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WHY ESTONIA?

 


We have a wonderful photo-gallery of Estonian nature. Share the gallery also with your friends.
Click here to see it...

10 Good Reasons to Visit Estonia:
  • Flocks of Steller´s Eider in their wintering grounds
  • 8 species of Woodpeckers

  • Atmospheric pine forests - habitats to Ural and Pygmy Owls

  • Black Stork, Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie and Nutcracker

  • Traditional landscapes and 36 species of Orchids

  • Brown Bears, Wolves, Lynxes, European Beavers and Flying Squirrel

  • Wonderful network of unspoilt wetland habitats, a lot of open space and silence

  • Massive assemblies of migrating waterbirds from the Arctic

  • „International Crane Assembly“ – unforgettable  experience

  • Small region with huge birdlist, friendly people and wonderful local food






Nature calendar
January
White-tailed Eagle
 White-tailed Eagle / Valeri Štšerbatõh
Winter in Estonia is seasonable. In January, shallow bays and lakes are frozen but much of the coastline sports open water. It is a perfect time to plan a winter trip to see many northern bird species.  Great Grey Shrikes are quite easily found in the open landscape and sometimes, Rough-legged Buzzards can be seen. It is a favourable period to find northern species like Dipper, Purple Sandpiper, Snow Bunting, Waxwing and Redpoll. If you are lucky, you might come upon some of the Hawk Owls that winter in Estonia.
At the Saaremaa wintering grounds, hundreds of Steller`s Eiders can be seen. This area is one of the species’ most important wintering grounds in all Europe.


Hazel Grouse
Hazel Grouse / Tarvo Valker

The Ural Owl, Black Woodpecker, Black and Hazel Grouse can be seen while driving along rural roads. Nutcrackers are already active and visible close to their breeding grounds.

In addition to birds, you might wish to occupy late evenings and nights waiting for Wild Boars to approach their feeding places. During daylight hours, Red Foxes, Elks and Roe Deer are the most common mammals on view, even close to roads.





Highlights:
Birds: Steller`s Eider, Purple Sandpiper, Rough-legged Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle, Hawk Owl, Hazel Grouse, Black Woodpecker, Dipper, Crested Tit, Great Grey Shrike, Waxwing, Nutcracker, Snow Bunting.
Mammals: Roe Deer, Elk, Wild Boar, Red Fox.

February
Crested Tit
Crested Tit / Mati Kose

The first weeks of February are usually cold, but birding opportunities are quite the same as in January. Large flocks of Steller`s Eiders can be seen all month at their wintering grounds.
By the end of February, winter is coming to an end, with birds themselves indicating that spring is not far off. Ural and Pygmy Owls begin to call near their breeding grounds. On sunny, warmer mornings, drumming woodpeckers can be watched in our forests and large parks. Black Grouse and Hazel Grouse are easily viewed on a February trip.




Wild Boars
 Wild Boars / Sven Zacek


Highlights:
Birds: Steller`s Eider, Purple Sandpiper, White-tailed Eagle, Hawk Owl, Eagle Owl, Ural Owl, Hazel Grouse, Black Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Dipper, Crested Tit, Great Grey Shrike, Waxwing, Nutcracker, Snow Bunting
Mammals: Wolf, Red Fox, Wild Boar, Roe Deer, Elk.

March
Ural Owl
Ural Owl / Marika Mann


March is an excellent time to see numerous interesting forest bird species. Our most pristine forested area, known as the Western Taiga, provides shelter for several of Europe’s most endangered birds, as well as mammals.

Forest life awakens before sunrise, when male Capercailles commence their display. Just after sunrise, woodpeckers start drumming. Black, White-backed, Grey-headed and Three-toed woodpeckers are still quite common in Estonian wooded areas.
Evenings are another good reason to plan your birding trip for March. Just after sunset, we enjoy experiencing the silence in our forests. But they are not completely silent. With patience, it is possible to hear the Pygmy owl, Ural owl and even the Eagle owl. And with luck, they can be observed sitting near roads hunting their prey or flying silently like shadows in the dark.




