19–28 April 2017
There are many highlights on a tour that includes visits to the Transylvanian Alps, the Danube Delta and the Black Sea coast. Target species will include both European pelicans, Lesser Spotted and White-tailed Eagles, Eurasian Eagle-owl, all ten European woodpeckers, Red-footed Falcon, Spotted Nutcracker, Sombre Tit, Wallcreeper, Paddyfield Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Pied Wheatear and Alpine Accentor.
Day 1 Flight from London to Bucharest. On arrival we will drive north to Moeciu, our base for the next three nights.
Day 2 We will spend today searching for Wallcreeper in the Transylvanian Alps. This is a spectacular and adventurous day driving on unsurfaced mountain tracks. As well as crag sites for Wallcreeper, we will visit the high moorland looking for Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor and Horned Lark. Areas of spruce near the tree-line can often reveal Eurasian Nutcracker, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Ring Ouzel, the Alpine race of Willow Tit, Crested Tit and Tree Pipit.
Day 3 During the morning we will explore some slightly less-elevated forest in search of Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers and Black, Grey-headed and White-backed Woodpeckers. In the afternoon we will descend into Transylvania to some oak woodland which is often good for Eurasian Wryneck and will give us a chance of Black Stork. We will also visit some wetland habitat, with the possibility of seeing Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Tern and Marsh Warbler.
Day 4 This is our one long travelling day as we make our way to one of the remotest parts of the Danube Delta. We will stop along the way at an inland wetland, Rodeanu Pond, and then continue to Tulcea. The final part of the journey will be by boat, down the middle channel of the Danube Delta. The two-hour voyage will bring us to the isolated fishing village of Crisan, a peaceful place that is far from any road and situated in the middle of the Danube Delta. We will stay for three nights in a very comfortable villa in the village.
Day 5 Our first day at Crisan will be spent partly on foot and partly in small boats, exploring a variety of the delta habitats just outside the village. The first is an area of scrub that is good for Red-backed Shrike and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. An area of woodland is good for Eurasian Nightjar, Eurasian Hobby, Red-footed Falcon and European Roller. The wetland areas can usually be relied upon to produce Spotted Redshank, Little Bittern and Squacco Heron.
Day 6 On our second full day in the delta we will head south from the village in our own boat to an area of lakes and small channels. Eurasian Spoonbill, Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans, White-tailed Eagle, Red-necked Grebe, Caspian Gull and Little and Sandwich Terns are on the cards here, along with Black, White-winged and Whiskered Terns. After lunch and a short siesta at our villa we will explore the area on foot; this is sure to produce some new migrants.
Day 7 Reluctantly leaving Crisan, we will head back by boat to the river-port of Tulcea and drive into Babadag Forest in search of Ortolan Bunting, Sombre Tit, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and other species. We will explore a remnant stretch of steppe country for Short-toed Snake-eagle and Greater Short-toed Lark and then continue to a rocky valley where Pied Wheatears breed. In the late afternoon we will arrive at our coastal base of Corbu for a two-night stay.
Day 8 We will start by visiting the rich wetlands of Vadu, where Collared Pratincole is one of our target species. Also highly possible here are Great Bittern, Pied Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. In the pools with muddy margins, parties of Little Stints are likely together with Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers. We will continue to Histria, which can claim to be perhaps the most bird-rich spot on the Black Sea coast. Our target here is Paddyfield Warbler, but the list of possible species is impressive and includes Kentish Plover, Garganey, Red-crested Pochard and Gull-billed Tern.
Day 9 From Corbu we will head southwest across the hills of southern Dobrogea to a remote wooded valley with rocky crags: a breeding site for Eurasian Eagle-owl, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-rumped Swallow, Eurasian Golden Oriole and Icterine Warbler. We will continue to Lake Bugeac, where Ruddy Shelduck can be found. Our journey will then take us across the Danube on a small car ferry adjacent to the Bulgarian town of Silistra. We will stay close to the banks of the Danube and spend the night at Călărasi.
Day 10 There will be time for morning birding in the first-class wetland near Călărasi before we drive west to Bucharest to catch our afternoon flight to London.
General Information Expect the weather to be similar to that in Britain at the same time of year, but probably warmer on the coast. In the mountains we shall see patches of snow and suitable clothing, including walking boots, should be brought. There are no special health requirements. Insects will be only a minor problem and only in the delta area. The itinerary is fairly relaxed and mostly only a general degree of fitness for walking is required. In the mountains, however, some of the walks may need a little extra stamina, particularly if snow is still present. The food is very good and varied and is suitable for vegetarians. Wine, beer, etc. are also very good and quite cheap! Romanian plumbing can be a little unreliable, but supplies of hot water are assured. Roads are mostly good but there is some driving on rough tracks and potholes are not unknown. The tour can be good for reptiles and mammals, with Brown Bear (optional evening visit to be paid for locally) and Souslik likely.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 12 with 2 leaders.