Weekend Birdwatching in Estonia

DIFFICULTY:

Come and watch birds migrating in autumn!

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 . Unbelivable 189.

During the offered autumn birdwatching in Estonia we will be staying in the mecca of bird migration in autumn. 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 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 beforehand.

Cost

Itinerary

Day 1 – from Tallinn to Haapsalu – the bird capital of Estonia

Forget worrying about anything, we’ll pick you up at Tallinn Airport. Autumn  birdwatching in Estonia may start. Estonia is a small country, so our drive to overnight stay in Haapsalu is not long or tiring and lasts only 1 hour. As you might be tired of your flight, travelling by ship or car, the first evening we will take it easy.  But will take a short walk before dinner to a birdwatching tower of 15 metres of height, which is located near our hotel. The hotel is unique as you can watch birds even at breakfast table as the hotel is located at the seaside. For example, you may see White-tailed Eagles, Cranes, Swans, Waders or other exciting birds.

Day 2 – Matsalu National Park – the gem of Northern-European nature

Many foreigners who have been here understand that the surroundings of Matsalu Bay offer experiences in nature all year round. Such experiences cannot be found anywhere else in the European Union.

Matsalu is known as the place richest in birds in Europe. 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. Matsalu area is also well known as a Crane concentration area in autumn.

About 50 islands and islets can be found in the National Park area. 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. There are 7 watch towers in Matsalu, so there is enough to discover and watch for a whole day.

Matsalu Bay is usually covered with Whooper and Bewick`s Swans, tens of thousands of Coots, Goldeneyes,Teals, Pochards, Wigeons,  and Waders. Also Barnacles, Beans, Graylags and White-fronted Geese and the very rare Lesser White-fronted Geese can be found.

Our day of exploring Matsalu starts in early morning with a visit to the best birdwatching tower – Haeska. 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 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.

Day 3 – Leidisoo and Silma 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 autumn birdwatching in Estonia 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.

When we are going back to our accommodation, we will stop over in Silma Nature Reserve. It was established in 1998 in order to protect the biota in shallow seas, coastal meadows, relict lakes and reeds. It is connected to several important nature conservation agreements as it is an international important bird area (IBA), potential Ramsar area, AEWA (African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement) demonstration area and Natura 2000 conservation area. This is one of the most important migratory waterbird concentration areas besides Matsalu. In spring, upto 30,000  migratory waterbirds and in autumn upto 110,000 migratory waterbirds have been counted here. The migratory waterbirds which migrate in the largest numbers in spring are the Tufted Duck (upto 30,000 birds), the Greater Scaup (24,000), the Tundra Swan (4,300) and the Common Pochard (3,600), in autumn – the Eurasian Wigeon (50,000), the Eurasian Coot (47,000), the Common Crane (6,000), and the Whooper Swan (3,900). The rarest migratory waterbird here is the endangered Lesser White-fronted Goose.

Day 4 – Tallinn

Today we will go back to Tallinn and you will be travelling home. Before arriving in Tallinn, we will be making several stopovers to watch birds – in Põõsaspea, Paljasaare. Our autumn birdwatching in Estonia comes to an end. We will also take you on a tour of the Old Town of Tallinn, the medieval gem of Europe. It is a place one must see when visiting Estonia. The medieval Old Town of Tallinn is the best preserved old town in northern Europe and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the tour you can go shopping.

 

SIMILAR TOURS