Monday, February 18, 2013

Easiest way to observe White-tailed Eagles...

As we did last winter we have again managed the ’ESTLAT Eagles’ cross-border project to install a web camera on a White-tailed Eagle winter feeding site in Läänemaa county in western Estonia. Now everybody has the chance to watch them as they come to food put out for them.  Several individuals are usually present during a day, with most of them are coming from Finland at present. We cannot be sure of the origin of unringed birds. The webcam is supplemented with an audio channel, so you can hear the birds as well, though the microphone is situated about 30m from feeding spot. The direct link to webcam is here.

We started to feed the eagles in the second half of November and tried to launch the camera system in the beginning of December, but due to several unexpected problems in transmission we finally started transmission on 29th December. Let's hope the camera stream will continue to work for the rest of the winter for everybody interested in these great birds.

Eagles have been very reliable this winter,  most of the time at least one individual is present on camera and there have been up to nine eagles in the camera view at the same time.

 Photos by Bea (LK Forum)

In mild weather the food may be eaten quite quickly and the ravens help in that as well. The food is from hunters, also road traffic victims and sometimes fish are used.
We are using one of the best webcams available, with pan-tilt-zoom possibilities. That will help in our aim to read as many rings of eagles as possible (last season there were 20 different rings read). The camera is operated by selected volunteers, who work for the benefit of the observers. In the Looduskalender Forum you can find many of the events observed, in photos or videos. In this way you can see and overview of the day (or longer time) at the feeding station. The forum is in English.

You can read last years report here.

Source:  Estonian Ornithological Society / The Eagle Club


Migration Map News – Summary of Autumn Migration

It is always fascinating to see what the birds we are following on Migration Map are doing and we started the autumn following 23 birds 7 of which were juveniles. The largest proportion of juveniles was amongst Common Cranes but we know well that due to natural selection a large proportion of juveniles do not reach their wintering grounds and only two cranes, Ahja2 and Juula2 have made it. Both of them are wintering in Tunisia, though Ahja2 spent last winter in Turkey. Changes of wintering grounds have also been recorded amongst Finnish Cranes.

One of five Ospreys, Ilze form Latvia, perished in Calabria, southern Italy. She was probably shot and injured and did not recover. Unfortunately the transmitter was not found, though twice our Italian colleagues tried to locate it. A second Latvian Osprey, Eriks, was lost in Gabon in October. We hope he is out of network area and will be visible again when he starts his spring migration. Estonian Ospreys winter in Africa, Ilmar in SW Angola, Piret and Erika in Sudan. Piret was also out of network area for 40 days until she went 200km northwards to winter. Piret made an interesting about turn on her migration when she reached the Sahara and turned suddenly turned back travelling 1200km. At the moment there is no data about what the weather was like at that point there, but something induced such a long extra trip. Her journey back to the Nile Delta seemed to be a struggle against dominant northerly winds.

The Black Storks are wintering in their usual places, Raivo near the fish ponds in the Jordan Valley, Priidu in Sudan and Central African Republic and Pirsu in Chad and Cameroon.

The juvenile White-tailed Eagles, Sillu and Meelis, did not migrate much (we think), but the transmitters on them are not working very well, and we don’t know their most recent movements. The last positions we have from November are that Sillu was in the Kaliningrad region of Russia and Meelis was on the Russian coast of Pskov Lake. We hope to see the birds again when they return in spring.

Among Greater Spotted Eagles probably the most interesting is the juvenile Tore, who we believe to be the brother of Tõnn. We lost him in Switzerland, after he was observed for a long time near Lake Constance by local bird watchers. We suspect the problems with the transmitter maybe shortage of sun light for the solar charger. Tõnn and Iti are wintering in their usual sites. Sander is the first GSE we followed from Estonia and is wintering in Africa. The wintering site of the Osprey Piret is only some 200 km SE of Sander.

Lesser Spotted Eagles Karin and Magnus made typical migrations for their species and arrived in southern Africa. The wintering area is large, including several countries (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South-African Republic). The hybrid Spotted Eagle Luule hit serious problems trying to cross the Ionian Sea from Greece to Sicily in December and sadly may have drowned. 

It is only a couple of weeks before some of these birds may start their spring migration...
Click here to see migration map...

Source:  Estonian Ornithological Society / The Eagle Club

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lynx and other mammals. Who’s chasing who?

Lynx has somehow grabbed my attention. I want to see a Lynx myself as well as show it to other people. I have discussed it with foresters and hunters and I have visited a lynx specialist. They might all be smirking and sneering, I can’t tell - tongue in the cheek or not – but I am ongoingly stubborn, I want to see one.

One Friday afternoon Jaan told me that he noticed fresh tracks of a lynx. I was waiting for Tuuli to come to the countryside for the weekend, so I called and asked her to bring the camera along. We shot the first frames in the twilight.

Luckily there was no snowfall at night. Next morning we went scouting.

 The tracks were leading along the Penijõe riverbank down towards the reedbed

 Just a bit short of the harbour the Kitty had crossed the river

 Now it sat down on the bank to think a little bit. 
After that it bent it’s steps across the road to the meadow

We were dogging the footsteps with my friend Mortimer

It’s   m y  house in that distant grove!

In the middle of the meadow at the haypack it had contemplated again. 
And then gone back along it’s own tracks. Supposedly...

From that haypack it is hardly couple of hundred meters to my home. Back home I noticed that the lost tracks was circling around my car – right at my kitchen window. But then I realised- Jaan’s Carlos,has pawprints that look quite like a lynx!!:)

Nonetheless Mortimer had had fun

Tuuli enjoyed taking the pictures and working on them later to make them even better.


