Egyptian Vulture survey Armenia

This is a non-commercial expedition supported by Batumi Birding

Picture by Micha Heiss
The project
With our Egyptian Vulture surveys we aim to get an accurate picture of the population of this endangered species in the Caucasus. With a team of Danish and Armenian birders, you will spend a week going around the country, looking for nests and territories. While searching for Egyptian Vultures, you will visit some outstanding natural areas where few birders have been, and get a chance to see many of the rare birds and mammals of the Caucasus. Just before the survey, we will all travel to the famous mountain village of Kazbegi in Georgia, the best place to find the ‘Caucasus big 5’, a number of spectacular range-restricted species that are high on every birder’s wishlist. This pre-trip excursion is organized together with the Swedish team that will be covering the Georgian population of Egyptian Vultures the week before.
 
Who can take part?
To join this project you need to be a birder with a keen interest in contributing to conservation. The itinerary will be determined by the scientific needs of the survey, which means that you may spend some of the days in less attractive sites as well. You need a good physical condition to hike for a couple of hours to the areas we cannot reach by car.

 
White pelicans in front of Mt. Ararat, picture by Alexander Rukhaia
How much does it cost?
To take part in the survey and the trip to Kazbegi afterwards, we ask each participant a contribution of 900 EUR. This covers the organizational costs, accommodation, food, transportation. In addition, you need to cover the flight from Denmark to Tbilisi yourself, which costs 200-300 EUR. Travel insurance and personal expenses are not included. So the total costs of your trip will be 1100-1200 EUR. 

How can I sign up?
Please fill out the webform here. Places will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis. We will get in touch with you shortly to confirm your participation. We will request a 200 EUR non-refundable advance payment to secure your participation (through Paypal), while you need to pay the remaining sum in cash upon arrival.
 
How do I get there?
The most convenient option is to fly to Tbilisi, since we will start the survey with a trip to Kazbegi to see the Caucasus endemics. You need to arrive in the early morning of May 13th at the latest, and we will be back in Tbilisi in the evening of the 24th. When you apply we will send you a flight suggestion (cheapest and fastest option).

What will a survey day look like?
Three small teams (3 Danish plus one or two Armenians) will leave early morning to drive a transect by 4x4, scanning cliffs for nests and keeping an eye out for foraging individuals. Occasionally, you will leave the cars to cover a transect on foot. In the evening, all teams will gather at the accommodation and enjoy a hearty meal.
 
What about accommodation and food?
We will mostly stay in hostels and small hotels, and have meals in local restaurants. For a couple of nights, we may stay in tents (these should be brought by the participants; we will coordinate ths in advance) and cook ourselves. The Armenian cuisine is very tasty and utilizes lots of vegetables. Let us know if you are vegetarian, and we will ensure that alternatives are available.
 
Are there any health and safety risks?
Armenia is a very safe country, and there are no diseases you need to take precautive measures for.

What other wildlife can I expect?
Before the survey, we will visit the mountain village of Kazbegi, where Caucasian Snowcock and Black Grouse, Guldenstadt’s Redstart, Caucasian Chiffchaff and Great Rosefinch should not be too difficult to find, and we have a good chance of seeing East Caucasian Tur. Wallcreeper, Bearded Vulture, Red-fronted Serin, Chough and Alpine Chough, White-winged Snowfinch and Alpine Accentor are other typical mountain species found here. Migration is still very good in mid-May, and often includes Demoiselle cranes. The arid mountain regions in Armenia where we will be searching for Egyptian vulture are also home to Caspian Snowcock, Pied, Finsch’, Black-eared and Persian Wheatear, Bimaculated Lark, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Pale Rock Sparrow, Grey-necked Bunting, Roller, Raddes' Accentor, Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin, White-throated Robin, Desert, Trumpeter and Crimson-winged Finch. But keep in mind that the Egyptian Vulture survey is the principal aim of the trip, and we cannot prioritize getting a full list of all these goodies for everybody! If you want to be sure to see everything it may be better to stay a few days longer, and we will be happy to help you organize this.
 
More questions?
Please drop us an email at brecht.verhelst@birdlife.org
When: 
May 13 to 24 2018
Price: 
900 EUR excl. flights
Booking: