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Trip to Romania June 2019 with a day in Hungary

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Old Monday 8th July 2019, 23:50   #1
Earnest lad
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Trip to Romania June 2019 with a day in Hungary

2019 Trip to Romania June 12th to 21st 2019 with a short detour to the Puszta in Hungary

I travelled with Wizzair from Luton to Constanta arriving at the Airport of Constanta On the evening of Wednesday 12th June 2019. The purpose was a birding trip in Romania with the areas of Dobrugea, Macin Mountains, and Carpathian Mountains being visited for some birding. The weather was hot throughout
The itinerary was as follows: Three nights at Sinoe (Grindul Lupilor Pensuinea Guest House, ) to cover some birding spots in that vicinity
One night at Greci village (Casa Halambara) to facilitate birding in Macin Mountain.
One night in Tulcea (Cygnus Hotel)
One night at Corbu (Casa Cristina Corbu)
One night at Poiana Brasov (Casa Vinga)
One night travel on night train to Szolnok, Hungary
One night at Karcag, Hungary
Upon arrival at the airport, I collected the hire car and drove for 45 minutes to Sinoe Village. Here I went to the Grindul Lupilor Pensuinea Guest House, which was to be my lodgings for three nights.
Thursday 13th June
A pre-breakfast walk around Sinoe Village with the only sightings being Jackdaw (presumably the eastern race but I wasnt able to discern any differences from the Jackdaws commonly seen in the UK. Tree Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, White Stork by the hotel, Hoodie Crow.
After breakfast I drove along the long straight road to Sinoe Lagoons. Then I got out of the car and birded the lake and reedbeds. After that I birded the lagoons that are just beyond the reed harvesting operation. Except that I found the lagoons to be completely dried out by June in the hot midsummer sun.
Along the road were lots of Yellow Wagtails (Dombrowskii), A short toed lark, a possible Tawny pipit, and some Corn Buntings.
At the lake which is on the left as one drives up the road were some Corn Buntings, Hoopoe, White Pelicans, Avocets, Green Sandpiper, Marsh Harriers, Shoveler Duck, Bee-eaters. Northern Wheatear. Unlike last year I didn't see the Paddyfield Warbler.
Getting on to the dried out lagoons, which in spring are said to be full of waders and other passage migrants, one found them to be scarce birdwise. Nonetheless I braved the hot summer sun and walked along the path and the dried up bed of the lagoons. Birds seen were kestrel, crested lark, White Pelican flock, Dalmatian Pelican (1) overhead, Caspian Gulls, Great Egret (1), Curlew (2)
I also drove along the rough track in the car to the bridge over a canal which marks the start of the official "Grindul Lupilor" reserve. Here were only Little Egret and a House Martin colony.
Moving on the short journey to Cetatea Istria, were found : Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Corn Buntings souslisks.
Another area I explored that I had read about was near the fish ponds at Istria. The reported - on lagoons here were likewise dried out in the hot summer season and no waders were present. All I saw here was a corn Bunting and a Lesser Grey Shrike. Later on I saw a pair of red footed falcons and another Lesser Grey Shrike
Later that afternoon I went in the car to discover Sitorman Quarry, which in previously consulted trip reports was reputed to be good for birds, including the Rosy Starling. However there were no Rosy Starlings around that I saw. I did see lots of crested larks. I approached sitorman Quarry by the slip road from the main Constanta - Tulcea Road and at the southern end of the quarry I noted that part of the quarry was still a working quarry. I could see the machinery and vehicles below. I walked along the edge looking for raptors and other birds seeing but not much other than northern wheatears and crested larks. Suddenly a pristine male Pied Wheatear presented itself (lifer) . At that exact moment a car arrived from the other end and some quarry workers asked me what I was doing . I advised I was birding upon which they told me I was not allowed here and that it was a dangerous area. I replied that I would immediately leave. This I did. Sad to have not seen the Rosy Starling but happy to have the Pied Wheatear lifer, I took leave as directed. I hadnt realized what an enormous complex of quarries this place is. I actually drove round to the other side and noted a very large complex of disused quarries. Looking for any possible Rosy Starling colony was to me like looking for a needle in a haystack. If anyone can advise on this I would be most grateful.
Friday 14th June
I took a trip to a place I had read about. That place is called Cheia Gorge in English and Cheia Dobrugea in Romanian. Approaching this place via a village called Guru Dobrugea again in the hot sun, I took a wrong turn and it took ages to get there. Eventually I arrived from the north end via Cheia village and parked my car. In the searing heat birds were few and far between. On the journey there I had seen Rooks and goldfinches and a lovely male Golden Oriole flew acrosss my path as I drove. Also I had another lifer from the car which was the Black-headed bunting. Upon arrival at the gorge I started birding and in the searing heat there was only the Long-legged buzzard and the pied wheatear. The former being a lifer. I got a good view of a red fox which I photographed. I also saw another souslisk .
Returning after this trip to the above scenic Cheia Gorge, I went back via Mihail Kogălniceanu. On the way I observed a Jackal on the road but it moved off just before I could get a photo.
I went straight from here to a place called Navodar that I had heard about and saw the beach with a stone jetty and some scrub. I didnt see much birdwise apart from lots of Great Cormorants, some white wagtails, and a Little Ringed Plover on the beach.
After this by now it was getting late afternoon so I went to Corbu to buy some food. Turning into a back road to turn the car round I got a good view of Syrian Woodpecker on a tree in someones garden. (Lifer).
