A sample of photos from Estonia on 13-21 May 2011
Photos by Niklas Holmström, arranged in chronological order

Itinerary: Compared to our visit in May 2010, when we travelled around a lot and checked different sites, we decided to focus on the two hot-spots Ristna and Virtsu only. As you probably understand our main purpose were to experience the magnificent and massive waterfowl migration known as "Arktikan". And yes, we were greatly rewarded with an unforgettable peak day of Common Scoters (83 835) and Long-tailed Ducks (29 594) passing Ristna on 16th May! Also all time high for Arctic Skua in spring: 51 at Ristna on 14th.
Participants: Jan Cronlund, Raul Vicente and Niklas Holmström, Sweden
Highlights: White-billed Diver (1), Great White Egret (1), Red-Crestred Pochard (4), Steller's Eider (7), Lesser Spotted Eagle (3), Greater Spotted Eagle (1), Red-footed Falcon (1), Peregrine (1), Caspian Gull (1), White-winged Black Tern (2), Grey Wagtail (1), Black Redstart, Great Reed Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Carrion Crow (1), Golden Oriole and Serin. In total we recorded 176 bird species (short trip list). Not to be forgotten: Beaver and Racoon Dog!
Counting results: Feel free to view or download the results here, compiled by Raul.

Three hardcore birders from Sweden on the ferry to Tallinn 12th May! Of course full of expectations and a true desire to experience the spectacular waterfowl migration named Arktikan. From left: Janne, Nicke and Ralle.
Janne and Ralle scanning the extensive wetland area from the great bird tower in Haapsalu on 13th. Here we saw good numbers of Ruffs, which don't happen often these days. Also many White-tailed Eagles, Gadwalls and others.
The huge wetland area at Haapsalu.
Scanning the sea from the ferry crossing between Rohuküla and Hiiumaa (Dagö). Thousands of Long-tailed Ducks were roosting at sea. Here we met a party of Estonian birders, and among them Uku Paal and Hannes Pehlak, which we met last year too, by coincidence.
Our luxurious house (Puumetsa) just five minutes away from the hot-spot Ristna. Of course it's important with a nice and spacious accommodation when counting migrating seabirds all day long:)
Our first evening in the luxory house at Puumetsa. We used the fire place in the evenings and had a cosy time.
Two professionals and two hardcore birders in shelter of the temporarily built wind shield at Cape Ristna. Could you tell them apart?
Lots of Estonian and Finnish birders at Cape Ristna in the morning of 14th. The reason to this was the annual meeting of the Estonian Birding Society throughout the weekend, to which we were invited to in the evening.
Brent Geese passing Cape Ristna.
A lovely flock of Barnacle Geese passing overhead at Cape Ristna.
Finnish birders and Brent Geese.
At the annual meeting of Estonian Birding Society on Saturday evening. We arrived perfectly to the slideshow about Trinidad Tobago by Hannes Pehlak. After that it was time for a Bird Quizz managed by Jände Nordblad: Team Sweden (we of course!) and Team Uku shared the first place! Then it was time for a delicious dinner followed by a slideshow of Uku Paal's recent trip to Morocco. Lots of photos that depicted potential splits;)
Two depressed birders at a bar in Lehtma as the morning at Ristna were totally ruined by dense fog!
Seawatching at Tahkuna, the northernmost tip of Hiiumaa. The monument "To children who perished in the Estonia shipwreck" were erected here, as Tahkuna is closest in Estonia to the place of the accident. Offshore thousands of thousands Long-tailed Ducks were roosting.
Ralle working hard as usual, while Janne take a coffee break.
The ship's sinking in the Baltic Sea on 28 September 1994 claimed 852 lives.
Barnacle Geese passing behind the Tahkuna lighthouse, which was built in Paris in 1874 and stands over 40 meters tall. This area was inhabited mostly by Swedes a few hundred years ago and one village still has the name "Rootsiküla" which means "Swedish Village" in Estonian.
