Welcome to the second 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.
BOOK NOW! Recession versus Wildlife in Estonia
IN FOCUS! Steller´s Eider Watching.
NEW! Wild animal safaries
Expert advice for Spring 2009
Donation campaign for Pteromys volans (flying squirrel) .

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

Bird winter in Estonia.
Real winter came along on the 5th of January, when the temperature measured -21.2 °C – this year’s cold record in Estonia. Most of Estonia was covered with snow, in some places over 20 cm. Despite the degree of frost and snow, not all of the migratory birds have departed from our country. Unusual wintering birds include Bittern, Black Redstart, Redshank, Golden Plover, several Jack Snipes, Common Snipes and Dunlins.
Extremely interesting is the story about wintering White Storks which are overwintering in North-Estonia for the sixth year running. Among village people it is a very popular bird, receiving fish and sometimes minced meat from locals during cold weather. They have been filmed even by Finnish television. The first two winter months have been, according with expectations, modest and quiet in terms of bird rarities with the exception of a Ross’s Gull in Hiiumaa at the beginning of December. Assuming the Rarities Committee accepts this observation, it will be the fifth occurance of this species in Estonia. In December a Snowy Owl, one of our rare winter visitors, was observed in Eastern Estonia. The most exciting occurance for Estonian birdwatchers during this winter was the invasion of Pine Grosbeaks. These beautiful northern birds do not end up in Estonia in most winters and the last sizable invasion was 6 years ago. This year, dozens of Pine Grosbeaks have been encountered in various places all over Estonia, the biggest group consisting of 23 birds eating rowan tree berries.

Bearded Tit
Photo: Tarvo Valker

Numerous woodpecker invasions were also noted last autumn. Bird counts this January show woodpeckers continue in abundance and particlualry in West Estonia their numbers exceed 10-15 times normal counts with, on average, 30-40 birds per 10 km!

New record
Birdlife Finland nature protection specialist Margus Ellermaa,who has been our long-term partner as a birdguide, pulled off a birdwatching record in the beginning of this year. During his vacation in Estonia, Margus aimed to exceed the 100 bird species total in the shortest possible period of time. This is by no means an easy undertaking with such short hours of daylight in Northern Europe at this time of year. Starting early on 1st January, he reached his goal in less than 3 days! Already on the 3rd of January at 1:10pm, he found his 100th bird species - Three-toed woodpecker. Over five days Margus observed 115 different bird species – a very high standard for winter time birding in Northern Europe! Click here and see the birdlist...

The birding tour Estonia in Early Spring (Thu02Apr – Mon06Apr) led by Margus Ellermaa is still available.

Tawny Owl – the Bird of the year 2009
For the 15th year, Estonian Ornithological Society chose the bird of the year – in 2009 it is Tawny Owl. This breeding bird is spread all over Estonia. Its habitat is mostly manor parks with old trees and cemetaries, where tree cavities are used for nesting. The number of Tawny Owl is estimated as up to 3000 pairs.
With the help of the bird of the year project, they will try to determine the number and distribution of Tawny Owl in Estonia, install web camera for observing the nest life of this mysterious night bird, introduce this species to a wider public through several arcticles and launch a drawing competition for school children.
For the first time, the bird of the year has a separate web page.
Click here and see online web camera.

Tawny Owl
Photo:Tarvo Valker

Latest Bird News
Since the beginning of the year, Estonian Nature Tours has started to deliver fresh Estonian bird-news on our web page. Week-long summaries can be viewed when clicking NEWS! on the left menu and choosing Latest Bird News... from the right side.

BOOK NOW! Recession versus Wildlife in Estonia

Constant talks about recession have depressed all of us. The best therapy is undoubtedly untouched Estonian nature with its birds and animals. Unlike humans in Estonia and in Europe, denizens of the forest are doing better than ever.
The number of wolves is higher than ever compared to the last decades and also number of lynxes has increased. Exceptional numbers of rodents pledge for the good year of owls and the autumn invasion of woodpeckers means that all eight speacies are common at the moment and easy to find. It is also a good time to see Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse and Capericaillie which will also brighten our journeys. Despite the recession, Estonian Nature Tours wishes to offer its clients continually unforgettable experiences in Estonian nature, therefore we have decided to declare February as a discount month.
All of the 2009 trips booked directly through us during February and March have a 15% discount. Plan your dates, put together your group and book your dream tour already now! There is a 40% discount for group leader. For friendly, expert advice, excellent customer care and 'accommodation only' call +372 477 8214, +372 5349 6695 or contact us online.

Ask for a discount also from our agents.Discount does not apply to earlier booked trips and Tailor-made holidays.

Click here and read about Western Taiga Forests in Estonia...

Western Taiga Forest
Photo: Mati Kose
Ural Owl
Photo: Mati Kose
IN FOCUS! Steller´s Eider Watching

Globally threatened Steller`s Eider can be found in few European countries. Estonia is one of the most important wintering places for this lovely waterbird. Birds assemble on the coast of Saaremaa usually in December and stay right through until April.
500 Steller’s Eiders were counted on the last days of December at their primary wintering site, however numbers usually peak in January and February and 700-800 Steller’s Eiders were counted during this period last winter. Birds can still be found well into April.

Steller´s Eider
Photo: Jari Peltomäki

Estonian Nature Tours offers a totally new possibility to observe Steller`s Eider. If you wish to come to Estonia for a few days, then Steller`s Eider watching is meant just for you. We gladly book suitable rental car, cozy accommodation and offer a local bird guide in the person of a bird expert at your request. But if you stay for 4-5 days, Steller`s Eider watching can focus also on woodpeckers and owls. The best time to plan this kind of trip is in the middle and end of March. Plan your dates and contact us online.