After this I thought I would have a quick drive to Vadu, which is just down the road from Corbu. Here I saw Avocets on the roadside pool along with a Common Sandpiper. Driving round in the direction of the beach I hoped to see a reported white tailed Lapwing but didnt begin to know where to look . Indeed the large scrub area to the left had "no access allowed" signs forbidding access. However just further on was a large pool by the road and a sandbank holding what seemed to be a large Whiskered Tern colony. I only had a quick stop here but I also saw a spotted redshank in breeding plumage.
On the way back to the pension in Sinoe a Roller was seen. Subsquently the roller was seen most days.
Saturday 15th Jun
A visit to a couple of spots in Babadag forest was not particularly productive in the hot sun. At one place close by babadag town (near to Babadag school camp) I saw the first of what would be many Red-backed shrike, but in the heat birding was hard work also birds themselves made them scarce in the heat. Still I saw a black and white small bird that although most likely a collared flycatcher (which would have been a lifer) the view wasnt good enough to clinch it. Likewise a couple of Woodpeckers were seen insufficiently well to get positive id.
I decided on a change of habitat after that short visit so drove to the fishponds at Enisala. Here the owner graciously allowed me to do some birding. so I did a circuit of one of the ponds again in the searing heat. A large raptor that rose from the banks immediately I approached and took off quickly, was, I suspected , a White tailed eagle, which would have been a lifer. However again I didnt clinch it. There was a bee - eater colony here at a sand cliff and as I walked round the pond I saw some sand martins. On the pond in the distance I saw some black winged stilts. Along with these birds were some redshank and some green sandpipers. Also an adult Night heron fished on the edge of the pond. Then to my surprise a pair of Common Crane flew by before circling high in the hot thermals and rose and rose to the south until they were gone.
Alongside the fish ponds at Enisala was a length of path with adjoining reedbeds and marsh which I had read about in a trip report . However again in the heat of summer it was dried out and I saw nothing other than a green or wood sandpiper and an Isabelline Wheatear.(juv)
After this my aim was to make my way to Macin Mountains via a place I heard about called Slava Rusa. After the village of Slava Rusa I found a small disused quarry containing starlings and bee eaters and alongside the quarry a promising looking path into some bush presented itself. Parking up I took off along the path an immediately saw a pair of Sombre tits (lifer) Feeling very pleased I carried on along this hot path but saw little else other than several red backed shrikes and a Corn Bunting. I did see however to my delight and surprise here two tortoises.
After this I drove to Greci village for the night.
Sunday 16th June
I did the well known circular walk in the searing heat of the Pricopan Heights and it took me a gruelling three hours. Along the way sadly few birds were seen apart from a Redbacked Shrike, Corn bunting, kestrel, and great tit. I also saw a blueish sparrowhawk type bird in the distance but my id skills were inadequate to clinch a Levant Sparrowhawk Id which would have been a lifer. Another bird of prey was a large brown bird in the distance that showed a spot of white as it turned. I suspected this to be a lesser spotted eagle but was not competent to clinch the id and I am not cogniscent as to whether that species is normally found in that area in June. A big disappointment on this day was to not see the Rock Thrush. However I did see a Quail by the roadside (lifer) and also another Black headed bunting which on this occasion I was able to get a pic.
Monday 17th June
I was travelling in the car most of today so I didnt do much birding. However I made a detour to Murighiol and at Green Village there I had a brief view of a little bittern. Also I saw lots of Mute swans on the lake here at Murighiol and a nesting coot. Later I saw what I guessed likely to be a nightingale fly past the road as I drove. Nightingale would be a lifer but I didnt clinch.
Tuesday 18th June
I didnt bird today as I travelled all day after dropping the car off. I took the train Constanta to Brasov then the buses to Poiana Brasov which is , in winter a ski resort.
Wednesday 19th June
I had read in a trip report of a potential good spot in forest near the village of Poiana Brasov. Therefore I walked down to this spot which was close by a ski slope . However to my disappointment, in spite of a two hour walk here not a lot of birds were seen. I did see though a Ring Ouzel. Other birds seen here were Song Thrush, Blackbird, chaffinch, marsh or willow tit. Blackcap, grey wagtail. Magpie.
Walking around the village at Poiana Brasov, I did see the black redstart, the long tailed tit, and chaffinches. In the village ravens flew overhead a couple of times.
Leaving Poiana Brasov behind I was travelling back to Brasov and taking the night sleeper train to Szolnok Hungary.
Thursday 20 June
Arriving in Hungary in the morning I took the train to Karcag and time being short headed for Kecskeri puszta in a taxi. In the searing heat the walk along the path by this beautiful puszta was of necessity brief. Birds seen in the searing heat were few. A largeish unidentied raptor soared but I didnt see it well enough. There was Hoopoe, White stork, possible red footed falcon, Red backed Shrike here and several stonechat. A loud songster was a probable Great Reed Warbler in the reeds here but I didnt see the bird. Had I done so it would have been a lifer. Again a bird I thought likely to be a Nightingale was seen only briefly as it flew past in the distance.
I returned to accommodation at Karcag by the help of an angler who kindly gave me a lift. He himself remarked on the searing heat. In the hotel grounds were Black redstart.
Friday 21 June
Today was the day to travel by public transport to Debrecen Airport for the flight to Luton. birding was not done today

