TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Romania

6th - 14th September 2003


Leaders:
Tudor Blaj
Keith Grant

Main Driver:

Marius Danila

Daily Diary

Saturday 6th September Arrival

Warm & sunny, some cloud.

We all arrived at Heathrow in the midst of a power failure of the BA check-in computers and luggage belts! We eventually checked in and rushed through to the departure lounge, to be called to the gate within a few minutes. A Manchester connection also just made it and our flight took off only two hours late and made up half an hour on the flight. Things looked good despite the delays and we waited eagerly at the luggage carousel at Bucharest. We didn't worry too much when the belt stopped as there were still 40 or so people waiting - but yes, all of our luggage had been left at Heathrow! Once through the lost luggage formalities, we eventually met up with our guide Tudor and driver Marius, and Jan who had flown in from Zurich on an earlier flight. No birding en route as we had to do some emergency shopping (toothbrushes etc!) and by this time we were very late. We travelled direct to Calarasi for a late dinner and a night's sleep and wedding festivities at the hotel didn't disturb us too much.

Sunday 7th September Calarasi to Mamaia

Warm & sunny, some cloud during the day.

Our pre-breakfast walk took us down to the river where a Black Woodpecker was calling. Several Great Spotted Woodpeckers led us a merry chase but we did get decent views in the end. A Kingfisher was nice at the head of a creek, as several Night Herons flew around, and several Tree Sparrows and a Black Redstart were on a bungalow roof-top. As we returned for breakfast, a juvenile Syrian Woodpecker showed very well and very close, and a female/juvenile Golden Oriole perched for several minutes at the top of a dead tree.

At breakfast, the wedding festivities had only just wound up, so the waiters and kitchen staff were rather zombified - is that a word? Well anyway, you know what I mean! We then loaded up and headed for the nearby fishponds on the edge of town. Whiskered Terns, Ferruginous Ducks, Night Herons, Purple Herons, Pygmy Cormorants were all vying for our attention, as were the various butterflies and rather few flowers still in bloom. The river was so low that the ferry across the Danube at this point was not running and this forced a long detour of several hours to cross downstream by the nearest bridge. En route, a Long-legged Buzzard and Goshawk were spotted. We managed a late lunch at Canaraua Fetei where butterflies included Queen of Spain Fritillary and dragonflies included Migrant Hawker and Common Darter. We also had good views of several Red-rumped Swallows and excellent Red-backed Shrikes. During the afternoon, we found Lesser Spotted Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, three further Long-legged Buzzards, and we found a Little Bittern creeping around a roadside marsh as if it was a Moorhen.

Four bags had arrived at Bucharest on today's flight and would be sent direct to Mamaia in the morning.

Monday 8th September Mamaia, Vadu & Histria

Sunny & warm, cloudless overnight.

We took a short pre-breakfast drive to the refinery - we go to all the right places! Here a superb muddy lagoon near the shore was full of shorebirds, including Whiskered & Sandwich Terns, Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers and Ruff. Three very close Temminck's Stints were nice, as were about half a dozen Red-necked Phalaropes spinning on the puddles. Black-winged Stilts and Oystercatchers were obvious, and Ringed, Little Ringed & Kentish Plovers, often in same field of view, provided a good comparison for those unfamiliar with these species. Unfortunately, a Terek Sandpiper, which initially was reasonably close, immediately flew across to the farthest bit of the lagoon as soon as we got the telescope on to it, so views of this 'real goodie' were very distant. With tripods in our main luggage, we only had the use of Tudor's telescope at this point. A flock of Spoonbills flew overhead, heading south, as did flocks of Grey Herons with several Great White Egrets amongst them. We also picked out several Garganey and a single Shoveler, though none of the males were in full plumage.

