Batumi Raptor Count

Duration: 2008-present 

Birds of Armenia (Armenia)
Youth in Action Programme (Belgium)
PSOVI (Georgia)

image002Raptors are essential part of the wildlife, indicating the health of ecosystem. Change in the Raptors’ number might indicate different type of environmental issues. One of the easiest ways to get imagination of the abundance of different raptor species is to count them on migration since they are getting together on special areas, called “bottleneck sites”.

One of such sites is situated close to Batumi in Western Georgia (Ajaria), on the Black Sea coast, which is close to another raptor counting place – Borchka in Eastern Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of raptors fly through the area during autumn migration (from late August to October).

In 2008 the activity involved 28 volunteers and student trainees from Belgium, Holland, Georgia and Armenia.

image003In 2009 other countries have joined the initiative, such as Turkey, France, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Georgia etc. Apart from participation in the count BOA also took part in organizing and implementing the “Young Birdwatchers Exchange Program”, which aims to bring together birdwatchers from a number of countries. In frames of this project BOA has distributed a recruitment announcement in Armenia, interviewed applicants and selected the most appropriate candidates. Before leaving to Batumi the selected applicants were provided with preliminary training in Armenia, both in auditorium and in the field. BOA provides each of the local candidates with a copy of “A Field Guide to Birds of Armenia”, a pair of binoculars and a spotting scope for use throughout the count.

Upon arrival to Batumi Karen Aghababyan as a leader teacher gives an intensive raptor identification course for the first three days for all the students of “Young Birdwatchers Exchange Program”.

To teach the student BOA using a part of the Bird Identification Training Course (BITC).

Results

During the counting period (by 6-22 /Sep/2008), there were counted  815374 raptors in average more than 67000 per day. We had huge number of Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Montagu’s Harrier, Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, etc., and also Snake Eagle, Osprey, Lesser Spotted and Steppe Eagle, etc.

During the count of 2009 the Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) was recorded, the second time for Caucasus.

Accipiter spec. 7
Aquila spec. 805
Black Kite 58021
Black Stork 1094
Black Vulture 1
Booted Eagle 3553
Buzzard spec. 0
Common Buzzard 3
Crane 42
Egyptian Vulture 13
Falco spec. 172
Golden Eagle 1
Goshawk 13
Greater Spotted Eagle 78
Griffon Vulture 1
Harrier spec. 127
Hen Harrier 7
Hen/Pallid/Montagu’s Harrier 61
Hobby 418
Hobby/Red-footed Falcon 166
Honey Buzzard 394451
Imperial Eagle 23
Kestrel 43
Kestrel spec. 424
large unidentified raptor 2
Lesser Kestrel 90
Lesser Spotted Eagle 1826
Lesser Spotted/Greater spotted/Steppe Eagle 908
Levant Sparrowhawk 3286
Long-legged Buzzard 117
Marsh Harrier 4098
medium unidentified raptor 37219
Merlin 8
Montagu’s Harrier 947
Montagu’s/Pallid Harrier 7264
Osprey 55
Pallid Harrier 510
Peregrine 22
Peregrine/Saker 11
Red Kite 1
Red-footed Falcon 265
Roller 1237
Rough-legged Buzzard 1
Saker 3
Short-toed Eagle 653
small unidentified raptor 2
Sparrowhawk 4346
Sparrowhawk spec. 3688
Steppe Buzzard 275004
Steppe Buzzard/Honey Buzzard 13629
Steppe Eagle 174
Stork spec. 6
unidentified raptor 142
White Pelican 2
White Stork 328
White-tailed Eagle 6

image007To this day AUA Acopian Center for the Environment continues its cooperation with the Batumi Raptor Count (BRC) by developing and delivering environmental education programs to youth from all parts of the Caucasus. In 2013, Hasmik Ter-Voskanyan (in August) and Siranush Tumanyan (in September) led youth groups, including some from Armenia.

In early September, Dr. Karen Aghababyan, AUA Acopian Center chief scientist, attended the International Batumi Bird Festival organized by BRC. During his visit, Dr. Aghababyan discussed opportunities for expanding cooperation between the organizations through development of nature-based tourism as well as strengthening environmental-education and bird-monitoring programs.

“This is a relationship we want to develop further,” says Alen Amirkhanian, director of the AUA Acopian Center. “Batumi provides an unparalleled setting in the Caucasus to educate and conduct research on the environment. Importantly we are able to do this jointly with people from all parts of the Caucasus and Europe. Developing this type of cooperation is essential for addressing environmental protection needs,” says Amirkhanian.

BRC is a vital nature conservation program in the region. It monitors the more than 850,000 birds of prey that migrate through the “Batumi Bottleneck” every fall. It also works to protect the birds from illegal shootings and trappings, practices that continue to this day.

Batumi is a Black Sea coastal city in the Ajara region of the Republic of Georgia.