Tour Dates: Saturday 14th – Thursday 19th March 2020 (Tallin to Tallin)
Tour Price: £1,499pp plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Tallin approx. £150 return
Deposit: £400 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £50 – £100
Minimum Number: 4 people
Maximum Group Size: 4 people
Mammals: Eurasian Lynx, Eurasian Elk, Racoon Dog, Red Fox, Roe Deer, Wild Boar
This tour has a strict focus on trying to see one of Europe’s hardest mammals, the Eurasian Lynx. Our local guide is probably 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 plus a little luck, we have a great chance!
Early March is mating season for the Eurasian Lynx and animals are often vocal. 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 the highest density of Eurasian Lynx in Europe. Estimates in recent years have been been around 600 animals, although legal hunting still takes place in Estonia and it is difficult to get accurate data. However, recent bans on hunting have taken place to allow the population to increase again and numbers are believed to be stable.
Other mammals that we will be looking for during the tour are likely to include Eurasian Elk, Racoon Dog, Red Fox, Pine Marten, Wild Boar and of course Roe Deer.
ACCOMMODATION: 5 nights in Estonia
5 nights in a wonderful Guesthouse very close to Lynx habitat
Meals: Full board
DAY 1: Arrival Tallin – Lahemaa National Park
After arriving at Tallin 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 theLynx monitoring that he has been doing over the last few years. We will spend the early evening and much of the night spotlighting in areas that Eurasian Lynx are known to frequent. Overnight near Lahemaa NP
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 early emerging Bears can sometimes be found if the weather is a little warmer. During these spotlighting sessions it is not unusual to come across Ural Owl and Eurasian Pygmy Owl too. Overnight near Lahemaa NP
DAY 6: Lahemaa NP – Tallin
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 Tallin 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: Chris Townend & Tarvo Valker
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