A short break of during the first week to Estonia exceeded all expectations.
The trip was actually as a mammal tour and so all activities were designed with that in mind, but we did plenty of birding during daylight hours, which happens to be about 22 hours a day at this time of year. Special birds of interest were White-backed, Three- toed at the nest and Black Woodpeckers. Great Snipe were seen lekking and as a bonus a Corncrake was seen in flight on three occasions at the same site. Two more of the latter were seen; one photographed on the road not more than two metres from the van. Many other great birds were seen which can be found in the trip report elsewhere.
The mammals were stunning. We started off with a boat ride for European Beavers which were duly seen, the beautiful Siberian Flying Squirrel, a very rare mammal indeed in Europe, some Raccoon dogs originally introduced from SE Asia by the Russians and best of all a night in the Bear hide rewarded us with three bears, a pair of which were seen in the late evening and again in the early morning when photography was just about possible. An incredible experience.
We were also treated to some bunches of Lady’s Slipper Orchids, and some beautiful Military Orchids on the coast on the last morning. We were a bit too early for orchids.
The guide, Tarvo, was excellent. He is knowledgeable, sociable and very friendly and worked extremely hard driving our very modern minibus for hours on end. He really put himself out to get the best out of our short week.
The specialist guides employed were excellent too and not only showed us the mammals but gave us much information about their place in the eco system and their life styles.
The accommodation was good too and the food was superb especially in the Matsu Guest House.
The country itself is stunning, unspoilt and very green with many unimproved meadows and as half the country is forest it was just great to drive around.
A fantastic one week’s break and I can certainly highly recommend the country, Estonian Nature Tours for their meticulous organisation, and we will be sure to return soon.
Thanks Marika and Tarvo for a great holiday. John van der Dol / UK, June 2012, Sandwich Bird Tours
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Brown Bear / Copyright: John van der Dol
Corncrake / Copyright: John van der Dol
Whitethroat / Copyright: John van der Dol
Copyright: John van der Dol
Chaffinch / Copyright: John van der Dol