In addition to forest birds, Steller`s Eiders are still numerous on their wintering grounds. 
Apart from birding, early spring in Estonia offers other natural phenomena, from Wild Boars in late evening, to the occasional chance Wolf.  The wolf population here is estimated at approximately 150. If you plan enough time and use local experts as guides, the possibility of sighting this animal is 50-75%.

Steller`s Eider
Steller´s Eider / Jari Peltomäki



Lynx
Lynx / Marco Apostoli

Highlights:

Birds: Steller´s Eider, Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse, Ural Owl, Eagle Owl, Pygmy Owl, Tengmal´s Owl, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toad Woodpecker, Bearded Tit.
Mammals: Wolf, Lynx, Wild Boar, Red Fox, Roe Deer, Elk.









April
Three-toad Woodpecker
Three-toad Woodpecker / Mati Kose

April is the best period to observe our forest bird highlights — the Pygmy, Ural and Eagle Owls, Three-toed, White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers and Hazel Grouse. Early mornings spent in bogs can engender unforgettable impressions and emotions. Sunrise, in particular, can transform your understanding of the natural environment. Black Grouse and calling Cranes provide an excellent soundtrack for an otherwise total silence.
 
Now, when the ice has finally melted, coastal meadows, reed beds and wetlands offer good birding opportunities. Bitterns, Marsh Harriers and Red-necked Grebes are just a few examples of what you can see during an April trip to the wetlands.  And apart from freshly arriving bird species, it`s your last chance to observe Steller`s Eiders in their wintering places.














Pygmy Owl
Pygmy Owl / Valeri Štšerbatõh

Highlights:

Birds: Steller`s Eider, Red-necked Grebe, Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Caspian Tern, Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse, Capericaille, Common Crane, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toad Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Pygmy Owl, Ural Owl, Eagle Owl, Tengmal`s Owl.
Mammals: Elk, Roe Deer, Red Fox, Wild Boar.
Other wildlife: Natter-jack Toad



















May
Black Stork
Black Stork / Mati Kose

The first two weeks of May are the peak period for bird watching in Estonia. Late arrivals have appeared, while birds breeding in the Arctic tundra are still present in very high numbers. About 200 different bird species can be seen quite readily during a one week or ten-day trip. Tens of thousands of Barnacle Geese can be witnessed feeding en route to their breeding sites. At some sites, globally endangered White-fronted Geese are still found in small numbers.





May is the high period for watching the Arctic waterfowl migration. Thousands of Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Divers and Geese pass through our region at this time.  And, of course, early mornings in untouched bogs provide an unsurpassable experience, watching the display of Black Grouses, Whimbrels and Black-tailed Godwits passing overhead. On providential days, even Golden Eagles make their appearance. Forested areas with old, dead trees are typical scenes in Estonia’s natural environment. There, excellent views of various woodpeckers, such as the White-backed or Three-toed Woodpeckers are to be had. Many other attractions, including the Red-breasted Flycatcher and Hazel Grouse are quite common here, as well.



Red-breasted Flycatcher
Red-breasted Flycatcher / Valeri Štšerbatõh

Further afield, May offers many noteworthy and decorative species for botanists. Blooming Military Orchids, Bird`s Eye Primrose and Meadow Anemones are just a few examples of our plant highlights.

Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail / Mati Kose

Highlights:

Birds: Bittern, Lesser-Whitefronted Goose, Brent Goose, Arctic Skua, Little Gull, Red-necked Phalarope, Black Stork, Marsh Harrier, Lesser Spotted Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black Grouse, Spotted Crake, Common Crane, Avocet, Whimbrel, Citrine Wagtail, White-backed Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Penduline Tit, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Savi`s Warbler.
Mammals: Red Fox, Beaver, Roe Deer, Elk
Plants: Military Orchid, Bird`s eye Primrose, Meadow anemone.
Other wildlife: Natter-jack Toad

June
Early June is recommended for the observation of certain late winged arrivals, such as the Corncrake, Barred Warbler, Nightjar and others.

