Birding the Chorokhi Delta

The days before the official start of the count I explored the Chorokhi Delta with fellow travellers. While we were there perhaps a bit too early in the season to really experience the potential of the delta, the area was already chock full of birds: there were thousands of Yellow Wagtails, plenty of waders, good numbers of terns, most bushes were already filled with warblers and there was a nice diversity of raptors present. We later on discovered the big news: from this year on hunting was banned entirely in the Delta and the army was enforcing that. As this was only my first ever visit to the delta, I cannot compare the birding with previous years, but the lack of hunters sure made it an incredible birding experience!

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)


White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)

The Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus) were showing very nicely. Alive and kicking rather than hanging on a hunters’ belt.

Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) with some 'eastern' characteristics: white underwings, very fine streaking (not crossed) on flanks and quite pale upperwing (not on this photo)


Rosy Starlings (Pastor roseus

Very impressive roost movement of Yellow-Legged and Caspian Gulls. Video by Elien Hoekstra.


The first signs of what would be a very eventful evening in terms of weather. Out of the blue — in typical Batumi style — a massive rainstorm hit us and luckily we could be saved by a few friendly Georgians with a pickup truck. If not, surely some passports and expensive camera gear would not have survived…

The White-wingers are back!

During yesterday's count I saw a fantastic — and my first — (sub)adult Iceland Gull. A real rarity in the region, with the previous record of a similar bird being more than 4 years ago. Today two Glaucous Gulls turned up. It's clear: the white-wingers are back. And that in combination with a rough sea… What's more to wish for?

Yesterday's count didn't disappoint in other respects as well, with 2 Great Northern Divers, 7 Black-throated Divers, quite a bunch of Chaffinches for the end of November, 500+ Redpoll spec. and a calidus-type Peregrine (which I failed to realise fully until the bird had flown past already, so I have no photos). Today on the other hand, was rather calm, except for the white-wingers.

Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus

Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)

Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)

Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)