Wee­don’s World

Mike spent some qual­ity time in Ro­ma­nia, en­joy­ing the abun­dant birdlife Mike trav­elled to Ro­ma­nia thanks to Ram­blers World­wide Hol­i­days.

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Mike ex­tols the virtues of birdwatching in Ro­ma­nia

TIME FOR AN early morn­ing walk, and a stroll through scrubby, damp grass to a nar­row, wil­low-lined, reed-fringed wa­ter way, ser­e­naded by a Cuckoo. A Bit­tern is boom­ing, Gar­den War­blers bub­bling and Lesser Whitethroats rat­tling, and Chif­fchaffs chiff­ing and chaffing. Half a dozen Cor­morants take flight from a dead branch as I reach the wa­ter’s edge and fol­low the muddy foot­path. A small fam­ily of Great Tits are beg­ging for food, Star­lings pass over­head bring­ing food to young­sters and a Tree Spar­row is ‘chip­ping’ away. Over­head, Lit­tle Egrets, Grey Herons and Gad­walls are wak­ing up and fly­ing off to their feed­ing grounds. A Com­mon Tern lazily drifts by. So much is typ­i­cal of a 21st Cen­tury walk along any given bird-rich area of East Anglia. But there is some­thing in the air that is just not typ­i­cally Bri­tish. It is not just the buzzing Savi’s War­blers, the rau­cous, shouty Great Reed War­blers or the gen­tler slurred whis­tle of Pen­du­line Tits. It is the over­whelm­ing ca­coph­ony of a mil­lion frogs and toads. That, and the fact the Cor­morants are ac­com­pa­nied by Pygmy Cor­morants, and fly off to join a small raft of White Pel­i­cans. Oh, and the fa­mil­iar war­blers are out-sung by Eastern Oli­va­ceous War­blers, and Black Wood­peck­ers are scream­ing out their calls. Over there, on that raft of Wa­ter Sol­dier, 100 Whiskered Terns are danc­ing and per­haps nest­ing. Plus, the over­head wake-up fly-over fea­tures Fer­rug­i­nous Ducks, Glossy Ibises, Squacco Herons, Rollers, Great White Egrets, Night Herons. And it would be a very odd day in Norfolk or Cam­bridgeshire when you meet a baby Hooded Crow look­ing up at you from the path. This early morn­ing stroll was not in the UK at all, of course, nei­ther was it a flight of fancy or one of those pleas­ant bird dreams we have from time to time… No, I was in Ro­ma­nia in the Danube Delta. The odd con­fu­sion of the fa­mil­iar

Gi­gan­tic quan­ti­ties of fish and am­phib­ians... keep the herons, ibises, cor­morants and pel­i­cans in such num­bers

and the ex­otic was real enough, though and not just a func­tion of it be­ing 5.30 in the morn­ing. In June, I spent five nights on a ‘float­ing ho­tel’ in the Delta, with the days spent on a smaller ves­sel ex­plor­ing the myr­iad chan­nels of the area. The num­ber of birds there is over­whelm­ing. In the few days on the wa­ter, I com­fort­ably saw more Cuck­oos than ever be­fore in my life (we even saw a ‘flock’ of five chas­ing each other at one stage), the males’ fa­mil­iar call and the fe­males’ bub­bling, Whim­brel-like re­ply be­ing a con­stant dron­ing back­drop. But I had never seen so many Rollers, Squacco, Pur­ple and Night Herons, Fer­rug­i­nous Ducks, Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, White and Dal­ma­tian Pel­i­cans… you name it. Pygmy Cor­morants were al­most con­stantly vis­i­ble, as were Whiskered Terns. It is an amaz­ing place and an abun­dant ecosys­tem, with the ‘land birds’ well-fed on abun­dant in­sects, which must also be feed­ing gi­gan­tic quan­ti­ties of fish and am­phib­ian life to keep the herons, ibises, cor­morants and pel­i­cans in such num­bers. Back home, things seem some­what tame. But as a bird ad­dict, I am al­ways up for a bit of week­end ac­tion, which saw me on Sunday once more at March Farm­ers on the Nene Washes, Cam­bridgeshire. The first bird I heard was a Cetti’s War­bler (which we didn’t hear at all in Ro­ma­nia) and the first bird I saw was a Short-eared Owl (it is mid-june!). A Great White Egret in full breed­ing fin­ery was tow­er­ing over Lit­tle Egrets (some of more than 100 in a mile stretch) pick­ing small fish or per­haps Marsh Frogs from the flooded fields. A Bit­tern was boom­ing, dis­tantly and an­other flew non­cha­lantly by. A male Marsh Har­rier was car­ry­ing a large ‘stick’ and a male Cuckoo was shout­ing out his fa­mil­iar song. A pair of Cranes was feed­ing in the dis­tance. The Danube Delta it was not, but what a place! And what birds, most of them un­think­able around here just 15 years ago, but now part of a rou­tine morn­ing’s bird­ing in the fens. The Nene Washes are bril­liant and prob­a­bly the main rea­son why I love bird­ing around good old Pe­ter­bor­ough. Try it, and def­i­nitely try Ro­ma­nia, it is su­perb for birdwatching.

VI­BRANT Rollers are abun­dant in eastern Ro­ma­nia

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