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Danube Delta – Dobrudja Spring Tour downloadable itinerary

Day 1. After arrival in Bucharest we will need three hours to reach Sinoe village on the Black Sea coast, where our accommodation lies in a rural village close to the most important wetland sites. If time permits we will visit the closest birding destinations near Sitorman where an abandoned rock quarry can hold such species like Isabelline and Pied Wheatear, Stone Curlew. Night at Sinoe.

Day 2. We will start the day with an optional pre-breakfast birding around the hotel. After the breakfast we will start the day at Wolf`s Peninsula wetland site, close to the Sinoe lake. In spring time it is one of the best places for waders, terns, gulls, pratincoles and pelicans. In the agricultural fields we shall see migrating Red-throated Pipits, different forms of Yellow Wagtails, Red-footed Falcons, displaying Calandra and Short-toed Larks. The biggest Dalamatian Pelican colony of the Danube Delta is close to this place and small groups often rest here.

Our next destination today will be Histria. Noted for its colony of Collared Pratincoles, the best sites to look for the scarce and elusive Paddyfield Warbler, Kentish Plover, Stone Curlew and at the same time here we can find the ruins of the oldest town in present day Romania. We shall spend the afternoon here before moving just south to the coast at Navodari for more waders and migrants. Night at Sinoe.

Day 3. After the breakfast we will visit Cheia`s limestone gorges - a famous site for breeding Pied, Isabelline and even Eastern Black-eared Wheatears. This site is also very good for raptors and at this time of the year including harriers. We should see Marsh, Montagu`s and maybe even Pallid Harrier, Eurasian Honey Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Spotted Eagle plus the local breeders such as Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle. Small woodlands or bushy areas in the middle of the steppe are inhabitated by breeding and migrating passerines such as Red-backed Shrikes, Lesser-Grey Shrikes, Barred Warbler, Roller, Golden Oriole or even rarities such as Woodchat Shrike can sometimes be seen here.

In the afternoon we will visit Vadu`s famous wetland sites. Vadu is another excellent location, where the small lakes and lagoons, the Salicornea steppe, the remote Sinoe lagoon and the seashore can provide a wonderful selection of birds. Night at Sinoe.

Day 4. After the breakfast we will leave the lagoons behind and continue our journey to the north part of Dobrudja. We will spend more time in the Babadag Forest to find more passerines and woodpeckers such as: Hawfinch, Icterine Warbler, Wood Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Sombre Tit, Black Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Grey-headed Woodpecker. We plan to reach the port of Tulcea in the early afternoon when we will start our birding in the delta by boat. Using our boat, we have two full days to experience a selection of the best locations within the Danube Delta middle branch, seeing birds and places that are simply impossible to reach any other way. Our accommodation will be in Mila 23 village, the most rustic and isolated settlement in the Delta. Here the inhabitants are Russians, known as Lipovans, they left Russia in the reign of Catherine the Great during the 18th century; their villages are distinctive with turquoise blue and white houses and onion-tower churches. Night in the Danube Delta at Mila 23.

Day 5-6. In our two full days we will focus to discover the northern part of the Danube Delta along the Sulina branch of the Danube. In these varied habitats with lakes, channels, huge surface of reed beds, Willow and Poplar forests offer breeding habitats for many birds. At this time of the year a lot of typical delta birds will be on the height of their breeding. We will visit lakes along the Sontea chanel where Little Egrets, Great-white Egrets, Squacco Herons, Night Herons, Purple Herons, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibises, Pygmy Cormorants and Great Cormorants can be seen easily when they move to or back from the feeding places to the colonies. At different lakes we will find Red-necked, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes and Ferruginous Duck. With luck, we might encounter the impressive Great Black-headed Gull too, which has started to breed in the delta just recently. White-tailed Eagles often perch in the Willow trees along the channels and lake edges and sometimes they allow close views from the boat. Flocks of White Pelicans are a daily attraction when they move from their breeding colony to feeding places. The biggest colony in Europe, with more than 2000 pairs can be found here, in the northern part of the Danube Delta. European Hobbies skim low above the reed beds in pursuit of the delta’s abundant dragonflies. In the Willow trees we shall see Penduline Tit, Thrush Nightingale, Garden Warbler, Eastern Oliveaceus Warbler, Common Redstart, Grey-headed and Black Woodpeckers while in the extensive reedbed we can find Bearded Tit, Savi’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting and lots of Common Cuckoos as well. Night in the Danube Delta at Mila 23.

Day 7. After an early breakfast in the Delta we travel to to Tulcea. We would like to reach the port as soon as possible and then continue our journey to reach the Macin Mountain National Park in time for some late morning birding. This volcanic mountain is the oldest in Romania and owing to its habitat diversity it has some of the richest and most interesting fauna and flora, including numerous endemic plants and insects. This place is a famous site again for breeding Wheatears and raptors. Isabelline Wheatears breed in the grassy foothills while Pied, Eastern Black-eared and Northern use habitats a bit higher on the rocky slopes of the mountains. From high in the sky Long-legged Buzzards, Short-toed Eagles, Booted Eagles, Levant Sparrowhawks looking for food like a Sousliks, lizards or snakes. Sometimes even Eastern Imperial Eagle or Saker Falcon can be seen. We will spend all day at this magical location using some of the tourist trails to find other interesting birds such as Red-rumped Swallow, Common Rock Thrush, Sombre Tit and Ortolan Bunting. In the late afternoon we will return to Tulcea for our farewell dinner. Night in Tulcea.

Day 8. After breakfast we leave Tulcea and start driving back to Bucharest. On the way depending on the flight time we have a short birding possibility just before we cross the Danube River or a picnic lunch in a nice park just the outskirts of Bucharest.

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