The foothills of the Lesser Caucasus along the Black Sea Coast in Georgia forms on one of the World’s biggest bottlenecks for migrating raptors. From the watchpoint on top of a hill in Sakhalvasho you have the best view to witness one of the most spectacular raptor migrations in the world.
When you come by car from Batumi, take the main coastal road north (direction Kobuleti & Poti). Continue passing Makhinjauri and just after the tunnel take the first road on the right that takes you up, next to the sign 'Sakhalvasho'. Follow the road to up to the school, park here if possible, and take the gravel road below the school to the right on foot.
You can fly to Batumi airport (usually one stop in Istanbul) with Turkish Airlines and Aerosvit from Europe and some other countries. From the airport, you can be in Sakhalvasho within 30 minutes by car. It is also possible to take a regular taxi to the school of Sakhalvasho which should not be expensive.
Terrain and HabitatMountain, Valley, Forest, Sea
Is a telescope useful?Yes
Good birding seasonAutumn
Best time to visitAutumn migration
Difficulty walking trailAverage walk
Birdwatching hide / platformYes
Batumi Raptor Count, or BRC, is a nature conservation NGO that works to monitor and conserve the 1,000,000+ birds of prey that migrate every autumn through the Batumi Bottleneck. A young and forward thinking organisation, BRC has been operating from the Black Sea City of Batumi, in the Republic of Georgia, ever since 2008 when it has started the raptor-migration count covering the full autumn season.
Read more: www.batumiraptorcount.org
The Chorokhi delta south of Batumi has proven to be an excellent spot for birdwatching due to its high variety in biotopes: bushes, dry & wet grassy plains, marshes, a boulder plain, the seashore... During migration season waders, terns and passerine birds proved to be the most interesting groups represented in the delta. In winter very high numbers of waterfowl can be excepted in the area.
Because Batumi is located on a major migratory route the chances to see some rare or even vagrant species increase dramatically. High numbers of small passerines found at the seaside, the boulevard, in the city parks and in some areas around the port. The illumination attracts good numbers of birds migrating at night. Wherever you find a patch of trees or bushes along the coastline, you might encounter some splendid birds.