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The Lemmjogi/Raudna river forest

An old riverside forest with many of the woodland specialities. The trail starts near the Kuusekaara farmhouse on the Toramaa-Kildu road and is 4,6 km long. The parking place (58.4418N, 25.1109E), where the trail starts, is about 5.1 km from the beginning of the Kildu road, and is on the left after the bridge. First the path goes along the floodplain meadow bordering the river; then, always through a magnificent riverine forest, it reaches, after a straight section, the bank of the Lemmjogi river and from there the meeting point of Raudna and Lemmjogi rivers. From there the trail takes you back along the bank of the river (Beavers along this section).

14th June 2011  A Greenish Warbler was singing in the straight section of the track in the forest, a Blyth’s River Warbler near the car park and I flushed two Hazel Grouses on the way back. I flushed another, unseen, big grouse (guess Capercaillie from the wing noise) after the end of the straight section of the track in the wood. Several Corncrakes calling in the meadows along the river, some scattered River Warblers, whereas Marsh Warbler was more common. Based on the number of excavated holes into decayed trees I saw along the track I guess this must be a woodpecker-rich place, but June is not the best time to see them. Other birds seen nearby were a Lesser Spotted Eagle along the road between Jöesuu and Toramaa and a singing Red-breasted Flycatcher along the Toramaa-Kildu road, while Grasshopper Warblers, Icterine Warbler, Common Rosefinch and Yellowhammer were widespread. Other birders have seen Capercaillie along the Joesuu-Toramaa road after the Park HQ and Black Grouse along the Riisa bog trail before the Park HQ along the same road (Ernesto Occiato).

Sutlepa Meri

May 2013 First tower is in poor repair and barred off. You can squeeze through and there are actually better views of the lake than your book suggests. From the boardwalk, I saw Penduline Tit and Bearded Tit in the same field of view at close range. Lots of Savi's Warblers singing - more than anywhere else. There is another bird tower nearby at Tahu: the track to the bird tower is about 3 km south of the Sulepa Meri turn. follow the marked track and don't try and take a short cut. About 15,000 duck there on my visit. I had White-backed Woodpecker and Golden Oriole on the way down and the board 'advertises' Bewick's and Whooper Swans. (Giles Pepler)

Aug 2014 The first platform (2) no longer exists and the platform at (3) was closed for repairs  I set off looking for the second tower not realising that there was only one now and found myself well into the reedbed on Gorman's walk, where I met a Mink. The boardwalk is still usable with care. In August it was quiet excepting three young Estonian birding girls with scopes. They had seen 6 Great Egret and I saw a White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, warblers and 73 Cranes in a field towards Paslepa. (Ted Carre)


May 2013 Worth checking the smaller lake in the town for Slavonian Grebes: a pair affording excellent views. Site 2 was disappointing - It has been modified and is a mess. No suitable location for Citrine Wagtails - the only wagtails were White. (Giles Pepler)

Aug 2014 Another site near Haapsalu can be found as follows: 'Leaving Haapsalu on the Tallinn road take a left for Linnamae after about 9 km. After another 2 km there is a bus-stop 'Saunja' on the right. Just after that turn left to 'Silma Opikoda'. A small very picturesque road leads to a nature teaching centre, where the road ends. After about 3 km there is an info-board on the right showing the way to a nearby tower – the path begins on the left about a 100 m further on by the lay-by.  This wood has superb flora and is a great small bird spot. There are views into the lake meadows and the substantial tower is located on the lakeside (actually sea) with great views for water birds in Saunja Bay, looking over to Haapsalu. Returning to the road, it is worth driving to the end. At the bend just before the Opikoda carpark there is a track into the wood to the north of the road. The track leads to meadows with very likely views of Sea Eagle. Beware of going too far into the meadow as there is often a bull and cows there, but you can skirt around the edge to the bay and around to the Teaching Centre, where there is another small viewing platform.  (Ted Carre)

