Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Easter Birdwatching and City Birdwatching Contest Day results

The traditional 'Easter Birdwatching' event took place again on March 26-27/2016, organized by EOÜ (Estonian Ornithological Society). It promised record species numbers, as usually this event has taken place earlier in March and therefore more migrants may have arrived.


Exceptionally warm and nice days brought a noticeable wave of migrant birds, so it lived up to expectations with many birdwatchers spotting their very first Starling, White Stork, White Wagtail, Woodcock, Chaffinch or Skylark of the year. The preliminary roundup produced a remarkable count of 110,000 birds of 135 species. This weekend also stood out for the beginning of more serious goose migration and therefore more than one third of all birds recorded were geese. The most common bird species were Great Tit, Hooded Crow, Blue Tit, Greenfinch and Bullfinch, followed by Mallard, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull and swan species. The most remarkable rarities were Red-breasted Goose and Lesser White-fronted Goose, spotted in Pärnu County, South-West Estonia. Participation statistics were also astonishing with a total of 250 species lists delivered by 450 participants.

This year another birdwatching event - City Birdwatching Contest Day (also organised by EOÜ) - coincided with the Easter holidays. 23 cities were participating and 118 species were  recorded as the total count. This is also the record for this event. Tallinn was by far the winner with 86 species, followed by Paldiski (74 spp) and Haapsalu (73 spp). Among hinterland cities Tartu was the traditional winner (62 spp). The official record can be accessed at:

Best species:
Haapsalu: Gadwall, Scaup, Ringed Plover
Kehra: Golden Plover
Kuressaare: Collared Dove
Kärdla: Curlew, Snow-Bunting
Paldiski: Pintail, Velvet Scoter, Black Scoter, Black Guillemot, Red-throated Loon
Tallinn: Redshank, Redwing, Nutcracker
Tapa: Golden Eagle
Tartu: Dunnock
Võru: Little Grebe
Valga: Kestrel

Among other remarkable species Canada Goose, Great Egret, Pygmy Owl, Divers and Rough-legged Buzzard were also spotted.
The five most common species were spotted in each town were Rock Pigeon, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw and Hooded Crow.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring-time love life of a Black Stork family in web-camera

This year Black Stork is in closer focus, as Estonian Fund for Nature, supported also by Estonian Nature Tours (also supporting the Young Conservationist's Award Foundation  and the Fying Squirrel project), has launched a series of actions to draw attention to this rare bird's status and life conditions. While lots of volunteers are involved in practical  outdoor works to clean the feeding areas of the species, mainly small forest rivers and ditches, the rest of the public audience can feel involved watching the bird via internet. 

The direct stream of the webcamera is just beyond a click:

Black Stork / Source:

Recently these big, but elegant love-birds were devoted to this years' offspring.
The worst impact to the life conditions of the Black Stork is caused by the policy of clearing old growth forest in Estonia and elsewhere. As mentioned above the small shallow-watered rivulets – feeding ground of the species – have overgrown and this process is rapidly accelerating. 

Volunteers are active in the second set of problems, as this is more easily achievable goal. Most evidently the lack of food and suitable feeding sites is counteracting the birds' efforts to grow up their chicks. This is particularly important for the young birds to be fit before leaving for wintering sites in Africa. So clearing works will be carried out in autumn, when the birds have finished their breeding season.

As for forestry practices and policies most of Estonian conservational NGO-s are making efforts via Estonian Council of Environmental NGO's (EKO) to make the statutory law of Estonian forestry more sustainable.
The Black Stork is a 1st category protected species in Estonia, also listed in Estonia's Red Data Book as a vulnerable species.