Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Water birds a plenty

Tuesday 10 September

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Another beautiful sunny day and collected by our guide for the day, Jimshaw, in his large 4 x 4 to visit the beach and lakes near Poti about an hour north of Batumi.  (And by jove he needed the car as he drove kilometres over soft sand on the beaches and sandbars!). Once over the hills near Batumi and on the sea-level coastal road north, to our right (inland) we had a constant stream of, initially Honey Buzzards, but then thousands of Black Kites making their way south to the mountains above Batumi to pick up their thermals.  Most were flying from anywhere between tree-top and 100 metres and a few even nearer the ground.  To our left the occasional sight of a Sparrowhawk and Hooded Crow whilst on the road we stopped to inspect a recent road kill, a young Jackal (said to be about 18 months) and no sooner back in the car a couple of Roe Deer in the tall grass.

Sanderling Calidris alba
Upon arriving at the site we passed White Wagtails and then on to the beach where there were numerous small flocks of Sanderling plus a few Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and Turnstone.  It was only when we stopped to photograph a couple of "sitting" Sanderling that we noticed the long beaks (legs were below the birds) and realised that we had found our Terek Sandpiper.

Terek Sanderling Xenus cinereus

As well as a good number of Little Egret there was a score or more of Grey Heron and also maybe a dozen or more Hooded Crows feeding on the beach.  Out at sea we picked up a Great Crested Grebe and then started checking out the many Yellow-legged Gulls.  Also nearby, on the sheltered inland pools were a number of Black-headed Gull with a handful of Mediterranean and a few Slender-billed Gulls.

Immature Slender-billed Gull Larus genei 
But, perhaps, the better site was all the terns which included Little, Sandwich and Common Tern and we had already seen a White-winged Black Tern as we approached the turn off for the beach.  A lone Avocet watched as we approached and hen we found a female Curlew at the water's edge.

Curlew Numenius Arquata
Whilst we watched Black Kites and Sparrowhawks fly over we also had lovely views of Bee-eater, migrating flocks of Sand Martin and a Common Sandpiper.  On the ground a few Isabelline Wheatear and then a rather lovely Whinchat.  One of the final sightings was of a resting Osprey one the stick-covered sand and lovely to watch it take to the air and move away.

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nicus
Moving another 10km north we then took an uneven stony track to the shore just before the oil refinery with the linked railway line running alongside.  Another White Wagtail welcome and about half-way along our 5km bumpy ride we came across a Common Buzzard resting on one of the overhead wire supports.  Once on the deserted beach we began to think we had had a wasted journey but then Jimshaw spotted the Levant Sparrowhawk resting on a low twig at the back of the, duet again, stick-covered beach.  What a wonderful, distant sight.

Distant Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes
Back to the water's edge to pick up more Sanderling, Turnstone and Curlew Sandpiper before seeing a flock of eight Mallard resting on the sea.  A small flock of Meadow Pipits flew low over the sand and we even found a handful or so of House Sparrows.

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
Still the Black Kites and Sparrowhawk drifted past at relatively low level whilst we recorded another Isabelline Wheatear and a pair of Grey Wagtail on the track in front of the car.  Near the shore a short pier held a number off resting gulls along with a few Cormorant.  More Bee-eaters overhead and, we thought, a trio of Feral Pigeons to finish the visit to this, second, site and the day.  But it was not to be.  Jimshaw broke the journey south of Poti on the return drive to take a detour across the grass at the back of a beach close to some dense bushes.  hardly had we raised and we had a Red-backed Shrike posing on top and round the corner a pair of Hooded Crows.  The it was a male Black Redstart on the outskirts of Batumi and on driving up to the top entrance to the Botanical Garden in residues for Friday morning's visit we had a small flock of Chaffinches foraging at the roadside.
Grey Wagtail Montacilla cinerea
A long and enjoyable day in great company.  Roll on Thursday when we start all over again and this time visit the Chorokhi Delta for the morning before taking a scenic drive up into the mountains to visit the famous waterfalls.

Now sort out these gulls and terns!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Honey Buzzard, Osprey, Black Kite, Sparrowhawk, Levante Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Feral Pigeon, Bee-eater, Wood Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Isabelline Wheatear, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Whinchat, Red-backed Shrike, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch.

Curlew Sandpiper Caladris ferruginea 
Turnstone Arenaria interpres
One of thousands of Black Kite Milvus migrans passing through during the morning 
Hooded Crows Corvus cornix on the prowl

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

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