GEORGIA RARITIES - PASSERINES

The following is a very brief summary of the Georgia rarities - passerines

Black Lark (Melanocorypha yeltoniensis)
Georgian name - shavi torola
Formerly very rare irregular winter visitor to Georgia. Occasional visitor at present. There are only five confirmed records in four sites during last four decades:
- two small flocks (about 12-15 birds in each) were recorded on 25 November 1972 in Eldari semi-desert, Kakheti Region, SE Georgia;
- about 25 were in flock on 7 March 1979 in Iori River valley lower Sagarejo town, Kakheti Region, SE Georgia. At least 20 were males;
- two small flocks (six and at least ten individuals) were recorded on 27 February 1990 2 km East of Mt.Kaladara (811 m a.s.l., Dedoplistzkaro district, Kakheti Region, SE Georgia) and two days later - on 1 March single was observed in flock of about 30 crested larks 3-4 km East of Mt.Kaladara;
- four individuals (flock of 3 males and single male) were watched during 4 hrs excursion on 17 December 2001 around Tbilisi reservoir, E Georgia. No known records since 2001.
Additionally, there were several reports from local amateur naturalists, bird-lovers and hunters about records of small flocks in Eastern Georgia in late November - December 1972, in February 1977, in February-March 1979, in winter 1989-1990, but all reports were without any detailed information.
All records should be thoroughly documented.

Red-rumped Swallows (Hirundo daurica)
Georgian name - zhghaltzela mertskhali
Vagrant. There are six recent records to Georgia. Last three records were in Spring 2005 and in Autumn 2010:
- four, or probably five individuals were observed for several minutes on 28 March at Dali reservoir in eastern part of the Iori river valley, SE Georgia;
- four were seen together on 27 April in Kutaisi, Imereti region, Western Georgia;
- "several individuals" were recorded in late August 2010 in Alaria by the mambers of BRC (http://www.batumiraptorcount.org/).
Detailed docimentation is necessary for all sightings.

Radde''s Accentor (Prunella ocularis)
Georgian name - rades tchvintaka
Status uncertain. Summer visitor without breeding. Based on a several tens (about 25) summer records, may be classified as rare summer breeder. Probably in small numbers sporadically breeds in stony habitats at ridges of eastern part of Javakheti Upland along Armenian and Turkish borders. Most of recorded were on stony meadows, rocky outcrops, screens at 2100-2700 m a.s.l. and more.
Last records were the following:
- solitary individual was observed at rocky outcrops at the left side of Bugdasheni River gorge about 0,5 km lower Spasovka village in morning on 11 May 2008;
- single was watched in early morning 4 May 2010 near Satkhe village, Ninotsminda district, Samtskhe-Javakheti Region.
Taking into account, that there are a few of spring records to Georgia, these two observations may be classified as significant.
All occurences at the territory of Georgia are of great interest and should be documented.

Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata)
Georgian name - laqebiani tchritchina-mechalia
Casual. There is only one recotd - solitary individual was trapped on 6 September 2010 near Chorokhi River mouth, Black Sea coastal wetland, Ajaria (Levan Ninua, David Dekanoidze, pers.comm.)
All records in Georgia should be thoroughly documented.

Blyth''s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum)
Georgian name - baghis mechalia
Very rare in small numbers passage visitor or occasional visitor (vagrant). Most of about 20 confirmed records were in autumn in western part of Kolkheti Lowland and at coastal lowlands in Ajaria - at Kobuleti Lowland and Kakhaberi Lowland. Species is mentioned in the list of birds of Abkhazia (Malandzia, 1992) with unclear comments - "status not determined". Much earlier, the same author (Malandzia, 1989) speaking about "new bird species" of Abkhazia, mentioned about exemplare of this bird, bagged by G.I. Bernatskiy on 4 May 1958 in vicinity of Sukhumi and about that the stuffed skin is keeping in collection of Sukhumi University Museum.
Taking into account the general picture of breeding range of this bird and its wintering quarters in Indostan, Birma and Shri-Lanka, we can suppose only, that migration ways of species are located to north of South Caucasus.
Detailed docimentation is necessary for all sightings.

