Interesting records 2002

1 January - 30 June

Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus).
Rare winter visitor at large lakes in south-eastern parts of Georgia, vagrant in other areas.
At least 375 were counted on 17 February and up to 420 on 26 February at Jandari Lake, Eastern Georgia.

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra).
Rare summer breeder (not more than 30 pairs) and rare to uncommon passage migrant to Georgia (Abuladze, 1993, 1996).
Seven birds (one pair + five singles) were observed in Kura (Mtkvari) River valley near Gori town, Eastern Georgia on 2 April 2002.
Additionally three were recorded in this area on 5 April and one on 6 April.
Unusual concentration on passage for this area.

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia).
Very rare passage visitor along Caucasian section of the Black Sea coast (Abuladze, Kandaurov, Eligulashvili, Edisherashvili, 1986).
Two solitary individuals were recorded at coastlands near Kobuleti in Ajaria Autonomous Republic, SW Georgia on 3 and 12 March 2002.

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)
Formerly, till the middle of 20th century, in small numbers nested in Eastern Georgia. At present considered as regular, but in small numbers, winter visitor. More often recorded in extreme eastern areas along borders with Azerbaijan from the end of October to 1st decade of March, rare later.
Five were at Kumisi Lake on 14 April.
Very late spring record.

Smew (Mergellus albellus)
Rare to uncommon passage visitor and winterer. More common in western areas, especially along Black Sea coast, rarely recorded in East.
Totally ca.35 together with other duck species in flock composing of 600+ individuals were at Tbilisi reservoir on 30 March.
Unusual concentration and very late spring record.

White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala).
Vagrant or irregular passage migrant and winter visitor. Recorded in very small numbers in various marshy wetlands on plains, usually on large lakes with dense reed-beds, rarely in coastal waters. Usually observed as single individuals, pairs or small flocks. Elsewhere occurs only sporadically.
Three birds were recorded at Paleostomi Lake on 22 March. WHD were observed in large (up to 4.500) mixed flock of ducks, mostly Mallards.

White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla).
Formerly rare breeder in flood-lands of large rivers on Kolkhida Lowland and in flood-lands of large rivers of SE Georgia. Extirpated as a regular breeder in 1950''s (Abuladze, Eligulashvili, 1996).
28 White-tailed Sea Eagles were recorded in Western Georgia and 4 in Eastern Georgia, that is the highest concentration for the last three decades:
- 21 individuals were recorded in Paleostomi Lake basin (in Maltakva River mouth, Paleostomi Lake, Patara Paleostomi Lake, Imnati Lake and Pichori River valley) on 19 February;
- two were at Narionali fish-ponds on 1 March;
- two solitary adult were at bank of Rioni River near Samtredia on 19 January;
- one was in Chorokhi River mouth, Ajaria on 2 March;
- one was at Vartsikhe reservoir on 10 March;
- one was near Abasha River mouth on 14 March;
- two were at Jandari Lake on 17 February;
- two were at Kura (Mtkvari) River bank in Gardabani Reserve on 25 February;
- one was at Kura (Mtkvari) River bank between Tbilisi and Rustavi on 4 March.

Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus).
Rare migratory breeder (in eastern part of Georgia) and widespread, but scarce passage visitor.
Single was observed in fields near border of Ajameti Nature Reserve, Western Georgia on 3 May.
A new location for rare species.

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis).
Uncommon passage migrant and occasional (irregular in small numbers) summer visitor without breeding (Abuladze, 1997). A few of summer records.
Single was recorded in Udabno semidesert near border with Azerbaijan, South-Eastern Georgia on 3 June.

Booted Eagle (Hieraeetus pennatus).
Scarce migratory summer breeder and passage visitor. Occurs in mixed and deciduous forests with clearings, commonly at slopes of in low mountains at the height of 250-1200m a.s.l.
Single was recorded on 21 May near Sataphlia Cave in environs of Kutaisi, Western Georgia.
Unusual locality, first for this area.

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus brookei).
Very rare year-round resident. Extirpated as a regular breeding species in 1960-1970s'' (Abuladze, 1997). After 1985 again become to nest, mainly in north-western areas (in Abkhazia) and in several sites of East. At present estimated perhaps 10-15 pairs, probably a little more. Rare passage and winter visitor.
Breeding pair was found in June 2002 in N Georgia in new site, unknown earlier.

