Summary Eesti Loodus 2014/11

 Summary

Successful invasions of the Northern Hawk Owl

Uku Paal describes the invasions of the spectacular northern owl into Estonia through the history and looks for reasons why these invasions have lately become more frequent. The author has collected all data about the findings and reports of the owl in our literature and databases. It appears that the number of observations has increased drastically in 2010ies. It can be related to the development of technology and the fact that it is easier to reach people and to communicate. However, last winter (2013/2014) brought along a quite massive invasion of the northern hawk owl. The first birds were seen already in August, and as always, the number of reports was the highest in November. The reason for such an invasion lies probably in successful nesting, which brought about the scarcity of prey. The number of nestings is still low in Estonia.

 

What do we know about hare in folk tradition?

Mall Hiiemäe takes a peek into the passionate relations between our ancestors and hares. The folk culture is quite rich in different tales and sayings about hares. One of the most outstanding features of hares is their fast reproduction rate. There are also tales about the origin of the harelip. In Estonia, hares have been associated with witches and demons and they have been somewhat demonized. Nowadays, people’s knowledge about the biology of hares is very modest, and only a few sayings and tales have survived up until now.

 

Estonian Nature enquires

Kaidi Jakobson writes about changes of conditions for the caretakers of semi-natural habitats.

Taimi Paal summarizes last summer’s yield of wild berries.

 

The Purtse River and pollution: together already for 90 years

Mait Sepp and Liina Roosimägi have made observations about the pollution history of one of our most polluted rivers. The environmental conditions of the Purtse River, once a famous salmon river, started to deteriote alreday befor the World War II and is not any good nowadays, either. Pollution started in 1924, when the first oil shale factory was started at Kohtla-Järve. Later factories were built also at Kiviõli. For quite a while, all residues were put aside and the polluted water ran straight to the rivers, mainly the Purtse and Erra rivers. This caused a social drama among the local fishermen, who had made very large investments into fishing gear, because salmon was plentiful, and paid well. The article looks at the main three pollution sources and look back into the history of dealing with the pollution. However, we still know surprisingly little about the pollution of the Purtse River.

 

Interesting Estonia: Take a walk to the Vesiloo islet

Indrek Rohtmets takes a hike to a small islet on the northern coast of the Vilsandi Island. Even though the islet has become overgrown with junipers, it offers quite a lot to nature-lovers. The land uplift has “brought” the islet much closer to the Vilsandi Island that i.e in 1920ies. Nowadays you only have to walk in the shallow water for about 20 metres: that means that in about 100 years the land has risen 45‒65 cm.

 

Interview: An Estonian does not feel well if he has no tree behind his back

Rainer Kerge (Õhtuleht) has interviewed Merle Jääger, a poetess, actress, member of the Defence League, a punk and a Seto.

 

The garners of the Estonian collections of natural history: the rarities of the Pilistvere meteor fall in the geological collection of Tartu University

Mare Isakar looks back into 1863, when meteorites fell around Pilistvere. The descriptions of the event talk about 8 meteorites, 4 of them have been identified. The article shares the reports from the witnesses of the meteorite fall. Four meteorite pieces are stored in the geological collection of Tartu University and they form the most precious items of the meteorite collection of the university. The biggest piece weighs over 12 kg.

 

Tree of the Year: the etymology of the Estonian names for the alder buckthorn and common buckthorn

Karl Pajusalu explains the origin of the Estonian names for alder buckthorn (paakspuu) and common buckthorn (türnpuu). The first got its name from its timber, which breaks easily, the latter from its thorns on tips of its branches. Two maps illustrate the names for both species in different Estonian parishes.

 

Lake Iidjärv and other lakes located on limestone bank

Taavi Pae writes about the strange disappearance of a lake. On old maps one can clearly see a lake near Rutja, west of the Selja River. The local estate owner probably had the lake emptied in the middle of the 19th century for an unknown reason. Nowadays technology allows to estimate the size of the lake (about 7 ha). The lake was dammed up by the coastal formation of the Ancylus Lake.

 

The Koimla protected area is rich in forest and biodiversity

Reigo Roasto speaks highly of the recently founded nature protection area in the western part of Saaremaa, especially of its botanical values. It is a small area (31,8 ha) in the middle of intensively managed forests, created with the aim to preserve forest habitats in natural conditions. The main habitat types of the area are the Fennoscandian herb-rich forests with Picea abies (key habitat 9050) and the Fennoscandian deciduous swamp woods (key habitat 9080). The area is rich in orchids.

Tiit Kändler’s essay: Landscapes help to remember