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Bird watching campaign calls for spotting 100 bird species in 2024

Limosa lapponica.
Limosa lapponica. Source: Nils-Edvard Tennmann

The campaign "Spot 100 bird species – 2024" initiated by ecologist Tarvo Valker encourages people to appreciate the diversity of Estonia's bird species.

Tarvo Valker, an ecologist from Haapsalu who has been birding in the region for 30 years and is now active in nature education, has called for a campaign to spot 100 bird species in one year.

Valker, who runs a small wildlife tour company and is involved in nature conservation, said that he got the idea for the campaign from Finland, where such an event has been organized for several years. The aim is to encourage people to notice the birds around them.

He said that spotting 100 species of birds seems like just the right number. "If you are new to birding or have no experience at all, 100 is just the right challenge, not too easy, but not insurmountable," Valker said.

"It's not a sprint, it's a year-round enjoyment of birding or bird watching. Everyone can do it at their own pace, and anyone who thinks 100, for example, is a small number can set a goal of observing 200 species of birds," he proposed.

During the winter months, species diversity is low, but it is possible to see a good selection of sea ducks, white-tailed eagles and even Eurasian pygmy owls and the hugely impressive Ural owl.

Valker added that experienced birdwatchers can get as many as 100 species together as early as March, when the migratory birds begin to arrive.

In early spring, you can see wintering Steller's eiders, as well as breeding woodpeckers, owls and grouse.

"If you don't have a lot of birding experience, or don't get out that often, the second half of April and May is when more common migratory birds come back, and I think a lot of people will get their 100 species by then," he said.

During that time, seabird watchers can observe tens of thousands of common scoters and long-tailed ducks mixed with seaducks, divers and grebes, including the last flocks of Steller's eiders or an annual vagrant – the yellow-billed diver, while in meadows there are passing migrants such as red-backed shrikes, whinchats and wrynecks.

On peak days, up to half a million chaffinches, tens of thousands of siskins or unbroken chains of long-tailed ducks pass through the observation points in Western Estonia.

On the small island of Kihnu and in Matsalu National Park it is possible to observe the migration of seaducks, birds of prey and small passerines.

Join the Facebook group or read more about the possibilities on Birding Haapsalu website.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Kristina Kersa

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