The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Batumi - More Kettles than a Tea Room - Part 2

August 31st

As everyday, I was up at 5:30, to start my first day as a raptor counter.

Although officially today was a 'learning day' for me, just observing how the counting works, I couldn't resist getting stuck in later in the day.

After a lovely breakfast, I walked up to the main count station, once again surrounded by various unidentified bird sounds.  Only the many Bee-eater were recognised.

 The view from 'Station 1' was spectacular.

The day started slowly with just a trickle of Harriers (including a cracking dark-phase male Marsh Harrier) initially, but then the Honey Buzzard began to appear.

Although the raptors were the main focus, I was delighted to see migrating flocks of Roller and Turtle Dove amongst the many Bee-eater.  A Wood Sandpiper called as it went over, and a Short-toed Lark and a few Ortolan Bunting checked us out.

As the day warmed up, the Eagles began to appear, and they were all lifers. Many Booted Eagle moved through, and distant Lesser Spotted and Steppe Eagle were seen. I looked forward to seeing them closer though.

One or two Short-toed Eagle were found, a female Red-footed Falcon whizzed through, and a distant male Pallid Harrier was great to see.

The main highlight of the day occurred when a sub-adult Egyptian Vulture appeared in a distant kettle - it stood out like a sore thumb!

Soon enough, particularly when the cloud descended, we were literally surrounded by raptors, and Batumi started to show what it's all about. 

The final count of some 13,000 Honeys was apparently quite 'slow', but a the time it felt like a baptism of fire for me on my first day!

The cloud soon turned to rain, and the count went on hiatus.

A male Golden Oriole gave us something to look at for a while, as it seemingly enjoyed a wash and brush-up at the top of a nearby tree.

Remarkably, this turned out to be the only rain-break I experienced during the counting!

The birds continued their migration once the rain stopped, but only in small numbers.  A pair of Black Stork moving through was the last highlight.

On the walk down back to the house, I found this stunning Red Ladies-tresses Orchid by the path.

To wind down before the evening meal, some of the counters joined the local children for a game of football. Having not played in like 10 years I was a bit rusty, but it was the best fun I've ever had.  The kids were fantastic!

Despite having had no sleep the night before due to traveling, plus playing football for an hour, I was still pumped to get up at 5 tomorrow for more counting!

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