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30 th year!

The Travelling Naturalist 2014

Celebrating our

The Travelling Naturalist

Wildlife Holidays

2014

THE TRAVELLING NATURALIST

5129

Cover illustration – Dorset Heath by Mike Langman. ŠThe Travelling Naturalist A churring Dartford Warbler looks on at an Emperor Moth and Sand Lizard in the low heather. Swooping by a Hobby searches for prey on the wing.

Corporate Member

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email: info@naturalist.co.uk web: www.naturalist.co.uk

30 t

30th Anniversary Edition

Tel: 01305 267994 Fax: 01305 265506 International Tel: +44 1305 267994 Fax: +44 1305 265506

An Ed niv iti er on sa r

y

PO BOX 3141 DORCHESTER DT1 2XD


Destinations 2014-15

The Travelling Naturalist Tour Calendar 2014-15

July 2014

WANT TO KNOW WHEN A TOUR IS RUNNING? – CHECK OUT OUR TOUR CALENDAR ON THE INSIDE BACK COVER PAGE INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-10 Responsible Tourism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN ARGENTINA - Cacti & Wildlife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 ARGENTINA - Patagonia & Iguazú . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 BOLIVIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 BRAZIL - Jaguars & Harpy Eagles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14-15 COSTA RICA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16-17 FALKLAND ISLANDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18-19 FALKLANDS - For Addicts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 FALKLANDS PHOTOGRAPHIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22-23 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - Turtles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA, USA & MEXICO USA - CALIFORNIA & YOSEMITE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 CANADA - Grand Manan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 CANADA - Great Plains & Rockies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 USA - ALASKA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 USA - HAWAII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 USA - MONTANA & YELLOWSTONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30-31 USA - UTAH & ARIZONA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA) & MADAGASCAR BOTSWANA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 GHANA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 KENYA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 MADAGASCAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36-37 NAMIBIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38-39 SOUTH AFRICA - Birds & Big Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 SOUTH AFRICA - Cape & Karoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 SOUTH AFRICA - Cape & Garden Route . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 SOUTH AFRICA - Drakensberg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 SOUTH AFRICA - Kruger & Zululand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 TANZANIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45

ASIA & INDIAN OCEAN CAMBODIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 INDIA - Northwest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 INDIA - Railways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 MALDIVES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 SRI LANKA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

AUSTRALASIA AUSTRALIA - Eastern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 AUSTRALIA - Western . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 NEW ZEALAND - Flowers & Wildlife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53

POLAR CRUISES SPITSBERGEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54-55

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST AUSTRIA in Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 AUSTRIA in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 BELARUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 BULGARIA in Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 BULGARIA in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 CYPRUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 ESTONIA - Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 FAROE ISLANDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 FRANCE - Camargue & Pyrenees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 FRANCE - Camargue in Winter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 FRANCE - Corsica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65

PAGE FRANCE - Dordogne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66 FRANCE - Dordogne Butterflies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67 FRANCE - Dordogne Dragonflies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 FRANCE - Dordogne in March . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 FRANCE - Dordogne Moths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 FRANCE - Pyrenees in Summer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71 FRANCE - Pyrenees Flowers Photography . . . . . . . . . . .72 FRANCE - Vercors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 FRANCE - Vercors Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 GERMANY - Bavarian Alps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75 GERMANY - Brandenberg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 GREEK ISLANDS - Lesvos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 HOLLAND - Wild Goose Chase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 HUNGARY in Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 HUNGARY in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 ICELAND - Orcas & Auroras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81 ICELAND - Principally Puffins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 ICELAND in Summer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 ICELAND - Volcanoes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84 ICELAND in Winter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85 ITALY - Sicily . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 LAPLAND - Birds & Auroras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87 LATVIA - Wild Harvest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88 SLOVENIA - Butterflies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89 MONTENEGRO & ALBANIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90 MOROCCO in Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91 MOROCCO in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92 PORTUGAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93 ROMANIA in Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 ROMANIA in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 SPAIN - Cranes & Wallcreepers in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . .95 SPAIN - Extremadura in Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 SPAIN - Extremadura in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 SPAIN - Andalucia in Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97 SPAIN - Spanish Lynx Quest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .98 SPAIN - Spanish Pyrenees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99 SWEDEN - Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100 SWEDEN - Autumn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101 SWITZERLAND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102 TURKEY - Southern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103 TURKEY - Bosporus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .104 UKRAINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105

BRITISH ISLES DORSET & NEW FOREST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .106 ISLES OF SCILLY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107 LEWIS AND HARRIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .108 ORKNEY - Wildlife & History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109 OUTER HEBRIDES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110 SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111

WILD AMBITIONS - Independent Wildlife Holidays ANTARCTICA PENINSULA - Falklands/South Georgia . .112 ANTARCTICA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113 ARGENTINA - Eastern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114 COSTA RICA - Turtles & Parrots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .115 GALAPAGOS & ECUADOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116-117 How to Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .118 Conditions of Booking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119 Tour Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120-121 Financial Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

FRANCE – Dordogne Dragonflies SPITSBERGEN FAROE ISLANDS SLOVENIA – Butterflies & Wildlife ICELAND – Puffins & Grimsey ext. OUTER HEBRIDES

Sat 5 – Sat 12 Jul 68 Wed 9 – Sat 19 Jul 54-55 Mon 14 – Mon 21 Jul 62 Tue 15 – Tue 22 July 89 Thu 24 – Thu 31 Jul (ext to 3 Aug) 82 Sun 27 Jul – Sat 2 Aug 110

CANADA – Grand Manan AUSTRIA in Autumn FRANCE – Camargue & Pyrenees

Mon 18 – Wed 27 Aug Sat 30 Aug – Sat 6 Sep Sat 30 Aug – Sat 6 Sep

26 56 63

SWEDEN in Autumn Thu 4 – Mon 8 Sep 101 FRANCE – Dordogne Moths Sat 6 – Sat 13 Sep 70 ROMANIA in Autumn Sat 6 – Sun 14 Sep 94 SOUTH AFRICA – Cape & Garden Route Sun 7 – Sun 21 Sep 42 SPAIN – ANDALUCIA Tue 9 – Tue 16 Sep 97 SOUTH AFRICA – Birds and Big Cats Sun 14 – Fri 26 Sep 40 ICELAND – Volcanoes Thu 11 – Tue 16 Sep 84 TURKEY – Bosporus Sat13 – Sat 20 Sep 104 LATVIA Mushrooms Mon 15 – Mon 22 Sep 88 USA – Utah & Arizona Wed 18 – Sun 27 Sep 32 ESTONIA – Autumn Sun 21 – Sun 28 Sep 61 Sat 20 –Sun 28 Sep 59 BULGARIA in Autumn Sat 20 – Fri 26 Sep 107 ISLES OF SCILLY BRAZIL – Jaguars & Harpy Eagles Fri 26 Sep – Fri 10 Oct 14-15 CALIFORNIA – Yosemite, Sierras & Coast Fri 26 – Sun 12 Oct 25 SPAIN – Extremadura in Autumn Sat 27 Sep – Sat 4 Oct 96 MALDIVES BOLIVIA

Sat 4 – Sun 12 Oct Fri 10 – Sun 26 Oct

49 13

HUNGARY in Autumn AUSTRALIA – Western MADAGASCAR GERMANY – Brandenburg ARGENTINA – Cacti & Wildlife SOUTH AFRICA – Kruger & Zululand SPAIN – Lynx NAMIBIA November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

Sat 11 – Sat 18 Oct 80 Sun 12 – Tue 28 Oct 52 Wed 15 – Fri 31 Oct 36-37 Sun 19 – Thu 23 Oct 76 Mon 20 Oct – Mon 3 Nov 11 Fri 24 Oct – Fri 7 Nov 44 Sat 25 Sep – Fri 31 Oct 98 Sun 26 Sep – Sun 9 Nov 38-39

MOROCCO in Autumn Sat 1 – Sat 8 Nov AUSTRALIA – Eastern Thu 6 – Mon 24 Nov SRI LANKA Thu 13 – Thu 27 Nov SPAIN – Cranes & Wallcreepers in Autumn Sun 16 – Sat 22 Nov ARGENTINA – Patagonia & Iguazu Mon 17 – Thu 27 Nov FALKLANDS – Photographic Tour Wed 19 Nov – Wed 3 Dec ICELAND IN WINTER Thu 20 – Mon 24 Nov

92 51 50 95 12 21 85

INDIA – Northwest HOLLAND

Wed 3 – Wed 17 Dec Thu 4 – Mon 8 Dec

47 78

NEW ZEALAND FALKLANDS FALKLANDS – For Addicts TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Sun 4 – Thu 22 Jan 53 Wed 14 – Wed 28 Jan 18-19 Wed 28 Jan – Wed 11 Feb 20 Thu 22 Jan – Thu 3 Feb 22-23

WILD AMBITIONS – Departures throughout the year ANTARCTIC PENINSULA – Falklands/South Georgia ANTARCTICA ARGENTINA COSTA RICA – Turtles & Parrots GALAPAGOS & ECUADOR

112 113 114 115 116-117

THE AITO QUALITY CHARTER OUR CONSUMER PROMISE AITO is the Association for independent and specialist holiday companies. Our member companies, usually owner-managed, strive to create overseas holidays with high levels of professionalism and a shared concern for quality and personal service. The Association encourages the highest standards in all aspects of tour operating. EXCLUSIVE MEMBERSHIP AITO sets criteria regarding ownership, finance and quality which must be satisfied before new companies are admitted to membership. All members are required to adhere to a Code of Conduct which encourages high operational standards and conduct. FINANCIAL SECURITY An AITO member is required to arrange financial protection for all holidays and other arrangements (including accommodation only) booked by customers with the member under the AITO logo. This financial protection applies to customers who are resident in the UK at the time of booking and to most overseas customers who have booked directly with the member. In doing so, the member must comply with UK government regulations. Members are required to submit details of their financial protection arrangements to AITO on a regular basis ACCURATE BROCHURES and WEB SITES All members do their utmost to ensure that all their brochures and other publications, print or electronic, clearly and accurately describe the holidays and services offered. PROFESSIONAL SERVICE AND CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENTS All members are committed to high standards of service and believe in regular and thorough training of employees. Members continually seek to review and improve their holidays. They listen to their customers and always welcome suggestions for improving standards. MONITORING STANDARDS AITO endeavours to monitor quality standards regularly. All customers should receive a post-holiday questionnaire the results of which are scrutinised by the Association. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM All members acknowledge the importance of AITO’s Sustainable Tourism guidelines, which recognise the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of tour operating. Those demonstrating their achievements beyond the pure acceptance of this principle are recognised by the award of 1 to 5 star status. CUSTOMER RELATIONS All members endeavour to deal swiftly and fairly with any issues their customers may raise. In the unlikely event that a dispute between an AITO member and a customer cannot be settled amicably, AITO’s low-cost Independent Dispute Settlement Service may be called upon by either side to bring the matter to a speedy and acceptable conclusion. The Travelling Naturalist and Wild Ambitions are members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. To contact the Association, visit www.aito.com or call 020 8744 9280.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

INDEX

The Travelling Naturalist

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The Travelling Naturalist PO BOX 3141 Tel: 01305 267994 International: Dorchester Fax: 01305 265506 International: Dorset e-mail: info@naturalist.co.uk web: DT1 2XD

+44 1305 267994 +44 1305 265506 www.naturalist.co.uk

Jamie McMillan trading as The Travelling Naturalist

– our s for 2014 g holiday in h tc a w nd bird . But l history a riends e bedroom F of natura re r u a ch e ro rner of th b r co D u y e o n a th g n m in ti n ns from ewriter re in prese ntributio ieve, a typ reat pleasu t huge co ld you bel u u o re. o h u w it , ch We have g year of operation. w d s n ro a a at it h in the b s just me full m' of the the way th m 'off icially', here ralist' wa in thirtieth tu d ngine roo a e e ' p N e t lo e e th e rs th ev rk o d d o D e e of tours w k e v n h a o in a h h 'T 84 the adm akelin, w e that I th could not in W y m d Back in 19 n ti e Jo a lv d p st o l to all n a v m a p n the co y gratefu g been in ky Spicer , it is way since the am hugel nd! Havin arvey, Vic d irty years u H n th a ro a , r g p e ss e ip e ft P th a d eir succ rrently r get off people, an ice is to th ice staff: cu no trip would eve for the ly-run off is the off th m o o re o e h w th sm t sponsible a ly u First portant ly most re ss. I have lost nd witho b a im , a b ss w e o . ro n h p so si st it l busine , who are whole bu , I know ju r making dlife trave ur leaders the start ined the present, fo mpany, o in the wil e mainta n co v o e right from aff, both past and a ti uld h th ta f m u o e p s' th re ce f r a o f st u ' . ffort, I wo o ll e e f a in th skill and our adm cellence o now that ir st one of k , e a ex t le e rd u th t b s th , a Fo a r t rs b ll e , and fo . As we one, Bo the yea ll have m we boast r us over nd I think m the rest You will a rn clients ith us – a have led fo s marks us out fro tu w o re h rs f a w o r ye le e p numb of peo r twenty may way e number our e that in hed up ove especially count of th asy-going expertis have notc l ra e ev them all, S e k years, y. f n lt o a ty n ya n th e lo io to ir tradit d I'd like for over tw . n m for the o a e ck g a e, a the French th b m k s rs in n ti u a a u very long Montaig elcoming over 25 ye like to th l a s w r u te n o r e fo H e fo s b e u g n just one, ve adin des, and th d if I could mentio rs ago. been with hotels ha ri o y b ls n started le e a a H e r M v . a rs h ars, an e start the Oute nty yea ur supplie t from th r many ye actly twe Island on Many of o at ckley, righ service fo g with ex the Dark g to t, in S e in rk d rs o n im o T w D ta e, and gre t, d n e privileg en us outs Heights in we starte g accounta iv d u o g ch n h h u a la w ve , m a n rt a s h e o ic a the P osta R ed me g me, be operators including Tours of C has infect re of tellin forty re overseas r ti l e sm r tu v a e ra a o si e N ev r iu s o n ev , S nte st once Your enth ny people Pyrenees. erb Horizo with us ju e clients. as, as ma e the sup travelled of you, th wildlife h e y f v n o a a h h it would b p u rc m a yo in se hether in the co d has the world ading, an to do it all I thank all of you, w Travelling life tour le has been d d l il il n a . w st , e r u ss rt h e e a T yo tt , e ff on e to st any's succ out him fun. But b rubbed o inspired m Neil: with our comp ours has who both utions to ll, then to n a ib o f o tr rs e n s as, I hope, p k co n e gest tha ere is on your own , and to ld. T he big otten!), th times, for you again ven't forg : Neil Arno a d h e I rt s, a elcoming ye st , w d y n n to a (a p y, rd m ll a a Fin the co een. look forw d me since ould never have b trips. We supporte w ry special st e li v e ra m tu a so N provide Travelling year will e in 2014. thirtieth r e first tim u o th e r p fo o ts n We h ie cl many new meeting es, best wish With very

The Travelling Naturalist © The Travelling Naturalist 2013 The contents of this brochure are protected by copyright. Cover illustration – Heathland in Dorset by Mike Langman. For our 30th anniversary brochure we thought we would go back to where it all started, and with our logo bird, the Hobby, in its Dorset habitat. No heathland would be complete without a Dartford Warbler, while a sighting of a Sand Lizard would complete an excellent day in the field in 2014, just as it did in 1984. © The Travelling Naturalist 2013

The air holidays and flights in this brochure are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3435.

INTRODUCTION

Jamie McMillan amidst the arctic pack-ice


The Travelling Naturalist

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is a small, specialist tour operator, with a simple aim – to provide the most enjoyable guided wildlife holidays possible! We follow the best traditions of field natural history, leading small groups of like–minded people in some of the best areas for wildlife that we know, and taking time to appreciate the natural history there. We have been running wildlife holidays for over a quarter of a century, and are extremely proud of our client loyalty, with, on average, about half the clients on any trip coming back to us, and with many of our new clients coming by personal recommendation. Several clients have returned for over twenty holidays with us, and a few have even notched up over forty trips!

A Walrus approaches us in Spitsbergen (Photo by tour participant Mo Warren)

Our Leaders are fine all-round naturalists with a wealth of field and leadership experience. It is their expertise and professionalism, coupled with an easy-going and flexible approach, that is probably the most important factor in the success of our tours. We also, where possible, link up with local experts to ensure really top-quality local information.

Our Accommodation is chosen with one criterion in mind – whether our groups will enjoy staying there! So we select lodges, hotels and other centres which combine good facilities with character and good service, and, most importantly, are within easy reach of the best wildlife areas. Wherever we stay, we make every effort to secure private en suite facilities, and single rooms where requested. We’re also quite keen on our food! Please do give us a ring if you need any more information.

We never forget that it is your holiday and work hard to ensure that all the components of a tour – the accommodation, transport, food, the design and pace of the itinerary, and the all–important leadership combine to give you a superb all–round experience, and, we hope, some wonderful memories! Sossus Dune Lodge: one of the superb locations on our Namibia tour (Photo: Callan Cohen)

Our Itineraries

INTRODUCTION

are very carefully thought out – indeed we are often complimented on the design and originality of these. Our tours aim to achieve a balance between making the most of the variety within a country, and yet taking time to savour the experience of each place we include. And we’d like to stress that on none of our tours do we rush round making huge lists of birds or flowers! We particularly like one-centre holidays, as they really give us a chance to get the most out of a place, and suit our relaxed, broadbased style. To make the holidays as stress-free as possible, we usually include all meals in the tour price (with the exception of a few USA tours).

Our Pre-trip Information Packs and Trip Reports Looking for Shoebill Storks in Uganda (Photo: Dierdre Vrancken)

2

are often praised by clients as being some of the best they’ve seen! We make great efforts to provide you with as much relevant information as we can before a trip, and to provide an informative

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer visit to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel For further information, please www.naturalist.co.uk


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and often highly entertaining record of the holiday at the end. Incidentally, while the brochure and website descriptions give a flavour of each holiday, they cannot really do them justice. It is the trip reports that give the real low-down, so please do request a copy if you are interested in a particular holiday, or look them up on our easy-to-use website.

Walking We probably get more queries about the amount of walking than on any other topic. In most tours there is some walking, at an easy pace, and stopping frequently to look at wildlife. Overall in a day we can reckon to have walked no more than five miles and often a fair bit less. There are a few exceptions to this, and these will be indicated in the tour description. Most tours that involve islands, especially small British islands, will involve more walking, usually as we like to try and take you to places that vehicles can’t get to (assuming there are any!). Please assume around seven to ten miles a day for these island tours.

Our pen comes in handy for judging the size of a Mopane worm, Namibia (Photo: Callan Cohen)

Our Website has much more information than we can squeeze into this brochure! As well as expanded detailed itineraries for each holiday, you can find past trip reports. If you can, please do have a look at the website description of a tour before booking. Visit us on www.naturalist.co.uk And if you aren’t an internet user, we’ll be delighted to print one off to post to you! For any tailor-made tours, please see our Wild Ambitions website, www.wildambitions.co.uk

Our Email newsletters Give you up to date information on new tours and extra departures. Visit our website to sign up for them!

Our Daily Programme is tailored to the destination. On many trips we offer an optional prebreakfast walk or excursion to catch the bird activity at its peak, or we may have an early breakfast to make the most of the day. Lunches are often picnics, but are sometimes taken in local restaurants or tavernas. On most days we aim to get you back to the hotel or lodge in good time to refresh yourself before dinner and the evening log-call, where we mull over the day’s sightings. In the tropics especially, wildlife is at its most active early in the morning, and sometimes last thing in the evening. We therefore almost invariably have an early start on these trips, starting before dawn, and finishing after sunset. But don’t worry, we do relax! During the heat of the day little stirs, including us, and our lunchtimes can be very laid-back, sometimes followed by a good siesta.

A Black-bellied Korhaan struts his stuff in Namibia (Photo: Geoff Crane)

Photography Photographers are most welcome on our tours, but should bear in mind that on most tours photography is not the principal objective. We do ask you to take photos sensitively, both regarding the wildlife (especially taking care not to trample plants) and other members of the group who may not share your enthusiasm! Please note that we reserve the right to take photographs during the operation of our tours, and to use the resulting images for promotional purposes. By booking with us, tour members agree to allow their image to be used in this way; clients who prefer that their image should not be used must inform us prior to the tour.

Collecting We absolutely forbid the collecting of specimens on any of our tours, including the picking of flowers. Please remember – take the book to the plant, not the plant to the book! Our tours often take place in countries where the whole idea of conservation is in its infancy, and we must take care to be seen to act responsibly, especially by local people.

Public Liability We carry full international public liability insurance.

Small groups

Know before youor book!: For a travel health advice, www.nathnac.org For any queries, to make reservation, please please contactrefer us onto: 01305-267994

INTRODUCTION

A New Zealand Fur Seal is ready for his siesta (Photo: Keith Grant)

We think that our type of holiday is best enjoyed in a small group. Our group size is usually a maximum of 12 or 14 clients (sometimes fewer), with two leaders or local guides usually accompanying groups of 11 or more. Please note that with numbers below this, the tour may go ahead with local guides only. Cruises are not subject to this restriction, with details of leaders and group size (ie the capacity of the boat/ship) given in the tour description. Our stated minimum number of clients per group is six, but we often run tours with fewer than this number. Please note, however, that we cannot accept cancellations without loss of deposits simply because the tour is running with fewer clients than expected. In such circumstances, our standard cancellation terms will apply. The operation of all tours is subject to minimum numbers being achieved at least 70 days prior to departure. If a tour is underbooked at that time, we may defer cancellation but will inform you if the tour is running or not no later than 6 weeks prior to departure. Please note that leaders may have to be substituted on occasion.

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Single rooms We will always try to accommodate clients who request single rooms, but this is not always possible, and clients may be asked to share for all or part of the holiday. In this case we will of course not charge the single room supplement for the portion of the holiday where the room is shared. We will also try to accommodate clients travelling on their own but wishing to share, but if there is no other single person on the tour willing also to share, we will have to charge the single room supplement.

Smoking To ensure group harmony we ask clients who smoke to act sensitively, and not to smoke when with the group in a confined area, and especially in any vehicle or at meal times.

Dietary Requirements We pass on all dietary requests to the hotels and airlines, but please make sure that we know about these (in as much detail as possible) at the time of booking, to allow us good time to make the arrangements.

travel health information for health professionals and the public, and is funded by the UK Government’s Health Protection Agency. Insects: Mosquitoes are present throughout the tropics. Bring repellent and dress accordingly, covering up with long sleeves and long trousers. Many of the accommodations in the Afrotropics we use do usually supply mosquito nets – but if you want to be guaranteed of one, then we recommend purchasing your own travel net. If you have a health problem, or other physical limitation, please advise us in writing well before the tour. Our holidays are not recommended for wheelchair-users or for those with serious walking difficulties.

Passports and Visas For all overseas tours (and cruises within the UK), UK clients will need a UK passport valid at least six months after the date of return. We will inform clients about visa requirements with the tour information pack. If there is any extra cost involved in obtaining a visa for UK citizens this will be given in the tour description. We will provide the necessary application forms and instructions, but regret that we cannot obtain your visa for you. Non-UK citizens must be responsible for their own visa and entry requirements.

Your Safety and Travel Advice

Thick-billed Euphonia enjoying a good diet in Colombia (Photo: Keith Grant)

Baggage Restrictions and Packing

Flights

Most tours have some sort of restriction on baggage, usually a weight limit for hold baggage of 20kgs, and sometimes just one item of hold baggage, imposed by the airlines. Sometimes, though, due to limited space in small aircraft or ground vehicles, there are more restrictions. However, please note that with increased security arrangements now in force, there are many new restrictions on both hold and cabin baggage, which may change rapidly according to circumstances and the airline involved. We will let you know about these around two weeks before departure with the final travel details, but if you would like to know about these at an earlier stage, please contact us. Please also note that extra baggage weight and extra bags may incur extra charges by the airline We’ll let you know with our pre-trip information pack what clothing and equipment we recommend bringing. We often get queries about whether tea- and coffee-making facilities are available (usually yes in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; usually no anywhere else!) and the presence or absence of hairdryers (usually yes in city and resort-based hotels, usually no elsewhere). Generally we suggest bringing your own if you need these. We also get frequent enquiries about the best way to pack telescope tripods. If you are bringing a tripod, it has to go in the hold luggage – if it cannot go in your case or main bag, rugged tripod cases can now be bought, and are an excellent way of solving the problem.

Unless otherwise stated or requested, our tour prices include the cost of Economy Class seats on scheduled return flights from London. Occasionally we use charter flights or ‘no-frills’ airlines where these offer the best or only service to that destination. Most airlines now issue ‘e-tickets’, in electronic form, rather than the more familiar paper tickets. The advantage of these is that they should be impossible to lose! We will provide you with a copy of the e-ticket receipt, and give full instructions and information about etickets, if this is the case. Please note that an increasing number of airlines, particularly on short-haul flights, are now excluding the cost of on-board meals and drinks from their ticket price, which therefore have to be excluded from the cost of our tour. Please assume that in-flight meals are always excluded from the cost of a tour. Information on in-flight meals will be sent with your tickets. Please note that some of our leaders may be based in the destination countries, or may have travelled out in advance of the group, so may not accompany the group on the flights. We try to give provisional flight details at least ten weeks before the start of the tour, in our travel information pack. Please note that these details are only a guide, and that times and even airports may change before the tour. Please do not make any firm airport travel arrangements before you have received your final travel information, about two weeks before the departure date.

INTRODUCTION

Health, Immunisation and Entry Requirements With our joining instructions we give full current details of immunisation requirements and recommendations for the area visited, and whether malaria is a risk. For full and up-to-the minute health information we urge everyone to consult The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website www.nathnac.org prior to booking any overseas holiday. NaTHNaC promotes standards in travel medicine, providing

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Risks to your safety and security are an unavoidable aspect of all travel. The best current advice on such risks is provided for you by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice unit. It is standard policy for our office to send a copy of the relevant FCO Travel Advice to all participants along with their Final Tour Letter (24 weeks prior to the trip). ‘Know Before You Go’ is a travel safety campaign run by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). It encourages British nationals to be better prepared for their overseas trips with a view to avoiding common travelling traumas, risks and dangers. In order for you to assess and protect against any risks in your chosen destination it is strongly recommended that you refer to the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk - both prior to booking and regularly before you travel. Follow the ‘Know Before You Go’ link or call 0845 800 2829.

Flight Delays If flights are delayed due to industrial action, weather or (as has happened to us!) volcanic activity, we will make every effort to assist you in making alternative travel, accommodation and meal arrangements, should these be necessary. Such arrangements are sometimes not covered by the airline, so please make sure your travel insurance covers any possible extra costs involved. If additional hotel nights are needed, for example, we may be able to arrange these on your behalf but please note that we will have to invoice you for the extra costs involved. Sometimes a claim can be

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made against the airline for these costs under EU or UK law. Again, we will assist you with any claim, but unfortunately current rules state that it is the passenger and NOT the tour operator who has to claim.

Interim Flight Deposits Recently, many airlines have been asking for full, non-refundable payment of the fare before they will confirm the booking. Sometimes we need to secure flights several months in advance of the tour departure date, before the full payment of the balance is due. In these cases we will need to ask you to pay a non-refundable interim deposit, in addition to the tour deposit, in order to secure your flight booking. We will give you at least a month’s notice if this is the case.

A Complete Service From the moment you book – just relax! We aim to provide a complete service, taking the stress out of making arrangements for your holiday. We can help to arrange your connecting flights where needed (as long as this is requested at time of booking – see below), as well as offering useful discounts on airport car parking, a choice of airport hotels and airport taxis. Details are sent with our travel information pack. Please note that we can also often arrange tailor-made extensions to the main tour if these are requested at time of booking. And if you have any questions at all about the tour – please just ask!

Ex-flight Prices For clients joining a tour from outside the UK, or wishing to join us at our destination, we are always happy to quote an ex-flight price for most of our tours involving scheduled flights. If you wish to book a tour land only, you must put this on your booking form.

Fly Local! For several destinations we are able to quote a price that includes a flight from a regional airport within the UK. Again, please enquire for details before booking. Please note that we usually charge a £35 booking fee for booking separate flights from (or additional flights to) the main group flights to cover our administrative costs. If you wish to book a tour with a connecting (or sometimes direct) flight from a regional airport, you must put this on your booking form. Depending on flight times we may recommend that you fly to London the day before, to avoid the possibility of missing the connection.

Fly when you please! Increasing numbers of clients are choosing to fly out before the main tour, or return afterwards. We are always happy to quote for flights independent of the main group, but please note again that we usually charge a £35 booking fee to cover our administrative costs. Please note that if you are booking your own flights for a tour you must contact us first (and get written confirmation from us) to check that the times fit with the current itinerary.

Tailor-made Extensions and City Breaks If you have an extra few days to spare, why not let us quote for an independent extension to your tour? We can often get excellent prices at some excellent hotels or lodges, and our network of local agents can usually come up with some fine suggestions for extra days. Many of our European tours begin and end in some fascinating cities, with superb sightseeing and cultural opportunities. We can often get some bargain prices at excellent city centre hotels, so why not make the most of your tour, and let us book a short city break at the end? If you wish to book a tailor-made extension, you must put this on your booking form at the time of booking.

Data Protection Please note that all enquirers’ and clients’ names and addresses are stored by us electronically. We are registered under the Data Protection Act to enable us to do this. Please let us know in writing if you wish your details to be removed from the list, or if you wish to see a copy of the details as they are stored.

Brochure Validity This brochure is published in August 2013, and its prices replace all previously published details. It remains valid until our next brochure is published in August or September 2014.

Travel Insurance

Good travel insurance is essential before departing on any overseas trip - and is to be much recommended for UK holidays as well. In common with all responsible tour operators, it is a condition of booking that all participants must be fully and adequately covered by insurance before setting out on holiday. Your insurance must cover you fully in respect of medical care and repatriation should you become too ill to continue with the tour, including the cost of emergency evacuation by helicopter or air ambulance should this be necessary. Note that passenger liability insurance covering the transportation that we hire, particularly in Third World countries, may be inadequate; it is therefore important that your insurance cover includes sufficient provision for your dependents in the event of an accident. We strongly recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as possible after booking your holiday to ensure you are protected in the event of unexpected cancellation prior to departure due to accident or illness. You must inform your insurers of any pre-existing medical conditions (including those of persons not necessarily travelling but upon whom your holiday may depend) that may require treatment during a period of overseas travel or might cause you to cancel the trip. Be aware that Travel Insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover for valuable optical equipment, which is often best protected under your own household insurance policy. If in doubt ask your insurers for advice prior to travel. Arranging Your Insurance: due to UK Government legislation, under new Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulations, please note we are not allowed to offer or recommend travel related insurance to customers. Premiums can vary widely according to your age, needs, health, choice of destination and other factors, while many people nowadays have Annual Travel Insurance cover. For these reasons, we leave you free to shop around and pick your own policy, one best suited to your own individual needs.

Taxes Please note that all prices include all UK taxes.

BROCHURE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Once again thanks are due to Mike Langman for his excellent illustrations, and the superb cover painting, and to Roger Wasley and Rob Still for designing the brochure layout and maps. Thanks too, to all the photographers for their photos, which are in their copyright, and to all who supplied leaders’ photos. All other photos not credited are © Jamie McMillan.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Our Sustainable Tourism Policy

We believe that our specialism – quality ecotourism – has a truly important part to play in the conservation of many threatened habitats worldwide – indeed tourism can be the major factor in saving an area from damage by destructive forestry or agricultural practices. We think that ecotourism also has a role in promoting the whole idea of conservation, especially in those countries and regions where it is currently given a low priority. All our leaders, and we would guess most of our clients, are committed conservationists, and in many ways we see ourselves as ambassadors for conservation wherever we travel, even where there are opposing views locally. We always seek to minimise environmental damage on our tours, for example by travelling in small groups, spending more time within a smaller area, and sometimes spending whole days without using vehicles. Wherever possible we use local guides, and locally-owned and locally-operated suppliers of accommodation, produce, transport and tour management. We also actively seek out and prefer those who are committed to conservation and sustainable tourism, even though they might be a little more expensive than others. We will continue to run tours to several countries with a dubious environmental record, believing that by working with conservationminded local agents and organisations within those countries, we can help to strengthen their hand. This includes countries like the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Japan whose support for whaling we are vehemently opposed to, as are our agents there, and some Mediterranean countries where migrant birds still continue to be shot in contravention of EU law. We continue to make our feelings known to the authorities in these countries, and encourage our clients to do so. We encourage our clients to observe a Code of Conduct in order to minimise their impact on the environment while on our tours. We strongly discourage the collecting of specimens and picking of flowers on a tour. We work with and support conservation organisations both in Britain and overseas. We give direct financial support through corporate sponsorship of, for example, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the RSPB, and send by far the bulk of our publicity budget to these and other conservation organisations. We also contribute directly to local conservation and other charity projects, and encourage our clients to do so. We also aim to run our office in as environmentally sustainable a way as possible.

Sustainable Tourism – Our policies in action

Over the years, we have contributed financially to a variety of local projects, not necessarily always wildlife-related. Our tsunami appeal, for example, in partnership with our local Rotary Club, resulted in over £100,000 being raised to restore an orphanage and nearby village on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It must be said, though, that, with a world to choose from, we are not always in the best position to assess which projects are most deserving. That is why we channel most of our direct financial contributions through conservation organisations like RSPB, Butterfly Conservation and local wildlife trusts, of which we have been corporate sponsors for many years. One of the concerns that we have always had is about one of the biggest side-effects of what we do. Simply by taking a flight to our destination, we are contributing towards greenhouse gases and

Andean Forest (hills) lower FJ Tapichalaca Reserve (Photo: Nigel Simpson)

global climate change. One thing we can do about this is to try to go some way to mitigating the effects, by using one of the ‘carbon offset’ schemes. Although we are a bit wary of some of these schemes, others do fit in very well to our approach, particularly those that protect existing primary habitats. We will therefore contribute to the World Land Trust, an international conservation charity, who will invest the funds in restoration ecology projects which deliver offsets through the protection and regeneration of threatened tropical habitats. We are therefore making a contribution of £5 per client on shorthaul destinations, £15 per client for medium-haul (e.g Americas, Africa), and £35 per client for long-haul (mainly Australasia) to go towards the offsetting of these flights. Offset contributions will also be made for all our leaders’ flights. It is sometimes said that more carbon is produced by passengers travelling to and from the airport than by the flight itself! We hope that clients will recognise this by matching our contribution, and will be offering you the chance to do so.