Tuhu Soo

Aug 2014 Tammi tee (Oak road) is a great way of getting to Tuhu Soo. Coming from the ferry at Virtsu you will see a street sign on your right saying Tammi tee just after the info. map point. It is an old railway track, now asphalted and leads to Dave's way in to Puhtulaid, which crosses it. It continues past the right turn for Puhtulaid, dead straight down an avenue of rowan and crosses the bay so that you have fantastic views in either direction. There is a pull-in by the bridge. A little further on, on the left, there is a birch wood. The grass is kept mown and this just has to be a great place for spring birds. After about 2 km take the tarmac road right and follow it past Pivarootsi to Paatsalu, turn left and go through Vatla. The next right is the Parnu road Dave used leading to Tuhu Soo, which is just after the very wide (former airstrip) section. This alternative route is about the same distance as the main road but scenically great and with the added attractions of Tammi tee. I watched a fox and a Sea Eagle hunting the fields. (Ted Carre)


12th May 2013 Disappointing, no grebes or ducks at all and only one Wryneck calling! (Giles Pepler)


14th May 2013 Lovely location, with some good photographers' hides which you can use to get close up views of ducks. (Giles Pepler)


15th May 2013 Superb. Had everything you described in the book. Walked the whole way there and back from the Little Gull pool. A wonderful site. (Giles Pepler)


August 2014 Puhtulaid is indeed a marvellous wood and coast. Don't be put off by the large No Entry notice on the main gate as I and others have been. The side gate is open. Driving back up the road, after about 200 yards there is a gateway on the left and a sign saying Puhtu-Laelatu Looduskaitseala. 5 minutes walk takes you to a large shallow pond which had 4 Great white Egret on it. Nearby some years before I saw a Great Grey Shrike here. Driving another few hundred yards there is a road to the right marked Vanaluubi. This is a small boat-launching site with ovens for cooking fish, a shelter with table, a WC and a NEW bird platform with great views over the otherwise unviewable bay. (Ted Carre)


14th May 2013 1 Golden Oriole 1 Penduline Tit 30+ Garganey 147 Little Gull 1 Black Tern 1 Caspian Tern 2 Red necked Grebe 1 White-tailed Eagle (Craig Fulcher) 

17th May 2013 Superb! Too late and too dry for many geese on the fields, but loads of warblers, including Grasshopper and the highlight was an early Blyth's Reed Warbler singing its heart out in the western end of the reed bed by the T junction. Nesting waders excellent: pair of Spotted Redshank and two pairs of nesting Black-tailed Godwits, plus the usual Redshank, Snipe and Lapwings. At least 12 Wood Sandpipers, but don't know if they were nesting. Marsh Harriers everywhere, plus a Lesser Spotted Eagle which flew off over the sea. (Giles Pepler)  

Pikla pools

17th May 2013 The far tower is inaccessible: lots of electric fences and belligerent cattle. I didn't try! (Giles Pepler)  


14th June 2012 Site 2, the bird tower has been destroyed. But Still some good birds, Black stork, Caspian terns and white tailed eagles.  Site 1 - no access to tower during the breeding season, Citrine wagtail here and barred warbler (Mark Hows) 

16th May 2013 Tower 2 is no longer there and there were very few birds on the track. Tower 1 is difficult to get to (very boggy and you have to duck under an electric fence) but was well worth the walk - up to 50 'yellow' wagtails in the grass around it, of which at least 10 were Citrine and also several thunbergi . Fantastic views of a White-tailed Eagle sailing about 20 metres above the field station building.  (Giles Pepler) 


12th May 2013 Site 5  A pair of Black Woodpecker nesting in the stand of Aspens in the clearing.  Site 6  6 Nutcracker seen driving these tracks. Also 2 Hazel Hens halfway along Sooba Tee. The woods and clearings were full of Wood Warblers, all 3 Flycatchers, Red-backed Shrikes, Wryneck etc. (Craig Fulcher)


May 2011 Three-toed Woodpecker within arms reach and young Greater Spotted Eagle sheltering from the rain by the roadside (Ian Moore)

June 2012 Not much, at Nigula bog cuckoo and hobby, but plenty of dragonflies and butterflies. Spotted flycatchers using nest boxes at the Reserve HQ (Mark Hows)