After breakfast, we drove to Vadu. On the way out to the disused sandpits, we found Crested Lark and Little Owl near the disused factory. In the sandpits, we added Pochard and Tufted Ducks, and there were many Little Gulls resting on the sand-banks. A Montagu's Harrier circled overhead and a flock of Red-footed Falcons hawked for insects over the fields nearby. These drifted off and we drove on towards Histria. On the approach road, we stopped and searched the waterside reeds, finding Reed, Savi's, Paddyfield and Great Reed Warblers, though other warblers remained unidentifed. On the other side of the road, a large lagoon had a nice if distant mixed flock of White and Dalmatian Pelicans. A Little Tern was resting on the shoreline. A lone Dalmatian Pelican then took off from the middle of the lake to join the others. Just as we were getting back into the bus, another party of Dalmatian Pelicans circled over us - superb views for everyone of this quite rare species. We stopped briefly a little further on, to check for Collared Pratincoles. No sign initially, but just as we were about to move on, a small group appeared. Then, as we all were following these birds in the distance, a much larger flock of over one hundred flew in right overhead and we ended with excellent views for everyone. Some visited the museum at the Greco-Roman ruins at Histria whilst lunch was being set out, and we settled down outside the café to enjoy our picnic.

We then took a back road across the steppes, between Sacele and Tirgusor. Though a single Hoopoe had been seen from the bus earlier, a flock of 30 here was really exceptional. There were also wonderful views of six Rollers, several Tawny Pipits were also seen with Black Redstart and Whinchats, and lots of Sousliks rounded off the day. Returning towards Navodari, a Spotted Eagle circled nearby, drifting southwards. Some minor shopping and money exchange in the town and we returned quite early to Mamaia, allowing some to walk on to the beach and others to snooze!

The four bags from yesterday were waiting for us at the hotel, and all other bags except one had now arrived at Bucharest on today's flight. These bags, we were promised, would be sent direct to Tulcea, to arrive no later than 1pm to await our arrival at the ponton ...

Tuesday 9th September Cheia, Enisala & Tulcea

High cloud with some sunshine, chilly on delta.

A return pre-breakfast visit to the refinery lagoon produced good views of Broad-billed Sandpiper, also Grey Plovers and half a dozen Turnstones. There were still good numbers of other shorebirds from yesterday.

After breakfast, we packed the bus and headed for the gorge at Cheia. This is a lovely limestone gorge with a flat grassy bottom and rocky outcrops. Several Black-eared Wheatears and Black Redstarts were feeding along the stream. Butterflies included Cardinal, Freyer's Graylings and what were almost certainly Tree Graylings. Both Eurasian and Levant Sparrowhawks flew overhead and several Booted Eagles gave us wonderful views as they patrolled the length of the gorge. We had spent rather longer than anticipated at this delightful spot, so headed directly to Enisala where we had our picnic lunch within sight of the citadel and watching a good number of Bee-eaters hawking insects all around us. As we were packing up, a White-tailed Eagle was spotted circling over the distant reed-beds. Good views of his white tail proclaimed him an adult, and he was accompanied by a pair of Marsh Harriers, no doubt escorting off their patch.

We moved on to Tulcea, to discover that the luggage coming from Bucharest had got stuck the wrong side of a ferry across the Danube, some 100 km away! Time was pressing and rather than wait, we decided to cast off and proceed into the delta, arranging to pay for the luggage to catch us up by fast launch, as and when it arrived at Tulcea. We were allocated our rooms and, gathering on deck with beers and coffees, we settled down for our journey to our first overnight mooring spot, some five hours distant. We heard that the vehicle bringing the luggage had at last crossed the Danube but had now broken down on the road, and was therefore further delayed! Incredible how everything works against you! Caspian Tern, Green Sandpiper, Raven were added to our list and, right at last light during dinner, a large flock of Greylag Geese flew over us.

The bags did eventually catch up with us around 9 o'clock and were transferred to the ponton whilst we were finishing dinner. We also heard that the final bag had not only been flown over from London to Bucharest but had also now arrived at Tulcea to await our return on Thursday.

Wednesday 10th September Danube Delta

Cloudy, sunny spells, cool breeze.

