Trip report Romania Sep. 2016 - Birds and culture     -     John van der Woude  -  www.jvanderw.nl
This was an independent trip of Nollie and me from 20 to 27 September 2016. We flew Eindhoven - Timişoara with Wizzair (very cheap), rented a car at the airport (arranged by Sunnycars), and drove around mainly in Transylvania. First the border area with Hungary, then the marvellous Maramureş region bordering Ukraine, and through the East Carpathians to the Saxon region near Sighişoara. We booked our hotels and pensions via booking.com during the trip, mostly on the day itself.
For birding late September is not the best time, although still good along the border with Hungary and also good for finding Wallcreeper low in the Bicaz gorge in the East Carpathians. The trip was also meant to see again the cultural and scenic richness of this country, where I had been three times in the early seventies (see my photos of that time).
At several of the site photos below, a GPS location is given. Copy and paste them into e.g. the Search box of Google Maps to see where it is. These GPS locations are taken from the output of my observado.org observations, entered in the field with the Obsmapp app. Several of the visited sites were found in Roberts' Romania a birdwatching and wildlife guide. Others were chosen on the basis of satellite images in Google Maps, or just by looking around.

1 = Parcul Natural Lunca Mureşului
2 = old pastures N of Chişineu-Criş
3 = Cefa fish ponds
4 = Puszta remains south of Carei
5 = Oaş half open scenery
6 = Maramureş old mosaic scenery
7 = Rodna mountains
8 = Ceahlău mountains
9 = Bicaz gorge
10 = Olt valley
11 = Harghita foothills
12 = fields N of Timişoara 
A = Maramureş wooden churches and old farms
B = Bukovina painted monastery churches
C = Sighişoara medieval city

In Munar, a village on the southern border of the Lunca Mureş natural parc, we saw at least four Little Owls.

The rough pastures N of Munar in the Lunca Mureş area, at 46.1295 21.02048, near Arad. Great Grey Shrike (photo below), Red-backed Shrike and Red-throated Pipit. Crested Lark closer to the village.


Good forest between Munar and the river Mureş. Middle Spotted Woodpeckers.

The vast old sheep pastures N of Chişineu-Criş. Lesser Kestrels (ID just not 100% certain) foraging at 46.5860 21.5272. Streetview photo.

The fish ponds at Cefa, near the boundary (left) with Hungary. White-tailed Eagle, Pygmy Cormorant (at 46.9092 21.6646).

Remains of the old puszta S of Carei, near Andrid village. See also the two Streetview photos below. Great Grey Shrike at 47.5071 22.3753. Also Corn Bunting.


The fine mozaic scenery of the Oaş region NE of Satu Mare, see also the two Streetview photos below.
Good forest with Middle Spotted Woodpecker at 47.8625 23.2132. Little Grebe in the Calineşti lake.


When entering the Maramureş region from Oaş you pass Săpânța village with the 'merry cemetery'. See also wiki.

The old farmland and rolling hills of the Maramureş region.


One of the many wooden churches in the Maramureş. See also wiki.

Typical village street in the Maramureş.

One of the two wooden churches of Ieud, a typical Maramureş village. Green and Grey-headed Woodpeckers were hammering on the church in search of food, see photos below. This is at 47.6763 24.2366. Also Serin here.


View from our brand new pension Sanziene in Strîmtura, in the middle of the Maramureş.

A walk into the hills south of Ieud village (just keep the main road). Spotted Nutcracker at 47.6336 24.2055.

The chairlift into the Rodna mountains from Staţiunea Borşa. This is at 47.6151, 24.7843.  Below, a Spotted Nutcracker photographed from the chairlift.


View on the Rodna massif during a walk from the top of the chairlift.

Now in the Bukovina region east of the Carpathian mountain range. Famous for its painted monastery churches. Moldoviţa above, Voroneţ below.


The Last Judgment on the back wall of the Voroneţ church built in 1488. See also wiki. Detail below.


Black Redstart at the Voroneţ church.

Typical street views of northeastern Romania.


Picnic along the Moldova river, with the East Carpathians in the background. Very few birds now in late September but it must be good in spring.

The Neamţ monastery near Piatra Neamţ.

The Ceahlău massif of the East Carpathians near Bicaz. This area must be great for birding in spring. This is along the road to the car park, mountain station and information centre at 46.9539 25.9887, where the mountain trails begin.


The famous Bicaz gorge at 46.8120 25.8255. Cutting right through the East Carpathians. Two Wallcreepers foraging here.


Dipper further west along the Bicaz gorge.

Colchicum autumnale, a pasture full of them. Now back in Transylvania west of the East Carpathians.

Along the Olt valley north of Miercurea Ciuc are several of these old sheep pastures. Red-throated Pipit at 46.4751 25.7272.

In the western foothills of the Harghita mountains, along the beautiful road from Miercurea Ciuc to Odorheiu Secuiesc. Great Grey Shrike at the spot of the photo below (at 46.3506 25.4881). Photos from Streetview.


Further west into Transylvania, towards Sighişoara.


The Saxon city Sighişoara. Clock Tower above.
Below, the street leading to the roofed staircase (at S) which brings you to the top of the church hill. 
See also wiki.


Just somewhere in Transylvania, on our way back to Timişoara. The abundance of this type of landscape means good birding (especially in spring/early summer) in many places in Transylvania.

On the last evening, we just tried out this little road a few km NE of Timişoara. Whinchat and Corn Bunting. This is at 45.8754 21.3627. Streetview photo.