A nine days birding tour exploring semi-deserts, wetlands and the Caucasus for Georgia's specialties and migrating birds.
Georgia in Spring
Saturday 29th April - Sunday 7th May 2017
Before it we will visit few wetlands and semi-deserts in the south of the country, where the birdlife is very different. We expect to record over 140 bird species on this tour.
Day 1 Arrival at Tbilisi airport and check-in in a city hotel for our first three nights of the tour. We can rest after the flight, have city sightseeing tour as Tbilisi many old churches and historical buildings are well worth a visit, or start straight with the birding.
Day 2 We will explore David Gareja area and a couple of wetlands near to the Azerbaijan border. Migration will be in full force, with most of the local breeders already on site, so we expect Demoiselle cranes, Armenian Gull, crakes, various terns, Rollers, Bee-eaters (Blue-cheeked is also possible), terns, waders, Pygmy Cormorant; also Citrine Wagtail, Eastern Orphean, Barred and Paddyfield Warblers, Western Rock Nuthatch, Isabelline, Black-eared, Pied and Finches wheatears, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-footed Falcon, Black, Griffon and Egyptian vultures, Long-legged Buzzard and many more.
Day 3 and 4 Today we leave Tbilisi again, this time heading south-east to Chachuna. The area around Chachuna has a fantastic landscape with savannah-like open areas, mixed with rolling hills, rocky area and riverine forests: an exciting place with some very good birds, also Golden Jackal and Jungle Cat. Chukar, Black Francolin, Black-headed Bunting, Finch's Wheatear, White-throated Robin and Menetrie Warbler are among the birds we will look for. Chachuna is also noted for one of the largest communities of breeding birds of prey in the Caucasus - raptors include Long-legged Buzzard, Black Kite, Levant Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, European Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Eastern Imperial and Lesser-spotted eagles and Saker Falcon. We stay here for two nights.
Day 5 Return towards Tbilisi where we overnight on our way the Caucasus. Birding en-route at few stops.
Day 6 Today we will move north and a four hours drive will bring us at Stepantsminda village, where will stay the next three nights. En-route we will break the journey with several stops which will provide Rock Thrush, Wryneck, White-winged Snowfinch, Chough, the local race of the Common Buzzard (menetrieze) etc. Already in the village we will check-in and if there is enough time, go birdwatching nearby.
Days 7 and 8 These days we will explore surroundings slopes, ridges, river valleys and patches of bushes. Our main targets here are the four Caucasian specialties - Snowcock and Grouse, as well as Great Rosefinch and Giuldenstaedts Redstart. Hopefully, the slopes above us will be still covered by snow, so we can find the first two species very close to the village, while the other two can even be seen in the village. In any case we have secured enough time and shall have good views of all four species.
Along with them we will also see other species, some of them no less attractive at all. The slopes of the Caucasus are constantly patrolled by the majestic Lammergeyers and one pair breeds nearby the village. The beautiful Red-fronted serins are around too, as well as the Wallcreepers, Alpine Accentors and the smart local race of the Black redstart - semirufus. Also, large flocks of both species of choughs, numerous Water pipits, Twites and Ring Ouzels. Many migrants can turn up Mountain (or Caucasian) Chiffchaff, Red-throated Pipit, Thrush Nightingale, White-throated Robin, Red-breasted Flycatcher, even Corncrake and Quail were recorded on our recce trip. Raptors we will see are Golden eagle, Steppe Eagle, Peregrine, Pallid, Montagus and Hen harriers, Short-toed eagle, Goshawk etc. On the slopes we can see the East Caucasian Tur.
Day 9 Birding in the morning, as much as our time permits. Then catch the return flight home.