Under wings of the Greater Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian, the one would freeze your attention to see fabulous Georgia and Azerbaijan, countries of exceptional beauty and yet undiscovered astonishing wildlife. Having auspicious geography being formed between the Europe, Middle East and Asia, and spread on the Irano-Anatonian plateau, this eminent duo assembles imposing wildlife mosaic with high composition of exclusive species. We are delighted to invite you to this new remarkable birding journey around two diamond lands of the Western Palearctic taking us to a distinct hotspots with intact and charming landscapes including magnificent peaks of the Caucasus mountains with most wanted endemics, vast coastal and steppe wetlands hosting hundreds of thousand migrants, lush deciduous forests including one where the only Western Palearctic’s Shikra breed, as well as remote badlands and picturesque semi-deserts with lens-popping set of big-name species typical for the region. With such an array of habitats expect anything and everything of equally varied birdlife with list of up to 300 species alongside with other wildlife. Within this tour we aim to support conservation activities in Azerbaijan and over 50% of the profit will be used for continuation of counts and monitoring of birds at the Besh Barmag.
Combined tour to Georgia and Azerbaijan
11 – 21 May 2019
|Ferruginous Duck||Kentish Plover||Güldenstädt’s Redstart||Rosy Starling||Black Vulture|
|White-headed Duck||White-tailed Lapwing||Persian Wheatear||Pale Rockfinch||Egyptian Vulture|
|Caucasian Grouse||Temminck’s Stint||Rock Thrush||White-winged Snowfinch||White-tailed Eagle|
|Caucasian Snowcock||Terek Sandpiper||Blue Rock Thrush||Red-fronted Serin||Golden Eagle|
|Black Francolin||Spotted Redshank||Eastern Orphean Warbler||Great Rosefinch||Eastern Imperial Eagle|
|Chukar||Broad-billed Sandpiper||Menetries’s Warbler||Trumpeter Finch||Lesser Spotted Eagle|
|See-see Partridge||Armenian Gull||Upcher’s Warbler||Mongolian Finch||Steppe Eagle|
|Grey Partridge||Pallas’s Gull||Eastern Olivaceous Warbler||Crimson-winged Finch||Short-toed Eagle|
|Black-bellied Sandgrouse||Blue-cheeked Bee-eater||Caucasian Chiffchaff||Desert Finch||Booted Eagle|
|Great White Pelican||Greater Short-toed Lark||Green Warbler||Grey-necked Bunting||Montagu’s Harrier|
|Dalmatian Pelican||Lesser Short-toed Lark||Red-breasted Flycatcher||Long-eared Owl||Pallid Harrier|
|Pygmy cormorant||Bimaculated Lark||Semicollared Flycatcher||Short-eared Owl||Levant Sparrowhawk|
|Greater Flamingo||Horned Lark||Krüper’s Nuthatch||Little Owl||Lesser Kestrel|
|Demoiselle Crane||Radde’s Accentor||Western Rock Nuthatch||Scops Owl||Peregrine Falcon|
|Purple Swamphen||Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin||Eastern Rock Nuthatch||Bearded Vulture||Lanner Falcon|
|Black-winged Pratincole||White-throated Robin||Wallcreeper||Griffon Vulture||Shikra|
Target mammals: East Caucasian Tur, Bezoar Goat and Goitered Gazelle
Our journey will start from Tbilisi, capital of Georgia heading straight to the Greater Caucasus and the magnificent Kazbegi Mountain with a few exciting birding brakes on the way. Not far from the city a nice patch of pine forest offers good chances to pick very first target, westernmost resident Krüper’s Nuthatch at its breeding ground, whilst moving on further up we will enjoy birding lush forest at boundaries of the river Aragvi where Semicollared and Red-breasted Flycatcher breed alongside with many other stuff.
