellent and I love the pic of the Ortolan stuffing his face!
Thanks for this report Val35. Makes me realise how much I miss migration birding. The shot of the Broad-billed Sandpiper is excellent and I love the pic of the Ortolan stuffing his face!
You're welcome !
Yes, migration birding is wonderful, I love how everyday is completely different at this time of the year, there are always surprises.
Thank you ! I was surprised by how the birds were cooperative for pictures (compared to France for example) in Georgia despite the presence of hunters.
Thank you for the report Val35! I'm heading that way in a week and the migration count on Batumi seems to be increasing day by day. Today they had an incredible 77k honey buzzards at Sakhalvasho! Should be a treat! Migration Count Data — Batumi Raptor Count
Enjoy ! Even on days when raptor/stork migration is slow there are always some waders/passerines to look for.
Also forgot to mention that food is great in Georgia :)

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