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Estonian Nature Tours local guides

On the right is a list of local tour leaders that accompany you on your tour. All our leaders are expert naturalists. They will be able to show you, and help you to identify, many of the birds, plants and mammals that occur in the region that you are visiting. Please note however, that whilst we assign leaders to particular tours well in advance, we reserve the right to make changes if necessary.

Kaarel Võhandu
Kaarel Võhandu As a kid I wanted to be an explorer and naturalist as many great adventurers in the books I read. In real life, influenced by the start of capitalism in Estonia, I went to study business administration. After earning my degree and working for a few years, the nature loving kid in me started to stir again. I quit my job and went backpacking in Australia for 6 months. When I came back I got a job as a manager for a LIFE coastal meadows restoration project. Doing fieldwork with ornithologists is where I picked up birdwatching six years ago. At first it was just an occasional activity. As my interest in birds grew stronger I started to spend more and more time behind binoculars. I joined the Estonian twitchers club two years ago. Birding with the best and trying to see as many species as possible, during these last years, have taught me a lot about when and where to find birds in Estonia.

As my knowledge of birds grew, I picked up some survey work with Estonian Ornithological Society and started guiding for Estonian Nature Tours. I enjoy both surveying and guiding and do it as much as possible during our short birding season.

Peeter Vissak
Peeter Vissak
Although I used to be a keen bird-lover in my boyhood, my studies at university were in botany and relationships between plants.  For some years I dedicated my life to Matsalu National Park, mapping and monitoring the vegetation and analysing multivariate data with early mainframe computers.

I then became the manager of the Puhtu-Laelatu Reserve and simultaneously ran a small NGO for environmental education. These days were full of paperwork and regulation-writing. After jumping off the state conservation system 'train' I landed in the fertile soil of tour guiding. I immediately started to fill the gap in my practical everyday nature observations and dust down my species spotting skills. I also rediscovered photography, not as a mere registering tool, but as a tool for fine art as well. During the last decade I have been growing little by little as a tour guide and a photographer.

In the meantime I have translated some books, edited several monthly newspapers and participated in EIA teams.
These days, excercising my latent knowledge, I feel lucky to have studied at Alma Mater Tartuensis which educated its students as comprehensively as possible.

I love to walk out in the wild and show people my favourite places. Usually they like it and sometimes even admit they enjoyed my particular sense of humour!  I look forward for meeting new acquaintances and having a great time watching wildlife together.

Uku Paal

I started birding at the age of 11 and I've been interested in wildlife ever since. I have covered different fields of ornithology such as ringing, field surveys, migration studies etc. I've been a member of the Estonian Bird-rarities Committee since 2002 and rare birds and bird identification play an important role in my birding. I’m also one of the founders of the Estonian Birding Club – EstBirding.  My photography is mainly a birding by-product, my bird photos have appeared in Birding World, Birdwatch, Alula, Limicola and other birding magazines.

I have travelled extensively in the Western Palearctic, Asia, Australia and USA, but birding in Estonia remains always my main priority and my everlasting search for rare birds has produced four “firsts” for Estonia. Lately, I have become interested in dragonflies as well.

I get along with different people very well as my medical training requires good inter-personal skills. I’m fluent in English and Finnish.

Mikko Virta
Mikko Virta 
I am originally from Finland, but I have lived in Estonia for the past eight years. I have been birdwatching for more than twenty-five years. My interest began in the Oulu area of Finland at the beginning of the 1980’s, when I was ringing Golden Eagles with my father. I like to watch birds (rare birds, forest and bog birds), migration, etc.

When I moved to Estonia, I worked my first three years with the Estonian Nature Tours company, as a travel consultant. I helped also to develop new ideas for both product development and marketing. Currently, I work as a journalist at the magazine's Baltic Guide. For the past two years I have guided birdwatching and natural history tours for foreign groups that have come from Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain.

Uudo Timm

I graduated as a zoologist-ecologist from the University of Tartu. My scientific speciality is the ecology of mammals, mostly small mammals. After graduating I worked at Tallinn Zoo for several years, studying the mammals there and also in Nature. For the past 20 years I have been working in nature conservation. Beyond my main occupation I have had a particular interest in Flying Squirrels for the last 25 years and have been monitoring their distribution, researching their ecology and organising their protection in Estonia.

I spend all my spare time enjoying nature and I am interested in all aspects of wildlife and in how the various different species interact. I like to follow and understand the processes involved in these complex interactions. My principal aim in life is to teach children and adults to notice nature and make them care more about the environment.

Margus Pensa

I became interested in animals and plants as a small boy after reading Gerald Durrell’s ‘My family and other animals’ and other similar books and decided to become a nature explorer - and now here I am - my everyday work related to protection and restoration of boreal ecosystems! Because of my work, I spend a lot of time in forests and bogs where I do fieldworks. My indoor activities include lectures in ecology and environmental protection.

Birding has been my hobby since the late 1980s. As the member of the Estonian Ornithological Society, I have participated in atlas fieldwork, transect counting and educational projects. I think that birdwatching is the kind of hobby that makes the world a better place.
Uku Paal
Mikko Virta
Peeter Vissak
Uudo Timm
Margus Pensa
Kaarel Vohandu