World Land Trust Restoration Ecology Projects

The World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation charity, based in Suffolk, UK. Since its foundation in 1989 the World Land Trust has been working to preserve the world’s most biologically important and threatened lands, and has, so far, helped purchase and protect nearly 400,000 acres of threatened habitats of high biodiversity, in Asia, Central and South America and the UK. Running in parallel with its conservation land purchase activities, WLT launched its innovative Carbon Balanced programme in March 2005. The aim of the World Land Trust Carbon Balanced Programme is to offer individuals and companies a means of offsetting their CO2 emissions while also conserving the world’s most threatened habitats and their wildlife. The Carbon Balanced programme is run by the Restoration Ecology Team who design projects to deliver offsets (measured as tonnes of CO2 sequestered) by restoring forest and preventing deforestation. Biodiversity conservation is at the centre of the project design and all WLT restoration ecology projects are managed in collaboration with in country, conservation non-governmental organisations. WLT currently has four restoration ecology project sites delivering offsets. These are located in Ecuador and Mexico, all associated with well-established and important protected areas. Our offset contributions will be used to support these and other similar restoration ecology projects. Keep an eye on our website and enewsletters for project updates. For more information please visit the Carbon Balanced and World Land Trust websites at: www.worldlandtrust.org & www.carbonbalanced.org

AITO 5-star Sustainable Tourism Award

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Responsible Tourism: leader Tim Earl spreads the conservation message in Madagascar (Photo by tour participant Cliff Gilbert)

We are delighted to have been awarded five stars – the highest grade – in AITO’s Sustainable Tourism Awards, in recognition of our achievements and practices in this field

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


Our team of leaders 4/9/13

Peg Abbott Peg has been leading wildlife tours for over 20 years in diverse areas from Alaska to Argentina. She runs her own tour company, Naturalist Journeys, who we team up with for our USA tours.

Charles Anderson Chas is a professional marine biologist who has lived and worked in the Maldives since 1983. He is the foremost authority on both cetaceans and fishes in the Maldives, and the pioneer of whale and dolphin watching there. In addition to numerous scientific papers, he has published a series of six guides to the marine life of the islands.

Dick Askew Dick has been absorbed in natural history for as long as he can remember. A particular interest in dragonflies was sparked by the rich fauna of southwest France, and the absence of a comprehensive guide stimulated the production of The Dragonflies of Europe (1988). He will again be leading our Dordogne dragonflies tour in June. Istvan Bartol István is a science graduate who specialised in bird ecology for his PhD . Since then he has been working as a warden in the Kiskunság National Park (a steppe reserve), where he lives with his family. He speaks English, Hungarian, Serbian and Spanish, some of which will be put to good use on our tour to Montenegro and Albania which he will lead again.

Wynne Brown Wynne has led many tours for us and has a great following. Her first career goal was to be a herpetologist. However, Life had other ideas for her, and instead she is a writer, editor, graphic designer, poet, and photographer based in Portal, Arizona - an ideal home for an avid naturalist. Her background is a mix of biology, scientific illustration, and communications and her work has appeared in numerous books, journals, and periodicals. This Year Wynne will be leading our Utah and Arizona tour.

Miguel Castelino A National Park Guard and chief naturalist for six years based at Bariloche, Miguel has an impressive knowledge of both the flora and fauna of his native Argentina, with a particular interest in birdsong identification. He has been guiding full time for nearly twenty years in Brazil and Argentina and is still as enthusiastic as ever about showing wildlife to groups. Miguel speaks fluent English, Spanish and Portuguese and

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lives with his wife Karina and two sons at Iguazu Falls.

Chris Charlesworth Chris began birding at the age of ten, with a passion for birds that has remained with him and ultimately inspired him to guide birding tours. He lives at Kelowna in British Columbia (where we spend two nights on our Canadian Rockies tour) and has travelled widely across his native North America. His knowledge of North America’s birds and their calls is excellent – and with a little coaxing, he may be persuaded to demonstrate his repertoire of ‘owl imitations’. He is greatly looking forward to showing you around his ‘home patch’ again in summer 2014! Liz Charter Liz joined us as a client on our 2005 Crete tour, when we were so impressed with her botanical expertise and enthusiasm that we immediately asked her back to co-lead! She is a good all-round naturalist, a keen gardener, and a fan of island life, having lived for ten years on Orkney and fifteen years on the Isle of Man, where she currently works as a professional conservationist. Liz lives there with Tim Earl with whom she sometimes coleads tours adding botanical interest. This year she will be leading a tour for us on her previous home patch, Orkney as well as Latvia, ...

Robin Chittenden Robin lives in Norfolk, with a wide-ranging repertoire of tours and excellent allround wildlife experience. Well known as a top wildlife photographer, he is also a photographic consultant for British Birds and one of the wildlife photographers for Natural England.

Callan Cohen South Africa-born Callan has more than fifteen years leading tours across the continent. He lives in Cape Town, and has spent more than ten years leading tours across the continent. His all-round ability in the field and comfortable easy style has earnt him much praise from our clients, and he now designs and leads our tours throughout Africa, this year including a new Kenya tour – and there are more destinations in the pipeline! Barrie Cooper Barrie has had a lifelong interest in nature. He now works as the RSPB’s International Education Manager which gives him the chance to combine his passions of wildlife, nature conservation and travel. This year he will lead our tours to Belarus, Estonia and Hungary. His interests also extend into space – he is a keen amateur astronomer, and on our Auroras & Wildlife tour to Lapland his gaze will turn towards the sky at night.

Andrea Corso When it comes to birding, Andrea is “Mr Sicily”! Born and raised in Siracusa in south-east Sicily, he is the island’s foremost ornithologist and one of the leading voices in birdwatching and conservation in Italy today. A prolific writer, Andrea is author of the Avifauna di Sicilia and has written or co-authored a further 300 or so other books, papers and articles. With a fine singing voice, he may even serenade us on tour!

Mike Coverdale Mike lives in East Yorkshire, England and has been interested in natural history for many years. His main interest is birds. In 2002 Mike also became interested in moths. Since then he has moth-trapped at many locations in the UK and has regularly been 'moth-ing' in France since 2007. He leads our pioneering 'Moths & Wildlife' tour to the Dordogne in September.

Geoff Crane Geoff spent his early years in East & West Africa and the Seychelles, where he developed a keen interest in natural history, with a special interest in birding & botany. Geoff has 20 years experience in leading tours throughout Southern Africa, and his all-round natural history knowledge and easy-going manner has attracted an enthusiastic following among our clients. This year as well as tours to the Cape, he will be leading new tours to Namibia and the Drakensberg mountains.

Stephen Daly A birdwatcher since the age of eight, Stephen says his first birding memories are of Aberlady Bay on Scotland’s Firth of Forth. Having subsequently lived and worked in the UK, Germany and France, he has finally settled near Barbate, in southernmost Spain, where he runs his own specialist wildlife tour company, Andalucian Guides. Steve Duffield Steve has lived in the Outer Hebrides since January 2005 and began leading tours in March 2007 after spending two years working for SNH in the Uists as a ‘Goose Officer’. He is also keen on many other aspects of wildlife in the islands including the cetaceans, moths, butterflies and the flowering plants – especially the orchids. This year he will lead our Outer Hebrides tours, including a Lewis & Harris tour in April.

queries, to make reservation, please please contactrefer us onto: 01305-267994 Know For any before youor book!: For a travel health advice, www.nathnac.org

INTRODUCTION

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Tim Earl Tim is based in the Isle of Man where he lives with Liz Charter who adds a botanical dimension to some of his tours by coleading with him. He still does a little journalism although most of his working time is now taken up by tour leading and prospecting for us. His travels have taken him to several African countries, Australasia, Scandinavia and Russia, North America and the Neotropics and many places in mainland Europe. Tim's outgoing and informative style, enthusiasm, experience and humour are always greatly appreciated by our clients. Tim’s regular tours include the Falkland Islands, Madagascar, Extremadura in Spain, Costa Rica, Grand Manan and Trinidad and Tobago. Gary Elton Gary lives in north Norfolk, working part-time at Holme Bird Observatory. He served as warden of a local nature reserve in north London, having lived and birded in the capital for over 35 years. A former Herts Bird Club committee member and warden of a local nature reserve in north London, he is also a qualified ringer. He coleads our Iceland summer tour in June, as well as Cyprus in March 2014.

Bob Ford A fine all-round naturalist, Bob was Assistant Warden of Portland Bird Observatory for a time and now lectures in Biology. His calm, relaxed leadership style has found much favour both with beginners and more experienced birdwatchers, and he again leads our New Forest break in July and Dorset break in May. Bob is also a keen computer man, and looks after our much-acclaimed website, as well as running a web-based photographic agency of his own. Daniel Green Daniel is a friendly and outgoing local Swedish birder, who designs and leads our Swedish itineraries for us. A birdwatcher since early childhood, he is still mad about Cranes (his favourite bird), owls, butterflies & moths, and feeding birds in wintertime. He has also spent 12 years as a gourmet chef, has been a newspaper journalist/photographer and more recently editor of a Swedish Bird Magazine.

INTRODUCTION

Trausti Gunnarsson Trausti is a professional Icelandic wildlife guide with a special interest in birds and all aspects of Iceland's natural history. His in-depth knowledge of his home country also extends to geological, historical and cultural aspects, including the famous sagas. We are delighted to welcome him to guide our June 2014 Iceland tour.

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Paul Harvey Paul moved to Shetland from Dorset in 1984 and has lived there ever since. He was Warden at Fair Isle Bird Observatory from 1989 to 1992 before moving to the South Mainland of Shetland where he worked for Scottish Natural Heritage, managing their superb set of National Nature Reserves. He now manages the Shetland Biological Records Centre. He will be leading our tour to Cambodia.

Geoff Henderson Geoff is aged 59, married with two adult children and worked as a science teacher in Canterbury, near Christchurch. His particular strength is botanical and he has been active in the botanical society in Canterbury for many years. He leads our New Zealand ‘Flowers & Wildlife’ tour in January 2014.

Andy Jones Now resident in Iceland, Andy was a warden on Skomer Island, a ranger with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the RSPB’s senior investigations officer and a Wildlife Trust director. He trained as a geologist and is an enthusiastic bird- and whale-watcher who has also been known to admire an occasional plant! He guides our tours to Iceland, where his knowledge of geology can really shine, as well as our acclaimed tour to the Faroe Islands. This year he will also lead two new Iceland tours: ‘Orcas & Auroras’ and ‘Principally Puffins’. Peter Kennerley Peter lives in Suffolk with his wife and their two sons. His knowledge of Asia and its birds is outstanding and he is our most experienced leader within the continent, having travelled and birded extensively in almost every country there – from Turkey in the west to Indonesia in the east, and north to arctic Siberia.

Mike Langman Having worked for 9 years at RSPB headquarters Mike is now a full time wildlife illustrator, many of his sketches adorn the Travelling Naturalists brochures including the cover paintings and many checklists sketches. Despite his busy schedule he will be putting his extensive knowledge of birds, wildlife and leading skills to use again this year in May to Southern Turkey which now includes a visit to Cappadocia and then the Bosporus tour in September.

John Muddeman After settling in Madrid in February 1997, John now lives with his family in the mountains there. A freelance wildlife tour guide, author, translator and honorary member of the Extremaduran Association of Birdwatching and Wildlife Guides. His all-round natural history knowledge, affable personality and extremely sharp field skills have brought him a well-deserved loyal following. This year he will be leading our autumn Lynx Quest and Northern Spain tours. Rebecca Nason Rebecca is a keen birder, freelance ecologist and award-winning professional bird photographer who has recently moved back to Shetland, where she spent two seasons as Assistant Warden of Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Seabird Monitoring Officer. She has led our tours to Lesvos since 2005, with her partner, Philip Harris, seen together in the photo in Spitsbergen, where she will again be leading our group in July 2014. Phil is a firefighter, and an avid birder, with a passion for all aspects of natural history, spending much of his spare time out in the field ringing and carrying out bird surveys.

Robin Noble Having known the Highlands and Islands all his life, Robin is deeply interested in all aspects from the rocks upwards. Having run a Field Centre in Orkney, his enthusiasm for archaeology and wildlife led on to teaching and writing about environmental history at a variety of levels, (including his introductory book “North and West”)... He once again leads our much-enjoyed Wildlife and History Tour in the Scottish Highlands based at Aigas Field Centre, with which he has a long association. Bert Palthe Bert is a long-standing registered South African Tourist Guide and has a wealth of experience, both in tourism and wildlife conservation. After qualifying as a specialist in Nature Conservation he went on to manage exclusive private game reserves in South Africa's Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces.

Pablo Petracci Pablo was born in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, and studied Zoology at the Faculty of Natural Science and the museum of La Plata, specialising in marine and freshwater ecology and conservation biology, mostly on migratory birds. Currently assistant professor in ‘Vertebrates Zoology’ at the National University of La Plata, he has also published several books (including two bird identification guides) and numerous scientific papers. Being in the wild is undoubtedly one of his greatest passions, and he enjoys sharing his extensive knowledge and passion for wildlife and conservation biology with other people. He has been guiding tours since 2006, and this year will lead our Bolivia trip.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Liz Read Liz has the patience of a saint – she must have to put up with Mike’s constant barrage of jokes! Her interest in natural history has grown since they have been together and she has acquired good skills at identifying Western European plants. Liz’s caring and thoughtful manner, and leading with husband Mike, provide the perfect combination of skills for an all-round holiday to destinations such as Corsica, Vercors and the Camargue and Pyrenees.

Mike Read Mike is a man of many talents: an experienced tour leader, an author, and, as he is probably best known, a superb wildlife photographer. He has a number of books to his name including ‘The Barn Owl’, ‘Red Kite Country’ and ‘The New Forest National Park’. Mike’s friendly and easy-going style of leadership and his abilities as an all round naturalist add immensely to the tours he leads in Europe and elsewhere. All he needs now are some new jokes for the returning clients he often gets! Mike’s own website is www.mikeread.co.uk Luis Segura Luis leads and organises all our trips to his native Patagonia as well as Argentina and Brazil. We first met him in Patagonia back in 1999, since when he has founded and developed his own wildlife tour company, Trogon Tours. A keen birder throughout South America, at home he is a keen cactus collector (excellent plants for a tour leader as they thrive on neglect!). He devised our acclaimed Cacti and Wildlife tour to northern Argentina and will again lead our Birds & Mammals tour to his native Patagonia. He speaks English fluently – which he was taught by his Scottish grandmother! David Simpson David Simpson has lived in France for over ten years. He now lives and works in the Dordogne region where he runs a holiday cottage and guided wildlife tour business. He has published several articles in British Wildlife and most recently the book ‘Birding Dordogne’ in the popular BirdGuides series. An excellent all-round naturalist, he will be leading several tours to the area, including ‘Dragonflies & Wildlife’ in June, and our exciting new butterfly tour in July.

Brian Small Brian lives in Suffolk. He has done a stretch as a teacher for more than ten years, but his true love has always been bird art and he now works full time on his illustrative work – when he isn’t tour-leading. He again leads our tour to Switzerland (his ninth!) and co-leads in Sicily.

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Greg Smith Formerly a park ecologist with the California State Park System, Greg has birded on all seven continents and has led natural history and birding tours in California, Alaska, Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica. An avid wildlife photographer, he also maintains a U.S. Master Bird Banding permit. He will be leading our USA tours to Alaska and California.

Attila Steiner Attila has been a keen naturalist and birdwatcher since childhood. Before joining Ecotours Hungary he worked for WWF Hungary on species conservation. He has travelled extensively through most of Europe, Asia and Africa and will be leading our tours to Belarus, as well as our new Ukraine tour. Balazs Szigeti Balazs Szigeti is a dedicated birdwatcher & director of Ecotours Wildlife Holidays Ltd and is based in Budapest. He speaks perfect English, has a great sense of humour and has travelled widely in Eastern Europe, West Africa and the Americas. He is a gifted birdwatcher able to imitate many European birdcalls…even a nightjar…no mean feat! He is also a keen wildlife photographer. Balazs will be leading tours to most of Eastern Europe and Mongolia. Peter Taylor Peter is ‘our man in Australia’. Originally from Stockport, Peter spent his teenage years at Adelaide in South Australia. Peter now works full-time as a bird and wildlife tour guide; he led our Birds & Total Eclipse tour in November 2012 and will again be leading our Eastern Australia tour as well as our new trip ‘Western Australia’ in October 2014.

Deirdre Vrancken Deirdre lives in Cape Town (South Africa), where she assists both as a guide and in the office at Birding Africa. She specialises in the continent’s mammals, rating Gorillas, Chimpanzees and lemurs among her favourites. Fluent in English, French and Dutch, Deirdre regularly teams up with husband Callan (Cohen) to lead our trips to Tanzania and now Kenya, where her special interest in mammals adds an extra dimension to the tours. Will Wagstaff Will is Hon. President of the Isles of Scilly Bird Group and is well known to most visitors to the isles both for his lectures and the regular wildlife excursions that he leads throughout the spring and summer. We are delighted that he will once again be leading our groups there.

Woody Wheeler Woody is a master birder, a certified interpretive guide and owner of Conservation Catalyst, a birding and natural history firm based in Seattle, Washington. Woody is a skilled interpreter and educator with special expertise in birds. To augment field experiences, he is a natural story teller and a former teacher. He inspires people to appreciate nature and to have fun along the way. Woody will be co-leading our 2014 Montana tour.

Richard Thaxton A warden at the RSPB’s Loch Garten reserve since 1985, Richard often leads their forest walks and is charged with the welfare of some of its rarest inhabitants, including Capercaillies and the world famous Ospreys. Richard leads our trip to Trinidad & Tobago in 2014.

Arnoud van den Berg Arnoud was born and raised in the Netherlands where he lives with his wife Cecilia, and where he is chief editor and founder of Dutch Birding magazine. He’s also a top-notch bird photographer, sound recordist and a prolific author too! He will be leading our Holland ‘Wild Goose Chases’, and also our spring and autumn tours to Morocco: he has conducted many research trips there, and his knowledge of the country’s birds and where to find them is second to none.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

INTRODUCTION

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THIRTY YEARS ON A Personal perspective by Neil Arnold

Jamie McMillan is "The Travelling Naturalist" any years ago I persuaded Jamie to assist me in running a week long camping trip for members of the Young Ornithologists Club, the then junior branch of the RSPB. He enjoyed it. This seems to have been the stimulus he needed to start leading weekend breaks for adults in Dorset. The themes of these weekends, for three adults travelling in Jamie's car, ranged from Botany; Butterfly & Bird

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persuaded, kicking and screaming, to lead for Jamie. More leaders were recruited and we were away! In 1994, we offered thirty seven British trips and nine abroad. However, our first visit to the British Bird Fair in 1995 proved that we needed to re-name the company as potential clients assumed that we only led trips in Dorset. The launching of ‘The Travelling Naturalist’ in 1996 brought with it many more trips and a demand for even more. From the early 90’s to date not only has Mike Langman, the well-known illustrator, Neil in Australia

Jamie at 50

watching; to readings from Thomas Hardy’s writings in appropriate places in Dorset. As time went by Jamie abandoned schoolteaching, set up the Dorset Naturalist, bought a minibus and started to provide holidays for bigger groups. Clients from that era will remember, I'm sure, his delicious homemade cake and sandwiches eaten at leisure between moments of magical wildlife watching in Dorset. At weekends I was privileged to become Jamie’s acting unpaid assistant on these occasions. Jamie then began to run tours further afield: ‘Near Europe’ for starters, followed by Morocco and Gambia. In 1993 I retired (no! I wasn’t 65) and was

From the office…

INTRODUCTION

I can’t believe how quickly 8 years has gone by; it does help working for such an amazing company and a wonderful boss! As you may remember from previous newsletters I have been incredibly lucky while working for The Travelling Naturalist as I have travelled to Churchill the polar bear capital of the world and wow yes it is, over 25 sightings each day. I travelled to Aigas as a belated honeymoon, which can only be described as a true wildlife retreat. Among many highlights was a dolphin boat ride in the Cromarty bay, an evening in Aigas’s Pine Martins hide and Lady Lister-Kay’s wonderful homemade food. Since the first week I started I have enjoyed being part of your exciting holiday plans, thank you for all being so interesting to deal with and I look forward to lots more adventures to come! Vicky Spicer Tour Administrator

10

Not the Pirate King

provided beautiful vignettes for the brochure but also full colour covers. We even advertised! More clients came to recognise TN’s aim to

Time has flown by! I can’t believe I’ve been working for the Travelling Naturalist for over six years. I look at all our tours and think I’d love to go there! Now that my children are older, I hope to travel with them to Iceland, I would love to see the whales and volcanoes, preferably not erupting though! I look forward to seeing our clients on one of our Re-union weekends. I always enjoy the boat rides and chatting with our clients! Pippa Harvey Tour Administrator

provide relaxing holidays which looked at wildlife in general. As more and more contacts were formed, the number of overseas venues grew and those in Britain contracted. British trips tended to concentrate on islands and remote Scotland where clients were happy to let us deal with the, sometimes complicated, logistics. There proved to be a demand for expedition cruises. At first we joined the ships in Scotland, Spitzbergen and Antarctica as small groups but moved on to chartering exclusive cruises on special occasions. These included our 21st Birthday and the total solar eclipse in 2008. Because the ‘zone of totality’ was way to the east of Spitsbergen we had wonderful views of Bowhead Whales and Polar Bears among the ice floes. Unforgettable! Now in the 2014 Brochure we offer trips all around the globe from deepest Antarctica to the wilds of Africa and everywhere inbetween. How times have changed. I am proud to have had a long association with The Travelling Naturalist. Though retired from ‘proper’ leading, I still enjoy leading on Reunion weekends where I get the chance to enjoy the company of what I call the ‘recidivists’. Thanks for the many years of travelling together. Neil Arnold

I have loved every minute of my time with the Travelling Naturalist since joining the company in 2010, and have even been lucky enough to visit the Galapagos Islands in 2011, fulfilling a lifelong dream! It is always a pleasure hearing of all our clients trip highlights, and seeing the fabulous photos from amazing places, and I look forward to hearing many more tales from far flung destinations in the years to come. Thank you to Jamie, the whole team, and all our clients for making this a wonderful place to work! Joey Wakelin Tour Administrator

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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 Purmamarca  Salta

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BRAZIL

 San Augustin

ARGENTINA

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Northern Argentina

Cacti, Condors and culture of the Andes

Monday 21 October – Monday 4 November 2013 Monday 20 October – Monday 3 November 2014



ARGENTINA

cenically, this is one of the most varied trips we run, travelling to some of Argentina’s most spectacular landscapes and its richest wildlife habitats, ranging from woodlands in the lowlands to cloud forests at greater altitudes, and from vast extensions of shrub deserts to high Andean meadows with snowcapped peaks in the distance. Our itinerary also takes us to some superb archaeological sites where we can absorb the history, arts, crafts and music of the area. Even though the main focus of the trip is seeing unique cacti in their native setting, there is much more to experience as we will be travelling at a relaxed pace which will allow the group to take advantage of these other attractions.

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Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take a scheduled evening flight from London to Buenos Aires, arriving the next day. Days 2 - 4 : We arrive in Buenos Aires in the morning. After lunch in a city restaurant we connect with our first internal flight to La Rioja from where we travel south to the Valle Fertil, where we are based at San Agustin for three nights. Next day will be a relaxing day to recover after a long flight. We’ll have a full day sightseeing in the Ischigualasto Provincial Park, also known as the ‘Valley of the Moon’. As its name suggests, this is a dry landscape with wonderful rock formations which offers great photo opportunities. Next day we go to the Talampaya National Park, a World Heritage Site, with dramatic red cliffs, gorges and rock formations, and with excellent birding. Three nights San Agustin Days 5 - 6 : In the morning we visit an area of Ichigualasto Park, with more spectacular rock formations, which has been compared to Bryce Canyon in the USA.

(15 days) (15 days)

From the cloud forests and dry semi-deserts of the Andean foothills, to the awesome peaks and high plateaux of the High Andes, we go in search of Argentina’s amazing wildlife, with, for the first time on one of our tours, a focus on its spectacular and fascinating cacti, at a time when many are in flower. Join us for the trip of a lifetime in some of the best wilderness areas in South America! On one day we’ll go up into the rugged Sierra de Manchao, where cacti abound amongst the rocks. Two nights Chilecito

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be in mostly 3-star hotels and lodges. All rooms are en suite.

Days 7 - 8 : We travel north again to the Ruinas de Quilmas, passing through Los Menhires park, with ancient patterns carved into the rocks. The Pre-Colombian cultures which inhabited this region were strongly influenced by the Incas. We will spend two nights at the ruins of Quilmes, home to a pre-Colombian settlement of farmers. Our hotel, situated on the original site, provides the perfect location from which to explore the ruins and its surroundings. Two nights Amaicha del Valles

ALTITUDE : We have deliberately kept this tour to only moderately high altitudes. The maximum height for accommodation is at Purmamarca, at an altitude of approx. 2,500m, with two days spent in the high Andes at a maximum of 3,500m.

NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

Days 9 - 10 : We travel north again towards Salta, where we spend two nights. On one day we travel up to Los Cardones National Park, named after its columnar cacti Trichocereus pasacana, a giant that can live for three hundred years or more. We’ll reach our highest altitude here, at 3,500m. Two nights Salta

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 4,995 £ 395 £ 600 per person

Day 11 : We travel north to Reyes, set in the subtropical Yungas cloud forest. The fast-flowing rivers here may hold Torrent Duck and the endangered Rufous-throated Dipper. But there are cacti here too – mainly hanging from the trees! Epiphytic cacti include various Rhipsalis species. Overnight Reyes Days 12 - 13 : We continue north along the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a 155 km. long, deep valley stretching north to south along the spectacular Rio Grande. We stay at the attractive village of Purmamarca, in a stunning setting, with 17th-century houses set around a small square, complete with hummingbirds on the flowering shrubs that can include the superb Giant Hummingbird.

PACE : We will not be walking very far on this tour (2-3 miles on a walk at most), and walks, especially at high altitude, will be at an easy pace. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Luis Segura

The price includes scheduled return flights London/Buenos Aires, airport taxes, internal flights as outlined above, ground transportation as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, local taxes, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to the local guide and drivers, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (Buenos Aires/Buenos Aires), please deduct £795 from the tour cost.

Next day we continue up the Humahuaca Valley. As we reach the entrance of the Humahuaca Gorge, the landscape changes completely as we climb ever higher amongst the rocky ravines, cactus and thorn scrub, and terraced cultivation. The magnificent scenery of this arid valley is the habitat of Giant Hummingbird and the ‘Old Man’ cactus, Oreocereus celsianus as well as many small sought-after Lobivias and Rebutias. Two nights Purmamraca

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Buenos Aires

Day 14 : We drive to Salta for a flight to Buenos Aires and connect with our return flight to London, arriving on Day 15

What you say: ‘It really was one of the very best trips I have ever done. The scenery was so dramatic – quite unlike anywhere I have been before. Luis looked after us so well …’ R.A., Edinburgh

La Rioja – excellent cactus habitat, and Trichocereus candicans in bloom (Photos: Luis Segura - Trogon Tours)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Patagonia

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Iguazu 

The Uttermost Part of the Earth Monday 18 - Wednesday 27 November 2013 Iguazú Falls extension to Saturday 30 November 2013 Monday 17 - Wednesday 26 November 2014 Iguazú Falls extension to Saturday 29 November 2014

(10 days) (3 days) (10 days) (3 days)

ARGENTINA Valdes





Buenos Aires



Calafate

ARGENTINA

We tour the wilds of Patagonia for penguins in their millions, Condors over the Andean glaciers, Southern Right Whales and Elephant Seals on their breeding grounds, and some of the world’s most awe-inspiring scenery. Along with an extension to the mighty, bird-rich Iguazu Falls, this must be one of the most varied tours we operate! atagonia is one of the world’s wildest and most biologically fascinating areas. Forming the closest continental land mass to the Antarctic, connected to the supreme diversity of the South American tropics, and isolated from the rest of the world’s temperate zones, it has a unique assemblage of wildlife, first described in any detail by Charles Darwin. Indeed it was his experiences in Patagonia as much as on the Galapagos that inspired “The Origin of Species”. It is a rugged, wild country. We begin our journey in the harsh, windswept deserts of the Valdes Peninsula where we immediately get a flavour of the astonishing contrasts as we watch colourful Burrowing Parrots, inspect some lovely flowering cacti, and watch offshore for Magellanic Penguins and Southern Right Whales! Further south, we head up into the Andes, where Andean Condors vie for attention with some of the most stunning glacial scenery on Earth. Finally an extension will take us, in startling contrast, right up into the tropical forests of Iguazú, for a feast of tropical birding, and what many describe as the most spectacular waterfalls in the world!

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Outline Itinerary Please note that the precise itinerary may change depending on flight schedules.

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Day 1 : We take an evening flight from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires, arriving the next day. Day 2 : We arrive in Buenos Aires in the morning, with time for a visit to the excellent Costanera Sur reserve later. Overnight Buenos Aires Days 3 - 5 : We fly to Trelew, and travel to the tip of the Valdes Peninsula at Punta Delgada, looking for Burrowing Parrots and other local specialities en

route. We stay for three nights at a converted lighthouse in a superb setting, with its own Elephant Seals and Southern Sea-lions on the beach below. A boat trip will take us right out into one of the bays to get close to the Southern Right Whales for which the area is famous. Three nights Valdes Peninsula Days 6 - 8 : We drive back to Trelew, with a final chance of seeing Southern Right Whales before we catch a flight to Calafate. We have two days to explore the spectacular National Park of Los Glaciares. Above the Southern Beech forest rise jagged peaks interspersed with awe-inspiring glaciers. We take a boat trip right up to two of these for a day in some of the world’s most stunning mountain landscapes. Next day we explore the spectacular National Park of Los Glaciares and drive to the awesome Perito Moreno Glacier. Three nights Calafate Day 9 : We catch a return flight back to Buenos Aires, connecting with our return flight back to London, arriving on Day 10. Iguazú Extension Days 9 - 11 : We catch a return flight back to Buenos Aires, connecting with our flight north-east, to the Brazilian border. We are heading for the renowned Iguazú Falls, perhaps the most exciting in the world. The falls are surrounded by humid subtropical forest, a habitat more common in adjacent Brazil and offering some superb tropical birdwatching. Three nights Iguazú Falls Day 12 : We fly back to Buenos Aires to connect with the afternoon flight back to London, arriving on Day 13.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : will be in hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT : by minicoach with driver. Boat trips last about two hours at Valdes (small boat with shelter) and six hours in Los Glaciares NP (large very comfortable boat with picture windows and open decks) WALKING : Mostly easy walks (steps down with handrails at Iguazú Falls), all taken at a slow pace, no more than three miles in one day. A few trails can be rocky and uneven in places. PRINCIPAL LEADERS : Luis Segura (Patagonia), Miguel Castelino (Iguazu) NUMBERS : PRICES : Main tour : Single supp**. : Deposit :

Max. 14 clients 2013: £ 4,995 2014: £ 5,495 2013: £ 495 2014: £ 545 £ 600 per person

Iguazú Extension :

2013: £ 1,295 2014: £ 1,495 Single supp. : £ 255 Extension Deposit : £ 300 per person

The price includes scheduled return flights London/Buenos Aires*, airport taxes, internal flights as outlined above, ground and boat transportation as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, incidental tips, local taxes, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to the local guides and drivers, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (Buenos Aires/Buenos Aires), please deduct £ 895 from the tour cost. Please note that we can quote for tailor-made extensions for two persons or more to many places within Argentina and Chile – we have even run tailor-made extensions to Easter Island.

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Watching Condors in Los Glaciares NP and, top, Iguazu Falls

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Tambo

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Bolivia

Andean foothills to Lake Titicaca

BOLIVIA

 Cochabamba

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 Buena Vista

 Santa Cruz

olivia is a landlocked and mostly mountainous country, with some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of South America, and arguably its best-preserved indigenous cultures. Indeed some of the culture and language that still exists dates from pre-Inca days! The country is famous for having the highest capital in the world – La Paz – but on this tour we’ll keep away from the exhausting (to some!) high altitude regions. Instead we will concentrate on the bird and wildlife riches of the lowlands and Andean foothills, with their cloud forests and dry savannahs, before experiencing one of the most impressive drives on earth to a maximum altitude of 4,720m, and finally visiting fabled Lake Titicaca with its floating villages and reed boats. This tour is being run by our good friend Miguel Castelino, and this year will be led by Pablo Petracci whose knowledge of the wildlife and ecology of South America is superb.

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Itinerary: Day 1 : We take a scheduled flight from London to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, arriving the next day. Day 2 : As soon as we arrive at the airport in Santa Cruz we will start watching birds in the natural savannahs which surround it and the local botanical gardens. We drive from the airport to Buena Vista on the humid north side of Amboró National Park. Overnight Buena Vista Day 3 : This morning we will watch birds in the forests around our hotel. In the evening we will visit a small marsh, called the Curichi Cuajo, hoping to see charismatic Hoatzins, Southern Screamers, Wattled Jacanas and Toco Toucans. Overnight Buena Vista Days 4 - 5 : After an early departure from Buena Vista

Friday 10 October – Sunday 26 October 2014

Our tour to Bolivia starts on the wildlife-rich lowlands, and the foothills of the Andes, before climbing to the spectacular ‘puna’ amidst smowcapped peaks, and Lake Titicaca – for a superb introduction to its diverse habitats, birds, landscapes and culture. we travel south to Santa Cruz for lunch and from there to Los Volcanes on the south side of Amboró National Park. Los Volcanes is a spectacular lodge cradled between tall sandstone mountains, forestclad valleys and clear streams. Two nights Los Volcanes Days 6 - 7 : We will leave our lodge in Los Volcanes, and drive west to explore and bird the Samaipata area, the easternmost outpost of the Inca Empire in Bolivia. After lunch we continue our journey to Comarapa. A short drive from our lodge takes us up the mountains to some of the southernmost deciduous forest in the eastern Andes. At elevations of above 2,440m the abundance of epiphytes and purple flowers of the family Melastomaceae will amuse us as we enter the Siberia Forest (so named because of its cold wet climate during much of the year). Two nights Comarapa Day 8 : We spend the day travelling to the pretty city of Cochabamba, the largest concentration of Quechua indigenous people in Bolivia. However, the early start will allow us to make several stops in some good birding areas. Overnight Cochabamba Days 9 - 10 : This morning we leave Cochabamba, at 2,560 meters, to climb to the Puna Ridge at 3,660m. before dropping down to rich montane temperate forest. This is the Villa Tunari road, known to be one of the best birding sites in South America. We will then head down to the tropical lowlands and our hotel overlooking the river in Villa Tunari where we will spend the following two nights. Located at the foot of the Andes, 450m. above sea level, Villa Tunari is one of the wettest areas of sub-tropical forest on the continent. We will spend the morning birding in the lower forests of Carrasco National Park, including a cave with the southernmost population of Oilbirds on earth. The river crossing is an adventure in itself, where we will be pulled across in a little cable car (thrilling but very safe we assure you!) whilst the river rushes below. Two nights Villa Tunari Day 11 : We travel back up the mountains to Cochabamba via a different route. Overnight Cochabamba

Hoatzins (Photo: Margaret Welby)

(17 days)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be in hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite. Altitude : Our Bolivia tour starts at low elevations, and we only reach higher altitudes at a later stage, giving you time to adapt slowly but surely. Walks will be gently paced and mostly easy at high altitudes. TRANSPORT : By minicoach with driver. WALKING : Mostly easy walks, all taken at a slow pace, no more than three miles in one day. A few trails can be rocky and uneven in places. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Pablo Petracci NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES : Single supps. : Deposit :

£ 5,495 £ 395 £ 600 per person

The price includes scheduled return flights London/Santa Cruz, airport taxes, ground transportation, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, local taxes, and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to the local guide and drivers, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Santa Cruz), please deduct £ 895 per person from the tour cost.

