Sunday, July 28, 2013

Roaming in Romania - Day 5: Return to Terra Firma

We had one remaining session on the Delta before leaving and starting on the land-based part of our Romanian tour. Over breakfast it was agreed we would finish the Delta photography on the small productive lake where we started and have another attempt at photographing the Black-necked Grebe in some dawn light. A 30 minutes boat journey through the overgrown back-channels found us once again on the familiar small lake.

Before I show the photographs from the session, I want to change topic slightly and mention frogs. Throughout our stay on the Delta the air was filled with the constant chorus of singing frogs. They are everywhere you go in very large numbers and a key component of the food chain for the larger water birds such as herons and egrets. During quieter spells when we were waiting for birds to come close to the hide boat, I often found myself taking a few frog photos to pass time. A small selection are below:

We had no sooner entered the lake and we came across a Night Heron, standing statue like in the soft dawn light.

The boat was skill-fully manoeuvred once again back into position to photograph the Black-necked Grebes. These attractive small water birds seemed less approachable on this particular morning than they had during our first session and the reason soon became obvious.
During the intervening period some of the chicks had hatched and were being carried around on the parents backs until they became a bit more independent. Naturally we kept a good distance from these birds to prevent any disturbance and stress. A truly wonderful site to watch the adult grebes cruising around with the next generation hitching a free ride, with the bonus of a few photographs as well which were to be our last from the Delta.

Note in this last one there is more than one 'passenger'. In fact there were three  on board. 
We finished the morning session with attempts at both cuckoo and kingfisher, both of which failed to produce any photographs. We did see the Kingfisher on this occasion though, which was diving in to the water slightly upstream, a plunging electric blue flash. Again a pleasure to watch the master 'fisherbird' at work. So our Danube sessions had come to an end and we slowly made our way back to the hotel for a quick bite to eat and to collect the rest of our luggage.

The Danube Delta has left an indelible mark in my memory. Never I have a been to a place where the raw beauty and productivity of nature has been so evident. The sights, sounds and smells of the Delta invokes a sensory overload and you find yourself quickly drawn-in and then completely immersed in the place.  I could have happily spent a month there drifting in a happy daze around the waterways and lakes. The visit also reinforced to me why the preservation of these large natural wetland sites is not just important but essential.  

In the early afternoon we left Mila 23 to head upstream back to some 'terra firma' at Tulcea. It felt like we had been in the hide boat for weeks rather than just a couple of days. The 90 minute journey into the Delta turned into a 5 hour boat ride out as we had to battle against the swift flows of the irrepressible River Danube. En route we passed several  floating hotels that were being towed upstream by small tug boats whose engines were straining to pull that floating mass against the flow and bellowed clouds of exhaust fumes from their funnels. The tourists on the upper deck seemed oblivious to this trail of diesel fumes that seemed to envelope them as they sipped long cold drinks. We were returning back to 'civilisation'.

We arrived in a bustling Tulcea in the early evening and checked into a rather in-personal hotel for our one night stay. I certainly thought that the person who had picked the hotel decoration did the place many favours. The grey net material for the windows gave the freshly decorated rooms a rather drab and tired feeling. It all felt rather oppressive after the light airy feeling of the Mila 23 accommodation. After the meal everyone disappeared quickly back to the rooms to catch some rest after the long journey and an early night was definitely in order as we would be checking out early the next morning to head into the Macin Mountains for the next couple of days.


The happy wanderer. said...

I really like the image of the Grebe shaking itself - timed perfectly!

Our photos said...

Wow! Beautiful photos!


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