Ralle scanning through the airspace inwards Hiiumaa for raptors, which may have a try to migrate north. In fact, when the clouds was decreasing, we recorded lot of raptors such as Honey Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzards, Buzzard, Hen Harrier, White-tailed Eagles, Kestrels, Hobbys, Sparrowhawks and one male Red-footed Falcon!
Female Black Redstart at Tahkuna.
The beautiful lighthouse in Ristna, which, like the one in Tahkuna, was built in Paris.
Small Pasque Flowers is very common at Ristna.
Raul at the shore of Ristna.
Hiiumaa's roads is perfect for bikers (if not totally under re-construction).
Ralle and Janne at Ristna on the unforgettable day of 16th, when 30 000 Long-tailed Ducks and 83 000 Common Scoters passing by!
" I swear, there was something in the sky, but fat much scoters..."
Long-tailed Ducks.
On the peak day 16th we stayed at cape Ristna to 21:30. Exhausted, but happy.
Common Scoters.
Kõpu lighthouse is one of the best known symbols and tourist sights on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, having been in continuous use since its completion in 1531. It resemble much of a church.
Barn Swallows and two Bank Martins at Kassari (Hiiumaa).
Our beautiful accommodation at Pivarootsi windmill close to Virtsu.
The ground floor of the five level high windmill.
The top level of the windmill with a good view of the surroundings...
View from the top of the windmill at Pivarootsi. In far background one could see the tip of Puhtu Laid. The wind turbines hardly visible to the right is where Virtsu is located.
The very happy and friendly owner, Peeter Pung, of the Pivarootsi Tuulik. A perfect place to stay when birding around Virtsu. Accommodation in all sizes and prices.
Our wooden cottage at Pivarootsi. A bedroom for everyone of us and it was the first time ever I have had a shower with an inbuilt music equipment!
Early morning at Virtsu on 18th.
The clouds seems to decreasing at Virtsu. One preferable thing with Virtsu is that you found shelter from most wind directions.
Raul and Janne in search for Lesser Spotted Eagle in the southwestern parts...
... just another White-tailed Eagle. But, on our sixth stop this day we found an adult Lesser Spotted Eagle, which was a tick for Ralle!
Fields covered with Dandelions is a common and beautiful sight in Estonia. Can't understand why all people in Sweden try so hard to erase it from their gardens.
Strange, but you just have to go across the Baltic Sea and you find nesting White Storks now and then along the roads and villages.
Another extremly common yellow flower in Estonia: Cowslip.
Three hardcore Swedes and a typical Finnish staijare at Virtsu.
Very rare and unmasking occasion when three hardcore birders take a coffee break at the same time. Very unprofessional;)
Evening at Virtsu lighthouse. Sometimes birdwatching offer nearly religious moments.
Last evening in Estonia. We had a try at Puhtu Laid, which is a tip just east of Virtsu, where Long-tailed Ducks, Common and Velvet Scoters seem to fly in over land the last couple of hours before dusk.
A nice little tower at Puhtu Laid. However, you don't need a tower when enjoying Arktikan, as the birds often pass straight over your head.
The main and most numerous bird species that pass Virtsu in spring. From left: Velver Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Common Scoter.
Ralle enjoying the beautiful site and the open sea, with a A. Le Coq in his hand.
The Arktikan start moving in on high altitudes. From left: Nicke, Ralle and Janne.
A nice flock of Common Scoters heading in over land at Puhtu Laid.
A very rare sight of Ralle, a real hardcore slogger! This didn't happen until the very last (and hot) morning at Virtsu! He's forgiven:)
On our last day, driving towards Matsalu, we spotted an adult Lesser Spotted Eagle from the car! Janne stood hard on the brakes and turned back on the main road. We soon found the bird in perfect light condition gliding slowly toward us for five minutes or more and finally passed over our heads! Just awesome!
Onboard the ferry. Janne sending messages while Nicke updates the Birding Estonia blog. What a great last day on our trip: two Lesser Spotted Eagles, Grey Wagtail, two beautiful White-winged Black Terns and a Racoon Dog in broad daylight!
All photos by Niklas Holmström