Earlier today I rand into a couple of beautiful photos by Hungarian photographer Bence Mate, a couple of which were taken in the Danube Delta. They depict several rare scenes that you don’t get the chance to see every day, so I had to share them with you. They will definitely bright up your day.
[adsense]All of these photos were taken across Europe in a water rich environments.
The first photograph that captured my attention was that of a pack of Dalmatian pelicans being mobbed by a flock of gulls. You wouldn’t expect a couple of tinny little birds like that to go head-on against the giant pelicans, but obviously somebody’s overstepped his territory and now has to pay! Who’s the though guy now?
Another interesting picture is the one taken with two pelicans, were the younger one begs for some food from his parents. That’s so touching.
There are a number of shots taken elsewhere. Take a look at these five pelicans yawning at Lake Kerkini in Greece. Looks like somebody’s full and ready for a good afternoon nap:)
To see the rest of the pictures, go take a look at the Daily Mail article. You’ll love the scenes depicted there.
If there’s one thing that everybody knows about the Danube Delta, it’s the fact that it’s one of the world’s most amazing bird paradises. With 331 different species flying around every year, it certainly is a unique place, where birdwatchers can feel at home.
[adsense]Here’s a quick list with some of the most important of them:
Of all the 300 birds that enjoy their time in the Danube Delta, I think it’s only natural to put the pelican, both the common (Pelecanus onocrotalus)and Dalmatian (Pelecanus crispus)on top of the list.
It’s the most spectacular of them all and when people think of the birds in this place, it is the first that pops to mind.
Many of the people the visit these places come specifically to see this monument of nature. For a good reason then, the pelican is the symbol of the Danube Delta, the Tulcea county and the whole of Dobrogea. The largest colony is located in the Roșca-Buhaiova reserve, a strictly protected area in the north of the delta.
Another important bird is the cormorant. We have here 61% of the whole pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus) population in Europe. They even spend the winter in here.
With the unusually cold winter that has hit Romania this year, the few bird species that stayed in the delta for Christmas had to adapt to make sure they survive till the spring.
A number of cormorants, which usually hunt fish underwater, found the thick lair of ice impossible to break this year, so they moved their camp to Tulcea’s promenade, where they can easily find food in the debris that seamen throw out.
Although it’s a busy port with plenty of boats and people on the promenade, difficult times call for drastic measures, so they’ve leaned to live with that.
Normally, Cormorants live on the seashore or on lakes surrounded by thick vegetation. They eat huge quantities of fish and hunt only during the day. The fishermen hate them because, well, eat their prey and also break their fishing nets. They tend to live for 10 to 15 years, but there are a few species that go all the way through 30 years.
Here’s a picture o one of the cormorants who’ve found a welcoming new home for the winter of the deck of the boat-restaurant and museum “Republica”, anchored near the city’s center.
The Danube Delta is a land in continuous formation. With the Danube bringing fresh sediments all the time, is continues to expand and change its shape with the passing of time. According to Herodot, over two millennia ago, the Danube reached the sea with seven distinct branches. These days, there are only three.
As a proof that the delta keeps growing, 8 years ago we’ve witnessed the birth of a new island in the Musura gulf, right below the Chilia Branch.
[adsense]I remember that years ago I was watching the “Sand Along Explore – Sand’Ale 2003” trip by a team of explorers who had the pleasure of being some of the first few people to walk on that island. To this day, it’s still unclear whether this new land belongs to Romania or to Ukraine. I didn’t manage to get there so far. The growth og the Isle has been accelerated following the digging of the Bastroe canal by Ukraine in 2004.
Recently, museums and other organizations have shown a great deal of concern for the Musura Isle and they’re been attempting to protect it and the pelicans, sea gulls and cormorants colonies that have populated it by turning the zone into a natural strictly protected area, part of Romania-Ukraine Danube Delta Cross-border Reserve.
Being a border area, from a legal standpoint, it has to be governed by international law, meaning that a joint program has to be agreed by both Romania and Ukraine.
With that said, I can’t get to get there. Maybe this year! 😀
One of the most popular activities in the Danube Delta is birdwatching. Being called a “birdwatcher’s paradise”, the reservation holds over 300 species of migratory and year-round birds, a density you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
[adsense]Located on the 45th parallel, the Danube Delta is the ideal place to stop for migratory birds from the Equator to the northern parts of Europe.
Being the largest wetlands in Europe, more than 60% of it being largely untouched by man, the Delta offers a unique opportunity to witness these species go about their lives undisturbed.
Of the 331 species of birds, the White Pelican is definitely the symbol of the Danube Delta. You will find them mostly in the Roșca-Buhaiova reserve, which holds the largest breeding population of its kind in Europe.
As of the last count, there are over 3500 pairs that come here every year from the Nile Delta. The white pelican can be found here from March to October, in Roșca-Buhaiova and numerous other lakes.
