Kite Aerial Photography
Endla Bog Complex

James S. and Susan W. Aber


Owing to abundant precipitation and slight runoff, Estonia is a country rich in wetlands. More than one-fifth of the territory is covered by swamps, marshes, fens, and bogs. Through time, a gradual conversion takes place from forest, to forested swamp or fen, and finally open peat bog. Bogs have a unique assemblage of plants dominated by several species of peat moss (Sphagnum sp.). Peat moss is a paradox of sorts. It's well known for holding a great deal of water in the body of the plant as well as in the openings between plant stems. However, it cannot survive in standing water. Thus, peat moss grows in hummocks above water. As peat accumulates, the hummocks gradually gain in height, and bog water becomes more acidic. The raised peat bog is the ultimate development, in which peat has grown to a level above the surrounding terrain. The raised peat bog is isolated from adjacent environments and remains a stable and long-lasting element of the landscape.

Surrounding Endla Lake is a complex of bogs, fens, streams and small lakes. The present Endla Nature Reserve was created in 1985; it includes seven bog complexes. Among these, Männikjärve bog has been the site of scientific investigations since the early 1900s, and a meteorologic station is located there. An elevated, wooden walkway allows visitors to travel across the bog without disturbing the surface and without sinking into the peat and mud. As a scale reference in the photos, this walkway is about 60 cm (2 feet) wide. We performed kite aerial photography in late summer (September) and early autumn (October) from the wooden platform at the meteorologic station in Männikjärve bog on the eastern side of the Endla bog complex.

September images

For this KAP session, we had a constant wind from the northwest and we utilized the Sutton Flowform 16 kite. As scattered clouds drifted by, we took photos in the breaks between clouds when sunlight illuminated the bog. Atmospheric conditions were quite clear during sunny periods.

View toward the northwest across Männikjärve bog. The bog center is seen toward the left. It's marked by elongated peat hummocks with intervening narrow water pools. The path is an elevated wooden walkway for visitors. Kite fliers are working from a small meteorologic station in lower part of view. Photo date 9/00, © J.S. Aber.
View toward the north. The bog surface (left) has a corrugated appearance due to peat hummocks. The forest margin can be seen in the distance and to the right. Photo date 9/00, © J.S. Aber.
View to the southwest with sun glint from water surfaces. The bog center is visible in the middle distance, and Endla Lake appears in the far left. Photo date 9/00, © J.S. Aber.
Closeup, low-oblique view of the bog-forest margin. Sun glint shows small water pools in the bog, and a trail is faintly visible running toward the upper left corner of view. Photo date 9/00, © J.S. Aber.
Männikjärv (lake) is situated on the eastern edge of the bog complex. It's in the first stage of bog development, as aquatic vegetation fills in around the margin of the lake basin. Photo date 9/00, © J.S. Aber.

October images

Our second KAP session took place near the end of the growing season. A light and somewhat variable breeze blew from the southeast, which necessitated using the giant rokkaku kite. Much burning takes place at this time of year, as agricultural litter from the crop fields is piled up and set afire throughout the region. Hazy smoke filled an otherwise clear sky. Many of the photos, thus, display a somewhat faded appearance.

View toward the southeastern margin of Männikjärve bog with the kite flyers at the small meteorologic station. Photo date 10/00, © J.S. Aber.
Southeastern edge of the bog with a transitional pine forest around Männikjärv (lake). Photo date 10/00, © J.S. Aber.
View westward over the central portion of Männikjärve bog. The observation tower is visible on the boardwalk in left-center of view. Photo date 10/00, © J.S. Aber.
Low-oblique view westward of the wooden walkway near center of bog. The boardwalk stands about 60 cm (2 feet) above the surface of the bog and is supported by wood posts driven into the peat. Photo date 10/00, © J.S. Aber.
Sun glint highlights standing water in pools next to the boardwalk in this low-oblique view toward the southwest. The observation tower is visible in the extreme upper right corner of scene. Photo date 10/00, © J.S. Aber.
Vertical view over boardwalk. Dwarf pines grow on hummocks between hollows. Water forms a pool in a hollow at top of view; other hollows are shown by outlines of orange-colored moss. Photo date 10/00, © J.S. Aber.
Another vertical view in which a small, circular pool is visible at scene center. Photo date 10/00, © J.S. Aber.

Autumn color at Endla Nature Preserve.

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Last update 21 Oct. 2000.