Paddyfield Warbler (Acrocephalus agricola)
Georgian name - induri mechalia

Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola)
Georgian name - cibruta mechalia
Very rare passage migrant or occasional visitor to Georgia. There are at least 20 confirmed reports and communications on the observations of this bird species at the Black Sea coastlands and Kolkheti Lowland. All reports are about autumn records. Usually were recorded single individuals and never flocks or groups. Six records were confirmed by trapped birds:
- three solitary individuals were trapped by mist-nets in Abkhazia at coastal wetlands in Ochamchire and Gali districts in 1979-1981;
- single was trapped near eastern shore of Paleostomi Lake in Pichori River flood-land in September 1989;
- two single were trapped by mist-net on 17 September 1999 at Kobuleti lowland in Adjara.
Last record was in Ajaria - single was recorded in Batumi on 1 October 2009 (http://www.batumiraptorcount.org/)

Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Georgian name: grdzelkuda asputchaka
One was trapped in Deptember 2010 in near Chorokhi River delta, Ajaria (Levan Ninua, David Dekanoidze; pers.comm.; Batumi Raptor Count blog)

Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
Georgian name - mura ghkarana
One was recprded in Batumi in harbour area in September 2009
(Johannes Jansen - pers.comm.; Batumi Raptor Count blog)

Bonelli''s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli)
Georgian name - thethrmutsela qharana
On 27 June 1990 near Kazbegi (Tergi River gorge, Northern Georgia) German ornithologists D.Liebers, K. Reinhardt and S.Roth recorded this bird (Liebers et al., 1994) and pointed Bonelli''s Warbler, as new for Georgia. Unfortunatelly, this report was without any factual materials and was for us so sensational, that we carried out the special study of this question. We had consultations practically with all specialists, conducted own observations in Caucasus and NE Turkey. All accessible for us Warbler''s stuffed skins were checked in ornithological collections. It should be noted, that one of us (A.Abuladze) in 1973-1991 carried out regular observations on stationary point of Academy of Sciences of Georgia, located just in Kazbegi (i.e. there, where as if Bonelli''s Warbler was observed. We could not find any data confirmating directly or undirectly this species presence in Caucasus. We have not any other comments, besides that the nearest confirmed nesting places of this species are situated at the Balkans and Southern Turkey.

Sombre Tit (Parus lugubris anatoliae)
Georgian name - khmelthashua zghvis tzivtziva
Status to Georgia is poorly known. According to some publications is considered as a resident breeder (Chkhikvishvili, 1949; Kutubidze, 1985), but it is not confirmed by any factual materials.
There are two recent reports from birwatchers, but without more detailed additional comments and factual materials we can not confirmed this record and these records are under consideration by BCUG.

Crested Tit (Parus cristatus)
Georgian name - qochora tzivtziva
Vagrant. Old records were mentioned by Radde (Radde, 1885). During last three decades only two single individuals were recorded in December 1983 in mixed flocks of tits and some other wintering birds in parks of Sukhumi in Abkhazia. Old data about residental status of Crested Tit for Georgia (Chkhikvishvili, 1949) are undoubtedly erroneous.

Eastern Rock Nuthatch
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Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactila)
Georgian name - moklethitha mglinava
Rare, locally common, sporadic resident and partial migrant. Breeds in old coniferous forests in North-Western Georgia in western part of Great Caucasus, probably in Adjaria and Svaneti. No data on numbers and population trends. Poor known species.
All sightings are of interest.

