Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Estonia May 2013 - Day 1

On 11th May 2013, I went to Estonia with Leeds RSPB group and Bird Holidays. We flew from Manchester Airport to Helsinki and then on to Tallinn the capital city of Estonia.

We stayed at the Baltic Hotel Promenaadi in Haapsalu alongside the sea and the birds and wildlife spotted from the rooms were excellent. In the bay, White-tailed Eagle (max. count 21), Goosander, Great-crested Grebe, Common Tern, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Tufted Duck were present. Along the shore, Hooded Crow, Northern Wheater, White Wagtail and Swallow were all collecting food.

In the skies, skeins of Barnacle Geese, Whooper Swan and Common Crane meant that landscape was continuously changing during our first evening watching the sunset over the bay.

Day 1 - 12th May 2013

In the quiet town of Haapsalu, Thrush Nightingales sang from several gardens and in the morning light the birds sat out in the open to welcome the start of a new day. Both Tree & House Sparrow were in abundance and Spotted Flycatchers were very visible too. Common garden species, such as Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Great Tit and Robin were present too. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat all joined in with the morning chorus. Haapsalu may have a quiet population, but the wildlife more than make up for a great start to our time in Estonia.

On Lake Viiki there was Slavonian Grebe, Gadwall, Pochard, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Great-crested Grebe. After breakfast, we went around the other side of the lake for our first sighting of a local sub-species of Yellow Wagtail which similar to Grey-headed Wagtail (motacilla flava thunbergi) feeding around the edge of the reedbed.

We left Haapsalu and travelled to Poosaspea, a peninsula which allows fantastic views of the seascape and the spectacular flocks of sea ducks and wildfowl. Hundreds of birds flew past us which included Long-tailed Duck, Black-throated Diver, Velvet Scoter, Common Scoter, Greater Scaup, Barnacle Goose, White-fronted Goose, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Whooper Swan and Common Eider. Two Bewick Swans were also present, presumably resting in the bay during migration. Wood Sandpiper also flew over calling. In the woodland, blue Hepatica flowers were lighting up the undergrowth.

We stopped for lunch at Rousta and were rewarded with excellent views of Crested Tit and Common Redstart in the trees around the holiday village.

In afternoon, we went to Hobringi, to look for woodland species including Nutcracker. As we walked through the woodland we saw Bullfinch (northern race), Tree Pipit and then in a clearing we watched four Nutcrackers come and perch in one tree!

At Vakriku, we saw Whinchat, Bluethroat, Red-backed Shrike, Thrush Nightingale, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Yellowhammer, Hooded Crow, Swallow, Swift, Cuckoo and Meadow Pipit.

Driving from the hotel and between sites, we spotted White-fronted Geese, Tundra Bean Geese, Barnacle Geese, Common Crane (350+), Whooper Swan, White Stork, Montagu's Harrier and Common Buzzard.

After Day 1 we had spotted 88 bird species.

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