Bird & Mammal News
Bird Winter 2013
January has offered us nice winter days with night-time temperatures dropping as low as -30 degrees. The snow layer has been rather thin during this winter and due to high numbers of rodents Ural Owls are likely to enjoy a better breeding season in March and April this year.
Nothern owls are also presented this year. At least 6 Hawk Owls have been found during winter with three of them seen into January. Some Hawk Owls stay here as long as early April so you could see one during an ealry spring visit to Estonia.
There has also been an invasion of another rare wintering speciality – Pine Grosbeak. In January there have been tens of sightings of these stunning and very tame birds. The biggest flock encountered was of 35 individuals, which is a very special sighting for this species so far south.
Photo: Jari Peltomäki
Steller`s Eiders arrived at their Saaremaa wintering areas in the last days of December and after a few weeks surveys have shown that more than 300 individuals are present, a few more than in recent winters. These stunning seaducks will be present in the area until mid-April.
Last autumn our birdwatchers were suprised to see spectacular movements of several species of woodpecker, especially Lesser Spotted and White-backed Woodpecker. Unusual numbers of passing birds were seen at coastal sites and this has reulted in large numbers in our forests. In a 500 metre walk our bird guide counted at least 12 Great Spotted Woodpeckers in a single forest clearing while White-backed Woodpeckers are seen at the moment almost daily on our birding trips. In north-western Estonia numbers of White-backed Woodpeckers are remarkably higher than ever before. Lets hope that many of these woodpeckers will start to breed in the same areas. Already, on bright sunny mornings, the first woodpeckers have been drumming to defend their potential spring-time breeding territories.
Now, in early February, the first signs of spring are already being seen. During warmer days, parks and forests are full of the calls of singing tits, Nuthatches and Grosbeaks. The first Ural and Pygmy Owls have been starting to call in the forest and on some days drumming woodpeckers have been heard as well. The first migrants were recorded in early February - a small group of Greylag Geese in west Estonia, while many Rooks are already back in their breeding colonies. It seems that it will be a rather early spring.
Photo: Arne Ader
Bird of the Year 2013 is Grey Partridge
Estonian Ornithological Society (EOS) has chosen Grey Partridge to be the bird of the year 2013. The habitat of this bird, about the size of a small domestic hen, is mainly in agricultural landscapes, often adjacent to farms, stables and other similar human settlement. Our knowledge about this bird is comparatively modest. The population in Estonia is estimated at 4000 – 8000 pairs, while recent counts reveal a steep fall in number. Read more...
Animal of the year 2013 – the Wolf
Estonian Society of Teriology, Looduskalender (Nature Calendar), Looduse omnibuss (Nature Omnibus), Estonian Society for Nature Conservation, Estonian Fund for Nature, Estonian Society of Foresters, the Tallinn Zoo, Estonian Museum of Natural History and the Magazine „Loodusesõber“ (Naturelover) have elected for the very first time an animal of the year and in 2013 this animal will be one of the most colourful characters in our nature - feared and respected lord of the woods - the Wolf. Read more...
Photo: Valeri Štšerbatõh
Migration Map News – Summary of Autumn Migration
It is always fascinating to see what the birds we are following on Migration Map are doing and we started the autumn following 23 birds 7 of which were juveniles. The largest proportion of juveniles was amongst Common Cranes but we know well that due to natural selection a large proportion of juveniles do not reach their wintering grounds and only two cranes, Ahja2 and Juula2 have made it. Both of them are wintering in Tunisia, though Ahja2 spent last winter in Turkey. Read more...
It is only a couple of weeks before some of these birds may start their spring migration...
Click here to see migration map...
Easiest way to observe White-tailed Eagles
As we did last winter we have again managed the ’ESTLAT Eagles’ cross-border project to install a web camera on a White-tailed Eagle winter feeding site in Läänemaa county in western Estonia. Now everybody has the chance to watch them as they come to food put out for them. Several individuals are usually present during a day, with most of them are coming from Finland at present. We cannot be sure of the origin of unringed birds. The webcam is supplemented with an audio channel, so you can hear the birds as well, though the microphone is situated about 30m from feeding spot. The direct link to webcam is here.