May 2013 Be warned the boardwalk straight on from the 1st tower is impassible now making a complete circuit impossible. The boardwalk to the left is just about passable but is extremely treacherous in places - expect wet feet !  The wood at site 8 was absolutely full of Flycatchers. Mainly Red-breasted but also many Pied and Spotted. Also many Wood Warblers and 6+ Icterine Warblers. No sign of any White-backed Woodpecker just 3 Great Spot. However in small area of wood by Car park found a pair of White-backed Woodpecker nesting to right of path as you walk from car park to the lake.  Several Corncrake along the road to Nigula Bog (Craig Fulcher)

16th May 2013 Site 7 (Magic corner) was marvellous. Had a Black Stork on the road on the way down, which surprised the local field worker, as they haven't bred successfully for 3 years and he hadn't seen one since 2011. He was mapping Red-breasted Flycatcher territories and there are 16 this year in one of your 'rectangles' alone! He also pointed me towards Three-toed Woodpecker (didn't see or hear) and Grey-headed Woodpecker (seen and heard), plus saw Hazel Grouse in a different place from you. Wood Warblers unbelievably numerous and lots of Pied Flycatchers too. Site 8 was disappointing. You are warned that the boardwalk is in poor repair beyond the first tower and it is: I got very wet indeed, even wearing high walking boots. In the wood on the far side, there are a lot of fallen trees over the boardwalk, some of which are extremely difficult to climb over. There are breeding Redwing at the entrance to the site and I had a distant eagle, probably Lesser Spotted (Giles Pepler).

Sangla pools

May 2011 The pools were much drier this year so not as good for waders but there were still areas wet enough to have Spotted Crakes (John McLoughlin, Bird Holidays)

May 2013 I think these have been drained. There's a new pumping station and the area was quite dry, in contrast to other locations. Nothing of interest there.


9th May 2012 A Terek Sandpiper was found on one of the pools at site 2 (Gerry and Maureen Bilbao)

15th June 2012 Osprey, Red Necked Grebe, Penduline tits, several Goldeneye broods.  Revisited on 18/6 had more Penduline tits (Mark Hows)

18th May 2013 The path (3) was flooded and impassable. Not much on the 'sewage tanks', but at least 4 pairs of Red-necked Grebes with excellent views and very noisy plus Marsh Sandpiper, Corncrake and Spotted Crake. Close-up highlights were Penduline Tit (though they've chopped down your trees next to the path) and fantastic views of a Thrush Nightingale singing at about 5 metres range, completely unconcerned and on top of a pile of brushwood. Greenish Warbler singing and seen near the bird tower. (Giles Pepler)

Karevere/Alem Pedja

May 2011 Great White Egret at the Great Snipe lek (Ian Moore)

14th June 2012 Several Great Snipe still lekking also a couple of roe deer and Brown bear as we were driving away (Mark Hows)

18th June 2012 Ural Owl on the approach road to Alam Peja, several mountain hares (Mark Hows)

May 2013 Site 3  At Lekking site 6+ Great Snipe on the 10th and 3 on the 11th. The birds were Lekking much closer to the road as the river was flooding the marshes.  Osprey also there on the 10th.  Site 4  From the Tower in the forest we had - 1 Lesser-spotted Eagle 1 Honey Buzzard 2 White-tailed Eagles  A Capercaillie heard Lekking about 1.5km along access track.  This track has been remade and covered in large amounts of extremely noisy gravel.   Site 5  About 1km towards Tallinn arable and meadows beyond extensively flooded. On the 10th there were 1200+ Ruff, 150+ Wood Sand on the arable field alone ! Incredible sight !  On the 11th down to 250+ Ruff and 50+ Wood Sand but also 3 Temminck's Stint. The meadows beyond also had 6 Garganey, 7 Spotted Redshank and 1 Montagu's Harrier.  Site 6  This site was dry this year and very little about. Appears many drainage ditches have been dug ? (Craig Fulcher)

18th May 2013 At site 3 saw at least 8 Great Snipe, plus several White-winged Black Terns and there was another singing Blyth's Reed Warbler between the track and the river in a narrow patch of reeds.(Giles Pepler)

