Last Day in Batumi

I took a more relaxed approach to birding on my last day in Batumi.  Following a late breakfast I caught a mastruka to the city centre.  I visited a local barber then walked along the seafront towards Batumi Lighthouse.

Batumi Lighthouse, Batumi, Georgia, August 2019
Batumi Lighthouse- this lighthouse built in 1882 by French engineers is the third beacon to occcupy this site.

The decomissioned lighthouse is at the northern tip of the promontory on which Batumi is built. The lighthouse is dwarfed by many surrounding structures including the distinctive Alphabet Tower and a large ferris wheel. The patch grass known as the “Ferris Wheel Field” is a migrant trap. And despite the blue skies and light winds did not disappoint.

Ferris Wheel Field, Alphabet Tower, Batumi, Georgia August 2019
The Ferris Wheel field is overlooked by a number of hotels and the 130 m Alphabet Tower which displays all 33 letter of the Georgian alphabet. The Alphabet Tower can also be seen at the right hand side of the townscape at the top of this post.

I encountered a nice selection of early migrants including a juvenile Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio), Batumi, August 2019
Juvenile Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

along with several Yellow Wagtails and Whinchats.

Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), Batumi, Georgia, August 2019
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)

Under the shade of a large tree I met a young couple who had birded nearby Batumi Boulevard that morning.  For the most part we had seen the same species.  But they  reported a Booted Warbler and a European Nightjar roosting in a pine tree both of which I was keen to see. Armed with directions I headed off to search for their birds.

Batumi Boulevard runs from the lighthouse down the East side of the promontory.  The broad concrete path divides a strip of mature pines on the seaward side from an area of parkland. Both habitats provide excellent cover for tired migrant birds and in poor weather must be absolutly alive with birds. Today I found birding hard work and spent two hours seeing very little before I located the Nightjar.  Unfortunately the height of it’s favoured branch did not give the best angle for a photograph. That aside I was excited for my first day roosting European Nightjar in nearly fifty years of birding!

European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), Batumi, Georgia, August 2019
European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)

I finally caught up with the candidate Booted Warbler which spent 20 minutes  in a dense shrub less than ten metres away.  In over an hour  it did not show itself well let alone submit to a photograph.  Frustrated I opted for a late lunch in a nearby cafe.  Feeling better I took a taxi back to my hotel to pack for my return to the UK the following morning.