Estonian Birds and Mammals in Autumn – Scheduled Tour - 9 Days

Scheduled tour dates

24/09/2022 - 02/10/2022 Available €2,010.00
12 Available
23/09/2023 - 01/10/2023 Guaranteed €2,010.00
14 Available

After the summer has passed, Estonian birds and mammals have become active again. The sight of hundreds 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.


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



The tour starts in Lahemaa NP, which is the oldest and biggest National park in Estonia. Mostly known for its vast forest and beautiful coastline. It’s only a bit more than an hour’s drive from the capital Tallinn and offers good chances to spot several forest rarities, such as the Three-toed Woodpecker and Hazel Grouse. In the evening we will look for the Ural Owl and Pygmy Owl.  Night in Lahemaa NP

Lunch, Dinner

The morning and noon will be spent in Lahemaa NP, where we visit the old fishing village of Altja, which offers good views of both, the sea and the old forest.

In the afternoon, we will head to Alutaguse, which is Estonia’s largest forest area, covering most of its north-eastern part. 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. In the evening we will go to the bear hide and we will also spend the night there. 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

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After leaving the Brown bear hide, we look shortly for the magnificent Western Capercaillie in the nearby forests and then return to Lahemaa NP for a late breakfast. We’ll have a break until the afternoon and then continue birding on the forest trails and coastline. If the previous evenings have not been successful, we will look for owls in the evening. Night in Lahemaa NP

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we will start driving toward the west coast. On the way, we’ll make a stop in 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 for Nutcracker, Hazel Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker, Tufted-, Willow-, and Coal Tit. On the bog, besides having unforgettable views on this unique landscape, we have good chances of spotting Black Grouse, Great Grey Shrike, Golden Plover, and Golden Eagles.

Thousands of birds await us in Matsalu. It is 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. In the evening we will look for Elk in one of the observation towers offering views up to the vast meadows of Matsalu. Night in Matsalu NP

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We will drive to the nearby Puise spit, which is one of Europe’s best locations to observe passerine migration. Autumn weather can mean strong unfavorable winds, which hold smaller birds back from crossing the sea. But when it’s followed by a calm morning or northern winds, it’s possible to witness something spectacular – hundreds and 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. The later part of the day will be spent in various watching towers and observation points of Matsalu NP. In the evening we will drive to the southern side of the NP and go on a boat tour on the river of Kasari to spot Beavers, Elk, and waterfowl. Night in Matsalu NPBeavers and Elk. After the sun has set, the birds in the reedbeds and shrubs become alive again and we can listen to Bitterns, crakes, and Savi’s Warbler. Night in Matsalu NP

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

According to the last official count, Estonia has 2222 islands. Most of them small and uninhabited, making them perfect for breeding birds. Our tour takes us first to the port of Rohuküla from where we’ll take a ferry to Estonia’s second-biggest island – Hiiumaa. On the ferry ride, we can spot migrating and overwintering waterfowl, such as Long-tailed Ducs, Goldeneyes, and divers. After reaching Hiiumaa, we’ll continue straight to a small port, from where we’ll take a small boat to look for Ringed Seals between several islets forming the Hiiumaa Islet Landscape Reserve. The local population is the most southern population in Europe and they have become quite rare due to climate change. We will also make a picnic stop one of the small islets on our way back to enjoy the scenery and birds. For the evening, we will return to our accommodation. Night in Matsalu NP

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

For our last full day in western Estonia, we will make an early trip to the northwestern area, where we will experience the (false) autumn lek of Black Grouse. In autumn, there are rarely hens at the spring 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, who often come near the roads to obtain grit – small stones for digestion. Later we will continue to the most northeastern tip of the country – Cape Põõsaspea, which is one of the best migration hotspots.

After a midday break in our accommodation, our journey takes us to the town of Haapsalu, which is known as the birding capital of Estonia. The small town has several good spots and a tower for birdwatching. Besides being a  good birding spot, the town is known for its beautiful wooden architecture and long promenade, where we can enjoy both sights simultaneously.  Night in Matsalu NP

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

On the last morning on the west coast, we 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. Here we will have an excursion in the medieval Tallinn Old Town, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Night in Tallinn

Breakfast, Lunch
Day 9 :


Price includes:

  • *Nature guide services for 8 days,
  • * 8 nights in local hotels and guesthouses (twin rooms with toilet and shower),
  • * Local transport,
  • * Breakfast, lunch (picnic packages), and dinner on 8 days
  • * Ferry tickets to Hiiumaa,
  • * Boat trip to the Ringed Seals near Hiiumaa islands,
  • * Boat trip on Kasari river,
  • * Night in the Brown Bear watching hide
  • * Tallinn Old Town excursion

Price excludes

  • Flights
  • Beverages during the meals

Scheduled tour dates

24/09/2022 - 02/10/2022 Available €2,010.00
12 Available
23/09/2023 - 01/10/2023 Guaranteed €2,010.00
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 €2,010.00
per Person in double room
From €2,250.00
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
    *Ringed Seal
    *Brown Bear