Welcome to the third Estonian Nature Tours Newsletter. It is distributed to our professional co-operation partners, bird societies and magazines and also individual clients all over the world. The newsletter will be published four times per year. Its contents will include bird news in Estonia and also substantial events or products in sustainable and birdwatching tourism developed by Estonian Nature Tours.

Who is Estonian Nature Tours?
Bird news.
Birdwatching in Estonia – even better than Poland!
Summer and Autumn in Estonia.
BOOK NOW! Estonia in Autumn (one by one).
Birdfair 2009.
ENT and sustainable tourism.

Travel & more
Nature videos
Birdwatcing in estonia

Who is Estonian Nature Tours?

Estonian Nature Tours (ENT) is a ground tour organiser specialized in Birdwatching and Botanical Tours. Our individual and specialised approach to tourism was developed over a number of years of organising local travel services in Matsalu National Park, before broadening our operations in the spring of 2003 to include visits to a wide variety of nature reserves throughout Estonia. Our mission is to introduce the natural heritage preserved by moderate human activity, to encourage ecological thinking and awareness of nature and to improve local tourist services. Also, ENT has been a pioneer in developing nature and bird tourism all over Estonia. In the autumn of 2007, we introduced our new offering, “Estonia in Early Spring”, which has proved very popular among our clients. In spring 2008, our oldest tour, „Estonia in Spring“, was accredited with the brand EHE (Quality System Pure and Interesting Estonia). In autumn of 2008 we came out with tours for individual tourists. ENT supports the yearly Young Conservationist Award through independent NGO Estonian Fund for Nature and also Matsalu Nature Film Festival.

Bird news

Estonian nature in May

The latest pilgrims, such as Corncrake, Common Cuckoo, Nightjar, etc arrived in Estonia in the middle of May. Citrine Wagtail, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Corncrake, Black Grouse, Hazel Hen, Ural and Pygmy Owl, 8 species of Woodpeckers, Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Bittern, Bearded Tit and others – more than 180 species – can be encountered during our 1-week birding tours. One of the most exciting experiences, however, has been watching displaying Great Snipe.

Photo: Mati Kose
Lesser Spotted Eagle
Photo: Mati Kose

For the moment the migration of thousands of geese has ended. In West-Estonia, Lesser White-fronted Geese, the most dangered goose in Europe (population is only 100 birds!), were seen several times during the spring. During one observation 30 birds were found – an excellent count. Careful checking through the flocks also found Red-breasted Geese among the Barnacle Geese.

Interesting findings

A long-awaited message has excited many Estonian birdwatchers when ornithologists were lucky to find a pair of Great Grey Owls nesting in Eastern-Estonia. Observations of Great Grey Owls have decreased over the past years, but this is the first proven nest record since the 19th century. Besides finding the nest, territorial Great Grey Owls have been observed in other two places in East-Estonia.
This year’s spring has given us the most exciting bird rarity observation – Ring-necked Duck. A male was found at at Silma Nature Reserve in North-West Estonia. This rarity originates from USA and became the 373rd bird species in Estonia.

Great Spotted Eagle Tõnn is back at home!

Great Spotted Eagle is one of the rarest eagles in Estonia. Below 10 pairs of these magnificent eagles nest here which makes our Great Spotted Eagle named Tõnn even more special. Tõnn got its GPS transmitter last summer. We are glad to inform you that Tõnn is back at home from his wintering areas having spent his first winter in the warm in Spain, and started his journey towards Estonia on the last days of April. A few days later he reached Latvia, Courland. Although it is 30 km to Estonian island Saaremaa, Great Spotted Eagles dread flying over the sea. Thus Tõnn headed inland and reached his home country in a few hundred km-s. We wish him a long life and look forward to hearing exciting news about his journeys!

Read more about Tõnn’s journey and watch his trip here...

Web cameras

Exciting birdlife can be seen continually via web cameras and this spring you can watch young birds of White-tailed Eagles, Sulev and Linda. You can watch their activities as well as those of a nesting pair of Lesser Spotted Eagles. Sadly, Estonians’ favourite Black Stork, Donna, did not return to her nest this year. The male arrived early in order to tweak the nest but his partner did not show up and in the end he left.

Estonias’ bird of the year, the Tawny Owl, was being observed at its nest cavity in early spring. Despite the fact that a Pine Martin ate one of the eggs, the other four were saved and they grew to be nice fledged owlets. This web camera was visited about 3 million times during more than 2 months and in from 128 different countries!