Golden Oriole
Golden Oriole / Valeri Štšerbatõh

Visiting the south and south-eastern parts of the country can provide fine sightings of Lesser Spotted Eagles, Penduline Tits and Citrine Wagtails. On a particularly successful trip, Booted Warblers might be heard, though they are still quite rare in Estonia and difficult to find without an expert guide.

Corncrake
Corncrake / Mati Kose

Late evenings can be spent listening to Great Snipe. One particular place is quite close to a road, where a guided trip can be taken without disturbing the birds. On a visit to certain grasslands, calling Corncrakes or Marsh Warblers, can also be heard. On late evening trips, flying Long-eared Owls and sometimes Short-eared Owls too, can be seen.
Close to bog areas, the last hours of the day often are often given over to a concert by the European Nightjar.

June is also a suitable month for plant discovery. Altogether, 36 different orchid species can be found in Western Estonia’s semi-natural habitats. For example, the Baltic Orchid, the very decorative Lady`s Slipper and RedHhelleborine are species native to the Baltic countries. Throughout various grasslands and coastal meadows, the Siberian Iris and Bird`s Eye Primrose bloom in all their glory. 





Lady`s Slipper
 Lady's Slipper / Neil Anderson

Highlights:

Birds: Black Tern, Great Snipe, Black Grouse, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Montagu`s Harrier, Corncrake, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Common Crane, European Nightjar, Citrine Wagtail, River Warbler, Barred Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Booted Warbler.
Mammals: Roe Deer, Red Fox, Racoon Dog, Elk.
Plants: Fen Orchid, Lady`s Slipper, Baltic orchid, Narrow-leaved Marsh-Orchid, Red Helleborine, Lesser Twayblade, Siberian Iris.



July
July is breeding season, an appropriate month to plan your trip to observe dragonflies, butterflies and discover our great variety of plants. Wood and Crested Cow-wheat feature strongly in July, while decorative Siberian Irises bloom in wet meadows.

Siberian Iris
Siberian Iris / Neil Anderson
In the late evening, Corncrakes continue to call and the chicks of Long-eared Owls noisily demand food from their parents.

European Nightjar
European Nightjar / Tarvo Valker

During the darkest period of the day, European Nightjars perform their songs in pine woods. Sometimes, they can be found in the dark, on or close to roads catching insects. In addition to the waders’ autumn migration, which begins in July, the first flocks of Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew and Broad-billed Sandpipers can be seen in stopover sites near the coastline.







Highlights:
Wood Cow-wheat
Wood Cow-wheat / Tuuli Mann

Birds: Red-necked Grebe, Corncrake, European Nightjar, Woodcock, Long-eared Owl, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Stork.
Plants: Siberian Iris, Wood Cow-wheat, Crested Cow-wheat, Sticky Catchfly.











August
Broad-billed Sandpiper
 Broad-billed Sandpiper / Uku Paal

In August, autumn migration commences. It is the prime time to observe passing waders like Knot,  Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Broad-billed Sandpiper and  Bar-tailed Godwit. With some good fortune, along with these common waders, certain rare species like the Pectoral Sandpiper or the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper might be seen.
Also, the first flocks of Common Cranes are to be found feeding in the fields. Just before sunset, they leave their feeding grounds and fly to wetlands, where they are protected against predators at night.


August is also the best time to find Red-footed, Falcons passing through the region. In some years, we have quite an invasion, up to 100 of them have been witnessed over a period of several weeks.


Brown Bears
Brown Bears / Remo Savisaar

However, August abounds with many other attractions besides birds to prompt your nature trip to Estonia. For instance, Brown Bears are getting ready to hibernate at this time and, with the help of a local expert, they can be observed grazing on cereal stubbles.