With the water levels dropping one or two centimetres per day, it was impossible for the tug to take us into the quieter channels of the delta. We therefore used two smaller boats, tied in tandem, and we were very quickly amongst the Night Herons and Squacco Herons feeding along the shorelines. Most of the former were juveniles and looked very smart with their lime-yellow legs and spotted plumage. There were certainly some photo opportunities here. Shorebirds included Greenshank, Spotted Redshanks, Common & Green Sandpipers, and Pygmy Cormorants numbered many hundreds. We entered two lakes; the first had several hundred White Pelicans feeding, and many hundred Coots and Mallard. Several thousand Greylag Geese, in skeins stretching to the horizon, were heading towards us to land in the lake. The second lake contained mainly Coots, but also good numbers of Dabchicks and rather fewer Great Crested Grebes and Garganey. At one point, several hundred White Pelicans were spiralling overhead in a thermal. We surprised a Little Bittern at one point, and a canal-side 'bush-stop' surprised a large Dice Snake sunning itself.

We arrived at the arranged meeting point to find no sign of the ponton! But a quick phone call established that they were running about half an hour late, so we landed and explored a patch of open woodland, where the trees displayed lots of Black Woodpecker damage. The ponton arrived and we transferred on board for lunch, as we travelled slowly back towards Tulcea. An Osprey showed well at one point. Most then had a siesta, appearing again as we moored for the evening where the two main southern canals met. A circular walk before dinner added Blue and Long-tailed Tit to our list, and as we returned to the ponton, we surprised a Grey-headed Woodpecker on the grassy path just in front of us. Excellent views for the first few people but it then disappeared into thick scrub before everyone could get on to it.

Thursday 11th September Tulcea to Sinaia, Brasov

Overcast at Tulcea, then rain for rest of day.

We duly arrived back at Tulcea as we finished breakfast and bade our farewells to the crew on the tug and ponton. The final piece of luggage was retrieved from the hotel nearby and we all loaded into the bus. As we were expecting rain, the luggage on the rack was covered with a tarpaulin. Our first stop was in Babadag Forest where we walked up a forest trail. Nuthatches and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were calling, then movements low down in a thicket caught our eye. First a Spotted Flycatcher was found, then a Red-breasted Flycatcher, which proved rather elusive. Brief views were obtained, though as most of the group wandered back downhill, it did perform very well for two of the group. One or two Nuthatches were also eventually seen.

The rain then set in and we bypassed our other proposed stops. Nothing of note was seen from the vehicle, except some rather bedraggled Rollers on the roadside wires and a lone Swift brought down by the heavy rain. We stopped at a restaurant for soup and dessert, then pressed on, reaching Sinaia at around 5.30pm. Though it was still raining, some of us explored the palace grounds nearby, and we all gathered for dinner.

After dinner, we again boarded the bus for our drive to Brasov in search of European Brown Bears. Patrolling the nether regions of the town, we were on the point of giving up when a final tour round the block brought us success. A medium-sized male was rummaging in some refuse bins. He moved back into the forest as we approached, but further on, we found a female with three cubs at another set of bins. We watched these for quite some time, following them to the next set of bins so the people on the other side of the bus got good views as well. We returned, well satisfied, to Sinaia in the early hours. It is amazing how bears and people seem to ignore each other despite the apartment blocks and parked cars all around. I do fear that there is a disaster waiting to happen!

Friday 12th September Rasnov & Zarnesti

Overcast and continual rain, easing briefly during pm.

With our late night last night and the continual rain, we decided to forego our early morning walk! After breakfast, we headed north for Rasnov. Nearby, we found a Lesser Spotted Eagle sitting quietly on a fence post. We visited a fortified church at Cristian, then headed for a brief walk in a large orchard alongside the forest edge near Vulcan. The ground was carpeted with Autumn Crocus, and we saw both Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, and two Common Redstarts. Along the Zarnesti Gorge, there were Grey Wagtails on the riverbed and several Alpine Swifts visiting a hole in the rock face high above us. We headed to Bran for lunch at a pizzaria, before heading back to Rasnov. Here, some explored the Citadel, whilst others birded the wooded slopes outside. Red Squirrel and Raven were seen, and we all met up and walked back down the hill to the bus. Back to the hotel to find that those who had stayed behind at Sinaia had found Siskins and Chiffchaffs around the hotel.

Saturday 13th September Bucegi Mountains

Overcast, drizzle most of the day, easing whilst we were in the mountains.

