RO. Ledger No 37- Danube Delta- Place under UNESCO Patrimoine

 

DANUBE  DELTA, ROMANIA

 

The waters of the Danube, which flow into the Black Sea, form the largest and best preserved of Europe’s deltas.

This is  the highest concentration of bird colonies in all of Europe. The maze of canals bordered by thatch, willows and oaks entangled in lianas, offers the perfect breeding ground for countless species of birds, some of them from as far away as China and Africa. Millions of Egyptian white pelicans arrive here every spring to raise their young, while equal numbers of Arctic geese come here to escape the harsh winters of Northern Europe.

Some 300 species of birds make Danube’s Delta their home, including cormorants, white tailed eagles and glossy ibises.  The bird watching season lasts from early spring to late summer. Birds are not the only inhabitants of the Delta. There is also a rich community of fish and animals; from wildcats, foxes and wolves, to even an occasional boar or deer. Altogether, 3,450 animal species can be seen here, as well as 1,700 plant species.

Formed over a period of more than 10,000 years, the Danube Delta continues to grow due to the 67 million tons of alluvia deposited every year by the Danube River.

Bird Watching

Danube Delta Bird WatchingA bird-watchers’ paradise, the Danube Delta offers the opportunity to spot more than 300 species of migratory and resident birds, including eagles, egrets, vultures, geese, cranes, ibises, cormorants, swans and pelicans. Located on the 45th parallel, the Danube Delta makes for a perfect stopping-off point between the Equator and the North Pole for millions of migratory birds.

Some of the most important species include:

The White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
In March, swaths of white pelicans leave the Nile Delta and the Red Sea to come nest in the Danube Delta. The Delta is home to Europe’s largest breeding population (some 3,500 pairs).
Best seen: March to October

Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
After decades of decline, this species’ numbers have slowly begun to increase in the Delta. Currently, some 150 pairs have been spotted in several small colonies.
Best seen: April to October; some pairs may stay over the winter.

Small Egret (Egretta garzetta)
A migratory species protected by law, the small egret lives in marshy areas and nests in small willows.
Best seen: April to October; some pairs may stay over the winter.

Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus)
Best seen: April to October; some pairs may stay over the winter.

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
The Danube Delta may be the last place in Europe to see this declining species. In August and September, large numbers often gather at Somova Lake, just west of Tulcea.
Best seen: March to October

Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis)
In winter, thousands of this species – almost half of the entire world population – reside on the Razim-Sinoe lagoon and coastal plain to the south of the Delta.
Best seen: Late October to March

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
More than 30% of the European population nests in the reed beds of the delta.
Best seen: April to September

Fishing

The Delta’s waters teem with some 160 species of fresh- and salt-water fish.

Type of fish: Pike (Stiuca in Romanian)
Fishing areas: Lake Fortuna, Sontea Channel, Holbina area, Bogdaproste, Lake Rosu, Lake Lumina, Uzlina area
Season: Early July to December

Type of fish: Pike Perch (Salau in Romanian)
Fishing areas: Channel 5, Lake Sinoe, Sfantu Gheorghe village area
Season: June to September

Type of fish: Carp
Fishing areas: Sontea Channel, Sfantu Gheorghe Branch, Dunarea Veche, Chilia Branch
Season: Early July to September

Type of fish: Cat Fish (Somn in Romanian)
Fishing areas: Sulina Branch, Chilia Branch
Season: April; July to October

Vegetation

This is the largest continuous marshland in Europe which includes the greatest stretch of reedbeds probably in the world. The marsh vegetation is dominated by reeds Phragmites australis which form floating or fixed islands of decaying vegetation (‘plaur’) with some Typha angustifolia and Scirpus sp. Reeds cover some 420,000 acres and ‘plaur’ 247,000 whilst the total area not included is only 36,570 acres.

There are also water lilies Nymphaea alba,  Nuphar luteus and Stratiodes alloides. The higher ground supports stands of Salix, Populus, Alnus and Quercus. Sandy areas are covered with feather grass Stipa sp. and other steppe species.

