Early spring is the time when there are still patches of snow under the forest and on small dirt roads. Migrating birds are returning and the sun is moving higher and higher every day. Spring is not only in the air but also in the hearts of many birds and mammals. For example, it’s the mating season for the main target of this tour – the Eurasian Lynx. From the end of March until early April is the period when there are really good chances to spot one, as they are more active and come to open areas much more often than during other times of the year. During different periods, Estonia has been the country with the highest population density and the local individuals are one of the largest in the world. Its’ main prey – Roe Deer, is doing better year after and so is the local lynx population. Right now, an estimate of about 500 Eurasian Lynx inhabit the forests of Estonia and one of the best areas to spot them is Lahemaa National Park in the northeastern part of the country. Lahemaa was also the first national park grounded in the whole former Soviet Union and is still the lasrgest NP in Estonia.
About a dozen trail cameras give us information about their movements and other technological solutions, such as thermal cameras and LED-lamps help to locate them during dark times. Thus, 4-5 evenings looking for the lynx give us a very high probability of seeing one. It must be noted that looking for Lynx means quite a lot of driving around in the dark.
The other target of this tour is even more secretive than the Lynx and can be found only in one part of the country. Namely, we’ll be looking for the Siberian Flying Squirrel, who nowadays can be found only in the northeastern region of Alutaguse. The small nocturnal mammal rests in tree cavities during the day, but usually, after the sun has set, the elusive squirrel leaves the cavity to look for food. The difficult part is locating the squirrel. For that, we are working together with a local specialist, who has studied these mammals for over 30 years. Although this tour concentrates more on these 2 mammal species, we will most likely also meet other mammals sharing the same habitats, such as Elk, Roe Deer, Snow Hare, Pine Marten, and Raccoon Dogs, just to name the main ones. Many Brown Bears have also woken up from winter hibernation and the bare forests can give them more easily away than during other times of the year. Daytime will be used for looking at bird specialties, such as the forest grouse and woodpeckers. Evening excursions will allow us also to spot several species of owls, such as the Ural Owl and Pygmy Owl.