Photo: Valeri Štšerbatõh
White-tailed eagle nest camera 2013
Wild Boar forest camera...
Grey Seal monitoring camera...
Last autumn the Alutaguse bear-hide was extremely active. Every night there were several bears visiting the observation ground so that there were evenings with as many as 12 different bears! An extra big thrill was caused by two big bear families - one female with four cubs, another with three. In the picture Estonian nature photographer Aare Udras has captured a frame with the largest family - the she-bear with four cubs.
Brown Bear family
Photo: Aare Udras
The current winter has been favourable for Estonian bears - there is enough snow and it is moderately cold. Right now they are hibernating and about 60 females, that makes roughly 10% of the whole population, are cuddling tiny cubs, born about one month ago. Everything is indicating an upcoming exciting bear-spring.
Photo: Valeri Štšerbatõh
Lately some changes have been noticed in the behaviour of wolves and lynx. In connection with the recent extremely cold and long-lasting winters the number of roe-deer has significantly decreased. This downtrend is mostly evident in the extensive natural landscapes, where the predominating large-scale forests and raised bogs are not the first choice of habitat among the roe-deer. The surviving deer have gathered around villages and cultural landscapes and the lynx are following their footsteps. Also wolves are currently hunting in smaller packs and closer to human settlement. That should increase the chances of coming across both predator species.
Read also: Who´s chasing who?
DON´T MISS! Estonia – A Shelter for Western Taiga Forest Birds
Special price: 760 € pp.
Late availability discount does not apply to earlier booked trips.
6-day fully-inclusive holiday in search of owls, woodpeckers, grouse and other forest specialities of Estonia.
Period: Tue 9th April - Sun 14th Apr 2013
Group size: 6/10 pax
We are constantly looking into new ideas for tours in Estonia and every year we create new tours that we hope will interest and excite our guests.
There are still some places available on some of these such as the following tour focussing on Western Taiga Forest and its incredibly rich bird-life, especially owls, woodpeckers and forest grouse. This tour is also the first to central Estonia, a great area for mammals including Elk and Wild Boar which come to feeding stations. The forest birding is good here and we also aim to see birds of more open habitats such as Rough-legged Buzzard, White Stork, Common Crane and Bean Geese – and with luck Red-breasted Goose too. Even Hawk Owl is possible!
Photo: Arne Ader
SPECIAL OFFER! Wild Flowers & Butterflies in Estonia
Save up to 200 €. Special price: 1150 € pp.
Offer ends on March 10, 2013. Discount does not apply to earlier booked trips.
An 8-day fully-inclusive holiday in search of wild flowers and other wildlife of Estonia, amongst them a fine selection of orchids and rare butterfly species such as Baltic Grayling, Scarce Heath, Scarce Fritillary, Frigga's Fritillary, Bog Fritillary, Cranberry Blue, Clouded Apollo, Northern Chequered Skipper, Poplar Admiral etc. Read more...
Period: Thu 4th Jul - Thu 11th Jul 2013
Group size: 6/10 pax
Photo: Arne Ader
Tour calendar 2013/2014
Designer: Tuuli Mann
Bargain tours & Sheduled trips
The page from ENT brochure 2013
BIRD WATCHING EXCLUSIVE – Reader Holiday
Join Estonian Nature Tours, Speyside Wildlife and Bird Watching magazine on an eight-day fully-inclusive holiday amid unique, untouched nature with winding rivers, vast floodplains, mires, bogs and primeval forests. Read more...
The page from Bird Watching magazine March 2013 issue
ESTONIA – A Northern Adventure. Luke Massey is wowed by bears, eagles and migration spectacles in one of eastern Europe ´s best birding locations. An article about this amazing week in Estonia was published in Bird Watching magazine March issue.
To read the full article click here...
Luke Massey Gallery – Estonia in Autumn 2012...
ENT & Sustainable Tourism
British newspaper suggests Estonia as excellent wildlife holiday destination
Last Friday, one of the most influential daily papers in Great Britain, The Guardian, suggested birding and mammal watching holidays with Estonian Nature Tours as one of the best holiday options for 2013. In the article “20 of the best bargain holidays in Europe for 2013” journalists throw out 20 bargain alternatives for those who get bored hanging around at the beach on their vacation. The quality newspaper describes Estonia as a country with some of the best preserved wildlife and nature of Europe.
