On day 3 we split into three teams to set and check camera traps for lynx, in the vicinity of neighbouring villages. FCC aim to install 64 camera trap stations by the beginning of October, so we are here at the perfect time to help them out.
Team 1 followed a long and winding logging road past signs of deer – tracks and stripped saplings, whose bark is rich in the minerals they need to regrow their antlers. After hopping dead trees and scrambling uphill, we were able to see out across the Dragoslovene Valley to and Mount Tamasel and Draxin, with clearings dotted in amongst the forest.
Approaching the target area, we heard the unmistakable noise of chainsaws and falling trees, meaning we had to carry on further to find unmarked trees, not in danger of being felled. On the way back down, we came across fire-bellied toads, in a pond formed of a wheel rut.
Team 2’s long route took them past a spot where deer had recently slept, to a lookout where they stopped to admire the sight of house martins swooping as they fed. Camera traps installed, they passed an area of cleared forest where FCC is replanting, through beautiful, mature beech forest. On the way they found bear scat and hair, including possibly from a bear cub, from a rubbing tree.
Team 3 both installed and checked camera traps, recovering over 60 photos from one. At one point they encountered multiple tracks in the mud, including of a wild cat.
We awoke on day 4 to find that the camp had been visited that night by a bear, who was attracted by the rubbish bins, and left us our freshest sample yet! When the rangers arrived, they showed us photos of a lynx sighting on the previous day’s camera traps.
Setting off, we drove through Stoinești and Cotenești, to sample future beaver habitat in two locations. The team sampling Valea lui Coman found three sites that contained the right mix of vegetation, habitat and lack of human disturbance favourable to beavers. They also came across otter tracks and markings under a bridge, as well as two species of hummingbird moth. They then made a visit to an FCC fir nursery, nestled in a forest clearing at the end of a forest track bounded up a precipitous gorge.
The team sampling Valea Badenilor found a mix of sites, including one highly suitable for beaver, where FCC are planting more willow. On the way back they made a visit to a monastery perched on a clifftop, built on the site of an ancient Dacian temple.