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

La Paz

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down to Lake Uru-Uru, with its shallow shores teeming with waterfowl, shorebirds, marshbirds and waders. Overnight La Paz Day 14 : Today you’ll experience some of the most impressive drives on Earth. After breakfast we will climb through the clouds to La Cumbre Pass at over 4,570m. Snowcapped peaks and snowfields will surround us and the natural Puna gardens attract a variety of hummingbirds including Andean Hillstar. Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks can be seen from the roadside. Overnight La Paz

Day 12 : At dawn we will see the sun creep over the mountains to the west and bring the warmth to the valley below. Above the treeline, the scenery changes drastically. Sheep and Llama farmers here live in houses unchanged since the early 1500’s, giving this place a very medieval look. We will spend most of this day at altitudes above 4,270m, which will help us acclimatise for the following days. Overnight Cochabamba

Day 15 : Today we visit the world famous Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, stretching over 5,050 square kilometres, with a greatest known depth of 280 metres. Floating “totora” reeds enable descendants of the Uru Indians to maintain floating villages, and inhabitants on the southern border use them to build the distinctive reed boats the lake is known for. Overnight La Paz

Day 13 : We leave Cochabamba early this morning to begin our journey to Oruro and on to La Paz. We climb up to the Puna grasslands before heading

Day 16 : Today we will transfer to La Paz International airport to take our return flight home, arriving on Day 17 where our tour concludes.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Southern Brazil Jaguars and Harpy Eagles!

Friday 27 September – Friday 11 October 2013 Friday 26 September – Friday 10 October 2014

BRAZIL

(15 days) (15 days)

 Cuiabá

BRAZIL

 Campo Grande

From the fabulous Pantanal wetlands to the dry Cerrado, we visit some of the best wildlife areas in South America, for some of the finest birdwatching in the world, and a superb array of mammals, from Giant Otters to Jaguars! Our local guides have also discovered a regular spot for Harpy Eagles, and we hope to see them in their remote breeding area. ention a wildlife trip to Brazil, and most people start imagining long journeys through the endless, continent-sized tracts of Amazonian rainforest in the northern part of this vast land. But Brazil is much more than the Amazon – to the south of the country can be found coastal mountains that rise above the forests and a huge inland swamp that many believe to be the world’s finest wetland for birds, the renowned Pantanal. Located in the south of Brazil right on the border with Bolivia, the Pantanal astounds by its sheer size. At around 91,000 square kilometres, it becomes, seasonally, the largest wetland in the world. Habitats range from semi-deciduous and evergreen forests to palm woodlands and true Pantanal, the seasonally flooded grasslands with scattered clumps of “cerrado” scrub. This is the home of a vast array of birds, with wonders including the massive Jabiru stork, and the spectacular Hyacinth Macaw, as well as some impressive mammals, from Giant Otters to the rarely-seen Jaguar. Here we will spend the early mornings and late afternoons exploring in our air conditioned vehicle, on foot and in river boats. The Cerrado, or Campo Cerrado, with its very characteristic vegetation, corresponds to the arboreal savanna of other tropical continents. Sparsely scattered low trees and bushes with twisted branches, thick grooved bark, and leathery leaves give shape to this distinctive woodland. Narrow riverine forests along the numerous streams in this part of Brazil hold unique birds, including Blue-winged, Red-shouldered and Red-and-Green Macaws. The magnificent Harpy Eagle, one of the largest raptors in the world, can only raise its huge young every two years (well, you would need a rest too!). The pair we are monitoring had fledgling chicks in 2012 and full-grown fledglings are expected in 2013.

Sao Paulo 

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

M

Jabiru (Photo: Keith Grant)

This tour is timed to coincide with what we hope will be a time of maximum activity. We’ll also make no less than four boat trips in

the heart of the Pantanal to maximise our chances of seeing the elusive Jaguar! These boat trips are excellent for getting close to plenty of other birds and mammals – most of the photos you’ll see of the wildlife here seem to be taken from the boats. These will be our sixth and seventh visits to Brazil and the Pantanal. Previous tours have been highly successful with wonderful views of an Ocelot, Tapirs in abundance, Giant Otters, Maned Wolves, with many more mammal species and a wonderful variety of exotic birds, butterflies and plants. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an evening flight from London to Sao Paulo, arriving early the next day. Day 2 : Early morning arrival to Sao Paulo International Airport, in time for taking our connecting flight to Campo Grande. On arrival, we will drive 236 kilometers eastwards on a paved road, to Fazenda San Francisco. We will spend the following three nights in this cozy 10-room lodge. Overnight Fazenda San Francisco Days 3 - 4 : We will spend two full days exploring Fazenda San Francisco, searching for mammals,

14

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel

Jaguar (Photo: Luis Segura)


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birding and enjoying nature photography. Two nights Fazenda San Francisco Day 5 : We will leave Fazenda San Francisco this morning and drive all the way back to Campo Grande airport, to take our flight to Cuiabá. On arrival, we will drive 120 kilometers on paved road to Serra Das Araras, where we’ll spend the following two nights. Overnight Serra Das Araras Day 6 : Our main goal in Serra das Araras is to enjoy watching one of the most spectacular birds of prey on Earth: the Harpy Eagle. The resident pair doesn’t breed every year, but they had fledgling chicks in 2012 and full-grown young still being fed are expected in 2013. Overnight Serra Das Araras Day 7 : We will spend our last morning birding at Serra Das Araras, and then drive to the Pantanal, where we expect to arrive in the afternoon. We will spend our first two nights in Pantanal at a lodge situated in northern Transpantaneira. Overnight North Pantanal Day 8 : We will spend the day exploring the northernmost section of the Transpantaneira, which is somehow drier and quite different in terms of wildlife than its southern section, next to the Cuiabá River. Mammals are quite widespread at the Pantanal. Overnight North Pantanal

Days 10 - 12 : We will spend three full days exploring the Porto Jofre – southern Transpantaneira area, searching for mammals, birding and enjoying local wildlife. Our main goal here is to look for Jaguars, and this is the main reason why we are spending quite a long time in this particular spot. The Brazilian government has decided to protect the local Jaguar population, so sightings of this striking cat have suddenly become fairly regular in the last few years. From our comfortable lodge at Porto Jofre we will

Hyacinth Macaw (Photo: Keith Grant)

have the chance to make at least four half day boat trips along the Cuiabá River, and get to some isolated areas where Jaguars are frequent. Three nights Porto Jofre Day 13 : We will leave Porto Jofre after breakfast, and drive all the way back to Cuiabá along the Transpantaneira, bidding farewell to the Pantanal. Overnight Cuiabá

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : will be in hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT : by minicoach with driver. WALKING : Mostly easy walks, all taken at a slow pace, no more than three miles in one day. A few trails can be rocky and uneven in places. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Miguel Castelino

Day 14 : We will leave our hotel after breakfast and drive to Cuiabá City Airport to take our flight to Sao Paulo and connect with a return flight home arriving on Day 15.

NUMBERS :

Max. 14 client

PRICES :

2013: £ 5,295 2014: £ 5,495 2013: £ 795 2014: £ 845 £ 600 per person

Single supps. : Deposit :

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Day 9 : We will wake up early this morning, to the sounds of birds and Black-and-gold HowlerMonkeys roaring in the distance, and go for a prebreakfast birding walk in the surroundings of our lodge. After breakfast we will drive south along the Transpantaneira, all the way to Porto Jofre, where we’ll spend the following four nights. One of Pantanal’s most iconic bird species is the Hyacinth Macaw, a common sighting along the way and a regular visitor to the gardens of our lodge. Overnight Porto Jofre

The price includes scheduled return flights London/Sao Paulo, internal flights as described, airport taxes, ground and boat transportation as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, local taxes, tips and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to the local guides and drivers, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight price (Sao Paulo/Sao Paulo), please deduct £ 795 from the tour price.

Giant Otters (Photo by tour participant Bob Lugg)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Costa Rica

Cloud-forests: looking from the Cerro de la Muerte across the Central Valley of Costa Rica

Cloud-forests, jungles and volcanoes Saturday 1 – Friday 14 March 2014 Saturday 28 February – Friday 13 March 2015

COSTA RICA 

(14 days) (14 days)

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Costa Rica is amongst our favourite destinations anywhere in the world, containing spectacular mountains and active volcanoes, pristine beaches, lowland rainforest, high cloudforest festooned with orchids and bromeliads, and some wonderful tropical wetlands. And all this in a country less than the size of England! The amazing diversity of its birdlife and the fabulous complexity of its plantlife make it one of the most fascinating of tropical countries to visit – so why not make this the year you join us there!

osta Rica is a very different sort of nation. There has been no army since 1948, for example. "Teachers, not soldiers” has been the watchword – the country has one of the highest rates of literacy in the world as a result. The people are also very proud of their commitment to conservation. They have a national park system that covers around 12 percent of the land surface in addition to numerous privately–run reserve areas, which in total protect over a quarter of the country. Costa Rica is also an intensely beautiful tropical land, with a chain of volcanic peaks rising to over 3,500m. These mountains divide the country into quite separate ecological zones, each with its characteristic fauna and flora. Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world as a result, with more bird species to the square mile than any other country on earth. It is impossible to cover all of even this small country in a fortnight, but we aim to visit a representative sample of Costa Rica's biologically rich areas, and to give you the best possible experience of this wonderful country. Our local agents here are amongst the best we've found anywhere in the world, and their meticulous organisation and excellent local guides ensure a really first class tour. This will be our eighteenth tour to Costa Rica.

C

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Tour Extensions and Independent Travel While the main escorted tour lasts for two weeks, clients frequently ask us to extend their tour by a few days or a week. You could, for instance, join us for the tour and then fly down for a few days on the coast at Corcovado, staying at Marenco, or other lodges there. Please contact us for more information. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We depart from London on a scheduled flight to arrive at San José in the evening. Overnight San José Days 2 - 3 : We drive north from the central valley over the active volcanic zone, down into the Caribbean forest lowlands, toward the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We are heading for Maquenque, a new lodge that we have recently discovered, surrounded by lagoons that are ideal for birding. This is an amazing area where the two types of macaws can be seen at the same time and in the same tree (with luck!) and has become famous as a unique region for ecology, wildlife conservation and unique birding. Two nights Maquenque

NICARAGUA

Caribbean Sea

 La Selva Arenal   San José  La Ensenada   Cerro de la Muerte PANAMA Carara COSTA RICA

Pacific Ocean

Days 4 - 5 : We drive south and then west, along the lower slopes of the volcanic range, continuing to the Caribbean–slope forests around Lake Arenal. Towering above the lake is Volcan Arenal, an imposing cone on the horizon surrounded by lake Arenal, the main source of energy to the country. The lake houses the largest hydro-electrical project of the nation, while the mountains around it are home to many wind mills. The volcanic activity of the area completes this energy experience with the main geothermal energy sources. We stay at Arenal Observatory Lodge, affording views of the green lower slopes and the rocky, barren cone of the volcano in clear weather. Two nights La Fortuna Days 6 - 7 : We drive west toward the Pacific coast, to the much drier and more open Guanacaste lowland, before reaching the Tempisque River. We stay at the beautiful 11,000- hectare Solimar estate, a farm dedicated to cattle rearing and wildlife conservation, where we expect to see a wide variety of wetland birds including the mighty Jabiru. This is birders' paradise, especially at this time of the year when there are many migratory species and the breeding season is in full swing. In addition, other types of wildlife can be spotted. While in the area,

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Crimson-collared Tanager (Photo: Keith Grant) Volcano watch: Arenal Volcano rumbles away in the distance

Days 8 - 9 : We head south-west to the Pacific coast with time to watch birds en route. We stay at a new lodge, nestled on the top of a hill. This lodge was designed to be as self-sufficient as possible. During our stay we aim to visit the bridge over the Tarcoles River in time to see Scarlet Macaws flying to their mangrove roosts just before dusk. Early next morning we travel to Carara National Park. This is an important Pacific Lowland Forest reserve, where South American tropical rainforest meets Central American dry lowland forest. It is an excellent place for antbirds of various species as well as trogons, woodpeckers and a bewildering array of flycatchers. Mammals include various monkeys, Two–toed Sloth, and Tamandua, a small anteater. Near Carara is a superb small estuary, which, at this time of the year, can be teeming with wintering waders from North America, as well as terns and Black Skimmers, while Magnificent Frigatebirds fly overhead. We shall spend some time here, and at nearby pools. Two nights near Carara Days 10 - 11 : We spend the day driving up to the

Cerro de la Muerte highlands, where we stay at a superbly situated lodge in a wonderful sheltered mountain valley. The lodge is set among huge cloud forest oaks and a mountain stream, complete with American Dippers, tumbling over rocks just below. Collared Redstart, Magnificent and Fiery–throated Hummingbirds are among the gems of this area. One of the most sought–after species of any trip to Costa Rica must surely be Resplendent Quetzal, the bird considered by many the most beautiful in tropical America. We rise early to find them at their most active – sometimes right by the lodge. We go on to visit an area of mature highland forest with high oak trees, and finally climb to heights of more than 3,000m to visit one of the most distinctive ecosystems here – the strange, stunted 'paramo' vegetation. Two nights Cerro de la Muerte Day 12 : This morning we will return to San Jose via Tapanti, a jewel of a middle elevation forest reserve. We return back to the Central Valley and San José, and end the day with a farewell dinner. Overnight San José Day 13 : We catch a morning return flight to London to arrive on Day 14.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be in hotels or lodges with all rooms en suite. Some of the lodges are remote, and have simpler–style rooms, often in cabins. TRANSPORT is by small coach or minibus. WALKING : Some forest trails can be steep in parts, but we take these slowly. We travel up to over 3,000m., but will not be walking much at this altitude. LEADERS : 2014: Tim Earl & local guides 2015: TBC NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICES :

2014: £ 4,795 2015: £ TBC 2014: £ 595 2015: £ TBC £ 600 per person

Single supps. : Deposit :

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London/San José*, airport taxes, ground and boat transportation as outlined above, accommodation on a full–board basis, admissions, local taxes, tips to hotels and restaurants, and the services of the leaders.

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

we will take a boat trip amongst the mangroves adjacent to Palo Verde National Park, as well as making visits to some excellent pools and dry forest. Two nights Hacienda Solimar

The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to the driver and local guide, and other personal expenses. *For an ex–international flight cost (San José/San José) please deduct £ 795 from the tour cost.

What you say: “What a wonderful time we had in Costa Rica, seeing so many different beautiful places and brilliant birds and staying in comfortable lodges and hotels. Our leaders made everything so easy and enjoyable and showed us so much – I can’t praise them enough.” P.L., Wilts “I had a wonderful holiday! The organisation was great and we saw the most wonderful places.” A.J., Oxon

Blue-crowned Motmot (Photo: Keith Grant)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Falkland Islands

Elephant Seals.

South Atlantic Wildlife Spectacular Wednesday 8 – Wednesday 22 January 2014 Wednesday 14 – Wednesday 28 January 2015

FALKLAND ISLANDS FALKLAND IS.

(15 days) (15 days)

Carcass Is. G

Port Howard G

G

Darwin

G

Stanley

G

Sea Lion Is.

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Journey with us to the most accessible of the sub-Antarctic Islands, a land of albatrosses, penguins, Sea Lions and Elephant Seals... plus a warm and very British welcome. he rich seas of the South Atlantic are teeming with life – which means an abundance of food for the seabirds and sea-mammals. These are present in greater abundance and diversity than the North Atlantic but the problem for wildlife enthusiasts has always been the inaccessibility of the area and the islands which are home to many of the species. With direct flights from the UK with the RAF, however, and a well-established infrastructure to accommodate special-interest high-quality tourism, the Falkland Islands are simply the most accessible place to see breeding colonies of true sub-Antarctic species such as Black-browed Albatross, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Gentoo and King Penguins, Snowy Sheathbills and Southern Giant Petrel. And, as with all the wildlife here, most are extremely approachable, giving unparalleled opportunities for photography. With a maximum group size of only seven or eight, places will go fast on this tour – so do book early! Tim Earl is one of the pioneers of Falklands tourism, and has led over twenty groups there, his first in 1987.

T

Provisional Itinerary Please note that this itinerary may change according to flight schedules. Day 1 : We take a late evening departure from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. The approximate

18

duration of the flight is eight and a half hours to the refuelling stop at Ascension Island where there is a chance of seeing the endangered Ascension Island Frigatebird. The onward flight to Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands, is seven and a half hours. Days 2 - 3 : We arrive early afternoon at Mount Pleasant Airport – with luck a Typhoon jet escort will accompany us for the last hour. Our hotel in Darwin is a 40-minute drive away, where we’ll be welcomed by our host Sheena Ross. Those not wishing to rest will have a chance to go out and get a first flavour of Southern Atlantic wildlife. We should see our first Upland Geese, Correndera Pipits and endemic Falklands Flightless Steamer Duck along the shore, with Southern Giant Petrel and Brown Skua out to sea. Hospitality in the Falklands is excellent and our first taste of it here will be a special treat. Darwin was once the largest settlement after Stanley, with almost two hundred working folk on the farm payroll. The settlement, named after Charles Darwin, who spent some time here during his travels, was established in 1859 as a centre first for cattle ranching, and later for sheep farming. Today, the number of residents is much fewer but it remains a large working settlement. Next day we will be walking the shoreline, looking for Magellanic and Blackish Oystercatchers, Black-crowned Night-herons, Rufous-chested Dotterels, Kelp and Ruddy-headed Geese and our

first Magellanic Penguins. On the land we will start to familiarise ourselves with the Red-backed Hawks, Falkland Thrushes, Black-chinned Siskins, Longtailed Meadowlarks and Dark-faced Ground-tyrants. In the company of local historians Ken & Bonnie Greenland we will visit San Carlos and Goose Green, and may persuade Ken to talk us through the 1982 Battle of Darwin. Note: some rooms here are not ensuite, but we have the hotel to ourselves. Two nights Darwin Days 4 - 6 : We fly to Port Howard, the capital of West Falkland, for a superb taste of old Falkland life. The lodge was built as the farm manager’s house in 1952 and is a time capsule for that era. Sue Lowe’s cooking is superb and will sustain us over day-trips to the White Rocks for penguins and large mammals, and ponds which hold wildfowl such as Blacknecked Swans, both Silvery and White-tufted Grebes, Silver Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail and Chiloe Wigeon. The inland ponds have occasional Flying Steamer Duck. There should also be time to see aspects of Falklands farm life, with sheep-shearing a possibility. Port Howard was once a regular stop on Tim’s Falkland Islands tours and he is looking forward to returning to this beautiful spot. Three nights Port Howard

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


4/9/13

Days 7 - 8 : We take a FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) flight in a 9-seater Islander aircraft to Sea Lion Island, the most southerly inhabited island of the archipelago, just five miles long by one and a half miles wide, with a resident population of five. Sea Lion has the only purposebuilt lodge on the Falkland Islands with all rooms ensuite. We will be greeted with ‘smoko’ – tea and cakes in the lounge – no doubt. Beautiful plantations of spectacular tussac grass cover one fifth of the island and provide a perfect habitat and protection of much of the island’s varied fauna and wildlife. Besides the tussac, there are dazzling white sand beaches, dramatic cliffs, fresh water ponds and heath land, all with their own populations and within distance of the lodge. Just five minutes walk away is a colony of breeding Southern Elephant Seals. They sometimes come even closer – the lodge has a picture of one at the entrance trying to get in! Although the huge ‘beachmaster’ males will have finished their monumental battles at this time, there will still be up to 100 impressive juveniles on the beach. However, the breeding season of the island’s eponymous Southern Sea Lions will be in full swing, with three-metre ‘beachmaster’ males guarding harems of females, which are pupping before coming into season. During our stay here we will be visiting Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguin colonies, with their everpresent Blackish Cinclodes (known as ‘Tussac-birds’ locally), Snowy Sheathbills and Brown Skuas. Land birds include the endemic Cobb’s Wren and we will do a walk after dinner to look for Short-eared Owls, listen to drumming South American Snipe (a distinctly different sound to the display of European Snipe) and do some star-gazing. Offshore cetaceans may include Orca, seen from the lounge and beaches on many previous visits. On the land, one of the local specialities is Striated Caracara, a raptor which is now virtually restricted to the Falkland Islands having been almost wiped out of South America. ‘Johnny Rooks’ as they are called locally, can be embarrassingly tame despite their global rarity. Mind your sandwiches and gloves here – both have been stolen by curious Striated Caracaras on previous tours. Southern Crested Caracara can also be found here with Rufous-chested Dotterel abundant on the ‘diddledee’ moorland. Sea Lion Island is a remarkable wildlife reserve where nature is in charge! Two nights Sea Lion Island Lodge Days 9 - 11 : We fly to the superb and wildlife-rich Carcass Island. With over a hundred years of habitation, Carcass named after HMS Carcass, has had three environmentally-conscious owners who have avoided the introduction of predators, particularly rats and cats. This has allowed birds to thrive. Magellanic Penguin nest around the settlement and a Gentoo

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Gentoo Penguin displaying (Photo by tour participant Mo Warren)

Penguin colony is only a short walk away. There is also a large number of Striated Caracara (‘Johnny Rook’), many of them waiting right outside the windows of the accommodation for any stray biscuits, or other tidbits from the renowned Carcass home cooking: owners Rob & Lorraine McGill’s farmhouse hospitality is legendary! King Cormorants and Black-crowned Nightheron are also to be found on the island in addition to the endemic Cobb’s Wren and other small bird species. There is an Elephant Seal colony, and pods of Commerson’s and Peale’s Dolphins are frequently sighted. While on Carcass we will enjoy (weather permitting) a day-trip by boat to West Point Island, which lies to the extreme north-west of the Falkland islands, and was formerly known as Albatross Island. A colony of over 2,000 pairs of Black-browed Albatross nest on the ‘Devil’s Nose’ – a spectacular rocky outcrop. There is also a colony of Rockhopper Penguins. Dolphins are frequently seen from the boat and Orcas are possible. Three nights Carcass Island Days 12 - 13 : We fly back to Stanley and check into our hotel situated in the north east of East Falkland. With a population of approximately two thousand (85% of the overall population !), this is the most remote and smallest capital in the world. Despite its relatively small size, Stanley offers all the amenities and interests expected of a capital. Weather permitting, we take an afternoon boat trip to Kidney Island on which we ‘chum’ for seabirds. We hope to attract some of the South Atlantic seabirds, especially shearwaters and petrels including, with luck, Wilson’s Storm Petrel,

which are hard to see from the shore. In the past we’ve had impressive gatherings of over a hundred Black-browed Albatross close in to the boat, and have recorded Royal or Wandering Albatross on six of our eight pelagic boat trips. We enjoyed a brief visit from two Northern Giant Petrels, our first in the Falklands, in 2008. The following day a three-hour Land Rover drive takes us to one of the biggest penguin colonies of the Falklands, at Volunteer Point. Here can be found more than 3,000 Gentoo Penguins, with a colony of several hundred King Penguins nearby. These immensely impressive birds are one of the specialities of a Falklands tour and we will get close to them here. At this time of year the King Penguin chicks are just hatching, and we should get views of the tiny black young peeping out from between their parent’s legs. South American Fur Seals are an occasional sight here. Two nights Stanley Day 14 : Early departure from Stanley to Mount Pleasant Airport to catch the mid-morning flight to UK, with a refuelling stop at Ascension Island, and arriving back at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire early on Day 15.

TRIP DETAILS

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

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ACCOMMODATION : We stay in comfortable lodges and hotels. En-suite facilities are available throughout, with the exception of one or two rooms at Darwin. We can offer a very limited number of single rooms, but these may not be available throughout. LEADERS : Tim Earl and local guides NUMBERS : Max. 8 clients PRICE : Single supp.*: Deposit :

2014: £ 2015: £ 2014: £ 2015: £ £ 1,000

6,995 7,395 995 1,045 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return RAF flights Brize Norton-Mount Pleasant, internal flights, full board accommodation, ground transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leader. The price excludes travel insurance, optional tips to local drivers and guides, drinks and other personal expenses. *subject to availability The running order of itinerary might change slightly due to weather/availability. These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

Black-browed Albatrosses (Photo by tour participant Mo Warren)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Falklands For Addicts South Atlantic Wildlife revisited

Wednesday 28 January – Wednesday 11 February 2015

(15 days)

FALKLAND ISLANDS Saunders Is. G

Weddell Is. G

Port Howard G

G

G

Stanley

G Bleaker Is.

Sea Llion Is.

This is the fourth different itinerary we have put on to the Falklands, again aimed at showing people who have already visited the Falkland Islands a different aspect. It is open to first timers, of course, but will have particular appeal to those we call ‘veterans’. he tour features the usual top wildlife sites but includes a visit to Bleaker Island, only recently opened to visitors, and Port Howard.

T

Itinerary Please note that this itinerary may change according to flight schedules.

Day 1 : We take a late evening departure from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. Day 2 : We arrive early afternoon at Mount Pleasant Airport. We drive to our hotel in Darwin where we'll be welcomed by our host Sheena Ross. Those not wishing to rest will have a chance to go out and get a first flavour of Southern Atlantic wildlife. Note: some rooms here are not en-suite, but we have the hotel to ourselves. Overnight Darwin Days 3 - 4 : We fly to Port Howard, West Falkland. This, the largest privately owned farm on the islands, is sheltered behind a rocky coastal ridge on the coast of Falkland Sound, on the edge of a sea inlet which can be superb for wildlife. Commerson’s Dolphins are regularly seen, and the extensive mudbanks attract good numbers and variety of shore birds. The picturesque settlement makes a great place to meet a thriving Falkland Island community (with its own golf course!) and to see an excellent variety of Falklands wildlife. Two nights Port Howard

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Days 5 - 7 : We fly from Port Howard to the superb and wildlife-rich Carcass Island. Here the absence of introduced predators has allowed birds to thrive,

including large colonies of Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins. Owner Rob McGill’s farmhouse hospitality is legendary. The island has superb wildlife including pods of Commerson’s and Peale’s Dolphins. While on Carcass we will enjoy (weather permitting) a day-trip by boat to West Point Island, which lies to the extreme north-west of the Falkland islands, and was formerly known as Albatross Island. A colony of over 2,000 pairs of Black-browed Albatross nest on the ‘Devil’s Nose’ – a spectacular rocky outcrop. Three nights Carcass Island Days 8 - 9 : Weddell Island, situated to the west of West Falkland is the largest and possibly the wildest of the offshore islands just over an hour's direct flight from Stanley. It is a superb island for hiking, both up and around Mount Weddell with miles of spectacular coastline to explore. Weddell is home to an impressive range of flora and fauna and various wildlife, such as Gentoo and Magellanic penguin with a wide variety of other birdlife including hawks and numerous smaller breeds. Albatross and Petrel can be observed offshore. Weddell Island is also home to other unique inhabitants, the Patagonian fox and a few reindeer which were introduced to the islands in recent years. This large impressive island is ideal for adventurous walkers and is a wilderness waiting to be explored… Note: Rooms here are not en-suite but we have the cottages to ourselves and the location is superb. Two nights Weddell Days 10 - 11 : We fly to Bleaker Island the following morning for a two-night stay. Bleaker has two self-

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in comfortable lodges and hotels. En-suite facilities are available throughout, with the exception of one or two rooms at Darwin. The main exception is on Bleaker Island and Weddell Island where we stay in self-catering bungalows/cottages and rooms are not en suite. We can offer a very limited number of single rooms, but these may not be available throughout. LEADERS :

Tim Earl and local guides

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp.* : Deposit :

£ 7,395 £ 1,045 £ 1,000 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return RAF flights Brize Norton-Mount Pleasant, internal flights, full board accommodation, ground transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leader. The price excludes travel insurance, optional tips to local drivers and guides, drinks and other personal expenses. *subject to availability This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

catering bungalows which were built a couple of years ago to extremely high standards. They are owned by Mike Rendall, who regular visitors will remember as owner of the Malvina Hotel in which he still has an interest. Bleaker is a low, flat island we have flown over on our way back from Sea Lion on previous trips. It has a good Gentoo Penguin colony – on ‘Penguin Hill’ of course – several Magellanic Penguin and King Cormorant colonies, a large pond and miles of wonderful walks. We will have use of a Land Rover for this visit. Its eastern end is accessible and a good site for sea-watching. Big Pond attracts interesting waterbirds including Silvery Grebe – White-winged Coots were also present on our last visit – the first breeding record for the Falklands! Two nights Bleaker Island Days 12 - 13 : We fly back to Stanley and check into our hotel with an afternoon boat trip to Kidney Island on which we ‘chum’ for seabirds. On the following day we will visit Dolphin Point. Only recently made accessible to visitors by the completion of a road, Dolphin Point is home to large colonies of Rockhopper Penguins, Southern Fur Seals and numerous other species. At this time of year there is a good chance of seeing dolphins and possibly the great whales from the point. Two nights Stanley Day 14 : Early departure from Stanley to Mount Pleasant Airport to catch the mid-morning flight to UK, with a refuelling stop at Ascension Island, and arriving back at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire early on Day 15.

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Black-browed albatross (Photo: Tim Earl)

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FALKLAND ISLANDS Saunders Is. G

G

G

Stanley

G Bleaker Is.

Sea Lion Is.

his tour has been specially designed to maximise the photographic potential with visits to many Gentoo, Rockhopper and Magellanic Penguin colonies, a Black-browed Albatross colony, Sea Lion and Elephant Seals hauled out on beaches and much more besides. There is even a boat trip (weather permitting!) to photograph such species as Sooty Shearwaters and Albatrosses skimming low over the waves where they are truly in their element. We also stand a chance of seeing Orcas, Commerson’s and Peale’s Dolphins on this boat trip or from the shores of various islands. During this tour we shall visit Stanley, the Falkland Islands capital, with its beautiful Christchurch Cathedral, Whalebone Arch and various memorials to the 1982 conflict, as well as three other ‘minor’ islands. Saunders Island, one of the largest of the archipelago, Bleaker, one of the closest islands to Stanley, offering superb accommodation with many photographic wildlife locations within easy walking of the lodge, and finally Sea Lion Island, where we will stay in the most southerly located wildlife lodge and photograph endemic species such as the small Cobbs Wren and one of the rarest (and tamest!) birds of prey in the world, the Striated Caracara. On each of these islands there is plenty of wildlife to see and photograph and we will spend as much time as possible at each location to ensure we all have a good range of images. Our final full day on the islands will see us heading out to Volunteer Point to the most accessible King Penguin colony in the world for photography, truly a spectacular opportunity not to be missed! Mike Read will be leading this trip, so join us for superb light, unforgettable sunrises and sunsets, fantastic scenery and amazingly approachable wildlife on this dedicated photographic tour. The Falkland Islands truly is every photographers’ dream location.

FALKLAND IS.

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Falkland Islands

‘Pick up a Penguin’ pic!

Wednesday 19 – Wednesday 03 December 2014

(15 days)

Brought to everyone’s attention by the Falklands War in 1982, this British Overseas Territory is just fantastic if you want to get up close to Penguins and many of the islands other birds and wildlife.

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Day 1 : We take a late evening departure from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. Day 2 : We arrive early afternoon at Mount Pleasant Airport. Our hotel in Darwin is a 40-minute drive away, where we’ll be welcomed by our host Sheena Ross. Those not wishing to rest will have a chance to go out and get a first flavour of Southern Atlantic wildlife. Note: some rooms here are not en-suite, but we have the hotel to ourselves. One night Darwin Days 3 - 5 : We take a FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) flight in a 9-seater Islander aircraft to the superb and wildlife-rich Saunders Island. This was the site of the first British settlement in the Falkland archipelago. It is now one large farm of about 30,000 acres.

The Island is most well known for the sizable colony of Black browed albatross situated to the North West of the Island at the location known as the “Neck”. Arguably one of the Falkland Islands best wildlife sites, the Neck is home to large colonies of Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, and a small colony of King penguins, with many other species of bird present during the year, along with a small Elephant Seal colony. Whilst on Saunders, you will be accommodated at the cottage in the settlement and will take day trips to the Neck, and will also visit the superb wildlife location known as the “Rookery”. Here, you will have the opportunity to photograph the Rockhopper “shower”, a natural spring where the penguins line up at the end of the day to wash away the salt from their feathers before continuing up the cliff side to the main colonies. You will find various other species in and around the colonies, including southern giant petrels, rock shags, king shags and the odd striated caracara. Note: Accommodation here is basic, and there are no en-suite rooms but we think that the location makes it worthwhile. Three nights Saunders Island Days 6 - 8 : We fly to Bleaker Island the following morning for a three-night stay. Bleaker has two bungalows which were built a couple of years ago to extremely high standards and are run on a full board basis. They are owned by Mike Rendall, who regular visitors will remember as owner of the Malvina Hotel in which he still has an interest. See pg 20 for further details. Three nights Bleaker Island Days 9 - 11 : We fly to Sea Lion Island, the most southerly inhabited island of the archipelago, just five miles long by one and a half miles wide, with a resident population of five! Sea Lion has the only purpose-built lodge on the Falkland Islands with all rooms en-suite. We will be greeted with ‘smoko’ – tea and cakes in the lounge – no doubt. See pg 19 for details. Three nights Sea Lion Island Lodge

Days 12 - 13 : We fly back to Stanley – the most remote and smallest capital in the world – and check into our hotel. Weather permitting, we take an afternoon boat trip to Kidney Island on which we ‘chum’ for seabirds. The following day, a two and a half to three-hour Land Rover drive takes us to the biggest King penguin colony of the Falklands, at Volunteer Point. Here can be found more than 3,000 Gentoo Penguins, with a colony of several hundred King Penguins nearby. Two nights Stanley Day 14 : Early departure from Stanley to Mount Pleasant Airport to catch the mid-morning flight to UK, with a refuelling stop at Ascension Island, and arriving back at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire early on Day 15.

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Provisional Itinerary Please note that this itinerary may change according to flight schedules.

Gentoo Penguins (Photo: Mike Read)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : The main lodges and hotels have en-suite rooms except for a few in Darwin. The accommodation at Saunders Islands is basic and at Bleaker Island is simple. Please enquire for more details. LEADERS :

Mike Read and local guides

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICES : Single supps.* : Deposit :

£ 7,395 £ 1,045 £ 1000 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return RAF flights Brize Norton-Mount Pleasant, internal flights, full board accommodation, ground transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leader. The price excludes travel insurance, optional tips to local drivers and guides, drinks and other personal expenses. *subject to availability

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Trinidad & Tobago Scarlet Ibis and other waterbirds going to roost at Caroni Swamp (Painting by Mike Langman)

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

The Asa Wright Experience

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

Thursday 23 January – Tuesday 4 February 2014 Provisional dates for 2015 Thursday 22 January – Tuesday 3 February 2015

One of the best possible introductions to the natural riches of the Caribbean, based at the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Center on Trinidad, together with the wonderful tropical seabirds and coral reefs of Tobago. sk a few well-travelled birdwatchers their favourite places in the world to stay, and Asa Wright will soon enter the conversation. This famous centre on Trinidad not only makes for an excellent introduction to the incredible diversity of bird life in Central and South America, but is also an outstanding location in its own right. The view from the verandah out over the valley is superb, while the birding from here – sometimes only a few feet away at the hummingbird feeders – is always entertaining. Around the centre lie two hundred acres of estate, a former coffee-cocoacitrus plantation now reverting to secondary forest, surrounded by impressive rainforest. One special bird here is the nocturnal Oilbird, a fruit-eating relative of nightjars, and one of the only birds in the world to use echo-location. A visit to a colony of these peculiar birds in caves on the estate makes a unique birding experience. Tobago is Trinidad’s much smaller neighbour, and with its lovely beaches, coral reefs and seabird islands, it makes a fine contrast for the second part of our stay.

