Monday, 24 March 2008

Country Profile: Estonia

Estonia (Eesti) is a Republic which joined the European Union in May 2004. The capital is Tallinn. It is the smallest and northernmost of the three so-called Baltic states. It borders Latvia to the south and Russian to the east. Part of the border with Russia runs through Lake Peipsi. The Gulf of Finland lies to the north and the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga to the west.
Estonia is very much like Scandinavia in that the "right to roam" principal is strong and this means that the shoreline of lakes, state forests and unmarked private land must be free to visit. A rich mix of coastal, taiga and boreal species breed in Estonia and many species that nest in the Arctic pass through. Breeding birds include Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Corncrake, Common Crane, Hazel and Black Grouse, Pygmy and Ural Owls, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, Blyth’s Reed and Greenish Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Common Rosefinch and Ortolan Bunting. Most of these are widespread. Though not as common Slavonian Grebe, Greater Spotted Eagle, Capercaillie, Great Snipe, Citrine Wagtail and Parrot Crossbill also breed. Estonia's geographical location on a key migration flyway means that millions of birds pass through in both spring and autumn. Very impressive movements of divers, grebes, wildfowl, terns, waders and passerines take place along Estonia's coastline in autumn. Inland lakes, bogs and fish-ponds see flocks of migrants, too. In spring internationally important numbers of Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, Bewick's and Whooper Swans, Barnacle and Greater White-fronted Geese, Greater Scaup, Common and Velvet Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks move along the Bay of Riga and through the Väinameri Strait.

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