Greater Caucasus Range: Mount Kazbegi
With birdwatchers, Georgia has somewhat only been known as the country where one could easily see some range-restricted birds of the high Caucasus. Around mount Kazbegi near Stepantsminda in northern Georgia, these and other target birds can, with some luck, be seen in a 3-day stay. Obviously we are talking about Caucasian Chiffchaff, found together with Green warbler in the subalpine forest, Caucasian Black Grouse found -with some effort- around the Dwarf-Rodhodendron pastures, Caucasian Snowcock mostly heard though often seen scouring around bolderfields and Güldenstadt's Redstart, the ornithological jewel of the Greater Caucasus range. Great Rosefinch sometimes proves a lot harder to find as these birds also breed higher. Naturally, chances to see all species improve during late autumn till early spring when snowfall forces birds and other wildlife down. However, also more adventurous birders who like to combine splendid birding with a beautiful and exciting hike have good chances of finding these species on their way to the glacier (ca. 3400 m asl).
Even at such an altitude, Black Redstart (ssp. semirufus) and Twite (ssp. flavirostris) are abundant. Red-Fronted Serin and Wallcreeper have been seen at the base of the glacier. Lammergeier and Griffon Vulture are keeping an eye out over the pastures on the lower mountain slopes filled with Water Pipits, the occasional Ring Ouzel (ssp. amicorum) and White-Throated Dipper (ssp. caucasicus) near the little streams. Especially in spring, the track to the top most provide some wonderfull oppurtunities for botanists and entemologists alike.
In early autumn, when a lot of observations are made by BRC volunteers, most target species are seen with some effort. During this time, also many migrants undertake arduous journeys through several valleys of the Caucasus range. At Kazbegi, many harriers. (esp. Pallid Harrier) and eagles, including Imperial and Steppe eagle, have been observed on migration. Many Long-legged buzzards also forage over the meadows in search of vole, as are many Kestrels. Wonderful species observed here by BRC volunteers include Black Vulture, Demoiselle Crane, Paddyfield Warbler (in low willow shrub at the mountains base), Blue-cheeked bee-eater (on migration in a flock of eurasian bee-eaters), ...