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22

Purple Honeycreeper (Photo: Keith Grant)

Trinidad

(13 days) (13 days)

Tobago

VENEZUELA GUYANA

January and February are the very best months to visit, with many forest birds including Manakins displaying, and seabirds nesting on Little Tobago. Early in the dry season, the climate is also delightful at this time. Itinerary Day 1 : Depart from London to arrive Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in the evening, from where we head straight for the Asa Wright Nature Center. Overnight Asa Wright Day 2 : We awake to the resonant calls of Bearded Bellbirds deep in the forest, and head for one of the prime birdwatching sites of the area - the verandah! From here a first-time visitor may see twenty or more new species before breakfast, with several hummingbirds including White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-breasted Hermit, and the delightful and diminutive Tufted Coquette, as well as Barred and Great Antshrikes, and Green and Purple Honeycreepers. After breakfast we walk some of the

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


4/9/13

trails that cross this wonderfully diverse estate, while we get to grips with our first representatives of the neotropical avifauna. Violaceous Trogon, Channel-billed Toucan, White-bearded Manakin, and Turquoise, Bay-headed and Palm Tanagers are among the delights in store. It will be a fairly relaxed day as we adjust to the heat, but a hugely productive one. After dinner there will be an evening walk to look for night creatures. Overnight Asa Wright Day 3 : We drive up the ridge of the Northern Range of Trinidad. En route we look for raptors, which may include Common Black Hawk, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, and the stunning White Hawk. Some of the more secretive forest birds can also be searched for White-tailed Trogon, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and Speckled Tanager. We take one or more of the roads over the mountains towards the coast and have a picnic lunch before returning to the centre. Overnight Asa Wright Day 4 : We make a full day visit to the Nariva Swamp and east coast. On the way we visit an agricultural research station, with a host of lowland species including Savannah Hawk, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Southern Lapwing and the delightful Greenrumped Parrotlet. Nariva, the largest freshwater swamp in Trinidad, also has an excellent mangrove area. Birds include Pearl Kite, Azure Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, and with luck, Pinnated Bittern. The coast should have Brown Pelican as well as Foureyed Fish! Overnight Asa Wright Day 5 : We spend a whole relaxing day in the centre grounds again, starting with a visit to Dunstan Cave. Here in this beautiful riparian grotto can be found one of the world’s few accessible colonies of Oilbird. This strange nightjar-like bird lives in caves by day, coming out at night to pluck fruit from trees as it flies, locating the fruit by smell and, uniquely among birds, finding its way around the caves by echo-location. The rest of the day will be spent wandering the trails, with many more species of antbird, tanager and honeycreeper all to be found amidst the lush vegetation. In the evening we visit an agricultural station where we look for nightjars and the remarkable Common Potoo, its huge eyes

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gleaming in our spotlights. Overnight Asa Wright Day 6 : We journey to the Aripo Savannah, the only remaining savannah in Trinidad, and host to many species not yet encountered in our stay. Greyheaded Kites, Shiny and Giant Cowbirds, Yellowrumped Cacique, Blue-black Grassquit and Ruddybreasted Seedeater are all likely to be seen. A remnant of the lowland rainforest at Arena may also be visited for birds including Squirrel Cuckoo and White-bellied Antbird. Overnight Asa Wright Day 7 : We start the day by commuting to Waterloo! This is an area of mudflats on the west coast, with a great range of waders, terns, and other shorebirds. In the afternoon we travel to the fabulous Caroni Marsh, a unique brackish water community with a wide diversity of mangroves. Here we can find Anhinga, Striated Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Pied Water-Tyrant, Bicolored Conebill and Redcapped Cardinal. In the late afternoon we take a boat trip, ending with arguably one of the world’s finest ornithological spectacles – the sight of hundreds of Scarlet Ibis, egrets and herons flying in to their roosts in the evening. Overnight Asa Wright Day 8 : We depart this morning for Trinidad’s sister island of Tobago. This island forms the final link in the chain of mountain ranges extending from the Venezuelan Coastal Range, on the very edge of the South American continental shelf. The drier and windier climate together with its location, give Tobago a different range of species to that of the larger island, along with some wonderful seabird colonies. We start by exploring the excellent Crown Point area for herons including Yellow-crowned Nightheron, wildfowl and waders. Afterwards, we visit the Grafton Estate, an old house with overgrown gardens, where regular feeding has led to the resident birds becoming quite tame. We continue to the north-east corner of the island. Overnight Blue Waters Inn Day 9 : The raucous calls of Rufous-vented Chachalacas form our wake-up call. Weather permitting, we take a boat trip to Little Tobago Island. This was the place where the memorable film of Red-billed Tropicbirds and Magnificent Frigatebirds was made for “Life on Earth”. Redfooted and Brown Booby can also be found. Our glass-bottomed boat will show us the splendours of a coral reef here, and we can either look down on Angelfish, or up at the seabirds overhead. We return to Blue Waters for an afternoon at leisure, with some gentle birdwatching around the grounds, snorkelling amongst the rocky shores of the bay, or simply lazing on the beach! Overnight Blue Waters Inn Day 10 : We spend the morning walking the delightful King’s Bay trail, with an afternoon at leisure to enjoy the beach by the hotel, and more local exploration, perhaps up to the old cannon and the trail cut into the hillside above the hotel, where dazzling Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds glint from the bushes in the sunshine. Overnight Blue Waters Inn Day 11 : We travel to the mountains, to visit Tobago's best rainforests today. These areas, at over 700m, harbour White-tailed Sabrewing, Blue-backed Manakin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and other Tobago specialities. Overnight Blue Waters Inn Day 12 : After a final morning's birdwatching we travel back across Tobago and fly back to Trinidad to connect with our flight home, arriving back in London on the morning of Day 13.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Photo: Keith Grant)

Blue-crowned Motmot (Keith Grant)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Dotted about Asa Wright’s delightful grounds, rooms are chalet-style equipped with ceiling fans (three of the lodge’s single rooms have air-conditioning not fans) and private bathroom. On Tobago, we stay at the Blue Waters Inn, a beachside hotel set within wooded grounds of 47 acres near Speyside, on the island’s gorgeous northeast coast. All rooms are en suite. LEADERS :

Richard Thaxton

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICES :

2014 : £ 3,795 2015 : £ TBC 2014 : £ 845 2015 : £ TBC £ 600 per person

Single supp. : Deposit :

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London/Port of Spain*, internal flights, airport taxes, ground transportation, accommodation on a full-board basis, local taxes, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tips to local drivers/guides, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Port of Spain) please deduct £ 645 per person from the tour cost. Both trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

What you say: “I thought the tour was exceptionally well constructed: I could not fault it.” P.G., Dorset A super trip! We thoroughly enjoyed it.” F. & L.W., Hants. “From start to finish the organisation was excellent…an outstanding leader; a delightful group, and the birds were superb. Altogether a delightful two weeks.” P.G., Dorset “It all went splendidly - excellent leader (of course!), great group, good guides in both places, fantastic birds and Asa Wright…I found this place quite exceptional. They are so welcoming and friendly, and very efficient. Their attention to detail is amazing very impressive. They could teach many other places I have stayed in a thing or two!” C.W, Hants. “I enjoyed the holiday very much, and would recommend it to anyone! “ G.M., Sussex “Great leader, great holiday, great company & the Asa Wright experience BRILLIANT. “ C. & G.S., Teesside “Overall one of the best trips we have been on and just the right length! “ L. & D. M., Surrey

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Trinidad & Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Tropicbirds and Turtles

Monday 24 March – Saturday 5 April 2014

o the birdwatcher not yet familiar with the avian riches of South America – the legendary ‘Bird Continent’ – our spring visit to Trinidad and Tobago offers an unbeatable introduction. It’s a 13-day holiday positively crammed with excitements! For here many of the typical Neotropical bird families are represented: toucans, jacamars, motmots, woodcreepers, cotingas, antbirds and manakins... yet without a sense of being overwhelmed. And it all begins with great birding (and a cup of home-grown coffee) right beside the veranda at Trinidad’s world famous Asa Wright Nature Centre. Located deep within the rainforest of Trinidad’s Northern Range, Asa Wright is one of those fabulous places that almost every birdwatcher has heard about, and surely longs to visit. Its remote position in the rainforest of the Arima valley creates the impression of isolation in the midst of verdant surroundings, whilst catering for all one’s creature comforts. Based at this beautiful lodge for the first six nights of our holiday, we certainly won’t have to go far to find our birds: the grounds are literally heaving with them! Honeycreepers, tanagers and Bananaquits crowd the feeders, up to ten species of hummingbird buzz about the garden flowers, and Ferruginous Pygmy Owls call outside our rooms. Via a network of well-maintained rainforest trails, we will visit Dunstan Cave, home to the mysterious Oilbird; go in search of the nerve-jangling song of the peculiar Bearded Bellbird; and hope to witness the frenetic courtship displays of the White-bearded Manakin. During our stay at Asa Wright we will also travel out to explore other of the island’s key habitats, from the savanna grasslands at Aripo to the rainforests of Trinidad’s Northern Range. On one day, we’ll even commute to the coast at Waterloo! An exciting new addition to this year’s tour will see us heading high into an adjacent valley, to visit Yerette: Trinidad’s ‘Home of the Hummingbird’. Up to 13 species of hummers – including the stunning Longbilled Starthroat – regularly come to the feeders here. Aside from the centre’s delicious and eagerly

SOUTH and CENTRAL AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

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24

Leatherback Turtle (Photo: Mike Crewe/Limosa Holidays)

Trinidad

(13 days)

Featuring seven nights at the famous Asa Wright Nature Centre on Trinidad, followed by four at Blue Waters Inn on Tobago, this 13-day birdwatching tour will introduce you to the natural wildlife riches of the Caribbean - from its rainforests and swamps to its palm-fringed beaches and tropical seabird islands. Nocturnal excursion to see nesting Leatherback Turtles is a special highlight of this late April tour. awaited rum punches, for many people, perhaps the most enduring memory of our stay at Asa Wright will be our finale boat trip into Caroni Swamp, drifting quietly through the mangroves to marvel at Trinidad’s fabled evening roost of Scarlet Ibises. In March and April, the Caribbean’s giant Leatherback Turtles will be coming ashore by night to lay their eggs on the beaches – including the one right outside our rooms in beautiful Grande Riviere, where we stay after leaving Asa Wrights. A nocturnal excursion to watch for them promises to be a special highlight. At Grande Riviere, we also have excellent chances of seeing the ‘Critically Endangered’ Pawi or Trinidad Piping Guan, which breeds beside the rainforest trails behind our hotel. Tobago is Trinidad’s much smaller neighbour and, with its lovely beaches, coral reefs and seabird islands, offers a more traditional Caribbean setting. Its avifauna is distinct too and we’ll search here for a number of species that don’t occur on Trinidad, such as the beautiful Blue-backed Manakin, rare Whitetailed Sabrewing and excitable Rufous-vented Chachalaca. We’ll also take a boat trip out to the seabird island of Little Tobago, where in April the breeding season will be in full swing for the elegant Red-billed Tropicbirds and Brown Boobies. With three nights beside the beach at the recently refurbished Blue Waters Inn, our stay on the island makes for a fine contrast to the first part of our holiday. Late March-April is a wonderful time to visit Trinidad and Tobago, when the climate is equable and many of the island’s resident birds will be breeding. This 13-day special has been planned to take advantage of British Airways once-a-week return flight from Tobago to London (obviating the need to return to Port of Spain to catch a homeward flight from there). Take your first steps to South America with us and discover for yourself why birdwatchers keep on coming back to the tropical twosome of Trinidad and Tobago! Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London Gatwick-Port of Spain, Trinidad. Asa Wright Nature Centre. Six nights Asa Wright Days 2 - 6 : Asa Wright trails and the Oilbird cave, with excursions into the Northern Range, Aripo savanna, Arena Forest, Yerette for hummingbirds, and boat trip at Caroni Swamp. Day 7 : Morning at Asa Wright. Afternoon transfer to Grande Riviere. Two nights Grande Riviere Day 8 : Trinidad Piping

Tobago

VENEZUELA GUYANA

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Dotted about Asa Wright’s delightful grounds, rooms are chalet-style equipped with ceiling fans (three of the lodge’s single rooms have air-conditioning not fans) and private bathroom. On Tobago, we stay at the Blue Waters Inn, a beachside hotel set within wooded grounds of 47 acres near Speyside, on the island’s gorgeous northeast coast. All rooms are en suite. MEALS : All main meals are included in the price. Food at Asa Wright is imaginative and delicious, including much that is locally grown. Meals are served buffet-style in the main house. Picnic lunches are another highlight... as is the Centre’s trademark rum punch, home-produced coffee and cake! The Mt Plaisir Estate Hotel serves imaginative organic meals, reflecting both Caribbean and Italian influences. WALKING : Most of the birding on this tour takes place along well-used trails and roadsides. The walking effort is mostly easy but with some hill trails, all taken slowly. The walk to the Oilbird cave is quite short (about 1km) and involves some fairly steep sections down through the forest; the trail is uneven but well-maintained, with a handrail to assist. As one would expect, rainforest trails can be muddy at times – sturdy waterproof walking shoes or lightweight boots with good grip are recommended. LEADERS : Robin Chittenden & local guides NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICES : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 3,895 £ 725 £ 500 per person

Prices are per person and are fully inclusive of scheduled flights from London-Port of Spain/Tobago-London; 6 nights full-board accommodation at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, and 2 nights at the Mt Plaisir Estate Hotel on Trinidad, plus 3 nights at the Blue Waters Inn on Tobago; minibus transport; full programme of birdwatching excursions as described, including boats trips at Caroni Swamp and Little Tobago Island; night excursion to see nesting turtles; all entrance fees/permits; incidental tips, airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leader/s. Prices exclude insurance, optional tips to local drivers/guides, drinks & other items of a personal nature. Both trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Guan and nesting Leatherback Turtles Days 9 - 11 : Fly Port of Spain-Tobago. Tobago’s montane rainforests and boat trip to Little Tobago Island. Blue Waters Inn. Three nights Blue Waters Inn Day 12 : Morning Tobago. Overnight flight TobagoLondon. Day 13 : Arrival in London Gatwick.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


 Reno San Francisco  Monterey 



4/9/13

NEVADA

Yosemite NP

CALIFORNIA

Provisional itinerary he first part of the tour includes Yosemite National Park and California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. This part of the trip is great for capturing a wide variety of habitats as we cross the range, with some of the region’s iconic scenery: the mountain domes and escarpments, canyons, and lakes so spectacularly carved by glaciers. Here we learn about the geology and wildlife of Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park, while enjoying nice lodgings and local cuisine. This is a glorious time in the Mammoth Lakes area of the Eastern Sierras, with massive peaks laced with water-carved rugged canyons and home to some of the finest autumn colour viewing in the west. Displays of golden aspen leaves quivering in the breeze mingle with pine forests and contrast with the stark granite mountain walls. Stream banks are lined with cottonwoods and willows, where a few lingering warblers and migratory songbirds may remain. In the Sierras we should find species such as White-headed and Lewis’s Woodpeckers, Mountain Quail, Sooty Grouse, Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Western Scrub and Steller’s Jays. At Mono Lake, we enjoy the spectacle of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds feasting on brine shrimp while in nearby sagebrush we may glimpse the rare Greater Sage Grouse, Sage Thrashers and Brewer’s Sparrows. We spend four days in Yosemite National Park, where we visit varying elevations, from the alpine down to the valley floor, from which we marvel at famous geologic wonders. With luck we’ll find American Dippers, Common Mergansers and Buffleheads along the river. We’ll walk in the land that inspired John Muir, by iconic waterfalls and amidst Giant Sequoia trees, while keeping an eye out for Willamson’s Sapsuckers, Lawrence’s Goldfinches and Oak Titmice. We stop at numerous photo lookouts, and spend time above the tree line where we may find rosy-finches, Clark’s Nutcrackers and migratory raptors. Mono Lake and its briny water are home to tens of thousands of waterfowl as they make their way south from the wildlife refuges we visit in the western part of Nevada. Eared Grebes, Northern Shovelers and California Gulls are mixed in with thousands of phalaropes and other shorebirds. In nearby areas, we can also see great flocks of North America’s heaviest bird, the American White Pelican, along with Sandhill Cranes, Golden Eagles, and other species of raptors moving south for the winter. On the east side, we also find some Great Basin desert specialties, such as the introduced Chukar and Juniper Titmouse. Our coastal trip takes us from Monterey to Los Angeles, with a remarkable mix of species and scenery. We will begin our journey in Monterey, home to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. The breathtaking drive down the coast will lead us to Morro Bay (and numerous small coastal towns en route) and finally to beautiful Santa Barbara. Autumn brings witness to vast bird migrations as birds move down the coast from the huge

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USA - Classic California

Yosemite, the Sierras and the Coast

Friday 26 September – Sunday 12 October 2014

(17 days)

Join Greg Smith for this grand exploration of California. Our tour has great cuisine, fabulous scenery, Giant Sequoia trees, historical sites, and charming lodgings as well as the array of wildlife that call these parts of California and Nevada their home. Early autumn is a great time to visit, with autumn colours and fewer tourists.

T

Great Grey Owl (Photo: Mike Read)

expanses of Alaska to their wintering grounds in South America. We should find a good number of western warblers and five species of hummingbirds. Some of the regional specialties include Wrentits, California Quails, California Thrashers, California Towhees, White-headed and Nuttall’s woodpeckers, California Condors, Tricolored Blackbirds, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees. One of the highlights of the journey is the option for a pelagic trip off Monterey where up to thirty species of seabirds have been seen on a single cruise at this time of the year. We also hope to see Humpback Whales and dolphins among the cetaceans with sea lions (both Steller’s and California) and possibly Southern Sea Otter too. We make it an optional extra as some just can’t take choppy conditions, but it is highly recommended. Other highlights include a trip out to Santa Cruz Island where we search for the endemic Island Scrub Jay. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Morning flight from London via San Francisco or Los Angeles, arriving Reno - Nevada in the evening. Overnight Reno Day 2 : Lake Tahoe. Overnight Granlibakken Lodge, Lake Tahoe (D) Day 3 : Lake Crowley and Hot Springs Canyon. Overnight Mammoth Creek Inn (B,L,D) Day 4 : Mono Lake and Bodie State Historic Park. Overnight Mammoth Creek Inn (B,L) Day 5 : Overnight Mammoth Creek Inn (B,L) Day 6 : Tuolumne and Yosemite Park. Overnight Yosemite Lodge (B,L) Day 7 : Yosemite Park. Overnight Yosemite Lodge (B,L,D) Day 8 : Yosemite Park. Overnight Wawona Hotel (B,L,D) Day 9 : Drive to the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, for those only doing the first part of the tour. Those continuing on the coastal extension will travel to Monterey. Overnight Hotel Pacific, Monterey (D) Day 10 : Explore Monterey OR a pelagic trip on the Pacific Ocean with Debra Shearwater

(Sign up for this option at the time of registration please, extra cost $160 payable locally) All-day pelagic trip from Monterey Bay with Debra Love Shearwater, or a half-day whale watching trip (optional) with free time in the afternoon to enjoy Monterey and nearby Point Lobos State Park. Overnight Hotel Pacific, Monterey (B,L) Day 11 : Monterey Bay Aquarium and travel Morro Bay. Overnight at the Inn at Morro Bay (B,L,D) Day 12 : Morro Bay. Overnight at the Inn at Morro Bay (B,L) Day 13 : Morro Bay. Accommodations at the Inn at Morro Bay (B,L,D) Day 14 : Travel to Santa Barbara, one of California’s charming coastal towns. There is much to see en route, but we leave you some time in the afternoon to explore the excellent local botanic garden. Overnight Castillo Inn at the Beach, Santa Barbara (B,L) Day 15 : Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz Island. Overnight Castillo Inn at the Beach (B,L,D) Day 16 : Drive south to Los Angeles, an approximate drive of 2 hours, for afternoon return flight to London, arriving on Day 17.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite. MEALS : As stated on the itinerary. Excluded are six dinners and two lunches PACE OF THE TOUR : Moderate with some field days, with possible walks of up to 2-3 miles over undulating terrain. PRINCIPAL LEADERS : Greg Smith NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 4,995 £ 1,125 £ 600

per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London – Reno and Los Angeles-London*, accommodation, meals on the tour as stated above, transport, and the services of the leader(s).

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

Please note that generally flights to the USA are instant purchase. If this is the case once we have finalised the flights we will have to issue an interim invoice to cover this, which will be deducted from your final invoice. The price excludes travel insurance, the cost of the Debra Shearwater pelagic trip ($160 payable locally), the cost of six dinners and two lunches (allow $30 per dinner and $15 for lunch), tips, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (Reno/Los Angeles) please deduct £ 745 from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA Please note that we require full payment 18 weeks before departure on all USA tours.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Canada - Grand Manan

NEW BRUNSWICK Fundy NP 

Birds and Whales

Monday 18 - Wednesday 27 August 2014

(10 days)

CANADA

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

Day 2 : Early morning will find us strolling through the waterfowl park in Sackville. Despite being in the middle of town this reed-fringed lake is a haven for waterfowl and waders. We will visit the National Historic Site of Fort Beausejour, strategically situated on a hill with great views all round. Given fine weather we may get our first views of migrating raptors from here. In the afternoon we continue on to Bouctouche on New Brunswick’s eastern shore. The English flavour experienced just a few miles before gives way to French joie de vivre: the contrast is fascinating. We stay at a former nunnery, now a comfortable inn specializing in French cuisine and fine wines. Overnight Bouctouche Day 3 : Today we will explore the Dunes of Bouctouche, an ecosystem of international significance, and home to rare plants and fragile marshes. Overnight Bouctouche Day 4 : We take most of the morning to drive to

26

 Fundy

TRIP DETAILS

N

Itinerary Day 1 : We take a direct flight from London to Halifax, Nova Scotia, arriving in the evening. A two-hour drive through the Canadian forests takes us to Sackville, New Brunswick, a delightful university town for dinner and our first overnight stay. Overnight Sackville

 Halifax

 Grand Manan

Join us for an early autumn bird and whale spectacular on Canada’s eastern seaboard - shorebirds and warblers on migration, excellent seabird possibilities, and probably the best time for whale watching.

ew Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy is one of the marine wonders of the world, an amazing eco-system powered by the highest tides in the world. Fundy’s mighty currents create cold-water upwellings resulting in an abundance of food for marine life and producing one of the greatest – and most accessible – concentrations of whales and seabirds in the North Atlantic. Fin, Minke, Humpback and the extremely rare Northern Right Whale congregate here in August to feed their young, play and mate. During our stay, we’ll enjoy two special boat trips out into the bay in search of whales and seabirds. We should be rewarded with close views of the various whales feeding and sometimes even breaching, and we’ll look for seabirds such as Great and Sooty Shearwaters and tiny, pattering Wilson’s Storm-petrels. Our encounters with these sprites of the sea were breathtaking on our last trip. The intertidal zone is equally rich in life, attracting thousands of shorebirds on migration. The forests, reminiscent of the Canadian North, can be full of warblers and other songbirds fattening up on insect food before beginning their arduous trek southwards.

NOVA SCOTIA

ACCOMMODATION : Good hotels with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT : Land transport will be by minicoach or minibus. The whale-watching trips will be on 42ft and/or 56ft vessels which take up to 25 or 50 passengers respectively. Both have cabins if we need to shelter from the weather. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Tim Earl

One of the whale-watching boats leaves harbour (Photo by tour participant Chris Milner)

Black’s Harbour, where the ferry leaves for Grand Manan. Just waiting for the ferry can be quite entertaining with Bald Eagles and Ospreys soaring past and perhaps a procession of Monarch butterflies beginning to migrate south. We may get our first glimpse of pelagic birds from the ferry to the island on the 90-minute crossing. It is not unusual to spot Harbour Porpoise, Minke, Fin and Humpback Whales from the ferry, accompanied by huge flocks of wheeling gulls. Overnight Grand Manan Island Day 5 : We take a boat trip out for our first whale-watch. Cetacean species common in the bay include Harbour Porpoises and the rare North Atlantic Right Whale – arguably the most endangered large animal on earth. These wonderful mammals come to feed their young in this part of the bay and this is probably the best time of year for a sighting. Where there are whales we often watch seabirds since they are attracted by the same food. Flocks of Great and Sooty Shearwaters, Wilson’s and Leach’s Petrels can be impressive. We spend the morning on the boat, in the afternoon driving to Southwest Head with its attractive cliffs of columnar basalt and a good range of flowers and butterflies. With Sharp-shinned Hawk and Merlin on the move, the possibility of migrant raptors is good. Overnight Grand Manan Island

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ £ £

3,495 395 400 per person

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London - Halifax*, airport taxes, ground transportation, ferries, accommodation on a full-board basis, local taxes, tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, optional tips to local guides, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Halifax) please deduct £ 645 from the tour cost.

Migrants here can be abundant, and we’ve seen ten species of warbler in one visit. Sunsets are spectacular from The Whistle, on the west side of the island. A clear sky at night will see us doing a spot of star-gazing. Overnight Grand Manan Island Day 8 : We take an early ferry off the island to drive to Fundy National Park which boasts the world’s highest tides. Starting in mid-July, as many as two million Semipalmated Sandpipers and other waders pass through the Bay of Fundy on their autumn migration. We stay in an elegantly-furnished inn near Mary’s Point. Overnight Mary’s Point Day 9 : After breakfast we will visit Hopewell Rocks, one of the Bay of Fundy’s most famous attractions. We then drive back to Halifax for our return flight to London, arriving on Day 10.

Day 6 : We take a second morning boat trip in search of whales and seabirds. In the afternoon we will investigate other wildlife sites on the island. Overnight Grand Manan Island Day 7 : We’ll spend the day exploring the island.

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel

The shores of Grand Manan Island and, inset: Breaching Northern Right Whale (Photos by tour participant Pam Phillipson)


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BRITISH COLUMBIA & ALBERTA

BRITISH COLUMBIA

4/9/13

ALBERTA

 Calgary

 Vancouver

lberta, a vast province blanketed in a ‘sea of grass’, where the Great Plains meet the majestic Rocky Mountains. Great herds of American Bison used to roam these plains, but over thousands of years these huge majestic creatures have been driven near to extinction. The bison were not only important to the natural ecosystem but they also provided a way of life for the local native tribes, the Blackfoot Indians. Many of the sites we visit on this tour are important archaeological sites for the Blackfoot, so if you don’t mind a little history mixed in with the birding, you will love this trip. We will begin our tour in Calgary, from where we head for Frank Lake, an area of extensive wetland home to dozens of species of birds. A few of the goodies to expect include Canada’s only Whitefaced Ibis population, Black-necked Stilt, Sora, and over a dozen species of waterfowl. We’ll explore the Foothills, an area west of Calgary where rolling, forested hills nestle up beside the front ranges of the Rockies. Birds to watch for here will include those of an eastern flavour such as Le Conte’s, Nelson’s and White-throated Sparrows, Tennessee and Cape May Warblers, Eastern Phoebe and many more. As we journey south from Calgary, we’ll stop at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, where over a 6000 year period, the Blackfoot Indians drove thousands of American Bison over a cliff to their death. This historic site has a fantastic museum, which we will explore in addition to walking trails where Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle and Ferruginous Hawk may be seen. For the first time visitor to the Canadian Rockies, the experience is unforgettable. You will thoroughly enjoy two days of exploring Waterton Lakes National Park, where majestic peaks soar into the sky and pristine lakes where yodeling divers and regal Trumpeter Swans are found. Mammal watching in the park is next to none, and with some luck we’ll encounter up to ten species in the park alone. The

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Canada

The Great Plains and Rocky Mountains Tuesday 3 – Sunday 15 June 2014

(13 days)

Join us on this 13-day tour as we explore the prairies for Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspurs, Lark Buntings, Baird’s Sparrows and Sprague’s Pipits to name just a few species. In the Rockies we could see a plethora of birds as well as a variety of mammals like American Black Bear, American Bison, Moose, Elk and more. Throw in the local Blackfoot tribes and dinosaur badlands and you’ve got yourself a cracking tour! village of Waterton where we will spend two nights is quaint and idyllic, perched right on the shore of the lake and in the shadows of the mountains. Continuing east across the vast prairie, we’ll visit another historic site, Writing on Stone Provincial Park. Here, many ancient Blackfoot drawings have been found carved into the sandstone hoodoos along the Milk River. To a birder, the area is exciting as it is home to such gems as Loggerhead Shrike, Baird’s Sparrow, Lark Bunting and Chestnutcollared Longspur. Straddling the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, at around 1500 meters elevation, is the highest point of land in Canada, between the Rocky Mountains and Newfoundland to the east. Birding here is great, with many species reaching the eastern limit of their range. Some of these species include Red-naped Sapsucker, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Dusky Flycatcher and Townsend’s Solitaire. The village of Elkwater where we will spend our three nights, is a relaxing and peaceful place, with nature right at our doorstep. We’ll explore the remote southeastern corner of Alberta, where McCown’s Longspur sing from the prairie and Ferruginous Hawks patrol the skies. Brooks, our next port of call, is right in the heart of Alberta’s ‘Badlands’, an area of river valleys and prairie where many dinosaur fossils have been found. Provincial parks around Brooks such as Tillebrook and Kinbrook Island parks are excellent for birding. Before we depart the Brooks area we’ll pay a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park, where rugged hoodoos and cliffs in the Red Deer River Valley are home to birds like Yellow-breasted Chat, Spotted Towhee, Lark Sparrow and much more. A visit to Alberta’s badlands is incomplete without a trip to the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology to learn a little about the history of dinosaurs in the area. The town of Drumheller where we spend a night, gets its claim to fame from the

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Comfortable hotels of good North American standard, all rooms with private facilities. MEALS : All included in the price. Food is good, varied and plentiful. As is the norm across North America, some evening meals will be taken at local restaurants as many hotels lack restaurant facilities. Continental-style breakfasts at the hotels. Lunches will usually be picnics. WALKING : While the Canadian Prairies are famously flat, we will be in the Rocky Mountains and the Cypress Hills on this tour where we will do some walking. You will want to bring a good pair of walking shoes along, waterproof if possible. Any hikes we do won’t be very long and should be suitable for most fitness levels. Our peak elevation will be around 1700 metres in the Waterton Lakes area. LEADER :

Chris Charlesworth

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 3,295 £ 525 £ 500 per person

Prices are per person and fully inclusive of scheduled flights London-Calgary and CalgaryLondon return; all accommodation, meals, ground transportation, all excursions, entry fees and permits, gratuities for all meals (15-20% expected in N America), airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leader/s throughout. Prices exclude insurance, drinks & other items of a personal nature. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

dinosaur discoveries in the region. To finish off a fantastic tour we’ll search for one of Canada’s rarest breeding waders, the Piping Plover at Handhills Lake, not far from Drumheller.

Bald Eagle (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Calgary. Three nights Calgary Day 2 - 3 : Frank Lake and Foothills. Day 4 - 5 : Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump & Waterton Lakes. Two nights Waterton Day 6 : Waterton Lakes to Lethbridge. Overnight Lethbridge Day 7 - 9 : Writing on Stone & Cypress Hills Parks Wildhorse & Onefour. Three nights Elkwater Day 10 : Tillebrook Park & Kinbrook Island Park. Overnight Brooks Day 11 : Dinosaur Provincial Park. Royal Tyrell Museum. Overnight Drumheller Day 12 : Handhills Lake to Calgary. Fly overnight London. Day 13 : Arrival London.

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Alaska

ALASKA ALASKA

Spring in America’s finest wilderness Wednesday 4 – Sunday 15 June 2014 Nome pre-tour extension from Friday 30 May 2014

(12 days) (5 days)

 Nome

Anchorage 

In a world where the treasures of wildlife and wild places are dwindling, Alaska remains a wilderness jewel. More than any place in North America, it retains its wild character and ecological integrity, making a visit here simply a “must do” experience. e visit in June when we have endless hours of daylight to explore. It is an active time for birds and wildlife feeding young in the short summer season. We visit wildlife-rich areas near Anchorage, Denali, Seward, and Homer and on our extension, Nome. A sampler of Alaska’s magnificent scenery would not be complete without a boat trip into the Gulf of Alaska and Kenai Fjords National Park from Seward. From our comfortable boat, we look for close encounters with Humpback Whales, large groups of Orca, dolphins, and the increasingly rare Steller’s Sea Lion. We feature three nights at the renowned North Face Lodge, a naturalist’s paradise with views of Mt. McKinley possible on clear days from the porch. In Homer we enjoy forests, farms and views, visit the Pratt Museum and travel by boat to dinner in the artisan community of Halibut Cove. Our main journey ends in Anchorage, a beautiful city, rimmed by water and mountains. On our extension to Nome, we explore a wild and beautiful landscape close to the Arctic Circle. Nome’s unique community is locked in by ice for much of the year. Our visit is timed for the ice ‘breakup’, an exciting time for birds.

W

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London to Anchorage, Alaska, arriving later the same day. Overnight Anchorage (D) Please note: Anchorage is a delightful small city with easy access to some great museums, shops and restaurants. You may want to consider arriving early to spend time here at your leisure. We can certainly help with your arrangements.

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

Day 2 : After breakfast we make a birding stop at nearby Westchester Lagoon. In the afternoon we focus on culture. Overnight Anchorage (B,L)

Day 3 : We get an early start for Denali National Park, taking a shuttle from Anchorage to the train station at the entrance to Denali National Park. Guides from North Face Lodge await us at the station. Overnight North Face Lodge, Denali National Park (B,D)

 Camp Denali  Seward

 Homer

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite. Most meals are included, as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner PRINCIPAL LEADER : Greg Smith NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

Days 4 - 5 : We have two full days to enjoy the spectacular wilderness of Denali National Park. Two nights North Face Lodge, Denali National Park (B,L,D, all days)

PRICES :

Main tour: £ 5,495 Extension: £ 1,495 Main tour*: £ 620 Extension: £ 445 £ 600 per person

Day 6 : By noon, we are at Denali Station, where we board the train to Anchorage. Overnight Anchorage (B)

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return flights London – Anchorage, accommodation, most meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), park entrance and other activity fees for activities described in the itinerary, the flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks mid-way through your journey, train travel from Fairbanks to Denali and from Denali to Anchorage, the all day boat tour in Kenai Fjords National Park, and the services of the leader(s).

