Estonian Birds and Mammals in Autumn – Scheduled Tour - 8 Days

Scheduled tour dates

TRIP DATES AVAILABILITY PRICE SPACE LEFT
23/09/2023 - 30/09/2023 Guaranteed €1,440.00
14 Available

After the summer has passed, Estonian birds and mammals have become active again. The sight of hundreds or even thousand of cranes and geese gathered on the fields or flying overhead is not uncommon during this tour. Near the sea, it’s possible to observe one of the most spectacular arctic waterfowl migrations in Europe. Overwintering birds, such as woodpeckers, owls, and forest grouse, become more active and visible again. Not to mention, Estonia has one of the best locations to observe a strong visible passerine migration in Matsalu National Park, where morning skies are filled with hundreds of Long-tailed Tits fighting the wind together with various finches, tits, thrushes, and Common Jays. Besides birds, Estonia is also well known for its mammals, who similarly, have become more active – It’s the rutting time for Elk, who gather on vast meadows, rare Ringed Seals have gathered to their haul-out areas, young wolves are learning how to hunt and to howl and Brown Bears and Raccoon Dogs are trying to fatten up for the forthcoming winter. This tour is a combination of birding and mammal-watching.

Overview

Autumn is a wonderful time to enjoy the beauty of Estonian nature. After the slow-paced summer, birds and mammals have become more active again and getting ready for the upcoming winter months. For migrating birds, it means moving south and Estonia offers many great locations to observe this magnificent spectacle – arctic waterfowl migration and a strong visible passerine migration are on the way and there are also plenty of waders still on the move.

It’s also the time of the Elk rut, Brown Bears are actively stacking up for the winter, and young wolves are becoming more vocal. It’s also an active and good time of the year to spot birds who stay here for the harsh winter months – woodpeckers and forest grouse. Late September is often also the time when you can spot our annual winter guests – Waxwings and Rough-Legged Bussards.

What can you see?

  • Owls (Ural, Pygmy, Tengmalms)
  • Woodpeckers (White-backed, Middle-spotted, Grey-headed, Three-toed, Black Woodpecker.)
  • Cranes and Geese
  • Arctic Waterfowl
  • Black and Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie
  • Nutcracker
  • Elk, Ringed Seal, Beaver, Brown Bear, Wolf

Itinerary

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The tour starts in Tallinn, where we have a chance to visit the Tallinn Old Town before driving off to nature. Tallinn Old Town is one of the most picturesque medieval old towns in Europe and belongs to the Unesco Heritage List. We will already do some birding on our way to our accommodation, but the main target of the night will be the Ural Owl and the Pygmy Owl, whom we hope to spot in the evening.  Night in NW Estonia

For our last full day in western Estonia, we will make an early trip to the northwestern area, where we hope to observe the (false) autumn lek of Black Grouse. In autumn, there are rarely hens at the lekking sites, but the cocks feel a similar urge as in spring – bubbling and showing their white tail feathers. This lekking site is situated between two massive peat bogs, where Golden Eagles along with other birds of prey can be spotted. Our second target species will be the Western Capercaillie, whom we can spot on our way to the Black Grouse lek and on our way back from the lekking site. Later we will continue to the northeastern tip of the country – Cape Põõsaspea, which is one of the best migration hotspots in the whole of northern Europe. In the evening, we drive to a large forested area, where we hope to spot owls and hear wolves howl! Night in NW Estonia.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we leave the NE part of Estonia and drive further south to Matsalu NP. On our way, we will visit 2 great birding locations – a coastal area that produces views of many waders and Haapsalu town, which is known for being the birding capital of Estonia. The town is also very beautiful because of the small wooden houses and architecture. In addition, White-Tailed Eagles together with hundreds or thousands of coots or ducks feeding on Haapsalu Bay, perform mesmerizing spectacles. In the evening, we can go look for Elk as the wet meadows and deciduous forests are favorites of Elk, especially during the rut. Night in Matsalu

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In the morning, we have the chance of witnessing hundreds or thousand of cranes (and geese) leave their sleeping grounds to go feed on the nearby fields. This happens every day around sunrise until the last cranes have flown to the south. After breakfast, we will visit Marimetsa peat bog, which is one of the biggest peat bogs in Estonia. The trail to the bog takes us first through a forest, which is home to Nutcracker, Hazel Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker, Tufted-, Willow-, and Coal Tit. On the bog, besides having unforgettable views of this unique landscape, we have good chances of spotting Black Grouse, Great Grey Shrike, and Golden Eagles.

