Sunday 22 September 2019

Tarifa, La Janda and Barbate

Our Black-shouldered Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus
Saturday 21 September

A very early start for the long drive down to the Cazalla watch point above Tarifa to join the Andalucia Bird Society's September meeting.  A very good turn out in cloudy conditions and we even had the benefit of a couple of Azure-winged Magpies crossing the road on the outskirts of Marbella.  But still good to meet up with lots of friends who I have not seen for weeks, months or even years.

The day started slowly with the occasional Barn Swallow and then our first close sighting of a large, very pale, Short-toed Eagle.  Soon we had numerous Common Kestrel and Sparrowhawks moving about the hillside and eventually also added both Booted Eagle and Egyptian Vulture.  Ere long we had our first of very few Griffon Vultures.  Meanwhile, the Cattle Egrets seemed happy in the valley below and to our left (sea side) the pair of hunters out after a rabbit or two disturbed a Red-legged Partridge which bade an early retreat form the danger zone.

Short-toed Eagles Culebrera Europea Circaetus gallicus over Cazalla
Leaving the rest of the group we three, accompanied by Helen Burgers and John and Sally Slatterley, took off to take a look at what me about in La Janda rather than straight to Barbate with the main group.  A couple of  Buzzards noted on the drive along with House Sparrow, Collared Dove and large flocks of Spotless Starlings

Male Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

Once at the top of the track leading down to the canal no surprise to find Stonechats on the posts and fences and very large flocks of mixed, mainly Spanish rather the House, Sparrows.  A few Crested Larks on the track itself and near the bottom both Goldfinch and Linnet recorded.  Indeed, approaching the end I was in time to see the rapid departure of a Green Sandpiper from the neighbouring ditch to the right.  However, a couple of Short-toed Larks were a pleasant surprise.

Record shot through the windscreen of a few of the hundreds of Spanish Sparrows Gorrion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis

From our observations once a the canal we quickly added both Little Egret and Heron followed by a couple of Mallard further up stream.  A Dutch birder already on site reported that as we approached a Spanish Imperial Eagle took of from the other side of the main canal.  Also present a good number of resting White Storks and lovely to see large groups making a kettle (soaring in a circle) before streaming away.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea

On the far side the first of at east six Marsh Harriers was recorded and making our way along the track numerous Common Kestrel and more Spanish Sparrows, Zitting Cisticola and even a Kingfisher flashed past the two cars in the deep ditch to our left (canal on the right).  Up on the wires, as well as Kestrels, both a singe Corn Bunting and Turtle Dove were seen.

Turtle Dove Tortola Turca Streptopelia decaocto

Once up towards the "smelly farm" we, as expected, added both Red-legged Partridge and Pheasant and at the farm itself the resident Jackdaws and Rock Doves.  A "strange looking" eagle was resting on a pylon a little way back but had moved on by the time I lifted the camera for a record shot.  Then it was down to the end of the road and just before the and our first sighting of a Black-shouldered Kite.  The raptor moved off but we found it again once round the corner towards the bridge over the small steam and all were able to take photographs.  The a stop at the river itself where, from the lower bank, were able to not only find a small group of Little Egret but also a half-doze Glossy Ibis.  meanwhile, in front of us a couple of magnificent Montagu's Harriers were quartering the grassy slope.

Black-shouldered Kite (Black-winged Kite) Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus
Leaving the sight to move on to Barbate, we had hardly set off on the road when we found a juvenile Woodchat Shrike on the fence and an on the other side of Benalup added the flock of Wood Pigeon that were flying across the road.  At this point, Helen and company carried on towards home once on the N340 and we made our way to Barbate where we found the tide well out.  Driving straight to the track at the back of the pools o the east of the town we could see plenty of distant Flamingo and a nearby Audouin's Gull.  Using the scope we managed to locate a couple of Stone Curlew on the nearest island and a handful of Avocet and Black-winged Stilts to the left before heading off to to the far end of the track where most gulls and others could be seen in the far distance.

