Winter trip to Estonia

Estonia, a small country on the shores of the Eastern Baltic Sea, is increasingly popular among birdwatchers, who flock in ever increasing numbers to watch spectacular arctic migration in spring and autumn. But, winter, too, has its photo-worthy and memorable offerings.

The main attraction for winter birdwatching in Estonia is the spectacular Steller’s Eider. Most of this eider species winter in the Bering Sea, but a small number spend winter months in the Baltic, mainly at the NW coast of Saaremaa, the largest of the many islands that stud the Estonian coastline. Seeing these rare seaducks in flocks of hundreds will be our main target, but the open waters around Western Saaremaa are also teeming with scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and other waterfowl.

Old folks say that, come St. Matthew’s Day (February 24th), the backbone of the winter will be broken and the bears turnover in their dens. Ice on the sea breaks adrift in spring breezes only to freeze again on cold nights, and often the seabirds must move in search of suitable waters. Drifting ice floes can carry Grey and Ringed Seals and their pups, and, in winters with less ice, many Grey Seals travel to Innarahu, a small islet of Vilsandi National Park, to give birth. Long favorites of nature photographers in themselves, the pups bring an added attraction: White-tailed Eagles gather near them. It’s possible to see other species as well – most probably Elk, Wild Boar, European Red Deer, Roe Deer or Fox.

In early Spring, the Owls start to claim their territories. The Eagle Owls are often heard from across a narrow fjord where they breed, behind our hotel. We’ll also make a special trip to search for Pygmy, Ural and Tengmalms Owl. The White-tailed Eagles constantly patrol the Grey Seal nursery in Innarahu, which is one of the Eastern Baltic’s most important breeding grounds for the species. Catching a sight of Steller’s Eiders and Seals in Saaremaa island provides a pleasant short week or long week-end tour.

Best Time: Feb 20 – March 10 Group: 6-16 max

 

Day 1

Fly to Tallinn; transfer to Pilguse, Saaremaa After a nice dinner we’ll go in search of the Eagle Owl, which has claimed territory near the guesthouse.

 

Day 2

We’ll drive to the Undva promontory to see the Steller’s Eiders, then check the Harilaid peninsula for wintering seabirds and White-tailed Eagles. In the evening we’ll visit the forests of Viidumäe nature reserve in hopes of meeting some Tengmalm’s and Pygmy Owls.

 

Day 3

In the morning we’ll head for the Soeginina promontory, where the Grey Seals will have taken up their posts for the day. After lunch, we’ll make a trip around the Sõrve peninsula to view wintering seabirds, and, in the evening, we’ll head out again in search of owls.

 

Day 4

Drive to Tallinn and fly home

Kolmas ava

Price

Price includes bird guide services, 3 nights in Pilguse hotel www.pilguse.ee , local transport and 3 meals per day.

  • 2 people: 820 EUR per person
  • 3-4 people: 630 EUR per person
  • 5-6 people: 490 EUR per person
  • 7-8 people: 410 EUR per person
  • Bigger groups, consult us for a special offer.