The trail provides an opportunity to observe birds in their natural habitats nestled in the rocks, meadows, water and agricultural fields.
Butuceni – Piatra Trail
Orheiul Vechi cultural-nature reserve
Orheiul Vechi reserve is a natural, cultural landmark of national significance in Moldova. It is located in the center of the country, along the Raut river’s gorge. It covers an area of 11k km2.
- The reserve is categorized as Category IV through the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), for the protection of the reserves natural habitat.
- Due to its uniqueness, the Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape is included in the UNESCO Indicative List.
- The reserve is part of the Orhei National Park.
- Home to about one-third of Moldova’s bird population, the reserve provides shelter for more than 100 species of birds.
- The trail is located between Butuceni and Piatra villages. It is recommended for hiking along the Raut river gorge and can be started from the start or endpoint, as the trail makes a full loop. Parts of the route can also be crossed by bicycle.
- The trail area on the left bank of the Raut river, between the villages of Butuceni and Trebujeni, runs along an unpaved path, which at times can be very narrow. In the summer, after heavy rains, the path can be covered by vegetation. Use caution, as some snakes can be seen along the trail.
- It is necessary to pay attention to the bridge between Piatra village and the Raut river bank.
- Proceed with caution along the rocky area around Trebujeni, as there is a high amount of erosion and loose rocks along the trail.
- Public transport to Chisinau and Orhei is available from Piatra and Furceni villages. More details can be found on https://autogara.md
Tourist attractions of the route
- Sehr al Cedid Ruins: built by Tatar Mongols, Golden Horde in the XIVth century and the Orhei medieval town dating back to the XIV and XVIth centuries.
- Tatar Bath Ruins: dates back to the XIVth century. Accessible for visiting.
- Caravanserai Ruins: remains from the XIVth century. Accessible for visiting.
- Medieval Church Ruins: historic church remains from the XVIth century. Accessible for visiting.
- Bosie Cave Church: dates back to the XVIth century. Visible from the trail and accessible by climbing an unpaved path. Difficulty level: medium, slip risk.
- Assumption Monastery: stone church, dating back to 1904, carved into the Pestera cave, where the monks resided in the XVIth century. Visible from the trail; direct access is not available.
- Medieval Spring: grab a drink of water fresh from the spring. Accessible for visiting.
- Trebujeni-Scoc & Piscul Ciobanului Archaeological Sites.
- Lazo Family Mansion: museum dating back to the XIXth century. Accessible for visiting.
- Izvorul Morii Spring: a hydrological monument, located on the left bank of the Raut river. Permission from environmental authorities is required.
- Migla Rock: a natural monument of geological and paleontological importance, it is located at the end of the trail as you exit Piatra village. Accessible for visiting.
Birds to see?
Around the rocks and the Raut Gorge caves:
Northern wheatearOenanthe oenanthe
The species prefers rocky habitats, but it also nests in clay ravines, construction sites or ruins. It is a summer guest and can be seen during April-October.
Common ravenCorvus corax
Nests in habitats of deciduous or coniferous forests, but feeds in most types of habitats: meadows, farmlands, valleys, meadows, etc. It is a sedentary species that can be seen all year long.
European bee-eaterMerops apiaster
Occupies predominantly sunny slopes, clayey and sandy ravines, and sometimes the steep banks of lakes / rivers. The species is a summer visitor and can be seen from May to September
Little owlAthene noctua
Often found in rocky habitats, occupying caves and holes in order to nest. It can also be found in human settlements, where occupies bridges of old or abandoned houses. It is a sedentary species that can be seen all year long
Eurasian eagle owlBubo bubo
Is a species characteristic for woodland areas where the cliffs are associated with forests (especially conifers). It is a sedentary species that can be seen all year long.
In the meadows along the Raut river near Butuceni, Trebujeni and Mihailasapoints:
Red-backed shrikeLanius collurio
Preferă zonele agricole deschise cu tufişuri şi copaci izolaţi. Este oaspete de vară, putând fi văzut în perioada mai-septembrie.
Nests in forests and hillside areas, but can also be found on farmlands or river meadows. As some flocks can migrate partially, the species can be seen here throughout the year.