Upon arrival we discovered not only the large flock of mixed gulls, including Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Auduoin's Gulls but also most of the other members of the ABS who we had last seen up at Cazalla.  Franky and company had found a nearby Northern Wheatear and looking at the Pied Flyctcher in a nearby tree I also found the Whinchat in the small tree immediately in front.  Out to my left on the green covered water both a Little Ringed Plover and Little Stint were seen and another member had found a Redshank.  But perhaps the best sighting f all was the lone Osprey that was standing on the sandbar immediately behind the gulls.  (Now why did I not walk back to the car and collect my camera?)  After a very long rest the bird then moved at least fifty metres to stand in the water in front of us; maybe 100 metres away but in a clear line of sight.  Whilst we had seen some birds missed by the others the main group had watched a flock of 50 Black Kites pass low overhead whilst near the coast at the Migres office.  What a wonderful way to end a most satisfactory and enjoyable  day in good and pleasant company.

One of many White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia at La Janda
Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle,Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Green Sandpiper,Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Whinchat, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Pied Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Friday 20 September 2019

Las Norias & Roquetas with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 19 September

Just about up to date now with the publishing of this week's visit by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group.  Perhaps even chance for me to get some birding in if the weather holds and I get some sleep in preparation for an early morning departure on Saturday to spend the day down at Tarifa.  There may not be so many raptors but, perhaps, closer views.  We shall see.

Back to Dave's report which reflect some very good sightings and and enjoyable day had by all.  Interesting to see the number of waders and still Collared Pratincole to be seen.

Las Norias & Roquetas:  Wednesday 18th September

Richard picked me up in his newest car, a very smart Peugot Estate automatic.  I hadn't driven an automatic for twenty odd years, so trying to use the clutch was problematic!  We picked up Paul en route to the Repsol Service Station, jct 420, the other side of Roquetas.  Michael, Karen and Trevor were already there (omg!).  We were joined by Barrie and Kevin.  Having finished our coffees, we convoyed to the first causeway at Las Norias.  Immediately we heard a Cetti's Warbler.  Being secretary, I missed the first scan.  Barrie reeled off Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Cormorant and Cattle Egret.  I spotted a single Gadwall to the left by the reeds.  A Little Egret flew over, but was "trumped" by a female Sparrowhawk that passed right in front of us.  Kevin did well to spot the first, very distant, adult Night Heron on a post the far end of the lake.  Next seen was a Mallard, then Karen spotted the first Glossy Ibis of the day.  Barrie added Goldfinch and Common Sandpiper before we saw long range Black Terns.  A Kingfisher flashed low over the water left to right.  Also seen were Sand Martin, Barn Swallow and Spotless Starling.  We heard Sardinian Warbler, Blackbird and Zitting Cisticola.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We moved round to back of the right hand lake, just managing to park amongst the dumped rubbish. A number of Yellow Wagtails were on the road and a Hoopoe was on the rough ground.  The water was above the normal rocky beach.  I saw a Black-winged Stilt before two Glossy Ibis and numerous Mallard took to the air.  Richard meanwhile had wandered down the greenhouse side track and had seen Blackbirds and a Pied Flycatcher.

The area at the bottom end of the smaller lake was covered with discarded plastic sheeting despite new fencing having been put up, so we parked up near the dry meadow.  More Yellow Wagtails were seen plus a Crested Lark. 

A Reed Warbler gave good views.  Also seen were a White Wagtail and Greenfinch.  At the far end by the plastic recycling factory fence I spotted a Western Swamphen.

We stopped for coffee en route to Roquetas wetlands.  We started at the far end.  Crossing the causeway, Paul spotted a Western Swamphen by the reeds to the right.  Barrie meanwhile had checked out the small muddy islands to the left and had picked out Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Redshank and amazingly about 8 Collared Pratincoles.  Also seen were Avocet, Greater Flamingo, Dunlin, Kentish Plover and Black-tailed Godwit.  A walk by the reeds proved fruitless with views being obscured. 

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Moving further down the wetlands, seeing an Iberian Grey Shrike on the way, our next stop proved a gull fest!  Hundreds of Lesser Black-backs, a few Black-headeds, one Audouin's and some Yellow-Legs.  Barrie spotted a distant Marsh Harrier.

We travelled round to the large lake by the hotels.  Loads of Coot plus Common and Red-crested Pochard.  Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebe.  We had good views of patrolling Black & Common Terns.  Passing Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and Sand Martins were noted.  I also found some White-headed Duck in the melee.