No pre-breakfast walk this morning as it really was too wet, having rained all night and still drizzling at 7am. A Ural Owl sitting quietly at the roadside (16km from Sinaia) was a real surprise - well done to those at the back of the bus to spot this as we passed! Our main aim today was to get up into the mountains; the thrushes on the roadside as we climbed were mainly Mistle Thrushes, but also included single Song Thrush and Ring Ouzel. Our first major stop was the Bolboci Lake gorge where there were good views of Dippers but not a lot more. The Pestera Monastery, set into the caves at the head of a valley was superb, and we saw many Black Redstarts and a few Whinchats here. We returned to a café for a late lunch and mulled wine, before heading back down the trail. A short walk produced nice views of Crossbills, and we then headed back to the hotel, arriving, as we had left, in drizzle!

Sunday 14th September Departure

Overcast, rain, not clearing till we got to the airport.

Again, no pre-breakfast walk was organised due to the weather. We had a late breakfast, and bade our farewells to Jan, who left by taxi for an earlier flight to Zurich. We loaded the bus, and with some minor shopping in Sinaia and at a roadside honey stall, we made our way towards the airport. The weather didn't clear so we by-passed our proposed birding stops, arriving at the airport rather earlier than expected, just as the weather cleared! The return flight left on time and arrived early, and all our baggage also appeared!

Species Lists:

The various species lists below use the following references:

Birds: We use the suggested world-wide English names and systematic order as found in World Bird Species Checklist: with alternate English & scientific names (Wells, M.G., 1998).

Mammals: Collins Field Guide, Mammals of Britain & Europe (Macdonald, D. & Barrett, P., 1995).

Amphibians & Reptiles: Collins Field Guide, Reptiles & Amphibians, Britain & Europe, 2nd edition, (Arnold, N. & Ovenden, D., 2002).

Butterflies: Collins Field Guide, Butterflies of Britain & Europe (Tolman, T. & Lewington, R., 1997).

Dragonflies & Damselflies: The Dragonflies of Europe (Askew, R. R., 1988).

Notations used as follows:

Ba - Babadag Forest Bu - Bucegi Mountains

Ca - Calarasi Ch - Cheia

CF - Canaraua Fetei DD - Danube Delta

E - Enisala Hi - Histria

M - Mamaia R - Rasnov

S - Sinaia V - Vadu

Z - Zarnesti Gorge

BIRD LIST:

Little Grebe / Dabchick: Noted on 3 days with 1 (Ca) on 7th, 1 (V) on 8th, many (DD) on 10th.

Great Crested Grebe: Noted on 4 days with several (Ca) on 7th, up to 4 (M) on 8th & 9th, a few (DD) on 10th.

Black-necked/Eared Grebe: 1 (V) on 8th.

Great Cormorant: Noted on 3 days, (M, V, DD), 8th - 10th.

Pygmy Cormorant: Noted on 4 days with 6 (Ca) on 7th, several (M, V) and many hundreds (DD) on 8th - 10th.

Great White Pelican: Noted on 2 days with 50 (V) on 8th, many hundreds (DD) on 10th.

Dalmatian Pelican: 16 (V) on 8th.

Grey Heron: Noted on 4 days, 7th - 10th.

Purple Heron: Noted on 4 days with many good views, 7th - 10th.

Great [White] Egret: Noted on 3 days with several on 8th & 9th, 50+ (DD) on 10th.

Little Egret: Noted on 5 days, 7th - 11th.

Squacco Heron: Noted on 2 days with several (Ca) on 7th, many hundreds (DD) on 10th.

Black-crowned Night-Heron: Noted on 2 days with several early morning at the riverside creek near hotel and c40 distantly at the fishponds (Ca) on 7th, many hundreds (DD) on 10th.

Little Bittern: Noted on 2 days with 1 (Ca) on 7th, 1 (DD) on 10th.

Black Stork: 5 (DD) on 10th.

Eurasian Spoonbill: 8 (M) on 8th.

Mute Swan: Noted on 3 days with several (Ca) on 7th, 2 on 9th, several (DD) on 10th.

Greylag Goose: Noted on 2 days (DD) with several hundred at last light on 9th, several thousand flying in from north on 10th.

Common Shelduck: Noted on 2 days with several (M) on 8th & 9th.

Gadwall: Noted on 2 days with 25 (Ca) on 7th, several (V) on 8th.

