Posts in Batumi Raptor Count
It's not just raptors at Batumi Raptor Count

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!

Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur)

Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur) — In typical Batumi light…

European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster

European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster)

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…

A recipe for spectacular migration — Batumi Raptor Count 2017

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.

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus). Unfortunately a significant share of the birds get shot on various spots along their migratory route. It is incredible, however, how they just keep going despite the damage…

A kettle of Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus).

A stream of mostly Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus).

A stream of mostly Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus). Yes, these are actual birds, not dust on my lens/sensor.