Saturday, 25 April 2015

Georgia Day 2


After yesterday's excitement of heavy snow falls, blizzard conditions and blocked roads, today was filled with warm sunshine and blue skies. However the montane landscape ensured it was below freezing at dawn and very dry and cold as we scampered up the mountainside. It was possible to keep warm whilst on the move but long periods of time were required to 'scope the vast mountain slopes above us in search of our quarry. It wasn't long before a couple of male Caucasian Black Grouse materialised, their strange down-pointing tails looking quite sad in comparison with their European counterparts.

Blackbirds and Ring Ouzels were vocal and flying around the scant bushes and finches included flighty views of Twite, Red-fronted Serin and Siskin. However the best finches were much bigger - the huge Great Rosefinch flew in and we ended up seeing quite a number of these birds as they crunched their way through the fruit/stones of shrubs looking very similar to something resembling Sea Buckthorn.

Pretty much all the time we could hear the far-carrying Curlew-like calls of the Caucasian Snowcock. They were very high up and John managed some very distant 'scope views as they flew among the snowy crags.

Despite the very cold conditions, oodles of Water Pipits flitted around us as they preyed on seemingly invisible insects and cold-looking migrant raptors were dotted about us. Dunnocks were very common in the bushes and other familiar birds included Wren and Mistle Thrush.

We returned to our abode for a late breakfast and then birded a small park in the town before meandering up a gorge and open fell area. Guldenstadt's Redstart was probably the favoured bird of this session. This is a big, gaudy redstart which is just on the edge of its range here in Georgia. The overflying raptors were easily dominated in numbers by Steppe Buzzards as they ran the gauntlet of mobbing Ravens and Peregrines. Other birds included Crag Martin, lots of Black Redstarts, Rock Bunting, Song Thrush and several Griffon Vultures which breed on the cliffs.

After lunch we birded the valley floor and the deciduous trees and bushes along the river. a surprise bird was a male Wallcreeper feeding around stones and small boulders at the river edge. Sadly it didn't permit a close approach! A migrant Wryneck was next and then another spanking Guldenstadt's Redstart and a flock of Choughs containing both species. A large number of Black Kites were attracted to a rubbish dump and a pair of Lammergeier put in several appearances.

The remainder of the day was spent watching repeat species and checking through migrant Willow Warblers, and adding Common Redstart, Dipper, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail and Linnet to the day-list.


Neil M

Male Great Rosefinch

Female Great Rosefinch

Ring Ouzel

Water Pipit


Coal Tit


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