Mtirala National Park

Photo by Philip Weigell.

Being situated in a Biodiversity Hotspot, the even more region specific climate of Batumi further increases the potential to see some unique species in the area. Though most resident birds are widely distributed, a lot of regional subspecies are known. When it comes to endemics, especially plants provide botanists from all over the world a splendid time. Surrounding the third counting station of the project in Chakvistavi is the Mtirala National Park.

Photo by Dries Engelen.

This area is of the highest value for conservation as it is mainly determined by a relict Colchic flora and plays an important rolein ecosystem services such as natural water resources and the prevention of erosion. The park provides nature enthusiasts with the best representation of what the natural condition of forests in the area looks like. The flora contains 16 species of endemic plants including 3 only occuring in the Adjara region. The Rhododendron vegetation is a particular highlight, whilst the canopee is mainly characterised as either mixed broad-leaved Colchic, Chestnut or Beech forest, depending on soil type and altitude. When it comes to wildlife, many species of (endemic) amphibians, reptiles and mammals occur in the park and the surrounding forests including Caucasian Viper and Toad, Lynx, Brown Bear ... Combined with a splendid traditional local background of the people, the park provides visitors with an example of world class standard of nature conservation.

Photo by Folkert de Boer.

For birds such as the stunning Krueper's Nuthatch these forests but also those situated at the coast provide a reliable chance of observation. Especially the Botanical Garden proved to be a reliable spot for many species. Green Warbler and Caucasian Chiffchaff are seen and heard many times. Greater, Middle and Little Spotted Woodpeckers are heard quite often whilst Black Woodpecker and especially White-backed Woodpecker prove harder to see. Migratory passerines can be seen foraging from tree to tree, including the common Spotted Flycatcher and Red-throated Flycatcher. Widespread residents displaying local varieties of the nominate plumage include Chaffinch, Jay and Long-tailed Tit. To a lesser extent Tawny Owl can be heard and several records of Sombre Tit have occured in the duration of the project. White-throated Dippers (ssp. caucasicus) are easily spotted on the large boulders lying in the mountain rivers. Whilst exploring the mountains one would definitely see huge numbers of migrating or hunting Bee-eaters (their distinctive calls can be heard constantly in September) accompagnied by some decent numbers of Roller, Crossbills, Siskin, Tawny Pipit and Ortolan Bunting.