Sunrise at 6.01. Nice and calm morning, +5°C with clear blue skies. We woke up at 5.40 and started birding at 6.00. We drove 700m from hotel towards Ioane Natlismceli orthodox church, parked on the roadside in position 42.652869, 44.655308 and walked just 300m in position 42.650297, 44.654864, something like 50m south of a narrow row of buckthorns. We met a group of British birders there by accident.
|Jari, Jouni and British birders scanning mountain slopes|
|Early in the morning|
|Caucasian Black Grouse in lekking habitat|
|Blackcocks were too distant for photography, but gave good views by scope|
|Another digizoomed, phonescoped Caucasian Blackcock|
|A singing first-summer male Great Rosefinch|
|Place to look for Great Rosefinches|
|Great Rosefinches giving an opportunity for phonescoping|
|Stepantsminda in sunshine with majestetic Mount Kazbegi in the background|
|Mount Kazbegi, a dormant stratovolcano peak at 5047m and is the third highest peak in Georgian Caucasus mountains. Locals know it by name Mkinvartsveri, meaning "Ice-capped"|
|Breakfast, with coffee, sausages, eggs, cottage and goat cheese, bread, sweet bread and smetana.|
|Most popular super market at Stepantsminda|
|Stepantsminda seen from southern slope.|
|Rough mountain trail to Sameba Church|
|Sameba Church, with Kuro mountains in the background|
Gergeti Trinity Church dates back in 14th century and is situated on the bank of river Chkheri at an elevation of 2170m. The Church is very popular tourist destination, and is an active establishment of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.
|View from Gergeti Trinity Church to Stepantsminda, with numbers indicating sites to look for local birds;|
2. Great Rosefinch - They seem to favour rocky area between the Buckthorn bushes, as well as Buckthorns and barbed wire fence to the meadow below.
3. Caucasian Black Grouse - lower slopes are favourite lekking site for Blackcocks
4. Caucasian Snowcock - males are calling from rocktops and steep cliffs well below snowline
|Compulsory portrait with Stepantsminda some 450m below|
|male Ring Ouzel amicorum|
|Eurasian Jay ssp. krynicki, with whitish forehead and black cap|