Eurasian Lynx, Estonia Nov 2022 by Martin Piispea

Tour Dates: Tuesday 19th –  Sunday 24th November  (Tallinn to Tallinn)
Tour Price: £1,650pp plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Tallin approx. £300 return
Deposit: £400 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £100
Minimum Number: 4 people
Maximum Group Size: 4 people

Target Species Mammals: Eurasian Lynx, Elk/Moose, Racoon Dog, Red Fox, Wild Boar, Mountain Hare, European Brown Hare, Pine Marten, Roe Deer and Grey Seal.

Tour Summary
This tour has a strict focus on trying to see one of Europe’s hardest to see mammals, the Eurasian Lynx. Our local guide is one of the most experienced Estonian guides when it comes for looking for Lynx and he has seen animals on numerous occasions. Much of this is due to his own passion and interest as well as many long hours in the field, speaking with local people and monitoring trail cameras in order to understand more about the habits of these highly elusive animals.
Of course, it still remains a notoriously difficult animal to see and there are no guarantees we will be successful, but with perseverance, regular night drives in known territories and essential local knowledge, we have a great chance. During the months of October/November and February/March our local guide has recorded a spike in activity on his various trail cameras. There is also quite likely to be snow on the ground making tracking easier. We will spend every morning and evening and much of the night focusing our time driving and spotlighting within known Lynx territories. Estonia is still believed to have one of the highest densities of Eurasian Lynx in Europe. Estimates in 2012 were estimated to be around 700 – 800 animals, but since the harsh winter of 2012/13, the primary Lynx prey has crashed and numbers of Lynx dipped. As a result of this, hunting has been banned in Estonia for at least the last 8 years and the Lynx population is still thought to be stable at around at least 500 individuals and sightings of  family groups seem to be slowly increasing.

We have been successful with all three of our November 2022/2023 tours and our Feb 2024 tour with some excellent sightings of  Lynx.
Below is a Thermal video from one of those tours. Previous Trip Reports
Video by Martin Piispea

ACCOMMODATION: 5 nights in Estonia 5 nights in a wonderful Guesthouse very close to Lynx habitat
Meals: Full board

We recommend arriving a day early with an overnight stay at Estonia airport hotel, so the first day can start in the morning.
DAY 1: Arrival Tallinn – Lahemaa National Park
After arriving at Tallinn airport, we will drive east towards Lahemaa National Park. Here, we will meet our local guide and tracker who will give us some background on the areas that we will visit and the Lynx monitoring he has been doing over the last few years. We will spend early evening and much of the night spotlighting in areas that Eurasian Lynx are known to frequent. Overnight near Lahemaa NP

Ural Owl in Estonia by Tarvo Valker

DAYS 2 – 5: Lahemaa National Park
During the next four days we have no fixed schedule other than our primary focus will be searching for Eurasian Lynx! We will drive forest tracks and quiet roads in areas where our local guides have seen animals previously. We will make decisions as to the areas that we target dependent on the latest information received from our trail cameras as well as our excellent local guides knowledge of the area. We will focus effort on pre-dawn, late afternoon and dusk, as well as during the night. As a result we will take time for some rest during the day. When mammal activity is low there will be opportunities to explore some nearby forest and coast for some optional birding. Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker and White-backed Woodpecker can be found in the grounds of our accommodation and in the forest we may find species such as Three-toed Woodpecker, Nutcracker, and Hazel Grouse. The coast can also reveal exciting birding at this time of year with White-tailed Eagles and numerous wildfowl such as Whooper Swans, Goldeneye, Long-tailed Ducks and Velvet Scoter. After a dinner, we will set off for our evening spotlighting sessions into the early hours, searching for mammals. At this time of year, aside from Lynx, tracks of Bears can sometimes be found if the weather is a little warmer than usual. During spotlighting sessions we often find Ural Owl and Eurasian Pygmy Owl too. Overnight near Lahemaa NP
Eurasian Elk, Estonia by Chris Townend

DAY 6: Lahemaa NP – Tallinn
After a final early morning spotlighting session to maximise our chances of finding Lynx, we will then return to our guesthouse and do some final birding around the gardens before heading to Tallin. We will slowly drive the quiet roads en route to Tallinn and make a couple of birding stops for commoner species such as Great Grey Shrike and Black Grouse. Once in Tallin, we will have lunch overlooking the old city where there is an excellent chance of seeing one of the 20 pairs of Goshawk that breed in and around the city, taking advantage of the local feral pigeon population! We then take the short journey to the airport where the tour concludes.

Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides

Leaders: Tarvo Valker & local Guide
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, entrance fees, ground transport and services of leaders
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: £100
Transport: Minivan or Minibus dependent on group size
Difficulty: Easy, though be prepared for snow and ice Walking is easy going with short leisurely walks on open trails. Though snow and ice are likely to make walking more difficult.
Climate: Very cold with sub zero temperatures expected.
Tour Start Point: Tallin airport, Estonia
Tour End Point: Tallin airport, Estonia
Suggested Airlines: Easyjet or Finnair via Helsinki

Lynx habitat in Estonia by Chris Townend