Tawny Owl
Photo: Tarvo Valker

White-tailed Eagle web camera. Click here...
Lesser Spotted Eagle web camera. Click here...

Birdwatching in Estonia – even better than Poland

Our first early spring and spring tours have been very successful. Six or even seven woodpecker species have been observed on the best mornings and it has been excellent for seeing Owls. Pygmy Owls have been particulalry common, often seen perched on top of the spruces and pines and Tengmalm`s Owls have been heard on several occasions.

Three-toed Woodpecker
Photo: Sven Zacek

Pygmy Owl
Photo: Valeri Štšerbatõh


Many nature and bird tourists from West-Europe visiting Estonia have mentioned that they enjoy excellent birding in Poland, not knowing about the wonderful nature of Estonia. Estonia is smaller than Poland, but the wild bird populations are higher and we believe that Estonia is a better place to see may bird species including Great Snipe, Citrine Wagtail, Ural Owl and of course the masses of coastal birds. We also have large areas of untouched natural habitat outside of our nature reserves and you can spot exciting bird species almost everywhere!
Wintering Steller`s Eiders are another speciality that were showing well in March and April. The display of dozens of Black Grouses was an interesting sight with one lek holding over 70 birds. This kind of view can be seen only in places like Estonia where is the untouched wilderness!

Photo: Tarvo Valker

Besides birds, mammals also give incomparable experiences. Elks and Wild Boars are a possibility on every trip, not to mention Roe Deer and Red Foxes. Lynx have been seen on 2 spring trips this year already! One animal was observed through the telescope for over half an hour.
Do not miss the chance of seeing these things for yourself! Why not plan your trip for the year 2010 now?

For friendly, expert advice, excellent customer care and 'accommodation only' call +372 477 8214, +372 5349 6695 or contact us online...

For watching video clips about our tourist click here and also here...


Summer and Autumn in Estonia.

The birdlife will be a little quieter in June, but you the plants and butterflies are fantastic! For many people the orchids are a real highlight with 36 different species in Estonia. You can see our most common Military Orchid almost everywhere, and around this time of year Lady´s Slipper – our most beautiful orchid – begins to flower (you can find hundreds of them in several places in Western Estonia). The end of June is the time when the beautiful Siberian Iris bloom and pictureque bogs will have flowering insectivorous plants like sundews and butterworts.

Siberian Iris
Photo: Arne Ader
Wood Cow-wheat
Photo: Tuuli Mann

Anthyllis coccinea in Osmussaar
Photo: Anneli Palo

Cypripedium calceolus in Hiiumaa
Photo: Anneli Palo

Coastal meadow in Saaremaa
Photo: Anneli Palo

Coastal meadow in Saaremaa
Photo: Anneli Palo

In the second half of August the fabulous spectacle of bird migration will begin once again. The first to leave Estonia are the White Storks. On coastal areas it is possible to see huge flocks of waders and many ducks and grebes are crowding into the creeks and bays.
The peak period of bird migration will be in the second half of September and the beginning of October when the migration of arctic water birds become more intense. In Estonia about a milllion birds will stop over as they pass through the country creating a wonderful spectacle at this exciting time. In September ten thousand cranes pause to feed up on corn in Western Estonian fields, fuel for the journey south. It is an unforgettable experience to enjoy the sight and sound of so many flocks of cranes as they come to roost on the coast at sunset! From September it is very exciting to visit our bird-observatories, where there is always the chance of rarities (Pallas Leaf Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler etc.).

Photo: Ivar Ojaste

BOOK NOW! Estonia in Autumn (one by one).

Many of our autumn trips will be filled by tour operators from England and Germany, but we can offer specially organized trips for private groups and individual travellers as well. Many individual clients have asked if they could join an autumn trip so for the first time we are offering some weeks for individuals to book onto in Autumn 2009 – why not join us?

Autumn 2009 How to book Local tour leader In focus Group size  
Sat 26th Sept – Sat 03rd Oct Contact to us Tarvo Valker birds 6/16 pax BOOK HERE!
Sat 03rd Oct – Sat 10th Oct Contact to us Mikko Virta birds 6/16 pax BOOK HERE!

There will be a maximum of 16 people in every group. All you have to do is get yourself a flight to Tallin where you will me met by one of our local bird-guides and your tour organizer. If it is possible please choose a flight which will arrive in Tallinn before 17.00.

Click here and see also packages for Individual travellers...


