We didn’t wake up all too early this morning. We knew that we had a long climb ahead of us if we wanted to find the Great Rosefinch and Güldenstadt’s Redstart. So we decided to get a solid breakfast at the hotel before hitting the mountains.
While waiting for the breakfast a brief look into the hotels garden gave 2 Green Warblers, Mountain Chiffchaff and 2 Bullfinches.
But at about 9:00 we drove to the Sambea Church above Stepandsminda and started climbing. Soon we heard some Caucasian Snowcocks calling in the gorge besides the track and we also found some Shorelarks, Alpine Accentors, Rufus Rock Thrushes, a few Twites and a some Griffon Vultures.
We had walkie-talkies with us on as we climbed the mountains. And after about one hour of climging Rasmus and Yann reported two Great Rosefinches. We soon got together and started looking for the birds. While looking we flushed a female Caucasian Black Grouse from just a few meters distance. But after climbing a bit further we found a male and 3 female Great Rosefinches at 2960 meters altitude.
As we had reached the snow limit Yann, Rasmus, Bjøssi and Edward decided to stop and check the area with the scopes. Emin and I continued on the snow to look for the Güldenstadt’s Redstarts.
It was not too difficult to walk on the melting snow and soon we got a nice reward as 2 males and a female Great Rosefinch gave supreme views. Those males are simply terrific!
Emin has been to Kazbegi twice before without seeing Güldenstadt’s Redstart, so he was determined to find the bird.
Our system with the walkie-talkies actually worked very well. Yann and Rasmus scoped small passerines in the distance with the scope and guided us to them. It gave Shorelarks, Alpine Accentors, Black Redstarts and all of a sudden “Güldenstadt’s Redstart” sounded over the walking. Emin had located a male just in front of him. The guys with the scope soon saw the bird and Emin and I got some supreme views of the magnificent bird.
After watching it for about 10 minutes we returned to the church. On the way back we saw additional 3 males Great Rosefinches. Combining the numbers of the group at least 19 Great Rosefinches were seen besides the male and the female Güldenstadt’s Redstart.
So with Green Warbler, Caucasian Snowcock and Caucasian Black Grouse, Güldenstadt’s Redstart and Great Rosefinch it was pretty much a “Kazbegi full house” today.
Well, there is a short cut to get the species: