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October 19, 2015

Romania Nature Tour

Written By Admin

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The tour is specifically designed for those who want a focused birding and bear watching holiday whilst enjoying the chance to see wild and beautiful parts of Romania (Carpathians and Danube Delta). There are opportunities to cover botanical aspects of the crossed areas, to see mammals and other wildlife, or to visit cultural and archaeological sites. Participants will receive in advance a blank daily bird checklist for the tour, together with an information letter detailing helpful advice such as health requirements, what to bring, recommended reading, indications of the daily routine of the tour (i.e. whether its pace is slow, medium or fast), etc. At the end of each tour, a feedback form is provided so that tours can constantly be improved

Program

Day 1 – Day3. Arrival on Bucharest Otopeni airport. Pick up and transfer with coach to the mountains; daily trips for birdwatching and afternoons looking for the bear.

Day 4. The scenic landscape that covers half of the Romanian territory, from the high mountains till the proximity of the Black Sea.

Day5 – Day 7. Dobrogea land, one of the last European steppe regions, mixed with exotic and Mediterranean wildlife species.

Day 8 – Day10. Danube Delta, the last wilderness and remote European water land, floating on narrow and picturesque channels, visiting sandy marine fields, spending the nights in the middle of nowhere.

Day 11. Departure to Bucharest (Otopeni airport).

Price:

Eur 990/pers (min. 12 participants – max. 18 participants)

The price contains:

–          transportation in Romania with coach / bus;

–          accommodation (mountain chalets: 2-4 beds/room; Danube Delta: DBL room)

–          meals (3 meals/day, including packed lunches, according with the program)

–          water transportation in Danube Delta;

–          specialized guide (English/French).

Travel conditions:

 Transport with deluxe coach / bus. The driver is at your disposal and could customize the route based on your requirements.

Carpathians: accommodation in plain and comfortable chalets, meals based on fresh ingredients and local recipes.

Danube Delta: accommodation on 3* floating boat, hot dinner and supper, both cold (packed for field trips) and hot lunch (on the boat). The floating boat is equipped twin bed cabins, each with bathrooms, (sun proof) terrace, restaurant and bar; the restaurant and the cabins are provided with air conditioning and heating system. There is full time hot and cold water in all bathrooms. The qualified chef who prepares you the most delicious local specialties is helped by the boat’s personnel who will serve you along your trip. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available from the bar, but they are not included in price (except mineral water and coffee).

What to see – details about the trip objectives

The trip reveals two main regions:

–          visiting the Carpathian mountains – the spectacular Transylvanian forests and alpine meadows, mostly for the Brown Bear and also for passage, migratory and resident birds, then

–          Danube Delta  – explored by floating hotel and boat, and the nearby Dobrogea region.

The Romanian Carpathians shelters the biggest European population of Brown Bears. According with the WWF, there are approx. 6600 bears that living here. We will visit a small Transylvanian county where exists about 250 bears. The visits are non intrusive and ecologically sensitive, wooden observatories being prepared for this action. You are likely to see also deer, mink and the occasional wolf; as well you will also see plenty of all birds.

The most interesting place of the area is the bird sanctuary of Sânpaul fishpond (a resting place of the passing birds). This is a natural reserve where 256 bird species were observed; from this number 113 species are nesting here. There were observed many rare bird species, such as: Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, and Short-toed Eagle. In the region White Stork nests in great number, also few pairs of Black Storks are present.

The vegetation of the region attracts also, man could founding rare species as:
Siberian Statice (Limonium gmelini), Croccus (Crocus banaticus), Pasque flower (Pulsatilla Montana), Cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium), Orchid species, Iris species, mostly rare onion species and the Sea aster (Aster tripolium).

Dobrogea Region

In Dobrogea region we spend some time with checking out Wildfowl and Shorebirds at the main lakes, lagoons and at the Black Sea coast. There is a chance for Collared Pratincole, Little-ringed, Ringed, Golden and Grey Plover, Red-necked Phalarope, Broad-billed-, Wood, Marsh, Green and Curlew Sandpiper among many others. Black-winged Stilt and Curlew can be finding at different spots. Bearded Tit is present during the whole year while for Red-footed Falcon, Hoopoe, Roller, Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Spanish Sparrow or Golden Oriole you should come early autumn. Bearded Tits, Penduline Tits, Reed, Marsh and Grasshopper Warblers and different Herons are abundant at the vast reed-beds.

During the coach-tours we visit the most famous birding areas from the area such as Lake Sinoe and other parts of Histria, Cheia Gorges, Babadag Forest, lakes and wetlands at the River Danube and vicinity of Macin Mts. One of the main highlight is White Pelican which can be seen sometimes in large numbers and we hope to find some Dalmatian Pelicans as well. Among the different raptors Buzzards will be represented by large number of migrating Long-legged Buzzards, occasional Honey- and Steppe Buzzards. At this time of the year Hobby outnumbers Kestrel and we look for Saker, Peregrine and Lesser Kestrel as well. Sparrowhawk and Goshawk is fairly common, while there are just a few spots where it is worth to look for Levant Sparrowhawk. Osprey and the enormous White-tailed Eagle hunt at the lakes and at the River Danube, also Lesser-spotted-, Short-toed and Booted Eagle could be found here. Harriers and Shrikes each represent themselves with 4 species, but we need some luck for finding Pallid Harrier or Woodchat Shrike.

