We’d talked about how awesome it would’ve been going to the Greater Caucasus to see endemic species for this region. Also experience the epic raptor migration above Batumi. After much planing — made by the undersigned — we decided to go for it! We were four participants; Max Allan Niklasson (undersigned), Stefan Oscarsson, Klaes-Göran Carlsson and Jörgen Olsson.
The trip starts with three out of four participants enjoys the train ride from Gothenburg to Stockholm. When arriving to Arlanda airport, the fourth of us met up and we checked in to the hotel. We ended the day rather quickly and set our alarms early.
We went up at 03:30 AM left the hotel and went to check in our luggage. Everything went smooth and at 04:50 AM we took of. We land in Kiev two hours later. We had four hours to spend until our flight to Tbilisi should take of. We eat both breakfast and lunch, talked about species that we’d like to see. For some of us, the Ukraine’s country list increase. At 12:00 AM we left Kiev for a 2 hours 45 minutes flight to Tbilisi. When we arrive to Tbilisi, approximate at 4:30 PM, the weather was warm and the air was dry. Our luggage arrived intact, we went through customs without any problems. When we were waiting for the guy from the car agency to arrive, we got us a SIM-card with a lot of internet, and grabbed some cash — according to others, cash is king in Georgia. The guy arrives, and show us the car. We went for a Toyota 4Runner. When we got the keys, a Crested lark was singing in the parking lot. We left the parking lot and start driving towards Batumi, a drive that would take eight hours. When leaving the parking lot, two Eurasian collared doves passed by. En route, we notice that lanes does not really exists, they cross them like they would not exists. The pace is high, but we get used to it rather quickly. When we passed the western parts of the Lesser Caucasus, the sun had set and we could enjoy the thunderstorms around us. Finally we arrived to Batumi, we found the hotel easily. We checked in and went to the nearest kiosk and bought some beers to celebrate the successful arrival, then we went straight to bed.
After a good night sleep, we have a rather interesting breakfast, kind of a mix between English and Turkish breakfast. Around 11 AM we headed towards the Choroki delta, we passed Batumi International Airport, and drove into the junkyard. We didn’t really make a stop here, but a lot of Citrine wagtails, Black kites, Western marsh harriers and a few Pallid harriers were dominating. However we chose to leave due to the smell and the workers around us. We drove over the Choroki river, and parked on a old bridge with a few holes in it. There were a many Common kingfishers foraging beneath us, a flock of European bee-eaters were hanging out under the highway bridge. There is a rather good migration on raptors going on all day, adult males of Pallid harrier passing really close to us, is one of the best sightings of the trip. Something that is really rare in the west of Sweden. A flock of approximately one hundred Black-winged pratincole was flying far west of us. Another hundred Black-Crowned night heron did some migration south. A few hours later, we decide to drive out to the Southern Ponds of the delta. When walking north at the edges of the ponds we observed six Grey-headed swamphens, one 1 cy. White-winged tern, three 1 cy Whiskered terns and also this trip’s only Black-winged stilt. After a while, we decide to go back and drive to the north part of the delta. When arriving there was a group of Germans birdwatcher, walking around in the bushes. In this part of the delta, a Eurasian Stone-curlew was spotted on a rock in the outbounds of the delta including the only Horned grebes during the trip. Until 6 PM 89 species of birds were observed.