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Danube Delta 8th - 10th August 2016 (1 Viewer)


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"I'm coming over in August, any chance of arranging a couple of days on the Danube Delta?" said my birder/photographer pal Ian. To be honest Istill have plenty of birds to see and places to visit in Bulgaria so Romania wasn't high on my agenda, but a friend is a friend, so I spoke to my pal Rado at Poda Centre in Burgas. He recommended Iliuta Goean, a well-known Romanian photographer who arranges tours of the Delta. Arrangements made it was just a matter of Ian and his wife Sue getting to our house for the four hour drive to Tulcea. Unfortunately the whole population of Romania must have decided to visit the coast en masse and a couple of accidents meant the journey took eight hours instead! Fortunately Sue and my Wife Sandra got on like a house on fire so it passed quite pleasantly.
Arriving at the port at Tulcea we were met by Iliuta who introduced us to Marius who was to be out guide for the trip. in no time at all the six seat motorboat was loaded and we embarked for the 90 minute journey down the Danube to Mila 23, the fishing village that was to be our base. "We won't see too much on the journey in the main channels, but we will call into the odd lake on the way." said Marius. 38 species later we arrived at our accomodation where dinner was waiting. After a delicious fish stew and polenta followed by a kind of baklava we went for a stroll round the village and called into the local watering hole. A couple of Timisoareanna beers later everyone was ready for bed, Ian and I especially as we were going out at 05.30 the next morning. I was going to keep a tally of approximate numbers of each species but when I got to 50+ for little Egret and Squacco Heron I abandoned that idea. Birds seen on the journey down:-

Little Egret
Grey Heron
Whiskered Tern
Squacco Heron
Hooded Crow
Golden Oriole
Long-tailed Tit
Night Heron
Green Sandpiper
Black-headed Gull
Glossy Ibis
Greylag Goose
Great Egret
Red-backed Shrike
House Martin
Little Tern
Common Tern
Great Crested Grebe
Pygmy Cormorant
Purple Heron
Dalmatian Pelican
Stock Dove
Marsh Harrier
Sand Martin
Barn Swallow
White Wagtail
White Pelican
White Stork
Black-tailed Godwit
Yellow-legged Gull

To be continued........

Great Egret, Squacco Heron, White Pelican, boat at pension jetty, Sunset Mila 23


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Up at 05.00am for an 05.30am start to see the Sunrise on the Delta I felt a sensation I hadn't felt for a few months - that was it, I was a bit cold! Put on a windproof and we were off to the first lake of the day. Sitting there in the middle of thousands of birds amid carpets of waterlilies watching the Sun come up was an absolutely magical experience! As our eyes grew accustomed to the gloom we could see Squacco Herons everywhere, interspersed with Little Egrets, while our ears were ringing with the cries of Terns, mainly Whiskered but also plenty of Common. We cruised along side channels and through several more lakes with birds in abundance - Herons, Egrets, Ibis, Terns and Pelicans at every turn in overwhelming numbers! I never thought I would say "Oh it's just a Squacco Heron"! After adding Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, Garganey, Wood Sandpiper and Penduline Tit to our list We returned to Mila 23 and the Pension 'Dalmatian Pelican' for a well-earned breakfast. The girls had risen by now so we regaled them with accounts of what we had seen and our hopes for the postprandial trip!

To be continued...

Sunrise, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron et al, Dalmatian Pelican, Whiskered Tern juvenile


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A great report Chris with some equally great atmospheric shots! The Danube delta is certainly a place I would hope to visit one day! :t:
Reinvigorated after a hearty breakfast We set off again, this time joined by Sandra and Sue. By now Sue was proving to be a very capable spotter, she had noticed three Hobbys on the journey downstream, all of which I had somehow managed to miss! That was soon rectified and I was able to get some photos of a very obliging Hobby perched by the side of our channel. This delightful little BOP was soon followed by something from the other side end of the scale, White-tailed Sea Eagle! One of my target birds for the trip was up next, We managed to get 'up close and personal' with a Caspian Gull. Indeed by the end of the trip We had seen so many I feel I've got the hang of them! Another target was Grey-headed Woodpecker. We had a very brief 'probable' sighting which was turned into a definite tick later in the day. Again the 'usual suspects' were seen in incredible numbers all along the channels and in the lakes that We visited. By now the day was really heating up so We headed back to Mila 23 for lunch (an incredibly tasty fish soup) and to rest up before heading out again later in the afternoon. Other birds seen were:

Collared Dove
Wood Pigeon
Willow Warbler
Lesser Grey Shrike
Tree Sparrow

To be continued.....