NEW! Wild animals Safaris

During the period February-April, Estonian Nature Tours will be delighted to present you a totally new opportunity in Estonia from the year 2009 – the Wild animals Safaris for individual clients (2-4 pax), who have an interest in observing birds and other wild animals such as Wolf, Lynx, Brown Bear, Elk, Wild Boar, Roe Deer, European Beaver, Flying Squirrel etc. These animal populations are big and viable taking into account the smallness of Estonia.
The observation of the afore-mentioned species is done in cooperation with local hunters and nature protection specialists. It is not sensible to create new feeding places because we lack the large forests typical to North-Finland. Both the high number of wild animals and extra feeding which allures them to human settlements can create conflicts between humans and animals. We should make it clear that on our trips we most definately avoid places and/or periods, where hunting takes places at the same time. We are hoping that in a few years Estonia will have an observation network, where hunters have built special observation houses for nature photographers.
Observing such secretive animals is difficult and it can take at least 3 days in order to achieve the goal of the trip. Observations take place in the early mornings and late evenings, and require patience but the rewards are well worth it. Encounters with many animals (Elk, Roe Deer, European Beaver etc.) are possible when walking in their habitats and an alternative possibility is to observe wild animals from the observation towers that are established near their pathways. Mid-day hours can be used to observe the wild birds wintering in Estonia. Probabilities for an encounter with wildl animals is in case of Wolves 60%, Lynxes 30%, Brown Bear 40% and Flying Squirrel 80%. Roe Deers, Elks and Wild Boars have a 100% guarantee.
At the moment, it is the best time to plan your dates and let us know about your wishes. Contact us online as soon as possible!
Click here and see Nature videos...
Click here and read Client comments...

Photo: marco Apostoli
Photo: Remek Meel

Expert advice for Spring 2009

The best time for birdwatchers to visit Estonia is the period starting in the middle of March until the end of May. What might you expect to see at that time of year?
March at nights is still cold and sometimes even snowy. At that time woodpeckers and owls are at their peak of activity. You can find 8 species of woodpeckers in Estonia and there is a good chance you will encounter at least 6 of them.

White-backed Woodpecker
Photo: Margus Kriisa

There are lots of rodents here at the moment, which is confirmed by the number of wintering Great Grey Shrikes and Buzzards. This promises a very good nesting year for owls, and raptor experts put much value into this year, which will be the high peak of the owl cycle (3-5 years). Even now in many places Tawny Owls, Ural Owls and Tengmal`s Owls have started to call.
Traditional species such as Hazel Grouse and Black Grouse add excitement to an early spring trip in Estonia, and Capercaillie can be found quite often.
From the end of April till the beginning of June weather is already warming up. Mid-day air temperatures are generally over +10 degrees Celsius. Owls have their hands full of raising their young ones, which makes them harder to find but not impossible. On the other hand a remarkable number of species is noted at this time. Most of the migratory birds reach Estonia by May. The highlights of the spring bird trip are undoubtfully Citrine Wagtail, Penduline Tit, Great Snipe, Black Stork and Lesser Spotted Eagle. Also many woodpeckers species can be seen during May trips.
Birdlist. Estonia in Early Spring
Birdlist. Estonia in Spring
NEW! For individuals

Donation campaign for flying squirrel

Estonian Fund For Nature (ELF) has launched a donation campaign to raise money to buy necessary flying squirrel reasearch equipment. With the help of the donated money ELF will continue its research on this species particularly in forest near to areas where the speceis is already known. Right now there are 80 known sites for Flying Squirrels that have been found. In recent decades intensive woodcutting has decreased the number of old forests and particulalry old hollow aspen forests that are suitable for flying squirrels and research is needed to protect these rare animals. As flying squirrels are so secretive, their nesting trees and habitats can be damaged by woodcutter out of ignorance. Research helps foresters to avoid accidental killing of animals or damage of habitats as areas can be left out from woodcutting plans. Giving protective status to these areas will secure the right type of forest for flying squirrels.
Discovering what flying squirrels, which are nocturanal, are doing requires using various technical tools. It is necessary to obtain a fibre-optic endoscope in order to observe what is going on in the hollow nest of squirrels. Radio receivers and night watching instruments are needed to observe animals at night. Observing flying squirrels tagged with radio transmitters requires radio receivers and aerials that can be safely used. Field work is done by biology graduate students of Tartu University and naturalists coordinated by Uudo Timm. The flying squirrel is a bit smaller than the ordinary squirrel and unlike other squirrels is nocturnal. It has received its name from hairy folds of skin between its fore and hind legs which help it to make jumps up to 35 metres from one tree to another. The flying squirrel is the pride of Estonian forests – in Europe they can only be found in Estonia and Finland. Click here and read more...

Payment details:
Receiver Eestimaa Looduse Fond SA
Receiver address Riia 185a, Tartu 51014, Estonia
Receiver account / IBAN EE27 1700 0170 0007 6315
Receiver bank Nordea Bank Finland Plc Eesti filiaal
Bank address Hobujaama 4, Tallinn 15068, Estonia



BirdLife  Eesti maaturism  EHE  EAS  ELF

Estonian Air EasyJet Hertz

© Copyright 2008-2009 Estonian Nature Tours (ENT). All rights reserved.
This newsletter is supported by EU.