New Years Eve Tallinn Estonia Winter Birding Guided Tour

New Years Eve Tallinn Estonia Winter Birding Guided Tour

If you are interested in the New Year,s Eve Tallinn Estonia Winter Birding Guided Tour, come and join us at Kaiyote Tours!

Tallinn, Estonia is a fortress city that dates back to the year 1219 and much of the city wall that is still standing dates back to the year 1346.  It is impressive to see and to walked the many cobblestone streets and passages within the city fortress.  There is so much history here, that it is highly recommended that you do some of your own reading before you arrive.  There have been many occupying and influencing forces over the years in Estonia.  The early empires of both Denmark and Sweden have left their mark.  Russia and the Soviet Union were occupying forces through most of the 20th century, including Germany during WWII.  Estonia regained it independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union and joined the European Union in 2004. 

Estonia is small, about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.  It is bordered by Russia, Latvia and the Baltic Sea.  Nearly 20% of Estonia is protected and preserved land; this includes five national parks, 167 nature reserves and 152 landscape conservation areas and because of this Estonia has a good diversity of flora and fauna, including marine life. 

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and has a population of about 450,000 people in the urban area, which is about one third the total population of Estonia.  The outer perimeter is lined with numerous artillery towers from the middle ages and in the heart of the city are rows and rows of beautiful historic buildings, which are now modern stores, hotels and restaurants.  There are many interesting museums and theaters in the old city as well.  The site of Toompea Castle, Toompea Hill, has been used as a strong hold since the 9th century.  Today, the castle is the home of the Estonian Parliament. 

The national bird is the Barn Swallow, which flies south to Africa for the winter. 

Printable Bird List 
(This is a checklist of birds that we have seen on this trip)

  • Travel Dates: December 30, 2020 - January 6, 2021 (and 2022)
  • Group Size:  4 travelers 
  • Trip Length: 8 days
  • Rates: Rate per person = $3,650 (based on double occupancy)
  • Rates include: Domestic transfers, lodging, breakfast, lunch, dinner, scheduled group tours, park entrance fees and basic travel insurance.
  • Not included: International airfare, customs & immigration fees and visas, alcohol, trip cancellation insurance.
  • Adventure level:  Easy, please check "Welcome" page for definition

Reservations during Covid-19:  Until we know we can definitely travel, we can "pencil" you in without a deposit. Deposit and/or balance required when travel restrictions are completely lifted and safe travel resumes.   

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Weather on New Year's Day:  Sunrise 9:18 am, Sunset 3:30 pm, 6 hours of sunlight. High temperatures during the day are often in the mid to high 30’s and low temperatures are high 20's - low 30's.

Some of the activities will depend on the weather:  The last few years the temperatures in Tallinn have been warm, which has been great for being outside, walking and birding.  If we get a cold and/or we have snowy days, there will be more indoor activities.

Basic itinerary

December 30:  Arrival in Tallinn
Flights from the States usually arrive in the late afternoon at the Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport (TLL).  You should schedule your flight for arrival at the airport on December 30th.   You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the historic downtown of Tallinn, where we will spend three nights. Activities for the day will depend on arrivals, but the rest of the day will be spent sightseeing and exploring the old city.  Tallinn has a great opera house and performing arts center and depending on the winter schedule, an evening event might be possible. 

December 31:  Tallinn
Just outside the city is a nature area called the Pirita, which is next to the Kloostrimetsa study area. The Tallinn Botanical Garden is located on the Pirita River Landscape Conservation area. The botanical garden has established two trails to study the plant and wildlife communities there. Besides these trails, the Pirita area has many miles of hiking trails through pine forest and along the Pirita River.  Even in the middle of the winter, it is a beautiful area.  The Nature Study Trail is 2.5 miles long and passes through 15 different landscapes and habitat types: dry forests, barn pine forests, valley of oak feet, mixed oak forest, marsh pond, coniferous pine forest, conifer, algae, etc. Birds we have seen at these locations and often with very great close up views:  Common Blackbird, Fieldfare, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Common Treecreeper, Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Goldfinch, Green Finch, Eurasian Siskin, Eurasian Jay, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Hooded Crow and Goosander.  In the late afternoon we will stop at the Kadriorg Art Museum and Gardens, which was once a residence for czar Peter the Great of Russia and his wife Catherine and built in 1710.  This day is also New Year’s Eve and as midnight approaches, we will find a good place to watch the fireworks from above the old town. 

January 1:  Tallinn
Northwest of the city is a peninsula called the Paljassaare and part of this area is protected for birds and habitat. There are great walking paths through the trees and along the shoreline and also several look-out platforms as well.  Birds we have seen:  Grey Heron, Hooded Crow, Rook, Common Raven, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Grey Shrike, Great Cormorant, Common Goldeneye, Long-tailed Ducks, Black Scoter, Goosander, Mute Swans, Mallards, Black-headed Gulls, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Magpie, Fieldfare, Common Blackbird and Eurasian tree Sparrow.   In the late afternoon we will stop at both the Lennusadam and Estonian Maritime Museums.  Both locations preserve artifacts, history and even full-size ships and both locations offer possibilities to see a few birds as well.

January 2:  Tallinn to Kuressaare, Saaremaa
New for 2021:  The Steller’s Eider winters in the Baltic Sea and along the Estonian coastal waters. Flocks of 100–300 birds have been regularly reported since 1975 and are most commonly seen in the northwestern part of the island of Saaremaa, just off the coast of western Estonia. From Tallinn it is a 2-hour drive to the ferry terminal at Virtsu and a 30-minutes ride across the water to the town of Kuivastu.  From Kuivastu it is a 1-hour drive to the city of Kuressaare, located on the island of Saaremaa, where will be spending 2-nights.  And of course, we will be birding all along the way on this journey.  We will be staying in the heart of the city, near the water.  The hotel in Kuressaare will have both indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas and all sorts of spa stuff. Kuressaare is a year-round destination for Estonians on holiday.

January 3:  Kuressaare, Saaremaa
New for 2021:  Most of the day will be spent traveling the island and looking for birds. Bird list for the day:  Whooper Swan, Steller’ Eider, Great Cormorant, Green-winged Teal, Tufted Duck, Gray Heron, Hooded Crow, Smew, Jackdaw, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Eurasian Wren, Common Chaffinch, Eurasian Siskin, Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, and Willow Tit. There is a lot of great history in this part of Estonia, not to be missed:  Kuressaare shows up on maps as early as the 1154.  It is the largest city on the island and the main harbor.  The medieval Kuressaare Castle was originally built with wood in the year 1260. The castle and ramparts that stand today date back to 1559 and there have been numerous “remodels” and additions over the past 500 years. Today the impressive castle and fortress house the Saaremaa Regional Museum and is a must see for everyone.

January 4:  Kuressaare to Tallinn
New for 2021:  In the morning there will be time for visiting the historic buildings and museums of Kuressaare and then we will travel back to Tallinn following the same route and arriving in Tallinn late in the afternoon.

January 5:  Tallinn
Back in Tallinn there will be many options for activities for the day.  Birding of course, if you choose to revisit some of the local nature spots for birds we might have missed and a visit to any of the many museums.  New for 2021:  If the weather is nice and the sea is calm, there will be an option to take the ferry to Helsinki, Finland. The trip is 2-hours each way and because of the limited day light and the winter ferry schedule, we would be on the boat when it is mostly dark, (it would be unlikely to view any sea birds from the boat, even in the daytime).

January 6:  Fly day
Flights usually leave in the morning and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home

Please note:  Details of this trip are a little vague as it is VERY flexible. Destinations throughout the trip are based on the desires, ability and goals of the group.