trip list
1. Black-headed bunting (seen twice)
Caspian Gulls (a good many)
Collared Flycatcher [poss)
2. Isabelline Wheatear*
3. Common Crane
4. Great Reed Warbler (heard)
5. Lesser Spotted Eagle*(a poss)
6. Long legged Buzzard
7. Marsh tit*(could have been willow tit though)
8. Nightingale*( 2 possibles
9. Pied Wheatear*(Sitorman Quarry and Cheia Dobrugea)
10. Quail*(
11. Greater short toed Lark**(sinoe)
12. Calandra Lark. ( possible).
13. Sombre Tit*(near Slava Rusa)
14. Syrian Woodpecker*(seen well at Corbu)
15. White tailed Eagle.*(Just a possible at enisala fishponds)
16. Avocet ( some at Vadu and a couple Sinoe)
17. Barn Swallow
18. Bee eater (many)
19. Black eared Wheatear (cetatea istria)
20. Black headed Gull
21. Black redstart ( Poiana Brasov and Karcag)
22. Black tern (possible at Vadu)
23. blackbird
24. blackcap (poiana Brasov)
25. Black winged stilt (vadu only)
26. Buzzard (Buzzard or steppe buzzard near Slava Rusa)
27. Carrion Crow (UK)
28. Chaffinch (poiana brasov)
29. Collared dove
30. Coot
31. Corn Bunting
32. Crested Lark. Common in Dobrugea
33. cuckoo (heard several times but not seen
34. Curlew – (2 seen at Sinoe)
35. Dalmatian Pelican (sinoe)
36. Ferruginous Duck ( (ensiala fishponds-singleton)
37. Golden Oriole (flew past road whilst driving at Nistoresti)
38. Goldfinches (Romania and Hungary)
39. Great Cormorants (navodari)
40. Great tit (macin)
41. Green sandpipers (Vadu, Ensala, but only seen in flight and may have been Wood sandpipers)
42. Grey heron
43. Grey Wagtail (Poiana Brasov)
44. Hoodie crow (romania and Hungary)
45. Hoopoe, (Romania and Hungary)
46. House Martins
47. House Sparrows
48. Jackdaws
49. Jay
50. Kestrel
51. Lesser Grey shrikes (3 seen – 2 near Istria and one near targusor)
52. Little Bittern (Murighiol)
53. Little Egrets
54. Little ringed Plover (Navodari- but might just have been Ringed Plover)
55. Magpie
56. Mallard
57. Marsh Harriers
58. Mute Swans
59. Night heron (enisala fishponds)
60. Northern wheatear
61. Pheasants (sinoe)
62. Pied wagtail (UK)
63. Purple Heron (first seen at Corbu)
64. Raven
65. red Backed shrike (several locatins)
66. Red footed falcons (several Romania and a possible in Hungary)
67. redshank – (enisala )
68. rock dove
69. rook
70. Sand Martin (Enisala )
71. Shelduck
72. Shoveler
73. Song thrush (Poiana Brasov)
74. Spanish Sparrow (Sinoe Village)
75. Sparrowhak (type bird seen Macin but may have been Levant sparrowhawk. Didnt get good view)
76. Spotted Redshank (vadu)
77. Starling
78. Stonechat (several Karcag area)
79. Swift
80. Tawny pipit ( Sinoe)
81. Tree sparrow (sinoe village)
82. Whiskered tern (colony at Vadu)
83. White Pelican (lots at Sinoe)
84. White Stork (Romania and Hungary)
85. wood pigeon (UK an dHungary , not in Romania)
86. yellow wagtail

Conclusion
It is better to go birding in Central Europe either Spring or Autumn. birds arent as active in the day when it is hot summer time. Also the pools that might otherwise hold waders can be dried out. Further the trees have full foliage making spotting birds such as Woodpeckers hard. Also the passage migrants have gone by June. It is uncomfortable in the high temperatures from about 10am until about 4pm. I recommend pre breakfast birding from 5am , then resting in the heat of the day after which maybe you can do a bit more birding later in the late afternoon.
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 04:13   #2
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Interesting area and itinerary. As you have stated the time of year will make for challenging birding with the heat etc. My only additional point would be the amount of travelling, i.e. time spent in a car. A week is a short time and i would probably stop in just 2/3 strategic places and use those as bases to explore a range of habitats. But as i don’t drive i would say that i suppose

Good birding

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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 07:58   #3
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Thank you for your comments. Yes I think you're right. I did try to fit too much in. Next time a just a few days on the delta maybe and a few days in the Carpathians. Less time travelling and more time birding LOL
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Old Sunday 14th July 2019, 20:50   #4
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Non bird sightings on this trip

Red Fox
Souslisks
Jackal
Romanian Hamster (probable)
bat species
Spur thighed tortoise
Unidentified lizards
Painted Lady
Scarce Swallowtail
other butterflies
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Old Monday 15th July 2019, 12:45   #5
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Nice report Earnest Lad!

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Old Monday 15th July 2019, 19:26   #6
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Great report of an area rarely birded or reported on.
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 15:05   #7
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Thank you all for your kind comments. It was too hot but a fantastic place.
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Old Thursday 18th July 2019, 06:28   #8
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I noticed you stopped one night at Greci village and the next at Tulcea - is that about 24 hours away?

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Old Sunday 21st July 2019, 01:14   #9
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Sounds like one of the hottest ever summers made the birding hard work. Could I ask the meaning of the asterisks on your list and - being greedy - if you plan to post any pix?

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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 17:54   #10
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[quote=rollingthunder;3872440]I noticed you stopped one night at Greci village and the next at Tulcea - is that about 24 hours away?

Well it is only about an hour and a half
I recommend Greci as a good base if birding Macin Mountains

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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 18:02   #11
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[quote=MKinHK;3873508]Sounds like one of the hottest ever summers made the birding hard work. Could I ask the meaning of the asterisks on your list and - being greedy - if you plan to post any pix?

Well I put down an asterisk when I wasnt one hundred percent sure of the ID
As for photographs I only had a cheap bridge camera with 46x optical zoom so the quality is good only for record shots but I attach some here LOL
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Old Sunday 4th August 2019, 18:04   #12
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With a few more also here
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 13:03   #13
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I did a tour in Romania back in May 2006; my first birding visit in Europe. It was a wonderful place with a TON of visible migration along the Black Sea coast in Constanta.

We went to Cheia Dobrugea and got several different wheatears, and to Navodari for Paddyfield Warbler. The area at Navodari was actually some freshwater ponds next to an oil refinery, not along the actual shoreline.
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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 17:26   #14
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Originally Posted by Jeff hopkins View Post
I did a tour in Romania back in May 2006; my first birding visit in Europe. It was a wonderful place with a TON of visible migration along the Black Sea coast in Constanta.

We went to Cheia Dobrugea and got several different wheatears, and to Navodari for Paddyfield Warbler. The area at Navodari was actually some freshwater ponds next to an oil refinery, not along the actual shoreline.
I am glad you liked it. I felt like it was an undiscovered paradise from a British point of view. And one can get ever so cheap flights to this region with Wizzair. I have just booked a flight for next month to Varna on the Black sea in Bulgania for eighteen pounds! Also some really inexpensive accommodation options are to be had.

