Eastern Romania, 18th to 22nd of May 2010

This trip was mainly a bird trip to the Danube delta but I had the intension to see Steppe Runner (Eremias arguta), Orsini's viper (Vipera ursinii) and Eastern Spadefoot (Pelobatus syricus) as well. The weather was not on my side and the hole Eastern Europe had some weeks with a lot of rain and flooding in many places.

18th of May, Tuesday

I arrived to Bukarest by train in the evening the 18th of May. It was a warm evening but rain was coming. I had booked Helo hotel close to the train station but the map I had printed out from google showed me two kilometres in total wrong direction and I had to take a taxi back to the hotel just beside the station. The hotel was nice and convenient.

19th of May, Wednesday

In the morning I took an early train for Constansa where I arrived at lunchtime and had a rental car waiting for me at the station. I drove up to Histra and spent some hours there. The weather was cloudy but calm. I could not find any lizards but one giant Marsh Frog, Pelohylax ridibundus, in a small pool in the ruins of the roman city Histra. The area gave some birds, especially the lagoons on the way out to the archaeological site and singing Green Toad, Epidalea viridis, and Fire-bellied Toad, Bombina bombina. Beside the road I had a cute sisel watching me in the car.

I drove up to Morighiole and the pension where I had book a room for three nights. The garden was next to a lake and I hoped to see Danube Crested Newt, Triturus dobrogicus, and maybe Eastern Spadefoot, Pelobates syriacus. For the next mornings and nights I spent some time looking for those species but without luck. In the water I saw Marsh Frog, Pelohylax ridibundus, and could hear Edible Frog, Pelohylax kl. esculentus.

Hoopoe, Upupa epops
Hoopoe (Upupa epops) at the ruins of Histra.

Marsh Frog, Pelophylax ridibundus
Marsh frog (Pelophylax ridibundus) at the ruins of Histra.

Sisel, Spermophilus citellus
Sisel (Spermophilus citellus) beside the road to Histra.

Ploughing with horse
Ploughing with horse is still a common sight in Romania.

The pension in Morighiol.
The pension in Morighiol.
The boardwalk where I spent some time looking for Danube Crested Newt.

Marsh Frog, Pelophylax ridibundus
Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)

Ploughing with horse
Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus) in the garden.

In the evening the owner of the pension had arranged a meeting with one of the most experienced biologists in the area. We had a nice dinner together and talked about nature and nature conservation in the area. The Orsini's viper was declining remarkable and had just three good populations left. High water the last year had been bad for most of the populations. It is mainly the big open sandy areas in the central and southern parts of the delta that still keeps the species. The Steppe Runner is more frequent in the same habitats. I planned to go to the end of the southern river arm and explore the south side.

20th of May, Thursday

Today the weather was better and I decided to go bird watching with boat (first priority instead of herp hunting far out in the delta). The owner of the pension arranged a driver and boat and I spent many hours driving around to the best bird sites in the central part of the delta. It was one of my best nature experience so far. So many bird species close up. The only negative side was the noise from the engine. Several times the driver had to clean the propeller from underwater vegetation. In the evening I drove to Tulcea and saw the natural history museum and took a stroll in the town.

21st of May, Friday

Today the weather was bad and I could not go herp hunting in the delta. Instead I took the car and drove south to Ensalada and the lagoons down to Histra. North of Histra a road runs east to the lagoons and gives very good opportunities for birdwatching. The roads are not good but improving slowly. You have to be very alert to see the potholes and be aware of horses and wagons on the road. In the lagoons there were plenty of Fire-bellied Toad, Bombina bombina and Water Frogs singing in the wet but warm weather.

Danube delta
The Danube delta consists of river arms, canals, lakes, reeds and wet forests in a vast area.

Per Blomberg with chauffeur
The author with his chauffeur exploring the delta.

European roller, Coracias garrulus
European roller (Coracias garrulus)

White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus
White Pelican, (Pelecanus onocrotalus)

Romanian road
A normal road in Romania.

Marsh Frog, Pelophylax ridibundus
Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)

Bee Eater, Merops apiaster
Bee Eater (Merops apiaster)

Weatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
Weatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Sunrise in Romania
Sunrise - the last morning in Romania.

22nd of May, Saturday and on

The last day I had planned a half day excursion along the east coast but the noon train from Constanta did not run on Saturdays so I had to be there in the morning to catch my train in Bukarest by night. This ment I had to get up att 4 and drive in the morning fog to Constanta and be there at 8 in time for the train.

The night train from Bukarest to Budapest left half past seven and was delayed to Budapest by 45 minutes. This ment I missed my train to Berlin and the night train to Lund and had to buy new reservations to Munich and the night train to Copenhagen. I arrived in Lund at noon Monday the 22nd of May just some hours after the train I missed.

The bad result for herpetofauna is mainly to blame on the bad weather, but also restrictions to visit the reserves and other priorities for my trip. It is not that enjoyable to be out herphunting alone, especially not at night.

Species seen and heard on the trip:
Marsh Frog, Pelohylax ridibundus
Edible Frog, Pelohylax kl. esculentus
Fire-bellied Toad, Bombina bombina
Green Toad, Epidalea viridis

/Per Blomberg

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