birdsafarisweden
 

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Photo: Zsombor Károlyi


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Raptor watching
Photo: Magnus Martinsson


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Steppe Eagle
Photo: Daniel Green


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Kejsarörn
Photo: Daniel Green


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Citrine Wagtail
Photo: Magnus Martinsson


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Dvärgörn
Photo: Magnus Martinsson


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Steppe Eagles
Photo: Daniel Green


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Större skrikörn
Photo: Daniel Green


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Hökörn
Photo: Daniel Green


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Steppe Eagle
Photo: Daniel Green



Raptor Bonanza in Batumi, Georgia



1 - 8 October 2017



The small state of Georgia lies mainly on the mighty Caucasus but to the west it is bordered by the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Although relatively small, the Black Sea is still big enough to force the migrating raptors to avoid it, flying along its coast. Another obstacle for the raptors lies just east of the coast. Emerging virtually from the sea are the Caucasus with its numerous high peaks, covered in snow for most of the year. Both the sea and the mountains create a very narrow gap where the raptors funnel through.


The result is nothing short of spectacular, it is the biggest raptor migration in the world. This migration route was known in the past of course, but was poorly studied until a few years ago when professional monitoring of the migrations was launched. Nobody was really prepared for what was to be discovered. In September 2012 when we made our recce trip, over the course of fifty days of monitoring, the migration team recorded over ONE MILLION raptors passing through. To make this figure even more staggering, the count did neither include sparrowhawks, kestrels nor smaller falcons - Red-footed and Eleonoras!


The numbers are truly amazing - we expect to see thousands of birds migrating in a single day. Figures of 10 000 large eagles (Imperial, Steppe and both spotted) or Black kites, 30 000 steppe buzzards and 50 000 Honey buzzards are not unusual. The highest number recorded in a single day was over 180 000 Honey buzzards, a mind blowing number really. Not only the numbers are huge but the variety is great and virtually all the European raptors have been recorded here, except the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Gyr Falcon, including rarities such as the tundra Peregrine (Falco peregrinus calidus), Oriental Honey Buzzard, the dark morph of the Western Marsh Harrier etc. There are also many Black storks and Common Cranes.


Another great thing about the migration here is that you do not see dots in the sky or beyond the horizon. In fact huge numbers of birds, especially in bad (which means favorable in this case) meteorological conditions, will fly very close to the raptor watching points we will be using. This will be an excellent opportunity to improve our birds of prey in flight ID skills as we will see different species, of different ages, plumages etc., virtually in the same time. For example you can have Sparrowhawk, Levant Sparrowhawk and Goshawk in your bins in the same time. Same for different species of harriers, eagles and buzzards.


The whole area is really nice - numerous green hills around us, with some higher ridges visible towards the east, while westwards, but very close is the Black Sea. Beside the raptor migration we will also pay attention to the coast line, as well as some wetlands for other migrants, these might include Citrine Wagtail, through Terek and Broad-billed Sandpipers to Greater Black-headed Gull.


Day 1
An afternoon arrival at the small town of Batumi, via Istanbul, followed by half an hour transfer to our hotel for the holiday. It is right on the sea side, with a huge garden and ideally situated for our activities next days. After a check-in we can have some easy sea-watching from the garden - skuas, gulls, terns and waders start filling our notebooks and we may also record the first raptors.

Days 2 to 7
We have six full days and at least four of them we will use to watch the raptor migration. There is no need of very early starts as the movements normally start about 09.00 and we have less than half an hour drive from our hotel. The early birds among us can go earlier for sea-watching just outside the hotel and it is likely that every morning will produce different species. Being about nine at the raptor watching point we will have about 4 hours of intensive migration and when it gets quiet we will have a picnic lunch. Following some rest, the migration picks up again in the afternoon and depending on the weather condition might goon well up until 19.00. There are a number of wetlands along the coast near Batumi plus a few larger ones further north along the coast and we will pay visits to them too. Here we can find big variety of species - Moustached Warbler, Red-throated Pipit, Red-breasted and Semi-collared flycatchers, numerous shrikes, wagtails and other passerines, gulls, all European terns, all the crakes, waders - Marsh Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope and even Great Snipe, herons etc. Purple Swamphen is also possible as we have recorded it on our recce trip in October 2012.

One of the wetlands here is Kolkheti National Park. Its name probably comes from the ancient Colchis and it is from here where the mythical hero Jason and his Argonauts brought the Pheasant into the European countries west of the Black Sea, which unfortunately is no longer pure one. However, around the Kolkheti NP the only population of pure pheasant can still be found. At the sea we can find Red-necked and Blacknecked grebes, both divers and some sea ducks, plus many Harbour Porpoise and both Bottle-nose and Common dolphins. In the town of Batumi there is a well maintained botanical garden and here we will find the smart Krupper's Nuthatch. The exact program we will define when on site as the weather may slow or accelerate the migrations. It works like this that if the raptor migration is slow, the passerines and the water birds are in higher numbers and the other way around. In any case there will be huge numbers of birds to see. Local people are really friendly and open. Georgia's culture, ancient history and national pride is something we will experience.

Day 8
After some final morning birding we will catch our return flight home.




Guides / tour leader


Daniel Green, Swedish tour guide and -leader. Dobry Domushiev - our local guide has good knowledge of Georgia and the destinations we visit on the trip. The journey is a collaboration between BirdSafarisweden and Karlmark Travel. (Karlmark Travels holds the travel warranty insurance that covers this trip)

When: 1 - 8 October 2017

Price: 18.000 SEK

Single supplement: 2.300 SEK

What's included:
Full board in double room, English-speaking tour leader, local guide all the time, all transports, all possible entrances to nature reserves and parks.

Not included:
Transfer to the airport, insurance, (Note: The European Health Insurance Card does not apply here. Participants are required to have a travel-insurance covering accidents and illnesses.) Alcohol, souvenirs and other personal expenses, gratuities to tourleader, local guide / driver (we usually collect money for tips at the end of the trip if we are satisfied).

Maximum number of participants: 12

Other: This is a "mixed group" trip where Swedish- and English-speaking travelers are welcome.
Once you have registered you will receive an invoice of 3,500 SEK. The payment of that bill guarantees you a place on the trip.



booking form / interest

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Batumi
Photo: Magnus Martinsson



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Honey buzzard
Photo: Magnus Martinsson



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Eagles
Photo: Daniel Green



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Batumi
Photo: Magnus Martinsson



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Större skrikörn
Photo: Daniel Green



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Batumi
Photo: Magnus Martinsson



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Honey Buzzards
Photo: Magnus Martinsson



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Steppe Eagle
Photo: Daniel Green



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Batumi, landscape
Photo: Magnus Martinsson



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Större skrikörn
Photo: Daniel Green