Its close cousin, the Dalmatian Pelican is also common here. After a few decades of decline, the Dalmatian Pelican population is starting to grow again and now there are over 150 identified pairs going about their lives here. Most of them migrate every year, but some pairs stay here for the winter. You can see them from April to October.
The Danube Delta also offers home to more than 60% of the world’s population of Pygmy Cormorants and 50% of red-breasted geese. The red-breasted goose spends the winter in the southern part of the Delta, in the Razim-Sinoe lagoon.
From August to September, the Delta is one of the best places to see the Ferruginous Duck, a declining species, almost extinct in the rest of Europe. This time of the year, large flocks of Ducks gather on Somova Lake, 5 minutest west of the city of Tulcea.
For a birdwatching trip to Danube Delta, you can either contact one of the tour operators in Tulcea, or simply book one of the local boat operators. They will happy to show you some of the most secluded area of the Delta and the best places to spot numerous bird species. Booking a small boat has the advantage of the cost and the opportunity to personalize your trip.
Birdwatching trips usually start from Tulcea and follow one of the three branches of the Danube (Chilia, Sulina and Sf. Gheorghe) and the numerous canals in between. Common stops are taken in Crisan, Sulina, Mila 23, Chilia, Sf. Gheorghe and more.
So, if you haven’t decided yet where to go on your next birdwatching trip, Danube Delta should be your first choice.
Danube Delta is probably the last truly wild place in Europe, a stretch of land and water that offers a comfortable place to live to an incredible diverse wildlife and an incredible spectacle of nature to visitors. With over three hundred and twenty species of birds and 1500 species of fish, it has one of the biggest bio-diversities in the world.
[adsense]Because not many people yet know about it, the Danube Delta offers a rare opportunity for a true nature passionate to spend a few days in the middle of what could easily be called Paradise.
Being chosen as the “Landscape of the year 2007-2009” by The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, there are plenty of nature-related activities you can choose to spend your time with.
Take a Bird Watching Tour
Danube Delta is an El-Dorado for the true birdwatchers. Nowhere in the world will you see so many species of birds crowded all together in a small place. You will find here over half of the world’s population of cormorants and the largest population of pelicans.
[adsense]You will also have the pleasure to see the winter and summer swan, the white tailed eagle, wild ducks and geese, cranes, egrets, spoon bills, red neck geese, eastern flossy ibis, white, gray, yellow and red herons, bald coots, Dobrudjan hawks, storks, and many flamingo birds.
To go on a bird watching trip, you can either to book a trip with one of the many specialized agencies here, or you can simply choose to hire one of the locals to take you on a private boat ride. Usually, the second choice will be the most interesting because the locals know the best places to visit and they have many entertaining stories to complete the picture.
Fishing is one of the most popular activities here. With over 1500 species of fish, this place is the favorite place for many recreational fishermen to spend their holydays. Among the fish you can catch here, you’ll have the surprise to see the great sturgeon, the catfish, carp, pike and a whole lot more.
Now, at the end of the day, to celebrate a great day of fishing, somebody should prepare the traditional fish soup, or ‘bors de peste’. Again, a local will do it best. Trust me; you won’t eat anything like this anywhere else! It is simply delicious!
Relax on the Wild Beaches
Ah, yes… The beaches… If you want to catch a tan and also have some privacy, the 30 km stretch of wild beach between Sulina and Sf. Gheorghe is just perfect. There are no people anywhere near and you will most like have the chance to see the only pack of wild horses in Europe roaming around.
And if you feel particularly romantic, take your partner for a pleasant night walk on the beach! Out here, in the wild, you’ll see the night sky better than ever. There are so many stars out there, that some will start falling al around you. Start making wishes 😉
If you want a combination of wild and modern, then Gura Portitei is the place to go. It is a modern beach resort that has all the rustic and wild elements that make the Danube Delta the unique place it is.
The largest city in Danube Delta is Sulina. It’s got a great history and in the 19th and early 20th century it was the headquarter of the European Commission of the Danube, an early precursor of the European Union. It was one of the most cosmopolite cities in Europe at the time and the legacy of those days can still be seen today. If you happen to have a dink with an old local, make sure to ask him about the pirates that used to raid this place a century ago. The stories are great!
Indulge Yourself in the Many Cultural Activities Available
Being at the crossroads of many cultures, there is also an incredible ethnic diversity in Danube Delta. Each of the nationalities living here, the Romanians, Ukrainians, Lipovans, Armenian, Greeks, Turks and many more, have their own unique traditions which they celebrate during various festivals.
Recently, the International Independent Film Festival “Anonimul” has become the most important event in the region. It takes place every year in Sfantu Gheorghe and it brings together big names in the movie industry, from Romania and the whole Europe.