Estonia '22

Our annual spring trip to Estonia was taken a bit earlier this year, (taking advantage of Easter timing).

We headed off on Wednesday 13th enjoying the flocks of seaduck and quite a few Black Guillemot as we left Helsinki. Black Guillemot is the only auk here, and one I only took the time to see a couple of years back, so it was interesting to see double figures on this trip.

We arrived at our accommodation Wednesday afternoon, and immediately began exploring and scanning the sky from the patio. 



Luxury digs


Within minutes we had a rarity over our heads in the form of a cracking Red Kite. 





Red Kite - these are rare but increasing in Estonia. 

Other good birds included Rough-Legged Buzzard, Hen Harrier and our first Lesser-Spotted Eagle of the trip. 





Hen Harrier

The next morning we set off for Haapsalu, which was absolutely chock-a-block with wildfowl, including hundreds of Smew and Greater Scaup. 



Other good birds included several Great White Egrets, numerous Hawfinch, our first Slavonian Grebe of the year, Osprey, and our first Bewick's Swans of the trip.




We then moved down to Puise where we had our first waders of the Spring, before moving to Haeska in search of geese. 


Avocet - rare in Finland, always a treat to catch up with them in Estonia.


Sadly this trip produced no unusual geese, but still nice to see good numbers of commoner species, and of course, Bewick's in their hundreds. 



Bewick's Swan - the annual staging of this species at Matsalu Bay is always spectacular. 

Haeska failed to produce the usual Middle-spotted Woodpeckers, a scenario that became a theme for the entire trip, however it did produce an incredible experience with Nuthatch. 











Nuthatch

Rannajoe was particularly brilliant, with a stunning adult male Pallid Harrier pelting through the meadow soon after our arrival, and then several Lesser Spotted Eagle soaring around, including one obviously sporting a transmitter on it's back. 



Lesser Spotted Eagle

A Ring Ouzel the following day with a huge fall of thrushes was nice, on the fields beside the house, whilst Lesser Spotted and White-Backed Woodpecker were in the adjacent woodland. 



Lesser Spotted Woodpecker



White-Backed Woodpecker

The Easter break went much the same way each day, with runs to Matsalu and it's various sites, split between failed hunts for Middle-spotted Woodpeckers (terrible name by the way, the Finnish name of Oak Woodpecker (Tammitikka) is far superior), and raptor and wildfowl watching. The best of the rest was finding a Greater Spotted Eagle soaring over Võnnu whilst again hunting MS Woodpecker.



Tundra Bean Geese



Marsh Tit - Particularly abundant and vocal on this trip.







Common Toad - That eye! Sauron!



Common Toad - Lots of these on the move here this time of year. I like them.




"This city needs a hero..."

White Stork - I have quite a soft spot for these. Tame and beautiful migrants with a special connection to people. Seeing all the best platforms in people's gardens is quite touching.




White-Backed Woodpecker - strange to be kicking these out of the way this trip, but fantastic birds all the same. 

A decent trip with some 145 species clocked up over the few days. Until next year!


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