Common cuckooCuculus canorus
Can be found in a wide variety of habitats including forests, farmlands, reeds and wetlands, meadows and floodplains, etc. It is a summer visitor and can be seen during April-July.
Common buzzardButeo buteo
Can be found in hilly, rocky or plain forests, bordered by meadows or farmlands where it can hunt. Generally, it is a sedentary species that can be seen throughout the year, but some individuals may partially migrate to other regions.
European goldfinchCarduelis carduelis
The species is found in parks, orchards, gardens, forest strips, usually in open habitats. It is sedentary and can be seen throughout the year.
White wagtailMotacilla alba
Prefers habitats near water, but is also found in parks, gardens and farmlands, even in urban and rural areas. It is a summer visitor and can be seen during March-October.
Lesser whitethroatSylvia curruca
Prefers forest edges or rich suburban parks where it hides its nest. It is a summer guest and can be seen during April-October.
Lesser grey shrikeLanius minor
Is characteristic for open farmlands with isolated bushes and trees. This shrike species breeds usually in colonies. The lesser grey shrike is a summer visitor and can be seen from May to September.
Tawny pipitAnthus campestris
Is a species characteristic for open and arid, sandy areas with low vegetation. It also occurs in artificial areas, such as quarries, and at other times, areas with bushes and trees are preferred. It is a summer visitor, present in our country from April to September.
Along the Raut river:
The species is characteristic for rivers, canals, freshwater lakes. It is a summer guest and can be seen during March-November.
Marsh harrierCircus aeruginosus
It is a species which prefers wetlands with big concentrations of reed beds. It is a summer visitor and can be seen from May to October.
Great reed-warblerAcrocephalus arundinaceus
A common species in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats. It is a summer visitor and can be seen during April-August.
Grey heronArdea cinerea
Is common for all types of wetlands: lakes, marshes, ponds, rivers. It is a summer visitor and can be seen from May to October.
Black-crowned night-heronNycticorax nycticorax
Is a wetland species of freshwater or even salty water, and usually nests in colonies established in the willow trees by the water. It is a summer visitor and can be seen from May to September.
Little egretEgretta garzetta
Can be found in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats, especially lakes, ponds, marshes, rivers or flooded lands. It is a summer visitor and can be seen during March-November.
Penduline titRemiz pendulinus
Is found around reedbeds near lakes, rivers, estuaries and marshes. It is a summer guest and can be seen from April to September.
Eurasian moorhenGallinula chloropus
Is a species found in most aquatic habitats: lakes, ponds, marshes or slow-flowing rivers. It is a summer guest and can be seen during March-November.
In the Trebujeni-Podis and Jeloboc-Furceni forests and from the Raut river banks:
Eurasian blackbirdTurdus merula
Is a common species for forests and parks, especially outside urban areas. It is sedentary and can be observed all year long.
Golden orioleOriolus oriolus
Prefers forests, but can also be seen in parks or forest strips. It is a summer visitor and is present in Moldova from April to October.
Thrush nightingaleLuscinia luscinia
It can be heard in the woods with many bushes or in parks, generally in lowlands. The species is a summer visitor and can be observed from April to September.
European turtle-doveStreptopelia turtur
Prefers forests and forest strips, sometimes bounded by farmland or plains. The species is a summer visitor and can be observed during April-September.
Great titParus major
Is a species very common in parks, forests, forest strips, groups of trees, bushes or even isolated trees. It can be found in cities, villages, plains, meadows, etc. It's sedentary and can be seen all year.
Its specific habitat consists of deciduous and mixed forests?, present both in the plain and hilly areas. The species prefers rich crown trees, where it can place its nest as close as possible to the thick branches. It is sedentary and can be observed throughout the year.
Barred warblerSylvia nisoria
A species characteristic for semi-arid open habitats with bushes or farmlands, forest strips and plains with groups of trees. It is a summer guest and can be seen from May to September.
Grey-headed woodpeckerPicus canus
It is found in wooded and mixed areas and forests around rivers and lakes. It is a common species in the parks of villages and towns. The species is sedentary and can be seen throughout the year.
