Sadly, both Sept 25h and 26th were characterised by incoming fog and low cloads that greatly reduced visibility in the afternoon. This was at the time of flight of many buzzards and eagles making precise counts rather difficult on these days. With numbers exceeding 30.000 birds on Sept 26th this gave rise to some concern towards count accuracy. At the same time the number of migrants defineatly did drop but whether this is due to migrants going to rest for the day or perhaps a change in the route chosen by raptors towards the mountains is hard to tell. In any case some days of calm followed but today Steppe Buzzards peaked spectacularly again easily exceeding 25.000 - 30.000 birds, accompagnied by over 700 large Aquila eagles!
Apart from raptors there has also been another important observation on the coastal station including two groups of Sociable Lapwings Vanellus gregarius of 18 en 7 ind. on Sept 21st following the observation of 1 ind. in Chorokhi delta two days earlier. Other nice observations included migrating Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni and Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus.
On another note, the longer we count here, the more we see how well local hunters and trappers can predict the response of raptors to changing weather. Not only do we observe noteable changes in the activity patterns of hunters in relation to weather (more hunters when low cloads force birds down) there have also been several encounters whereby BRC members have had discussions with either hunters or trappers that keep on revealing interesting details on their thaughts about eachother´s practices and migrating birds.
It needs to be said hunters and trappers are very much seperated ´classes´ indeed. In general, trappers take a lot of pride in their traditional art. Their goal is to catch a strong female Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (local name: Mimino) with which they might win the regional championships in order to push through to the national falconry finals in Tbilisi where their birds will be tested on skill and appearance. If they are lucky enough they might even catch a Goshawk Accipiter gentilis (local name: Kori) which is a good bird to hunt for rabbits, instead of the Quail that are hunted with Sparrowhawks. It often seems that as far as trappers are concerned, the shooting of raptors is a disturbing pass-time adopted by bored and unemployed youths. They clearly worry about the potential shooting of Sparrowhawks by these hunters, and are in general much less fond of the killing done by hunters that have much less knowledge about the species they shoot.