A felicitous for its wealthy nature’s heartbeat, Georgia has long ago announced itself and earned the reputation as the most and must visit birding destination in the Caucasus region, and is remarkable not only for its spring and autumn coloration, but also boasts many in the winter. This shade of the year is diverse in its own way and lurking not a little charm. Our seven-day tour offers an opportunity to witness some of the Caucasus’s most wanted targets in an easy way and this time, at an ultimate breath of the winter, and when the spring is yet flickering beyond the horizon, the epic Greater Caucasus Mountains reveal the full set of alpine specialties, including flocks of the spectacular Great Rosefinch, Guldenstadt’s Redstart and Caucasian (or Mountain) Chiffchaff, which are extremely easy, as in the winter they come down to the valleys. Little Bustard, Black Francolin and lots of raptors and passerines are frequent sights amid tremendous amount of wintering highlights at country’s eastern steppes, with additionally good chances of finding a few Western Palearctic rarities, such as White-winged Lark, Black Lark and Oriental Skylark. Furthermore, a few nicely integrated cultural activities should diversify an overall program, gaining altogether an unforgettable experience.
A seven-day birdwatching tour to Georgia
1 – 8 March 2020
|Caucasian Black Grouse||Pygmy Cormorant||Güldenstädt’s Redstart||Red-fronted Serin||Golden Eagle|
|Caucasian Snowcock||Pallas’s Gull||Western Rock Nuthatch||Great Rosefinch||Eastern Imperial Eagle|
|Black Francolin||Alpine Chough||Krüper’s Nuthatch||Bearded Vulture||Steppe Eagle|
|Chukar||Pine Bunting||Wallcreeper||Griffon Vulture||Pallid Harrier|
|Little Bustard||Mountain Chiffchaff||Spanish Sparrow||Black Vulture||Lanner Falcon|
|Dalmatian Pelican||Horned Lark||Rock Sparrow||White-tailed Eagle||Saker Falcon|
Meeting at the capital airport, we travel northwards to the alpine townlet surrounded by the divine Greater Caucasus Mountains. A couple of hours drive accompanied by a few exciting birding stops along the way and we are at the spot. During further two and a half days we will experience the delights watching the eminent Caucasus’s Great Five, in line with many other highlights found at this wonderful hotspot. What’s more, we will enjoy fewer crowds while birding during this off-season tour.
In winter, Guldenstadt’s Redstarts and Great Rosefinches leave the higher terrains and swoop down to their traditional wintering grounds and the sea buckthorns along the river valley simply teeming with little flocks. By all means, this is the best time and the best place to get such a good views and cool pictures of these exclusive birds. Alpine Chough, Caucasian (or Mountain) Chiffchaff, Horned (or Shore) Lark, Wallcreeper and Red-fronted Serin are another numerous and well seen targets in the bounty riverine settings, whilst to see the Caucasus’s main pride; the endemic Caucasian Snowcock and the Caucasian Black Grouse, we will explore surrounding gorges near the town. An early appearance will reward us with racy Snowcock calls, a very distinguishable that cannot be mixed with anything else, and it will help us to espy them quicker in the bare rocks. The Grouse though is rather noiseless, can be readily unfolded amid snow covered slopes due to its dark camouflage. We won’t go far but keep our eyes peeled for another attraction, the indigenous Eat Caucasian Tur (Capra caucasica cylindricornis). The flocks of this impressive upland dweller can be observed, while scanning encircling rocky slopes. And with a little bit of luck we may also catch sight of infrequent Lynx or Grey Wolf. From a raptor prospects we can expect Bearded (Lammergeier) Vulture, Golden and Steppe Eagle, as well as some of the early spring migrants.
The journey continues to the country’s easternmost corner, with a couple of birding pauses en route, including one for the easternmost native Kruper’s Nuthatch. As closer we get to our destination, we behold the landscape changes to a barren and arid pistachio. And this hotspot offers some of the gorgeous sceneries, a conglomerate of pristine riverine forests, vast steppes and semi deserts, with multitude gorges and an abundance of the rich biolife. Visiting the large nature reserve on the south, the one we cannot miss is the resident Eastern Imperial Eagle, whereas the White-tailed Eagle is commonly found around the neighboring reservoir, fairly nice also for some of the wintering waterfowl. Surrounding plains with minor shrubbery usually reveal a selection of interesting terrestrials, including Black Francolin and rarely native Pheasant colchicus. Paying a visit to another remarkable park to the east we may anticipate far more tempting sightings with lots of raptors and passerines on offer. The rout to the park stretches through the broad agricultural fields, the wintering grounds for Little Bustard and we are most likely to encounter several little flocks. A fabulous array of passerines includes Spanish and Rock Sparrow, Pine Bunting, a showy murmuration of thousands of Calandra Larks and a lot more. Raptors are everywhere and species, such as Eastern Imperial and Steppe Eagle are a usual sight along with various Buteo, Circus and Falco, while dipping further into the park both Griffon and Black (Cinereous) Vulture should start emerging. In the park we will visit winsome clay cliffs and the famous ridge with stunning views over the central valley, with most likely species, including Chukar, Western Rock Nuthatch, Saker and Lanner Falcon. Apart, here we got a fat chance to spot some mammals too, most likely Golden Jackal and Red Fox.
At the completion of this chapter, we will explore the steppe lakes, situated south of the capital and rife with an interesting waterfowl, especially at this time of a season and we will keep on the lookout for our main targets; Pallas’s (or Great Black-headed) Gull, Dalmatian Pelican and Pygmy Cormorant. In addition to this, surrounding meadows and steppes might provide various raptors and passerines, and undoubtedly we will acquire a few nice observations prior to heading back home.
|Duration||7 full birding days|
|Grading||Easy and gentle walks|
|Other focus||Mammals; Eat Caucasian Tur Capra caucasica cylindricornis|
For more details (itinerary and quote) and reservation, please refer to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Little Bustard by Ilya Ukolov
- Guldenstadt’s Redstart by Alexander Rukhaia
- Wallcreeper by Alexander Rukhaia
- Great Rosefinch by Folkert de Boer
- Red-fronted Serin by Folkert de Boer
- Golden Eagle by Stephen A Daly
- Saker Falcon by Ilya Ukolov
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