Syrian woodpeckerDendrocopos syriacus
It is a species common in forests, parks, gardens, even isolated trees. It is sedentary and can be observed all year long.
In orchards, farmlands and gardens:
Yellow wagtailMotacilla flava
Prefers humid, low-vegetation habitats such as pastures, hayfields, farmlands or stony marshes. It is a summer visitor and can be seen during April-October.
Corn buntingEmberiza calandra
Is a common bird in the open and plain habitats or hilly areas. Generally, it is a sedentary species that can be seen throughout the year, but some flocks can partially migrate to other regions.
It is a species found in many habitats: settlements, parks, forests, open areas with groups of trees, river meadows or rocks. Generally, it is a partially migratory species, as some flocks can move to other regions to feed while others remain during the winter in our country.
Eurasian hoopoeUpupa epops
Prefers plain habitats, with rocky elements or ravines / slopes where it can nest. It is a summer visitor and can be seen during April-October.
Occurs especially in lawlands and hills, in a wide variety of open regions, especially those with solitary trees, bushes, groups of trees or forests. In anthropic habitats the species prefers mixed farmlands, grasslands, parks and gardens, with hedges and small groups of trees. It is a sedentary species that can be seen throughout the year.
Opts for agricultural habitats, with groups of deciduous trees, mostly poplars or rich canopy trees where big flocks can install their colonies. It is a sedentary species that can be seen throughout the year.
Prefers steppes and habitats with abundant herbaceous vegetation. It is a summer visitor and can be seen during April-October.
Eurasian tree sparrowPasser montanus
Occupies most habitats, especially the open ones: farmlands, meadows, pastures, gardens, and even rural / urban localities. It is a sedentary species that can be seen throughout the year.
House sparrowPasser domesticus
Prefers anthropic habitats, usually rural and urban settlements, but also isolated buildings. It is a sedentary species that can be seen throughout the year.
Eurasian collared doveStreptopelia decaocto
Is a species found in rural areas. It is a sedentary species which can be seen throughout the year.
Barn swallowHirundo rustica
Particularly prefers anthropic habitats, such as towns and villages. It can also be found around isolated buildings. It is a summer guest and can be seen during March-October.
House martinDelichon urbica
Prefers anthropic habitats, mostly rural localities. It is a summer guest and can be seen during April-October.
Common quailCoturnix coturnix
Is a species characteristic for open areas or meadows with high grass. It is a summer guest and can be seen during April-October.
The following gear is recommended for use while on the trail:
- Cap or bandana in the warm seasons
- Hat and gloves in the cold season
- Loose and comfortable clothes; dressing in layers is recommended: shirt, blouse, sweater, vest, jacket, depending on the season
- Long hiking pants
- Waterproof clothing
- Field shoes (hiking boots or hiking sandals, depending on the season)
- Binoculars. Orheiul Vechi Reserve, as well as the Butuceni and Trebujeni village guest houses have binoculars for rent. Contact the reception desk for details.
When birdwatching, we should follow several rules:
These rules are at the cornerstone of birdwatching and are aimed at both beginners and advanced birdwatchers. Observance of these rules is primarily about the respect for the nature, wildlife and the rights of other beings. We assure you that you will be more successful in your birdwatching if you will abide by them!
- The safety of wild fowl comes first, therefore we cannot behave in a way that would scare them away or endanger their lives:
- do not follow them
- do not get too close to them or their resting place
- do not stay too long near their nests and do not bother the clucking birds or birds with hatchlings in no way
- do not listen to music at full volume
- do not yell
- do not make chasing away gestures
- do not try to catch them to make photos or to have a better look at them
- The habitat is the home of wild animals; hence we should not damage or pollute the place where we birdwatch. The following are strictly prohibited:
- Littering on the route
- Cutting down trees
- Dislodging rocks
- Taking any object as a memento
- Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages
- Any other behavior that will lead to the damaging of the habitat following your visit.
- Respect the privacy and property rights of the local people, therefore do not use your binoculars to look into people’s courtyards and houses, do not divert from the marked route and focus only on the things you are interested in.