Lynx (Felis lynx) / Valeri Štšerbatõh
| Brown Bear / Agris Krusts
Day 1 Arrive in Tallinn, to Western Estonia
Day 2 Matsalu National Park; Beaver boat trip
Day 3 Leidissoo & Põõsaspea, to South-East Estonia
Day 4 Järvselja & Aardla; Great Snipe
Day 5 Transfer to North-East Estonia; Bear Hide
Day 6 Birding & tracking at Alutaguse
Day 7 Flying Squirrel tracking (and watching)
Day 8 Departure
Mammals: Raccoon Dog, Red Fox, Elk, Roe Deer, Flying Squirrel (in the dusk 80% quaranteed), Wild Boar (difficult!), Brown Bear (95%), European Beaver (95%), tracks and droppings of Lynx and Wolves etc.
Birds: Bittern, Black Stork, peak spring migration of waterfowls, Golden Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Corncrake, Great Snipe, Whimbrel, White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Citrine Wagtail, Savi´s Warbler, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole etc.
NB! Estonian Fund For Nature has launched a donation campaign to raise money to buy necessary flying squirrel reasearch equipment. For every person joining us on our Mammal Watching tour (see above) we will make a donation of 15 Euros to this project as we feel it is extremely important to the future of this delightful animal. With the help of this research the Flying Squirrel stands a chance of increasing in numbers here which we would all surely be delighted to see.
"I am delighted to report that the bear-watch at Tudu was a success. I easily found the spot as you described, and soon after, two more cars of English people, along with Triin arrived. We were in the hide by 6 pm., and very quickly the first Racoon Dogs appeared, showing interest in the bear-food. About 9, two adult bears arrived, presumably a pair, and while one (the female?) stayed in the background, the other fed hungrily for about 15 minutes, giving wonderful views. A little later a Woodcock came and stood in full view before the hide for several minutes -- the best view I have ever had! In the morning light a fox came to wander around, and a White-Backed Woodpecker (very clearly seen and positively identified) appeared too. I am very grateful to you for organizing all that for me." J C-E. / Australia, June 2013
„We had a wonderful trip as Estonia is a beautiful country with a beautiful countryside. It was even better than we imagined. We were a little unlucky regarding the Brown bears but we managed to see a raccoon dog and a fox.
We had a problem with finding our way to the bear hide. In fact we were lost and wondered in the bog forest for an hour carrying a lot of stuff including a pic-nick basket and we ended being all wet and dripping. Nevertheless as we are true nature lovers we will always remember our trip with love and we might want to repeat it.
Thank you for everything and good luck with your bussiness.“- A.L. / Cyprus, 2013
"We had a lovely holiday, everything went smoothly and I thank you again for organising. We did not manage to see bear, but that's ok, it was an experience to stay in the forest. We can leave that for another day! The country is beautiful and easy to navigate and the people although somewhat shy are helpful and nice. We stayed in some really nice place and I would not hesitate to recommend or return at a different time of year. We knew it was not peak time for the birds, but plenty of butterflies and flowers, frogs, fox, elk (brief glimpse) and the peace and quiet were more than enough for us. We also enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Tallinn" A.B. / July 2011
"I think the tour went really well and we saw loads. I still can't believe we saw not just one but two flying squirrels!! This meant everyone managed to see one fly as well (some people lost concentration and missed the first one!).
I am also thrilled with our bear sightings. Not just seeing two at the hide but then two more the next day was wonderful - but then adding a final one at the wild boar feeding site was simply crazy!!! Where did that one come from?! Uku was clearly astonished - I have never seen him so excited. He just couldn't believe we had just seen a bear so close to Tartu and kept saying that you don't get them there!!! Even the guy who runs the feeding station was astonished - he has never seen a bear there. How lucky were we to see that... and what a wonderful finale. The Wild Boars were very good here by the way and well worth including. We saw them from the van as they were already there when we arrived. I am not sure how a whole group would fit in the hide and tower - but you could always do it from the vans if necessary - we got great views of them.
I still can't believe we never saw an elk. That must be one of the easier species of mammals in Estonia and it is bizarre that we didn't see one. Did you know Uku saw four while we were there - three one morning when we went to retrieve his map after leaving it in Triins bus by mistake and then he had one swimming in the flood when we were out beaver watching (he could not come with us as there was not enough space on the boat). He phoned us on the boat to try and guide us to it but we were watching the beaver at the time and by the time we were finished it had gone. So I think we were just unlucky - will be interested to see whether the group out there now see any. We saw lots of foxes, got good views of beaver, glimpsed a single raccoon dog and saw lots of foxes. Also saw a single mountain hare as well as a couple of brown hares.
Birds were excellent to largely due to Uku's excellent birding skills and local knowledge. We saw 2 Ural Owls, Pygmy Owl, Three-toed, White-backed and grey-headed Woodpeckers, Marsh Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, River Warbler, Hazel Grouse, Thrush Nightingale, Common Rosefinch, Icterine Warbler, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Citrine Wagtail, Black Stork, lots of White-winged Black Terns and lots more plus we even managed to see the lekking Great Snipe! At first we thought we would not see these as Uku said the water levels were too high but we went and checked and they had dropped and we saw several birds displaying - brilliant!
All in all I think it was an excellent trip and am absolutely thrilled by what we saw - my first ever flying squirrels, brown bears (in Europe), raccoon dogs and European beavers and my best views of many of the birds including Lesser Spotted Eagle, Thrush Nightingale, Icterine Warbler, White-winged Black Tern, Marsh Sandpiper and others. Many thanks for doing such a good job of putting it together and organising everything." R.Atkins / May 2011 Speyside Wildlife /
"Have just spent a fabulous week in Estonia thanks to Estonian Nature Tours who looked after us superbly. We were focused on mammals but also saw a great range of birds including - penduline tit, citrine wagtail, wryneck, lesser-spotted eagle, common crane and Great Snipe.
Estonia has many large areas of mature forest remaining and on the first day we found many tracks of wolf, lynx, bear, fox, racoon dog, pine marten and others. Spotlighting from the vehicle that night we saw Wild boar, red fox and Racoon dog. The next day we focused on flying squirrel and met up with our excellent local guide who has been studying the squirrels for over 25 years. We were shown the habitat of the squirrels in the morning, finding some of their nesting holes and then treated to a wonderful lunch at a local farm. That evening we went back to the forest to a squirrel nest hole and settled down under the tree to wait for darkness. After around an hour the squirrel's face appeared at the hole and it was a fantastic creature. We watched it emerge onto the tree and climb several metres before launching into a glide right over our heads. It was a great moment. We felt very fortunate to have watched such a rare and difficult to see animal.
The following night was spent in a new bear hide and we were delighted when 2 bears appeared just before it got dark. One of them stood for a few moments just outside our viewing window and at that range the power of the animal was really impressive.
On the final day we met with another local guide who has been studying Beavers for some years. He really knew his subject and during the day and evening we were treated to close views of 4 different beavers.
We had a great time deciphering footprints and having fantastic views of a range of European mammals and must thank all the excellent local guides who helped us during the week.
The organisation, accommodation and food were all really superb and so a special thanks to Marika and our driver / bird guide, Tarvo.
We have made some very good friends in Estonia." / P.Telfer, UK / FAM trip