Birding stories

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Birdwatching weekend in Kazbegi November 2019

Birding weekend in Kazbegi, clear skies, little wind and plenty of sun made for a scenic weekend in the Greater Caucasus at the end of November 2019. The road from Tbilisi is now so good that it only took a few hours to travel from Tbilisi via Goudari ski resort over the ridge to the northern slope and the first stop at Kobi. Almost immediately a Wallcreeper flew onto the vertical rock face and fluttered around in the sun. Good start! The Sea Buckthorn bushes were laden with a very heavy crop of pale orange berries and the special birds feeding there were soon located north of Stephansminda town. Great Rosefinch numbers were quite good, 20 plus seen, whereas the Guldenstadt’s Redstart number seemed lower, less than 10 seen. And both species were very skulky, just guessing the abundance of food meant they were well spaced out. The Bearded and Griffon Vultures put on a very good show, in the air in the valley most of the time looking for food. But a very long search failed to locate either the Caucasian Black Grouse or Snowcock which was disappointing; it is always harder when they are not calling or lekking. The usual big flock of Alpine Chough put on their acrobatic display and there were close views as they came in to feed on some bread. Red –billed Chough numbers were good too but they are much shyer and kept a distance away. A Ring Ouzel was a surprise, wonder if it will move on, to stay over? A few buntings, sparrows, finches and tits were around, especially several flocks of long tailed tits. The road back to Tbilisi has several nice stop off points and the beech mast seemed to be another good crop. Hawfinch and Brambling were around with the tits, finches, nuthatch and several Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

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