Sunday, 16 May 2010

Reservoir Dog

Since first landing at Tallinn Airport I thought the adjacent lake worth some investigation, and today was the day. Ille had told me of men angling there, indicating a pathway of sorts, so 4 stops later on the No2 bus I was there. Surrounded by a high, chain-link fence, there was no obvious sign of access and later, having asked two passers-bye, it seemed there wasn't one at least not to the public. It turned out that this was not in fact a 'lake' but a 'reservoir' for the cities main water supply and was supposedly fairly well guarded. Within minutes I had added Nightingale to the Estonian list as 2 clearly distinct birds were singing from the dense cover. 

Now, any No Entry in England is like a red rag to a bull, believing that somewhere, somehow one should be able to get in (ask those who robbed Fort Knox). Even then 'trespass' is worth a try, pleading ignorance if one gets caught, and of course there's always the attitude formulated by graffiti artist Banksy "it's easier to get forgiven than to get permission"!

Well, in the event none of that was needed as I tried the subtle approach. The Collie at the gate of the big house up ahead was not only the biggest mother I had ever seen, but by far the loudest. The idea had been to give the door a knock and then see how the land lay. Luckily the owner was on hand and the charm valve was wound wide open. I got my drift of being a 'birder' and was quite happy to take me into his back garden, but needed to consult with the 2 lady gardeners as to whether he should let me go further. Their 2 garden gates led to the bank-side, and while the fella wasn't going to let me out of his sight at least we were on the water's edge. There, over 2 dozen Hooded Crows were feeding on something as c2 unseen Pink-footed Geese headed for safer water, to the accompaniment of Chaffinch, Willow Warbler and Blackcap in nearby trees.    

There was a limit to how far we could walk, and as we approached the main pumping station, mine host turn to head back. I considered I'd done alright and after a few 'thank-you's' and a photo call I got back outside of the perimeter fence and continued the walk.

My escort along the bank.

One of 2 Pink-footed Geese beating a hasty retreat!

At the garden gate.

My mate, the 2 lady gardeners and the Reservoir Dog.

Reservoir to the south.

Reservoir to the north.

The third lady (on the right) who spoke good English, told me that if we had been caught by the security we might have been arrested?

The security fence followed the course of the main road, while a mile further on there was a turning into an apartment and office complex where once again I asked if entry was permitted. A lady told me that she walked her dog there every day, and while there are security guards none had ever bothered her. Game on! 

The first thing I heard in this mixed woodland was the Yellowhammer, above, but took a full 15 minutes to locate it. I was at one point distracted from the search by the beautifully fluid song of a Golden Oriole, but access to the thick Willow cover was impossible due to marshy ground, so it remained unseen. Both the Geese and the Bunting were additions to the country list, but not so the Oriole as they breed on Ille's farm.

A little further up the track, I though I heard Goldcrest (which would have been another addition) but without clapping eyes on it, it remained off the list. However, what I did see was the security man, in his little white Lada, heading towards me and as it was obvious that I had seen him there was little point in evasive action. He was pleasant as the day is long, but also insistent that I 'beat a retreat' but with a couple of good birds under my belt, I was happy to do so. Thus far the most numerous Warbler had been Lesser Whitethroat of which there were several, but not counted. Now, Willow Warblers were starting to make their presence felt and soon overtook in numbers about five to one.   

This Willow Warbler was perched high on the ladder 'back-scratcher' of a tower crane,

singing it's little heart out.

and if the security guard hadn't kicked me out, I never would have found the 'bird of the day' this beautiful and text book, male Common Rosefinch. The last one i saw was at Portland, Dorset, England.

As the day was drawing to an end, and walking along a redundant railway line, this Yellow wagtail alighted on a nearby wall and commenced preening.

One of its preening postures is shown here, while in the background a less obliging Northern Wheatear was also flitting about. All of the last 3 are additions to the Estonia list.

I have seen this plastic cuboid before, and hear that by some it is considered one of the most important architectural addition to the Tallinn skyline. I don't quite get it myself, but people who live in glass houses shouldn't vote Conservative. Peace be with you and your Architect.

The Trip List now stands at 53, with the total Estonia List reaching 98.