After the bog visit, we will return to Matsalu where thousands of birds await us. Being the most famous wetland area in Estonia with vast spaces of coastal and alluvial (and some wooded) meadows and reed beds making it a prime stopover location. By the time of the tour, tens of thousands of Barnacle Geese should be present, sometimes accompanied by a few Red-breasted Geese. White-tailed Eagles fly over these flocks of waterfowl to pick out the weaker ones and it’s also a good time to spot other raptors that do not breed here or do it in small numbers, such as the Peregrine Falcon, Merlin and Hen Harrier. Night in Matsalu NP

In the morning, we will visit Cape Puise, where it’s possible to observe passerine migration. Autumn weather can mean strong unfavorable winds, which hold smaller birds back from crossing the bay. But when it’s followed by a calm morning or northern winds, it’s possible to witness something spectacular – hundreds or even thousands of songbirds will all try to cross the sea inside a couple of hours. Sometimes, they acknowledge the unfavorable winds only after reaching the tip and the sky gets filled with hundreds of birds, some on their way back, some still trying to cross.

Before midday, we will start driving toward Alutause area, where we spend a night in the Brown Bear Hide. There are nowhere as many bears in Estonia as in Alutaguse. The area hosts also many other forest species like the Siberian Flying Squirrel, Lynx, Wolf, Golden Eagle, and different species of owls. In autumn the Brown Bears are preparing for hibernation. They need a lot of food to build up a solid layer of blubber. At that time it is possible to find their tracks in old orchards, on oat fields, etc. Besides the bears, there’s a really good chance to see Raccoon Dogs. During our walk to the hide, there’s a possibility to spot White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpecker. Hazel Grouse often whistle quietly near the hide and Ural Owl has been spotted hunting for mice on one side of the hide. The watching hides are equipped with sleeping bags, pillows, bunk beds, and speakers, which play live sounds caught by a high-quality microphone installed next to the hide. Night in the Brown Bear hide

After leaving the Brown bear hide, we look shortly for the magnificent Western Capercaillie in the nearby forests and then drive to Rakvere for a late breakfast.Around midday, we will reach Lahemaa NP, which is the largest and oldest national park in the country. The place is espescially faous for it’s prisitine old-growth forests and beautiful coastline. In the afternoon, we will go on a walk to one of these forests and hope to spot the Three-Toed Woodpecker. In the evening, we’ll go looking for the owls or other interesting birds and mammals, that feel at home in these vast forests. Night in Lahemaa NP

Day 7 :
Lahemaa NP

The old-growth dune forests of Oandu are definitely something that every person should visit. There we have chances of spotting most woodpecker species and also Common Crossbills. With some luck, we might even spot Parrot Crossbills. On the same day, we will also visit the historical fishing village of Altja, where we can still spot waders, mergansers, diving ducks, divers, and scoters. In the evening we will go on one last lookout for whatever we still haven’t managed to see or hear. Night in Lahemaa

Day 8 :
Departure

On the last morning on the west coast, we hopefully still have time to make one final early excursion. After breakfast, we will drive to the Estonian capital Tallinn, where the tour started 8 days ago.

Price includes:

  • *Nature guide services for 8 days,
  • * 6 nights in local hotels and guesthouses (twin rooms with toilet and shower),
  • * Local transport,
  • * All breakfasts, 6 dinners, and 4 lunches ( as picnic packages)
  • * Night in the Brown Bear watching hide
  • * Tallinn Old Town excursion

Price excludes

  • Flights
  • Beverages during the meals

Scheduled tour dates

TRIP DATES AVAILABILITY PRICE SPACE LEFT
23/09/2023 - 30/09/2023 Guaranteed €1,440.00
14 Available
What is the best time to arrive in Estonia/When will the tour start on the first day?

It would be advisable to arrive in Tallinn during midday or in the afternoon. If there are only late afternoon/evening flights, we can find a suitable solution.

If I'll arrive a day earlier, will I be picked up from the hotel?

Yes. If you arrive earlier, we can pick you up from your accommodation before the start of the tour.

When should I be at the Tallinn Airport before the departure of my flight?

Tallinn International Airport is a small and convenient airport, so you’ll have enough time at the airport if you arrive 90 minutes before the departure of your flight.

Tour Map

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Estonian Birds and Mammals in Autumn – Scheduled Tour
From €1,440.00
per Person in double room
From €1,600.00
per Person in single room

Trip Facts

  • September-October
  • 4-16 persons
  • Easy walk
  • *Owls (Ural, Pygmy, Tengmalms)
    *Woodpeckers (White-backed, Middle-spotted, Grey-headed, Three-toed, Black)
    *Huge flocks of Cranes and Geese
    *Arctic Waterfowl
    *Black and Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie
    *Nutcracker
    *Elk
    *Ringed Seal
    *Beaver
    *Brown Bear
    *Wolf