Day 7 : After breakfast at the copper whale we drive southwest to Homer. We arrive in time to settle in, for tonight is a very special dinner in the artisan community of Halibut Cove, one we reach by boat, passing by kittiwake colonies, possibly Dahl’s porpoises, and Sea Otter. Overnight Land’s End, Homer (B,L,D) Day 8 : This morning we do some birding and botanizing at Homer’s Nature Center, a great forest preserve with five miles of walking trails. Overnight Land’s End, Homer (B,L,D) Day 9 : Today we veer south to Seward, a small town situated picturesquely at the head of a deep fjord. Overnight Seward (B,L,D) Day 10 : Today we embark on an all-day boat trip into Kenai Fjords National Par. This is a marvellous day spent cruising among glaciers and the seabird nesting islands of the Gulf of Alaska. Overnight Seward (B,L,D) Day 11 : This morning we head back to Anchorage. We plan to be back at the airport in Anchorage by 11:00-11:30 AM for afternoon flights out. Our return flights to London arrive on Day 12.

Single supps.: Deposit:

The price excludes meals not mentioned above, airport taxis in Anchorage on arrival and departure days (allow $25 each way), travel insurance, tips to the leader(s), drinks and other personal expenses. *Please note that single rooms may not be available throughout, and are especially hard to book at North Face Lodge, so are not included there. If we can get any single rooms here we will increase the single supp. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA. Please note that we require full payment 18 weeks before departure on all USA tours.

Nome pre-tour extension from Friday 30 May 2014 (5 days) Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London to Anchorage, Alaska, arriving later the same day. Overnight Anchorage Day 2 : After breakfast, we catch a morning flight from Anchorage to Nome; typically a jet-carrier flight where we share space with cargo. Overnight Nome (B,L,D) Days 3 - 5 : We could sight Grizzly Bears digging up arctic Ground Squirrels or we may encounter a roadblock of Reindeer, which are herded here instead of cattle. Gyrfalcons, Long-tailed Jaegers and Snowy Owls nest in the region and can be found hunting the open tundra. Dinners are at your leisure and not included in the cost, so you can pace yourself. Three nights Nome (B, L daily; dinners at your leisure) Day 6 : We plan on morning flights from Nome to Anchorage to connect with Day 1 of the Alaska itinerary.

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Breaching Humpback Whale (Photo: Peg Abbott)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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4/9/13

Kaua’i Honolulu I

HAWAI’I ISLANDS

O’ahu G

Maui

Kona G

Hawai’i

Hale Ohia G



HAWAII

he Hawaiian archipelago consists of over 120 seamounts, islands and atolls spreading across the Pacific Ocean from Midway in the northwest to Hawaii in the southeast. So much more than golden beaches, swaying palm trees and luxury resorts, the mid-pacific islands of Hawaii are a land rich in history and culture with a great variety of landscapes including snow-covered mountains, luxuriant forests, extensive lava flows and semi-deserts, lovely beaches, cascading waterfalls, pounding surf and calm turquoise waters. Not to mention the breathtaking scenery, impressive seabird colonies, fascinating endemic birds and plants and the world’s most active volcano! Learn the history of the islands from their development over a ‘hot spot’ in the Pacific Plate, to the heavily forested and sculpted landscapes we see today. Explore how plants and animals colonized and evolved into many species. As we visit historic and pre-historic sites, we witness the changes brought by man, starting with the influences of the early Polynesians over 1,000 years ago, through the arrival of Europeans with Captain Cook 200 years ago, to the vast and ongoing changes wrought by modern life. Hawaii has become the poster child for conservation efforts worldwide, and our tour will highlight what has been lost, what has been learned, and what is planned for the future. We will visit three of the seven inhabited islands. Firstly, Oahu, with its impressive array of wetland sites and reserves, ranging from beautiful mountain spots overlooking Pearl Harbour, a Laysan Albatross nesting site at Laena Point and a wildlife refuge excellent for endemic wetland species as well as providing essential habitat for wintering migratory birds such as Bristle-thighed Curlews, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, and other shorebirds; to name but a few. After three nights here, we then move on to Hawaii (the Big Island) the youngest and largest of the islands, where several recently active volcanoes have produced impressive lava flows. We will spend five nights here, 3 in Kona travelling to the Saddle Road and Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, and two nights at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where we have a chance to see an active lava flow

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Natural Hawaii

Pearls of the Pacific

Wednesday 12 – Wednesday 26 February 2014 Maui extension: Whales and Endemic birds Tuesday 25 – Thursday 27 February

(14 days) (3 days)

Aloha! We’re off on a superb trip to Hawaii, a fascinating group of mid-Pacific islands offering breathtaking volcanic scenery, a range of fascinating endemic birds and huge seabird colonies and probably the best place in the world for a chance of (safely) seeing an active lava flow. Join us on this delightful, and exciting tour for an amazing experience, and a greater understanding of the forces that shape our planet. and to learn about the earliest stages of island formation. Finally we visit Kauai, the ‘Garden Isle’, a treasure of biodiversity and one of the world’s lushest and most beautiful tropical islands, where Jurassic Park was filmed. We have four nights on this wildest of the 4 main islands, a treasure of biodiversity. We’ll walk the trails of Alakai Swamp and Pihea, visit incredible Waimea Canyon, enjoy a boat trip along the scenic Na Pali Coast and out to Lehua Islet where we have the opportunity to snorkel and swim with monk seals, and visit Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge to see nesting Redfooted Boobies and other seabirds. For those who wish to visit Maui on this Hawaii birding and nature tour, we offer an optional 3-night extension. In Maui, the second largest island, we visit Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge to look for migrant shorebirds and waterfowl, the spectacular aquarium at the Maui Ocean Center, and the dormant volcano Haleakala. We’ll take a quiet-water boat trip to watch Humpback Whales, and visit Haleakala National Park. This tour will be led by Doug Pratt who is a worldrenowned authority on Hawaii. This is not just a birding tour, although we have a good chance of seeing all the birds that anyone can reasonably expect on the islands we visit. This is a tried and tested itinerary, with something for everyone. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We catch our scheduled flight from London, via California and Honolulu, arriving in Maui during the evening or the following day. Overnight Honolulu Day 2 : Overnight Honolulu (D) Day 3 : Overnight Waikiki (,L,D) Day 4 : Overnight Waikiki (L) Day 5 : We fly to the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Overnight Kona Seaside Hotel (L,D) Day 6 : Overnight Kona Seaside Hotel (L,D) Day 7 : Overnight Kona Seaside Hotel (L) Day 8 : Today we loop around the southern end of the Big Island, a fantastic drive with much to see. We climb upward eventually reaching Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Overnight Volcano House, Volcanoes NP (L,D)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be as described with all rooms en suite. LEADER :

Doug Pratt

NUMBERS :

Max. 7 clients

PRICES : Main tour : Single supps. : Maui Ext : Single supps. : Deposit :

£ 5,495 £ 1,045 £ 695 £ 165 £ 600 per person

The price is per person and includes return scheduled flights London/Hawaii, internal flights, airport taxes, accommodation as detailed above, meals as detailed above (B-breakfast, L-lunch, Ddinner), transport admissions, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes the cost of meals not listed, travel insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA Please note that we require full payment 18 weeks before departure on all USA tours.

Day 9 : Kilauea Volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983, and geologists think the current eruption could last many more years. Visitors come to witness the fiery stream of lava as it makes its way to the Pacific Ocean. Overnight Volcano House, Volcanoes NP (L,D) Day 10 : Mid-day, we catch a flight from Hilo airport to Lihue on Kaua‘i. Overnight Kaua’i (D) Day 11 : Kauai, the smallest of the islands we visit, retains the richest native flora and fauna of the large islands. Overnight Coconut Beach, Kaua’i (D) Day 12 : Overnight Coconut Beach, Kaua’i (B,L – for those on the boat trip. Meals at leisure for those who do not) Day 13 : Overnight Coconut Beach, Kaua’i (L,D) Day 14 : We depart Kauai today and return via Honolulu & California, arriving in London early on Day 15.

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

Maui Post-trip Extension Day 14 : It’s a short flight to Maui. On arrival we look for migratory shorebirds, visit Kealia Pond Wildlife Refuge, and after checking into our accommodation take a sunset cruise to observe humpback whales on their calving grounds. Overnight Maui (L,D) Day 15 : After breakfast explore the summit of Haleakala, and the surrounding varied habitats. Overnight Maui (L,D) Day 16 : We arrive at the airport mid-day for our short flight to Honolul to connect with our flight back to the UK where our tour concludes on Day 17. Iiwi and, top, Apapane (Photos: Tom Dove)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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USA - Montana

Beartooth Creek (Photo: Greg Smith)

MONTANA

CANADA  Malta

Great Plains and Yellowstone Saturday 7 June – Saturday 21 June 2014

(15 days)

Saddle up for a fabulous trip to the real American West! We travel to the Montana Plains and Yellowstone National Park at the best time of year, when their wonderful variety of resident birds will be in full song, , their amazing range of mammals have young of the year in abundance, and the prairie will be ablaze with flowers. In the words of one of Yellowstone's most famous residents, this is a tour that's "smarter than the average"! n June, few places in the world match Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley for viewing the dynamics of large predators and their prey. Snow in the high country keeps herds of elk and deer in the valleys. Predators – particularly bears and wolves – take advantage of this, often in numbers that create real pressure between species. At the same time, their prey species are raising young, which are abundant and a joy to see. This year, we add an additional night to our Yellowstone journey, staying in the park at Lake and Old Faithful in addition to spending time in the wildlife-rich northeast corner of the park in Lamar Valley. We focus mainly on wildlife viewing in the dawn and dusk hours, while mid-day we offer excursions to explore the geyser basins, Hayden Valley, and the dramatic Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Our route to and from Billings lets us cross the dramatic, 10,000-foot mountain pass of the great Beartooth Plateau to see some of North America’s finest mountain scenery, with a good chance of spotting Mountain Goats, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, Marmots and Pikas. We stay two nights at Lake, one night at Old Faithful, and three nights in the small mountain town of Cooke City, rimmed by spectacular peaks. We start amidst the serene beauty of eastern Montana’s expansive prairies, which offer a lovely contrast to the drama of Yellowstone National Park. We tour this little-visited, beautiful part of Montana during early June, when the prairie is often ablaze with wildflowers and the air filled with birdsong.

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

MONTANA



 Billings

Yellowstone NP IDAHO

WYOMING

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Scheduled flight from London to Billings, Montana. Our hotel is located in the historic downtown district and tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner there, with a fabulous view of the city and the Yellowstone River winding through it. Overnight Billings (D)

I

30



Glasgow

Clark’s Nutcracker (Photo: Mike Read)

Our accommodations are in downtown hotels in Billings and Malta, and an historic Inn at Fork Peck. We eat at a variety of local restaurants and enjoy picnics in the field, time around a campfire one evening, and wildlife sightings to remember. A bison herd has been re-established on the American Prairie Reserve and we take time to watch the calves frolic. Coyotes and Red Foxes have hungry pups to feed and we may hear the adults serenade. After a week in the prairies, we stop at the Little Rockies, to walk amid groves of aspen and pine, before heading back to Billings where we celebrate at a well-known local steakhouse. The tour is again devised by Peg Abbott, and will be run in conjunction with her company, Naturalist Journeys, and the group could include some of her US clients.

Day 2 : This morning’s walk at nearby Two Moon Park along the Yellowstone River is often no less than extraordinary! We return for our things, pack up and head north towards the Canadian border, beginning very soon outside the city to witness the legendary open spaces of “Big Sky Country”. We settle into our simple but comfortable accommodations, enjoy dinner and prepare for tomorrow’s sightings. Overnight at the historic Fort Peck Hotel (B,L,D) Day 3 : One of the forces that ensure the Northern Great Plains remains diverse and healthy is that of varied landscapes. After today your eye will pick up the difference between shrub-dominated steppe communities, important to Sage Thrashers and Greater Sage-grouse. A real highlight of the day is (hopefully) seeing a population of Mountain Plovers. We take a picnic lunch and then return to Fort Peck, and the massive reservoir created by one of the largest dams on the Upper Missouri River. We have dinner in nearby Glasgow, and at dusk, venture out in search of Common Poorwills. Overnight at historic Fort Peck (B,L,D)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Day 4 : Exploring North Valley County brings us in range of many of the signature prairie birds we hope to see: Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Sprague’s Pipits and Baird’s and Grasshopper Sparrows. This is our chance to watch behaviour at some of the large ‘towns’ of Black-tailed Prairie Dog, which has been described as the keystone species of the region. We may also find Marbled Godwits with chicks, Wilson’s Phalaropes and American Avocets at small ponds, and all around us we watch the snappy display flight of abundant Lark Buntings. Overnight Malta (B,L,D)

Day 6 : We venture out early, to absorb the symphony of sound at dawn, and to learn more about research being conducted in the area. Travelling further into the reserve today, we can overlook Fort Peck Reservoir from its other side. Lewis and Clark passed by this area of the Missouri, and at scenic places like this it is fun to read from their journals. Wide open spaces here provide good habitat for prairie dogs and Bison, the return of which has not been welcomed by all. The politics of their story makes for a lively discussion. Accommodations in Malta (B,L,D) Day 7 : We drive west to the highway, looking for any species that have eluded us thus far. Mid-day we enjoy a picnic lunch near Zortman, in very different habitat – locally known as the “Little Rockies.” Tonight we enjoy a fine dinner at one of Billings’s famous steakhouses. Overnight Billings (B,L,D) Day 8 : Morning at your leisure, perhaps enjoying a walk on the scenic bluffs trail above the city. We gather in the hotel lobby at 11:00 AM, and then go to the airport to pick up those arriving today. We then drive west along the Yellowstone River, then turn south towards the classic western town of Cody, Wyoming. From Cody we travel west to Lake on a scenic drive that provides a spectacular introduction to Yellowstone. Enjoy dinner with a view of Yellowstone Lake. Overnight in cabins at Lake Hotel, Yellowstone National Park (B,L,D) Day 9 : This morning we venture out early to look for

Black and Grizzly Bear en route to Lake Butte, a scenic point that affords us a stunning view of the wild country surrounding Yellowstone Lake. Bison calves frolic, Sandhill Cranes call, and with luck we’ll find some interesting raptors, or even catch a glimpse of a Gray Wolf pack. We have lunch at leisure in Canyon and take time to view the excellent exhibits on geology at the Visitor’s Center. Enjoy dinner at your leisure at one of the tables we’ve reserved for you at our hotel. Overnight in cabins at Lake Hotel, Yellowstone National Park (B) Day 10 : At Lake, we are just a few hours away from Grand Teton National Park. After breakfast, we pack up and head for a view. We enjoy lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge, and wildlife viewing with a good chance of seeing Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles and Moose. In the afternoon we drive back into Yellowstone, veering west at the road junction for Old Faithful. It’s wonderful to overnight here, as we have an early dinner at the historic Inn, and take a leisurely walk out to the geyser basin’s a short way from our accommodations. Overnight Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park (B,L,D) Day 11 : We enjoy breakfast and an early morning walk amid the geysers. Mid-morning, we head on to see fanciful mudpots and colorful Grand Prismatic Spring. We drive down the Madison River with hopes of seeing Trumpeter Swans, and then head up and over Dunraven Pass towards Cooke City. Dunraven affords us marvellous views, and is an area often used by bears, as well as Bighorn Sheep and American Elk. It is a good area to look for Peregrine and Prairie falcons and other raptors. We drive through Lamar Valley to our lodgings at Cooke City. The Lamar is lower elevation than Hayden, Canyon or Lake, and lush grass is attractive to large herds of bison and other wildlife. Overnight Cooke City (B,L,D)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite. MEALS : Most included, except for two dinners at Yellowstone and Cooke City and one lunch PACE OF THE TOUR : Moderate with some field days, with possible walks of up to 2-3 miles over undulating terrain. LEADERS : John Carlson & Woody Wheeler NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 4,495 £ 685 £ 600

per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London - Billings *, accommodation, meals on the tour except for two dinners and one breakfast, transport, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, the cost of two dinners and one lunch (allow $30 per dinner and $15 for lunch), tips, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (Billings/Billings please deduct £ 745 from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA. Please note that we require full payment 18 weeks before departure on all USA tours.

Day 12 : We have the full day to survey the wildlife of the Lamar Valley. We depart early, in search of wolves, Black and Grizzly Bears, and the hoofed mammal species upon which they prey. We should have close looks at Bison, Mule Deer, American Elk, and Pronghorn, all of which should have young. We hope to see wolf activity as well: hunting, travelling, and possibly feeding young. We may find some of the smaller predators as well; Coyotes, Red Foxes or Badgers are all possible finds. Watching Bison with their calves is a delight. We’ll plan our day according to wildlife sightings and the energy of the group. Dinner this evening is at your leisure. Overnight Cooke City (B,L)

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

Day 5 : Just seven miles west of Malta, the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of habitats with lush areas of wetlands that we visit this morning. After lunch in Malta, we drive south to start exploring lands of the American Prairie Reserve (APR). Working closely with the World Wildlife Fund, APR has acquired land and conservation easements. Weather permitting, we’ll enjoy a campfire after an evening picnic on the reserve. Overnight Malta (B,L,D)

Day 13 : Our final full day involves an extraordinary drive; one Charles Kuralt has called the most scenic in North America. Even in June we may have walls of ploughed snow near the upper reaches. The pointed peaks of Pilot and Index mark our arrival to the mountain town of Cooke City, where we enjoy a final dinner at a delightful restaurant. Overnight Cooke City (B,L,D) Day 14 : Today we have breakfast, pack up and then drive over Beartooth Pass, with its vistas and wildflowers, back to Billings, Montana for our afternoon flight to London, arriving on Day 15.

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

Yellowstone Springs and, top, Bison in the Lamar valley (Photos: Mike Read and Greg Smith)

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Utah & Arizona

Canyons & wildlife… in the land of the Navajo! Wednesday 17 – Sunday 28 September 2014

UTAH

UTAH & ARIZONA

 Salt Lake City  Capitol Reef

Bryce Canyon   Zion NP

(12 days)

 Grand Canyon

Join us for a fantastic journey through some of the most astounding landscapes in the USA, on a wonderful and unique tour of birdwatching, wildlife, and Native American history. Renew your spirits in the mountains and beautiful red rock canyons of Utah and Arizona: the land of the Navajo!

he Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks are all internationally renowned. This year, we will once again visit two smaller parks we consider no less spectacular, Capitol Reef and Grand StaircaseEscalante National Monument. In between them we find a few treasured, but lesser-known sites such as Antelope Canyon and take an all-day boat excursion on Lake Powell to Rainbow Bridge. Navajos called this sacred site the “rainbow of stone,” and it truly is one of the wonders of the world. On the tour we discover a beautiful and intriguing terrain rich in scenic and geological wonders. The plants and animals of the region are fascinating as well. Nature is the theme of our journey as we enjoy great walks, scenic drives, with time to explore and photograph, and to learn alongside an expert for the region. In the evenings, we relax in the ambience of rustic lodges at the parks or in charming accommodations in nearby towns. The tour is again devised by Peg Abbott, and will be run in conjunction with her company, Naturalist Journeys, and the group will include some of her US clients. It will be led by Wynne Brown.

TRIP DETAILS

T

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take a scheduled flight to Salt Lake City, Utah, arriving in the evening. Overnight Salt Lake City, Utah Day 2 : We meet up with our guide at lunchtime, and travel to red rock country today. Capitol Reef is located along the Fremont River. Its massive colourful monoliths rise boldly against blue skies – a stunning place to explore. Overnight near Capitol Reef (D) Day 3 : The park’s formations vary in colour and texture, weaving a tale of geologic history reaching back millions of years. We plan two walks of up to 3 miles. Overnight near Capitol Reef (B,L,D)

ARIZONA

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in hotels or motels as described with all rooms en suite. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Wynne Brown NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp**. : Deposit :

£ £ £

3,695 650 600 per person

The price is per person and includes return scheduled flights from London – Salt Lake City*, airport taxes, transportation as described above, accommodation, most meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), admissions, local taxes, and the services of the leader/s. The price excludes travel insurance, meals not mentioned above (allow $30 per dinner and $15 per lunch), optional tips to local guides, drinks, and other personal expenses.

Day 4 : Today’s journey provides expansive vistas as we drive up and over Boulder Mountain. We continue on to Bryce, passing through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and arrive in Bryce in time to watch sunset over a panorama of rock features that have no equal. Overnight Bryce Canyon National Park (B,L,D) Day 5 : Bryce Canyon, established in 1905 by Theodore Roosevelt, is often the favourite of the parks among our groups as it is small, intimate, and presents a real playground of light. Overnight Bryce Canyon National Park (B,L) Day 6 : This morning we depart Bryce National Park to the west, and then drive to meet our Navajo guides for an afternoon visit to Antelope Canyon. By dinner time we reach our lodge on the edge of Lake Powell. Overnight Wahweap Lodge on Lake Powell, Page, AZ (B,L,D)

*For an ex-flight price (Salt Lake City/Salt Lake City) please deduct £ 745 from the tour price **single supps depend on availability This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA Please note that we require full payment 18 weeks before departure on all USA tours.

Day 7 : We embark on a scenic five-hour boat trip to Forbidding Canyon and Rainbow Bridge. The Navajos called this sacred site the “rainbow of stone”. After lunch we drive on to the South Rim of Grand Canyon. We arrive at our accommodations in the afternoon, perfect timing to watch for California Condors that come in to roost. Tonight we enjoy dinner at the historic El Tovar Hotel situated right on the rim. Overnight Grand Canyon National Park (B,L,D)

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA & USA

Day 8 : We have the full day to explore various viewpoints and vistas of the Grand Canyon. Overnight at the Grand Canyon South Rim (B,L) Day 9 : After breakfast, we continue on to another treasured Southwest national park – Zion, quite different from the Grand Canyon in character. Zion National Park is a fantastic realm of steep canyon walls, great domes and towers rising above the Virgin River. Overnight Springdale, UT (B,L) Day 10 : Today we explore the Virgin River corridor, in the afternoon venturing higher in elevation to lush Ponderosa Pine forests near a small reservoir. Tonight we dine together at a great local restaurant in Springdale. Overnight Springdale, UT (B,L,D) Day 11 : Today we pack up after an early breakfast for the return to Salt Lake City, arriving in time for return flights this afternoon, arriving London on Day 12.(B)

32

Bryce Canyon and, top, the Grand Canyon. Inset: Juvenile California Condor (Photos: Mike Read)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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ZAMBIA ZAMBIA BOTSWANA

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Botswana & Zambia

Okavango Delta & Victoria Falls

 Chobe NP

 Victoria Falls

BOTSWANA

alk to anyone who has visited Botswana and you will know that here is the ultimate African experience! “Like Kenya used to be” is the phrase often applied, for the as yet unspoilt wilderness of this landlocked southern African country is blessed with abundant birdlife and plentiful game. Tourists are relatively few, but the facilities are excellent. The vegetation is lush and green in March, many of the resident birds are breeding, and migrants from both further north in Africa and the Palaearctic abound although chances to see specialities such as Slaty Egret, African Skimmer, Greater Swamp Warbler, Brown Firefinch and the sought-after ginger giant, Pel’s Fishing Owl, will doubtless be the main draw! Our adventure begins with arrival in Livingstone, the capital of Zambia, from where we pay a visit to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders – the spectacular Victoria Falls. The falls were named in honour of Queen Victoria by the celebrated Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who is believed to have been the first European to gaze upon this wondrous sight. More than a mile across, the waters of the “smoke that thunders” plummet vertically for over 350 feet – the largest single sheet of falling water in the world. The localised Schalow’s Turaco and Tropical Boubou inhabit the fringing mist forests, shrouded in spray from the falls. Having been blown away by the falls, next we drive east to the border and take the ferry from Zambia, across the broad waters of the Chobe River, into neighbouring Botswana. Our destination, world famous Chobe National Park, is renowned as amongst the finest in all Africa. Secretarybird, Greater Kestrel, Kori Bustard, Yellow-billed and Redbilled Oxpeckers, and the huge Southern Ground Hornbill are among a host of birds we could see. Mammals are plentiful too, with Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Plain’s Zebra, Impala and Giraffe, along with their attendant predators. Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and Spotted Hyena are possible, but Chobe’s extensive woodlands are perhaps best known for the rare African Wild Dog. We will hope to be lucky to see this endangered mammal during our three-night stay at the park.

T

Monday 3 - Friday 14 March 2014

(12 days)

Join our Africa specialist Callan Cohen on a 12-day “fly-in safari” to one of the last great wilderness areas on the planet - the fragile Okavango Delta. We’ll take small charter planes and boats into the Delta, where we stay in small, exclusive camps surrounded by the African bush. From Chobe, we travel to our ultimate destination, the magical Okavango Delta. Remote and inaccessible, the Okavango wilderness is a wildlife paradise second to none. Just getting there is an adventure in itself, for we must fly in by private light aircraft! We spend five nights within this immense inland swamp, split between two comfortable camps in the northeast sector of the delta. Following the summer rains, in March the Okavango’s waters will be rising, spreading out over an area of 15000 sq kms – the size of Yorkshire. With five full days at our disposal here, we will have plenty of time to look for all the delta’s specialities and much more besides, as we explore the vast seasonal wetlands by safari vehicle and by mekoro, the traditional dugout canoe, propelled serenely through the swamps in time-honoured fashion... by a man with a pole! The birdlife is prolific, with kingsize Goliath Herons, Saddle-billed and Marabou Storks, Spur-winged and African Pygmy Geese, and African Fish Eagle amongst a plethora of wetland species. All in all, our stay in the Okavango should make for a fabulous finale to this most exciting of African tours! Guide Callan Cohen was born and raised in South Africa, and specialises in guiding bird and wildlife tours across the Afro-tropics. This will be his ninth tour to Botswana. Outline Itinerary Day 1 - 2 : Fly London-Johannesburg-Livingstone (Zambia). Overnight Livingstone Day 3 - 5 : Victoria Falls, cross into Botswana. Chobe National Park. Three nights near Chobe National Park Day 6 - 8 : Fly Moremi Game Reserve. Xakanaxa Camp, Okavango. Three nights Xakanaxa Camp, Okavango Day 9 - 10 : Kwara Camp, Okavango. Two nights Kwara Day 11 : Fly to Maun. Fly Maun-JohannesburgLondon. Day 12 : Arrival in London

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at a hand-picked selection of excellent safari lodges and permanent tented camps. All rooms have private facilities. [Please note: we plan to use the accommodations mentioned in the detailed itinerary, but sometimes for logistical and operational reasons they may need to be substituted with alternate camps of a similar standard in a similar area. Should a change be necessary, please be assured that it will not affect your enjoyment of the tour nor the range of species to be seen.] MEALS : All included in the price. Food is good, with most main meals taken at our lodgings, and lunches either as picnics or at the lodges. WALKING : Easy. Short walks. In the parks, away from our lodgings, the presence of wild animals may preclude excursions on foot so we travel by safari vehicles specially adapted for wildlife viewing. Comfortable walking shoes and sandals are suitable. FLIGHTS : We use the scheduled services of South African or British Airways, outbound from London-Johannesburg and then onwards to Livingstone (Zambia). Please note there are no direct flights from the UK to Victoria Falls at this time so all routes involve a change of planes. Our return flight routing will depend on schedules, most likely from Maun (Botswana) to Johannesburg and onwards to London (but possibly routing Livingstone-Johannesburg-London, as schedules dictate). Travellers to Botswana should be aware that we use small planes when transferring between lodges and these have a strict luggage limit of 20 kg per person, including hand luggage and cameras. But it is not necessary to bring much heavy clothing, and it is easy to get washing done at the lodges on most nights (which dries quickly). INSECTS : Mosquitoes are present throughout the tropics. Bring repellent and dress accordingly, covering up with long sleeves and long trousers in the evenings. Many of the accommodations we use do usually supply mosquito nets – but if you want to be guaranteed of one, then Callan recommends purchasing your own travel net for all travel in the Afrotropics. LEADERS :

Callan Cohen

NUMBERS :

Max. 10 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 6,195 £ 625 £ 600 per person

NORTH AMERICA - CANADA, USA & MEXICO

 Okavango Delta

15:08

The price is per person and includes return scheduled flights London-Livingstone/MaunLondon (please see flights above), transfers by light aircraft between the lodges in Botswana (as outlined in the detailed itinerary), all accommodation, meals, surface transportation including boat trips as described, entry fees to the parks, tips to local drivers/guides, airport taxes, map, bird & mammals checklist and services of the leader. The price excludes Insurance, Zambian visa (approx. £38), drinks & other items of a personal nature.

Hippos and Long-toed Plover Photo by Mike Read

This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Ghana

GHANA

GHANA

Picathartes & the Gold Coast Saturday 22 March - Sunday 30 March 2014

(9 days) 

Kumasi

A 9-day birdwatching tour along West Africa’s glittering Gold Coast. Features an extended 4-night stay at the superb Kakum National Park, with its stupendous Rainforest Canopy Walkway, and a ‘must do’ excursion to look for the cavedwelling Yellow-headed Picathartes. Primarily a birding tour, with some fine endemics. Expect a wealth of wonderful forest butterflies and some fascinating forest mammals, too. ith more than 750 species of birds, Ghana is the rising star among West African wildlife destinations. The forest birding is simply outstanding, with fabulous Black and Rosy Bee-eaters, White-crested and Black Dwarf Hornbills, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher and the shimmering Johanna’s Sunbird among a host of specialities that await. Our 2011 and 2012 groups also enjoyed fantastic views of the stunning Yellow-headed Picathartes (or White-necked Rockfowl), the bird that has latterly helped to place this friendly, stable English-speaking country firmly on the birdwatching map. Our holiday begins with Akwaaba (‘welcome’) and some fine coastal and grassland birding near Accra, on West Africa’s Gold Coast. Here the likes of White-crowned Cliff Chat, Violet and Guinea Turacos, Black-bellied Bustard, Double-toothed Barbet, Siffling and Croaking Cisticolas, Flappet Lark and Black-winged Bishop should ensure an exciting start before we head to our comfortable lodgings close to Kakum’s wonderful rainforest. Kakum National Park is famous for its superb rainforest canopy walkway – Africa’s longest. Its treetop platforms afford a unique opportunity to get to grips with a wealth of canopy dwellers, including many Upper Guinea Forest endemics. Congo Serpent Eagle, Fire-bellied Woodpecker, Bluethroated Roller, Blue Cuckooshrike, Kemp’s Longbill and the lovely Violet-backed Hyliota are among a long list of possibilities in the park. One of the undoubted highlights of our tour will be to visit a breeding site of the rare Yellow-headed Picathartes. We shall again have special permission to look for this highly secretive bird - and getting just a glimpse of one is an amazing feeling, never to be forgotten! A donation from the tour will again be given to PECK (Picathartes Education and Conservation for Knowledge Fund), a body set up by our ground agents to protect the site and to help children in the surrounding communities with their education. From Kakum, we continue our Upper Guinea adventure with a visit to the Bobiri Rainforest, a hotspot for forest birds and butterflies. Species to



Kakum

 Ho 

Accra

TRIP DETAILS

W

ACCOMMODATION : We use comfortable or best available hotels and lodges throughout, all rooms with private facilities and air-conditioning. In Tema, we stay at a good 3-star hotel. For our four nights at Kakum National Park accommodation is at the comfortable, modern and purpose-built Rainforest Lodge, which is situated just 10km from the national park. Our nights at Kumasi and Koforidua are in good hotels. MEALS : All included in the price. Food is good, with a choice of Western or local dishes. We will take early breakfasts prior to birding, and a packed lunch on the day we visit the Picathartes breeding site.

watch for include Narina Trogon, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, African Piculet and the beautiful Manycoloured Bush Shrike. Our tour concludes with a visit to Atewa foothills, where the forest holds Blueheaded Bee-eater, maybe the newly described and elusive Nimba Flycatcher, Spotted Honeyguide or perhaps Long-tailed Hawk. We are delighted that local expert Robert Ntakor, Ghana’s most experienced bird tour guide, will once again be joining us to co-lead our 2014 tour along with Brian Small.

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Accra. Overnight Accra Day 2 : Gold Coast Shai Hills, lagoons and grasslands. Overnight Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa Days 3 - 5 : Kakum National Park, its canopy walkway and trails. Three nights Rainforest Lodge, Jukwa Day 6 : Aboabo and Picathartes. Kumasi. Overnight Kumasi Day 7 : Morning Bobiri Forest. Afternoon Atewa foothills. Overnight Koforidua Day 8 : Morning Atewa. Return Accra, fly London. Day 9 : Morning arrival London.

WALKING : The walking effort is easy to moderate on this tour, typically with short walks of up to about 3 miles. Access to the Rainforest Canopy Walkway at Kakum involves a short uphill walk (about 650m) along an uneven stepped trail to reach the Walkway. The walkway itself is set about 40m above the forest floor and is accessed by steps; it has several observation platforms linked by stretches of suspended rope and board walkways. The walk to the Picathartes site is about 3 km through forest, with a short scramble at the end up a steep forested hill to reach the rock overhang where the birds nest. However, the pace will be slow and set to ensure everyone’s comfort - and the opportunity to look for this fantastic bird, one of just two members of this charismatic family and a major tour highlight, will make the extra effort seem all the more worthwhile! Comfy walking shoes with sturdy corrugated soles for grip advised. GROUND TRANSPORT : By air-conditioned minibus with ample room and local driver. INSECTS : Mosquitoes are generally only a local nuisance on this tour but you should be aware of their presence and take the usual precautions. LEADERS : Brian Small & Robert Ntakor NUMBERS :

Max. 10 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 2,495 £ 195 £ 400 per person

The price is per person and includes return BA flights London-Accra, all accommodation, meals, transport and excursions as described above, entry fees to the parks, tips to local drivers/guides, airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leader/s. A donation of £60 per participant will go to PECK (as described above). The price excludes Insurance, visa costs (approx £50), drinks & other items of a personal nature. The trip will be run in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

34

Yellow-headed Picathartes (Photo: John Farnam) and, top, Butterflies gather on a forest trail (Photo: Callan Cohen)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Kenya

KENYA

Classic Kenyan Safari Samburu  Nakuru

 Masai Mara NP





Nairobi

TANZANIA

veryone will possess their own images of Kenya’s fabulous wildlife riches: of limitless savannas stretched out beneath cloudless azure skies; of contented African Elephants quenching their thirst during the heat of the day; the roar of a distant Lion in the still of an African night; a lanky Giraffe loping silently across the acacia-studded plains; herds of noisy, fly-whisking Zebra trotting through tawny grasslands and of the astonishing richness and variety of so many brilliant and exotic birds! From species whose very names compel one to seek them out: Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Water Dikkop, Flappet Lark, and Stout and Croaking Cisticolas, to ‘must see’ African species such as Ostrich, Bateleur, Hamerkop – and the thousands upon thousands of exquisite flamingos that stretch as a shimmering pink haze across the waters of the Great African Rift. Let your mind take in the glowing sunset across the lake… Our Classic Kenyan Safari tour is designed to show you the best of Kenya’s rich tropical habitats, on a journey that will take you from the thickly forested slopes of Mount Kenya to the flamingo-clad Rift Valley lakes, through the arid scrublands of Samburu and on to the vast open plains of the famous Masai Mara. Beginning in Nairobi, we first explore the city’s own remarkable Nairobi National Park, where we might well encounter our first Lions or Secretarybirds, or see the endangered Black Rhinoceros. From here, we travel north to Mountain Lodge, on the forested slopes of remarkable Mount Kenya, where electric-blue Broad-billed Rollers and immense Silvery-cheeked Hornbills feed in the trees.

