Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Estonia...the return. June 2018 Part 1

Seems like only a short time ago pal Mike and I  were on our first visit to Estonia and here we were on our way back just over a month later, this time as guests of our tour operator, Natourest.
Fly out at the crack of dawn on Monday, return at the crack of dawn Friday, 3 nights in a bear hide, one in a hotel. Just the job and not asking too much of our wives  as we'd been away on the Isle of May for a week in the interim.
Met at the airport by our host, off we went with his car having exchanged a few words about our previous trip. We weren't the only ones who hadn't been totally happy with what had gone on it seemed and as a result they have decided to scrap the self guided bird hide photography trips. Probably a wise decision if it resulted in a repeat of our experience and better they concentrate on guided birding groups were they don't have problems.
Anyway, we felt vindicated in as much as it wasn't just us that felt unhappy but that was in the past. Today was a new start. 
It was agreed we didn't need anyone to show us the way through the woods to the bear hide, well not to the "old" one, they have two sites now. The hide was unlocked, we just had to grab some drinking water on the way. No problem with food this time, we'd brought our own to cover the first night.
We'd been given a map and I'd brought my SatNav as well. No offer of a tablet this time, maybe they have decided they don't work as they should either but we didn't need one anyway.
Having landed in Tallin at around 1.20pm we were sat in the hide by 5.30 and amazingly by 5.45 I think, we had our first visit, a Racoon Dog which was quickly joined by several more. 

Racoon Dog
Here we were again, familiar territory and one we'd already spent two nights in on our last visit.
How would things compare?
Well, the most obvious thing was that the grass had grown considerably longer, views were likely to be more obscured.
In fact sometimes you couldn't even see the subject!
but the sense of excitement when the first bear makes an appearance hasn't diminished!
Brown Bear
as it entered the clearing in front of the hide it's true size becomes more apparent.
Brown Bear
They are big!
Brown Bear
and so impressive.This shot was taken when it paid a visit  about 10 metres in front of the hide.
Brown Bear
We had lots of activity for the first couple of hours but as the light faded we decided to call it a day, we'd been up since 2.00am, so we climbed in to our bunks and had an early night blissfully unaware of whatever activity was happening just outside our safety zone!

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