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After leaving Tbilisi, we head into the broken hills and valleys around the Javakheti plateau
Where we can hope to find birds such as Rock Nuthatch,
Blue Rock Thrush,
Rock Sparrow and…
We could also encounter the first of our Green Warblers in the garden of our hotel.
Moving up onto the Javakheti plateau…
we will visit some spectacular lakes
with large concentrations of water birds, including these White Pelicans.
The area also holds huge numbers of Long-legged Buzzards,
and smaller numbers of Steppe Buzzards
and Steppe Eagles.
Despite the great birding on offer, we have to tear ourselves away and start the long journey to Batumi. We break the journey in the highly scenic Zekari pass
where the localised and shy Caspian Snowcock is often found.
And where Kruper’s Nuthatch can be conspicuous in the woodlands,
and we might experience our first flocks of raptors.
At the highest point, we may get lucky with Red-fronted Serins
and we should find several Caucasian Chiffchaffs.
The resort town of Batumi is our base from now on, nestled in the south east corner of the Black Sea.
Above the town is the famous raptor viewpoint…
from where the view is spectacular over the coastal plain to the Greater Caucasus.
Up to 100,000 birds may pass here in a single day, mostly Honey Buzzards.
Here a male.
Other raptors that will pass in varying numbers include thousands of Black Kites,
Booted Eagles – this is a pale phase,
and Hobby can come right past us -
as can Levant Sparrowhawks
and the impressive Lesser Spotted Eagle.
A great feature of Batumi is the number and diversity of migrating harriers. This adult male Montagu’s
while the ghostly male Pallid Harrier will be eagerly sought,
Among the vast swarms of Honey Buzzard, we will attempt to pick out the rare Oriental Honey Buzzard,
and we’re certain to see several Short-toed Eagles.
As well as raptors, there will be thousands of Bee-eaters migrating past us
and flocks of Rollers are likely as well.
If bad weather stops the raptor migration, it is very likely to result in exciting migration of other species.
We will check the scrubby areas around Batumi, as anything can turn up anywhere.
Such as this Wryneck
or a Red-backed Shrike,
or even some Night Herons migrating.
The nearby Chorokhi Delta can be hugely exciting
and we will search for Spotted Crakes,
and Little Crake
and maybe a Broad-billed Sandpiper hiding behind a Garganey!
Flocks of migrating terns may go past - here a flock of Little Terns and a Common Tern
while mixed flocks of Purple and Grey Heron are a feature of the migration here.
All in all, a scenic and special place.