The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Batumi - More Kettles than a Tea Room - Part 1

Sorry that the quality of the videos in these posts are so poor - a good quality one shall posted at the end of the report.

29th/30th August

I departed Heathrow on Saturday evening and arrived at Istanbul Ataturk airport early the next morning.

I struggled to kill the 9 hours I had till my Batumi flight, so I was delighted to learn of the presence of a 'veranda'. I had my bins in my hand-luggage (naturally) and I was keen to start my Turkey list (that's a list of birds in Turkey, not a list of species of Turkey! :-D ) .

Sadly, this turned out to be a 'cage' everyone used as a smoking area.

Despite the difficult viewing, I saw a few things through the mesh, including Yellow-legged Gull, Cormorant, and Hooded Crow.  The first good bird was an Alpine Swift, dwarfing the nearby Common Swift.  Several flocks of Yellow Wagtail flew over and Grey Heron and a Kestrel were spotted.

Then, just as I had to go to the gate, I remembered that Istanbul is a bit of a bottleneck for large migrants in itself, and I found a nice north-facing window to check. 

Lo and behold, there was a flock of some 300 White Stork heading through!

Don't worry, the wildlife images shall improve!

There was also a couple of very high raptors, probably Black Kite, with them.  Also from this window, I saw my first lifer of the trip with a nice rufous Long-legged Buzzard hunting, and it was good to see the familiar below the window itself with a dead Silver Y.

On arrival at Batumi airport I was taken on an impromptu tour of the city which included this rather rustic (and packed!) wine cellar.

 I was impressed by the architecture etc of the city (though not the driving!!).

On getting to the accommodation - the house of a Georgian family, I was immediately greeted by the calls of Bee-eater. This would set the tone of the trip really, as the 'prrrrp' was a constant soundtrack to our raptor counts.  There were clouds of them!

With a couple of hours of daylight left, I mostly just pottered about the house balcony and garden to see what I could see. Along with a load of unfamiliar sounds (most of which I cracked later!) I managed to spot distant Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, a large unidentified Eagle, and my first ever Levant Sparrowhawk!  This male was filmed later in the trip - notice the black, narrow wing-tips and unbarred underparts.

 A nice warm-up for my first count day tomorrow!

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