Nature day – Otten, prographing walks in Estonia and searching spring in March and April

The first warm day after the snowstorms in the beginning of April we’d go to our traditional spring searching road trip. This time we’d have a waffle dinner near Otten bridge (Otteni sild), in Põlvamaa county,  South Estonia. The photos are arranged in the direction from walking from Otten brige  back to Suur Taevaskoda and then to the parking lot (map).

01 otteni sild siimu sild taevaskojast

From the Taevaskoja parking lot (RMK Taevaskoja parkla) to the Otten bridge and back it’s about a 6 km walk. For a person who would take a few snap photos and look around, this should be about a 3 hour thing, if you’d like to take some time to sit by the river and hope to spot an Alcedo atthis (jäälind=Common kingfisher), you have to take the entire day and if you see one, you’re rather lucky. A determined walkthrough with minimum stops is 2 hours. There is usually enough parking spots for everyone and parking is free. Suur Taevaskoda (the shore view spot) is usually crowded and it’s a pretty popular spot on the weekends, so if you want to wait for the animals, you might want to start really early or late.

In June you will have a huge time window for photographing since the sun rises at 3am and sets 11pm, although this might be bad news if you like capturing sunrises and you’re not into waking up 2am to go catch it. In the winter if you get a day where there is great light at all and the entire day isn’t gloomy dim,  it’s about three hours around the noon when it might work. You’d need to go there by 8:30 to catch the morning light, sunrise is about 9am and sun sets around 2 pm and it’s pretty rare to see sun at all. If you’re planning a trip on specific time of the year, feel free to message me to ask what to expect.

This is taken on March 17th last year, next to the Ahja river. We had a day planned but had to return because of a sudden snowstorm and we happened to be underdressed for that.

2016-03-18 taevaskoda 032.JPG

It’s an easy path but since you’re crossing a furrowed land strip and dirt roads, you’ll be two inches in the mud in the spring and most of the forest pathways are icy puddles and some valley corners are entirely covered with snow. There is ice/snow on the forest pathways and in Suur Taevaskoda until the middle of April, usually near 15th it’s all still covered in icy melting snow. The frogs will be jumping and looking mates on the snow since the first part of April, the birds will be singing and you might count on that the temperature is +6 degrees during the day and -2 at night and it feels damp hiking near the river, so a winter jacket and boots won’t be overkill.

09 maja

m_2018-04-07 taevaskoda 190
The best way for your butt to meet the ground is to think that if the white ice ends, the pathway won’t be slippery anymore. But an inch of mud on top of melting ice is just as interesting as regular ice, slip technique wise.
06 puu
Tree huggers
07 mets
Slow growing club moss (sõnajalgtaimed=Pteridophyte). If you see these types of plants, please don’t pick them, because it’s pretty likely you will be picking up the protected karukold Lycopodium clavatum. Half of the time you’re seeing the more common kattekold Lycopodium annotinum, but there is really no need to pick up anything that takes so much time to grow back.
05 tee
In April it’s likely you will find parts of the forest still covered in melting snow and ice, so hikes might take longer than google suggests, you might find piles of snow until May but we’d expect the snow to be gone by the end of April.
04 taevaskoja jõgi
Ahja river has gained a ton 
02 lumikellukesed
First flowers to start growing in the melting snow,  Galanthus nivalis (lumikellukesed = snowdrops)



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