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GEORGIA: THE CAUCASUS

Specialities amidst extraordinary scenery

Birdquest’s Georgia birding tour is an exciting short break that explores one of the least birded yet most bird rich and spectacular mountain ranges in Europe, the Great Caucasus. Here we will be enjoying some magnificent scenery as we seek out the endemic Caucasian Snowcock, the near-endemic Caucasian (Black) Grouse and such other specialities as Güldenstädt’s (or White-winged) Redstart, Green Warbler, Mountain Chiffchaff, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Red-fronted Serin and Great Rosefinch. Elsewhere in Georgia we will be concentrating on Eastern Imperial Eagle, Armenian Gull, Ménétries’s Warbler and the pretty Krüper’s Nuthatch.

Tuesday 1st May — Sunday 6th May 2018
(6 days)


Southeastern Georgia Extension: Sunday 6th May — Wednesday 9th May (4 days)

Leaders: Dani López-Velasco and a local bird guide

Group Size Limit: 10

Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking and comfortable accommodations

The handsome Caucasian form of the Great Rosefinch is endemic to these mountains and sometimes considered a full species (Paul Ellis)

The handsome Caucasian form of the Great Rosefinch is endemic to these mountains and sometimes considered a full species (Paul Ellis)

During the first part of this exciting birding trip we will explore the Great Caucasus range in Georgia. Georgia was for centuries a Christian bulwark that resisted the Muslim tide that swept across Asia Minor, the Caucasus and deep into Russia. A mixture of necessity and cultural ties led Georgia first to forge alliances with Czarist Russia and ultimately to seek union with her much larger neighbour. After a long and turbulent history, Georgia is now an independent republic following the collapse of the Soviet Union and fiercely keen to maintain its hard-won independence.

The Georgian Military Highway, which we shall explore as it winds its way across the highest mountain range in Europe (yes, Europe ends here!), was first built to facilitate troop movements, but it now provides visiting birders with access to some of the most spectacular mountain country on earth.

The splendid Caucasian Snowcock is endemic to this one range, while other mega-specialities are the most westerly populations of Güldenstädt’s (or White-winged) Redstart and Great Rosefinch and the most northerly populations of Caucasian Grouse and Mountain Chiffchaff. Additional specialities include Wallcreeper, Green Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher and the interior Asian form of the Twite (a potential split).

At this time of year migrant birds use the broad Tergi valley to cross the Caucasus and we should see a good selection of species. Many raptors use the route to access breeding ranges further north and among these the star attraction is Levant Sparrowhawk, which have a very good chance of encountering.

Before returning to Tbilisi we will detour westwards to see the restricted-range Krüper’s Nuthatch, while nearer to the city the restricted-range Armenian Gull will be our prime target.

During the optional extension we shall travel to Chachuna Protected Area in southeastern Georgia. Here, amidst dramatically-eroded arid landscapes, we will be looking for such interesting birds as Eastern Imperial Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Pied Wheatear and in particular Ménétries’s Warbler.

Birdquest has operated tours to Georgia since 1982.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and guesthouses are of a good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by small coach and roads are mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there some moderate grade walks. There will, if need be (they sometimes descend the mountains almost to the level of our hotel after snowfall, and in any event can generally be ‘scoped from lower down), be one optional fairly strenuous hike to get good views of Güldenstädt’s (or White-winged) Redstart.

Climate: Rather variable. It is generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, although cool and overcast conditions are not infrequent. There may well be some rain. At high altitudes temperatures range from cool to decidedly cold.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.

Tour Price: £1190, €1410, $1560 Tbilisi/Tbilisi. Single Room Supplement: £110, €130, $144. Deposit: £300, €360, $390.

Southeastern Georgia Extension: £690, €810, $900. Single Room Supplement: £66, €77, $86. No additional deposit is required.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The gorgeous Güldenstädt's Redstart breeds up amongst the alpine scree of the Caucasus, but descends to the buckthorn bushes in poor weather (Paul Ellis)

The gorgeous Güldenstädt's Redstart breeds up amongst the alpine scree of the Caucasus, but descends to the buckthorn bushes in poor weather (Paul Ellis)

The high mountains around Stepantsminda, Georgia, are truly spectacular (Nik Borrow)

The high mountains around Stepantsminda, Georgia, are truly spectacular (Nik Borrow)

The mournful cries of the endemic Caucasian Snowcock carry great distances (Paul Ellis)

The mournful cries of the endemic Caucasian Snowcock carry great distances (Paul Ellis)

Caucasian Grouse is a shy, near-endemic inhabitant of the steepest slopes, rarely allowing a close approach (Paul Ellis)

Caucasian Grouse is a shy, near-endemic inhabitant of the steepest slopes, rarely allowing a close approach (Paul Ellis)

Rock Sparrows (or Rock Petronias) chirp away from rock piles, walls and old buildings (Paul Ellis)

Rock Sparrows (or Rock Petronias) chirp away from rock piles, walls and old buildings (Paul Ellis)

The pretty Red-fronted Serin is yet another of the many specialities of this fantastic region (Paul Ellis)

The pretty Red-fronted Serin is yet another of the many specialities of this fantastic region (Paul Ellis)

The noisy Chukar is often first detected by voice (Paul Ellis)

The noisy Chukar is often first detected by voice (Paul Ellis)

Lesser Spotted Eagles breed in the forests of the Caucasus (Paul Ellis)

Lesser Spotted Eagles breed in the forests of the Caucasus (Paul Ellis)

Green Warbler breeds from the Caucasus and northeast Turkey to the region east of the Caspian (Paul Ellis)

Green Warbler breeds from the Caucasus and northeast Turkey to the region east of the Caspian (Paul Ellis)

Armenian Gull is a speciality of the trans-Caucasus region (Paul Ellis)

Armenian Gull is a speciality of the trans-Caucasus region (Paul Ellis)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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