Romania 2017

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Romania 2017

Postby Kevin Byrnes » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:34 pm

The planning for this holiday began in the summer of 2016 when we booked our flights via a cheap booking company. In December we received an email asking us to contact the company to confirm things as our flight times had been changed. Suzanne was having medical treatment and we were unsure if we could go so didn't bother getting in touch, however, late spring 2017 the doctor told us that it would be ok, I managed to get time off work and so we decided to contact the company. I looked them up online only to find a thread on Tripadvisor that was 70 pages long saying "Do not use this company"!. Suzanne spent an hour on the phone and managed to sort it all out and changed our flights to a Sunday with better arrival times.
The day before our holiday we saw that British airways had suffered an I.T failure and advised not to go to the airport unless we had a confirmed booking .The next day as we entered Heathrow we received a text saying our flight was cancelled ! We queued for 2 hours to try and rebook but the queue went nowhere so Suzanne got online and booked the last 2 seats on an evening flight to Bucharest, 2 hours later this was cancelled and we returned home.I managed to book an outbound flight with another airline from another airport leaving the next afternoon and arriving around midnight.
We finally arrived in Bucharest collected our hire car and started our long drive east to Constanta, we left the main highway after 2 hours to check out some ponds I had seen on Google earth. In the dark I could only find one and was guided in by the sound of frogs calling, I walked around the pond with a torch but could only see Marsh frogs Pelophylax ribidundus despite searching the rushes etc for Eastern tree frogs Hyla orientalis.Suzanne had stayed in the car and I had probably outstayed my welcome here so turned back almost stepping on a Green toad Bufotes viridis.As I walked back I was attracted by the sound of frogs calling from a run off from the pond and so I shone my torch down the bank looking for a route down and spotted a H orientalis sitting on a stone. That was a good start, first new species of the trip

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2 days later than planned we met the owner of the apartment at 6 am, collected the keys and managed to get a few hours sleep. In the afternoon we drove to a beach hoping to see the Steppe runner Eremias arguta , the main target of our trip. We stopped at a few ponds finding just P ribidundus and marvelled at the amount of birds on view, Cuckoos,Shrikes ,Hoopoes, Harriers etc. We walked along the edge of the dune area but saw no sign of any lizards, a Dice snake Natrix tessellata was found beneath a stone. After an hour or so of searching on a hot day we headed back for food and sleep.

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View from apartment

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Celebrating last night's Tree frog success with a nice cup of Earl grey tea.

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Wednesday 31st May
I have been promising Suzanne for years that I will find her a V ammodytes and I have always failed, well this year was going to be different and today was going to be the day (fingers crossed). We rose at 6 am on a cold grey morning and drove east to some Roman ruins which were supposed to be a stronghold for them.The sun was out by now and it was already getting warm, the first herp seen was a Green lizard L viridis sunning itself on the wall and then Suzanne spotted a Spur thighed tortoise Testudo graeca, another new species for us. Continuing our viper search I spotted an adult Caspian whip snake Dolichophis caspius another new species and after photographing it I spotted another a few feet away on a wall, both about to shed their skin.We carried on around the ruins finding another D caspius, lots of T graeca and more L viridis. A Balkan wall lizard Podarcis tauricus was found in the car park beneath a stone.

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Romanian traffic hazards

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We stopped at a nature reserve on the way back to check out a pond, it was part of a pumping station but the guard allowed me to have a look and I quickly caught a Grass snake Natrix natrix.

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We returned to the Steppe runner beach but took a different track through the dunes seeing a few N natrix and a European pond terrapin Emys obicularis. We parked the car and walked towards the beach seeing our first E arguta which quickly disappeared. The mosquitoes here were TERRIBLE and we were bitten repeatedly but I managed to stop and photograph an E arguta and another T graeca. We had a swim in the Black sea which threw the mosquitoes off our trail and then headed for home feeling very happy with three new ticks on the list. On the way out of the site we saw a Stork eating a large snake and many hatchling N natrix crossing the track. A few Stork nests were seen and Sousliks were common along the track edges.

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Thursday 1st June
Today is my 53 rd birthday and I have got in the habit over the last few years to find a species on my birthday to tick off the European list. I may be a bit ambitious this year as we ticked off three yesterday, we headed North to the Roman ruins at Histria where we soon spotted a Sand lizard Lacerta agilis crossing our path. Walking through the site we spotted several P tauricus and a few T graeca before heading down to the lake where we saw several Dice snakes N tessellata peering out of the water at us like periscopes, one was seen bringing a fish back to shore. It was a very hot day and so after a birthday drink we headed back, driving through town a gull landed directly in front of the car , picked up a dead snake and flew off with it!

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Friday 2nd June
After reading other trip reports from Romania we thought we would visit Babadag forest today, it took longer than expected to get there and it was already a hot morning by the time we arrived. I noticed the foundations of an old building and headed over hoping to find building materials that I could search beneath, I flipped a lump of concrete to reveal a hole leading to a cellar maybe 2 metres deep. I leaned in with a torch hoping to find snakes but all I could see were 2 Green lizards L viridis, I got some string from the car and managed to free one of them using a noose but I could not rescue the other one.Giving it about 2 seconds thought I slid into the hole only to find myself jammed around my chest, I tried to come back but my thick belt stuck against the edge of the concrete, I was stuck!!. I was twisting and turning but could neither go up or down, I had visions of the fire brigade and local tv crews arriving to free me.After ten minutes struggling I finally managed to reach in and undo my belt which Suzanne pulled out, I then slid my trousers down and managed to heave myself out. As I stood up I heard a dull thud and looking back into the hole realised that our Sat nav had fallen back in. Suzanne (my claustrophobic wife) then had to squeeze in and recover both the Sat nav and the lizard.
Panic over, we carried on walking through the woods finding lots of L viridis but eventually deciding that it was just too hot for herping and headed back. En route we passed some beautiful wheat fields full of poppies and a small stream where we found some juvenile N tessellata.

