"Land of the Grey Herons"


"The Land of the Great Herons" - is a unique colony of over 1,000 wading birds nesting on oak trees. It is a part of the "Pădurea Domnească" (Royal Forest) reserve. The area of the oak forest where the Grey Herons nest is not very large - about 1 hectare. 

Nowhere else in Moldova will you see such a dense population of birds in such a small area. The curious thing about these birds is that if their chicks fail to fly at the first attempt, they are abandoned. 

It is the most atypical and humid area on the territory of the Reserve, being in fact a forest habitat component of the oak forest of the Prut valley. It is located 3 km away from Balatina village and 0.8 km from the Prut riverbed. This place has become home to 3 species of waterfowl: the grey heron (Ardea Cinerea), the little egret (Egretta garzetta) and the night heron (Ardea nycticorax), which nest on trees. The grey heron is also accustomed to nesting in trees when it does not like reeds, as evidenced by the large number of nesting pairs in the colony. The same is true for the Little Egret and the Night Heron, which prefer to nest in mixed colonies, but the large number of pairs and their preference for this habitat (oak forest) makes the Land of the Grey Heron a unique phenomenon for the Republic of Moldova. Of the approximately 1000 pairs, the Grey Heron dominates with the largest share, leaving only a few pairs of Little Egret and Night Heron. Each tree hosts up to 18 nests set 15-20 m high, giving the impression of a suspended nursery. In total, 332 nests have been counted. The birds are here from the end of March to the first decade of October. The colony covers an area of 3000 m , plot 17 of the reserve and is strictly protected, with very limited access so as not to disturb the birds during the nesting period. Before the construction of the Costești-Stânca dam, "the Land of the Grey Herons' ' was flooded year after year by the waters of the Prut. After the riverbed was regulated, flooding became much less frequent and bird droppings contributed to acidification of the soil, causing the trees to dry out over time. As the trees dry out, so do the nests, so year after year, the Land of the Grey Herons changes its location and boundaries a little. But curious visitors can't miss this noisy and interesting community. The sight of large birds fluttering and flying from tree to tree is unforgettable, and their numbers are certainly impressive.