"A Birdwatching trip to Western Estonia" Estonia by MikeBird

Estonia Travel Guide: 4,606 reviews and 11,897 photos

Starting out

I had booked with an Estonia based organisation that promised to show me some of the highlights of the bird migration; a regular feature of April and September in Estonia. During spring the birds are travelling north in search of their breeding grounds in northern Scandinavia and Russia. In autumn they make the return trek south towards the Mediterranean and further into Africa.

Estonia's western coastline offers some superb birding opportunities. The bays and extensive wetland reedbeds are reasonably accessible and the best have a number of viewing platforms from where one can get terrific views but be warned they are open to the elements so go well prepared. Binoculars are essential but you will have even more success if you have a tripod and telescope.

Cranes and Geese en masse

The birds we saw during our 3 night, 4 day visit during the third week of September were diverse and spectacular owing to the sheer numbers. It's wonderful to see large flocks of Common Cranes feeding in cornfields; their call carrying across the land. Barnacle Geese in long 'V' shaped skeins drift across the sky, their easier-on-the-ear call announcing their arrival before they effortlessly sink to the ground. These are just some of the more identifiable birds you will come across when travelling in the western coastal regions of Estonia.


We stayed at a converted Manor house which offers comfortable, warm accommodation of a fairly basic nature. ( see my review of Puhkekeskus Mois-Hotel). This was on the northern shore of Matsalu bay at a hamlet called Haeska. With a 10 minute walk you can reach the viewing platform on the edge of the water.

Be well prepared because there are few shops in the villages. There are local buses but your options will be so much greater if you have your own transport. There are car parks and often notice boards in Estonian and English providing information about the nature reserve, including maps.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fantastic birds on passage
  • Cons:Unpredictable weather
  • In a nutshell:Not for mountaineers but great for birders
  • Last visit to Estonia: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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“always choosing the forward facing seat”

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