Two weeks of counting ... 100.000 Honey Buzzards!
Dear BRC enthusiasts,
it has been about two weeks since the start of count and in that time approx. 100.000 Honey Buzzards Pernis aviporus passed the Batumi bottleneck. This included over 60.000 individuals on August 24th. The weather however turned for the worse and heavy rainfall has somewhat halted raptor migration during the last days of the count. Luckily, the Batumi area was spared of dangerous landslides like those that did occur at the Black Sea shore in NE-Turkey yesterday. As weather conditions are now improving again, new peaks of Honey Buzzards are expected within the next week.
Sunrise at the Makhindjauri counting station ... the first harriers might allready be on their way!
Keeping those eyes peeled! Migration counting ... it´s serious stuff!
In contrast, remearkably few Honey Buzzards have been observed by the BRC team in Kazbegi. Furthermore, raptors migrating along the Greater Kaukasus seem to do this in a very ´explosive´ manner. This means that all of the daily migration in the mountain pass is typically concentrated within only a few hours of intense migration.
An adult Honey Buzzard makes it´s way south ...
Apart from Honey Buzzards there has been good migration of the earliest of autumn migrants in Batumi: Montagu´s Harrier Circus pygargus. Over 800 ind. were counted so far, of which a maximum of 200 ind. passed on a single day. The slender and actively flying harriers seem to have less trouble crossing the mountain passes since our team in Kazbegi is also recording fairly high numbers of Montagu´s Harrier.
A male Montagu´s Harrier shoots past in fast and active flight, characteristic of harriers in general ...
Other species of raptors are still coming to their migration peaks as species diversity should increase in the coming weeks. There is however allready a lot of migration of passerines and other birds. Typical summer residents like Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hurtulani and swallows (including several Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica) are passing in good numbers at this time. Also the resident Krueper´s Nuthatch Sitta krueperi has been found easily by most of the counters and people visiting the Chorokhi delta had good walks producing species like Baillon´s Crake Porzana pusilla and Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio poliocephalus.
Other nice news for birders comes from the Belgian team of bird ringers of the Cinerea bird working group that is active in the Chorokhi delta this autumn. They have trapped a Booted Warbler Hippolais caligata in their nets this week. Though truely spectacular news came from one of our Swedish volunteers who observed a Shikra Accipiter bandius near the Ninotsminda steppe lake (see ´Birding in Georgia´) in mid-August.
Many migrating passerines like this Ortolan Bunting stop for a quick break in the tree tops around the counting stations
As the counts proceed in the coming weeks we will keep you informed through this news blog. We thank you all for reading!