Red-breasted Geese

Winter Wildlife of the Danube Delta & Black Sea Coast

Alison Steel
By Alison Steel
Operations Manager
16th September 2021
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Well-known as a destination for wildlife during the warmer months, the Danube Delta continues to offer fantastic wildlife sightings into the winter as well. With very few permanent inhabitants, the summer visitors (both human and animal) depart during the autumn, leaving the delta to take on a more peaceful atmosphere during the colder season. Large geese flocks gather in their thousands in the area to overwinter, including Russian White-fronted Geese, Eastern Greylag Geese and the rarer Red-breasted Goose. December is the best month for seeing these stunning birds in Romania as they have all arrived from their Russian breeding ground; they tend to move south as the winter progresses, so in January and February they are then usually found in Bulgaria. Along with the geese, a variety of other wildfowl can be discovered throughout the quiet channels, wind rippled lagoons and out on the flood plains, such as Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and White-headed Duck, along with some less familiar waterbirds including Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, White and Dalmatian Pelicans and Pygmy Cormorant. White-tailed Eagle hunt the wildfowl flocks during the winter months and may send a gaggle up into the air in a noisy, swirling mass.

During winter, the nearby Black Sea coast attracts in Black-necked Grebe, Bewick’s and Whooper Swans, Great White Egret, Ruddy Shelduck, Smew, other wildfowl, waders, divers and gulls. Among the gulls it may be possible to pick out Caspian and Little Gull, as well as the occasional Pallas’s Gull, perhaps. The mudflats, salt lakes and sheltered waters can turn up rarities amongst the usual winter species, while the surrounding reedbeds are home to flocks of Bearded Tit. These coastal wetland areas are also good habitat for mammals, including Eurasian Otter, Polecat and a variety of rodents.

In addition to aquatic habitats, Eastern Europe has some excellent steppe and forest environments where Greater Spotted, Middle Spotted, Lesser, Green, Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers are found, along with Sombre Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Cirl Bunting, Hawfinch and Calandra Lark. Raptor species are also seen in greater numbers during the colder weather and may include Long-eared and Tengmalm’s Owls, Rough-legged and Long-legged Buzzards, Golden Eagle, Saker, Merlin, Marsh and Hen Harriers, and possibly Great and Little Bustards.

We offer two different tour itineraries to this region over the winter – Romania – Christmas in the Danube Delta for those who like to get away over the holiday season and a later Winter Wildlife of Bulgaria & Romania that departs in January or February. Detailed itineraries can be found on our website. For any further information please contact Operations Manager Alison Steel: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Pygmy Cormorant
Black Woodpecker