Mallard: Noted on 3 days with 4 on 9th, many hundreds (DD) on 10th, 11th.

Garganey: Noted on 3 days with c6 (M, V) on 8th, a few (M - DD) on 9th, c20 (DD) on 10th.

Northern Shoveler: Noted on 5 days with 8 (Ca) on 7th, several (M, V) on 8th, 8 (M - DD) on 9th, c15 (DD) on 10th & 11th.

Common Pochard: Several (V) on 8th.

Ferruginous Duck: c40 (Ca) on 7th.

Tufted Duck: Several (V) on 8th.

Osprey: 1 (DD) on 10th.

Black Kite: 1 (M - DD) on 9th.

White-tailed Eagle: An adult (E) on 9th.

Montagu's Harrier: Noted on 2 days with 2 (V) on 8th, 1 ringtail (DD) on 10th.

[Eurasian] Marsh Harrier: Up to 6 noted most days.

Levant Sparrowhawk: Noted on 2 days with 1 (Ch) on 9th, 1 (DD) on 10th.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk: Noted on 2 days with 1 en route (Ca - M) on 7th, 1 (Ch) on 9th.

Northern Goshawk: 1 en route (Ca - M) on 7th.

Common Buzzard: Up to 5 noted on 4 days.

Long-legged Buzzard: Noted on 3 days with 4 en route (Ca - M) on 7th, 2 (Hi - M) on 8th, 1 (Ch) on 9th.

Lesser Spotted Eagle: Noted on 2 days with 1 en route (Ca - M) on 7th, 2 (R) on 12th.

[Greater] Spotted Eagle: 1 near Navodari on 8th.

Booted Eagle: 2 possibly 3 (Ch) on 9th.

Common/Eurasian Kestrel: Noted most days.

Lesser Kestrel: 1 (Ch) on 9th.

Red-footed Falcon: 13 (V) on 8th.

Eurasian Hobby: Noted on 5 days with 1 (Ca) on 7th, 1 on 8th, 3 (DD) on 10th, 1 (R) on 12th, 1 (Bu) on 13th.

Common Pheasant: Male heard (DD) on 10th.

Water Rail: Heard squealing (Hi) on 8th.

Common Moorhen: Noted on 4 days, 7th - 10th.

Eurasian/Common Coot: Noted on 5 days, 7th - 11th, many hundreds (DD) on 10th.

Eurasian Oystercatcher: Noted on 2 days with several (M) on 8th & 9th.

Black-winged Stilt: Noted on 2 days, with several (M) on 8th & 9th.

Collared Pratincole: 140 (Hi) on 8th.

Northern Lapwing: Noted on 2 days with 37 (Hi) on 8th, c40 (DD - S) on 11th.

Grey Plover: 2 (M) on 9th.

[Greater] Ringed Plover: Noted on 2 days, 8th & 9th.

Little [Ringed] Plover: Noted on 2 days, 8th & 9th.

Kentish Plover: Noted on 2 days, 8th & 9th.

Black-tailed Godwit: Noted on 4 days with 1 (M) on 8th, 3 (M) on 9th, 1 (DD) on 10th, 3 en route (DD - S) on 11th.

Spotted Redshank: Noted on 4 days with several (V) on 8th, several on 9th, 3 (DD) on 10th, 4 en route (DD - S) on 11th.

Common Redshank: Noted on 2 days, 8th & 9th.

Marsh Sandpiper: 1 on 9th.

Common Greenshank: Noted on 4 days with several (M, V) on 8th, at least 6 on 9th, 3 (DD) on 10th, 1 en route (DD - S) on 11th.

Green Sandpiper: Noted on 3 days with one heard (Ca) on 7th, 3 (DD) on 9th, 3 (DD) on 10th.

Wood Sandpiper: Noted on 2 days, 8th & 9th.

Common Sandpiper: 3 (DD) on 10th.

Ruddy Turnstone: 6 (M) on 9th.

Red-necked Phalarope: Noted on 2 days with up to 6 (M) on 8th & 9th.

Common Snipe: Noted on 2 days with at least 7 (M) on 8th & 9th.

Little Stint: Noted on 2 days with many (M) on 8th & 9th.

Temminck's Stint: 3 seen well (M) on 8th.

