Autumn Birds Migration Estonia

DIFFICULTY:

Come and watch autumn birds migration!

Come to the (European) birds’ paradise – Estonia!

An autumn holiday on the Estonian coasts offers an opportunity to experience an exciting sight: thousands of migrating birds.

Estonia is located on the migration route for millions of passerines flying through central Estonia as well as over 50 million waterfowl and shorebirds flying along the north-western coast. More than 330 species have been identified in Estonia, of which more than 220 are breeding birds. In 1999, Estonia held the European record for the highest number of species seen in a day . Unbelievable 189.

Come and watch a true nature`s spectacle when thousands of arctic waterbirds fly across Estonia.  During the offered one-week holiday we will be staying in the mecca of bird migration in autumn, in Eastern Estonia and on the islands. We will definitely visit Matsalu Nature Reserve, which is one of the favourite places for European birdwatchers.

Highlights

  • Tens of thousands of Cranes in Matsalu
  • Yellow-browed Warbler
  • White-tailed  Eagles
  • Golden Eagles
  • White-backed Woodpecker
  • Three-toed Woodpecker
  • Black Woodpecker
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  • Grey-headed Woodpecker
  • White-fronted Geese and Bean Geese
  • Peak autumn migration of songbirds, waders and waterfowls
  • Goshawk
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Black Grouse
  • Yellow-browed Warbler (probably)
  • Lapland Bunting
  • Nutcracker
  • Crested Tit
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Bearded Tit
  • etc.

Dates

September – October

Focus

Birds (autumn birds migration) but also other natural history

Grading

Easy, this holiday will involve regular but gentle countryside walks over generally easy terrain

 

Food & accommodation

We give examples and You can decide which one you would like. You will pay directly to the accommodations and restaurants. 

Climate: Our climate is temperate. Estonia on the coast of the Baltic Sea is on the same latitude as central Sweden and the northernmost point of Scotland.

Leader

Local field ornithologist

Group size

We prefer small groups, but we will not turn down bigger groups if the size is agreed upon beforehand.

Cost

1,290 EUR

Day 1 – from Tallinn to Pärnu

Forget worrying about anything, we’ll pick you up at Tallinn Airport and go to the summer capital Pärnu with you. After the check-in at the hotel, we will walk along the wonderful promenade in Pärnu. After having stretched a bit, dinner will be waiting.

Day 2 – Autumn Birds Migration- Kabli, Luitemaa

In early morning, we will set off to Kabli bird station near the Latvian border. The Helgoland type of bird trap which has been in use for 40 years is 18 metres high. The most birds which are ringed here are Goldcrests (the smallest bird in Estonia) and Tits, but also owls become trapped.  As many birds like to migrate along the coast, Kabli bird station is a perfect place for ringing. In order to watch autumn birds migration better, two watchtowers have been erected near the weir.

After lunch, we will continue enjoying autumn in Tolkuse bog, which is located in Luitemaa Nature Reserve. The 1.5 km hiking trail passes through dune pine forests and the bog. A magnificent view opens up as seen from Tornimäe watchtower. All of Pärnu Bay is lined with dunes which mark the coastline of 5,000 years ago, but these are the most overwhelming in Luitemaa.

We may see: Long-tailed Tit, Willow Tit, Crested Tit, Nuthatch and other woodland passerines. In the nighttime, the Ural, Tengmalm`s Owl, Pygmy and Short-Eared Owls are trapped as well. Almost all Estonian woodpecker species (including Black, Grey-headed, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpecker), Black Grouses, Hazel Grouses, Capercaillies, Ural Owls and Nutcrackers are present and may be seen.

Day 3 – Autumn- Birds- Migration- Puhtulaid, Virtsu, Muhu, to Saaremaa

In the morning, we will set off to the largest island in Estonia, Saaremaa. Before arriving on Saaremaa, we will stop at several places of interest. The first stopovers are Puhtulaid and Virtsu. The coast around Virtsu and Puhtulaiu has many small bays and relict lakes, which offer good nesting possibilities for water birds. The following waterbirds can be seen migrating through Estonia: Long-Tailed Ducks, Scoters, Loons, Black Geese, Geese, Ducks, Canvasbacks, Mergansers and other waterfowl. The rare King Eider has been spotted and the Parasitic Jaeger can often be seen. We will cross Suur-Väin to the small Muhu Island, where a wonderful lunch is awaiting us in the luxurious Pädaste Manor. The restaurant has been awarded as the best in the past two years. After lunch, we will continue our journey to Kuressaare. In the evening, we will look around the town of Kuressaare and watch birds in Kuressaare Bay.

Day 4 – Autumn Birds Migration- Saaremaa, Sõrve peninsula and leg

In the morning, we will go to Sõrve peninsula and leg. The bird station there is the most legendary in Estonia. The peninsula which reaches far into the sea has many birds during the migration period. The coast of the peninsula directs waterbird migration in spring and autumn, but many raptorial birds and Passerines cross the sea here. Sõrve peninsula is the best location for watching Skuas, Waders and diving ducks. In Sõrve we can see many rare birds and chances are very good. For example Sparrowhawk, Buzzards, Harriers, Falcons, but also Lesser Spotted and other Eagles. It is an pleasant experience to follow the passage of hundreds of thousands of Chaffinches, Bramblings and Siskins from the watch point on an old Soviet military concrete fortification. The chances of seeing a variety of rare birds are excellent here.

