Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Welcome To Ennu Farm

So, we've left Tallinn behind for the sanctuary of Ille's country retreat Ennu Farm. All of their lives her parents aided by herself and her brother worked the area as a general farm. These days it's pretty much redundant, except that farmer Rowner, who lives about 2Km to the north, grows several acres of cereal crops while another farmer, equidistant in the opposite direction, grazes some beef stock. This is a long time arrangement for which no money changes hands, but Ille is never short of milk, eggs, cheese beef and the odd chicken.

The property is about 100 hectares (whatever that is, I think biggish) in total of which as much as 50% must be prime woodland. Comprising mainly of Silver Birch, there are also a few species of pine, Rowan, Ash, Alder and an English Oak or two.

The journey here took us 2 and a half hours from the capital to Viljandi, about 160Km, by bus then a further half hour by the single daily service mini-bus through Kolga-Jaani village, 8Km away, which dropped us right at the door. There are a few other crofts along the way, but traffic along the dirt road is light eliminating all but the smallest of disturbances. There is a lorry park 3 Km up the road, and beyond a huge area given over to peat covered fields, but I've failed to discover, yet, what all that is about.

Ennu Farmhouse, so far we have discovered a pair of Tree Sparrows feeding young under the eves, a pair of White Wagtail nesting somewhere in the building (yet to be discovered) and today a pair of Swallows were prospecting the main porch (the extension to the right), which in fact is part of the inside of the house. If they do persist we'll have to try and dissuade them as it will be locked when we leave. They do have a second option, the open porch below the Estonian flag, which they are also sussing out.

It is not known when The Old Barn was built but it was certainly in the 1800's, and has surely stood the test of time. The only signs of breeding in this building is attributed to 2 pairs of Starling (one each end) and the local stray cat. So far the kittens have not been found, but in this hostile environment (winter particularly) they would not be destined to live long, but more of that later.

The New Barn is more recent, but even that well precedes 1957 at which time the family called it home, while Dad was building the 'New' farm house. We believe a pair of Spotted Flycatcher are resident, but we can find no nest, but the two have been in and out with some regularity, so we're keeping watch from a safe distance. For certain there is a third pair of Starlings feeding young as well as a pair of White Wagtail.

We arrived to the 'song' of c3 Cuckoos, one flying directly overhead as we left the mini-bus. Within a matter of minutes, in addition to those already mentioned, we recorded Blue & Great Tit, Chaffinch, Willow & Chiff, Whitethroat, Jay, Woodlark, Skylark, Goldfinch, Common Buzzard and a singing Icterine Warbler. There was much to do as the property hadn't been visited for 2 months, so wood was brought in (plenty in store), water pumped (all comes from the well and sells in Tallin for a quid a litre) and bedding aired. After this there was some time for a wander and in addition to hearing that beautifully liquid song of a Golden Oriole (not located) I found a small colony of butterflies. It took me sometime to sort this one out via Google, as in the first instance I knew it wasn't The Map as Paul Harris had adequately sorted that one out for me when I found some here last Summer. Having searched through Fritillaries, Tortoiseshells etc it was just a fluke that i took a look at The Map only to find that the early and late broods have completely different morphs, the later ones as I had found are almost black.

The Map Butterfly (Spring edition)

another pose.

and with folded wings.

In the absence of my own archive photographs, I've blagged this 'second (summer) generation' Map butterfly photograph to highlight the problem.

There were also 'thousands' of young Frogs.

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