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Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, Visits summary 2012-13,
This is a summary of the birds seen on various visits during 2012-13 for work purposes, with no dedicated time for birding. However there are various interesting birds in the city of Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova (as the country is officially known) and there must be opportunities for birders with time to find something interesting. The marshy Prut river valley along the border with Romania looked to have particular potential for birding.
The city has a number of parks and wooded areas with lakes, though I have not managed to visit the latter, however the parks have a good range of birds including Scops Owl, Collared Flycatcher, Black Redstart, Great Spotted Woodpecker (and possibly Syrian and Middle Spotted) plus Nuthatches. Although the River Bîc runs through the city centre, it has been dry the two occasions I crossed over it in the summer. One of the major sights is the huge corvid roost that occurs in the winter in Central Park next to Puskin Street. Thousands of Carrion and Hooded Crows, Jackdaws and Rooks fly in at dusk and settle in all the trees, and circle around the Nativity Cathedral and belltower, accompanied by a considerable noise! They then leave at dawn, streaming out over the city in all directions, quite a sight and sound.
On the two occasions I have been out of the city, birding opportunities were limited, but we did see Bee-eaters and White Storks and a Shrike sp. on the wire and Crested Larks were occasionally seen from the car.
In the city and countryside, tourists and especially birders are not particularly frequent and so discretion is advised especially with the use of binoculars and cameras near government buildings and in the parks at busy times.
Books and information
No specific books for the country but Moldova is covered by European field guides and the following website provides a checklist: http://www.birdlist.org/moldova.htm
and further information is here: http://moldovabirds.blogspot.co.uk/
There is a ‘birding pal’ contact at: http://www.birdingpal.org/Moldova.htm
and the following site has a good description of the city and location of parks etc: http://wikitravel.org/en/Chi%C5%9Fin%C4%83u
Transport & Accommodation
I have usually stayed in the ‘Codru’ hotel (‘City’ Hotel’), which is opposite Parcul Stefan cel Mare/Stefan the Great park which was good for the flycatchers, redstart and Scops owl in the spring, and nuthatch and woodpeckers year round. Other lakes and parks are within reasonable walking distance.
Bird record (The List)
Note : the sequence is as in the The British Birds list of Western Palearctic Birds 2011
1 White Stork Ciconia ciconia Few in fields and nests on pylons in the south of the country.
2 Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Occasionally on the taller buildings near the park.
3 Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops Calling in Stefan the Great Park, May 21st-25th 2012.
4 Common Swift Apus apus Very common over the city during the summer months.
5 European Bee-eater Merops apiaster – Four over the dried field near where the M3 road divides before just reaching Giurgiulesti (a village near where the River Prut and Danube meet at the border with Romania in the south of the country). They appeared to be nesting in the dried gullies in the field.
6 Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Seen and heard in parks, but it possible others may have been Middle-spotted or Syrian.
7 Magpie Pica pica Fairly common in Chisinau and in countryside.
8 Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius Seen occasionally in Chisinau in parks and street trees.
9 Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula Huge numbers coming to roost in Central Park, Chisinau in December 2012 and February 2013, though on some nights were mysteriously absent.
10 Rook Corvus frugilegus As above
11 Carrion Crow Corvus corone As above
12 Hooded Crow Corvus cornix As above
13 Great Tit Parus major Occaionally seen in parks.
14 Crested Lark Galerida cristata Seen and heard from car on road journeys.
15 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Frequent in Chisinau
16 House Martin Delichon urbicum Frequent in Chisinau and nesting at Leushen border crossing buildings.
17 Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea frequent in parks, on one occasion very agitated with a red squirrel that was in the same tree.
18 Robin Erithacus rubecula Occasionally in parks and gardens.
19 Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros In Stefan the Great Park and wider streets with trees.
20 Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis Few singing in Stefan the Great Park between 21st-25th May but could not be located during July, unless possibly calling.
21 Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Over fields outside Chisniau.
22 House Sparrow Passer domesticus Frequent in the city parks
Red Squirrels in parks in Chisinau, sometimes rummaging in the bins for food.
12 October 2013