The anticipation of going somewhere is often part of the enjoyment of actually getting there. Certainly an inaugural tour is always exciting to be on – both for the leader and group – but when it is to somewhere that has the prospect of such wonderful birding amidst unspoilt eastern European landscapes, the expectations can be high. Our new tour to Georgia promised a great deal and from a personal perspective I can honestly say that the country, people, food and accommodation surpassed my expectations; above all the birds were simply fantastic!
From the first day, heading north out of Tbilisi into the Caucasus Mountains, we enjoyed great bird after another: singing Green Warblers, Bee-eaters on road-side wires, a male Golden Oriole, a small flock of Ortolan Buntings – and these were before we had even reached the mountains (our first main destination). The mountains provided us with many of the outstanding highlights of the tour, notably displaying Caucasian Grouse, fine male Güldenstädt’s Redstarts, Great Rosefinches, Wallcreepers and Red-fronted Serins. However, it was the early morning in a sheltered valley, with three pairs of Caucasian Snowcocks displaying above us – their diver-like calls echoing about the slopes, that was perhaps the most spine-tingling moment of the tour and one that will live long in the memory.
There was, of course so much more in the wide, montane valleys to see, but we moved on to the open steppe east of Tbilisi for the final part of the tour – the contrast in birds, landscape and temperatures well marked. Here Montagu’s Harriers quartered the plains in good numbers, Red-backed Shrikes and Barred Warblers inhabited many bushes – even right beside the hotel, Black-headed or Corn Buntings adorned any prominent singing post, while Cinereous and Griffon Vultures sailed overhead. But once again, one highlight seemed to stand out from the many – the flock of elegant Demoiselle Cranes picking insects from a poppy-strewn grassy valley in the early light of our drive to Chachuna.
To read all about our adventures, download a PDF copy of Brian's illustrated April 2017 Tour Report... Or book to join Brian on next year’s Georgia tour!
View our gallery of photos from this year's tour!