Spring Birding – Scheduled Tour

8 Days

The end of April and the beginning of May is a perfect time for birding in Estonia. It’s a period when owls (Ural Owl, Pygmy, and Tengmalm’s Owl) are calling and woodpeckers (8 species of woodpeckers in total are possible!) are drumming, and iconic forest species, such as Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, and Western Capercaillie are spottable. Each day the weather becomes warmer and brings thousands of new birds. Some of them come to Estonia to breed, some are just stopping en route to feed and build up their energy reserves for the long trip to their arctic breeding grounds – Common- and Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Black- and Red-throated Divers. The shallow coast and wetlands offer excellent stopovers for waders, ducks, and geese. So it’s a period when many local breeders are back from their wintering grounds and Arctic breeders are still here. 

For a more specific list of birds, check Target species in the menu on the right and the Itinerary.


On the trip, we will visit Matsalu and Soomaa national parks and the best bird-watching spots in Western Estonia. Matsalu is known for its vast natural meadows, shallow coast, and deciduous forests. There, the main goal is to experience the spring migration, White-backed Woodpecker and Grey-Headed Woodpecker, Elk, and White-tailed Eagles. In North-West Estonia, we target the Capercaillie, Black Grouse, and spring migration. Soomaa is a national park for the protection of mires, natural rivers, and forests. All 8 species of woodpeckers can be found there, also owls, Great Snipe and Citrine Wagtail can be found in this part of the land.

For a longer list of species that we hope to see, read the Trip Info.

What can you see?

  • Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie
  • Ural, Pygmy, and Tengmalm's Owl
  • White-backed, Three-toed, Grey-headed, Middle-spotted, and Black Woodpecker
  • Migrating Ruffs displaying on the meadows
  • Long-tailed Ducks, scoter, divers
  • White-tailed Eagle, Lesser-spotted Eagle, possibly Greater-Spotted Eagle
  • Great Snipe
  • Huge flocks of Bean, White-fronted and Barnacle Geese
  • Elk & Beaver


On the first day, we will drive to Matsalu National Park. It’s the most famous national park in Estonia, known as one of the top migration stopovers and breeding grounds in northern Europe. The shallow coastal waters and vast meadows are excellent for waders, ducks, geese, and birds of prey. On the first afternoon, we get our first glimpse of what awaits us, when we will do some coastal birding. In the evening, we will head to a forest where Ural Owls and Pygmy Owls breed annually. Night in Matsalu NP

Early morning excursion to experience a Black Grouse lek. By sunrise, both male and female grouse have gathered on a field situated between 2 massive peat bogs. It’s a lek with usually well over 20-30 male grouse. On the way there and on our way back, we have a good chance of spotting a Western Capercaillie. Later we will visit Cape Põõsaspea, which is one of the best locations in Europe to observe the spring migration and witness hundreds or thousands of Long-Tailed Ducks, geese, divers, and scoters. Not too far from Cape Põõsaspea is also an excellent wader spot. We will also visit the Noarootsi area, where coastal lakes host Little Gulls, Red-Necked Grebe, and terns. In the evening, we will go out again with the hopes of spotting owls if our first evening did not produce any views of owls. Night in Matsalu NP

There are about 190 species of birds breeding in Matsalu and hundreds of thousands of migratory birds pass by Matsalu every spring. Today we will also look for woodpeckers, as the deciduous forests of Matsalu are a perfect habitat for White-backed Woodpeckers and Grey-headed Woodpeckers. Today, we will also visit Matsalu’s best birding tower, which offers views of a beautiful coastal setting Close to Matsalu is also a charming coastal town known as Haapsalu. Besides the beautiful wooden houses, its greatest highlight is the beautiful Slavonian Grebe, which breeds there annually. Haapsalu offers also reed beds and a picturesque promenade, where you can often observe White-tailed Eagles looking for prey. Night in Matsalu

Today early morning, we will make a really early visit to a 5000-hectare peat bog. Sunrise is the time when we can experience the magic of this really special landscape and breeding habitat. We can hear and see Black Grouse lekking at the center of the bog, Black-tailed Godwits, Golden Plovers, and Whimbrels doing spectacular courtship flights. If the air gets warmer, we might spot Golden Eagles soaring on a thermal and Great Grey Shrike luring on top of short pine trees. After a long afternoon break, we will go out for another evening tour to look for owls that we haven’t seen yet. Night in Matsalu

From Matsalu we will drive to Soomaa National Park, which is located in southern Estonia. On our way, we will make a stop in Pärnu town, where Citrine Wagtails breed annually. In Soomaa, we will target all the missing woodpeckers and the Great Snipe. It is a national park most famous for its so-called 5th season, which means that there is a period in spring when all the small rivers get overflooded and canoes are the best ways to get around. This already indicates that there are many rivers and flooded meadows, which is a great combination for the Great Snipe. It’s one of the more difficult species as their lekking display starts around sunset. If the first evening offers good weather conditions, we will visit their lekking ground already on the first evening. Night in Soomaa NP

Soomaa National Park consists of a few gravel roads, really vast forests, and all kinds of forest types. It’s home to all the possible woodpecker species breeding in Estonia (Three-Toed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Grey-Headed Woodpecker.). Those will also be our main targets for the morning. Soomaa has also a really good number of breeding Lesser-Spotted Eagles and we should be able to hear our first Corncrakes of the trip. Old-growth forests are also home to Hazel Grouse and we can also hear our first Red-breasted Flycatcher. Night in Soomaa NP

Today, we can still look for missing species, such as woodpeckers or forest grouse. During the first part of the day, we will visit Pikla fish ponds, where we can spot a good number of waders, such as beautiful displaying Ruffs, listen to various passerines playing hide and seek in the reedbeds, and observe various dabbling ducks in the shallow ponds. The afternoon and evening, we spend in the national park looking for species that we haven’t seen yet.

Night in Soomaa NP

We can make a last early morning trip to the park. Depending on the times of the flights, we may also have time to make stops on our way back to Tallinn.

Price includes:

  • Bird guide services for 8 days,
  • 7 nights in local hotels and guesthouses ( twin room with toilet and shower),
  • Local transport
  • 7 dinners and 4 lunches (as picnic packages), all breakfasts

Price excludes

  • Flights
  • Beverages during the meals


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.

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Spring Birding – Scheduled Tour
From €1,500.00
/ Person in double room
From €1,675.00
/ Person in single room
  • May
  • 4-8 persons
  • Easy walk
  • *Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Western Capercaillie
    *Ural, Pygmy Owl, Tengmalm's Owl
    *White-backed, Three-toed, Grey-headed, and Black Woodpeckers
    *Great Snipe and Citrine Wagtail
    *Migrating Ruffs displaying on the meadows
    *White-tailed Eagle, Lesser-spotted Eagle, Greater-Spotted Eagle