Georgia, Day 3, 3 May 2013 - Sameba Church towards Mount Kazbeg

Today began with a 4-wheel drive taxi ride (arranged through our hotel the night before) up the track to Sameba Church which is prominently perched on a hilltop west of Kazbegi above the village of Gergeti.  From here we began the strenuous climb up the obvious ridge towards Mount Kazbeg which the Irish lads had constantly said ‘we won’t lie to you boys, it’s not an easy climb’! And they were right – it was bloody hard work and took us 4 hours to reach the snowline at c10,000 feet, even from the church. On the way up we’d seen several Caucasian Chiffchaffs, Steppe Buzzard, c10 Red-billed Chough, a spiral of c40 Alpine Chough and several Camberwell Beauties. Reaching the spot where it’s hard to go much further because of deep snow we began to scan the ravine to the north which is where we’d been given directions to. After ages and with optimism beginning to seriously wane we finally got onto a stonking male Caucasian Great Rosefinch feeding on low dwarf rhododendron on a snow free patch and closer inspection revealed 2 females with it – phew! I don’t think any of us have had to work as physically hard for a bird before. The immediate vicinity also gave us 2 Alpine Accentors,  2 – 4 Alpine Swifts, 2 Twite, 2 Red-fronted Serins calling Caucasian Snowcock and a great group of 15 Caucasian Tur on the very steep slopes across the ravine.

Back down in the woods on the way down we also had Common Treecreeper, Jay and Red Squirrel which were preceded by a Red Fox on the return walk. No bird photos were taken because we opted to travel as light as possible for our trek and left my lens back at the hotel!
Climbing the ridge above Sameba Church

Looking for Caucasian Great Rosefinch

'Rosefinch Ravine' and Mount Kazbeg

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