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Eastern European breeding birds and migrants

2025 Dates
  • 21 Apr - 30 Apr 2025
Duration10 Days
2025 Price
Guide Price £3295 pp
£220 single supplement. Deposit £800

pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are inc.

2026 Dates
  • 20 Apr - 29 Apr 2026
Duration10 Days
2026 Price
Price TBC
2027 Dates
  • 19 Apr - 28 Apr 2027
Duration10 Days
2027 Price
Price TBC
Max Group Size10

Georgia lies on the Eastern Black Sea coast, between Turkey and Russia, and along the Southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, which form the conventional border between Europe and Asia. A country of exceptional beauty, with ancient history and traditions, special hospitality, unique architecture, food and folklore, Georgia is an attractive and hospitable destination, and one of the fastest growing birding destinations in the region.

Located at the junction of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and holds a diversity of habitats and landscapes, ranging from semi-desert to humid subtropical forest. On this tour we explore the rich birdlife of snow-capped mountains, dry steppes, intact savannas, barren mountain semi deserts, impressive gorges and canyons, lush deciduous forests and waterfowl-teeming wetlands and lakes. Avian highlights include endemic Caucasian Snowcock, near-endemic Caucasian Black Grouse, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Armenian Gull, Wallcreeper, Krüper’s Nuthatch, Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Rose-coloured Starling, Green and Ménétries’s Warbler, Mountain Chiffchaff, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Red-fronted Serin and Great Rosefinch.

Other highlights might include Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Alpine Accentor, Barred Warbler, Dalmatian Pelican, Demoiselle Crane, Pygmy Cormorant, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Spotted and Little Crake, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Montagu’s and Pallid Harrier, Black Vulture, Lesser Kestrel, Scops Owl, Lesser Spotted, Steppe, Short-toed and Booted Eagle, Bee-eater, Roller, Golden Oriole, Black Francolin and many more.

We travel at the beginning of the northerly migration season, and many passerines and raptors can be expected in key hotspots such as the broad Tergi valley, and we should find a good representation of eastern European species.


Day 1:  London - Tbilisi
We depart London, flying overnight arriving in Tbilisi early on Tuesday morning.

Day 2:  Ananuri Forest and Terek River Valley
Upon arrival, and after time to freshen up, we meet our local guide and drive north towards the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Our first birding will be at nearby Ananuri Forest, (approximately an hour from the airport) where mixed woodland beside the Zhinvali Reservoir will be buzzing with birdsong. The morning chorus from Nightingale, Redstart, Tree Pipit and a range of warblers will be a great start, while Semi-collared and Red-breasted Flycatcher, and newly arrived Green Warbler are key targets here. Continuing as the former military road winds more steeply into the hills to Gudauri, we expect our first upland specialists, including Alpine and Red-billed Chough, Ring Ouzel, Black Redstart and Alpine Accentor before reaching Stepantsminda by the afternoon.

Once settled into our comfortable hotel, we have some time to explore the surroundings of the town and adjacent Terek River Valley. Here, vegetation dominated by dense Sea Buckthorn is the favoured habitat of Güldenstädt’s Redstart and Great Rosefinch. These are two key targets of the mountainous Kazbegi region, easier to encounter at this time of year when they occur at lower altitudes and in small concentrations before relocating to higher ground to breed. Shore Lark, Rock Bunting, Water and Red-throated Pipit, (Caucasian) Twite, Barred Warbler and a few raptors may also be encountered before the day is out and we return to our hotel in Stepantsminda where we stay for three nights.

Days 3 and 4:  Kazbegi Region
We enjoy two full days in the mountains, allowing us more opportunities to find and appreciate some key birding targets. On one day we head out pre-breakfast to Kuro Gorge, arriving as the sun rises over the Caucasus range hoping for a memorable encounter with two specialists of the region. Here, endemic Caucasian Snowcock will be at their most vocal in the early morning, which can often prove essential in finding them. Caucasian Black Grouse is the other target, always at their most active early in the morning, when they may be found displaying on the rhododendron covered slopes.