Forest elements are best observed in Letea Forest, occurring in a series of bands along dunes up to 820 feet long and 33 feet wide, where trees reach 115 feet in height. The species present are Quercus robur, Q. pedunculiflora, Populus alba, P.nigra, Fraxinus ornus, F. angustifolia, F. palisae, Pyrus pyraster, Tilia tomentosa, Ulmus sp., and the occasional Alnus glutinosa. Among the shrubs are Crataegus monogyna, Euonimus europea, Cornus mas, C. sanguinea, Rhamnus frangula, R. catharctica, Viburnum opulus, Berberis vulgaris, Hippophae rhamnoides, Tamarix spp. and occasional Corylus avellana. The distinctive feature of the forest is the abundance of climbing plants including Periploca graeca, Clematis vitalba, Vitis sylvestris and Humulus lupulus. In spring, the ground is carpeted with Convallaria majalis. Particularly rare and threatened plants include Convolvulus persica, Ephedra distachya, Merendera sobolifera, Plantago coronopus and Petunia parviflora.

Fauna

Over 300 species of bird have been recorded, of which over 176 species breed, the most important being:

  • Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis (3,000 pairs)
  • Pygmy cormorant P. pygmeus (K) (2,500 pairs comprising 61% of the world’s population)
  • White pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus (2,500 pairs comprising 50% of the Palaearctic breeding population)
  • Dalmatian pelican P. crispus (E) (estimated at 150 pairs, perhaps now only 25-40 pairs, on the floating islands on lake Hrecisca, which represents 5% of the world population)
  • Night heron Nycticorax nycticorax (2,100 pairs), squacco heron Ardeola ralloides (2,150 pairs)
  • Great white heron Egretta alba (700 pairs)
  • Little egret E. garzetta (1,400 pairs)
  • Purple heron Ardea purpurea (1,250 pairs)
  • Glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus (1,500 pairs)
  • White stork Ciconia ciconia (many)
  • Mute swan Cygnus olor (500 pairs)
  • White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (V) (8 pairs)
  • Marsh harrier Circus aeruginous (300+ pairs)
  • Osprey Pandion haliaetus (3 pairs)
  • Saker falcon Falco cherrug (1-2 pairs)
  • Red-footed falcon F. vespertinus (150 pairs)
  • Sandwich tern Sterna sandvicensis (1,700 pairs)
  • Common tern S. hirundo (20,000+ pairs)
  • whiskered tern Chlidonias hybridus (20,000+) and black tern C. niger (10,000-20,000 pairs)
  • White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala possibly still breeds
  • Slender-billed curlew Numenius tenuirostris (K) has occurred on passage (28 in 1971 and one or two in 1989)

The Delta holds huge numbers of Anatidae in the winter with counts of 500,000 white-fronted goose Anser albifrons(but only 64,000-77,500 in 1982), up to 500 lesser white-fronted goose A. erythropus, 45,000 red-breasted goose Branta ruficollis (a globally threatened species with almost 95% of the world wintering population present here), 150,000 teal Anas crecca, 200,000 mallard A. platyrhynchos, 14,000 pintail A. acuta, 40,000 shovelor A. clypeata, 32,400 red-crested pochard Netta rufina, 970,000 pochard A. ferina, 13,000 ferruginous duck A. nyroca, and 1,500 red-breasted merganser Mergus albellus. In winter there is a concentration of some 30-40 Haliaeetus albicilla.

The Delta is very important for fish with 45 fresh water species present including threatened representatives of the Acipensenidae.

Otter Lutra lutra, stoat Mustela erminea, and European mink Mustela lutreola, as well as wild cat Felis sylvestris are to be found on the floating islands. The mink population, although its size is unknown, is significant in European terms.

The forest areas contain several rare reptiles, including Vipera ursiniElaphe longissiuma, and Eremias arguta deserti.

Our students enjoy learning about nature in the nature. They were in a trip by boat and they have seen  a piece of the Danube Delta. They had fun creating sand castles on the board of the Danube.