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The Roșca-Buhaiova Reserve

Danube Delta is a huge biological laboratory, with twenty strictly protected areas where the lack of human intervention has allowed nature to develop in a way that you’ll never find anywhere else in the world.

Probably the most important of these protected areas is the Roșca-Buhaiova reserve, located somewhere in the north of the delta, between the Chilia and the Sulina channels, just a few kilometers from the Chilia Veche village. What this place is known for is the mind-blowing number of pelicans that settle here every spring.

There are over 2500 pairs of Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) living in the Danube Delta and about 100 pairs of Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus Crispus). Of these, you’ll find that their highest concentration is in the Roșca-Buhaiova reserve, a 9.625 ha area that’s been protected from human intervention since the 1940s.

Roșca-Buhaiova is located just north of the Matița-Merhei basin and is consists of a number of lakes, canals and other swamps. The precise area of the reserve is separated from the rest of the delta by the Cernovca canal to the north, the Sulimanca canal to the east, the Roșca canal and the Merhei and Merheiul Mic complexes to the south, and the Rădăcinoasele canal to the west.

Pelican Colony in Roșca-BuhaiovaAt the center of the area lie the Roșca and Buhaiova lakes which appear as an endless sea of reed and water lillies. All the ways into the reserve, such as the Lopatna canal which I used the last time I was there, are completely covered with beautiful water lillies.

Every year, a swarm o pelicans, cormorants and many many other species call this place their home.

Pelicans in Roșca-BuhaiovaFrom listening the stories of people who are actively studying the birds, it looks like the pelicans here have a rather interesting strategy when catching fish. Unlike their North American cousins who prefer to hunt individually, the pelicans in the delta totally love hunting in packs.

What they do is to make so much noise that they scare the fish into swimming close to the shore of the lake where, in the big congestion created, all that the pelicans have to do is dip their heads in the water and get a mouthful of fish.

Opportunistic, the cormorants hunt the fish that lay somewhat deeper, just a bit out of the reach of the pelicans. This way the two species avoid any clashes and live together in harmony.

A pelican’s nest and younglings

For a bird this beautiful, you’d expect it to have some really spectacular skills at building its nest. A majestic bird, the symbol of the delta, definitely has something interesting to show, right?

Not really… You’ll be surprised to find out the a pelican’s nest in nothing more than a small pile of dirt that offers just enough shelter for the egg so that it doesn’t roll over accidentally. But when the egg hatches, that little bird looks like a reptile or a little dinosaur. It’s beautiful!

Great White Pelican ChickWhen they grow a little, all the chicks pack together in ‘nurseries’, waiting for their parents to return from fishing. This way they are much easier to supervise by the adults that stayed home for the day.

It’s cool watching the younglings of the two pelican species because they are so different. The chicks of the Dalmatian pelican have some sort of a grey-white color and they look pretty much like their parents. The chicks of the Great White pelican, on the other hand, are unbelievable. They are so black that you’d think somebody actually spray painted them. Incredible!

Young Great White Pelicans in Roșca-Buhaiova

Other species

I only spoke about the pelicans in the Roșca-Buhaiova reserve because that is what this place is known for. But there are a bunch of other interesting species that you’ll find here.

Some of these are the otter (Lutra lutra), the mink (Mustela lutreola), the ermine (Mustela Erminia), the muskrat (Ondathra zibethica), the raccoon dog, the fox, or the wild boar.

The same diversity is present in the vegetable world. Besides the white and yellow water lillies, you’ll find crows feet, Hydrocharis morsus wound Limnanthemum, Trapa natans, Stratiotes aloides. The low nitrate waters in offer a great place to live for a series of carnivorous plants.

Hope you loved finding out about the Roșca-Buhaiova reserve and that you’ll consider visiting it in your next Danube Delta trip.

P.S. If you like this article and you’d like to discover more interesting information about the Danube Delta, sign up for my newsletter using the form below. I’ll send you a short email every time I add a new article to this site.

Pelicans in Roșca-Buhaiova385

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

holly May 19, 2013 at 1:28 am

thank you

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