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Saturday 14th May: Back to Tbilisi
Primarily a travelling day, but we were up before breakfast birdwatching individually in the woods and trees around Villa Rest, Dilijan. Notable species observed included Wryneck, Semi-collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers and Black and Middle-spotted Woodpeckers. We were away by 11am heading for the Georgian border and Tbilisi.
En route, a short pause by the roadside yielded Long-legged Buzzard, Stonechat, Lammergeyer and Lesser Grey Shrike, as well as a number of butterflies, which included a Green-underside Blue. A subsequent pre-lunch stop by a monastery gave Honey Buzzard and Griffon Vulture. Some of the party followed a narrow mountain path up towards the monastery which wandered through gardens of houses. As we plodded up the narrow trail, a Dahl’s Whip Snake was accidently trodden on and killed. It was taken back to D’Weasel for formal identification! A family in one of the houses was selling honey and invited Helen, Rob and me in for some cake – Helen bought some honey. The rest of the party stayed close to the bus and looked for insects. A Spotted Sulphur moth and several Orange Tips were noted, but the butterfly of the trip was a Hungarian Glider, which gave an amazing display as it glided up and down a railway track. The heavens then opened and most took refuge in the bus whilst those up high scampered down the hill. The rain soon passed and the sun was out again but there was no sign of the glider, which was much to Steve’s disgust and D’Weasel’s amusement – Hungarian glider would have been new to Steve’s list and D’Weasel had now got it on his! An Amenian Rock Lizard was photographed as it rested beside an old hut.
We had a superb lunch at the Aqefilyan hotel in Haghpat and then we looked for further butterflies on the slopes. We watched Caucasian Agamas sunbathing on the rocks, Scarce Swallowtail butterflies flitting around the hillside and another Redstart of the race Samamisicus. A breeding colony of Griffon Vultures on the opposite side of the gorge was scanned and a large chick could be seen in one of the nests.
The border crossing didn’t go without incident as Ernie (lucky) Lucking decided to break from the crowd and sneak over the border on his own leaving his fellow travellers to take his cases full of contraband through customs! He was gone for some time and we began to wonder whether he had been picked up by the espionage authorities having attempted his single-man crossing incognito!
We eventually found him on the Georgian side of the border when he nonchalantly asked what had kept us!
At the border crossing we saw House Sparrows, Swallows, Goldfinches and a second Hungarian Glider butterfly (Steve missed this one too!). Later, from the bus in Georgia, we saw a flock of around 20 Rose-coloured Starlings.
[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://waveneybirdclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/20160514-33.-Red-breasted-Flycatcher-Armenia-14.05.16.-4-RWeale.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” alt=”Red-breasted Flycatcher” title_text=”Red-breasted Flycatcher”] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://waveneybirdclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/20160514-34.-Hungarian-Glider-14.05.16-Will-Brame.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” alt=”Hungarian Glider butterfly” title_text=”Hungarian Glider butterfly”] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
Red-breasted Flycatcher, R. Weale