Dunlin: Noted on 2 days with 2 (M) on 8th, increasing to 15 (M) on 9th.

Curlew Sandpiper: Noted on 2 days with several (M) on 8th & 9th.

Broad-billed Sandpiper: 1 seen well (M) on 9th.

Terek Sandpiper: 1 seen well when first found, but only distantly by the rest of the group (M) on 8th.

Ruff: Noted on 2 days with (M, V) on 8th & 9th.

Common/Mew Gull: 1 (DD) on 9th.

Yellow-legged Gull: Noted on 4 days, 7th, 9th - 11th.

Caspian Gull: Noted on 5 days, 7th - 11th.

Baltic [Lesser Black-backed] Gull: A flock on the beach (M) on 8th.

Black-headed Gull: Noted on 5 days.

Little Gull: Good numbers (V, Hi) on 8th.

Whiskered Tern: Noted on 4 days, (Ca, M, V, Hi) 7th - 10th.

Gull-billed Tern: 1 (V) on 8th.

Caspian Tern: Noted on 2 days with 2 (DD) on 9th, 4 (DD) on 10th.

Sandwich Tern: Noted on 3 days, 8th - 10th.

Common Tern: Noted on 3 days with up to 12 (DD) on 9th - 11th.

Little Tern: 1 (Hi) on 8th.

Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon: Noted on 6 days around the villages and towns.

Stock Dove: c6 (DD) on 10th.

European Turtle Dove: 30 on roadside wires en route (Ca - M) on 7th.

Eurasian Collared Dove: Noted on 6 days.

Common Cuckoo: Noted on 2 days with 1 en route (Ca - M) on 7th, 1 on the back road on 8th.

Tawny Owl: One heard at around 2am from the ponton (DD) on 11th.

Ural Owl: 1 in roadside tree (Bu) on 13th.

Little Owl: 1 (V) on 8th.

Alpine Swift: 3 (Z) on 12th.

Common Swift: 1 forced low overhead by heavy rain en route (DD - S) on 11th.

Common Kingfisher: Noted on 4 days with 1 (Ca) on 7th, 2 on 8th, 2 (DD) on 9th, 20+ (DD) on 10th.

European Bee-eater: Noted on 5 days with 50 (Ca and en route) on 7th, c100 throughout the day on 8th, many en route (M - DD), particularly during lunch (E) on 9th, many overhead (DD) on 10th, and en route (DD - S) on 11th.

European Roller: Noted on 4 days with 2 en route (Ca - M) on 7th, at least 5 along the back road on 8th, 1 (E) on 9th, c6 en route (DD - S) on 11th.

Eurasian Hoopoe: Noted on 2 days with c30 in a flock along the back road on 8th, 1 en route on 9th.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with 1 (DD) on 10th, heard (Ba) on 11th.

Syrian Woodpecker: Noted on 2 days with 1 giving good views (Ca) on 7th, (M) on 8th.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: Noted on 3 days with several (Ca) on 7th, (DD) on 10th, (R) on 12th.

Black Woodpecker: Heard several times (Ca) on 7th.

Green Woodpecker: 1 on 7th.

Grey-headed Woodpecker: 2 (DD) on 10th.

Crested Lark: Noted on 2 days with several on 8th & 9th.

[European] Sand Martin: Noted on 3 days, 7th - 9th.

Barn Swallow: Noted most days.

Red-rumped Swallow: 5 at Canaraua Fetei on 7th.

[Common] House Martin: Noted on 3 days, 7th, 12th, & 13th.

Yellow Wagtail: Noted on 3 days, 7th - 9th.

Grey Wagtail: Noted on 2 days with 3 (Z) on 12th, several on 13th.

White Wagtail: Noted most days.

Tawny Pipit: 3 along the back road on 8th.

Tree Pipit: Noted on 2 days with several heard flying over (Ca) on 7th, and again on 8th.

Red-backed Shrike: Noted on 5 days, often many birds along roadside, 7th -10th, & 12th.

Lesser Grey Shrike: Several juveniles on 8th.

White-throated Dipper: Noted on 2 days with 2 in the palace grounds (S) on 11th, at least 10 (Bu, S) on 13th.

