Georgian bird migration and bird killing


People study bird migration not only in Sweden, or in the Netherlands, but also in many other countries like Georgia.

This video says about itself:

Batumi Raptor Count (www.batumiraptorcount.org) is an international project for the study and conservation of a critically concentrated autumn migration of birds of prey in the Old World.

From 2008 till 2010, for two months every autumn an international group of volunteers from over 10 countries has conducted a pioneering work in raptor migration monitoring at the eastern Black Sea coast. This compilation gives an impression of day to day life in the BRC project. Long days of counting 10,000´s of migrating raptors on a hilltop near the subtropical forest, meeting local people, working in an international team …

Some traditional Georgian music and Shantel set some atmosphere for the imagery of this international project in the Caucasus.

Especially the Adjara region in western Georgia is important for migrating raptors and other birds (rollers, black storks, etc. etc.). A narrow strip of land of a few kilometer is there, with on one side the Black Sea, across which many birds don’t like to fly, and on the other side the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, which migrating birds don’t like either.

So, this small coastal area in Adjara is excellent to see the migrating birds pass.

In 2008, the Batumi Raptor Count was founded there, to observe the migration. They found that every autumn, over 850,000 birds of prey, not counting other birds, pass through the narrow coastal corridor. Many more birds than people presumed before the counting started. Saghalvasho village is a good point for observation.

Unfortunately, poachers know about this bird migration as well. They shoot honey buzzards and steppe buzzards for food (there is much poverty in Georgia), and other, inedible, raptor species for “fun”. Many of these shooters do not have any licence to hunt. Many others do. However, according to laws in Georgia, licensed hunters can shoot songbirds and quail; but killing raptors is illegal.

What does Georgian police do against this bird crime? Hardly anything, according to Dutch Vroege Vogels radio on Sunday 7 October 2012. It seems that Georgian President Saakashvili needs too much police for violence against peaceful anti-government demonstrators, and for torturing prisoners sexually. Now that Saakashvili’s party has lost the recent parliamentary elections in spite of government election rigging, one should hope that things will become better for people, and for birds, in Georgia.

Batumi raptor update, August 2013: here.

October 2012. A flock of Greater Flamingos were shot by at least one illegal hunter standing on Malta’s shoreline at Qawra in full view of passers by, as the flock flew overhead across Salina Bay. Three are thought to have been killed, falling into the sea and two others were injured. A third injured flamingo was also seen flying very low around another bay: here.

October 2012. As the hen harrier teeters on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England, Coalition and Welsh Government Ministers have a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey in England and Wales, and must not waste it: here.

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