Obviously it's not just raptors that can be seen in Batumi. Throughout the count, groups of (European) Bee-eaters provide backing vocals to the music of rapidly clicking counters. Early in the morning, when the Bee-eaters and raptors are not so active yet, migration of Turtle Doves — moving in compact groups at an incredible pace — is silent, but nevertheless very enjoyable!
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!
Here is the first of a few sets of photos (and videos) of this year's Batumi Raptor Count that I will upload in the upcoming months. And what better way than to start off with some Honey Buzzards? After all, this is by far the most numerous raptor species counted in the Batumi bottleneck, where more than 500,000 Honey Buzzards will pass in just a few weeks. That's a recipe for some very spectacular migration.