One of the days we spend with a trip to the Dobrogea Plateau where we visit Babadag Forest and Cheia Gorges, two outstanding birding areas with a number of different species. Babadag forest is full with Warblers, Collared, Red-breasted, Spotted Flycatchers and Woodpeckers, while much drier Cheia Gorges and its surrounding is good for Common, Black-eared, Isabelline and Pied Wheathear. Locally common Sousliks draw the attention of birds of prey. Different Eagle species such as Booted, Imperial, Lesser-spotted and maybe Steppe Eagle will soar above us. At the edges of dry areas at patches of woods various songbirds can find some shade such as Sombre Tit, Red-backed Shrike and Red-breasted Flycatcher. There are some spots where beside the regular Lark species we look for Calandra and Short-toed Lark as well. Among the many Pipits and Wagtails we hope to see Red-throated Pipit and Citrine Wagtail. During these days we also try to add the following species to our list: Stone Curlew, Little Crake, Corncrake, Roller, Kingfisher, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt.

Another interesting bird watching point are Macin Mountains. They are forested for most of their surface (deciduous forest – largely oak), but uphill bare rocky slopes are dominant. From the birdwatcher’s point of view this is the most valuable habitat, the last recorded breeding site for Black Vulture in Romania. Rock Bunting is also found. The vegetation is steppe (a habitat lost in most parts of Europe) with semi-arid plants, more reminiscent of the Middle East. The area is also important for reptiles, egg. the Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes), and Spur-thighted Tortoise (Testudo graeca). The bird life is represented by species like: Lesser Spotted Eagle, Corn Bunting, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Montagu’s Harrier, Ortolan Bunting, Saker or Short-toed Eagle.

The Plopu lake (Murighiol area) offer an almost bewildering array of birdlife. The large and vociferous gull and tern colony, mostly Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls, will be dispersing by August but closer scrutiny should still reveal the presence of a small number of Mediterranean Gulls resplendent in their summer plumage. Black-necked Grebes, White Storks, Shelducks, Shovelers, Montagu’s Harrier, Goldeneye. Long-legged Buzzard, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Turtle Dove, Wryneck and Redstart have to be seen here. Also, other birds, among them Little Stints and a Little Owl are very cooperative and gave excellent views in the late afternoon sun; Garganeys, Squacco Herons, Purple Herons (together with Grey Herons) flying high over the village and numerous Hobbies and Red-footed Falcons speeding by close to the rooftops.

Danube Delta

We start our cruise on the Tulcea Branch of the River Danube. Birding in the region will count at least 200 species, mentioning numerous Glossy Ibises, dozens of Great Crested Grebes, Squacco Herons, Egrets, Grey Herons, Pygmy Cormorants and Cormorants which can gather in impressive numbers where the water levels are low. Large flocks of White Pelicans glide serenely overhead whilst in the shallower channels Kingfishers are ubiquitous and Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpipers and Greenshanks feed along the banks. Coots, Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns and other species of marsh terns, Graylags, and Hooded Crows, Spoonbills, Oystercatchers, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Little and Common Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Crested Lark, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, Lesser Grey Shrike, Starlings, Ferruginous Ducks –all stood on the banks or flew around. Fringing reeds hold family parties of Penduline Tits and other reed bed species (including a bumper population of Little Bitterns) although the smaller birds can be very hard to see at this time of year. Raptors will include frequent sightings of Marsh Harriers, whilst Red-footed Falcons may be seen in small groups hunting insects overhead. White-tailed Eagles are to be seen flying over the poplars; there is always a chance of locating one of the ten or so breeding pairs.

Among Gulls and Terns we try to find Mediterranean, Little and Black-headed Gull, plus Little Tern, Caspian, Whiskered, Black and White-winged Black Tern.

In places, the channels unexpectedly open out into wide atrophic lakes covered in white and yellow water lilies. Here marsh terns swoop low over the water hawking insects (all three species occur, Whiskered Tern being the most abundant) and wildfowl such as Ferruginous Duck breed.

On the large lakes (Rosu, Bogdaproste, Trei Iezere, Fortuna), migrating waterfowl and waders mingle with resident species, and White Pelicans often gather in huge numbers to feed and roost.

There will also be the opportunity to undertake short walks on land, where mature willow forest and cultivated areas yield further species of interest. In open areas, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Rollers and shrikes are very common. The woodlands support five species of woodpecker including Grey- and Great Spotted (most common), as well as Lesser Spotted, Black and Syrian, Golden Orioles are also abundant, hunting Hobbys are a regular sight and around the sleepy fishing villages, thick scrub holds Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and, if we are lucky, perhaps an Olivaceous or Icterine Warbler.

On our water way we will visit the area of Sf. Gheorghe village, a very good birdwatching place with sea, and lakes, where in migration among huge numbers of migrating waders, one can spot also rarities. In the bush stripe we can look for migrating Barred Warbler, flycatchers (including Red-breasted) and Olivaceous Warbler.

Among the breeding species we will see hopefully the Stone Curlew, the Gull-billed Tern, Black Stork, Avocets and Black-winged Stilts, White and Dalmatian Pelican. In previous years the White-tailed Lapwing has bred here. In early morning birdwatching one can twitch for the Blue-throat, and for various crakes (including Little and Baillon’s). Also Sacalin Island (strictly protected area), washed by the sea, represent an excellent stop over point both for migrating birds and for shoreline ones.

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