I must go to Navodari again. I checked out the beach area and could see the ponds by the oil refinery. However they seem to be fenced off and I couldn't ascertain how to get access.

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Old Monday 5th August 2019, 19:55   #15
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I am glad you liked it. I felt like it was an undiscovered paradise from a British point of view. And one can get ever so cheap flights to this region with Wizzair. I have just booked a flight for next month to Varna on the Black sea in Bulgania for eighteen pounds! Also some really inexpensive accommodation options are to be had.

I must go to Navodari again. I checked out the beach area and could see the ponds by the oil refinery. However they seem to be fenced off and I couldn't ascertain how to get access.
I believe we had to go through an access gate of some sort, maybe owned by the refinery? I'm not sure.

18 quid for a two hour flight?! I wish we had airfares like that in the US. Southwest is cheap, but not that cheap.

And for the record, the trip to Romania was with a British Company. I was the only American on the tour.
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Old Tuesday 6th August 2019, 13:56   #16
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I believe we had to go through an access gate of some sort, maybe owned by the refinery? I'm not sure.

18 quid for a two hour flight?! I wish we had airfares like that in the US. Southwest is cheap, but not that cheap.

And for the record, the trip to Romania was with a British Company. I was the only American on the tour.
The flight is not far short of 4 hours! Getting back is more expensive but one can hunt for a cheap option coming back from a different place. eg Constanta to London Luton for about £35 . Travelling by bus Varna to Constanta. (2 hours)
Thank you for advising about the possibility of an access gate. I shall look next time. Sometimes things change over time. What was once maybe a possibility can be lost if policies change but it is good to try.

I hope the British birders were nice with you when you were on the tour with them. LOL
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Old Tuesday 6th August 2019, 14:07   #17
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Dear Jeff
I have attached a google maps screen grab of the area at Navodari. The point marked with a yellow "X" is where I visited. The point marked with a yellow "Y" is the road adjacent to wetland that was fenced off. I dont suppose you can identify the access point can you please (I know it is a long time ago for you)
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Old Tuesday 6th August 2019, 20:01   #18
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Hi Earnest lad,

I do remember that the main processing equipment (distillation columns, cat crackers) were in the background directly across the water. It may have been at point Y as you marked or it may have been further directly north from point Y, such as on the north shore of Lacul Corbu, i.e. on Rte. 226. I think the latter, but I don't know for sure. It definitely was not point X, tho.

The British birders were quite nice (most are, from my experience). They were amused at what was new for me, and what I found interesting. There was one wetland we went to where there were Water Rails and Ferruginous Ducks, but all I could focus on were the sounds of the Cuckoos calling around us. They got a kick out of that.

JH

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Old Tuesday 6th August 2019, 20:51   #19
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Thank you so much!
I shall have to go and have a scout round if I get another chance to go there.
I see from the satellite image there appears to be some wetland at the southern end of the complex . I just wonder whether that could be the place you went to. I see from google street view there seems to be a couple of entrances there from the main road (226) leading to a long pier (jutting out in the middle of the photo) and I am guessing perhaps - with your description of the place and the background facilities - whether that might be the place.

Well thank you anyway.
With best wishes and kind regards
Earnest
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Old Tuesday 6th August 2019, 21:22   #20
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Thank you so much!
I shall have to go and have a scout round if I get another chance to go there.
I see from the satellite image there appears to be some wetland at the southern end of the complex . I just wonder whether that could be the place you went to. I see from google street view there seems to be a couple of entrances there from the main road (226) leading to a long pier (jutting out in the middle of the photo) and I am guessing perhaps - with your description of the place and the background facilities - whether that might be the place.

Well thank you anyway.
With best wishes and kind regards
Earnest
I also looked at that view. The view from there to the refinery doesn't match my memory of what we were looking at. I'm a chemical engineer by trade, and I remember pointing out specific pieces of equipment that don't appear visible looking at the refinery from the south in Google Street View. The view looking from the north is more in line with my recollections.

But as you said, it was a long time ago.
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Old Tuesday 6th August 2019, 21:57   #21
Earnest lad
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Thank you for that. It is appreciated.
I read another trip report that mentioned Navodari and that report referred to a cement factory at Navodari, and that Red-rumped swallow occurred there.
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