Waterlily, White Pelicans, White Storks, Dalmatian Pelicans, Hobby


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Setting off again after lunch We soon came across another of my trip targets, Caspian Tern (actually three of them) in among a large number of Black-headed Gulls. The birds were coming thick and fast but to break things up a bit Marius suggested a visit to an Orthodox Monastery located on one of the side channels. It proved to be a beautiful building in a delightful setting, well worth the time out to see it, and we also found a couple of Penduline Tit nests nearby. Returning to the boat it wasn't long before We saw our first mammal, a Golden Jackal pup at the bankside. Our next port of call was a site that was being developed in the Communist Era as a fish processing plant but is now derelict. An interesting variety of terrain yielded more wader species and several Passerines. Time was getting on now so We headed back to the pension and a lovely dinner of baked carp (I don't know if you're picking up a pattern about the food yet), washed down by a couple of Timisoareannas. By now everyone was pretty much exhausted so it was off for an early night and preparations for departure in the morning. Species added:

Mute Swan
Ferruginous Duck
White-winged Tern
Reed Bunting
Black-winged Stilt
Spotted Redshank
Spotted Flycatcher
Yellow Wagtail

To be continued.......

Pond Turtle, Glossy Ibis, Little Bittern, Caspian Tern, White-tailed Eagle


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Following a lie-in and a leisurely breakfast we had time for a last walk around the village before Marius and Gabi our driver arrived with the boat. A few Goldfinches passed overhead and we picked up several House Sparrow in the remains of a Stork's nest. Back at the Pension's pontoon Gabi was as punctual as ever! I still had two uncompleted targets, Red-necked Grebe and Little Bittern. I have seen quite a few of the latter in Bulgaria but only fleeting glimpses as I've set them off from bankside vegetation, never a sitting bird or the chance of a photo. Marius said he would do his best but We were a bit late for the Grebe and as We all know, Little Bittern can make the Latter day Howard Hughes seem extroverted! Despite searching all the lakes and channels Marius knew for Red-necked on the way back We drew a blank. However just as wWe were heading back to Tulcea in earnest would you believe it the most obliging Little Bittern ever was perched in the reeds and posed for several photographs! Talk about the icing on the cake! On one of the side channels as We slowed down to pass another boat two young Raccoon Dogs swam across in front of our boat! An invasive species but nonetheless an interesting sight to round off our trip! A very quick visit but a highly successful one nevertheless! We are already making plans for 2017, I will be going End May/Beg June to tick that Red-necked Grebe and Ian wants us all to go again next august, probably with a couple of days in the Dobrogea thrown in. Only four new birds but the Danube delta isn'r really about that, the most impressive things are the sheer numbers and variety of rare and endangered birds!

A few statistics for those that way inclined:

The Danube Delta covers some 2,000 square miles and has the largest expanse of reedbeds in the world at around a 1,000 square miles.
Over 170 bird species have bred in the Delta including 60% of the World's population of Pygmy Cormorant, up to 90% of the European breeding population of White Pelican, between a third and a half of Europe's Little Bitterns and a key percentage of Dalmatian Pelican. There are also internationally important numbers of Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Ferruginous Duck and Red-crested Pochard.

All in all if you have half a mind to visit the Danube delta GO!


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An excellent trip report Chris, and an impressive statistic regarding the "reed bed"....c1000 sq.miles, and one I was totally unaware of!...albeit a "Phrag-mented" one. ;)
My first birding trip to Europe was to Romania and the Danube Delta, and it was absolutely fantastic. So I'll echo Scridifer's sentiment...GO.

Great Report.

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