June – August 2016
After a week of sliding up and down impossibly sheer slopes, I am not surprised that so much of Nou Săsesc’s wildlife is winged. Amongst them are middle-spotted woodpeckers – I crossed paths with the bird team one morning, just as they were studying this elegant chiseller of Romania’s trees.
And red-backed shrikes – they’re everywhere, watching for prey. They are songbirds with the heart of hawks.
The rooftops host special guests. A family of little owls roosts on the farm next to our camp, watching our work between their snoozing.
And then, of course, there are the hawkmoths.
Down at ground level, the trail cameras caught a beech marten carrying off a frog.
Overall, mammal records are low here compared to Richis; and yet, the sense of being away from the over-developed world is still strong. An excerpt from my diary dated July 2nd:
…in the evening, I tag onto the wildlife spotting group, going for a long drive up the same road which we clattered down in the morning. It seems even further in the car. After winding through wonderful hilly scenery, passing livestock and many trees, we stop at a meadow. There are signs of bear diggings on ant hills, and for a brief moment I wonder; but the charm of the evening is the utter absence of human noise. Sitting in the long grass, the world is very alive. Moths fly and bugs buzz, and a bee is being eaten by some species of false widow spider. You could forget the human voice altogether if you spent too long in a valley like this; instead there are roe deer, barking in a hoarse retch. One steps through the new growth of dense trees on the hillside above. Another barks at close range but cannot be detected with the thermal imaging camera. One student sees a fox, and we all observe two red deer bounding away. I spy a glow worm on the way back.
But mostly it is the silence, the sense that nature continues even when humanity forgets it.
This is Romania, land of contrasts.
One night you may be taught by the silence of nature, and the next giddy with rich human culture. The week ends with Romanian dancers and musicians performing in our camp. A video is here.
Next stop: Mesendorf. The land is gentler…but it is also much richer in bears.