Ring Ouzel: 1 on roadside (Bu) on 13th.

Common Blackbird: Noted on 3 days, 7th, 12th, & 13th.

Fieldfare: A few (Tr) on 12th.

Song Thrush: Noted on 2 days, 7th & 13th.

Mistle Thrush: c10 (Bu) on 13th.

European Robin: Noted on 2 days, 12th & 13th.

Black Redstart: Noted on 5 days with singles on 7th & 8th, 2 (Ch) on 9th, 4 on 12th, many on 13th.

Common Redstart: 2 on 12th.

Whinchat: Noted on 2 days with several on 8th & 13th.

Northern Wheatear: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 7th, several on 8th, few on 9th.

Black-eared Wheatear: 4 (Ch) on 9th.

Bearded Tit / Reedling: Heard calling briefly (Hi) on 8th.

Savi's Warbler: One seen briefly (Hi) on 8th.

Sedge Warbler: Several (M, Hi) on 8th.

Paddyfield Warbler: 1 seen briefly (Hi) on 8th.

[Eurasian] Reed Warbler: Noted on 2 days, (M, Hi) on 8th & 9th.

Great Reed Warbler: 1 (Hi) on 8th.

Common/Eurasian Chiffchaff: Noted on 2 days, (S) on 12th & 13th.

Blackcap: Noted only on 7th.

Goldcrest: Noted on 2 days with birds heard (S) on 12th & 13th, unfortunately not seen.

Spotted Flycatcher: Noted on 4 days, several on 7th, 2 (DD) on 10th, (Ba, S) on 11th, several in orchard near Vulcan on 12th.

[European] Pied Flycatcher: 2 in orchard near Vulcan on 12th.

Red-breasted Flycatcher: 1 (Ba) on 11th.

Long-tailed Tit: 15+ (DD) on 10th.

Coal Tit: Noted only on 12th.

Great Tit: Noted on 6 days.

Blue Tit: Noted only on 10th.

Eurasian Nuthatch: A few noted on 3 days, 11th - 13th.

Eurasian Jay: Noted on 5 days.

Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie: Noted most days.

Western/Eurasian Jackdaw: Noted each day.

Rook: Noted on 6 days.

Hooded Crow: Noted each day.

Common Raven: Noted on 3 days with 2 (DD) on 9th, 2 (R) on 12th, 2 (Bu) on 13th.

[Eurasian] Golden Oriole: A female or immature in full view at the top of a dead tree for several minutes (Ca) on 7th.

Common Starling: Noted on 5 days.

Corn Bunting: Noted on 2 days, 7th,& 8th.

[Common] Reed Bunting: Noted on 8th.

Common/European Chaffinch: Noted on 2 days, 12th & 13th.

European Siskin: Noted on 2 days around the hotel (S) on 12th & 13th.

Common Linnet: Noted on 7th.

Common/Red Crossbill: Noted on 2 days with a few (S) on 12th, c8 (Bu) on 13th.

Common/Eurasian Bullfinch: Heard calling (Bu) on 13th.

House Sparrow: Noted each day.

[Eurasian] Tree Sparrow: Noted on 5 days.

MAMMALS

Eastern Hedgehog: One dead on road on 7th.

Common Pipistrelle: Several 'detected' around the hotel (M) on 7th.

Noctule Bat: Noted on 2 days with several 'detected' around the hotel (Ca) on 6th, and again around the hotel (M) on 7th.

Red Fox: Droppings found (Hi) on 8th.

Brown Bear: A male, then a female & 3 cubs at Brasov in the early hours on 12th.

Roe Deer: 1 at Brasov on 12th.

Red Squirrel: 3 (R, S) on 12th.

European Souslik: Noted on 2 days with many on 8th, many (Ch) on 9th.

Muskrat: One seen swimming across a pond (Ca) was the only sighting on 7th.

Yellow-necked Mouse: One found dead on path (DD) on 10th.

Brown Rat: Dead on road on 8th.

Brown Hare: One at the orchard near Vulcan on 12th.

AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES

Marsh Frog / Lake Frog: Noted on 2 days, (CF) on 7th, (DD) on 10th.

Edible Frog: Noted on 2 days, 7th & 8th.

