Estonia - April 2017
On 20 April 2017, I took a plane to Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia for a short 5-day solo birding trip to the western part of Estonia. This part of Estonia is extraordinary, especially in and around Matsalu National Park and Sooma National Park.
Estonia – 20 - 24 April 2017
Thu 20-4: 17:20: Arrival Tallinn; drive to Haapsalu (100 km), birding Haapsalu Bay (Accom. in Haapsalu – Villa Marienholm)
Fri 21-4: Birding Haapsalu en Vonnu; Afternoon to Matsalu Bay (20 km) (Accom. in Haapsalu)
Sat 22-4: Matsalu Bay/Park; afternoon to Virtsu/Puhtulaid (10 km), Tuhu Soo (10 km), Parnu (45 km) (Accom. Parnu – Kate Sea Appartment)
Sun 23-4: Morning to Pikla Pools. Then to Sooma NP (55 min). Evening to Tallinn (140 km) (Accom. in Tallinn- Hotel Ülemiste)
Mon 24-4: 07:45: Flight to Amsterdam
Of course I had the Dave Gosney booklet with me detailing the hotspots in Estonia.
There is an observation tower but the views are quite distant. Near the water front is pretty good birding.
Nationaal Park Matsalu
Wetlands, bays and grass lands. There are quite a few observation towers in the national park. Visit the Haeska tower.
Matsalu Bay: just one note about Gosney’s map (page 11). The Haeska tower is much more on the right than what is depicted and there is no signpost (or at least, I did not see it) to Haeska along the road to Puise. Better way to reach the tower is to follow the main Haapsalu-Lihula road towards Lihula and after about 6 kms from the turn to Puise, Haeska is well signposted on the right.
To reach Virtsu, take the exit to Puhtulaid (58.563N / 23.549E).
Pärnu / Audru Meadows
Audru Meadows: A 10 minute drive from downtown Pärnu the Audru Meadows offer some pretty good birdwatching and are an easy place to see Beaver. To reach the meadows from Pärnu simply take road 60 towards Lihula. Shortly after leaving town turn left (south) on a small road signposted “Valgeranna 3”, and follow it for 3.2 kilometers to a strangely shaped intersection. Go straight ahead (as straight as possible, anyway) on the gravel road in this junction. This road will lead to the coast and follow it to the small village of Saulepa offering good views across the meadows as well as the sea.
Sooma Nationaal Park
Great national park! It has a visitor centre and I started off on the well-known Beaver Trail, a part path part boardwalk loop that goes through deep forest before travelling alongside a stream favoured by beavers. I didn't see any of course, but there was plenty of evidence of them with felled logs all over the place. It's a great birding trail.