I would like to share some of our memories from the last Spring birding season in Transylvania. In 2016 we had a very mild winter therefore the Spring arrived early and the deciduous woodland canopy was fully covered by leaves already in the second half of April instead of early May as in most normal years. Woodpeckers for example started excavating the breeding holes already in the first week of April but other resident birds started breeding earlier too. The first Camberwell Beauty sighting after its winter hibernation was on 18th of April and the local high altitude Crocuses (Crocus heuffelianus) finished blooming by the second half of April too.
A worn Camberwell Beauty after the winter hibernation (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)
Right after the snow has melted high altitude meadows were full with wild Crocuses (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)
One of our favorite site in Transylvania (our first location when coming from Hungary) is the lovely Torockó area. A silent river valley in the west of the country where such declining species exist like Corncrake, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Peregrine, Scops Owl, Red-rumped Swallow, Crag Martin, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Dipper, Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting and River Warbler. I must mention we had a very good Corncrake breeding year in 2016 and we all had wonderful views of this rather secretive species.
Torockó in May (Photo: János Oláh)
Male Rock Bunting is resident in this area (Photo: Gábor Simay)
We had brilliant view of this Scops Owl (Photo: Gábor Simay)
Dipper (Photo: Gábor Simay)
A little bit deeper in Transylvania around the Hargita and Ghiurghiu basin the birding tours continued. This region is also a remote and rural area, far from the big cities and has a wonderful atmosphere. We love birding here but also like the culture, tasty local food and the landscape too.
Orchid species on the Transylvanian hay meadows (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)
Another Orchid species on the Transylvanian hay meadows (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)
In this area, higher in the Harghita Mountains we had wonderful views of Caparcaillie, Hazel Grouse, Pygmy Owl, Three-toed Woodpecker, Nutcracker, Crossbill, Crested and Willow Tit. In the villages Fieldfares, Golden Orioles, Common Redstarts breed, Lesser Spotted Eagels soar over the wet meadows, and even the city park in Odorheiu offered us amazing views of Collared Flycatchers, Lesser Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers and Wryneck during the pre breakfast walks.
Male Hazel Grouse in the Harghita (Photo: János Oláh)
Territorial Pygmy Owl (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)
Pair of Tree-toad Woodpecker (Photo: Attila Szilágyi)
Lovely Crested Tit (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)
Firecrest (Photo: Gábor Simay)
Red Squirrel (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)
Some more local birds like Red-breasted Flycatcher, Common Rosefinch, Great Grey Shrike, White-backed Woodpecker, Ural Owl were also encountered and gave us unforgettable moments.
Feeding White-backed Woodpecker (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)
Wallcreepers were very enjoyable in the Bicaz National Park area where we saw up to 4 birds every time we made a visit with our spring birding groups and in some occasion we could admire this fascinating bird at eye-level as they came low down in the streambed too!
Male Wallcreeper in his nesting site in June (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)
Wallcreeper in flight (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)
We have visited the high altitude alpine meadows as well where such special birds occur like Alpine Accentor and the `balcanica` race of the Shore Lark. To find this two species we climbed over 2000 meter high plateauto the Carpathain Mountains. The weather is highly changeable at high altitude so success is far from guaranteed but nevertheless it is well worth to visit this amazing habitat.
Alpine Accentor (Photo: Gábor Simay)
Shore Lark/Eremophila alpestris balcanica (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)
Brown Bears didn`t hibernate this year they were active throughout the winter. But the Carpathian Brown Bear experiences are coming in a different blog entry!
Carpathian Brown Bears made a show at every single time we have been in the hide (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)