Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Tallinn 1st - 4th December 2011

Tallinn was an interesting experience too, similar but different to Riga. It was still cold but again we had no snow and the Christmas markets were better than Riga but still not a patch on those in Germany.

The Old City of Tallinn

Bird wise it was much the same with only 20 species seen but with a few highlights. The same birds as seen in Riga were black-headed gull, herring gull, common gull, house sparrow, great tit, blue tit, feral pigeon, mallard, hooded crow and jackdaw, with again some being of the Nordic type with pale collars.

Mallards in the sunshine feeding on the shore of the Baltic Sea

A trip to the seaplane museum just outside the old city was interesting with some good bird sightings. On the sea a pair of swans caused some excitement as I hoped they were Bewicks but they turned out to be plain old mute swans. Cormorants were seen flying over the waves and drying their wings on buoys. Also on the sea were small groups of goldeneye, some close to shore and all adult males except for 1 female and 1 immature male developing its white cheek patches. Further out were small groups of long tailed ducks, both males and females. A male and female goosander were also seen. All the ducks were attended by herring gulls, no doubt waiting to try and grab any food the ducks brought to the surface. A patch of weedy wasteground near the museum held a small flock of around 10 tree sparrows feeding amongst the dead vegetation and a goldfinch was seen perched in a nearby tree while great tits fed in the branches. Blackbirds were seen feeding on berries in some shrubbery.

A small flock of hooded crows and jackdaws seen feeding in Kadriorg Park had a few rooks amongst them while a small flock of around 10 greenfinches were seen flying over the tree tops. While checking out the common gulls on Swan Lake in Kadriorg Park I noticed a single herring gull which had a streaked head and yellow legs and on checking the guide book it was of the omissus race found in the East Baltic. I had not really paid much attention to the herring gulls so maybe more of them were of this race. Certainly the herring gulls had darker grey upperparts than in the UK, being of the argentatus race of Northern Europe rather than the argenteus race of Western Europe.

Juvenile Common Gull in Kadriorg Park
And so we returned home to the UK on the 4th December, this time flying with Estonia Air and SAS via Stockholm, with herring gulls and hooded crows seen at Stockhom airport while we were in transit. The flights were ok again and we returned to Heathrow and not Gatwick which made it easier for us to get back to Plymouth.

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