Nutcracker (Nucifraga cariocatactes)
Georgian name: methxilia
There are at least eight records of Nutcracker in Georgia. All birds were recorded in autumn - from the end of August till the early November. Data on four records of Nutcrackers may be found in unpublished reports of Georgian ornithologists in 1950-1970s. In all case were observed solitary individuals. Three records were confirmed by photos:
- on 22 October 1996 in Ajaristskali River valley lower Keda town (R.Bitsanc);
near Ajameti Nature Reserve in Imereti Region on 2 November 2008 (A.Abuladze);
- in Dedoplistskaro (Kakheti Refion) in October 2009 (T.Popiashvili).
Interesting information is presented in Turkey Bird Report 200206
http://www.freewebs.com/guykirwan/Turkey%20Bird%20Report%202002-06.pdf
page 186: Eurasian (Spotted) Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
Vagrant. The second record in Turkey, following one on the Central Plateau in November 1966. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the species is considered irregular in northern Iran in the southern Caspian region (Hue & Etchecopar 1970), from where there is at least one recent record, in March 2005 (Sehhatisabet et al 2006), with a recent report from Syria, in late summer 2006 which, although published, lacks the appropriate level of documentation necessary for acceptance as a first record (Ottelin 2008).
Black Sea Coastlands: 2, aboard a ship eventually departed for the Turkish shore at Trabzon, 4 Oct 05 (DR Calder).

Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea)
Georgian name - chveulebrivi tchvinta
Occasional visitor. There are only a few winter records of single birds and small flocks in north-western parts of country. At least six confirmed records were:
- small groups (2-5 individuals) were watched three times in mixed flocks of small Passerines in Sukhumi botanical garden, in locality Kelasuri and in Merkheuli village (Abkhazia) in December 1983;
- adult male was trapped on 7 February 1989 in Zugdidi (Samegrelo Region) by local bird-lover Grigori Zhengelia.
According to some personal non-confirmed reports of the local bird-lovers, may be more widespread than our records suggest.
A few of factual data.
Detailed docimentation is necessary for all sightings.

Crimson-winged Finch (Rhodopechys sanguinea)
Georgian name - phrthatzithela meosphia
Status largerly uncertain. Occasional visitor or very rare summer non-breeding visitor or very rare sporadically nesting summer breeder. Probably a small population may survive on gentle slopes with gravel or stony substrate and rocky outcrops and poor vegetation at mountain meadows in western and southern parts of Javakheti Upland, along Armenian and Turkish borders, but breeding here not confirmed by any factual materials (nests, clutches, eggs). A few of spring/summer records to Georgia. Most of recorded birds were adult males.
Last records:
- single adult male was observed on 31 August 1999 feeding at stony gentle slope about 1 km E of Ujmana village, Javakheti Upland, Samtskhe-Javakheti Region, S Georgia;
- one adult male was observed on 21 July 2001 near Orlovka village, Ninotzminda district, Samtskhe-Javakheti Region, Southern Georgia, about 15km from Georgia-Armenian border;
- solitary adult male was observed during several minutes on 2 May 2008 at gentle stony slope in sources of Gandzaniskhevi stream (2340 m a.s.l.), about 2km E of Paravani Lake, Samtskhe-Javakheti Region, Southern Georgia; first record during breeding season on the edge of species range of breeding distribution; the western-northernmost record to Georgia, South Caucasus and, probably, for species.
Taking into account the status of species to Georgia, all records are of great interest and should be thoroughly documented.

Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)
Georgian name - thovla megzia
Occasional winter visitor. In Georgia the Snow Bunting has been recorded four times. First record was in the end of 19th century at Black Sea coast in Batumi, Ajaria, SW Georgia (Vilkonskii, 1897). 2nd and 3rd records were 80 years later - in February 1976 in Mtkvari River valley near Kaspi town, Shida kartli Region, E Georgia (Abuladze, 1977). Last, 4th record was in Western Georgia:
- min. 15 individuals were counted in large mixed flock of wintering Passerines (250-300 Acantes cannabina, up to 40 Fringilla montifringilla, 15-20 Carduelis carduelis, about 20 Passer domesticus, 10-15 Fringilla coelebs and solitary Galerida cristata) on 7 January 1998 near airport Kopitnary, west of Kutaisi, Imereti Region, Western Georgia.
All records should be thoroughly documented.

Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos)
Georgian name - therththava grata
Very rare irregular winter visitor or vagrant to Georgia. There are nine known records. The first record of small flock and three collected individuals was in 1964 near Tbilisi City (Kutubidze, 1965). Five records were in eastern areas and three in West (Abuladze, in press).
Last, 8th and 9th records were the following:
- three birds were observed during 3-4 min. at bank of Vere stream in central part of Tbilisi, between Mziuri Park and ZOO on 27 February 1999;
- about 20 individuals were counted in large (350+ individuals) mixed flock of finches and buntings in fields near locality Betania at Trialeti Ridge (SW environs of Tbilisi City) on 19 January 2011.
All records should be thoroughly documented.

SOURCES

Abuladze, A.V. 1977. The first occurrence of Snow Banting Plectrophenax nivalis in Georgia. Bulletin of Georgian Academy of Sciences, 85, No 2: 453-455 (in Russian, summary in Georgian & in English).

Gavashelishvili, L., Gokhelashvili, R., Javakhishvili, Z. Tarkhnishvili, D. 2005. A Birdwatching Guide to Georgia with information on other wildlife. Buneba Print 130 pp.

Janashvili, A. 1963. saqartvelos tskhovelta samkaro, kherkhemlianebi. [Animals of Georgia. Vertebrates]. v. 3. // Publ. by Tbilisi Univ.: 460 pp. (in Georgian).

Kullberg, Anssi Kristian. 2000. Georgia 2000 Trip Report: Georgia (Caucasus), February 18-March 4, 2000.

Kutubidze, M. 1965. Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos) - new bird species to Georgia // Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Metsniereba publishing house, No XXV - 2 (in Russian with summary in Georgian).

Kutubidze, M. 1973. phrinvelebis nomenklaturuli terminologia. [Nomenclature terminology of birds] // Tbilisi: 236pp. (in Latin, Russian & Georgian).

Kutubidze, M. 1985. saqarthvelos phrinvelebis sarkvevi. [Guide of birds of Georgia] // Tbilisi: 648 pp. (in Georgian).

Liebers, D., Reinhard, K. & Roth, S. 1994. Erste Beobachtung des Berglaubsangers Phylloscopus bonelli in Georgien [First Observation of Bonelli''s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia] // Vogelwelt, 115: 256-257 (in German).

Radde, G.I. 1884. Ornis Caucasica. Die Vogelwelt des Kaukasus systematisch und biologisch-geographisch beschrieben. Kassel, 592pp. (in German).

Radde, G.I. 1899. Kollektsii Kavkazskogo muzeya. [The Collections of the Caucasian Museum]. Vol. I. Zoologiya [Zoology] // Tiflis: 521pp. (in Russian).

Red Data Book of the Georgian SSR. 1982 // Tbilisi: 255 pp. (in Georgian).

Zhordania, R. 1962. Ornitofauna Malogo Kavkaza (v predelakh Gruzii). [Ornithofauna of Lesser Caucasia (within limits of Georgia] // Tbilisi: 288pp. (in Russian).

Zhordania, R., Boeme, R., Kuznetsov, A. 1999. Birds of Georgia. A Field Guide // Tbilisi. CUNA Georgiaca: 194pp. + ill.

PERSONAL COMMENTS: Alexander Abuladze, Alexi Arabuli, Maxim Bogza, Alexander Bukhnikashvili, Nikolai I.Burchak-Abramovich, Tom Coles, Gia Edisherashvili, Benjamin Eligulashvili, Shota Eriashvili, Shota Giorgadze, Artur Grigorian, Levan Guniava, Johannes Jansen, Jumberi Jobava, Andrei Kandaurov, Evgeni Kashta, Anssi Kristian Kullberg, Mironis Kutubidze, Alexander Mtatsmindeli, Vakhtang Pitskhelauri, Temuri Popiashvili, Georgi Rostiashvili, Revaz Zhordania, Zura Javakhishvili

Batumi Raptor Count (http://www.batumiraptorcount.org/)


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