Female Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We then adjourned for lunch, parking Richard's car correctly.  After lunch we returned to find a delivery vehicle had caused a scrape and small dent to it.  Thankfully the bar owner had photo'd the van & it's registration plate. 

Despite that, we had a great day in good company, seeing 56 species. There appeared to be no damage from the recent rains.  Also had good views of the many dragonflies!
Regards, Dave
A sort of "Name that dragonfly?" (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Sorry to read about the parking incident but at least you got some evidence of the culprit.  I stopped on the way down to Tarifa on the last Friday of August and came out to discover that a vehicle had run into the back of my car causing a massive dent on the bumper.  No message on windscreen, no witnesses, nothing.  Car was repaired and painted whilst I was away in Georgia but I had to pay the 150 Euros excess and it will be reflected on my insurance renewal next month.  I expect we both used or thought the same words!

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Thursday 19 September 2019

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 19 September

The second of this month's visits by the Arboleas Birding Group.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales:  Wednesday 11th September

Gilly & I headed south down the A7/E15 towards Cabo de Gata. We came off the motorway at junction 467, heading towards Retamar Sur. About a kilometre down the road we saw about 6 medium sized raptors to our right. We were unfortunately unable stop as I had a car close behind me. Possibly either Black Kite or Honey Buzzards? Hopefully a good omen for the days birding. Wind from the north has to be good for this time of the year. Before we got to the Pujaire cafe, we'd already seen Collared Dove, Magpie & House Sparrow. As we were enjoying a cup of coffee waiting for Michael & Karen to arrive we added Spotless Starling. Once suitably refreshed we all made our way to the first hide.

Here, a quick scan revealed Greater Flamingo (Gilly later counted 493), about 100 Avocet, 71 Black Tailed Godwit and numerous Slender Billed Gulls. We were joined by Kevin. A small wader tally included Dunlin, Ringed & Kentish Plover. Larger waders seen were Black Winged Stilt, Redshank & Greenshank. Mallard ducks were the only wildfowl. There was a small group of Little Egrets to our left. Kevin then pointed out a single Cattle Egret in their midst. Gilly & I kept checking above us for raptors heading south. Suddenly there they were above us to the front. Two juvenile Egyptian Vultures. There was the odd flurry of hirundines in the shape of Barn & Red Rumped Swallows. Behind us, on the pylons & power lines we saw Iberian Grey Shrike & Kestrel. I then spotted a raptor to our left near the road leading from the rear of the reserve. A female Montagu's Harrier. Presumably the same individual a friend had seen the previous day.

Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Feeling well chuffed, we convoyed towards the second hide, stopping briefly to confirm the gulls on the beach were Yellow Legged. We parked up. Gilly thought she saw some birds drop out of view by the shoreline. She strolled over and a pair of Whimbrel flew off. 

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus  (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We walked past the Sea Daffodils towards the hide, Gilly hearing a Sardinian Warbler on the way. From the hide we added a couple of Grey Heron and a single Great White Egret.

Great White Egret Egretta alba (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Moving on to the public hide, I checked the rocky causeway to the right. There were Sandwich Tern, Black Headed Gulls and a few Shoveler. On the main expanse of water I spotted a Black Necked Grebe. Kevin found an Eurasian Curlew. We left via the track heading to the church. A bird was flitting ahead of us. Eventually we discovered it was a juvenile Woodchat Shrike. 

Sea Daffodil (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We had a cup of coffee as we sea-watched. I spotted a distant Cory's (Scopoli's) Shearwater. Then there was a raptor heading towards us across the sea from Roquetas way. It was a Black Kite! Also seen were Barn Swallows heading north! An Audouin's Gull flew by.

After elevenses, we headed for the Rambla Morales along the beachside track. As we parked up the first spots of light rain hit us. The scrubland behind the beach was alive with at least 100 hirundines feeding at low level. Barn Swallows mostly, but there were also some House & Sand Martins. On the ground were about half a dozen Yellow Wagtails. We walked to the "hump". Sadly the view from there over the water was badly restricted by the height of the reeds, but we did see Coot, Mallard, Little Grebe, Black Headed Gulls & Greater Flamingos. Michael spotted a male White Headed Duck. Kevin the spotted a pair of Common Swift flying over. It was now raining more heavily so we retreated back to the vehicles. Saying goodbye to Kevin, the rest of us went for lunch. Gilly & I saw some White Wagtails as we went through the shortcut. 

