Danube Delta Bird Photography Season in 2018

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Our Danube Delta Photography Tours in 2018 were just amazing. Such a bird rich area in Europe can definitely offer some exciting and sometimes outright incredible wildlife photography experiences. To summarize what’s happened during our tours, here is a gallery of photographs taken by our guests and guides over the season.

 No doubt, in 2018 the main highlight was the breeding Rose-coloured Starlings as they bred last time here in 15 years ago! (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

Year on year it seems that we are finding a larger number of subjects in nice and interesting settings, allowing us to observe behavior rather than just document different species. This year was particularly good in this respect, our experience combined with a calm and dry spring-summer, without substantial flooding has allowed successful breeding seasons for most birds and plenty of opportunities for photography. Some species, like the terns and grebes even started breeding earlier than usual, offering us some unforgettable experiences while feeding their hatchlings and raising their young. In mid July many of the young Terns had already flew. The water level in Danube Delta marshland can change form one week to the next if somewhere in the river basin substantial rains fall, therefore quite often species like Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Common Tern, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Grebe even Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe wait until June with the breeding mainly because the floating vegetation in the lakes needs to be thick enough to protect their nest against flooding or against a storm.

All in all, Terns and Grebes finished a successful breeding season in 2018 in most areas of the Delta! – Great!

 A couple of Whiskered Tern in a flowery carpet (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Whiskered Tern is the commonest `marsh tern` in the Danube Delta. They breed in big colonies on the lakes with thick floating vegetation (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Whiskered Tern with a Water Beetle larvae (Photo: Heinz Frehner)

 Interaction between a Squacco Heron and a Whiskered Tern (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 A safe place to breed for a Whiskered Tern (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 Black Terns are breeding in much smaller numbers than Whiskered Terns in the Danube Delta (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Black Tern with a dragonfly (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Feeding time in a Black Tern family (Photo: Dick Van Der Lely)

 By the end of June White-winged Black Terns are more and more numerous over the lakes in the Danube Delta. (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 Great Crested Grebe with chicks in the back (Photo: Gábor Simay)

 Black-necked Grebe (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Black-necked Grebes always breed together with Tern species (Photo: Heinz Frehner)


 Red-necked Grebe (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Red-necked Grebe (Photo: Patrick Donini)

This year we have started visiting a smaller mixed heronry primarily for taking flight shots.  This new part was a nice intro or end part for every tour throughout the season. In this place Night Herons, Squacco Herons, Cattle Egrets, Spoonbills, Pygmy and Great Cormorants bred and offered us some really nice views.

 Night Heron landing (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Night Heron in flight (Photo: Heinz Frehner)

 Spoonbill (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Cattle Egret landing (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 Squacco Heron (Photo: Heinz Frehner)

Also, since this year, we have changed our base and moved it a bit to the North from Mila 23 village. We made this decision mainly because we wanted an accommodation with larger land around it and also wanted a more isolated, silent area rather than being in a sometimes noisy village. The change was successful as we found a quality place with a friendly host and some really nice remote lakes with rich birdlife. In the Hotel garden we had some nice times with Rose-coloured Starlings feeding on Mulberries, a nest building Penduline Tit was superb but we have also found here the 4th Blue Rock Thrush for the country!  All in all this new location offers a whole host of new opportunities.

 Rose-coloured Starling in the Hotel garden. They were present here in the last two weeks of May (Photo: Bear Rüegger)

 An unexpected species to find from the Hotel terrace was a male Blue Rock Thrush on 27th of May (Photo: Beat Rüegger)

 The view from the Hotel terrace in the Danube Delta

Just like in the previous years we had fantastic opportunities to capture many interesting pictures in the Danube Delta useing our special camouflage photo boat.

 Eye to eye with a Dalmatian Pelican (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Dalmatian Pelican (Photo: Dick Van Der Lely)

 Fishing White Pelicans (Photo: Heinz Frehner)

 Group of fishing White Pelicans in front of us (Photo: Beat Rüegger)

 White Pelican (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 White Pelican in the sunset (Photo: Dick Van Der Lely)

 Squacco Heron (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Squacco Heron (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Fishing Squacco Heron (Photo: Moritz Braun)

 Glossy Ibis (Photo: Gábor Simay)

 Great White Egrets in a morning fog (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Fishing Little Egret (Photo: Dick Van Der Lely)

 Little Crake was a surprize but a difficult subject in the last season (Photo: Beat Rüegger)

 Adult Pallas`s Gull taking off (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 Purple Heron (Photo: Gábor Simay)

 Purple Herons waiting for a fish (Photo: Gábor Simay)

 Pygmy Cormorant (Photo: Gábor Simay)

 Night Heron (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 White-tailed Eagle (Photo: Heinz Frehner)

 White-tailed Eagle (Photo: Beat Rüegger)

 Kingfisher (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Local fisherman in a foggy morning (Photo: Dick Van Der Lely)

 Young Bearded Tit (Photo: Moritz Braun)


In the coastal areas the highlight this year were definitely the Rose-coloured Starlings! In 2018 roughly 5000 pairs breed in Romania and offered some superb photographic opportunities. Last time this species bred in Romania was in 2002 and than in 2003. Will they return for breeding in 2019? Who knows?

 Rose-coloured Starling in the last ray of sun (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 Drinking and bathing Starlings (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 Feeding Rose-coloured Starlings (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

 The Starlings breeding coincided the gradation of Grashoppers and Bush-crickets in the Steppe (Photo: Zoltán Gergely Nagy)

The Macin Mountains National Park and the surrounding areas offered us some nice moments too with Bee-eaters, Rollers, Ground Squirrels, Isabelline Wheatears, Black-headed Buntings, Red-rumped Swallows,Turtle Doves, Corn Buntings and we found a place where Little Bittern breed and were photographable from the car. Macin Mountains was also great to photograph lots of different kind of Butterflies.

 Bee-eaters amongst flowers (Photo: Moritz Braun)

 Rollers and Bee-eaters breed in a same sand cliff quite often (Photo: Moritz Braun)

 Black-headed Bunting (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Isabelline Wheatear chicks (Photo: Patrick Donini)

 Ground Squirell or Souslik (Photo: Gábor Simay)

 A young Souslik looking curiously at the photographer (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)

 Long-legged Buzzards favorite pray is the Souslik (Photo: Gábor Simay)

 Scarce Swallowtails in a mud – puddling (Photo: Zoltán Baczó)


Some of the guests had chosen our ‘Transylvania Extension’after the Danube Delta and could photograph wild Brown Bears and a little bit of the magic of this unique destination too!

See you next year!

Sakertour team


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