Monday, 17 May 2010

With Cemetery Eyes - Marillion

Rook - an addition to the Estonia List.

Ille didn't really have much to say about the suppression of vital 'birding' information, in fact she was completely mute on the subject! She had said that just around the corner from her apartment there was a small park where I might find a few birds, but nothing about the adjoining Cemetery, which turned out to be an avian paradise.

Leaving home at the same time as she went to work, 08-00, I immediately stumbled upon c3 Rooks attempting to feed close to the market. One obligingly perched on a Car Park sign, just long enough to fire off one shot. Close by there were a small party of feeding Jackdaws, with the one in the photograph looking far paler around the nape and neck than those at home?


The park was taken up with mainly the national football stadium, a series of 6 a side pitches and tennis courts, but the was a small stand of woodland where once again Fieldfare were predominant.

The Estonia National (Practice) Football Stadium

Other sports facilities, all of which were in use.

The Cemetery wall, and thoughts of what lay beyond.

I have no idea how to estimate acres or hectares, in fact both are simply just words, but by comparison to my local Melcombe Regis Cemetery this one is colossal. The problem seemed to be gaining access without a long walk, but consulting a couple of locals was soon shown a hole in the fence that even I could easily squeeze through. However, even before that I was miffed by yet another unfamiliar sweet bird song coming from high in an Ash tree.

It turned out to be this Spotted Flycatcher, which is another addition to the Estonia List and, had it been at home, would have been a year first.

While stood admiring this ornate gateway, complete with 2 fine bells, I noticed to my left what was the older section of the grave yard now overgrown, but passable. From this area came acacophony of bird song including what I thought to be Nightingale (which I will return to), Blackbird, Fieldfare, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and (just to catch up with Martin at the Obs) my very first singing Redwing - sensational! In addition I watched Lesser Whitethroatseveral times carrying food into a bramble thicket, another adult male Common Rosefinchperched out of camera shot, and my first fledged Fieldfare being fed out of the nest, it was simply getting better and better.

Male and

female Blackbird tending to their young nesting in a tree cleft.

A recently fledged Fieldfare waiting patiently.

The wait is over as Mum returns with the victuals.

Leaving the totally neglected section of the cemetery, the woodland opens up to an easier accessible area where just a few of the graves seem cared for.

By now, having watched Fieldfare feeding young, discarding recently hatched egg shells and collectively coping with marauding Hooded Crows, I was estimating the breeding population as being in the region of 30 pairs. By the time my day was over I considered that to be a gross miscalculation, and without sensationalising numbers thought it much more likely to have been 50 pairs plus!

Further down the track there was a more familiar song, but it took me a while to come to the conclusion that it was a Wood Warbler. Again perched high in a tree it did allow a couple of reasonable shots, unlike a pair of Pied Flycatcher close by which as well as being at altitude where so mobile even seeing them was difficult.

and so, back to the 'Nightingale'? Heinzel, Fitter & Parslow (Fieldguide) tells me that this species shouldn't occur anywhere near Estonia and that the local Luscinia would be Thrush Nightingale, also called Sprosser. I was lucky enough to see several such birds today but even with decent views of the breast couldn't see how they could be the latter. Unfortunately, the only really obliging one (photo) only presented itself 'back towards' but even this shows a fairlyrufous tail and overall a more brown back? Maybe someone can cast a second eye over this photo as I have only ever seen one Sprosser in my life and the difference in song (all birds were vocal) is well beyond my capabilities. Thanks in anticipation.

Wood Pigeon

Arriving at the more recent section of the area, there was more human activity but all were busying themselves tending graves or silent vigil so didn't bother me. This is where I encountered the first Wood Pigeon of the trip plus another vocal Icterine Warbler and a Serin also in good voice, with the latter being an Estonian tick.

As I reached the gate, 2 ladies football teams were taking the field so I sat talking to a most amiable, young Mexican man whose lady-friend was playing a 'blinder' on the left wing. He was himself off to London next week to watch his national side (slaughter, his word not mine) England in a friendly at Wembley - may the best man win! On the way back I had seen another game in progress, and while not an aficionado, did think the skills excellent from what looked like about 10 year olds. I was accurate in this guess but what I hadn't noticed was they were mixed sex teams, and they were good. So, a message for Mr Rooney and his pals "watch your step if you come to Estonia".

My visit was now over, but there were two thoughts going through my mind. From what I had seen, this place is an overflowing larder for Raptors but I didn't see a single bird of prey, while with all this birdsong I was constantly reminded of Emily Bronte's final words from the immortalWuthering Heights - What Could Disturb the Slumbers for the Sleepers, In That Quiet Earth!


  1. Its impossible how small is the world. That lady-friend is called Birgit, and thats me:)!

  2. and the mexican young man it's me, Ruben!
    cheers mate!