An eastern coastal region of the Black Sea consisting of wetlands and damp woodlands. Evergreen vegetation covers much of the coastline within the site. The IBA encompasses the Lower Rioni river and Lake Paliastomi, listed as site SU064 in the previous pan-European IBA inventory (Grimmett and Jones 1989). The water surface of the Black Sea in the west and the pattern of the Little Caucasus mountain range in the east come together to form a migration bottleneck in the southern part of the site.
Migrating raptors (at least 25 species) and other large, soaring birds are concentrated here in spring and autumn, due to their aversion to flying over the sea or high mountains. Counts have covered only small periods of the spring and autumn migration seasons, but include (seasonal total in brackets) Ciconia nigra (350-500, autumn), Pernis apivorus (8,420, autumn), Milvus migrans (2,300, spring), Accipiter brevipes/A. nisus (1,500, spring), Aquila pomarina (268, autumn), Aquila nipalensis (127, autumn), Buteo buteo (44,900, spring), Hieraaetus pennatus (156, spring), Circus aeruginosus (181, autumn), and several species of falcon Falco. The site is also an important wintering ground and staging place for numerous waterbirds as well as passerines. Wetlands at the site attract a wide variety of passage and wintering birds such as Gavia arctica, grebes , Puffinus yelkouan, Ciconiiformes, wildfowl (several dabbling duck species, also Clangula hyemalis, Melanitta fusca, Mergus albellus), shorebirds, gulls and terns. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Pelecanus crispus (uncommon in winter), Haliaeetus albicilla (at least two breeding pairs and 13 birds in winter), Circus macrourus and Aquila clanga (both frequent on passage).
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kolkheti. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/09/2021.