Alam-Pedja tales: Birdsong morning in Ihama water meadow

Text and photos: Arne Ader
Translation Liis

This year thaw water has been scant in Alam-Pedja, a spring deluge will maybe not even come. But the Emajõgi water meadow is never exactly dry: the water from melting snow has created a number of shallow little lakes.

Such a shallow water level does provide very favourable conditions for the spawning of breams and pikes. But for migrating waterfowl such a situation even suits. Dabbling ducks, geese and swans that get their food by stretching to the bottom of water bodies willingly gather in the shallow meadow water pools.

Whooper swans at Ihama water meadow
On the last weekend of March the Ihama meadow is gloomy and gray with rain, but  filled with joyous birdsong. The whoops of whooper swans set the tone; the barks of Bewick’s swans, the shrill cries of white-fronted geese, the whistlings of widgeons and the comical quacking of mallards join in. High up above the meadow snipes enjoy their display flights, and before lunch reed buntings and skylarks too find time to open their beaks to sing.
Passing migrants: widgeons, mallards and pintails
The air above the river meadow is suddenly chilly and dank. After my trouser legs have gotten thoroughly soaked a feeling of cold creeps in next to the body. For the northern waterfowl this may be an unfamiliar feeling: they are used to wet as well as cold.
There are probably tens of thousands of passing migrants staying in the meadow, seeing that the network of little meadow lakes reaches upstream from here up to Lake Võrtsjärv. The bird flocks that rise and sink in the distance suggest that the birds are spread across a large area.
Colt’s-foot buds are ready to unfold
The colt’s-foots growing along the boat canal have yellow buds. They would probably burst open at once if the sun were to come out ever so little from behind the clouds ... The willow pussies of the tea-leaved willow and goat willow huddle on the verge of the meadow. The greater part of the willows are however quite bare, waiting for an some spring warmth.
Willow pussies. Tea-leaved willow
Marsh marigolds – the character flowers of the Emajõgi meadow and Alam-Pedja – are slowly waking up and on the first plants the flower buds can already be sensed. Not quite yet, but soon a miraculous sea of golden flowers will appear in this same meadow.
May 2008, a spring to dream of: the mirror of high water is decorated with a flowering carpet of golden yellow marsh marigolds
More photos: LINK
The Alam-Pedja tales in Looduskalender are supported by the Environmental Investments Centre (Keskkonnainvesteeringute Keskus).




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