Day 5 – Autumn Birds Migration- Saaremaa, Matsalu, to Haapsalu

After breakfast, we will go birdwatching to the north-western coast and Lõu Bay. From here, Sõrve leg, hordes of Chaffinches will start migrating to wintering areas.  Experience something fantastic when you see hundreds of thousands or even upto a million Chaffinches a day migrating. In mid-September, you may see more than one hundred species of birds a day. Really good autumn birds migration site. After that we will move back towards the mainland. We will stop over at the highest bank in Saaremaa, where we may see Bewick`s Swans, Greylag Geese, Common Eiders, Ducks, Great Crested Grebes,  Razorbills, Black Guillemots. After an enjoyable grilled lunch in nature we will head back to the mainland.

Having reached the mainland, we will stop over in Matsalu National Park. Matsalu is the most well-known birdwatching area in Estonia and it is also known outside Estonia. There are at least 300 birds per person in Matsalu. Shallow bay, vast coastal pastures, reeds and meadows provide excellent nesting possibilities for migrating birds. As there is much to discover in Matsalu, we will return here tomorrow. Today we will be visiting Keemu watch tower. The local bird tower offers a wonderful view of the whole bay and the pastures on the beach. We will briefly visit Haeska bird tower where will return tomorrow.

Haapsalu is the bird capital in Estonia and our hotel is located at the seaside, which means that we may see many birds while having breakfast. For example, we may spot White-tailed Eagles, Cranes, Swans, Waders or other exiting birds flying by.

Day 6 – Autumn Birds Migration- Matsalu – the gem of Northern-European nature

Matsalu is known as the place richest in birds in Europe, which offers incredible experiences in nature. Migration routes cross here and tens of thousands of birds stop and nest in Matsalu. Matsalu National Park is a birdwatcher`s paradise.

Cranes flying above you in an uninterrupted line make you beam, not to mention the sound created by large flocks of geese taking flight.

About 50 islands and islets can be found in the National Park area, most of these are located in the Sea Strait. There are more than 10 small islands in Matsalu Bay, some of which can be seen only when water level is low. The small islands and islets are irreplaceable as migration and nesting places for birds.

Can be seen  thousand of Whooper and Bewick`s Swans, tens of thousands of Coots, Goldeneyes, Pochards, Wigeons, Teals and Waders, Barnacles, Beans, Graylags and White-fronted Geese, very rare Lesser White-fronted Geese can be found amongst them. Matsalu area is also well known as a Crane concentration area in autumn.

In early morning, we will visit one of the best bird towers in Estonia – Haeska bird tower. We can enjoy a beautiful view of vast coastal pastures and the bay. The record for the highest day list of bird species in Northern Europe was achieved in this region at a similar time of year – more than 100 species by nightfall.  We may see Swans, Geese, Black Geese, Ducks, Diving Ducks. Here we can find especially many Charadriiformes: Redshanks, Broad-billed Sandpipers, Dunlins, Grey Plovers, Northern Lapwings, Ruffs, Ringed Plovers, Godwits, Phalaropes, Curlews. Also, Black-Tailed Godwits and Little Terns and, in some years, even Citrine Wagtail (difficult to find elsewhere) nest here. The following rare birds have been seen here: Canada Goose, Great Egret, Marsh Sandpiper, Red Phalarope, Lesser Grey Shrike, Corn Bunting.

After an enjoyable lunch on a farm we will go to Põgari-Sassi coastal meadow on Puise peninsula. Here we will find a vast pasture dotted with puddles, where Waders have excellent nutrition conditions. The following rare birds have been seen here: Ruddy Shelduck, Kentish Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Crested Lark.

Day 7 – Autumn Birds Migration- Leidisoo Nature Reserve, Põõsaspea, Port Dirham

In early morning, we will go to Leidisoo forest. Typical precious habitat species can be seen here: Ural Owl, Eurasian Pygmy owl, Grey-headed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Spotted Nutcracker. In some places Capercaillie and Hazel Grouse can be spotted. In early morning, we may see moose, wild boars and other mammals.

After lunch we will continue our journey in one of the best places in Northern Europe for watching the migration of arctic waterfowl – on Cape Põõsaspea. Its attraction lies in the fact that you may meet here practically anyone, and therefore, the place attracts even the most experienced enthusiasts of rare species. First and foremost, the place is important for watching arctic waterfowl migrate. Loons, Scoters, Diving ducks, Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks, Mergansers, Geese, Black Geese, Razorbill, Black Guillemots. Põõsaspea is the best place for looking for the Yellow-billed Loon and the Great Northern Loon.

In the evening, we will go to Tallinn, where we will take a short tour in the Old Town and have dinner.

Day 8 – Tallinn departure

 

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