Alan Dalton post's birding diaries and original artwork from Sweden. Established in 2006, this now long running blog is now a complete overview of my birding experiences. As an artist I greatly enjoy sketching birds in the field and you will find a wide selection of that work here, from fieldwork to finished paintings. I am very passionate about my artwork and try to depict birds in their natural habitat, as I see them in the wild. My artwork is for sale and can be viewed at http://www.alandalton.net/
As regards to my photography, since 2008 I have used a Nikon D90 DSLR camera coupled with a Sigma 150-500mm OS lens for since March 2012 for bird photography, all previous images being digiscoped. Regarding sound recording, I have been usung a Telinga Stereo Dat Mic and parabol to record birds in the field, coupled to a Marrantz 661 digital recorder, a superb piece of kit. Interest in butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies has recently seen the accquisition of a Sigma 150mm macro lens. I hope you enjoy the blog and please feel free to leave comments or contact me at alandltn@gmail.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

Batumi; Georgia; An Overview

 Migrating Black Kites, one of the more numerous migrant raptor species at Batumi in mid September, thousands can pass in a single day. Mixed kettles of this species, Honey Buzzard and Steppe Buzzard can fill the sky and make for an unforgettable experience. Counting these birds is organized at the Batumi Raptor Count headquarters and carried out by volunteers, important work, as this is the largest flywat of raptors in the western paleartic..



 Booted Eagle a pale phase specimen. One of the signature species, hundreds may pass in good weather conditions, ideally sunny weather with a light headwind.



 Honey Buzzard, a male in flight. The main migratory raptor at the site, often in staggering numbers. In early 2012 a staggering 179,000 birds passed in a single day, a new world record, underlying the importance of the black sea flyway...



 Lesser Spotted Eagle. One of the species that the staff at Batumi are making special efforts to document, both numbers passing through and also the ages of these birds as they do so. Aquilla Eagles pass through in good numbers in September and are one of the highlights of a trip to Batumi at that particular time. The census of these birds is important work and is an important tool in monitoring the health of raptor populations.


Egyptian Vulture; One of the most sought after species and something of a holy grail for me. The species is rare, but several are generally seen annually, the middle of September being an excellent time to see this stunning species...



Steppe Eagle. One of the scarcer, though still regular species, that can be seen onsite. This particular species will be a lifer for me, the species has been seen daily for the past week. Apart from simply identifying these birds, Batumi offers fantastic opportunities to gain experience in the ageing of raptors.

From 13th-25th September I will be visiting Batumi, Georgia to take part in the raptor bount there. The site is located on the Black Sea coastline on a bottleneck of raptor migration. To put it quite simply, this is the largest volume of birds of prey to be seen anywhere in europe and there is also a very eastern flavour, with rare species such as Oriental Honey Buzzard being recorded in small numbers annually. Stapple species occuring in the biggest numbers are Honey Buzzard, Black Kite and Common Buzzard. The numbers involved can be staggering in suitable conditions and may blow sites like Gibraltar and Falsterbo out of the water. Booted Eagle, Pallid and montagu's Harrier, Marsh Harrier are also numerous, occuring in hundreds daily if the weather is reasonable. Throw in a large passage of Aquilla Eagles, the possibility of species like Egyptian Vulture, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Oriental Honey Buzzard and you have a heady collection of raptors. It is not just the huge counts of raptors here taht meke it exceptional, but also the wide spectrum of species on offer. The site is rapidly gaining a reputation as a must visit location within Europe and I am very much looking forward to being there. Let's face it, this should be one of the birding experience of a lifetime...
 You can visit the Batumi Raptor Counts website here, there are daily updates and a wealth of other imformation here, including information on how to visit as a volunteer...
http://www.batumiraptorcount.org/

As well as raptor migration, Georgia has a wealth of birding to enjoy. I will be raptor counting for eight full days, though will also have a few days off to do my own thing. Just a few miles down the coast there is the Chorokhi Delta and nearby dump, attacting, migrant passerines, waders and other species, including a large number of gulls, in flocks that are rarely checked for rarities in their midst...


 Heuglins Gull? Gulls along the Black Sea coast include such wanted species as this for the larophile and I look forward to checking through the flocks of Yellow-legged Gulls for any other species..



Armenian Gull; Right at the top of the wanted list in these parts for the larid lover. Hopefully I can connect with this species...


Alittle bit further down the road are the Batumi Botanical Gardens, these hold another rather enigmatic species...Kruper's Nuthatch.

A further travel, should there be time, could be to the Kazbegi Mountains for Caucasian Snowcock and Caucasian Black Grouse, though I'm told the latter is a tough target bird in September. 


In the mean time it's all down to weather conditions. I will be gone from September 12th, will probably have no access to internet and will rely on written notes, photographs and my sketchbooks to record the trip. The trip will be well documented soon after my return on September 25th.

1 comment:

Mike Woodcock said...

Good luck with the trip, it sounds like it could be a real doozy!