Tour At A Glance





Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Intermediate. Some early starts and late finishes on this tour and expect biting insects

Group Size:

Seven plus leaders

Hazel Grouse Corncrake Icterine Warbler Blyth's Reed Warbler Red-breasted Flycatcher Caspian Tern Barred Warbler

Estonia - Midsummer in the Baltic

Date: 11th - 17th June 2019 (FULL)
Leaders: Ashley Saunders and local guide



Fly London Gatwick-Tallinn and drive to the northern shore of Matsalu Bay . After the check-in at the guesthouse we have a first dinner together  (Tuulingu Guesthouse).
Today we will reach the Matsalu National Park which is the oldest Ramsar area in Estonia. A broad selection of Arctic-bound waders stop to take advantage of the rich feeding grounds; Ruff, in particular, sometimes occurring in great abundance, the males resplendent in breeding finery. Although these migrants offer some remarkable spectacles, Matsalu is much more than just an avian motorway service station and among the 170 breeding birds recorded from the reserve are species such as Red-necked Grebe, Bittern, Osprey, White-tailed Eagle and Caspian Tern. We will explore a variety of Põgari-Sassi coastal habitats and visit Haeska watching tower. The record for the highest day list of bird species in Northern Europe was achieved in this region – more than 100 species by nightfall.
We will also climb Rannajõe and Kloostri observation towers to scan over the marshes and take a late evening boat ride through the vast reed-beds, the largest expanse on the Baltic coast, to listen to the night sounds of the wetlands. Dusk is the time that  Beavers leave their lodges to spend an industrious night felling riverside trees and saplings. A little quiet patience is required here, but with luck you are likely to see several individuals going about their nightly construction work and swimming about. We eat our picnic-dinner in the boat (Tuulingu Guesthouse).
Today we will travel out in the early morning to enjoy wetlands and heathland forest environment. We hope to be entertained by the bubbling display calls of lekking Black Grouse, whilst other attractions in this area include Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Wryneck, and some interesting woodpeckers. We will continue our birding at Põõsaspea peninsula. This small north-stretching spit is situated at the migratory crossroads where masses of waterbirds coming from the Bothnian and the Finnish Bays meet. This is one of the best places to observe Arctic waterbird migration. Tens and hundreds of thousands of Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoters and goose species can be seen during the peak of migration. This place is famous for its diver migration: up to a couple of thousand Black-throated and Red-throated Divers can be seen daily, and Yellow-billed Diver is frequently seen.
After a lovely lunch at the local Fish Café, we will move to central Estonia. Dinner at the guesthouse (Vanaõue Holiday Center).
Early morning takes us to the Soomaa National Park in southwestern Estonia. Here, we should start extremely early, at 4:00 or so, possible is to see Ural Owl in a morning light and 4-6 different species of woodpeckers and Capercaillie etc. The national park is created to protect raised bogs, floodplains and paludifield forests. The territory of natural park is mostly covered with large mires, separated from each other by the rivers. The natural woodlands mixed with swamps and rivers, makes it perfect habitat for many Western Taiga forest specialities. With the great network of hiking trails, Soomaa is really enjoyable birding place for any nature lover. Early morning we will be looking for Capercaillies. As Soomaa NP has one of the strongholds for this endangered species, Capercaillie hens are fairly often found at the roadside when they pick gravel. With some luck one can spot males nearby trees or sometimes even on the road. As the sunrise continues we will take few forest walks to search for Woodpeckers. Soomaa National Park is probably the best place to spot Grey-headed Woodpeckers, while Black and White-backed Woodpeckers are also regularly spotted. The same forests are also perfect habitat for another gamebird – Hazel Grouse. After refreshing lunch and some rest, late evening will be spent to look for the Owls. Pygmy and Ural Owl has both good breeding population here. Beside birds it is also worth to keep your eyes open for the mammals. Early morning drives are good to spot Elks, while night drives usually provide sightnings of Raccoon Dogs (Vanaõue Holiday Center).
DAY FIVE                                                                             
Whether or not we were in luck a day before, we still travel out in the morning in order to experience the spring calling of resident Black, Grey-headed, Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers as well as listen for the mating calls of Hazel and Black Grouse. It is always fantastic to watch (and hear) the forest come alive with the first rays of the morning sun. Forest tits, Crossbills and other passerines are at their most active, restlessly flitting about in search of food. After taking a rest at the guesthouse and a lunch we move to Tartu  region where we will drive to the vast expanses of wetlands near Aardla. This area with lakes and ponds usually holds a good selection of water birds and we will be hoping for a few surprises. We will hope to find a wonderful diversity of species including Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Penduline Tit, Citrine Wagtail etc. After a dinner at the restaurant we will offer an excursion to the area where we can watch
displaying Great Snipe at  one of their best lekking sites in the Baltic (Mooste Viinavabrik Guesthouse).
DAY SIX                                                    
Today we will travel out in the early morning and enjoy birdwatching in one of the oldest protected areas in Estonia, Järvselja forest, to see selection of woodpeckers as well as Nutcracker, Pygmy Owl and other forest bird species. Although the size of the primeval forest area of Järvselja is not remarkable it still has significant value. In 1924 it was decided to maintain a part of the intact forest area as a sample of virgin forest. Within a small area the diversity of the woodland is very high. In the southeastern part the most impressive trees grow. They include up to 40 m-high and over 200 years-old giant spruces. Also some huge birches, aspens, lindens, ashes and maples can be seen here. In some places moving around is complicated due to the debris and old tree trunks lying on the ground, therefore a special wooden track has been constructed in the primeval forest quarter. After a rest at the guesthouse and lunch we will go for a birding to the surroundings of Räpina, to search late arrivals. Dinner at the guesthouse (Mooste Viinavabrik Guesthouse).
We will return to Tallinn by late morning and have a pleasant guided tour of Tallinn Old Town. Tallinn was made a UNESCO World heritage Site in 1997 due to the medieval city centre, the finest in northern Europe, with cobbled streets & buildings that date back to the 15th century. We have some free time for shopping before we will drive to the Airport to catch your homeward flight at ...



Additional Information



Return economy class flights London/Tallinn with specified luggage allowance, six nights en suite accommodation of a good standard, all meals from dinner on day one to breakfast on day seven, boat trip, services of leaders, ground transport in Estonia and reserve entrance fees.



Travel insurance, drinks, gratuities and any items of a purely personal nature. Lunches on days one and seven are not inlcuded in your tour cost.



Estonia generally experineces warm, sunny days in June, but evenings/nights can be much cooler and of course rain is possible at any time. 



Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and innoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice. 



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