We also visit Trusso,  and later the same day Dariali Monastery on the border with Russia, among some of the most spectacular mountain landscapes in all of Georgia. While bird species in the mountains are more limited than other habitats, many are special, with Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Red-fronted Serin and stunning Wallcreeper offering unforgettable splashes of colour. On the lookout for raptors, Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Golden and Eastern Imperial Eagle and ‘Steppe’ Buzzard are all possible and we search for shy Mountain (Caucasian) Chiffchaff too. We visit Gergeti, to explore vibrant meadows for endemic flowers and should also encounter East Caucasian Tur, a mountain dwelling goat native to the region.

Day 5:  Stepantsminda to Dedoplistskaro
After some final birding around Stepantsminda, we drive east stopping at Cross Pass, the highest viewpoint at Gudauri. One of the best-known areas for White-winged Snowfinch, which can be hard to find. We may see other species including Shorelark, Alpine Accentor and raptors. Returning to lower altitudes, we have options to revisit Ananuri, or instead the rich woodland at Bodorna for forest dwellers with Black Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike, Woodlark, Dipper and Ortolan in mind. Our longest driving day, we aim to reach our hotel at Dedoplistskaro by mid-afternoon to rest before we take dinner and celebrate our mountain achievements. Overnight Dedoplistskaro for three nights.

Day 6:  Taribana Plains and Chachuna Reserve
The famed Chachuna Reserve and Mt Dali Dam are our destinations today, where farmland and wide-open plains are home to an astonishing number and variety of species. We seek Rock Sparrow, Isabelline, Black-eared, Finsch's and Pied Wheatear, Black-headed Bunting, Red-backed, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrike, Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Lark, Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Roller and Rose-coloured Starling. Hunting raptors will be plentiful and perhaps include Honey Buzzard, Short-toed, Booted, Spotted and Lesser, Steppe, White-tailed and Eastern Imperial Eagle, Pallid and Montagu’s Harrier and Lesser Kestrel. We visit Mta Dali Dam, an artificial reservoir located at the base of the Iori River which acts as a supporting pool for the larger Mingachevir Water Reservoir. In a real birding paradise, and just one step away from Azerbaijan, the habitats here are attractive to semi-desert species including Black Francolin, Menetries's Warbler and more.

Day 7:  Vashlovani National Park
With one of the richest biodiversities in the whole of Georgia and the Caucasus region, Vashlovani National Park offers a great variety of new habitats and some new birds. We plan to spend a significant part of the day at Pantishara Gorge, where we have good chances of seeing Chukar, Blue Rock Thrush, Western Rock Nuthatch and several species of warbler, including Eastern Olivaceous and Eastern Orphean.

Later, we drive to Eagle Canyon, one of the best and most attractive raptor viewpoints in eastern Georgia.  With tremendous views over the Alazani River Valley it is well named, hosting breeding Eastern Imperial, Spotted and Lesser Spotted, Steppe, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, as well as Peregrine, Griffon and Egyptian Vulture. Other expected raptors include Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Steppe, Long-legged and Rough-legged Buzzard, Pallid and Montagu’s Harrier, and Black Stork and many passerines are also present in this area – a great afternoon watching the skies!

Day 8: David Gareji Monastery
Today we visit the David Gareji Monastery, an area consisting of Mediterranean-type arid land and multi-coloured clay hills covered with shrub and steppe-like vegetation. David Gareji itself is a Monastery complex built by Christian Monks in the 5th Century, which alongside being one of the most interesting sites in Georgia is also great for wildlife. Native Egyptian, Black and Griffon Vulture and Eastern Imperial Eagle are main attractions, and habitats surrounding the complex hold Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Sparrow, Calandra Lark, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Rock Bunting, Menetries’s and Eastern Orphean Warbler, Common and Siberian Stonechat and Rose-coloured Starling. Much of the day will be spent exploring the site, before we head towards Tbilisi where we stay for the next two nights.