The Guardian is the 3rd most popular newspaper in Great Britain (average daily circulation of 210 000, followers in FB 465 000) while the online version is the 2nd most popular.
The Guardian about Estonia: Birds and beasts
One of Europe´s great unsung hotspots for wildlife, the Estonian countryside boasts Pygmy Owl, Black Stork and the wonderful Steller´s Eider. If birdwatching is not your thing, mix and match some Brown Bear or Raccoon Dog tracking, an Elk and Wild Boar safari, a Beaver boat trip and, brilliantly, an expedition to watch Flying Squirrels.
• Three-day birdwatching tours from €395, including two nights' DB&B, guide and transport; one- and two-day animal watching trips from €55 with Estonian Nature Tours (+372 477 8214, naturetours.ee). EasyJet and Ryanair fly to Tallinn from various UK airports Read more...
Estonia is selected one of the 30 world's most dramatic locations for bird migration The book, 'Migration Hotspots' by British author Tim Harris, takes a look at 30 of the world's most dramatic locations for bird migration. The book covers each of the world's major avian flyways and features stunning photography throughout. The geographical reasons for the importance of each hotspot are explained, with a summary of the different birds that pass through and the best times of the year to see them. There is also an introductory chapter that summarises bird migration strategies. In Estonia special attention is focused to Matsalu National Park, but a brief overview is also given about other important key areas, such as Sõrve, Kabli, Põõsaspea and Mehikoorma.
The book will be published by RSPB in August and will first be available at the British Birdfair 2013 at Rutland Water. It will be available from bookshops and online from Bloomsbury. Estonian texts are compiled with the assistance of Tarvo Valker and Marika Mann, illustrative photographs were purchased by Estonian Nature Tours.
Tim Harris about Estonia:
Estonia has been chosen to appear among the elite of migration locations for its amazing spring and autumn passage of birds, involving millions of wildfowl and waders flying along the coast between the Baltic Sea and breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra.
And also for the almost unbelievable scale of the songbird movement through the country each autumn. Of course the wetlands around the Estonian coast are also among the final spring destinations for many ducks, herons and warblers.
That same coast is superb in winter for its congregations of wildfowl, including Steller's Eider, now considered a vulnerable species by BirdLife International. Estonia is a crucial country for birds and should be on every birder's itinerary.
Other places highlighted include raptor 'bottlenecks' at places such as Veracruz in Mexico and the Strait of Messina in Italy to places like Beidaihe in China and Point Pelee in Canada, where spectacular arrivals of songbirds take place.
Estonian Nature Tours makes its entry to Italian market
EBN Italia – one of the leading birders’ associations in Italy – advertizes right on the homepage of their site Estonian Nature Tours’s birding tour to Estonia.
EBN Italia has started a new section dedicated to bird trips abroad - trips for birders who want to travel across Europe to see target species and to enjoy new landscapes. The idea is targeted to members of the birders’ organization, while the decisive points of the travel agents’ choice are high standards of competence and the best Quality/Cost ratio. The very first choice of destination was Estonia. The tour will take place in early June and the guide will be Tarvo Valker. Interest in the tour was very high with the tour filled in just two weeks!
EBN Italia about Estonia:
Estonia is the European country with one of the lowest people densities in a still intact territory, featuring European taiga forest. Target species of our trip include Blyth's Reed Warbler, Great Snipe, Ural Owl, River Warbler, Citrine Wagtail, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Greenish Warbler, White-backed Woodpecker, Scarlet Rosefinch, Thrush Nightingale, Hazel Grouse and Capercaille.
The latest copy of 'Quaderni di Birdwatching' – the best known magazine dedicated to the topic of birdwatching in Italy – published an article about Estonian birds and mammals (text: Tarvo Valker, Marika Mann). 'Quaderni di Birdwatching' is a magazine of EBN Italia. EBN Italia is a leader association for birding in Italy. You can view the article here...
Stop thinking about it – come to ESTONIA!