Pool Frog: (DD) on 10th.

European Pond Terrapin: Noted on 2 days with (CF) on 7th, and again on 8th.

Balkan Green Lizard: Noted on 2 days, 7th & 8th.

Balkan Wall Lizard: Many at Adamclisi on 7th.

Large Whip Snake: (CF) on 7th.

Dice Snake: One (DD) on 10th.

BUTTERFLIES & other insects

Swallowtail: Noted on 2 days, 7th & 8th.

Small White: Noted on 3 days, 7th - 9th.

Green-veined White: (DD) on 10th.

Eastern Bath White: Noted on 4 days, 7th - 10th.

Clouded Yellow: Noted on 3 days, (CF) on 7th, (V) on 8th, (DD) on 10th.

Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow: Noted on 2 days, (CF) on 7th, (V) on 8th.

Small Copper: Noted on 7th.

Large Copper: (V) on 8th.

Lesser Fiery Copper: Noted on 2 days, (Ca, CF) on 7th, (DD) on 10th.

Brown Argus: Noted on 8th.

Amanda's Blue: Noted on 2 days, (V) on 8th, (Ch) on 9th.

Adonis Blue: Noted on 3 days, (Ca) on 7th, (Ch) on 9th, (DD) on 10th.

Common Blue: Noted on 4 days, (Ca) on 7th, (V, Hi) on 8th, (Ch) on 9th, (DD) on 10th.

Little Blue: (Ca) on 7th.

Large Tortoiseshell: Noted on 7th.

Peacock: (DD) on 10th.

Red Admiral: (DD) on 10th.

Painted Lady: (Ch) on 9th.

Cardinal: (Ch) on 9th.

Queen of Spain Fritillary: (CF) on 7th.

Tree Grayling: Several, probably this species, noted (Ch) on 9th.

Freyer's Grayling: (Ch) on 9th.

Meadow Brown: Noted on 2 days, 7th & 9th.

Small Heath: Noted on 3 days, on 7th, (E) on 9th, (DD) on 10th.

Speckled Wood: Noted on 2 days, on 7th, (Ba) on 11th.

Wall Brown: Noted on 7th.

Orbed Red-underwing Skipper: (V) on 8th.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth: Noted on 3 days, 7th - 9th.

Convulvolus Hawkmoth: One found dead (Z) on 12th.

Blue-tailed Damselfly: Noted on 7th.

Migrant Hawker: (CF) on 7th.

Lesser Emperor: (DD) on 10th.

Common Darter: Noted on 4 days, 7th - 10th.

Ruddy Darter: Noted on 9th.

SELECTED PLANTS with thanks to Rosie Endecott.

In the brackish lagoon areas, we found the yellow thistle-like flowers of the quaintly named Spanish Oyster Plant Scolymus hispanicus, and of course the mauve haze of Sea Lavender Limonium sp., so often used in flower arrangements.

It was really good to see the massed Autumn Crocuses Colchicum autumnale in the orchard near Vulcan. These were pinkish in colour whereas those in the palace grounds at Sinaia were more blue. In the Zarnesti Gorge, we were also delighted to see Grass of Parnassus Parnassia palustris with its dainty white flowers and the big blue bells of Campanula carpatica, here growing in its homeland in the Carpathians.

The saga of calamities on this trip would make a report all on its own - thank goodness for mobile phones! For me, the Dalmatian Pelicans at Histria, circling right overhead must the high point during the beginning of the week, and the roadside Ural Owl the high point towards the end. But also don't forget the large flocks of Pratincoles flying over us at Histria and the White Pelicans circling over us on the delta. The numbers of Squacco & Night Herons being continually found in the delta were excellent, and that flock of Hoopoes with the Rollers and Bee-eaters on the steppes and the Booted Eagles patrolling the Cheia Gorge just stunning. The butterflies were not outdone, and of course we mustn't forget the architecture and churches.

All things considered, a good trip which I hope you all enjoyed. Well done to all of you who made this trip the success it was, despite the various set-backs, and our special thanks to Tudor who shared his knowledge so freely and to Marius who drove us for most of the week.

I hope that I see you all on another trip, sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Keith Grant, September 2003


© The Travelling Naturalist 2003