Day 9:  Krüper's Wood, Krtsanisi Woodland Park and Jandari Lake
Resident Krüper's Nuthatch is very much the morning’s target, and we visit an area of mixed invasive and native pine woodland known to our guides to try and see them. Later, at Krtsanisi Woodland Park we search for woodpeckers, including Great, Middle and Lesser Spotted, Syrian, Green and Black and we may also see Golden Oriole, Hawfinch, Green Warbler and possibly Scops Owl.

Relocating to Jandari Lake, this attractive waterbody southeast of Tbilisi is surrounded by an extensive steppe landscape divided between Georgia and Azerbaijan. This is an important site for both migratory and nesting wetland species. At this time of year we are likely to see Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Black-necked Grebe, Gull-billed, Black, White-winged and Whiskered Tern, raptors, crakes, herons, egrets and gulls, including Armenian and Slender-billed, with an outside chance of Demoiselle Crane or Citrine Wagtail too. An afternoon at Jandari will certainly provide the perfect end to this memorable tour!

Day 10: Departure
After breakfast, we travel to the airport for our flight back to the UK where our tour ends.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price:

  • return scheduled flight overnight from London - Tbilisi with a stop en-route, airport taxes, baggage and hand luggage up to airline included limit.
  • airport transfers, ground transportation including minibus and 4x4 vehicles where necessary, accommodation and meals as specified.
  • the services of a Heatherlea leader and local guide/translator.
  • entrance fees to museums and cultural and historical centres.
  • The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more ...

What's not included in your holiday price:

  • travel to and from departure airport before and after holiday, in-flight meal, baggage above airline included limit.
  • incidental tips, expenses of a personal nature including drinks and personal insurance.

More holiday information

Accommodation is in comfortable hotels with all rooms en suite and have been specifically chosen due to their close proximity to key birding locations.
Food Breakfast is usually a buffet with boiled eggs and lots of herbs, yoghurt and cheeses, pastries and even cake! Packed lunches will be taken in the field daily. Georgian cuisine is a mix of oriental, European and Mediterranean food, and typical dishes feature fish and barbecues, and with many fresh vegetables and herbs, so vegetarians should be well catered for. Evening meals often feature live traditional music -an unexpected highlight!
Walking is generally light/moderate. There may be some uphill track and road walking in mountainous areas, and overall an average level of fitness is required.
Weather Typically, temperatures will range from 10°C in the early morning to around 25°C, though temperatures can be even higher in the gorges. Sunshine should be plentiful, but cloud and rain are possible. Cold weather, with temperatures as low as 5°C, are rare but possible in the high mountains.
Insects biting insects may be encountered, though are not usually as a major problem. A good repellent is advised, just in case.
Group size is restricted to 10 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from a London airport and will be overnight and likely include a change en route. We can quote without flights should you wish to make your own arrangements or if you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange this for you.

Your Leaders:

Alexander (Alex) Rukhaia will be our local Georgian guide, and he is an experienced and respected leader in all three South Caucasus countries. Besides his birding expertise, Alex has a strong background in nature conservation within Georgia. Between 2010 and 2014 he was a key member of the Batumi Raptor Count team, and in 2014 co-founded SABUKO (The Society for Nature Conservation) successfully leading the organisation for four years. During this time SABUKO officially became a partner of BirdLife International in Georgia, with a special focus on preserving the migratory raptor route within the Batumi Bottleneck and the Eastern Imperial Eagle population in Georgia and Azerbaijan, important projects initiated and implemented by Alex. His involvement also helped ascertained the 2015 Chorokhi River Delta to IBA (Important Bird Area) status in Georgia, and the following year he received a significant award from the Whitley Fund for Nature in the UK, presented by Sir David Attenborough and Princess Anne. Away from birding, Alex is a proud father of two daughters, and is looking forward to joining Heatherlea as a leader on our Georgian tour.




Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in Europe?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

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The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248