Exploring surrounding rocky hillsides we enjoy hot coffee while meeting first sun rays where the only loud Snowcock calls may interrupt the overall silence, and here, with luck we may be fortunate enough to see hunting Lynx. At neighboring gorge, nice performance of displaying Grouses all along the rocky slope with alpine meadows and rhododendron patches. Among diverse raptors; Golden Eagle, Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Peregrine Falcon and many more accompanied by spectacular spring raptor migration. At the same hotspot we shouldn’t miss also flock of nearly threatened East Caucasian Tur grazing all around. Surrounding valleys near Kazbegi host impressive array of frequent passeriformes including Green Warbler, Mountain (Caucasian) Chiffchaff, Red-fronted Serin, Rock Thrush, White-winged Snowfinch, Horned Lark and Wallcreeper, while walking up to the glacier tip we should witness Caucasian delights and close range views of Caucasian Snowcock, Great Rosefinches and Güldenstädt’s Redstarts. Once all highland targets are on the list we will relocate southwards with relatively warm temperature and different array of highlights typical for arid badlands. Visiting one of the Georgia’s ancient shrines and surrounding hotspots we should get good views of different raptors including resident Eastern Imperial Eagle and Egyptian Vulture. At bushes and big boulders near the monastery, Chukar, Blue Rock Thrush, Western Rock Nuthatch, thousands of Rosy Starlings, Golden Oriole, Eastern Orphean Warbler and many other bonuses on our last day in Georgia.
Here comes Azerbaijan and crossing the border, we will head southwards exploring steppe lakes and wetlands along the Kura (Mtkvari) river. Not far from the border large water reservoir surrounded by many small ponds and creeks provides tremendously rich waterfowl, whilst wetlands across the Kur-Araz lowland and neighboring hotspots along the Caspian coast offer some of the best birdwatching opportunities in the region with mosaic of habitats and impressive array of species on offer including Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous and White-headed Duck, White and Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Demoiselle Crane and so much more. At marshes and mudflats; Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Pratincole, Kentish Plover, White-tailed Lapwing, Temminck’s Stint, Terek and Broad-billed Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and tones of other waders, and apart a few small colonies of well seen Greater Flamingo. Sandy beaches along the coast just teeming with thousands of various gulls and terns with Armenian and Pallas’s Gull, Caspian, Gull-billed, Sandwich and Whiskered Tern. At reedbeds and surrounding bushy plains, we will keep focus for displaying Black Francolin on photography distance, and different passerines including evident Menetries’s Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and hundreds of photogenic Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. Amongst diverse raptors, we should expect White-tailed, Short-toed and Booted Eagle, Montagu’s and Pallid Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk and Lesser Kestrel.
At southeast of the country the one you would find eventful, a nature refuge where large population of vulnerable Goitered Gazelle found a shelter abreast diverse birds with good chances to see Little, Scops, Long-eared and Short-eared Owl. At country’s far south another patch of minor forest provides privilege to see the area’s one of the most special bird, Shikra in its only breeding ground of the West Palearctic.
Last part of our odyssey will take us to the remote corner of Azerbaijan with barren dry valleys and semi-desert landscapes where fascinating range of highlights include Greater and Lesser Short-toed Lark, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and White-throated Robin, Persian Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Upcher’s Warbler, Pale Rockfinch, Trumpeter Finch, Mongolian Finch, Crimson-winged Finch, Desert Finch and Grey-necked Bunting alongside with See-see Partridge, Chukar Partridge, Grey Partridge and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Amongst expected diverse raptors, all four vultures including Black Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Steppe Eagle and Lanner Falcon. Here we shouldn’t miss seeing a few interesting mammals too including well found Bezoar Goat. Moving higher north, the route will take us beneath a Lesser Caucasus mountain range with vast alpine meadows and lakes where we should expect good views of Radde’s Accentor, Bimaculated Lark and so much more bonuses.
|Duration||10 full birding days|
|Grading||A mix of mainly gentle walks and minor hill walks|
|Other focus||Mammals and reptiles|
For more details (itinerary and quote) and reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Blue-cheecked Bee-eater by Dan Kuehler
- Radde’s Accentor by Ilya Ukolov
- Trumpeter Finch by Ilya Ukolov
- White-throated Robin by Ilya Ukolov
- Güldenstädt’s Redstart by Ilya Ukolov
- Greater Flamingo by Stephen A Daly
- Upcher’s Warbler by Ilya Ukolov