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We were all bowled over by the sheer quantity of spectacular birds wherever we looked, and what made it even better was that most of them seemed to be quite unconcerned at our presence.

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This is the Danube Delta on the Romanian coast, where the mighty River Danube ends its 1,770-mile journey from Germany's Black Forest to the Black Sea, meandering through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria along the way. Not many, because the number of cuckoos breeding in the South and East has fallen dramatically over the past 20 years.

Happily, Scotland, Wales and the North and West of England aren't - yet - affected, so the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is trying to find out what's happening to our southern cuckoos.

Hopefully, the BTO's current research will begin to provide the answers.'Cuckoo, cuckoo.' As the sun set, and the last cuckoo calls rang across the water lilies, I resolved that the Danube Delta was somewhere I should not only return to again and again, but somewhere I should try to encourage others to visit - the more of us who get down there to enjoy it in an entirely sustainable way, the more likely it is that the Romanian government, in economic difficulty like the rest of Europe, will resolve that it's in the best interests of the country to resist pressure to drain and develop the Delta - and to keep it as fabulous as it is today.) offers a ten-day Danube Delta & Carpathian Mountains small-group tour from £1,495, including return flights, road and boat transport, nine nights' full board (including floating hotel) and expert guiding by a naturalist.

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It's early days, but one of the things we've discovered so far is that not all of our cuckoos fly due south via France, Spain and Italy (we know, sadly, that a lot head for Italy - because they are shot there, in blatant breach of EU and indeed Italian law).

So at the end of May, I went to the Danube Delta in Romania to see for myself, among other things, how the cuckoo was doing down there, with none of the man-made pressures it has to cope with in England.

It was a miracle we never got lost, but the Ibis Tours people know the myriad channels like the backs of their hands.

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