We are delighted to present to you a totally new opportunity in Estonia for the year 2009 – the 1-day trip in Matsalu National Park lead by local specialists. The trips will take place every Saturday at 10am-6pm during the period May-September.

Barnacle Geese
Photo: Valeri Štšerbatõh

Matsalu National Park is the most famous reserve and oldest Ramsar wetland site in Estonia. At times of peak passage over a million diving ducks have been estimated passing along the coast here, whilst counts of wild swans and Barnacle Geese regularly number tens of thousands. But Matsalu is much more than just an avian motorway service station and among the 170 breeding birds recorded from the reserve are species such as Red-necked Grebe, Bittern, Osprey, White-tailed Eagle and Caspian Tern. The reserve is designated for birds, and includes protection of their roosting, feeding and nesting areas. Open communities, especially meadows, are amongst the most valuable parts of the Matsalu landscape. Unlike many other reserves in Estonia, the landscape is strongly influenced by human impact. Semi-natural communities need annual management (grazing, mowing)to preserve them as they are. Purple Milk-vetch and Crested Cow-wheat can be seen here in June-July, also various orchid species such as Lady´s Slipper, Fly, Military, Musk and Greater Butterfly Orchids.

Read more and book here...

Birdfair 2009

This is the second time Estonian Nature Tours has participated in the bird tourism fair, Birdfair 2009, as an exhibitor. For groups and individual tourists, Estonian Nature Tours has new packages (Wildlife safaries, Birds, flowers & butterflies etc.), which will be sold on the spot at special Birdfair prices. You can book onto one of our Autumn birdwatching weeks here!
Tarvo Valker, the chairman of the Bird Club of Lääne County, will make a presentation called "Estonia – a shelter for Western Taiga Forest birds“ on Saturday Lecture Marquee 2 / 5.00-5.20 pm.
Also, Roy Atkins from Speyside Wildlife will present „Estonia- A little country with a big bird list“ on Saturday Lecture Marquee 1 / 4.30-4.50 pm. The lecture will tell you out how much this fabulous little country has to offer, with an astounding number of migratory and top class breeding birds.

Visit us at Marquee 5 Stand 28!

ENT and sustainable tourism

Complementary training for nature guides

Because of the increasing interest in Estonian nature we need more and more birdguides. Estonian Nature Tours thinks it is very important to have more professional guides who can present Estonian bird richness to clients ethically. We are planning to arrange for new birdguides a complementary training during the period autumn 2009 – summer 2010. Training will be directed towards people, who know different bird species very well and can speak at least one foreign language (preferably English). People will study how to serve customers, how to work with a group, different plant and animal species and butterflies, a little about nature protection and history during this complementary training. We will ask foreign experts as well to help with the training.


The new Estonian Nature Tours´ product Matsalu Ticket was included in an international competition! The competition „Estonian undiscovered treasures 2009 Tourism and national parks“ was organized by EAS Enterprise Estonia and there were 3 competitors – Matsalu National Park, Soomaa National Park and Vilsandi National Park. The competition was a part of international project EDEN ( European Tourist Destinations of Excellence), which was started three years ago by the European Commission. EDEN project would like to diversify into different initiatives of sustainable tourism among European member and candidate states. There are 22 states which will take part of the competition this year. The winner of „Estonian undiscovered treasures 2009“ was announced on 27th May in Tallinn – it was Soomaa National Park. Soomaa will represent Estonia in October in the European Tourism Forum. Winner of the forum will get free access to the website which advertises European successful tourism destinations.

Marketing grant (activities and results)

Estonian Nature Tours was allocated a grant for marketing by the EAS in August 2008. The marketing project (2008-2011) totals about 1.3 million EEK. The result of the marketing project during the first half of the year has been a huge increase in visitors to our website. There is also more interest being shown in Estonia by foreign naturalists and birdwatchers. We have been advertising our company in many Europen birdwatching and nature magazines and in the March issue of World Birdwatch (readers in more than 100 states, and a print-run of 7500) a supplement about Estonian nature and bird organisations was included. We have also started sending newsletters to our clients, partners and press (four times per year). We will participate in the bird tourism fair, BirdFair 2009 in England and during 2010-2011 in Holland and in Italy as well.


For friendly, experts advice, excellent customer care and 'accommodation only' call +372 477 8214,
+372 5349 6695 or contact us online.

Tel. +372 477 8214, +372 5349 6695
E-mail: info@naturetours.ee

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