On Sunday we had a walk with Raul along the edge of the Tuhu bog towards Vatla to trace the lynx again. These are my unimproved pictures.

The wild boar had been here ...
... and there

Almost fresh traces were shuffling along the edge of the frozen marsh

 Unbelievably numbers of squirrels ...

 Elk wedding ground ...

It seems the forest is full of hogs and squirrels, but not one lynx! Perhaps what they are saying is true, Lynx are hunting around human settlements this winter and at the edge of clearings. There are very few roe deer, the cold and snowy winters have done their work.
We went for a drive in the car. Wow!

Broth of a lynx! The traces as fresh as those in Penijõe.

This one was crossing the ditch and going toe the forest ...

Yes, they do seem to prefer the open landscape and forest edges.
I turned back home continuing my survey.

Fresh elk tracks
A wolf or a dog – no-one could tell by the photograph. Two wolves, I believe:)

This time I did not attend the garden birds survey, but my gamebag is remarkable anyway, isn’t it?


The following week I was sneaking around in Penijõe again together with my friend. Images captured with Nokia.

There are still some roedeer ...

Rather early morning tracks ...

What’s up? Mortimer found from beneath the snow – is it really lynx’s job? 
No fresh tracks this time


On Tuesday I met Jaan in the grocery and he told me, that the lynx has been around again. Helle added that the animal has learned it’s lesson and now comes home by itself ... In the meantime it had been snowing, but I found the tracks.

Crossed the river at the same place ...

But gone back this time


The wolves are around too.

Here they have marked out the territory ...

... trodden around and marked again

The Great Tit has been singing already for the whole week: "Ti-ti-ta, ti-ti-ta!" Spring is in the air. Lynx will soon be looking for a mate.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Ilves ja muud loomad. Kes keda jälitab?

Mind on ilves huvitama hakanud. Tahan teda näha ja teistele ka näidata. Olen nõu pidanud metsa- ja jahimeestega, olen ka ilvese uurija jutul käinud. Kõik nad muigavad ühtviisi habemesse või siis lihtsalt muhelevad – oleneb, kas habe on olemas või pole. Mina ei ole jonni jätnud, tahan teada.  

Ühel reedesel pärastlõunal ütles Jaan mulle, et nägi Penijõe tee ääres värskeid ilvese jälgi. Ootasin Tuulit nädalavahetuseks maale, helistasin, et võtku fotokas kaasa. Hämaras saime esimesed pildid kätte.

Öösel õnneks lund ei sadanud. Järgmisel hommikul läksime luurele.

Jäljed viisid Penijõe kallast mööda roostiku suunas

Pisut enne sadamat tuli Kiisu üle jõe

Siin ta istus kaldal ja mõtles. Ja seadis sammud üle tee heinamaale

Mina järgnesin koos oma sõbra Mortimeriga

Seal eemal puudesalus elan mina! 

 Keset põldu heinapalli juures on ta jälle mõelnud. Ja oma jälgi pidi tagasi läinud. Vist...

Heinapallist minu koduõueni on paarsada meetrit!
Koju tagasi jõudes märkasin, et kaotatud jäljerada tiirutas ümber mu auto – otse köögiakna all. Aga selgus, et Jaani Carlos oskab ilvesega väga sarnaselt päkka maha toetada :)

Mortimeril oli sellest hoolimata lõbus

Tuuli tuunis oma pilte, et ägedam oleks


Pühapäeval võtsime Rauliga ette jalgsi matka mööda Tuhu soo serva Vatla suunas. Ikka ilvest otsima. Pildid on minu tehtud ja tuunimata.

Metssigu oli käinud siin...

 ... ja seal

Päris värsked jäljed läksid lohinal mööda jäist lodumetsa

Uskumatult palju oravaid

Põtrade pulmaplats

Sigudikke ja oravaid kõik kohad täis, aga ilveseid ei kuskil. Jutt vastab tõele, ilvesed hoiavad rohkem asulate lähedusse ja peavad jahti lagendike servadel. Metskitsi on vähe, külmad talved tegid oma töö.
Sõitsime natuke autoga ka ringi. Ohhoo!

Ilves mis ilves! Jälg umbes sama vana kui Penijõel nähtu

Ronis üle kraavi metsa...

Jah, nad liiguvad rohkem lagedatel maastikel ja metsaservades.
Hakkasin koju tagasi sõitma. Loodusvaatlused jätkusid.

Värsked põdrajäljed

Hunt või koer – keegi ei osanud foto järgi öelda. Mina arvan, et kaks hunti :)

Aialinnuvaatlusest seekord osa ei võtnud, aga muu saak on ju kena olnud – kas pole?


Nädal hiljem luurasin jälle Penijõel ringi, sõber endiselt kaasas. Pildid tehtud Nokiaga.

Metskitsi tundub olevat...

Päris varahommikused jäljed...

No mis värk? Mortimer leidis lume alt – kas tõesti ilvese töö? 
Värskeid jälgi seekord ei olnud


Sel teisipäeval kohtasin Jaani poes ja ta ütles, et ilves on jälle käinud! Helle lisas, et loom on sind kuulda võtnud – tuleb ise koju kätte.. Vahepeal tuli lund. Kuid leidsin jäljed üles.

Tulnud jälle samast kohast üle jõe...

Kuid seekord läinud tagasi


Hundid on samuti liikvel.

Siin on nad märgistanud...

... ja siin kohapeal tammunud ja märgistanud

Rasvatihane laulab juba nädal aega: sitsikleit, sitsikleit.. Õhus on tunda kevadet. Ilveste pulmaaeg läheneb.

 Head sõbrapäeva!!!