We ended with 44 species for the day, the raptors being the stars. A very good days birding in good company.
Regards, Dave

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Sierra de Maria and Arboleas Birding Group

Thursday 19 September

Back from my Georgian adventure and the thousand upon thousands of raptor to catch up with my local Spanish birding.  During my absence friend Dave Elliott-Binns has been out a couple of times with his Arboleas Birding Group, so apologies to Dave and his followers for the late publication of his reports.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 4th September

After what seemed to be a long & hot summer break, Gilly & I headed for the hills to cool down a bit. The Sierra de Maria was our destination. We passed through some mist, but as we approached the town the sun came out. As we waited for the others outside the Repsol garage cafe, we spotted Collared Dove, White Wagtail, House Sparrow, Magpie, House Martin and Serin. Unbeknown to me it appeared to be "Bring a friend to work day"! Michael & Karen brought (another) Michael. Adrian brought neighbour, Margaret and we later joined up with Jacky, who bought Ashton with her. Kevin came on his own. Having had our coffees we headed for the chapel. From the car park I scanned the mountain ridge and saw one flying Griffon Vulture and several resting ones. Gilly spotted two Ibex also on the ridge skyline. Looking over the cultivated area towards the toilet block, I found a Chaffinch and a very aggressive Pied Flycatcher. It chased off the Chaffinch and a White Wagtail. We moved round to near the trough. A cat was lurking in its shadow, so Jacky ushed it away. I spotted a Rock Bunting high up in the poplar tree. The Pied Flycatcher (or Flied Pie-catcher as Gilly called it!) flitted around the area. Kevin spotted a low level raptor. It soared over us...a Short Toed Eagle. He, together with Jacky, saw a Blackbird. Suddenly the sky was full of Bee Eaters. Probably about 75, making lots of noise. There were a few Barn Swallows migrating south with them. Kevin saw a Blue Tit and Jacky heard a Jay. 

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
We made our way to the botanical garden. On the way I spotted a large plume of Griffon Vultures. Even higher above them were two Booted Eagles. A flight of Crossbill flew off as we arrived at the gardens. Gilly, Adrian & Margaret hung around there as the rest of us did the low walk. We saw a Coal Tit. Then Jacky spotted a smaller raptor. Once It had cleared the pine tree obstructing my view I could tell it was a Peregrine Falcon. I spotted a Spotted Flycatcher, Woodlark and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. As we were leaving I spotted a multitude of Red Billed Chough flying along the mountain ridge. There must have over 100.

Distant Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
Leaving Jacky to do her strenuous exercise walk, the rest of us convoyed along to the Olde Resin factory or old farm buildings as we commonly called it. (Thank you, Kevin for the correct title). Gilly and I had seen a Mistle Thrush en route. There we saw a Carrion Crow. Adrian spotted a Stonechat.
We bypassed the farm water trough as the sheep & goats were in residence and headed out onto the plain. The only birds we saw were a few Northern Wheatear. At the hamlet the Lesser Kestrels had long departed so we were happy to see Northern Wheatear and a few Lesser Short Toed Larks.
Whilst having lunch we added Great Tit to the list. Also saw Blue & Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Pied Flycatcher and some very obliging fearless Jays! Jacky eventually caught us up. She added Long Tail Tit, Robin and a Kestrel to the days list.

Very shy Jay Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
In total we had 33 species. A good days birding in good company.

Some parish notes..... Mary Taylor has moved back to the UK as have Tony & Kas Scott. We wish them all the best for the future. Paul & Reyna are heading to Norway for a few years as Paul has a new job! Best of luck....remember your wellies & macs! On the not so healthy list, we send our best wishes to Myrtle Green, Pat Hirons and Billy Kirkwood, Paul's stepdad. Regards, Dave

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Monday 16 September 2019

Batumi Botanical Gardens

Monday 16 September

Our last full day in Batumi so the morning spent at the wonderful, beautiful, century-old Botanical Gardens on the northern outskirts of Batumi.  Taxi to the top entrance then a walk down to the northern exit followed by a return trip most of the way to then walk down and exit at the southern Green Bay exit.  A cloudy, clam day but the sun breaking through for what should ave been the best time of the4 day.  However, at our mid-point a short shower (but not back in the city) and then back to a mix of cloud and sunshine.

