Danube Delta Birdringing and Birdwatching camp 17.05.2016 -30.05.2016

The story 

During my 3 week stay at the Col de Bretolet in Switzerland in 2015, I got to know Fabian Schneider, who was the responsible ringer for that season. He told me about a project organised by the “Groupe des jeunes de nos oiseaux” (http://gdj.nosoiseaux.ch/) in Romania. As I kept the idea of going to the Danube Delta in my mind, I immediately contacted Fabian, when I got to know that my last exam will be on 12th of May so I would be able to join them for two weeks. As planned on the 12th of May I wrote my last exam and started to get ready for the take-off on the 17th of July.


What about the Danube Delta

At the beginning I didn’t knew exactly where to situate the Danube delta so I made some researches and I found out that “The Danube Delta (Delta Dunarii) is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent” (Wikipedia). Actually the largest part of the Danube Delta is situated in the easter part of Romania. The Biotope is a mix between huge reed-beds and floodplain forests.



As for most of the trips, the first adventure is the journey to get to the place, the journey to Sfântu Gheorghe (little village), included travelling by plane (2h30), by a small bus (4h30) and a 5h boat trip. On the 17th of May I took the plane to Buccharest, where I spend the day. The next morning at 7 o’clock I got my bus to Tulcea from where I took the boat at 13h30. Around 18h30, I managed to arrive in Sfântu Gheorghe, where someone picked me up. As the ringing camps itself was not in the village there was still a 45 min hike to do.


The Daily business

The camps is a very basic but comfortable housing, which contains an outside kitchen, a sleeping room (6-7 people) and a storage room.


Usually, the day started at 5.15 in the morning by checking the nets, which stayed open over the night. After the first round, it was breakfast time, from now on a control has been done every hour until dusk. The nets were closed only if the weather conditions turned bad (too much wind, thunderstorms or temperatures around 30°C at 11 o’clock in the morning). During bad weather periods we did some birdwatching with a lot of interesting species seen, furthermore we went to the village in order to have a beer and ice-cream, internet connection, electricity and a cheap meal in one of the local restaurants. 


Birdringing and Birdwatching

From the bird migration part, I have been lucky on the first day as there have been up to 250 birds ringed, in the following two weeks, numbers decreased constantly so that the numbers were between 30 and 50 birds ringed. Contrary to the decrease in numbers there was an increase in diversity. Interestin species have been, Red-breasted flycatchers (Ficedula parva), Thrush nightingale (Luscinia luscinia), Barred Warblers (Sylvia nisoria), River Warbler (Locustella fluviatilis), Paddyfiled Warblers (Acrocephalus Agricola) and some Easter Olivaceous Warblers (Iduna pallida).


The more exceptional birds ringed have been a female Black-headed bunting (Emberiza melanocephala) and two Greenish Warblers (Phylloscopus trochiloïdes), which are a 7th an 8th record for Romania.


Apart from Bird ringing, we did also a lot of bird watching. The most popular birds have been the two pelican species, the Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus). Further interesting species have been Ferruginous ducks (Anas nyroca), Pygmy cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), Red-footed falcons(Falco vespertinus), two Stone curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus), Palla’s Gull (Larus ichthyaetus), Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia), Short-toed lark (Calandrella brachydactyla) and a Red-throated pipit (Anthus cervinus).


The best observation has been done by Paul Dufour, who found a Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus hemprichii), 14th observation of this species and 3rd observation of this ssp in Romania.


All in all I managed to see 109 species. The most interesting part for me has been the morphological difference between the ssp. in Romania and the ssp. in Luxembourg. The most striking differences can be seen on the Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis ssp volgensis/icterops) and on the Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus ssp. intermedia).



In order to conclude I would like to thank Fabian and the other members of the team for a great experience.