30.04 – 08.05.2016
Imaging you are driving a car slowly and at ease in the forest and every 100 meter you encounter a capercaillie, sometimes a male with all feathers raised, head up and cackling. Next one a male again, but you see females as well. Every now and than you hear also the high call of the hazel grouse, you see a flock of white-headed long-tailed tits in the bushes and you hear the call of the grey-headed woodpecker. Meeting up with an elk is quite usual. At the end of the forest you will see a flock of black grouses in the field and you will hear a couple of cranes flying over. This is Estonia in Spring. The country is about the size of the Netherlands but it has only 1,3 million inhabitants. Half the size of the country is covered with forests and a quarter of the country is marshes. The country has many rivers and 1500 lakes. Estonia has a beautiful 3800 km long varied coastline with 1500 islands. 18% of the country is protected area with nature parks. The abundance in many different habitats at short distance, forests, marshes, wetlands and coastal area makes it possible to see many different species of birds, mammals, flowers, butterflies in a relatively small area.
During this tour we will visit the best birding areas of Estonia. There are 200 species of breeding birds, but we will see many migrating birds from the arctic areas from the north as well. We will explore the area for: long-tailed duck, common scoter, velvet scoter, black-throated diver, red-throated diver and many birds from arctic areas. In the fields of Western Estonia we will see many birds. We mention black grouse, cranes and golden eagle. In the forests we will encounter three-toed woodpecker, white-backed woodpecker, nutcracker, hazel grouse, pygmy owl and Ural owl. We will encounter many mammals as well: elks and beavers. During the second half of the tour we will travel to the north east of Estonia for watching brown bear, raccoon dog and many more capercaillies.
The tour day by day
Day 1 30.04 Forests and owls of north-west Estionia
At a distance of just 1,5 hour from Tallinn we will find the moors and marshes and forests of north west Estionia. During the evening we will explore the area to find Ural owl and pygmy owl. Overnight stay in north west of Estonia.
Day 2 01.05 Black Grouse displaying
Early in the morning we will be on our way to watch the courtship of the grouse with tens of cocks. We have good chances to see golden eagle and migrating waders as well. On our way in marshes and forests we will encounter capercailles as well. Courtship making and foraging capercailles male and female. These are general species in this country. In daytime we will spend time in the Põõsaspea peninsula, where we will have best chances to watch migrating waterbirds and waders on their way to the north. This peninsula is the best area for long-tailed ducks, common scoter and velvet scoter, eiders and divers. Besides the many waterbirds you will see migrating songbirds in the fields of Põõsaspea and the forests. We mention waxwing and scarlet rosefinch. This peninsula has a plurality of pristine nature. Overnight stay in north west Estonia.
Day 3 02.05 White-tailed Eagle and Slavonian Grebe
Early in the morning we make an excursion to the Leidissoo forests for three-toed woodpecker, hazel grouse and nutcracker. Consequently we go to Matsalu National Park and on our way to Haapsaly we will visit Silma Reservation with big bogs. In this Silma reservation we will explore the area for: little gull, red-throated diver, black tern, penduline tit. Haapsalu is the most important area for bird spotting. From the promenade we can see hunting white-tailed eagles and many other species of birds. In a pond in this town the Slavonian grebe has its nest. Because these birds are used to the presence of people it is possible to near this nest at close distance and make some very good pictures. Overnight stay in Matsalu NP.
Day 4 03.05 Beavers, White-backed and Grey-headed woodpecker
The national park Matsalu with his old manor house parks and deciduous forests are excellent areas for woodpeckers. We walk in the manorpark and the forest in search of white-backed and grey-headed woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, and breeding redwing. In the evening we will drive to the south of Matsalu and we make a boatride not only to see swimming beavers but also foraging beavers at the riverside of the river Kasari. This boatride takes us inside the protected area, the only way to enter this beaver-area. There is also a good chance to watch elks and migrating birds. Overnight stay in Matsalu NP.
Day 5 04.05 Elks, migrating birds of Matsalu and lesser spotted eagle
In the morning we start with the best birding towers and birdwatching places in Matsalu NP. Matsalu NP is one of the most important European areas for migrating birds. With hundreds of thousands of migrating birds and about 190 species of breeding birds. About 300 different bird species have been counted in Matsalu NP. After lunch we will go and look for the lesser spotted eagle in the meadows and marshes of the Kasari-river. The watersheds are very good habitats for elks; we take an evening tour to look for them. Overnight stay in Matsalu NP.
Day 6 05.05 Brown bear and Raccoon Dogs in Alutaguse
Alutaguse is a huge forest and an enormous peat bog area in the north east of Estonia. Half of the brown bear population is living in this Alutaguse area. In the late afternoon we drive to Alutaguse in order to spend the night in the bear-hide with bunk beds and toilet available. Besides the brown bear we can and will see from this hide raccoon dogs, foxes, wild boars and several species of birds. Occasionally wolves and golden jackal are seen. For people who do not want to spend a night in a bear-hide, it is possible to stay in the hotel in Lahemaa NP.
Day 7 06.05 Caparcaillies and Lahemaa National Park
We leave early in the morning from the bear-hide and we drive along the Alutaguse Capercaillie forests to Lahemaa NP. After breakfast in the hotel we have a guided walk in the hotelpark, which is a good habitat for wrynecks. During the evening we do one of the splendid walking trails of Lahema in order to watch several species of birds. Overnight stay in Lahema.
Day 8 07.05 Peat bogs and Three-toed Woodpecker
In the morning we will visit Käsmu, where old taiga forest come close to the coast. It is possible to see velvet scoter, goosander and three-toed woodpecker at the same time. Here we will also explore the forest for crested and coal tit. We will spend the rest of the day in the peat bogs. The very pristine peat bogs are very rare in Europe, but in Estonia the peat bogs are common habitat. In this area you will see many ponds and the bogs are 6 to 7 meters thick. Plants for this kind of habitats are- Labrador tea, Cranberry, Cloudberry and different Sphagnum moss species. Birdspecies are- Golden Plover, Great Greay Shrike, Wood Sandpiper and Meadow pipit. There are watching towers and walking trails which are built on soft surface in the bog. From these towers you will have a splendid view. We have a splendid walk over wooden bat and plank bridges. Overnight stay in Lahama
Day 9 08.05 Tallinn
The visit to Tallinn is optional, but in fact you should not miss. The old town is on the UNESCO‘s World Heritage List. Buildings, churches, merchant and craftsman houses maintain their centuries-old authenticity. Nowadays cozy cafes, boutiques and art galleries add vibrant life to the medieval atmosphere.
|Tour price:||€ 1895,- flights included|
|Focus:||birds and mammals specialty brown bear|
|Guarantee:||Blue Elephant is member of GGTO;|
|Dates:||30 April – 8 May 2016|
|Single supplement:||€ 295,-|
|Flight:||Schiphol to Tallinn.|
|Extended itinerary||will be sent 4 weeks before departure.|
|Number of travelers:||6 or more|
|Accommodation:||comfortabele hotels met eigen badgelegenheid op kamer|
|Weather:||doorgaans stabiel en zonnig weer.|