Approaching the entrance we were welcomed by a couple of White Wagtail and as we entered our firs encounter with the local Chaffinches which we were to see again at regular intervals whilst on the upper part of the gardens.  Above us a rising, small mixed kettle of mainly Black Kite with the odd Honey Buzzard and making our way down, as well as the ever present Hooded Crows, regular sightings overhead of migrating Bee-eaters.  In addition, Marieke managed to catch a glimpse of a Sparrowhawk as it disappeared over the neighbouring trees.

And then another Hooded Crow Corvus cornix made a distant appearance
But no doubt pride of place went to these extremely well-managed gardens with plants dating back to the start of the last century.  The higher slopes contained some magnificent flower beds producing wonderful displays and, of course, gaps in the trees gave panoramic views over the Black Sea and the nearby Batumi.

Batumi seen from the higher slopes of there Botanical Garden

One of many Bee-eaters Merops apiaster passing overhead

Beautiful flowers, but please do not ask me to name them!  Now if only I could take a selection back home as a present for Jenny; looks as if the photos will have to represent the real thing.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Sunday 15 September 2019

Goodbye Batumi Raptors

Saturday 14 September

A mixed kettle of Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus and Black Kites Milvus migrans
Our last visit to the raptor points above Batumi as not only have we still to visit the local Botanical Gardens but consistent, heavy train is forecast from Sunday.  Up at Sakhalvasho by 9.30 for a further four hours and on this occasion the site was awash with visiting birds to add to the "official" counters.  Black Kites continued to dominate but there were plenty of Honey Buzzards and a good number of both Booted Eagles and a mixture of harriers, mainly Marsh Harrier.  As usual, the serenade from the passing Bee-eaters and the delightful sight of migrating Barn Swallows.

Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus
Other birds recorded included OspreySparrowhawk and Steppe Buzzard plus another Steppe Eagle.  It would appear that we now have mainly juvenile Honey Buzzards coming through following the adults and the stator the main Steppe Buzzard passage through this raptor bottleneck.

Booted Eagle Aquila pennata
Marieke convinced me that we ought to visit the second raptor watch point on the opposite mountain at Shuamta which, at the present time, was recording less than a quarter of the number of raptors passing by Sakhalvasho.  Shuamta really comes into its own later this month and into October with the arrival of the eagles which tend to pass closer rather than towards the sea near our present position.

Sakhalvasho Raptor Watch Point - top left on summit - seen from Shuamta watch Point

So off we went down the mountain noting both Chaffinch and White Wagtail on the way and up the other side with our local taxi driver, Rowland on whose land the watch point had been built by the local Tourist Board. Once at the end of the concrete road we met the vertical, stony track that you would think twice about walking up never mind use a 4 x 4 - and we were in an "ordinary" saloon.  But make it the car did, so all praise to this ancient Mercedes!  And most pleased was I that Marieke convinced me to make the journey.  Small and without the new luxurious facilities of the main site, Shuamta took you close to the mountains from which the raptors were arriving and whilst the numbers were lower you certainly seemed, during the hour plus that we were in attendance, to get a better view of the birds.  Interesting to read the prominent notice that in the event of lightning one should leave the site - especially knowing what was due to follow within twelve hours.  (Rain?  Absolutely through it down all night with continuous thunder and lightning.)

View down from Shuamta Watch Point
Lovely to get a closer view of the ten Black Storks moving across above us and watch the many "kettles" of mainly Steppe Buzzards soar and then stream away south.  During one such developing kettle the very experienced counters managed to identify the large red-ended buzzard and confirm a first Long-legged Buzzard for the day.

A flock of ten Black Storks Ciconia nigra passed over
Just to confirm the present dominance of the Black Kite, 9406 were seen today compared with the mere 436 Honey Buzzards at Sakhalvasho as the latter's migration pass comes towards an end.  And what of the birds seen during the past week whilst we have been visiting the site - but obviously not present for the whole of the average eleven hours a day counting?