E

Wednesday 21 May- Monday 2 June 2014

(13 days)

In the home of the ‘safari’ (a Swahili word for journey), our 13-day ‘Classic Kenyan Safari’ offers the perfect introduction to the magnificent birds and mammals of this wonderfully scenic and diverse country. Travel with our top-rated Africa specialists Callan Cohen and Deirdre Vrancken, on a journey that will transport you through the hills, forests and rich savanna landscapes of Kenya - from Nairobi National Park and Mountain Lodge, via Samburu and the flamingos of Lake Nakuru, to the Masai Mara.

The dry acacia bushlands of Samburu and dramatic scenery of Shaba national reserves will introduce us to yet more fascinating mammals as well as many birds – including the handsome Verreaux’s Eagle and the peculiarly long-necked Gerenuk. Following three nights at Samburu, we swing west to the spectacle of Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes, staying at wonderful Lake Nakuru. Our safari concludes with a three-night stay, in luxury tented accommodation, amidst the sweeping tawny grasslands of the magnificent Masai Mara, close to the Tanzania border. Overall, we can expect to see upwards of 400 species of birds and more than 45 different kinds of mammal - all set against a backdrop of some of the loveliest and most dramatic wildlife settings anywhere on Earth. A safari through Kenya is a ‘classic’ African experience – and a wildlife spectacle not to be missed! Brilliant birding, marvellous mammals, unsurpassed photographic opportunities... Add arrangements tailormade for us by our top-rated Africa specialists Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken, and our Classic Kenyan Safari promises to be the ‘holiday of a lifetime’. Why not join us for some of the best birding on the African continent, in the company of two of its finest wildlife tour guides. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Nairobi. Overnight Nairobi Days 2 - 3 : Nairobi National Park & Mt Kenya. Two nights Mountain Lodge Days 4 - 6 : Samburu and Shaba Nature Reserves. Three nights Samburu

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at a selection of Kenya’s best lodges and luxury tented camps, all with private facilities. MEALS : All main meals are included in the price. Food is good-excellent; some lunches will be taken at the lodges, others as picnics in the field. WALKING : Easy. Short walks. In the parks, away from our lodgings, the presence of wild animals may preclude excursions on foot so we travel by safari vehicles specially adapted for wildlife viewing. Comfortable walking shoes and sandals are suitable. Maximum altitude: on this tour we reach a maximum elevation of 2500-3100m above sea level – even though much higher mountains loom above. GROUND TRANSPORT : By minibus and/or fourwheel drive safari vehicle/s with pop-top roofs for superb game viewing and birding. INSECTS : Mosquitos are present throughout the Afro-tropics. Bring repellent and dress accordingly, covering up with long sleeves and long trousers. Many of the accommodations we use do usually supply mosquito nets or have netted windows. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Callan Cohen NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ £ £

4,995 495 500 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London-Nairobi, all accommodation, meals, surface transport, entry fees to the parks, tips to local drivers/guides, airport taxes, map, bird & mammals checklist and services of the leaders. The price excludes Insurance, visa (approx. £30), drinks & other items of a personal nature.

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Days 7 - 8 : Thomson’s Falls to Lake Nakuru Two nights Lake Nakuru Days 9 - 11 : Nakuru to Masai Mara, via Lake Naivasha. Three nights Masai Mara Day 12 : Masai Mara to Nairobi. Depart NairobiLondon. Day 13 : Arrival London.

See you there! (Photo: Mike Read)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Madagascar

Madagascar sunset (Photo by tour participant Cliff Gilbert)

MADAGASCAR

Land of the Lemur

Wednesday 15 - Friday 31 October 2014

(17 days)

Separated from the African continent by just a few hundred miles of sea but more than a hundred million years in time, Madagascar is really a tiny continent all of its own. Here evolution has followed a quite distinct course, producing a whole range of life-forms that are found nowhere else on earth. Join us for a fascinating fortnight in the land of the lemur!

adagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world, having severed the land-ties to Africa more than 100 million years ago. This vast span of time, coupled with the size of the land-mass and a

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

M

36

Bamboo Lemur (Photo: Cliff Gilbert)

great variety of landforms, has enabled the forces of evolution to play, to experiment, and now to dazzle wildlife enthusiasts with a range of creatures and plants both bizarre and unique. This was the home of the Elephant Bird, the largest bird that ever lived, until just a few centuries ago – what a sight that would have been. Catastrophic habitat loss has led to the extinction of this and many other endemic species but there are still more than 100 endemic birds with several whole endemic families, including the amazing vangas with their great range of forms. Madagascar is also home to more than half the world’s chameleons including Parson’s Chameleon, the world’s largest at up to 60cm, and some quite extraordinary geckos. But perhaps the most famous group of creatures on the island are the lemurs, entirely confined to Madagascar and the nearby Comoro Islands. Lemurs are one of the most primitive groups of primates which have evolved into a stunning range of species ranging from the howling Indri, which greets the dawn in Périnet with its echoing calls, to the tiny nocturnal Mouse Lemurs. We’ll be travelling to several of the last remaining areas of lush forest, dry deciduous woodland, and spiny desert. In the face of vast commercial pressures, responsible ecotourism can help immensely to preserve these remnants with their immeasurably precious wildlife treasures. This will be an adventurous trip, with quite a bit of travelling to get the best out of this wonderful land, but we know that the beauty of the country, the friendliness of the people, and above all the extraordinary nature of its wildlife will make the

TANA 

 Perinet

 Ranomafana Tulear 

 Berenty

effort worthwhile. Please note that early morning starts will be necessary on several days. Itinerary Days 1 - 2 : We depart London in the evening and fly to Johannesburg, where we arrive the next day and connect with a flight to Antananarivo (known as Tana). Although more costly than flying via Paris, this minimises the time spent in transit. Overnight Tana Days 3 - 5 : We catch an internal flight south to Fort Dauphin. The schedule varies, and we may have time for a morning’s visit to Tana zoo, where we can see several nocturnal lemurs that are very hard to find in the wild, including Aye-aye. From Fort Dauphin (where we may overnight if the flight arrives late) we travel to Berenty private reserve. This is an area of tamarind gallery forest, reminiscent of the African bush. This is one of the best reserves for lemurs, with beautiful white Verreaux’s Sifakas hurling themselves from tree to tree, Brown Lemurs that wander into the restaurant in search of food, and, most fearless of all, Ringtailed Lemurs, whose gentle expression belies their banana-thieving intentions. Watching these endearing animals warming their tummies in the early morning sunshine can be one of the highlights of the trip. We’ll also have a chance to visit the bizarre spiny forest with its succulent plants. Endemics here include several vangas, Giant Coua, Madagascar Buzzard and Paradise Flycatcher. We stay for two nights in the lodge bungalows, and will take the opportunity to look for Madagascar

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Scops and White-browed Owls. Two nights Berenty Lodge, overnight Fort Dauphin (order depending on flight times) Day 6 : Morning transfer to the airport to catch a local flight to Tulear on the south-west coast. On arrival we transfer to Ifaty for our afternoon expedition in the spiny forest. Overnight Ifaty Day 7 : The spiny forest in this area has many endemic birds with Long-tailed Ground-Roller, Subdesert Mesite, and the striking Sickle-billed Vanga some of the most sought-after. This is a limestone area, and erosion has created a fascinating landscape dotted here and there with freshwater lakes which can hold a good variety of waterbirds. The sandy beach can also be productive with the possibility of Madagascar Plover. Overnight Ifaty Day 8 : We drive to Isalo with a stop for birdwatching at the Zombitse Forest. Here we will look for one of the world’s rarest birds, Appert’s Greenbul, as well as France’s Sparrowhawk, Reunion Harrier and Lesser Vasa Parrot. Later we will visit the Isalo National Park, an area of jumbled limestone pinnacles. Here we will look for another endemic, Benson’s Rock Thrush, as well as Madagascar Bee-eater. Overnight Isalo

Day 12 : We travel north again, stopping for lunch at one of the villages. Here we have a chance to visit one of the local woodcarving workshops for which the town is famous. We continue on to Antsirabe. Overnight Antsirabe

Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur (Photo: Cliff Gilbert)

Days 13 - 15 : We continue across the interior plateau, a land of small thatched villages and tiny terraced rice-paddies. The countryside has a distinctly Asian feel to it, perhaps not surprising considering that the Malagasy farmers who shaped the land are originally descended from Malay and Polynesian mariners. We continue on to the lush forests of Périnet. This is the wettest part of Madagascar, and the lush forest also contains some small lakes. We stay overnight at a lodge just outside the National Park. We spend two full days in Périnet. Famous for its population of Indri, the largest of the lemurs, the forest is also home to an excellent range of birds, including several endemics. These may include Redfronted Coua and Nuthatch Vanga. Indris are best looked for – and listened to – about an hour after sunrise, but we also hope to walk the area at night in search of Mouse Lemurs and other species. Other lemurs include Red-bellied and Common Brown Lemurs while the forest is also home to the huge Parson’s Chameleon. We’ll visit the recently-opened Mantadia National Park, home to arguably the most beautiful of lemurs, the Diademed Sifaka, and Scaly Groundroller. Wet areas can also host Tenrecs and some of Madagascar’s spectacular frogs, such as Painted Mantella. Three nights Périnet

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in lodges and hotels with en suite facilities throughout. Standards vary from excellent at Périnet to basic-but-adequate at Ranomafana. LEADERS :

Tim Earl and local guides

NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 4,795 £ 625 £ 600 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return economy scheduled flights LondonAntananarivo, internal flights, full board accommodation, transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, Madagascar Visa (c£40), optional tips to local drivers and guides, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Tana) please deduct £ 995 per person from the tour cost.

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

Days 9 - 11 : We take the long drive north towards Ranomafana, where we stay for three nights. Established in 1986 after the discovery of the Golden Bamboo Lemur, Ranomafana National Park is one of the premier ecotourism projects in Madagascar. Half the entrance fee goes to support sustainable development in the area and a training centre for naturalist guides has been established. The area is rich in lemurs and simply wonderful for birds. This is also probably the best site for the rainforest endemics. Here, as the morning mists clear, we’ll look for Rufous-headed and Pitta-like Ground-Rollers, Pollen’s Vanga, Brown Mesite and Velvet Asity amongst others. Although the park speciality, Golden Bamboo Lemur, is very hard to see, we have succeeded in seeing them on two previous visits. The park is also a research centre and some of the lemurs wear radio-collars for tracking. Three nights Ranomafana

Day 16 : If time permits, we’ll have a final morning near Périnet before driving back to Tana and catching our flight home, arriving on Day 17.

Madagascar 2013 Thursday 17 - Thursday 31 October (15 days)

A few spaces left! Please see 2013 brochure and website for full details! Running Coua (Photo by tour participant Donald Martin)

One of Madagascar’s superb Chameleons (Photo: Cliff Gilbert)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Namibia

Sossusvlei (Photo: Geoff Crane)

 Etosha  Hobatere



The Skeleton Coast and Etosha

Sunday 26 October – Sunday 9 November 2014

(15 days)

Join Geoff Crane for a tour of one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas, with some truly magnificent scenery, and superb birds and wildlife.

amibia has some of the most impressive desert scenery, one of Africa’s most bird-rich coastlines, some of the most dramatic dunes in the world, rocky central uplands, the wetlands of the coast, and Etosha, one of Africa’s finest wildlife reserves. Our tour aim is to visit all these areas to give a comprehensive experience of a most fascinating country, and to see a good range of its birds and wildlife. Endemic birds are an important aspect of birding in Namibia and on this tour we should have an opportunity to see many of them. Our tour starts in the capital city of Windhoek and moves on to the awe-inspiring dunes of Sossusvlei, from where we move on to the famous ‘Skeleton Coast’ at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The wildlife climax of the trip will be at Etosha National Park with a superb array of birds and mammals. Our final stop is Waterberg Plateau Reserve, an area of deciduous woodland surrounded by semi-dry acacia forest, where we will look for Rosy-faced Lovebird among many other

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

N

38

Red-crested Korhaan (Photo: Geoff Crane)

 Erongo

Waterberg

WINDHOEK 

 Walvis Bay 

Sossusvlei

NAMIBIA

species. The end of October and November is the end of the dry season, and is great for wildlife watching as it is all concentrated around the waterholes.

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take a scheduled flight from London to Windhoek, arriving the next morning. Day 2 : We meet Geoff Crane at the airport and travel to our guest house in Windhoek, set on a large property with large trees and gardens. Overnight Windhoek Day 3 : Today we travel southwest through the Naukluft Mountains to the stony desert of the Namib and on to the Sesriem/Sossusvlei area. We stay at a desert camp within the National Park, with tented cottages that overlook the great expanse of the Namib Desert. Overnight Sossus Dune Lodge, Namib-Naukluft Park

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Springbok with lamb (Photo: Geoff Crane)

Day 4 : The dunes at Sossusvlei are one of the world’s most stunning (and most photographed!) desert areas. We need to take a 4x4 vehicle into the vlei through the sand, and we will try to be there as early as possible to make the most of the cool of the morning. Overnight Sossus Dune Lodge – Namib-Naukluft Park Day 5 : We drive the 320km through the NamibNaukluft National Park on gravel roads via a few mountain passes to Swakopmund, on the renowned ‘Skeleton Coast’. Our lodge at Swakopmund is well situated, overlooking Walvis Bay Lagoon. Overnight Swakopmund Day 6 : We will spend the morning birdwatching around the Walvis Bay Lagoon, which is regarded as one of the most important wetlands for birds along the west coast of Southern Africa. After lunch in Swakopmund we will venture into the desert and the massive Namib-Naukluft National Park. Overnight Swakopmund Day 7 : It will be a full day’s drive inland today towards the bushveld area of Omaruru. We stay at a

lodge set on a large game reserve with many walking trails. Overnight Otjiwarongo Day 8 : We continue north to Etosha National Park arriving in time for some afternoon birding and a game drive. Etosha is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife parks. Centred around the vast expanse of the Etosha Pan, the park is a sanctuary to the largest population of the western sub-species of the Black Rhino, while White Rhino, Elephant, Lion and a profusion of other mammals can be seen. On the grasslands, resident larger bird species include Blue Crane, Kori Bustard, Black and Redcrested Korhaans, Double-banded and Burchell’s Sandgrouse. All the camps we use have large flood-lit waterholes, which attract a steady procession of wildlife. Overnight Okaukuejo Camp, Etosha National Park Day 9 : We start the day with a two hour local drive at sunrise. After breakfast we will go for a game drive around the local area. Overnight Okaukuejo Camp, Etosha National Park

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at a mixture of guest houses and park lodges. The Etosha accommodation is in new four-star chalets. While at Waterberg the chalets are simpler but adequate. Rooms everywhere are en suite. MEALS :

All included in the price

LEADER :

Geoff Crane

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 4,995 £ 495 £ 600 per person

The price per person includes scheduled return flights from London to Windhoek, airport taxes, accommodation, all meals, incidental tips, coach transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. * For a price excluding flights to and from Windhoek, please deduct £ 995 from the tour price.

Day 10 : We will be heading east to Halali Camp for lunch, following the edge of the pan. The open areas around Halali Camp are good for Cheetah spotting! We continue on to Namutoni Camp. Overnight Namutoni Camp, Etosha National Park

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

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Day 11 : We start with an early morning game / bird drive with brunch back at Namutoni Camp. Overnight Namutoni Camp, Etosha National Park Days 12 - 13 : After an early morning game drive we will exit Etosha National Park and head for the Waterberg, a spectacular sandstone massif in the central region of the country. There are sizeable numbers of Black and White Rhino within the park, as well as Roan and Sable Antelope and Buffalo. Two nights Waterberg National Park Day 14 : After breakfast we go for a morning walk amongst the fig forests and reed beds around the main accommodation. After an early lunch we will head south to Windhoek and the airport and our return flight to London, via Johannesburg, arriving on Day 15. Secretarybird (Photo: Geoff Crane)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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South Africa

Kruger NP 

Birds and Big Cats

Sunday 14 - Friday 26 September 2014

S

Itinerary Day 1 : We take an evening scheduled flight from London to Johannesburg, arriving early on Day 2.

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

Day 2 : After meeting up with the South African guide(s) at Johannesburg airport, we head eastwards to Dullstroom, a small town in the

Mpumalanga highlands and one of the highest towns in the country. En-route there will be a chance for one or two birding stops. Overnight Dullstroom Day 3 : We’ll take a pre-breakfast excursion up into the 2000 meter-plus Veloren Valei (‘Lost Valley’) Nature Reserve in the Steenkampsberg Range. Here we will look for endemics and large birds such as Denham’s Bustard and Secretarybird, as well as mammals such as Blesbok and Grey Rhebok. In the afternoon we’ll have another excursion into the surrounding countryside. Overnight Dullstroom Days 4 - 5 : After a last morning activity in Dullstroom we’ll have breakfast and depart for Mount Sheba, a lovely old hotel on the edge of the escarpment. The hotel is surrounded by a large patch of pristine Montane Forest. We have two nights here, with ample time to see many of the forest birds and some mammals. Two nights Mount Sheba Days 6 - 7 : After an early breakfast at Mount Sheba we’ll depart, taking in some of the highlights of the scenic Panorama Route. We’ll then leave the escarpment behind and enter the Kruger National Park. Here the going gets really slow, with a wide range of birds and mammals in abundance, including Impala, Burchell’s Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Southern Giraffe, Warthog and with a bit of luck, perhaps a Lion or two as well. The Kruger routine is typified by early morning vehicle activities, followed by breakfast, a birding walk in the camp, lunch and a siesta, followed by an afternoon vehicle activity. In the evening we’ll dine in the Selati Restaurant, which is situated in the old railway station on the line that once ran through the Kruger. Two nights Skukuza Days 8 - 9 : Savannah birding involves early starts to make the most of the cooler hours, and after an early cup of coffee and some rusks we’ll head out into the park as the gates open for the day, searching the area for big cats and birding as we do so! On one day there is also the option of a nightdrive with the park guides, which will give us the opportunity to be out after the public are back in camp and to see nocturnal species including some smaller cats: Serval, African Civet and Genets. Two nights Satara Rest Camp Days 10 - 11 : After breakfast we travel through some rural villages before we enter the world-renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, adjacent to the neighbouring Kruger National Park. Sabi Sand has a long conservation history and now boasts what is arguably some of the best game-viewing in the world. The reserve is home to all six species of cat found in the eastern regions of the country, although it is most famous for its regular close-up encounters with Lion and Leopard. Two nights Sabi Sand Game Reserve

40

 Dullstroom

Jo’burg 

(13 days)

A birdwatching and wildlife tour to South Africa’s rich north-east corner, taking in the highveld, the Kruger National Park and a superb private reserve with unparalleled opportunities to see Lion, Leopard and other mammals.

outh Africa is world-renowned for its incredible biological diversity, and nowhere is this more evident than in the north-east of the country. Within a day’s drive one can go from cool 2,000 metre-plus grasslands to hot, sub-tropical savannah at no more than 250 metres above sea level, with much in the way of transitional habitats in between. This wonderful, compact itinerary is designed to make the most of this diversity while at the same time avoiding long journeys between stops and allowing enough time to enjoy the various accommodation venues. For the birder and wildlife enthusiast this translates into a superb range of species to be seen and is the ideal introduction to the region’s avifauna and wildlife in general. The highlands are an endemics hot-spot, and notable species to be seen include Bokmakierie, Gurney’s Sugarbird, & Drakensberg Prinia among others. Descending in altitude, the tour explores some montane forest habitat and the cliffs and gorges of the Blyde River Canyon, before levelling out in the Kruger National Park, where birds and beasts abound. Here the birding really gets going, while encounters with big mammals such as Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Elephant and White Rhinoceros add substantially to the appeal. After the Kruger National Park comes the highlight of the tour: two nights at a private lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, where some of Africa’s best game viewing is to be had, and where our chances for encounters with Africa’s big predators are highest. All in all this is a fantastic way to be introduced to some of South Africa’s scenery, birds, animals and wildlife in general. September is early spring, an excellent time to see mammals, before the savannah vegetation gets too leafy. It is one of the better months for birdwatching here, with many species coming into breeding plumage.

 Sabi Sand

SOUTH AFRICA

Leopard is an ever present possibility on the tour (Photo: Mike Read)

SWAZILAND

SOUTH AFRICA LESOTHO

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be medium to high quality, in lodges, hotels and National Park rest-camps. All accommodation is en suite. TRANSPORT will be in open sided vehicles for the Kruger section of the tour. MEALS : All included in the price. WALKING : Generally easy. In the Kruger, the presence of wild animals precludes excursions on foot. However we do offer Bush Walks in Sabi Sands – see details below. Sturdy, comfy walking shoes or boots are adequate for this tour. BAGGAGE RESTRICTIONS : For the trip itself, it is essential to limit your main baggage to one item, to prevent overloading of the tour vehicles. This should be a soft holdall. You may in addition bring optical equipment, but if this includes telescope and tripod, please bring them in separate cases for their protection in the vehicles. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Bert Palthe NUMBERS :

Max. 10 clients

PRICE : Single supp.**. : Deposit :

£ 4,295 £ 445 £ 600 per person

All prices are per person unless stated and include scheduled flights London/Johannesburg, airport taxes, ground transportation and excursions as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, bottled water in the vehicle, park & reserve entrance fees, local taxes, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to local guides/drivers, and other personal expenses. *For a price ex-flights London/Johannesburg please deduct £ 745 from the tour price. **Single accommodation may not be available throughout.

Bush Walks: Bush walks are undertaken under the leadership of an armed guide and a tracker. The main point is not to see big game, as this is more easily done in the vehicle, but rather to get closer to the ground and learn about the smaller life forms, tracks and signs, birds and their nests and the general ecology. However, encounters with potentially dangerous game are possible, even if not actually sought out. The guides are trained to deal with such animals, but there are rare occasions when ‘evasive action’ is required, which may entail climbing trees, or running to the nearest cover. If you are not physically able to undertake such action, it might be better to not partake in the bush walk. Participation is also at the discretion of the lodge guide who will be leading the walk. Day 12 : After a final safari at Sabi Sand Game Reserve we’ll have breakfast and head back to Johannesburg, a seven hour drive away. Our flight returning to London departs in the evening, arriving on Day 13.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Flowers, birds and mammals of the Cape & Karoo

Saturday 11 - Sunday 26 January 2014 Saturday 10 - Sunday 25 January 2015

 Karoo NP

Addo Elephant NP 



Hermanus

tarting in Cape Town, we spend three days experiencing the wonders of the Cape, including the world famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (where two great oceans meet), and Rondevlei & Strandfontein Bird Reserves with their prolific birdlife. We then head north into the Great Karoo, staying at the Karoo National Park for two nights with its dramatic Karoo landscape. We spend five days in the Eastern Cape, staying in The Mountain Zebra and the Addo Elephant National Parks, where we can view a wide range of game and birdlife before returning to the Cape via the indigenous forests of the Garden Route, where we spend three nights. Last but not least, we visit the coastal town of Hermanus, the hotspot of the Cape fynbos. January is a great time to visit the Cape, with all the Palaearctic and African bird migrants present, and the weather almost guaranteed to be hot and sunny. It is also a fascinating time of year in the fynbos, with orchids, gladiolas and ericas showing well. The Mountain Zebra and Addo Elephant National Parks, and to some extent the Karoo National Park, all fall in to the Summer rainfall area, which will make these areas greener and cooler than usual, with great mammal sightings during the day. The tour is again designed and led by Geoff Crane.

S

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an evening scheduled flight from London to Cape Town, arriving early on Day 2.

(16 days) (16 days)

From the flowers and stunning scenery of the Cape, across to the dramatic Karoo, over to the Eastern Cape including the fabulous Addo Elephant Park, and back along the beautiful Garden Route, we visit an astoundingly beautiful and varied land, rich in wildlife. Join us at a time of year when all the migrant birds are here, excellent for flowers and mammals, and when the UK is in the throes of winter! and Cape Town with its spectacular coastline and diverse fauna and flora. Weather permitting, we will take the spectacular cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain and enjoy a short walk across the top. Two nights Cape Peninsula Guesthouse Days 5 - 6 : After an early breakfast we will be heading for the Karoo town of Worcester, where we have a leisurely walk around the Karoo National Botanical Gardens before heading for the Karoo National Park for a two-night stay. Two nights Karoo National Park Cottages Days 7 - 8 : We leave the Karoo National Park after having been on an early morning walk around the fossil trail. It will be a 300 km drive through the Settler towns of Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet en route for the Mountain Zebra National Park where we stay for two nights. Two nights Mountain Zebra National Park Cottages Days 9 - 10 : After breakfast we will set off for the Addo Elephant National Park. This National Park offers protection to the full spectrum of wildlife originally found in the area. Our stay will include a night drive. Two nights Addo Elephant National Park Cottages Day 11 : Today we will be driving south into a totally different world: the indigenous forests of the Garden Route. Overnight Bitou River Lodge, Garden Route

Day 2 : We arrive at Cape Town Airport, where Geoff will meet us, and transfer to our guest house. We aim to spend the rest of the day at the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, surely one of the finest Botanical Gardens in the world. Overnight Cape Peninsula Guesthouse Days 3 - 4 : We will spend two leisurely days experiencing the rugged beauty of the Peninsula

Blue Cranes at Plettenberg Bay (Photo: Geoff Crane)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be in quality guest-houses and lodges or cottages with all rooms en suite. LEADER :

Geoff Crane

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICES :

2014: £ 4,295 2015: £ 4,295 £ 395 £ 600 per person

Single supp. : Deposit :

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London/Cape Town*, airport taxes, ground transportation and excursions as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, local taxes, tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to the driver/local guides, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (Cape Town/Cape Town) please deduct £ 695 from the tour cost.

Day 12 : First on our agenda for the day is a 3 hour, leisurely boat trip up the Keurbooms River and into the Keurbooms River Nature Reserve. After a picnic lunch on the banks of the Groot River at Natures Valley, we walk through the lush evergreen forests of the western part of the Tsitsikamma National Park. Overnight Bitou River Lodge, Garden Route

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

SOUTH AFRICA

Cape Town

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South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA



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Day 13 : We will be spending the day in Knysna and the Knysna Lagoon National Park. Overnight Bitou River Lodge, Garden Route Day 14 : After breakfast we head for Mossel Bay and the Diaz Museum before the long drive to Hermanus. Overnight Hermanus Day 15 : We start today with a walk at the Fernkloof Nature Reserve with its wealth of indigenous flora. After a short drive we will walk around the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, a wonderful way to spend our last afternoon, before heading for Cape Town for our return flight back to London, arriving on Day 16. Hermanus, the rugged coastline of the Southern Cape and, inset, Cape flowers (Photos: Geoff Crane)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA

Flowers and Wildlife of the Cape & Garden Route

Sunday 7 September – Sunday 21 September 2014

(15 days)

 Lambert’s Bay

From the flowers, whales, birds and stunning scenery of the Cape, along the west coast, across to the Karoo, and back along the beautiful Garden Route, we visit an astoundingly beautiful and varied land, rich in wildlife. Join us at a time of year when the flowers and birds here are at their best, and when whales are displaying close inshore! e start in Cape Town, known for its dramatic mountain scenery and unique fynbos vegetation, both at sea level and up Table Mountain, where we take one of the most spectacular cable car rides in the world. Cape Point is the meeting place of two of the world’s largest oceans, as well as being the home of Southern Right Whale and African Penguin. Our travels take us up the west coast to Langebaan Lagoon, rich in birds and with a wealth of flowers, and on up to Lambert’s Bay, with its accessible Cape Gannet colony. We then head inland to an area of red sandstone rocks and ancient rock art, and on to the Karoo, with its array of drought-adapted succulent plants and specialised birds. South through spectacular mountain passes, we eventually reach the famed Garden Route, with rich forests and birdlife. We finish the tour in one of the best places in the world for shore-based whalewatching, where we hope to see Southern Right Whales doing some dramatic display activities close inshore. The tour is again designed and led by Geoff Crane. August to September is usually the best time for flowers in the Cape, when the endemic birds are displaying, and when the seabirds and whales also come close inshore.

W

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an evening scheduled flight from London to Cape Town, arriving early on Day 2. Day 2 : Afternoon in Kirstenbosch Gardens. Overnight Cape Peninsula

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

Day 3 : We will spend a leisurely day experiencing the rugged beauty of the Peninsula with its spectacular coastline and diverse fauna & flora. We will follow the False Bay coastline to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. We will also visit the African Penguin colony at Simon’s Town. Overnight Cape Peninsula

Day 4 : Weather permitting, we will then take the spectacular cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain and enjoy a short walk across the top. Overnight Cape Peninsula Day 5 : Our first port of call is Hout Bay harbour, where we will be joining a boat cruise to Duiker Island, with its Cape Fur Seal colony. The spring flowers of the Western Cape have a worldwide reputation. The area receives little rain throughout the year but after our winter rains, the landscape is swathed with a vibrant carpet of flowers. Overnight Langebaan Day 6 : Langebaan Lagoon and the West Coast National Park have a number of habitats, which include the largest salt marsh in South Africa. After lunch we will visit the Postberg Flower Reserve. Overnight Langebaan Day 7 : We will be taking the coastal route up to Bird Island at Lambert’s Bay, visiting the wetlands of the lower Berg River. Lambert’s Bay is a small town with an attractive harbour that plays a large role in South Africa’s fishing industry. Here we can view the Cape Gannet Colony, as well as terns, cormorants and African Penguins from very close quarters. We then travel inland to the town of Clanwilliam. Overnight Clanwilliam Day 8 : The Cedarberg Mountains were once the hunting ground of the San people (Bushmen). Though the San no longer live in the area, they recorded their exploits in the form of remarkable rock paintings. Overnight Clanwilliam Day 9 : After a leisurely breakfast we will be heading for the Karoo town of Worcester, where we will have an opportunity to visit the Karoo National Botanical Gardens. These gardens specialise in the succulents and hardy plants of the Karoo. After a picnic lunch we drive east to Prince Albert, close to the Swartberg Mountains, with

SOUTH AFRICA



Prince Albert 

Cape Town

  Hermanus Plettenberg Bay

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be in quality guest-houses and lodges with all rooms en suite. LEADER :

Geoff Crane

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 4,295 £ 345 £ 600 per person

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London/Cape Town*, airport taxes, ground transportation and excursions as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, local taxes, tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, optional tips to the driver/local guides, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (Cape Town/Cape Town) please deduct £ 695 from the tour cost.

stops en route for any interesting flowers or birds we notice. Overnight Prince Albert Day 10 : After a leisurely breakfast we will head over the Swartberg Mountains. The awe-inspiring Swartberg Pass, one of the renowned Thomas Bain passes, will take us through some craggy mountain scenery. Thence over the Outeniqua Mountain Pass, which opens up a totally different world, namely the forests of the Garden Route. Overnight Plettenberg Bay Day 11 : The dawn chorus at our guest house sets the tune for a good day! After breakfast we will go for a walk through the lush evergreen forests of Nature’s Valley. We then move on to our lunch stop and the Tsitsikamma National Park, where the indigenous forest and the Indian Ocean meet. Overnight Knysna Day 12 : We leave the Garden Route and head south towards the notorious southern tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas. We will then drive through small farming communities to Hermanus. Overnight Hermanus Day 13 : Hermanus has gained worldwide recognition for its excellent land-based whale watching. During the southern spring months, Southern Right Whales use this coastline as a safe haven in which to calve. We can watch these gentle giants from the cliff top walk. Overnight Hermanus Day 14 : After a morning at leisure in Hermanus with its many arts & craft shops, and perhaps more clifftop whale watching, we will drive to the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens at Betty’s Bay, before heading for Cape Town for our return flight back to London, arriving on Day 15.

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The view from Table Mountain (Photo: Bob Gibbons)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

Jo’burg 

4/9/13

Flowers & Wildlife of the Drakensberg & Zululand  uKhahlamba

 Bonamanzi

vvv

he Drakensberg Mountains are a World Heritage Site and a veritable botanical treasure chest! We will spend six days leisurely walking and botanising the many trails, looking out for some of the 2000+ flowering plant species, all the while surrounded by the magnificent mountains of the Drakensberg. The fauna is equally impressive with 290 bird species and 48 mammal species seen to date. We then spend three days game watching and birdwatching at the Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve, which is also a World Heritage Site, followed by a few days birding and botanising in the montane grasslands that surround the wetlands of Wakkerstroom.

T

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an evening scheduled flight from London to Johannesburg, arriving early on Day 2. Day 2 : We meet up with Geoff at Johannesburg International Airport and head straight out to the town of Clarens and the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, where we will be staying for three nights. Overnight Golden Gate Highlands National Park Day 3 : Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park’s sandstone cliffs. Flowers are rich and varied. Nerine, gladiolus, arum lily, watsonias, fire lilies and red-hot pokers can be identified close to our accommodation and protea species can be found higher up the hillsides. Overnight Golden Gate Highlands National Park Day 4 : As well as its famous grassland – this is the only grassland National Park in South Africa – the park contains remnants of Afromontane forest. Overnight Golden Gate Highlands National Park Day 5 : A short drive will bring us to the Royal Natal National Park, which is situated below the sheer

Sunday 23 February – Sunday 9 March 2014

(15 days)

Join Geoff Crane for a Botanical Safari of South Africa’s Drakensberg & Zululand. After 8 days walking and botanising in the superb Drakensberg Mountains, we spend a few days botanising & birding in a private game reserve in Zululand followed by a few days in the highveld – the montane grasslands that surround Wakkerstroom. face of the 3000 metre Drakensberg escarpment. We stay at The Cavern Lodge, which is named after the “Cannibal Cavern” (and you’ll have to join the tour to find out why it is so-named!). Overnight Royal Natal National Park Day 6 : We walk into the deep gorges of the Drakensberg, looking out for what’s flying or flowering! Watsonias, orchids and proteas play host to many bird and insect species. Birds that we will be looking out for include the endemic Drakensberg Siskin, Broad-tailed Warbler and Gurney’s Sugarbird. Overnight Royal Natal National Park Day 7 : We spend the morning birding and botanising en route to the Champagne Castle area in the Central Drakensberg. Our hotel is located in the foothills of the Central Drakensberg, within a World Heritage Site: the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. It is widely considered to hold one of the finest locations in the entire Drakensberg range. Overnight uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park Day 8 : The central Drakensberg is home to a large sandstone cave containing Bushman rock art, one of the biggest and best preserved painted sites in southern Africa. We will also be looking out for Black Wildebeest, Eland and Burchell’s Zebra, which roam the grasslands in the lower berg. Overnight uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park Day 9 : We will have an early start so as to get to Bonamanzi for the afternoon. Bonamanzi is a Natural Heritage Site bordered by the spectacular Lake St. Lucia – a World Heritage Site – and the magnificent Hluhluwe River. Overnight Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve Day 10 : During the course of our stay at Bonamanzi we will be taking an open top 4x4 game drive and a river birdwatching boat trip, as well as birdwatching

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be a mixture of park ‘camps’, lodges, and small hotels/ guesthouses. In the lodges and camps, accommodation is usually in chalets or rondavels. All accommodation is en suite. MEALS :

All included in the price

LEADER :

Geoff Crane

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp.* : Deposit :

£ 4,295 £ 345 £ 600 per person

The price per person includes scheduled return flights from London to Johannesburg, airport taxes, accommodation, all meals, incidental tips, coach transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. For a price ex Johannesburg, please deduct £695 from the tour price **Single accommodation may not be available throughout.

