Friday, 3 March 2017

Late winter in the Delta

Bearded Tits Panurus biarmicus (slo. brkata sinica) have appeared a few days ago in the reedbeds of the reserve, together with Penduline Tits Remiz pendulinus (slo. plašica).
Vast reedbed areas represent a typical scene in the Danube delta.
Listening out for Bearded Tits at the edge of a reedbed.
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (slo. belorepec) - adult.
After two weeks from our last Otters Lutra lutra (slo. vidra), today we saw another two, swimming calmly in a canal, diving and even taking a run on the bank.
A pair of Little Owls Athene noctua (slo. čuk) is usually showing very well in front of one of the photo-hides. At night we have them singing on our rooftop!
Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus (slo. ribji galeb) - adult in breeding plumage. 2-3 birds were seen in the previous two days flying above the reserve. A breeding colony of this very rare gull species is found on the Black Sea coast of the Danube delta and some individuals regularly fly into the delta and are seen at our reserve.
Dalmatian Pelicans Pelecanus crispus (slo. kodrasti pelikan) are now seen quite frequently, usually flying above the northern branch (Chilia) of the Danube. Quite astonishingly, three days ago, we have also seen the first White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus (slo. rožnati pelikan) of the season - a very early arrival to the Delta.
There are still small numbers of Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus (slo. labod pevec) around the Danube, sometimes flying above the reserve and signalling their presence with the trumpet-like calls.
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus (slo. piva) - one of the commonest birds at all! They like areas of willows and poplars along canals and reedbeds and are very vocal at this time of year.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major (slo. veliki detel).
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor (slo. mali detel): male-top & female-bottom. Not very common like the two previous species, but still encountered on a regular basis. These days they are frequently heard drumming.

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius (slo. črna žolna) - one of our main work targets at the moment: we are still intensively following the movements of at least 3 pairs graviting around the reserve and nearby Letea forest. The bird in the first pic was actively excavating a nest hole - VIDEO (watch HD).
Fresh (above) and old (below) feeding signs of Black Woodpecker.
Jackdaws Corvus monedula (slo. kavka) of the eastern subspecies soemmerringii (note white collar) nest in the Letea forest in natural holes on huge poplars. Like many other animals, they too use old Black Woodpecker's holes. In central and western Europe instead they are commoner in urban environments and prefer to use human-made structures like buildings, ruins ect.
Footprints of Badger Meles meles (slo. jazbec) - a common sight at the reserve.
Scanning flocks of wildfowl - from Shelducks Tadorna tadorna (slo. duplinska kozarka) to Pintails Anas acuta (slo. dolgorepa raca) and everything in between; including a pair of Red-crested Pochards Netta rufina (slo. tatarska žvižgavka). The first Ruffs Philomachus pugnax (slo. togotnik) of the season have also been seen.
Brackish lagoon with Shelducks Tadorna tadorna (slo. duplinska kozarka) and the village of Periprava in the back.
Street life in Periprava village.
Rooks Corvus frugilegus (slo. poljska vrana) are common garden and farmland birds in Romania. Back at home we are not quite used to see such corvid numbers, but here, large flocks of Rooks and Jackdaws, along with huge numbers of Hooded Crows Covus corone cornix (slo. siva vrana) and Magpies Pica pica (slo. sraka) are omnipresent in rural landscapes.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus (slo. poljski vrabec) almost completely replaces the otherwise commoner House Sparrow Passer domesticus (slo. domači vrabec), found in cities and urban environments.
Old willow (Salix sp.) in a patch of alluvial forest by the Danube.
Tussilago farfara - our first spring flower in the delta!