Highlights:
Birds: Common Crane, Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Caspian Tern, European Nightjar, White-tailed Eagle, Goshawk, Red-footed Falcon.
Mammals: Red Fox, Roe Deer, Brown Bear, Elk, Wild Boar.

September
In September, you can watch the bird migration phenomenon in it`s all beauty. In addition to waders, which were already numerous in August, the Arctic waterfowl migration is in full swing. Flocks of thousands of Wigeon, as well as Common and Velvet Scoters travel  through this region.


Cranes
Common Cranes / Ivar Ojaste

This month is a superb time to observe large flocks of Common Cranes. Estonia, one of the primary stopover sites for this species, offers you an opportunity to see tens of thousands of cranes gathering before sunset near shallow bays to spend the night there. In late September, the number of Common Cranes in Western Estonia is around 35,000, with at least 10,000-15,000 birds visible from one single point. The second half of September is an excellent time anyone looking for rare birds. Yellow-browed and Palla`s Warblers turn up in bird ringing stations every autumn.


Elks
Elks / Valeri Štšerbatõh

And finally, September is mating season for Elks. Therefore, they are very active and observed without trouble in picturesque environments. 


Highlights:
Birds: Brent Goose, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Razorbill, Common Crane, Peregrine Falcon, White-tailed Eagle, Bearded Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler, Palla`s Warbler.
Mammals: Elk, Roe Deer, Red Fox.


October
Bearded Tit
Bearded Tit / Mati Kose


The first weeks of October are a seminal period in the autumn migration and also can provide sightings of some rare birds. Common Cranes continue to be present in very large numbers. Early mornings can be whiled away watching the migration from peninsulas where thousands of Barnacle and Brent Geese, White-fronted and Bean Geese, Long-tailed Ducks, hundreds of Divers, Razorbills and other Arctic waterfowl  pass over.

The bird ringing station allows us closer views of Long-tailed Tits, Crests and sometimes even Tengmal`s Owl. Among rare birds, Yellow-browed and Palla`s Warblers, Red-breasted Geese, Red Phalarope and Desert Whetear are but a few examples of those that have been seen by birdwatchers in Estonia during recent Octobers.








Yellow-browed Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler / Uku Paal
Highlights:

Birds: Red-throated and Black-throated Diver, Brent Goose, Razorbill, Red-breasted Goose, Ural Owl, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Common Crane, Black Woodpecker, Peregrine Falcon, Nutcracker, Long-tailed Tit, Bearded Tit.
Mammals: Roe Deer, Elk, Red Fox.








November

 

Black Woodpecker
Black Woodpecker / Chris van Rijswijk

 


November is probably the most silent period in Estonian nature. Most of the migratory birds have left the area and resident birds are preparing for winter. This period, with so few daylight hours, offers poor conditions for birding, although occasionally a surprise, like a Hawk Owl, might appear. More prevalent at this period are Great Grey Shrikes, Nutcrackers, Black Woodpeckers, Black and Hazel Grouses and Ural Owls.

 

Highlights:

Birds: Ural Owl, Black Grouse, Black Woodpecker, Hawk Owl, Great Grey Shrike, Crested Tit.
Mammals: Wild Boar, Roe Deer, Elk, Red Fox.

 

 

 

 

 

December
Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike / Valeri Štšerbatõh

Birding in December is difficult, as well, owing to the short days. But there are still several wintering species, like the Hawk Owl, the Dipper and the Great Grey Shrike. With assistance from local experts, some forest attractions, such as woodpeckers and Black and Hazel Grouse are to be found, as well as the first flocks of Steller’s Eiders at their wintering grounds.







Hawk Owl
Hawk Owl / Aivar Veide
Highlights:

Birds: Steller`s Eider, Dipper, White-tailed Eagle, Ural Owl, Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse, Black Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toad Woodpecker, Hawk Owl, Great Grey Shrike, Nutcracker, Crested Tit.
Mammals: Wild Boar, Elk, Roe Deer.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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