6th June 2013 Site 3: 5+ Great Snipe at lekking site.Lekking site far away from road, nearer to the river. You can take the left fork of the road, driving to where the wood begins and park there. There is a track along a small ditch that runs to the river. We had reasonable views from there without disturbing the birds. Other species: Corncrake, Sedge Warbler, Scarlet Rosefinch, Snipe (Jens Horstmann)


18th June 2012 From the Bird tower (site 3) Citrine wagtail, also moorhen which is quite rare apparently. Slavonian grebe, black tern. Site 2 - Grey headed wagtails Site 1 - White tailed eagle, also at night along one of the tracks several singing spotted crakes and a couple of little crakes. Some locals also had Marsh sandpiper here before we arrived. (Mark Hows)

11th May 2013 Amazing place ! Full of birds!  Site 3:  1 Short-eared Owl 1 Montagu's Harrier 2 White-tailed Eagle 2 Citrine Wagtail 1 Bluethroat 100+ Black Tern 4 White-winged Black Tern 20 Little Gull 13 Scaup 4 Red-necked Grebe  Site 4  1 Citrine Wagtail 20,000+ Geese. Mainly White-fronted but also Bean and Barnacle.(Craig Fulcher)

Rapina polders

May 2015  This area was completely dry (Shaun Robson)

May 2011 Lesser Spotted eagle mobbing White-tailed Eagle. Red Kite here too (Ian Moore)

19th June 2012 Track still difficult to access, a few breeding waders but little really, some nice butterflies the highlight. (Mark Hows)


19th June 2012 A great site, red breasted and pied flycatchers, wood warblers, crested tits, goosander on the river and a cracking ural owl seen a couple of times. (Mark Hows)

20th May 2013 Superb views of female Three-toed Woodpecker on the track down to the river. Nuthatches seen here seemed much greyer than in the UK. No sign of any Dippers, but Red-breasted Mergansers breeding on the river and a delightful Sand Martin colony in the cliff by one of the picnic sites. Lots of new well marked trails. Woods full of Siskins and Wood Warblers and several RBFlycatcher. (Giles Pepler)

Matsalu Bay and Pogari-Sas

August 2014 Penijoe and Kloostri towers were both out of service in spring 2014 but most likely they will be back in use, due to Matsalu's importance. Seemu Tower is of course indestructible. From the bridge there (May 17 2014) I saw a White-backed Woodpecker behind the fishing huts, and 2 Wryneck in the trees. The boardwalk that begins by the tower leads to a good viewing point for Elk and Deer, maybe Wild Pig, at dawn. Beavers are easily seen from the bridge at dusk. The shore at Keemu now forbids walking but the tower is intact. Matsalu is a bit precious. (Ted Carre)

Oct 2014 The tower by the river at Kloostri (Matsalu Southside) is back in use, but the cabin on top has gone. Very chilly there watching  thousands of Barnacle Geese early October. (Ted Carre)

New site: Valmaotsa

May 2015: Shaun Robson discovered a new wetland site as follows: On the 23rd May I climbed Hollywood Hill and no sooner had I got to the top then I saw some flooded fields just to the north west. It turns out that this site is referred to by the name of the nearby village – Valmaotsa.

Basically it consists of an area of flooded meadows and over the course of two visits on the 23rd and 24th I had the following maximum counts.

Terek Sand 1

Broad-billed Sand 11 (there were 31 reported there on 26th)

Marsh Sand 9

Red-necked Phalarope 2

There were 13 other species of wader, 2 White winged Terns, c150 Little Gull, Spotted and Corncrake. All in all an excellent site. To get there drive NW from Hollywood Hill for c300m to the first track on left (by obvious crash barrier). Follow this track for 200m to first junction and park. From here walk down the track with pools on both sides (see map here).

Pikla pools

May 2015 The tower hide at site 3 has been completely rebuilt (Paul Rendell)

Sangla pools

May 2015 Now completely dry and ploughed (Paul Rendell). I understand this has been the case for some years - looks like another great birding site has been lost (DG)


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