& botanical walks in the sand-forest and tall woodland areas around the main camp. Overnight Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve Day 11 : The main camp area at Bonamanzi has a large restaurant deck that overlooks the dam, offering a good way to combine a leisurely breakfast with some birdwatching. There is also the option to do another game drive and/or boat trip for an extra charge. Overnight Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve Days 12 - 13 : We head for Wakkerstroom in the highveld, amidst the rolling hills and grassland, in some places with an oddly English-style landscape albeit on a huge scale! Wakkerstroom is a pleasant-looking village with an impressive church, and has built something of a reputation as a highveld birdwatching centre. Nearby, the high grasslands hold flocks of elegant Blue Crane and Blue Korhaan. Here we hope to see characterful Meerkats staring back at us from their burrows before playing follow-the-leader (theirs, not ours!) in the morning. The area is also excellent for botanising. Two nights Wakkerstroom Country Inn

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

 Golden Gate NP

LESOTHO

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South Africa

SWAZILAND

SOUTH AFRICA

Drakensberg

15:08

Day 14 : After breakfast we will go for a morning birdwatching walk. After an early lunch we will head for the airport for your flight home, arriving in London on Day 15. Walking in the Drakensberg and (inset) Watsonia (Photos: Geoff Crane)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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South Africa

Kruger NP  SOUTH AFRICA

The Kruger, Zululand and Drakensberg Tuesday 29 October – Tuesday 12 November 2013 Friday 24 October - Friday 7 November 2014

(15 days) (15 days)

Dullstroom 

Jo’burg 

Wakkerstroom 

SOUTH AFRICA

From the big game of the Kruger National Park, to the highveld grasslands and stunning scenery of the former Transvaal, through the lowland savannah and coast of Natal, to the spectacular peaks and high plains of the Drakensberg Mountains, we visit an astoundingly beautiful and varied land, rich in wildlife. outh Africa is both one of the world’s most beautiful countries and one of its richest for wildlife. This tour covers the part of the country that is best for variety: the north-east corner. We start in the highveld of Dullstroom with superb birdwatching, before continuing to the fabulous Kruger National Park, with wonderful birds, and an abundance of large mammals. From here we head back up into the highveld of the former Transvaal, where the open grasslands are home to Blue and Crowned Cranes and delightful Meerkats. Then we continue south and east to Zululand, whose lowland savannas and coastal wetlands form probably the very best birdwatching area in South Africa, as well as being the place where White Rhino were rediscovered in the wild – and is still amongst the best places to see them. Finally, the pleasant coastal town of St Lucia is a great place to finish the tour, with an optional whale-watching trip if the weather is kind. October and November, the southern spring, are probably the best months for birdwatching here, with many species in full breeding plumage. It is also an excellent time to see mammals, before the savannah vegetation gets too leafy.

S

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an evening scheduled flight from London to Johannesburg, arriving early on Day 2. Days 2 - 3 : We meet up with our local guide(s) at the airport and drive to Dullstroom. We arrive in Dullstroom in the early afternoon and check in to our accommodation. There will be an optional afternoon birdwatching drive for those willing and able, returning late afternoon for time to freshen up before dinner. Next day we will have a pre-breakfast excursion up into the Valoren Valei Nature Reserve in the Steenkampsberg Range. Two nights Dullstroom

Days 4 - 7 : After an early breakfast we leave Dullstroom and drive towards the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment. We’ll then head down to the Lowveld (the low-lying savannah), enter the Kruger National Park via Orpen Gate and drive on to our first camp. The plains of the Kruger occupy a truly vast area of the country, with a great range of habitats, from the dry central savannah to the wetter south and, probably best of all for birdlife, the rivers that extend throughout. Accommodation here is in thatched rondavel huts or cottages with a mix of facilities. We stay in two different camps in the southern regions of the park. The camps also have excellent birdwatching within and around the grounds. On some mornings we’ll have early starts to get the best of the game viewing. Four nights Kruger National Park Days 8 - 9 : We head for Wakkerstroom in the highveld, driving through the rolling hills and grassland of the former Transvaal, in some places with an oddly English-style landscape - albeit on a huge scale! Two nights Wakkerstroom Days 10 - 11 : After a last morning activity in Wakkerstroom we’ll depart for the far northern region of KwaZulu-Natal Province, where we stay at Tembe Elephant Park close to the border with Mozambique. The reserve is made up of large tracts of Sand Forest, and has some great specials featuring on the substantial bird list. Mammal viewing is also good at Tembe and as the name implies, the reserve is well known for its population of African Elephant. We stay in superb, luxury safari style en-suite tents here. Two nights Tembe Elephant Reserve Days 12 - 13 : We then travel east to St Lucia, a

LESOTHO

SWAZILAND  Mkuze



St Lucia

 Durban

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be in camps, small hotels and guesthouses. The style of accommodation is usually in cottages, chalets and rondavels, and is much favoured by South Africans themselves. In Tembe we will be staying in spacious safari tents. All accommodation is en suite. TRANSPORT will be in open sided vehicles for the Kruger section of the tour. MEALS : All included in the price. Food is excellent. Some lunches will be buffet-style picnics. WALKING : Easy. In the game reserves, the presence of wild animals precludes excursions on foot. Sturdy, comfy walking shoes are adequate for this tour. BAGGAGE RESTRICTIONS : For the trip itself, it is essential to limit baggage to one item, to prevent overloading of the tour vehicles. This should be a soft holdall. If you are bringing telescope and tripod, please bring separate cases for their protection in the vehicles. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Bert Palthe NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES :

2013 £ 4,195 2014 £ 4,295 2013 £ 400 2014 £ 400 £ 600 per person

Single supp.**. : Deposit :

All prices are per person unless stated and include scheduled flights London/Johannesburg and Durban/London*, airport taxes, ground transportation and excursions as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, local taxes, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes optional whale-watching excursion (c£65 pp payable in advance with refund if it does not run), holiday insurance, drinks, tips to local guides and drivers, and other personal expenses.

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

*For a price ex-flights London/Johannesburg, and Durban/London, please deduct £ 695 from the tour price. **Single accommodation may not be available throughout.

pleasant, small seaside resort, with some excellent fish restaurants, and also offers the possibility of an optional whale-watching trip in search of Humpback Whales (cost about £60 payable locally). Two nights St Lucia Day 14 : We drive to Durban to connect with our flight returning to London via Johannesburg, arriving on Day 15.

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Ground Hornbill (Photo by tour participant Cliff Gilbert)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Ngorongoro 

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Tanzania

 Arusha

 Tarangire

Birds and Big Cats

Sunday 4 - Thursday 15 May 2014

TANZANIA

orthern Tanzania offers the ultimate wildlife experience. Its forests, lakes and savannas teem with birds, including a suite of Serengeti endemics. There are also extraordinary numbers of large mammals, from unimaginable herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle tramping across the plains through to predators such as Lion, Leopard and Cheetah. Yet, even without this superabundance of wildlife, the backcloth to our tour is magnificent... Join us as we journey through some of the most aweinspiring and incredibly beautiful landscapes on Earth. Our visit is timed to coincide with the great annual migration of Wildebeest through the Serengeti – a truly astonishing spectacle! But our travels begin at Arusha, in the shadow of two of East Africa’s great peaks: Mount Meru and the snowcapped Kilimanjaro. Where the dry acacia scrub gives way to mist-belt forest, troops of agile Guereza Colobus forage among branches draped with “Old Man’s Beard”. Their sudden alarm calls may betray a Crowned Hawk-eagle hunting above the canopy, while a brilliant flash of red transforms itself into the lovely Hartlaub’s Turaco or a scarce but stunning Bar-tailed Trogon. To the south, lies Tarangire National Park with its thornbush scrub and gigantic baobab trees. A place synonymous with the African Elephant, this is also the haunt of three notable endemics: the striking Yellow-collared Lovebird, Ashy Starling and Rufoustailed Weaver. Bordering Lake Manyara – famous for its concentrations of rose-pink flamingos – this ecosystem also offers stunning palm savannah and the dramatic cliffs of the Great Rift Valley. The alternating grass and bush plains of the Serengeti stretch beyond the horizon and can literally teem with animals as far as the eye can see – including the famous wildebeest migration and

N

15:08

KENYA

 Serengeti

TANZANIA

4/9/13

(12 days)

Timed to coincide with the incredible migration of Wildebeest through the Serengeti plain, this safari offers a superabundance of East African birds and mammals, in a dramatic and amazingly beautiful setting - join our Africa specialists, Callan Cohen and Deirdre Vrancken, for the greatest wildlife experience on Earth! associated predators. Here we’ll find the big Kori Bustard and Secretarybird, along with Serengeti endemics such as Fischer’s Lovebird and Greybreasted Francolin. In the more wooded central Serengeti, Usambiro Barbet and Silverbird occur amongst an even richer diversity of birds – and we have our best chances of spotting Leopard! The immense caldera of the Ngorongoro Crater is one of the scenic wonders of the world, its vast crater floor and highland rainforest a microcosm of equatorial Africa. Some 30,000 large mammals – including the rare Black Rhino – live in this spectacular natural amphitheatre. As we return full circle, we’ll look back at the wonders of the rift valley from our lunch site overlooking Lake Manyara – our last stop on this superb wildlife tour, as raptors soar over the escarpment. This year’s tour will be Callan’s ninth visit to Tanzania. Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Kilimanjaro. Day 2 : Arusha National Park. Two nights Arusha Day 3 : Arusha to Lake Manyara. Day 4 : Tarangire National Park Two nights Lake Manyara Day 5 - 6 : Lake Manyara to Ndutu grass plains. Two nights Ndutu Days 7 - 8 : Serengeti National Park. Two nights Serengeti Days 9 - 10 : Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Crater. Two nights Ngorongoro Crater Rim Day 11 : Lake Manyara escarpment. Evening flight Kilimanjaro-London Day 12 : Arrival in London

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at a hand-picked selection of excellent hotels, guest houses, safari lodges and permanent tented camps. All rooms have private facilities. MEALS : All included in the price. Food is good, with most main meals taken at our lodgings, and lunches either as picnics or at the lodges. WALKING : Easy. Short walks. In the parks, away from our lodgings, the presence of wild animals may preclude excursions on foot so we travel by safari vehicles specially adapted for wildlife viewing. Comfortable walking shoes and sandals are suitable. Maximum altitude: on this tour we reach a maximum elevation of 2400m above sea level – even though much higher mountains loom above. GROUND TRANSPORT : By minibus or four-wheel drive safari vehicle/s.

AFRICA (SOUTH OF THE SAHARA)

INSECTS : Mosquitoes are present throughout the tropics. Bring repellent and dress accordingly, covering up with long sleeves and long trousers. Many of the accommodations we use do usually supply mosquito nets - but if you want to be guaranteed of one, then Callan recommends purchasing your own travel net for all travel in the Afrotropics. PHOTOS : Excellent photographic opportunities for birds and large mammals on this tour. LEADERS : Callan Cohen & Deirdre Vrancken NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 4,895 £ 425 £ 500 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London-Kilimanjaro, all accommodation, meals, surface transport, entry fees to the parks, tips to local drivers/guides, airport taxes, map, bird & mammals checklist and services of the leaders. The price excludes insurance, visa (approx. £38), drinks & other items of a personal nature. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays. Cheetah on the East African plains and, top, a Lion peers out of the bush (Photos: Mike Read)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Cambodia

THAILAND Siem Reap 

Birds and temples

Friday 31 January – Monday 10 February 2014

CAMBODIA VIETNAM

(11 days)

Endangered Bengal Floricans, Greater & Lesser Adjutant Storks and Giant Ibises are among the treats in store for us on our pioneering trip to Cambodia – together with some of the most impressive historic sites in the world, including the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat. Our trip will also help local conservationists protect the vulnerable forests of the area. he Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia are justly famed as one of the top must-see historical sites on earth. But Cambodia’s historical riches don’t stop there – many other ancient temple complexes can be found, often overgrown by the luxuriant rainforests. In addition, Cambodia is also increasingly being seen as one of Asias’s top wildlife destinations, with its wetlands nearly as important for birds as its jungles. We’ve teamed up with one of Cambodia’s top ecotourism organisations, the Sam Veasna Center (SVC). The aim of SVC is to provide sustainable alternative livelihoods for local communities in the provision of eco-tourist services. On this tour we naturally start with Angkor Wat, but continue to a complex of similar size, but much less renown: Banteay Chmar. Next day will see us at one of the country’s best wetlands, followed by a visit to one of the most remarkable places we’ve ever been to – a floating village, where the houses move up and down according to water levels! We’ll have lunch in one of the floating houses. We then travel to a grassland area to look for one of the country’s most charismatic birds – Bengal Florican, extremely difficult to see and highly endangered over most of its range, before finishing the tour with a stay at Tmatboey Lodge, with endangered Giant Ibis in one of their only two Asian breeding sites nearby. Although there are several long days on this tour with early starts, this is partly to make the most of the cooler times of day when bird life is at its most active, but is also due to a lack of suitable accommodation near to some of the best sites. During the middle of the day we will be resting.

T

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We leave London on an overnight flight to Kuala Lumpur, arriving the next day and connecting with a flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia.

ASIA & INDIAN OCEAN

Days 2 - 3 : We arrive at Siem Reap in time for lunch and a late afternoon trip to Angkor Wat.

46

Bengal Florican (Photo: Martin Hale)

CAMBODIA

Angkor Wat and over two hundred other temples in the Angkor Great Park are truly a wonder of the world and offers habitat for an excellent variety of birds. Next day we’ll make early morning and evening visits to Angkor with a break for lunch in the heat of the day. Two nights Siem Reap Day 4 : We make a very early start for the Sarus Crane Reserve, with over three hundred of these magnificent birds congregating to feed. After a morning here we drive back via the temples of Banteay Chmar, of the same scale and significance as the Bayon at Angkor Wat but off the beaten track. Overnight Siem Reap Day 5 : We make an early start and transfer to a small covered boat for the journey to Prek Toal where we transfer to local small covered ‘long-tail’ boats. The reserve covers 22,000 hectares of seasonally flooded forest where only the tallest trees stand proud of the lake during the annual flood, providing a habitat for cormorants, pelicans, storks, and many other birds to roost and nest. The village of Prek Toal, adjacent to the reserve, floats (yes, floats!) at the mouth of the Sangke River where it flows into the lake. Every house is built on a platform of bamboo and moves according to the water level throughout the year. Schools, local restaurants, a church, even vegetable patches, pigpens and crocodile farms all float. Overnight Siem Reap Days 6 - 8 : The critically endangered Bengal Florican and many other water-birds are found in the grasslands around the Tonle Sap Lake. Birdwatching trips like ours give an income to the villagers who assist the guide in locating the Floricans – we should be there for the peak morning display time before 9am. After visiting the Florican grasslands we will head for the temples of Beng Melea which we visit in the afternoon. We continue on to Tmatboey Lodge (winner of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award) for a three night stay. The Lodge consists of a central recreational thatched building and four surrounding bungalows each with two double en-suite rooms with solar powered electricity. The accommodation is relatively comfortable but basic. There are no single rooms available here. The village is renowned as one of only two known nesting sites in Asia for the Giant Ibis that use large trees in the forest away from the village. The next day will start early around 4 or 4.30am with a quick cup of tea or coffee, then a drive and a walk to less disturbed areas of forest where Giant Ibis have been located, and returning for breakfast at the Lodge. We’ll also find time for a village tour. Three nights Tmatboey Lodge

Giant Ibis (Photo: Ron Hoff)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION in Siem Reap will be a ‘boutique’ hotel with all rooms en suite. Other accommodation at Tmatboey is as described in the text. CLIMATE : The cool dry season lasts from December to March. This is the best time to visit Cambodia when the daytime temperatures are low thirties and the heat is dry. WALKING : Birdwatching is from the car, by boat and on foot. Hiking boots are recommended for the forest walks which will be very gently paced. LEADERS : Paul Harvey with local guides NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp* : Deposit :

£ 3,495 £ 225 £ 400 per person

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London/Siem Reap, airport taxes, ground & boat transportation as described, accommodation on a full-board basis, local taxes, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tips to local drivers/guides, drinks and other personal expenses. *Please note that guaranteed single rooms are not available for the three nights at Tmatboey.

Day 9 : After a last morning’s birding and breakfast at Tmatboey, the group will return to Siem Reap via Koh Ker Temple. Overnight Siem Reap Day 10 : We travel to the airport for our return flight to London via Kuala Lumpur, arriving on Day 11.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Northern India

NEPAL

Bharatpur, Chambal, Corbett & Nainital Wednesday 3 - Wednesday 17 December 2014

INDIA INDIA

ew destinations on Earth are more compelling than the Indian subcontinent. A vast, colourful and crowded land, yet possessing some of the most spectacular wildlife in all Asia, India today offers perhaps the most memorable of travel experiences anywhere in the world. Our Classic Northern India tour is designed to show you a fabulous cross-section of the best of India’s birds and wildlife in some of its most famous and exciting settings. The magic begins at the celebrated Keoladeo National Park, better known simply as Bharatpur. Time stands still on our first walk here (and we won’t get very far either!) as wintering Siberian birds abound. Bluethroats run across the paths and the acacias positively hum with restless Greenish and Hume’s Leaf Warblers. But if the summer rains have been good, then it is the abundance of Bharatpur’s wetland species that really takes centre stage. Huge Sarus Cranes and Black-necked Storks mingle with flocks of Greylag and Bar-headed Geese, whilst all about there is a hubbub of activity from myriad other waterbirds. No stay in the plains would be complete without a pilgrimage to the most famous of all India’s cultural sites, and we include a morning sightseeing at Agra and the sublime Taj Mahal. A stopover at the remarkable Chambal River should reward us with Indian Skimmer and Great Thick-knee, while a boat trip here could also produce the rare Ganges River Dolphin. Leaving the plains, we journey north into the foothills of the Himalayas. Encompassing 1300 sq. kms of riverine grassland and forest, Corbett is India’s oldest national park. While the setting is superb, the sheer variety of birdlife is astounding: more than 500 species have been recorded! Asian Elephants roam the woodlands and birds to watch for include a positive bedazzlement of songbirds as well as some really special treats, such as Pallas’s Fish Eagle and Crested Kingfisher. Pausing to look for Ibisbill, we ascend to the

(15 days)

Our 15-day Classic Northern India tour takes in the region’s top four birdwatching sites. After the magic of Bharatpur, the magnificence of the Taj Mahal and a boat trip on the remarkable Chambal River, we visit the bird-rich Himalayan foothills at Corbett National Park and Nainital.

TRIP DETAILS

F

ACCOMMODATION : We use a mix of comfortable tourist hotels and simple but best available lodges according to location, all rooms with en suite facilities. MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfasts and dinners usually taken at the hotels and lodges. Lunches will be picnics or sit-down meals, according to location.

Ibisbill (Photo: David Cottridge)

spectacular old hill-station of Nainital. Standing beside an ice-cold lake, Nainital seems to perch on the very edge of the world. Here, the Blue Whistling Thrush holds court as we search the alpine woodlands and mountainsides for Rufous-breasted Accentor, Lammergeier, Black-headed Jay and a host of other wonderful Himalayan birds to round off this classic Indian journey in style. Peter Kennerley is a veteran of more than a score of tours to the Indian subcontinent. Why not join Peter this year, as we return to the bird-rich marshes, mountains and jungles of Northern India. Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 2 : Fly London-Delhi, arriving morning Day 2. Three nights Bharatpur Days 3 - 4 : Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur. Day 5 : Morning visit to Taj Mahal, Agra. Overnight Chambal River Lodge Day 6 : Chambal River boat trip. Overnight Unchagaon Fort Days 7 - 10 : Four nights Corbett National Park Days 11 - 13 : Three nights Nainital Day 14 : Ganges River and return to Delhi. Day 15 : Fly Delhi-London.

WALKING : Easy. As one would expect, however, there are a few moderate uphill walks in the mountains at Nainital. Owing to the presence of large mammals at Corbett, park regulations dictate that some of our birding here must be done from the vehicle – or elephant-back! Comfy walking shoes or lightweight boots with corrugated soles for grip recommended. Maximum elevation: At Nainital, we will be birding up to an altitude of ca. 2500m (8000ft). GROUND TRANSPORT : By coach or minibus (depending on final group size). Excursions into Bharatpur are by bicycle-rickshaw or on foot, as vehicles are not permitted to enter the reserve. In Corbett National Park, we travel by 4WD vehicle or even riding on elephant-back (subject to availability and programme). BOAT TRIP : The boat trip on the Chambal River lasts about 2-3 hours. LEADERS : Peter Kennerley & local guide NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 3,595 £ 545 £ 500 per person

Price is per person and is fully inclusive of scheduled flights London-Delhi-London; all accommodation and meals; surface transport by bus (some excursions by bicycle-rickshaw at Bharatpur and 4WD vehicle and/or elephant at Corbett National Park); boat trip on Chambal River; entrance fees to parks, Taj Mahal and monuments; tips and airport taxes; map; bird and mammal checklist; and services of the leader/s. Price excludes insurance, Indian visa costs, video camera permit fee at National Parks and sanctuaries, drinks & other items of a personal nature.

ASIA & INDIAN OCEAN

This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

Birdwatching at Bharatpur and, inset, Spot-billed Duck (Photos by tour participant Ian Sandeman)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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India

Sikkim  BHUTAN   Kaziranga Darjeeling NEPAL

Darjeeling, Assam & the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Thursday 6 - Tuesday 18 March 2014

(13 days)

BANGLADESH

INDIA

Calcutta 

Our tour to the fabulous eastern Himalaya, extended by a day this year to 13 days. Join us for a trip that’s got everything - from spell-binding birding amidst bearded hill-forests of oak and bamboo, to watching rhinos from elephant back by the mighty Brahmaputra River... And featuring a journey on one of the world’s most famous narrow gauge railways, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. arjeeling and Assam... Browse through almost any book dealing with Himalayan wildlife and these same names keep appearing in the texts, demonstrating the rich diversity of life in the eastern Himalaya. This great chain of mountains runs from Afghanistan in the west to Burma in the east, dividing two very different faunal regions. To many, the mighty Himalaya are immense jagged peaks of snow and ice; but although such visions are of breathtaking beauty, it is the forests and jungles lower down that support ninety-five percent of their wildlife. Uniquely combining the wondrous birdlife of Darjeeling and Assam with an opportunity to travel on one of the world’s great little railways, this exciting tour was new to our programme last year – and proved an instant success. This year, we have added an extra day by demand! Our adventure begins in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), with an easy introduction to the birds of the Indian plains. From here we head up to Darjeeling, known locally as the ‘Queen of the eastern Himalayas’ and one of the most famous hill stations in India. To get there, we will travel some of the way on the world-famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, taking a three-hour journey uphill from Kurseong to Darjeeling. Nick-named the ‘Toy Train’, this amazing narrow gauge railway has one of the few steam locomotives still in service in India and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling’s awe-inspiring mountains and forests are home to a wealth of Himalayan birds, with mixed bird parties taking pride of place. This year’s tour has been extended and improved to include two nights at Lava, where some of the best tracts of eastern Himalayan hill forest are still to be found. Here we can expect to encounter a plethora of yuhinas, babblers, laughingthrushes, warblers, parrotbills and sunbirds, often moving slowly and allowing ample opportunities to find even the most elusive species. With luck, in March, most winter visitors will still remain and the first summer visitors may also be returning. Leaving Lava for Bagdogra, we fly east to the lowlands of Assam and visit one of India’s finest

ASIA & INDIAN OCEAN

D

national parks, Kaziranga. Famed for its populations of the endangered Indian Rhinoceros, Wild Water Buffalo and Asian Elephant, Kaziranga is also an important refuge for birds. Spot-billed Pelican, Greater Adjutant and Pallas’s Fish Eagle occur, while grassland specialities to be found include the rare Swamp Francolin and Bengal Florican. While on this tour we will also ride on elephantback through elephant-grass by the mighty Brahmaputra River, hope for clear weather to view the massive peak of Kanchenjunga, relive the magic of the great Victorian age of steam, and experience the delights of staying at an old hill-station in an elegant, colonial-style hotel. Guide Peter Kennerley led our March 2012 visit and is a veteran of more than twenty birding tours to the Indian Subcontinent. Outline Itinerary Please note that changes to airline schedules and rail timetables could affect the precise timing of the itinerary outlined below. Day 1 : Fly London-Kolkata. Day 2 : Morning arrival Kolkata. Afternoon Botanic Gardens. Overnight Kolkata Day 3 : Fly Bagdogra. Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Overnight Siliguri Day 4 : Morning Mahananda. ‘Toy train’ journey up from Kurseong to Darjeeling. Two nights Elgin Hotel, Darjeeling Day 5 : Tiger Hill, Darjeeling. Steam train option Darjeeling-Ghoom-Darjeeling Days 6 - 7 : Lava hill forests. Two nights Lava Day 8 : Fly Bagdogra-Guwahati. Kaziranga National Park. Four nights Kaziranga National Park Days 9 - 11 : Kaziranga National Park. Day 12 : Kaziranga. Fly Jorhat-Kolkata. Overnight Kolkata Day 13 : Fly Kolkata-London.

INDIA

TRIP DETAILS ACCOMMODATION : Comfortable hotels and lodges of a good standard throughout. All rooms en suite except at Lava, where each bathroom is shared between two separate bedrooms. MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfasts, dinners and some lunches will be at our hotels; there will be some picnic lunches and the occasional picnic breakfast. WALKING : Easy, 1-4 kms on forest trails. At Darjeeling and Lava, we will be birding at elevations of between 1800-2600m; where possible, we will drive uphill and walk back down. RAIL TRIP : Places on the narrow gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway do fill up very quickly – early booking is strongly recommended for this tour to avoid disappointment! Special note about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway: the annual monsoon rains frequently result in line damage to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, and can lead to closure of affected sections of the track. July is the wettest month and work on repairing the line is usually well underway by September; the line is usually fully open again come the spring, when we visit. However, please note that we cannot of course guarantee the line will be operational at the time of our visit, and this could alter plans for the afternoon of Day 5. PHOTOS : Good photographic opportunities on this tour: birds, mammals and cultural - plus of course, the little railway. Note that camera fees are payable locally for use of cameras at Kaziranga National Park (currently, these are approx £6/day for still cameras and £12/day for video. Not included in our tour cost). LEADERS : Peter Kennerley & local guide NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 3,295 £ 495 £ 500 per person

The price is per person and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London-Kolkata; domestic flights within India from Kolkata-Bagdogra, Bagdogra-Guwahati and Jorhat-Kolkata; all accommodation and meals; rail journey up from Kurseong to Darjeeling, transportation by coach, minibus, jeep and elephant-back; excursions as outlined above; permits/entry fees to reserves; incidental tips, airport taxes, bird and mammal checklist, and services of the leader/s. The price excludes insurance, Indian visa costs (approx £30), drinks & other items of a personal nature. Optional afternoon steam train excursion Darjeeling-Ghoom-Darjeeling (subject to availability and service, allow £25pp). Photographic fees within parks and reserves (payable locally, where applicable). This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

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Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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The Maldives

Whale- and Dolphin-watching in the Indian Ocean Saturday 8 – Sunday 16 February 2014 Saturday 5 – Sunday 13 April 2014 Saturday 4 – Sunday 12 October 2014

INDIA

Maldives 

SRI LANKA

he exquisite islands and coral reefs of the Maldives have become a well-known tourist destination. But it is not widely realised that the Maldives also possess a particularly rich whale and dolphin fauna, with an especially impressive diversity of cetacean species. As the Maldives offer some of the very best whale and dolphin watching in the world, this will be the primary focus of this trip. However, there will also be opportunities for birding, to visit islands, to swim, to go snorkelling, and to relax. We cruise through the Maldives to view whales, dolphins and seabirds on board our specially chartered 30m ‘live-aboard’ safari vessels, M.V. Ari Queen and M.V. Carina. Both have a full-time local crew of 8, including an experienced captain and a dedicated cook who will prepare local cuisine with fresh fish caught from the boat. All cabins are ensuite and air-conditioned. There are 9 double, triple and twin cabins, but we will travel with a maximum of just 15 clients. Ari Queen/ Carina are not luxurious, but they are comfortable and quite adequate for our needs. Each trip will be conducted at a leisurely pace, allowing time to stop and stare, to swim and snorkel, and to visit a variety of islands. Our itinerary will be flexible to make the most of our cetacean sightings, but we hope to have the opportunity to visit uninhabited, fishing and resort islands. The particular highlights of this central atolls trip should include:  Encounters with numerous whale and dolphin species (including beaked whales)  Hundreds of delightful spinner dolphins  Stately pilot whales and false killer whales  Possible chance to swim with Manta Rays or Whale Shark

T

(9 days) aboard M/V Carina (9 days) aboard M/V Ari Queen (9 days) aboard M/V Ari Queen

The Maldives is a small island nation in the central Indian Ocean, some 400 miles southwest of the southern tip of India. The country is composed entirely of coral atolls. On the atolls are some 1200 sandy islands. All are small, and most can be walked around in less than an hour. These really are the picture postcard islands of your dreams, with swaying palm trees, white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons. 2014 will be our sixth year of trips. In summary, this is a superb trip that promises great cetacean sightings, a delightful tropical cruise, coral reefs, paradise islands, and friendly local people. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an overnight scheduled flight from London to Malé, the capital of the Maldives, arriving on Day 2. Day 2 : Arrival in Maldives. Arrive at Malé International Airport transfer to Ari Queen/Carina and put to sea. With a little luck we can expect our first cetacean sighting while still in sight of the airport! Tonight, we will anchor in a sheltered location within one of the atolls. This first evening there will be an orientation talk, and on most other evenings there will be a slide show or video. Days 3 - 7 : Whale, dolphin and seabird watching in the central atolls. Some mornings we will start the day with a refreshing early snorkel. We will then head out of the atolls, in search of whales, dolphins and seabirds. Each evening we will anchor in the lagoon of an atoll, and there should be some opportunities to swim, snorkel or visit an island. Day 8 : Whale and dolphin watching off Malé Atoll. A final full day of whale and dolphin watching. Ari Queen/Carina returns to Malé. Farewell dinner and last night on board. Day 9 : Malé. After breakfast, transfer by boat to the international terminal for departure on a scheduled flight returning to London, arriving late on Day 9 (or possibly early on Day 10).

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We use the M.V. Ari Queen/ M.V Carina, a 9-cabin motor vessel, with twin/triple en suite cabins. CLIMATE : The Maldive islands span the equator, stretching from about 7°N to ½°S, so the climate is tropical. From late January to April, and again during October-November, the weather is normally calm and sunny, with just the occasional shower. These are the very best times to visit. During our boat-based trips the sea should be calm, which makes for ideal offshore whale-watching. TEMPERATURES do not vary much throughout the year. Daytime air temperatures typically reach 2931°C during the day, dropping to about 25-27°C at night. Sea breezes make this quite comfortable. Sea temperatures average about 28°C, which makes for luxurious snorkelling! LEADER : Dr Charles Anderson. Please note that only one leader will accompany this cruise. NUMBERS :

Max. 15 clients

PRICE : Single supp** : Upper cabin supp** : Deposit :

£ £ £ £

2,995 440 per person 200 per cabin 400 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of economy scheduled return flights London-Malé*, airport taxes, Government Tourist Tax, atoll permits, full board accommodation, boat transport as described, incidental tips and the services of the leader and guide. The price excludes diving (approx 40 Euros per dive booked in advance), travel insurance, optional tips to local boat crew, drinks and other personal expenses.

ASIA & INDIAN OCEAN

*For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Malé), please deduct £ 745 per person from the tour cost. **A very limited number of cabins are available as singles, and there are a few upper cabins available with a supplement. TAILOR-MADE EXTENSIONS AND UPGRADES If any clients would like to extend their stay with more time in the beautiful Maldives, why not stay on a resort island immediately before or after your whale watching trip? We would be happy to provide a quote. We can also quote for flight upgrades.

Striped Dolphin and (top right) our boat the M.V. Ari Queen (Photos by tour participant Chris Milner)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Sri Lanka

INDIA

Jewel of the Indian Ocean Thursday 7 - Thursday 21 November 2013 Sunday 9 - Sunday 23 February 2014 Thursday 13 - Thursday 27 February 2014

(15 days) (15 days) (15 days)

SRI LANKA SRI LANKA

Kandy 

Colombo 

 Tissa

A 15-day birdwatching tour in search of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds among a host of exquisite winter visitors and Southern India specialities. With Asian Elephant and good chance of Leopard among mammal highlights, this is also an excellent trip for butterflies. t would be difficult to think of a more perfect destination for birdwatchers to escape the winter blues than the beautiful tropical island of Sri Lanka. For, despite lying so close to the southern tip of India, this Indian Ocean paradise has been isolated from the rest of Asia for so long as to have evolved more than 30 species of endemic birds. We should see most, if not all, of them on this classic Sri Lanka tour: from the blue-backed Legge’s Flowerpecker and the comical Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot through to Sri Lankan Junglefowl and the gorgeous Sri Lankan Blue Magpie. And with the help of our team of expert local naturalists, we will again hope to find the recently described Serendib Scops Owl at its day roost – as we have done with all our recent groups! Sri Lanka’s appeal runs much deeper than this however, for the one-time island of Ceylon also has many specialities shared only with southern India. Among them such delights as the peculiar Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Yellow-browed Bulbul, and Loten’s and Purple-rumped Sunbirds. Our February 2012 group also saw Marshall’s Iora, an Indian endemic only recently discovered in Sri Lanka. A visit to Sri Lanka is even more welcome during Europe’s winter months – not just so we can enjoy some unseasonable sunshine and warmth, but because this bewitching tropical isle is also a winter retreat for large numbers of birds from farther north. Here we may thrill to the likes of Pintail Snipe, Blyth’s Reed and Green Warblers, Kashmir Flycatcher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Indian Pitta and the sought-after Pied Thrush. With our return to Yala National Park, we should also encounter some fine mammals during our stay: Asian Elephant, Leopard, Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel and even Sloth Bear are possible. And this is a wonderful trip for anyone wishing to see something of Sri Lanka’s abundant and exotic butterflies, with their many appealing English names. There are 24 endemic species, of which we should see several, including the Sri Lanka Birdwing, Ceylon Rose and Ceylon Tree Nymph.

I

Nuwara Eliya   Ratnapura

TRIP DETAILS ACCOMMODATION : At comfortable tourist hotels. Accommodation more rustic and remote for our two nights at Blue Magpie Lodge, where rooms are simply furnished. All rooms en suite throughout. MEALS : All included in the price. Food is goodexcellent. Dinners usually at the hotels. Some breakfasts and some lunches will be picnics.