Honey Buzzard27095802124343610190
Black Kite110133207591940621418
Lesser Spotted Eagle165820
Booted Eagle8533312390820
Short-toed Eagle1491731
Marsh Harrier287732280462
Pallid Harrier2158126
Hen/Pal/Mont Harrier5835817118
Steppe Buzzard703555166326
Black Stork1152321
A growing kettle of mainly Steppe Buzzards
Looking at the tools recorded at Shuamta today with a count of 3298 Steppe Buzzards passing close by set against the 1740 Black Kites and 774 Honey Buzzards it would certainly appear to confirm that the Honey Buzzard passage is drawing to and end and that the Steppe Buzzard migration is now well under way.  On the other hand, Black Kites just seem to go on coming and coming. 

Steppe Buzzard Buteo vulpinus
Similarly, given that Steppe Buzzards and most of the eagle species seems to keep further east then the arrival of these birds near the Shuamta watch point probably ties in conveniently with the drop off in counters as the mainly young, dare I say students, start drifting back to their respective home countries from mid-September onwards.

One further statistic before we leave the Batumi raptors, the following is the total number of confirmed raptors seen to date, quite awe-inspiring:

                       Honey Buzzard      506,576
                       Black Kite              140,701
                       Steppe Buzzard.        8,004
                       Booted Eagle             3,693
                       Lesser Spotted Eagle.   184
                       Marsh Harrier            4,553
                       Montagu's Harrier.     2,437
                       Pallid Harrier                137

And now for something different; to think that in a week's time I could be at the opposite end of the Mediterranean checking out the raptor migration in Tarifa!

And from these hills came forth the raptors to Batumi
Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Friday 13 September 2019

Thursday 12 September

A beautiful, warm sunny day to be out with our guide, Jimshaw for the day with a morning visit to the  Chorokhi Delta followed by an afternoon exploring the wonderful scenery of the mountains and waterfalls close to the Turkish border.

Arriving for the south of Batumi to the pools at the northern end of the delta close to the town's rubbish dump, we immediately had views of many Yellow-legged Gulls and Black kites.  Once out of the car and looking at the narrow, reed-bordered stream below and sea and pools to our right we immediately picked up more Yellow-legged Gulls along with a few Little Egret, a couple of Great Crested Grebe and a number of Hooded Crows.

Little Egret Egrtetta garzetta
Looking at the water below us we found a pair of Kingfisher which appeared much larger than we are used to seeing and I suspect an adult still feeding a well-grown youngster.  The bird remained in sight for most of the time we were present.  A small flock of Mallard flew over our heads and a White Wagtail was patrolling the edges.

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Then it was back in the car to drive past the airport and on towards the bridge over the Chorokhi river and take the long track down to the shore.  Whilst a handful of military were still working to clear the former Soviet military base of, presumably, land mines and other ordinance we had a female Marsh Harrier resting on the ground.  

Female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
To our right the first of many Red-backed Shrikes seen during the next hour.

Female Red-backed Shrike Larius collurio
A Hobby was seen perched in a tree and within minutes we had more Red-backed Shrikes followed by a Sparrowhawk.  Much discussion on the sight of another large hawk which our guide suggesting a juvenile Goshawk and, indeed, the photos would seem to support the identification rather than a juvenile Sparrowhawk.  Moving on we were in time to see a rapidly departing Turtle Dove.

Juvenile Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Stopping at a large, weed covered and shallow pool we sound found half a dozen Wood Sandpiper and then a similar number of Coot.  However, closer inspection with the scope enable me to find one of the rare-for-the-area Purple Swamphens.

The next pool up and close to the shore presented many Yellow-legged Gulls and Hooded Crows at the latter whilst, in addition to more gulls and Cormorant plus a couple of Little and Great Crested Grebes, we also had a small flock of feeding Little Terns.  A lone Heron was resting to our right and on the coast a passing flock of Sanderling and a couple of Isabelline Wheatear.

Our final part of the exploration of this boggy grassland with thick bush cover produced a Common Buzzard and Black Kite overhead and then a stop to take a closer look at a perched Roller.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Our last bird seen on the site was that of a Hoopoe and, indeed, the only bird recorded up in the mountains was a Jay.

Roller Coracias garrulous
Birds seen:
Mallard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Black Kite, Buzzard, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Sanderling, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Turtle Dove, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, White Wagtail, Isabelline Wheatear, Red-backed Shrike, Jay, Hooded Crow

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information