Sunday 14 May 2017

Georgia - Tbilisi Botanic Gardens

April 26 - May 3 2017. We had a bit of spare time in Tbilisi before we met our guides and the botanic gardens seemed like a good place to whet our appetite for the birding to come.

After a morning stroll through the delightful streets of Old Tbilisi I arrived at the botanic garden gates at opening time (nominally 08:00, entry 2 lari) to be greeted by a couple of Yellow Wagtails,

a Caucasian coloured Jay
and many Phylloscopus warblers most of which seemed to be Willow Warblers. Walking into the gardens proper I was gratified to spot a pair of Red-breasted Flycatchers.

Then I saw more, and more. The place was full of them, one or two every 100 m or so.

Other Ficedulas were a pair of Semi-collareds

and a single Collared.

Collared Flycatcher doesn't often appear on Georgian trip reports and it seems to be a fairly uncommon migrant.

I was focussed more on the warblers. Green Warbler was one of my target species for this trip and I thought the gardens would be as good a place as any for them. However, working through the quick, darting movements of warblers in the canopy was not easy. Finally though, I was rewarded with brief views of this little wing-barred beauty.

I left to meet up with Rod and we returned to the gardens after a quick bite to eat. It was much busier with visitors than the morning and although we saw plenty more Red-breasted Flycatchers the other two species had moved on and neither did we see any other Green Warblers. That was disappointing but we saw other birds that I have not seen for years. Dipper - a personal favourite ever since seeing them in Wales when I was a young boy. Black bellied ones here. Very nice.

And Long-tailed Tit. Common enough in our Scottish garden but unknown in Israel.

The few hours spent here was really productive - many species and large numbers of them - Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, the flycatchers, Dipper, wagtails, tits, a flock of Bee-eaters flying over. A great start to the trip in a really beautiful setting.

A caveat - Rod revisited the gardens 10 days later and saw very few migrants. We hit it lucky to visit when we did and caught a major fall.

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