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A Report from

Romania 16th - 23rd June 2003 ,

Stephanie Kimsey

A 2 centre holiday starting in the Carpathian mountains, moving to the Danube Delta with some exploration of Drobrogea.  This holiday was run from England using a well known eastern European expert Gerard Gorman and we were looked after in Romania by Ibis tours Romania.  There were 6 of us on the trip.

Our first base was Bran in the Carpathians (home of Dracula's castle).  There was a park opposite our hotel which contained among others a serin, Syrian woodpecker plus a local white stork with family on the nest.  Our first destination was Zarnesti Gorge which gave excellent views of a singing firecrest, alpine swifts, over flying nutcracker and a good view of a male rock bunting.  Yellow bellied toads were found in the local streams.  Butterflies in a local flower meadow included Hungarian gliders and poplar admiral.

An evening/night drive to the outskirts of Brasov gave us brilliant views of brown bears, a mum and five cubs scavenging in the town bins.

Next day we visited Poiana Brasov a local ski resort and took the cable car up Postavanu Mountain - an experience in itself!  Up here, you could find alpine accentors (we were unlucky this time) but we had excellent views of many ring ouzels - the white flecked alpestris race.  Also around these mountains, by a nearby stream, were marsh and icterine warblers, white legged damselflies a soaring black stork and lesser spotted eagle.  Also seen were many hoopoes, middle spot woodpecker and red back shrikes.

Moving now to Tulcea, a port on the Danube Delta, we drove across the plains and had wonderful views in a small woodland of male golden orioles - best I've ever had and nearly stepped on a lesser grey shrike chick, then stopped at Lake Hasarlic, which gave us our first of many rollers, pygmy cormorants and purple herons and my first ever rose coloured starling flock - more of them later!  We found Tulcea to be a thriving port with night clubs and bars - you could easily be in the west.

Now we took a boat into the Delta - definitely the way to see this beautiful water wonderland.  Many water birds were seen in huge numbers - including little/squacco/night/purple herons, glossy ibis, huge numbers of kingfishers/cuckoos then the highlight .. hundreds of white pelicans. As the Delta water level was low they were concentrated in one channel.   What a sight!  We also saw on a lake thousands of nesting whiskered terns.

Woodpeckers sp seen on the banks included middle spotted, lesser spotted, Syrian, grey headed (excellent views) and briefly black.  The quietness of the delta and sheer number of birds had to be seen to be believed.  It was hard to believe that pygmy cormorants were said to be a globally threatened species watching from the boat.  Other vertebrates included many frog species (heron food!), grass snakes, pond terrapins.  We eventually caught up with Dalmatian pelicans, of course not in great numbers - another lifer for me!

The food prepared by the boat's chef was excellent and there was plenty of it and even as a veggie I was well catered for - not always the case in Eastern Europe.

Our last 2 days were spent in Tulcea on land and we explored the Drobrogea region.  The amount of birds was tremendous as were the insect species and susliks - they were everywhere.  Day 1 was spent west of Tulcea.  Open oak woods near Sonara produced ortolan bunting, good views of sombre tit (another lifer) plus another tour highlight Levant sparrowhawk.  The foothills of the Machins gave us short toed eagle, long legged buzzard, booted eagle plus isabelline wheatear (another first for me) and a magnificent saker falcon.

Our last day was spent south of Tulcea and produced calandra larks at Istria, good views of paddyfield warbler (yet another first) and the 2 pelican species.  Moving on to Vadu, we encountered many collared pratincoles, black winged stilts in number (not like our single British bird) and a displaying marsh sandpiper.

Finally driving through the steppe/farmland that forms a main part of this landscape, there were many calandra larks and we found an excellent red footed falcon colony near Corbu.  Cheia gorge produced a nesting pair of red rumped swallows - a rare bird in Romania - and pied wheatears (you guessed it - yet another first).

Our final magnificent encounter was a view of several thousands of rose coloured starlings which had colonized a local quarry and the owner was kind enough to stop excavating whilst nesting was in progress.

On the way back to Otopeni airport, we detoured to see the 'People's House' Ceaceascu's famous palace which now houses the parliament of Romania.

This was a delightful holiday which encompassed many different landscapes and produced many different bird sp. - 174 in total.  We also learned about Romanian culture and history.  I can thoroughly recommend it to other birders and would like to thank our guides Gerard Gorman and local guides Daniel and Eugen Petrescu for their time and excellent company throughout the trip. is the web site for the Romanian company that looked after us so well.

Stephanie Kimsey 2003


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