Caucasian Black Grouse (Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi).
Widespread but rare resident at Great and Lesser Caucasus. Distributed along upper border of mountain forests, in rhododendrons, birch woods, on sub-alpine meadows. Vertical limits are 1300 - 2500m a.s.l. In winter goes down lower (1200-1900m). Extirpated in some areas (Abuladze, Eligulashvili, Rostiashvili, 1990; Kutubidze, 1961, 1966, 1985; Sikharulidze, 1974; Vitovich, 1986; Zhordania, 1962; Zhuravlev, 1990).
- five solitary males and three females were recorded on 1 June in sources of the Terek River at slopes of right side of Truso gorge in Kazbegi district, northern part of Georgia. High concentration for this season.
- one died adult male was found in Matzimi gorge, at the height of 900m a.s.l., in Lagodekhi Nature Reserve, Lagodekhi district, Eastern Georgia on 21 March.
Unusual spring location.

Common Crane (Grus grus).
Very rare summer breeder and common passage visitor.
Died was found at bank of Rioni River, 3 km west to Vani, Western Georgia on 2 April.
New location.

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus).
Rare passage visitor and rare irregular migratory summer breeder in small numbers.
Five individuals were recorded at the bank of Lisi Lake in the north-western environs of Tbilisi on 18 April.
New location.

Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus).
Vagrant (or very rare winter visitor) to Georgia.
Solitary was recorded at Black Sea coast (Batumi beach) on 30 April.
Very late record.

Greater Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus).
Rare winter visitor in small numbers.
At least 47 individuals were counted in January-February in western part of Kolkhida Lowland and along Black Sea coast between Turkish border and Rioni River mouth.
The largest concentration was at Paleostomi Lake on 19 February, when 16 birds were recorded. Additionally, two were at Jandari Lake on 17 February and single was at Kura River in Tbilisi on 3 March.

Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus).
Rare winter visitor in small numbers to Western Georgia, vagrant to eastern areas.
Three were at Black Sea coast in Batumi on 3 January, three in Chorokhi River mouth on 5 January, two near Paleostomi Lake on 19 February and single was recorded in Rioni River valley near Samtredia on 19 January.
All records were in Western Georgia.

Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans)
[subspecies Black Sea Yellow-legged Gull L.c.cachinnans].
Four occupied nest were found at southern bank of Paleostomi Lake.
The last documented case of breeding here was in 1988 (Abuladze, Eligulashvili, 1988).

Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus).
Rare irregular breeder at some wetlands of Javakheti Upland and year-round visitor without breeding in Kura River valley, Eastern Georgia. Vagrant to other areas.
Nine were recorded on 1 March at Kura (Mtkvari) River bank in Gori town, Eastern Georgia.
Unusual concentration and 2nd winter record for this area.

Common Swift (Apus apus).
Very common and numerous migratory summer breeder and passage migrant.
First spring observations were on 15 April in Batumi, 16 April in Tbilisi, Rustavi, Gori, Mtskheta and on 17 April in Kutaisi, Zestaphoni and Baghdadi.
Very late spring arrival. Usualy first observations were between 5 and 10 April.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius).
Rare year-round resident. A few of recent records for Georgia.
Solitary was observed on 8 April in tree-belt near Vaziani, environs of Tbilisi.

Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus).
In general rare, but locally common year-round resident. Sporadically breeds in dark-coniferous forests of north-western part of country. Most common in Abkhazia. Status is poorly known for Ajaria, breeding here needs in confirmation. In winter widely nomads, appearing in coastlands, in settlements (Malandzia, 1989).
Small flocks and solitary birds several tines were observed in mixed flocks of small Passerines in January-February in parks and gardens at Black Sea coast in Ajaria - in Batumi and villages, that was caused by very severe winter.

Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria).
Rare year-round resident with seasonal vertical movements.
Three birds were recorded around Uphlistsikhe Three-Church Basilica on 12 January, three solitary were at rocky slopes along southern edge of Kvernaki Ridge on 6 February, two were at Goris tsikhe (The Fortress of Gori) district, one was in Dighomi village in environs of Tbilisi on 3 January and one at Jvari Church, environs of Mtskheta on 7 March.
All this records were within the limits of Eastern Georgia.
Only one record of solitary Wallcreeper was on 11 February at the ruins of stony building in Kharagouli town, Western Georgia, which is a new winter location for the species.

Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor).
Widespread and regular bur not numerous winter visitor in in open and semi-open habitats on plains, foothills and specifically along forest edges, always near scattered trees and bushes. More common in Eastern Georgia. Vagrant in West.
Single was recorded in Batumi sea-side park on 1 March.
New location.

Great Rosefinch (Carpodacus rubicilla).
Year-round resident at Main Caucasian Ridge ans its highest spurs at the height no lower 2500m in summer and 1900m in winter (Loskot, 1991). Data on nesting at Lesser Caucasus (Zhordania, 1962) are erroneous.
Small flocks and solitary birds several times were observed during second half of January and in February in Zhinvali and Ananuri, Dusheti district, Eastern Georgia at height 800-1100m a.s.l.
Unusual location, caused by very severe winter.
Four pairs were recorded during 4 hrs excursion in locality Ortzkali under Devdoraki glacier (6,4 sq.km) at the NE slope of the Mt.Kazbek (Mt.Mkinvartzveri, 5047m a.s.l.) on 2 June.
High density for breeding season in this site.

1July - 31 December

Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata).
Very rare winter visitor along the whole length of the Georgian section of the Black Sea coast.
11 individuals were seen on 17 December 2002 at sea between resort Tsikhisdziri and Batumi. The highest recent day count.
Additionally 3 were on 14 December at 2 km of coast in Kobuleti and 2 between Chorokhi Rivers mouth and Turkish border. All records were in Ajaria, SW part of Georgia.

Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus).
Rare winter visitor at large lakes in south-eastern parts of Georgia, vagrant to other areas.
55-60 were on 2 November, 220-225 on 22 November and about 560 individuals were counted on 27 December at Jandari Lake, south-eastern part of Georgia.

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra).
Rare summer breeder (not more than 30 pairs) and rare to uncommon passage migrant to Georgia (Abuladze, 1993, 1996).
Solitary was observed near Samtredia in Rioni River flood-land, western part of Georgia on 2 November 2002.
Very late autumn record.

White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala).
Irregular passage migrant and winter visitor (or vagrant). Recorded in very small numbers in various marshy wetlands on plains, usually on lakes with dense reed-beds, occasionally in coastal waters. Observed as single individuals, rarely by pairs or small flocks.
Elsewhere occurs only sporadically.
Solitary was observed on 12 December at Nadarbazevi Lake, Eastern Georgia in flock of Mallards (about 25).

Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus).
Pair and single birds several times were recorded during 1st half of July near Tabakhmela in environs of Tbilisi.
A few of breeding records for area.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)
Rare year-round resident at Great Caucasia and very rare at Lesser Caucasia.
Given the lack of recent reports at Georgian part of Lesser Caucasus (Abuladze, 1981, 1995, 1998; Abuladze, Shergalin, 1999; Gavashelishvili, McGrady, 2000; Darchiashvili, 1999, 2000), an adult individual at Goderdzi Pass (2025m a.s.l., Ajaria, SW Georgia) on
26 August 2002, was a significant record.

Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus)
Fairly rare year-round resident in south-eastern areas. Vagrant to other parts of Georgia.
- Single was recorded on 7 September 2002 near Rokiti village, Baghdadi district, Western Georgia. Unusual location, first record for area.
- Six pairs and not less than eight non-breeding individuals were counted at south-eastern edge of the Iori Table-land; five occupied nest were found here in 2002.

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus brookei)
Very rare year-round resident. Extirpated as a regular breeding species in 1960-1970s'' (Abuladze, 1997). After middle of 1980s again become to nest in some areas. At present estimated about 15 breeding pairs, probably a little more. Rare passage and winter visitor.
- Single was observed on 3 October in locality Saphichkhia, near Kutaisi in Western Georgia. Very few recent records for this area.
- Solitary individuals were recorded on 7 November near Lisi Lake, on 14 December in park at Mt.Mtatzminda and on 21 December at Mt.Makhata in environs of Tbilisi City. Unusual locations.

Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus)
Single male was observed at a distance of c.15-20 metres near bank of Iori River on 20 November. Next day single male was recorded in Iori River flood-land at the edge of dense thickets of blackberry at 1,5 km
from the first site.
First and second records since 1986.
According to reports of local people, during last two years there are about ten individuals in area and several times young birds were sighted here in summer. Probably birds appeared here from adjacent part of Western Azerbaijan, where this species still saved. It was considered, that Black Francolin was extinct as a regular breeder from the Avifauna of Georgia at the middle of 1980''s. This bird was very rare year-round resident species in several points of south-eastern corner of Georgia: about 300 individuals in the 1950''s-1960''s (Kutubidze, 1955, 1961, 1985); 200-250 individuals in the end of 1960''s (Abuladze, 1972); about 100 in the end of 1970''s and 20-25 birds in the early 1980''s. Last record of Black Francolin in Georgia was noted on 2 December 1986. Breeding habitats were located in the Iori River valley along frontier with Azerbaijan. Destruction of
the flood shrubs, stray dog number increasing and severe snowy winters influence on species numbers very negatively. Since 1973 Black Francolin was under legal protection and in 1982 was included in the Red Data Book of Georgia (1982).

White-tailed Plover (Chettusia leucura)
Vagrant or probably very rare irregular passage visitor. In all, during last three decades at least of 11 individuals were observed four times in two areas of Georgia. Three out this four sightings were at the wetlands of Javakhethi Upland; the fourth was in Alazani River basin, south-eastern part of country.
Single was observed during 10 min. at a distance of 30-40 m in good light conditions at the marshy bank of Khanchali Lake (Southern Georgia, Javakheti Upland, Nonotzminda district) on 30 August.
5th record since 1973 and second observation in this area. Previous record in this area was on 12 September 1997, when three individuals were observed in mixed flock of waders.

Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus).
Rare in small numbers irregular passage visitor to Georgia. A few of recent records.
Three were observed at Kura River bank lower Khashuri town, Eastern Georgia, on 9 November.
New location.

Greater Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus).
Rare winter visitor in small numbers.
Six individuals were observed on 1 December 2002 at Kura (Mtkvari) River bank lower Gori, Eastern Georgia.
Considerable concentration for this site.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) [bukhrintsa]
New bird species to Georgia. First non-confiremed records were in late 1990''s. All reports were from Black Sea coastlands. No confirmed data on nesting, probably solitary pairs nests in Georgia.
Died was found on 31 October at the territory of Batumi Oil Refinery Terminal at Black sea coast.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
Common migrating breeder and passage visitor.
Single was observed on 29 October in Batumi Botanical Garden
Very late autumn record.

Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica).
Widespread and fairly common year-round resident, especially in eastern areas.
The fully albino Black-billed Magpie several times was observed on 14 and 15 August near Patardzeuli vill., Sagarejo district, Eastern Georgia. The bird was totally white and it had the typical for this species behaviour. There are no previous records of an albino
Black-billed Magpie in Georgia.

Great Rosefinch (Carpodacus rubicilla).
Rare and sporadic resident. Occurs only at Great Caucasus at Main Caucasian Ridge and its spurs. This bird is typical species - indicator of subnival belt, where they are nesting at the heights of 3000-3500 m a.s.l., and feeding mainly in alpine and subalpine belts in summer not lower 2500-2700, in winter - 1900-2000. In foothills they appear seldom, only in the most severest winters and under unfavorable feeding conditions. Probably several hundred pairs nests in Georgia (Loskot, 1991).
Four were recorded at Thethri Aragvi River bank near Zemo Mlethi vill, Dusheti district and single was lower resort Gudauri, N Georgia on 11 December.
Unusual locations.

Four single individuals of Guldenstadts Redstart
(Phoenicurus erythrogaster) were observed near Pasanauri, Dusheti district, eastern part of Georgia, on 18-19 December.
Unusual locations for this bird species, caused by very severe weather conditions in highland of Great Caucasus during the 2nd half of December 2002.

Beside that, several small flocks, pairs and single individuals of Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris), two small flocks (four and three birds) and four single individuals of White-winged Snowfinchs
(Montifringilla nivalis), nine Wallcreepers (Tichodroma muraria) and numerous flocks of some other Passeriformes were observed in this area along Georgian Military high-way between Ananuri and Pasanauri and in small settlements around Zhinvali reservoir on 18-19 December.





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