Bird watching in Estonia- Autumn migration

bird watching estonia

After their short breeding season, millions of Arctic waterfowl start to migrate southwards. Following a first long haul over the northern part of the continent, the Estonian coast is an important staging post to rest and refuel before continuing the trip. Estonia’s long, indented coastline provides a wealth of habitats for stopovers – sheltered bays, inlets coastal lagoons and lakes, wet meadows and marshes, and many goose and swans feed on wet fields. Migrating passerines will concentrate on the wooded strips on the coast or extended peninsulas stretching southward.

Autumn migration is difficult to predict and it depends largely on weather, but the migration peak in Estonia is usually late September/early October.

Day 1: Arrival in Tallinn, travel to Saaremaa

Island Saaremaa is the largest of the Estonian islands, with diverse habitat that includes fens, reed-beds, meadows, lagoons, wood- and scrub-land and juniper thickets. The birdlife on Saaremaa is rich and many species can be seen in autumn – Common Cranes, Hen and Montagu’s Harriers are relatively common sights.

 

Day 2: Saaremaa

Narrow and long Sõrve Peninsula stretching towards south-west towards Latvia is one of the best migration spots in Estonia. Many rarities have been recorded and some eastern vagrants are seen regularly at Sõrve bird station, which is run mostly by volunteers from Finland and Estonia. Diurnal passage of passerines may reach hundreds of thousands on the best days, in addition to waders, raptors and seabirds.

 

Day 3: From Saaremaa to Pärnu area

In the morning we’ll begin to leave Saaremaa, making a couple of birding stops (Laidevahe nature reserve, wetlands of Väike Väin strait) on the way. The ferry will take us back to the mainland, where we’ll arrive at the Pärnu-Häädemeeste area in the late afternoon.

 

Day 4: Kabli

There’s much to explore in the Kabli and Luitemaa Nature Reserves. The forests (with both coniferous and broad-leaved forests) in this region are quite diverse and rich in birds. Almost all Estonian woodpecker species (incl. Black, Grey-headed, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpecker), Black Grouses, Hazel Grouses, Capercaillies, Ural Owls and Nutcrackers are present and may be seen. Kabli Bird Station near the Latvian border is another migration watching point. Passerines are trapped and ringed here. In some year Ts,engmalm’s and Pygmy owls can be seen among the trapped birds.

 

Day 5: Kabli, Matsalu

This day we’ll be heading north to the most famous of Estonian nature reserves – Matsalu National Park. This wetland complex comprises coastal and alluvial meadows, reed beds, woodlands and marshes. There are at least 7 public bird-towers in the Matsalu area, offering a good view of staging waterfowl. Thousands of Common Cranes roost at Matsalu, while Barnacle, Bean, Greylag and White-fronted Geese graze at coastal meadows and fields. Sometimes a few Lesser White-fronted Geese and Red-breasted Geese can be seen in these flocks.

 

Day 6: Matsalu – Põõsaspea

We continue our trip in good birding areas in the northern side of Matsalu bay and in the afternoon we’ll head to the northwest coast. AS we travel, we’ll check the sheltered bays of the Haapsalu area and Silma nature reserve where large flocks of Coots, Goldeneyes, Scaups and other duck species attract White-tailed Eagles. Later in the evening we will check Põõsaspea peninsula to watch the migration of seabirds: Black and Red-throated Divers, by the thousands, on the offshore islands, along with Long-tailed Ducks and Common Scoters . Vagrants like White-billed Divers or Steller’s Eiders are seen regularly. Our cozy, overnight camping site is close to a prime location for watching the Arctic waterfowl migration.

 

Day 7: Põõsaspea – Tallinn

In the morning we’ll return to Põõsaspea peninsula to see more migrating waterfowl. The afternoon will find us checking the the forests of the northwest coast for more interesting birds – Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Nutckracker, Woodpeckers or Owls. In the evening we’ll drive to Tallinn for a short excursion in Estonia’s spectacular medieval Old Town before our final restaurant meal together.

 

Day 8: Tallinn – departure

Price 

Price includes bird guide services for 8 days, 7 nights in local hotels and guest houses ( twin rooms with toilet and shower), breakfast, lunch and dinner, each day.

  • 2 people: 2050 EUR per person
  • 3-4 people 1550 EUR per person
  • 5-6 people: 1130 EUR per person
  • 7-8 people: 950 EUR per person

Special prices may be arranged for larger groups.