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Out again at 22:30 and a drive to Vadu, driving into town we saw and photographed our first Spadefoot toad sitting in the road, another tick.Driving up the track towards the beach we saw several more and when we got back and compared their hind feet to the drawings in the field guide decided they must be Eastern spadefoot toads P syriacus. Lots of Firebellied toads Bombina bombina were calling from a large pond but I could not get close to them which was very frustrating as we had never seen them before.

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Saturday 3rd June
Up early again and a return to the roman ruins hoping to find a V ammodytes, we began at 8 am and quickly found the 3 D caspius in the same places as before, the 2 larger ones slipping into the wall but we managed to photograph the smaller third one. Despite a good search we once again only found T graeca and L viridis.Maybe we should have been here at first light, I certainly didn't want to be searching at night with a torch through ancient ruins.A B viridis was found beneath a stone in some waste ground outside the apartment and the rest of the day was spent relaxing in town and preparing for our 3 am departure.

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Kevin Byrnes
 
Posts: 147
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Hometown: Stroud
country: England

Re: Romania 2017

Postby Neil Rowntree » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:00 pm

Hi Kevin,

An entertaining read! That caspius is a beast - love it!
The periscoping tessellatas look pretty cool too.

Also, there's a fine selection of t-shirt art in this post - i'm sensing this will become an ongoing theme in reports to come (I'm not sure about the patriotic shorts though...!)

Neil
http://northumberlandexplorer.weebly.com/
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Re: Romania 2017

Postby Ilian Velikov » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:16 pm

Herping the Balkans at that time of the year could be difficult but you did pretty well I think. In Bulgaria in June-July during the day I usually only found L.viridis and yes T.graeca if you're lucky enough to be in an area with a lot of them. No matter how common they are I always love encountering Dolichophis especially those big ones. I'm sorry you missed ammodytes but your chances were slim at this time of year to start with.

Also nice t-shirts Kevin ;) I haven't got any of them myself so I hope they are nice quality.
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Re: Romania 2017

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:29 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:Also nice t-shirts Kevin ;) I haven't got any of them myself so I hope they are nice quality.

I ordered (and payed, in advance, of course) two of them (Vipera ammodytes and Rana arvalis), but they never
reached me... Whatever might have happened "underway", they just didn't.
So I wrote to the firm that does it, technically, and they were very prompt and kind, and promised to send me
an onother pair - never mind the first one. Still waiting.
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Re: Romania 2017

Postby Bobby Bok » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:31 pm

Entertaining tripreport Kevin! Always a pleasure to read. And I definitely see a new theme coming up with these great T-shirts and underwear in our national colours :D
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Re: Romania 2017

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:43 pm

Berislav Horvatic wrote:I ordered (and payed, in advance, of course) two of them (Vipera ammodytes and Rana arvalis), but they never
reached me...

I'm really sorry to hear this Berislav. Hopefully they'll arrive the second time around. If not you should definitely ask Redbubble for refund of your money.
Ilian Velikov
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 12:19 pm
Hometown: Barcelona
country: Spain

Re: Romania 2017

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:45 pm

Bobby Bok wrote:And I definitely see a new theme coming up with these great T-shirts and underwear in our national colours


Haha, when I thought of making those t-shirts I never imagined I'd have underwear models advertising them.
Ilian Velikov
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 12:19 pm
Hometown: Barcelona
country: Spain

Re: Romania 2017

Postby Kevin Byrnes » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:32 pm

Judging by the amount of ladies we saw standing by the side of the road I imagine there was some sort of underwear convention going on that week ;)
Kevin Byrnes
 
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Re: Romania 2017

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:56 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:I'm really sorry to hear this Berislav. Hopefully they'll arrive the second time around.
If not you should definitely ask Redbubble for refund of your money.

I don't want the money back, I want the t-shirts. The estimated delivery time (for
the second attempt - shipped June 07 2017) is June 12 - 15, so let's wait and see.
Berislav Horvatic
 
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Re: Romania 2017

Postby Berislav Horvatic » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:56 pm

Berislav Horvatic wrote:
Ilian Velikov wrote:I'm really sorry to hear this Berislav. Hopefully they'll arrive the second time around.
If not you should definitely ask Redbubble for refund of your money.

I don't want the money back, I want the t-shirts. The estimated delivery time (for
the second attempt - shipped June 07 2017) is June 12 - 15, so let's wait and see.

Well, the second round arrived on June 12, while the first one got lost forever, obviously.
Just a remark: You warned us that all the t-shirts are SLIM-FIT, so if one is not young and
slim enough to conform to the present cultural tastes, should just order a bigger size...
I did that, but: the t-shirts (at least those I received) are NOT "slim-fit", on the contrary...
Fortunately I have a very dear neighbour who's a qualified tailor, so she undertook the task
of transforming those "sleeping gowns" into t-shirts... Neither slim-fit, nor anything else,
but just normal.
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