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  • Photograph of Guldenstadt's Redstart

    Guldenstadt's Redstart by Francesco Veronesi.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in
  • GEORGIA

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Georgia

    Birds
    The lists below are for the early part of the northern spring.

    Specialities
    Caucasian Black Grouse, Caucasian Snowcock, Guldenstadt's Redstart and Caucasian Great Rosefinch, as well as Chukar, Caucasian Chiffchaff, Menetries’s Warbler, Red-fronted Serin and (White-winged) Snowfinch. Also an outside chance of Caspian Snowcock.

    Others
    Lammergeier and Wallcreeper, as well as Black Francolin, (Eurasian) Black, Egyptian and (Eurasian) Griffon Vultures, Golden, Lesser Spotted, Short-toed and Steppe Eagles, Long-legged and ‘Steppe’ Buzzards, White-winged Tern, Alpine Swift, Golden (European) Bee-eater, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Lesser Grey Shrike, Alpine and Red-billed Choughs, Shore Lark (penicillata), (White-throated) Dipper, Great Reed and (Eastern) Orphean Warblers, (Eastern) Black-eared, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, Alpine Accentor, Red-throated and Water Pipits, Yellow Wagtail (including Black-headed feldegg), Black-headed, Ortolan and Rock Buntings, Twite and Rock Sparrow. Also a chance of Ruddy Shelduck, Imperial and White-tailed Eagles, Kruper’s and Western Rock Nuthatches, Barred and Moustached Warblers, and Semi-collared Flycatcher, as well as, later in spring, an increased chance of other possibilities such as Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans (both at Lake Kartakhistha), Pygmy Cormorant (there is a nesting colony near Tbilisi), White Stork (Javakheti), Levant Sparrowhawk, Common Crane (Javakheti), Armenian (Javakheti), Caspian and Great Black-headed Gulls, European Roller, Green Warbler and Rosy Starling.

    Mammals
    East Caucasian Taur and Chamois. Also a chance of Brown Bear, Wolf and Wild Cat.

    Plants
    Georgia has an amazing array of wild flowers for such a small country, including thirteen species of Primula, many gentians and fritillaries, and rare orchids such as Hooded Orchid, Steven’s Orchid and Caucasian Helleborine.

    Best Sites for Birds and other ildlife in Georgia

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Georgia

    Timing is crucial, at least as far as birds are concerned. By visiting in early spring (late April-early May) the specialities should be relatively easy to find at much lower altitudes than later in the spring and summer, thus avoiding some extremely long treks to see them. The road to Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) is usually open by then and there is normally still enough snow lying to keep the birds in the area around the town and on the nearby slopes. Some summer visitors however do not usually arrive until mid-May or later. The best time for plants is mid-May.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Georgia

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    A Birdwatching Guide to Georgia by L Gavashelishvili et al. GCCW, 2002.

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.

    Mammals of Britain and Europe by D McDonald and P Barrett. Collins, 2005.

    Collins Butterfly Guide by T Tolman and R Lewington. Collins, 2009 (Third Edition).

    Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide by H Aarnio et al. A & C Black Publishers, 2009.


    Apps etc.

    Collins Bird Guide.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Georgia

    Many trip reports, some for Georgia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Georgia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Georgia' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Georgia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Georgia

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Georgia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Georgia include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.