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Estonia in Spring (Birds and Bears)
Dates: 20th - 27th May 2017
Estonia is situated on the Eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and is bordered by Russia to the East and Latvia to the South. The country is generally sparsely populated and once away from the major cities like Tallinn the roads are almost empty. The landscape is very flat with extensive wild bogs and rich forests, home to an abundance of wildlife. This relatively unspoilt corner of Europe contains a superb network of national parks with many tower hides scattered throughout the country making wildlife viewing easier and a real joy.
Large concentrations of migratory waterfowl pass through during April and May with many species still in abundance late into spring. A trip at this time of year provides us with a very good chance of picking up a diverse variety of wildfowlincluding Barnacle and Brent Geese as well as Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Ducks. Other species such as White-fronted Geese, Goldeneye, Scaup, Wigeon, Pintail and Garganey are all, also likely to be encountered. It's also a great time for good numbers of passage waders, resplendent in their summer plumage including Ruff, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Temminck's Stints, Spotted Redshanks and maybe something a little more unusual such as a Broad-billed Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper or Red-necked Phalarope. Raptors feature well with White-tailed Eagles being a daily sight along the coast whilst Montagu's, Marsh and Hen Harriers; Hobby, Honey Buzzard and Lesser-spotted Eagle are almost guaranteed. Add to this the expansive stretches of forest found throughout the country supporting a rich array of birds, animals and flowering plants. These woodlands support eight species of Woodpecker, Hazel Grouse, Black Stork and several species of Owl. Woodcock are common and Nightjar regular whilst during the day Red-breasted Flycatcher, Thrush Nightingale, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Barred Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Red-backed Shrike and Common Rosefinch all add their voices to the cacophony of bird sounds and sights making this a spectacular spring birding destination.
Not only does Estonia support an abundance of birdlife but also a very healthy population of large mammals such as Lynx, Beaver, Moose, Pine Marten, Racoon Dog, Wild Boar and Brown Bear. During the trip we'll be making a special visit to a bear hide, close to the Russian border where we'll spend the night. The basic hide is well equipped with dry toilets and beds and gives us a very good chance of catching up with Brown Bears and a great way to round off a diverse, exciting trip to the Baltic region.
Short list of species: Garganey, Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Corncrake, Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Bittern, White Stork, Black Stork, White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Honey Buzzard, Goshawk, and Hobby. Crane and many species of waders are possible including summer plumage Wood and Green Sandpipers, Temminck's Stints, Spotted Redshank and Ruff with Marsh Sandpiper, Broad-billed and Terek Sandpipers all possible. Little Gull, Black Tern, possibly White-winged Black and Caspian Tern. Ural Owl is the commonest species of owl in the country which also includes Tegmalm's and Pygmy. Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker and Three-toed Woodpecker. Wryneck, Citrine Wagtail, Thrush Nightingale, Bluethroat, Barred Warbler, Savi's Warbler, River Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler and possibly Greenish Warbler. Red-breasted Flycatcher, Great Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike and Hawfinch amongst many others. Mammals should hopefully include Moose, Pine Marten, Racoon Dog, Wild Boar and Brown Bear.
For a taster of what you could be enjoying please click here: Ilmatsalu fish ponds in the evening.
Dates: 20st - 27th May 2017
Cost: £1,600 (includes night in bear hide and flights).
The price also includes flights (if booking before by February 2017) to and from the UK, accommodation, all meals (if you have special dietary requirements please let us know when booking) and entry to the bear hide. If you wish to book your own flights then the ground only price is £1,400.
Group size: maximum of 8
Booking: Please email: email@example.com
Where to meet: Our guide will meet you at Manchester airport for the outward flight on the first day. Those who wish to fly from London will be met at Tallin airport in Estonia.
Trip Reports: 2016