Reports, with Bird Lists, of our Meetings, Walks and Outings

Romania: Bear Mountains and the Pelican Delta
by Chris Ward

Date: Thursday 20 October 2016 at 19:30


Thirty-nine people attended the meeting to hear Chris Ward present on the birds and wildlife of Romania and in particular the regions of the Harghita Mountains, Gheorgheni Hills and the Danube Delta.

The overall impression of Romania is of a country with beautiful scenery, largely natural and underdeveloped, which is undergoing some rapid development dependent upon support from the European Union.

The presentation was based upon an early May tour and it was clear that most adult birds were already feeding young in their nests.

The mountain species list included redstart, collared flycatcher, water pipit, ring ouzel, grey wagtail, red-backed shrike, black woodpecker and the black-bellied dipper which Chris’ photography showed to have white eyelids.  We also learned that fieldfare “see off” corvids threatening their nest by defecating on them from above!  Camberwell beauties and weaver fritillary butterflies were abundant and carpathian newts basked in the sunshine.  Bran Castle, of Dracula fame, was seen looking menacing from between the mountain peaks.

The Gheogheni Hills with their Swiss-like alpine meadows and coniferous woodlands produced rose finches, three wheatear species – northern, black-eared and pied, black-eared buntings and hoopoes that sprayed predators with a vile smelling acidic fluid rather like skunk.  Frogs galore – European pond turtles and sand lizards were included, as were ground squirrels and a rather uneasy encounter with a mature brown bear!!!

Next we arrived at Tulcea – the gateway to the Danube Delta to find white stork nesting on high age-old nests with sparrows nesting within the stork nest structure!  The reed beds had all the reed species including the great reed warbler a rufous phase female cuckoo (a one in a thousand occurrence), hawfinches, middle- spotted woodpeckers and lesser grey shrike.  Several old quarries had large numbers of bee eaters nesting in the sand cliffs, as were wonderfully coloured European rollers and surprisingly tree sparrows.

Finally, we entered the “delta”, a huge patchwork of fresh and salt water channels and pools in an area four times the size of Greater London.  The species list reads – penduline tits and their wondrous nests, great white egrets, purple heron squacco heron, night heron, glossy ibis, cattle egret, pygmy cormorants (60% of the world population live in the delta), three marsh tern species – whiskered, black, and white- winged black.  Birds of prey included red- footed falcon, hen harrier and white- tailed eagle.

Finally, finally!!  The delta is known as pelican delta for good reason as large numbers of white pelicans are resident there; these are very big birds with a 10 foot wingspan.  The more impressive dalmation pelican, with an 11 foot wingspan, is one of the world’s heaviest flying birds and several hundred are resident in the delta.

An excellent presentation, high species count, lots of interesting facts and very very good photography.  An excellent evening!

Peter Gaines reported on What's About in our area:

  • Dorney Wetlands - Cetti’s warbler
  • Dinton Pastures – Jack snipe, 3 ravens, 1 oaprey
  • Pinkneys Green – 2 Ravens
  • Queen Mary Reservoir – Yellow-browed warbler, pectoral sandpiper
  • Various sites – Fieldfares, redwings
--- Original Programme Information ---
Middle Spotted WoodpeckerMiddle Spotted Woodpecker


A rich diversity of wildlife lives in Romania, from the stunning Transylvanian Alps and the Harghita Mountains to the phenomenal Danube Delta.  Exciting birds and mammals can be found nearly everywhere, including probably the highest density of Brown Bears in Europe.

White PelicanWhite Pelican, Danube Delta, Dobrudja

Chris will show us a rich selection of this wildlife, and the landscapes in which they live.

White StorkWhite Stork, Histria, Dobrudja

Chris Ward's Bio

  • Experienced lecturer; having presented talks to over 250 clubs and societies.
  • Keen traveller, and a wildlife photographer for over 30 years.
  • Former Group Leader of the North Bucks RSPB Local Group for 10 years (and Committee member for 30 years).
  • Former member of the Buckinghamshire Birds Rarities Committee for 15 years.
SuslikSuslik (European Ground Squirrel), Cheia Gorge, Dobrudja
All pictures are © Copyright. Do not reproduce without permission from Chris Ward.