Sri Lanka is not only a very beautiful island, but its generally excellent tourist infrastructure allows birdwatchers and naturalists to explore prime habitats whilst, in the main, staying at some extremely good hotels. Those that wish will be able to enjoy a little sightseeing at Kandy, with its famous ‘Temple of the Tooth’, and a visit to a tea factory in the hills – with chances of Hill Swallow and Brown Wood Owl. Limosa has been operating bird tours to Sri Lanka for 16 years now and our finely honed itinerary is designed to enhance your chances of seeing all 33 of the island’s endemic birds, as well as a wide cross-section of the birds typical of this region of the Indian subcontinent. With well over 200 species likely on this tour, what could be better than spending a winter’s fortnight in the tropics, getting to know the birdlife of one of the world’s most enchanting island paradises? Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Colombo Days 2 - 3 : Morning arrival Colombo. Transfer Kitulgala. Two nights Kitulgala Lodge Days 4 - 5 : Sinharaja Forest. Two nights Blue Magpie Lodge

WALKING : In common with all wildlife tours to the tropics, be prepared for early starts to get the best from key areas before the day heats up. Options to try for nightjars and owls some evenings. The walking effort is mostly easy, but the going can be moderate at times along some forest trails. Sturdy waterproof walking shoes or boots, with stout soles and good grip required. LEADERS : November: Brian Small, Tharanga Herath & local guides February: Brian Small, Tharanga Herath & local guides November: Peter Kennerley, Tharanga Herath & local guides NUMBERS: Max. 12 clients PRICES : November 2013: £ 2,895 February 2014: £ 2,895 November 2014: £ 2,945 Single supps.: November 2013: £ 325 February 2014: £ 325 November 2014: £ 345 Deposit: £ 400 per person Prices are per person and include return scheduled flights London-Colombo; all accommodation, meals, surface transport (including 4WD in the parks, as necessary), entrance fees and permits, tips, airport taxes, map, bird and mammal checklist, and services of the leaders and local guides. Prices exclude Insurance, visa costs, drinks & other items of a personal nature. As of 1 Jan 2012, all travellers to Sri Lanka must obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) online prior to travel. These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

ASIA & INDIAN OCEAN

Day 6 : Sinharaja Forest. Overnight Embilipitya Day 7 : Udawalawe Nat Park and Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary. Overnight Tissa Days 8 - 9 : Yala and Bundala National Parks. Two nights Tissa Days 10 - 11 : Hill Country, Horton Plains and Victoria Park. Two nights Nuwara Eliya Day 12 : Peradeniya Gardens and the Temple of the Tooth. Overnight Kandy Day 13 : Udawatakelle Forest. Overnight Sigiriya Day 14 : Sigiriya, return to airport. Overnight Negombo Day 15 : Fly Colombo-London

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A tea estate in the hill country near Nuwara Eliya (Photo: Roger Wasley) and, top, Plum-headed Parakeet (Photo: Robin Chittenden)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Eastern Australia

Blue Mountains, Cairns & O’Reilly’s

SYDNEY 

ustralia is truly a world apart. Isolated from the rest of the world’s land-masses for over 60 million years, here evolution has taken a quite separate path. Most famous perhaps are the continent’s two mammal groups: the marsupials and the monotremes, including the peculiar egg-laying Platypus, which we have been lucky enough to see on our previous trips. Even more remarkable, almost half of Australia’s 650 or so regular bird species are unique to the region – a greater proportion of endemics than any other country. Journeying from the southern temperate zones to the northern tropics, our 2014 Classic Australia tour commences in Sydney, where a visit to Botany Bay and a boat trip around Sydney’s Port Hacking then Royal National Park should provide an excellent introduction to the birds of southeast Australia. On the New South Wales coast, the famous Barren Grounds heathland should be near the peak of its spring wildflower displays. The range-restricted Eastern Bristlebird and Pilotbird frequent this habitat and we’ll make a special effort to find Ground Parrot – seldom seen, and active only at daybreak and dusk. Climbing up into the beautiful Blue Mountains, Turquoise Parrot, Flame Robin, Superb Lyrebird and the endangered Regent Honeyeater are among specialities, along with flocks of rowdy and impressively big Yellow-tailed and Glossy Black Cockatoos. Leaving Sydney, we next fly north to Cairns. One of Australia’s best birding spots, shorebirds are outstanding here, with everything from Great Knot to Beach Thick-knee. We continue inland to try for Cassowary and Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, and also to explore the jungles of the Atherton

Thursday 6 - Monday 24 November 2014

From the rainforests of Queensland to the seabirds of the Great Barrier Reef, and from the Bowerbirds of O'Reilly's to the Lyrebirds of New South Wales, we travel to some of the finest wildlife areas within this amazing biological world-of-its-own. Pack your swags and join us down-under!

TRIP DETAILS

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ACCOMMODATION : At comfortable Aussie hotels, motels, lodges and cabins. All rooms en suite except for our one night at lovely Glen Davis and two at Kingfisher Park, where all bedrooms are separate but some bathrooms may have to be shared. MEALS : All included in the price. WALKING : Easy walking, no more than a mile or two at any one time. Sturdy thornproof walking boots are recommended. BOAT TRIPS : Our tour includes 3 boat trips: a ‘must-do’ birdwatching and sightseeing trip around Botany Bay/Port Hacking, a dawn wildlife cruise on the Daintree River and an all-day trip out to Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef with Ocean Spirit Cruises. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Peter Taylor

Galah (Photo by tour participant Clive Leyman)

Tablelands, haunt of Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Catbird and the iridescent Victoria’s Riflebird. A dawn cruise on the Daintree River may reward us with Little Kingfisher and Great-billed Heron, whetting our appetites for a fitting finale to our stay in tropical North Queensland: a trip out from Cairns aboard Ocean Spirit, to savour the marvels of Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef, with their breeding seabirds and exuberant marine life. Flying south to Brisbane, our tour concludes with three nights at the incomparable O’Reilly’s Rainforest Lodge - where the birding is simply superb! Red-necked Pademelons forage on the lawn, and well-stocked feeders (not to mention inattentive birdwatchers with food in their hands!) attract immaculate Regent and Satin Bowerbirds, along with crowds of colourful Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots. This really is ‘Classic Australia’. Pack your swags and join us Downunder! Please note: This tour can easily be incorporated into your own private visit to Australia. For those who’d prefer to travel out early and rest up a little ahead of the tour, or stopover in Australia after our tour, we can organise your flights out on almost any day you choose, or leave you to make your own arrangements. Please ask our office for details, or if you would like a ‘land only’ price for this tour. If you are booking your own flights please contact us first to check that the times fit with the current itinerary. Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 2 : Fly London-Sydney. Day 3 : Morning arrival. Botany Bay, Royal NP & Port Hacking boat trip. Two nights Jamberoo Day 4 : Barren Grounds, Budderoo & Minnamurra Rainforest Centre. Days 5 - 6 : Blue Mountains: Kings Tableland, Mt Victoria and Megalong Valley. Two nights Katoomba Day 7 : Lithgow and Capertee Valley. Overnight Glen Davis

Tawny Frogmouth (Photo by tour participant Clive Leyman)

(19 days)

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 6,196 £ 635 £ 700 per person

The price is per person and is fully inclusive of international and domestic flights London-Sydney, Sydney-Cairns, Cairns-Brisbane and BrisbaneLondon, accommodation on a full-board basis, ground transportation, boat trips as outlined above, entry fees/permits, all airport and local taxes, tips, bird checklist, map, local guide fees and the services of the leader/s. The price excludes insurance, Aussie visa/ETA (see page 9, below), drinks and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

Day 8 : Capertee Valley, fly Sydney-Cairns, Redden Island. Overnight Mossman Days 9 - 10: Daintree River cruise, Daintree National Park. Two nights Kingfisher Park Days 11 - 12 : Atherton Tablelands. Two nights Chambers, Lake Eacham Day 13 : Cairns Waterfront & Centenary Lakes. Two nights Cairns Day 14 : Full day aboard Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay & the Great Barrier Reef. Days 15 - 17 : Fly Cairns-Brisbane. Three nights O’Reilly’s Days 18 - 19 : Fly Brisbane-London.

AUSTRALASIA

O’Reilly’s 

Please visit our Wild Ambitions website for tailor-made tours in Australia

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Western Australia

Western Australia

Emus and Echidnas

Sunday 12 - Tuesday 28 October 2014

(17 days)

A comprehensive 17-day birdwatching tour to Western Australia, with its many endemic birds and mammals - and timed to coincide with displays of wildflowers acclaimed among the finest anywhere in the world – so pack your swags and join us down-under!

ustralia is truly a world apart. Separated from the rest of the world’s land masses for over sixty million years, here evolution has taken a quite separate path. Most famous perhaps are the continent’s two mammal groups: the marsupials and the monotremes. But even more remarkable, almost half of the nation’s six hundred and fifty or so regular bird species are found only in Australia and nowhere else – a greater proportion of endemics than any other country. Our tour to Western Australia is a classic, focusing on the stunningly diverse south-western corner of this huge island continent – a region not only blessed with a splendid array of endemic birds but also some of the finest floral displays anywhere in the world. We start in Perth, at beautiful King’s Park, overlooking the broad reaches of the Swan River. Here we should encounter our first endemics – the raucous Short-billed Black Cockatoo and shrieking Port Lincoln Ringnecks – before a relaxing Indian Ocean cruise carries us to Rottnest Island, alive with the calls of Western Gerygones and Singing Honeyeaters, and home of that dainty marsupial, the Quokka. Entering the temperate eucalypt forests of the Darling Ranges, we’ll watch for the brilliantly coloured Red-capped Parrot and Western Rosella. And as we continue to the arid woodlands of the Goldfields, we will be captivated by the carpets of everlasting daisies and a myriad other nectar-filled wildflowers that attract Black, White-fronted and Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters, Crimson Chat, Redbacked Kingfisher and Striated Pardalote. Along the continent’s rugged south coast, we will explore the islands of the Recherche Archipelago for an array of seabirds and whales, experience the fantastic botanical diversity that

A

draws Western Spinebill and Little Wattlebird to the Stirling Ranges, and stalk that rare, extremely localised and highly elusive trio: Noisy Scrub-bird, Western Bristlebird and Western Whipbird. We’ll watch Long-billed Black Cockatoos and Western Corellas screeching over the wetlands of Lake Muir, take a trip over the largest sand dunes in Australia to find Fairy Tern, and wander the region’s tall karri forests in search of scurrying Red-winged Fairywrens and Red-eared Firetails. Returning to Perth via the scenic woodlands of Dryandra, gorgeous Blue-breasted Fairywrens and Rainbow Bee-eaters complete a fabulous tour. With luck, we may even catch a glimpse of the striped back and bushy tail of Western Australia’s faunal emblem, the Numbat. Our guide Peter Taylor has lived in the tall timber country of Western Australia for over ten years and knows its birds and wildlife well. Please note: This tour can easily be incorporated into your own private visit to Australia. For those who’d prefer to travel out early and rest up a little ahead of the tour, or stopover in Australia after our tour, we can organise your flights out on almost any day you choose, or leave you to make your own arrangements. Please ask our office for details, or if you would like a ‘land only’ price for this tour. If you are booking your own flights please contact us first to check that the times fit with the current itinerary. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Depart London for Perth. Days 2 - 3: Afternoon arrival, Day 2. King’s Park and Rottnest Island Cruise. Two nights Perth

Perth 

Merredin 

Pemberton 

 Jerramungup

 Kalgoorlie 

Esperance

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at comfortable motels, lodges and cabins. All rooms en suite except for our one night at Cheynes Beach, where accommodation is limited (separate bedrooms but some bathroom facilities may be shared). MEALS : All included in the price. WALKING : Easy. Gently paced walks, no more than a mile or two at any one time. Sturdy thornproof walking boots with corrugated soles for grip are recommended. BOAT TRIPS : Our tour price includes two excellent boat trips: the first, a short ferry crossing to Rottnest Island out of Perth on a large ocean-going catamaran; the second, a full day wildlife cruise over to Woody Island, in the Recherche Archipelago, travelling out of Esperance on the MV Seabreeze II, a custom built catamaran, licensed to carry 164 passengers. GROUND TRANSPORT : By modern Toyota minibus (or similar), with 4WD vehicle at Yeagarup Dunes. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Peter Taylor NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 5,245 £ 675 £ 600 per person

Price is per person and is fully inclusive of scheduled economy class return flights LondonPerth, all accommodation and meals, minibus transportation, boat trips (as outlined above), all airport and local taxes, incidental tips, bird checklist, map, local guide fees and the services of the leader/s. Cost excludes insurance, Aussie visa/ETA, drinks and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

AUSTRALASIA

Day 4 : The Darling Ranges. Overnight Merredin Days 5 - 6 : Sandford, Rowles Lagoon, Boorabbin and Goongarrie Nat Parks. Two nights Kalgoorlie Days 7 - 8 : Peak Charles and Woody Island Cruise. Two nights Esperance Day 9 : Fitzgerald River NP. Overnight Jerramungup Day 10 : Cheynes Beach and Waychinicup NR. Overnight Cheynes Beach Days 11 - 12 : Stirling Ranges, Lake Muir, Yeagarup Dunes, Warren River. Two nights Pemberton Day 13 : Capes Leeuwin and Naturaliste. Overnight Busselton Days 14 - 15 : Wagin Lakes and Dryandra State Forest. Two nights Narrogin Days 16 - 17 : Fly Perth-London, arriving home Day 17

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Rainbow Bee-eater

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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New Zealand

Auckland   Taupo

 Whakapapa  St Arnaud

 Kaikoura

 Arthur’s Pass



 Te Anau

Lake Ohau

 Gore

Stewart Island

hundred million years of isolation have made New Zealand very much a world apart in evolutionary terms. The absence of land mammals have given its native birds room to adapt and move into the mammal niches, relatively free of predators. Thus they have evolved into a truly fascinating avifauna, including the famous nocturnal flightless Kiwi, but with many other uniquely-formed, and often very tame species. The plants are also highly distinctive, and we shall be seeing a splendid range of these as we travel through the New Zealand summer. Perhaps best of all, though, there is the spectacular scenery. This ranges from the hot geysers and volcanic springs of North Island to the fjords, alpine glaciers and rushing rivers of South Island, dominated by towering Mount Cook, and culminating in the awesome granite peaks of Fiordland. Our tour aims to be the botanical and wildlife trip of a lifetime, covering the islands from north to south, and visiting a superb range of the New Zealand habitats on land and sea. We begin our tour on North Island, starting with its superb lowland forests and majestic trees, and an excellent array of the endemic landbirds on Tiri Tiri Matangi Island, near Auckland. We spend another day in the ancient podocarp forests here, where the primitive, endangered Kokako calls eerily from the treetops, and we’ll see some of the volcanic landscapes and thermal activity on North Island, including the superb peaks of Tongariro National Park. After crossing Cook Strait, we will explore some of the wildest and most spectacular parts of South Island in search of more endemic plants and birds, and a host of seabirds along the coast and inlets. Kahurangi National Park has a wealth of botanical treasures including the famous ‘vegetable sheep’! Other experiences on South Island include

Flowers and Wildlife

Saturday 11 - Wednesday 29 January 2014 Sunday 4 - Thursday 22 January 2015

(19 days) (19 days)

New Zealand is justly famed for its stunningly beautiful and varied landscape of coastline, forests, mountains and fjords, and its hard-to-match array of endemic wildlife. Join us as we roam its land and seas in search of this country’s unique and often endangered flowers and wildlife, on a trip devised for us by New Zealand’s foremost wildlife tour operator, Mark Hanger.

TRIP DETAILS

A

ACCOMMODATION : Good quality hotels and lodges with rooms en suite, except on Stewart Island, where some of the rooms have shared facilities. PRINCIPAL LEADER : 2014: Geoff Henderson 2015: tbc NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES :

2014: £ 6,695 2015: £ TBC 2014: £ 845 2015: £ TBC £ 1,000 per person

Single supps. : Deposit :

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights* London-Auckland, internal flights as specified, airport taxes, full board accommodation, road and boat transport as described, incidental tips, and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes travel insurance, optional tips to the local guide/s and driver, drinks and other personal expenses.

Maori Onion Bulbinella gibbsii var balanifera (Photo: Keith Grant)

probably the most stunningly close encounter with seabirds you’ll ever have, superb endemic alpine flowers around Mt Cook, and the breathtaking landscapes of Fiordland National Park, while on farsouthern Stewart Island, you’ll have one of the most memorable night-birding trips in search of Kiwis that you’ll ever undertake, and close encounters with penguins and parrots – sometimes on the same beach ! In addition to a superb variety of birds and scenery, New Zealand also boasts good accommodation and excellent home-grown food and wine.

Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 2 : We take a scheduled flight from London Auckland. Day 3 : Overnight Auckland Days 4 - 5 : Two nights Taupo Days 6 - 7 : Two nights Whakapapa Days 8 - 10 : Three nights St Arnaud Day 11 : Overnight Kaikoura Days 12 - 13 : Two nights Lake Ohau Day 14 : Overnight Gore Day 15 : Overnight Stewart Island Days 16 - 17 : Two nights Te Anau Downs Day 18 : We return across the southern South Island to Dunedin to connect with our flight north to Auckland, and our homeward flight, arriving in London on Day 19.

AUSTRALASIA

This tour can be incorporated into your own private visit to New Zealand. We can organise your flights out on any days you choose, or leave you to make your own arrangements.

*For a price excluding the flights London-Auckland return, please deduct £ 1,295 from the tour cost. If you are booking your own flights please contact us first to check that the times fit with the current itinerary.

A Kaka Parrot gets into some botany (Photo: Mike Read) and, right, the Southern Alps

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Spitsbergen

Mountains and glaciers on Spitsbergen

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SVALBARD

The accessible High Arctic in Summer Wednesday 9 - Saturday 19 July 2014

(11 days)

A cruise to the true High Arctic, to witness its countless seabirds, its wildfowl and waders on their breeding grounds, and its whales, seals, Polar Bears and Walruses! We've chosen one of the very best times of year to circumnavigate the island of Spitsbergen and explore this most accessible of high arctic regions. pitsbergen, with its rugged mountains, fjords, sweeping tundra, ice caps and glaciers, is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, and only 600 miles from the North Pole. In June the southern part of Spitsbergen becomes ice-free, but it is not until July that the whole of Spitsbergen opens up to ice-strengthened vessels. It is then that, with luck, we can visit the remote north and east coasts, with their abundance of arctic wildlife, including millions of Little Auks and other seabirds, whales, Polar Bears and Walruses. At this time of year, during the brief Arctic summer, Spitsbergen has constant daylight. The tundra responds with a rich array of flowers where Reindeer graze, while birds rush to raise their young before the Arctic winter sets in. We begin the cruise at Longyearbyen, the

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54

administrative centre of Spitsbergen, with a population of over 3,000. The coasts are ice-free in the summer and colourful wild flowers, mosses and lichens abound. Here we can encounter the only two land birds - Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting - and may see our first Purple Sandpipers feeding along the shore, along with the ubiquitous Arctic Terns, Glaucous Gulls and blue-phase Fulmars. We may visit the world’s northernmost settlement, Ny Ålesund. Here Long-tailed Ducks breed on the village pools, along with Red-throated Divers and both Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese on the surrounding tundra, which also harbours breeding Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas. Svalbard Reindeer graze, and Arctic Foxes roam, and at this time of year the flowers can be superb. Grey Phalaropes in their stunning red breeding plumage can also be encountered along this coast along with King and Common Eiders. Ivory Gulls are regularly found around the bow of the ship as she pushes through ice. If we are lucky we may find the rare Sabine’s Gull on its breeding grounds on the island of Moffen, an area that can be approached by the ship, but where we are not allowed to land. The even-rarer Ross’s Gull can be seen in some years. Depending on the ice conditions we will circumnavigate Spitsbergen clockwise or anticlockwise, with the emphasis on locations in the east where Polar Bears abound. During these voyages we will encounter a lot of sea ice and have a chance to observe impressive calving glaciers at close quarters. Our timing of the trip will give us the best chance of cruising the Hinlopen Strait, between Spitsbergen and the isle of Nordaustlandet, and around the eastern isles of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, where we hope to encounter Walruses and several species of seal, including Bearded, Ringed and Harp Seals. Seabirds will be encountered frequently and will include Little Auks and Brünnich’s Guillemots as well as Black Guillemots, a

Little Auks and (right) Grey Phalarope (Photos: Rebecca Nason)

GREENLAND

SVALBARD G Longyearbyen

Spitsbergen

NORWAY

few Puffins and Kittiwakes, all of which may be harassed by the ever-watchful Arctic and Pomarine Skuas. At Diskobukta on the island of Edgeøya we visit a canyon with thousands of breeding Kittiwakes – Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears regularly roam around the base of the cliffs. If possible we will visit Tusenøyane, where we will see the well-preserved remains of 17th century whaling activities. We hope to encounter Minke and Beluga Whales in this area. In West Spitsbergen lies the large and rugged Hornsund Fjord, which has imposing glaciers and a rich marine fauna. As a result it has huge breeding colonies of Little Auks, one of which is readily accessible. To stand almost within arm’s reach of groups of Little Auks, whilst thousands more fly to and from the colony all around you, is a truly thrilling

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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arctic experience. We may also be able to visit a Polish research station in the area. The cruise will be on the Plancius, an expedition cruise ship that spends much of its time in the Arctic and Antarctic, operated by Oceanwide Expeditions. Shore excursions will be made by Zodiac, and we’ll be in the experienced hands of the Oceanwide guides. An expedition cruise is always exciting because of its unpredictability. Every decision made by the expedition leader is based on weather, sea ice, travelling times, and, of course, the appearance of wildlife – especially Polar Bears! A final warning – these cruises book up early – please don’t leave it too late or all the cabins will have gone! Please see our Wild Ambitions website for more Spitsbergen cruises – there are shorter cruises available at less cost. Outline Itinerary: Day 1 : We take an evening flight to Oslo where we stay overnight, or, alternatively, depending on flight schedules, we may continue to Longyearbyen for an overnight stay there. Overnight Oslo/Longyearbyen Day 2 : We fly from Oslo to Longyearbyen arriving either at lunchtime or in the early hours of the morning. We embark on the Plancius in the afternoon. Nine nights cruise on Plancius Day 11 : We disembark at Longyearbyen in the morning, and fly in the afternoon to Oslo, where we connect with an evening return flight to the UK. Plancius M/v “Plancius” started her life in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named “Hr. Ms. Tydeman”. In June 2004, the vessel was taken out of active service and was purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions in December 2006. Available for Polar expeditions, the vessel has been completely rebuilt as a 112passenger vessel and complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea), is classed by Lloyd’s Register in London, and will fly the Dutch flag. The vessel is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxurious vessel. Our voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are and will still be primarily defined by an exploratory educational

Polar Bear and cubs (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

travel programme, spending as much time ashore as possible. This vessel will fully meet our demands to achieve this. M/v “Plancius” can accommodate 112 passengers in 54 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 4 triple private cabins, 40 twin private cabins (ca. 15 square meters) and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters). The vessel is manned by 30 international crew members (inc. 10 stewardesses/cabin cleaners), 6 hotel staff (4 chefs, 1 purser and 1 steward-barman), 6 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 5 guideslecturers) and 1 doctor. Please see our website for a deck plan

TRIP DETAILS

TRANSPORT : Transport from the ship to shore is by Zodiac (rubber boat). Entry and exit from the Zodiac is assisted. Most landings are ‘wet landings’ requiring the wearing of Wellington boots. WALKING : At most landings there is a choice of walks varying from fairly energetic to quite slow, exploratory walks which enable passengers to look at plants, rocks, footprints, birds and mammals. The slow walks could be less then a km, while longer walks could be of several kms. LEADERS : Rebecca Nason and guides from Oceanwide Expeditions. NUMBERS : The ship carries a maximum of 112 passengers. 4,895 5,495 5,995 3,445) 6,195 3,695) 6,595 7,295 person

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

PRICES PER PERSON : Quadruple share with porthole £ Triple share with porthole £ Twin/Double with porthole £ (single supp. £ Twin/Double with window £ (single supp. £ Twin/Double deluxe £ Superior £ Deposit : £ 1,400 per

The prices are per person, and are fully inclusive of return flights London/Longyearbyen*, overnight accommodation in Oslo/Longyearbyen, the cruise, meals on board, shore excursions by Zodiac and activities throughout the voyage, leadership, taxes and port charges. The prices exclude travel insurance, optional tips to leaders and crew, drinks, meals in Oslo and Longyearbyen, and other personal expenses. *For a cost starting and finishing the tour in Oslo, please deduct £ 195 pp from the tour cost. *For a cost starting and finishing the tour in Longyearbyen, please deduct £ 695 pp from the tour cost. Please see our Wild Ambitions website for more Spitsbergen cruises – there are shorter cruises available at less cost.

Walrus (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Eastern Austria

AUSTRIA Vienna 

Lake Neusiedl in Spring and Autumn Monday 19 – Monday 26 May 2014 Saturday 30 August – Saturday 6 September 2014

(8 days) (8 days)

 Illmitz

AUSTRIA

Lake Neusiedl HUNGARY

We return to the lakes, forests and mountains of wonderful Eastern Austria in spring, at a time when the breeding season is in full swing, and the mountains are in flower, and again in early autumn, with the excitement of passage migrants. Why not join us – spring or autumn – for the best of central European birdwatching? eusiedl has long been a firm favourite of ours – and with good reason! One of Europe’s largest lakes, it’s also one of the very best for birds. To the east lie the splendid wetlands of the Seewinkel and the start of the Great Hungarian Plain; to the north, the riverine forests of the March; and to the west, the pine-clad foothills of the Austrian Alps which we shall access via a scenic rack-and-pinion railway journey aboard the Fire Salamander. The whole presents a tapestry of habitats surpassed only by the impressive range of birds to be found there. During the week, we’ll also enjoy two or three longer days out, travelling west to the alpine habitats of the Hohe Wand and the Schneeberg for the likes of Alpine Chough and Nutcracker, and north to wonderful Marchegg reserve in search of Black Stork, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Eastern Imperial Eagle, and in spring Collared Flycatcher. We are based just over an hour’s drive from Vienna airport to what is considered by many to be the best hotel for birdwatchers in the area. This is a wonderful family-run hotel, on the site of the original ‘post house’ in the town, with a White Stork viewing platform on the balcony roof and a Syrian Woodpecker’s nest in the shaded yard. Lakeside walks and main hides are close by around Illmitz Marina, and large and some smaller saline lakes are right on the edge of town. Not recommended for birdwatchers in a hurry, this tour features easy walks and a mix of leisurely picnics and sit-down lunches taken at one of the region’s many excellent Gasthofs. Our town base at Illmiz lies within the

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Seewinkel, a flat agricultural plain studded with lakes that form some of the richest bird habitats of all. The accessibility of these shallow wetlands make them one of the best spots for seeing some of the area’s specialities, from breeding Black-necked Grebe, Bittern, Purple Heron and Spoonbill to Greylag Goose, Garganey, Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck. During the spring and autumn months, the muddier margins prove irresistible to passing Little and Temminck’s Stints, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Spotted Redshank and other migratory shorebirds. And as we weave our way from one lake to the next through the patchwork of meadows, vineyards and thickets, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for passerine migrants such as Whinchat, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher. The magnificent Great Bustard, now one of the region’s rarest residents, still retains a foothold on the plain. By visiting early in the day, before the grasslands vanish beneath a shimmering sea of heat-haze, we shall hope for views of these impressive birds from a special observation platform. To the north of Neusiedl town, lies the splendid Marchegg reserve, a mix of ancient deciduous woodland, marshy backwaters and lush flood meadows, hard on the Slovakian border. River Warblers reel unseen from the thickets in spring and White Storks nest conspicuously in the trees, which also provide cover for forest dwellers such as Greyheaded Woodpecker, Collared Flycatcher and Hawfinch. Butterflies can be numerous and may include the exquisitely-hued Lesser Purple Emperor. Having thoroughly explored Neusiedl’s lowlands, we’ll venture a little further afield to focus on an exciting range of alpine birds, with visits to the picturesque Hohe Wand and its near neighbour, the Schneeberg. Meaning ‘High Wall’, the Hohe Wand is a pineclad rocky plateau which rises abruptly from the plain about an hour or so drive west of our hotel. Marking the easternmost limit of the Alps, the Schneeberg stands twice as high as the Hohe Wand. Access to the summit area is via a delightful rackand-pinion railway journey aboard the Feuersalmander – painted in dazzling Fire Salamander colours and pattern. Weather permitting, the train will carry us up to the realm of Alpine Choughs and Chamois at around 2000 metres. The alpine flowers can be superb in spring, with many showy gentians and primulas. Another option during our stay is to visit the excellent Fertö-Hansag National Park, which lies at the southern end of Lake Neusiedl, just across the border into Hungary. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We catch a morning flight from London to Vienna. Just over an hour’s drive will bring us to our hotel in the small town of Illmitz, which will be our base throughout the holiday. We should arrive in time to enjoy some local birding this afternoon. Overnight Illmitz

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Grey-headed Woodpecker (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Our hotel in the sleepy town of Illmitz right on the edge of the famous saline lake of Seewinkel is run by a family that understand birdwatchers and are interested in birding and wildlife themselves. All rooms have been recently renovated to a high standard with en suite bathrooms, including some with a bath (please request one if you would prefer this). The hotel has a birding library and a viewing platform where we can watch the White Storks on their nest on top of the roof of the local bank. There’s also a Syrian Woodpecker’s nest in the ‘hof’ or yard, and if the weather’s kind, we can take breakfast or dinner there and watch the adult woodpecker’s comings or goings! MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfasts and dinners at the hotel. Lunches are our popular mix of picnics and leisurely sit-down meals taken at one of the region’s traditional restaurants or Gasthofs. WALKING : The countryside around the lake itself is flat and the going easy, with short walks (1-3 miles). Expect a few short uphill stretches along good trails in the surrounding hills and mountains, all taken slowly. GROUND TRANSPORT : By minibus PRINCIPAL LEADERS : May: Stephen Daly Aug-Sep: Tim Earl NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 125 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights* London-Vienna, all accommodation, meals, minibus transport, Schneeberg Mountain railway excursion, admissions, permits and entry fees to reserves, airport taxes, tips, map, bird & butterfly checklist, and services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (Vienna/Vienna) please deduct £ 135 per person from the tour cost. These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Days 2 - 7 : Each day we’ll be choosing from a fine array of habitats to visit, according to local conditions prevailing at the time. Six nights Illmitz Day 8 : After enjoying a final morning birdwatching around Lake Neusiedl, we return to Vienna and catch our afternoon flight back to London.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Belarus

BELARUS

MINSK 

 Beloazersk  Belowezhskaya

15:09

 Turov

elarus is set to become one of the prime birdwatching destinations in Europe. This eastern neighbour of Poland boasts a superb variety of birds including Terek Sandpiper and Azure Tit, and mammals including Bison, Lynx and Wolf. As the countries of Eastern Europe develop, they are sadly losing some of their prime attractions to the visitor, and to the wildlife: untouched wilderness areas, and a traditional, low-intensity system of agriculture. Yet in Belarus these still survive, and we have chosen three areas out of many possible places to concentrate on: Sporovo Reserve, protecting a huge percentage of the world’s Aquatic Warbler population, then the fabled marshes of Pripyat National Park with its breeding and migrant waders including Terek and Marsh Sandpipers, and other eastern species including the legendary and beautiful Azure Tit, and finally Belowezhskaya Pushcha NP, a wilder and larger counterpart to the adjoining Bialowieza in Poland.

B

Itinerary Days 1 - 3 : We fly from London to Minsk (probably via Warsaw, depending on flight schedules). From Minsk we drive to the famous Pripyat NP. We spend four nights in Turov in a comfortable hotel located on the bank of the river. Several sought-after shorebirds such as Great Snipe, Terek and Marsh Sandpiper breed on the banks of the untamed Pripyat River that floods vast areas of meadows and forests in spring. On meadows near Turov we can experience spectacular gatherings of hundreds of migrating Ruff including many colourful males, while elegant Spotted Redshanks, some in black breeding plumage, are also found in good numbers. Great Snipe can sometimes be seen at a lek site, and if we are lucky, at a ringing station. In the past we have had the privilege of comparing both Great and Jack Snipe in the hand. One of the most sought-after birds of the trip will be Azure Tit. Belarus is the only place in Europe

Fabled marshes and primaeval forests Sunday 5 – Sunday 12 May 2014

Imagine a land of ancient forests, hundreds of meandering rivers, the biggest marshes and fens of the continent, and roads where you hardly meet any traffic or even people – this is the wild country of Belarus!

where we have a good chance to find this stunning bird in its breeding habitat along the riparian willow forests of the Pripyat River. Last year we encountered a very amorous pair! Penduline Tit also hang their distinctive nests here. We will have some time to discover the ancient oak, spruce and birch forests too. These are the domain of Common Crane, Greater and Lesser Spotted Eagles, and Black Stork, all of which can be seen soaring above the canopy. Inside the forest we’ll look for Wryneck and White-backed Woodpeckers, and we might also find Grey-headed, Black, Middle, Lesser and Three-toed Woodpeckers. Collared Flycatcher may have just arrived, while Thrush Nightingale, Bluethroat, Common Rosefinch, Golden Oriole and Hawfinch are all common in this magical place. Butterflies can include Map Butterfly, Camberwell Beauty and Swallowtail, while mammals seen in the past have included Wild Boar and Elk, as well as Muskrat and both Roe and Red Deer. We also visit the nearby Beloe Fishponds, home to breeding Whooper Swan, Smew (the only Belarus location), Bittern, White-tailed Eagle, Red-necked Grebe and many wildfowl and waders on migration. Caspian Terns can be seen alongside Caspian Gulls here! Three nights Turov Days 4 - 5 : Our next base will be in the middle of the famous World Heritage Site, the Belowezhskaya Pushcha ancient forest. We will walk amidst ancient trees and focus on woodland species. These fairytale woods can hold Pygmy Owl, and in some years, Great Grey Owl as well (last year we were lucky and saw both!). Hazel Grouse are also found but elusive – we can sometimes locate one by its distinctive whistle. All the European woodpeckers, Crested Tit, Common Crossbill and Collared Flycatcher are breeding here. Along Lake Liadskoye, Wood Sandpiper, Savi’s and River Warblers occur. Raptors include White-tailed, Short-toed and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Honey Buzzard, Goshawk, Hen and Montagu’s Harriers. We always stay alert for the presence of mammals in these woodlands where Elk and Wild Boar are numerous. The most famous mammal of the forest however, is the majestic European Bison, although these can be surprisingly difficult to see amongst the trees. We’ll search for them in some of their favourite meadows and glades. Last year’s was a lucky visit: we saw a group of fourteen Bison, and a Wolf walking in front of the vehicle! Two nights Belowezhskaya Pushcha Days 6 - 7 : We continue to Sporovo Reserve, where we will stay for two nights. En route we can stop at a forest for woodpeckers and possible owls, as well as the lovely northern race of Long-tailed Tit. We’ll also keep an eye open for Great Grey Shrike, Hen and Montagu’s Harriers and Lesser Spotted Eagle as we go.

Bison and, top, Azure Tit (Photos: Ecotours Hungary)

(8 days)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Belarus is off the beaten tourist trail and standards of hotel are below those in Western Europe. However, those we use are of reasonable quality, chosen for their proximity to the best birding sites. All rooms en suite. Please note there are no hairdryers or coffee-making facilities in rooms. LEADERS :

Barrie Cooper and Attila Steiner

NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,825 £ 185 £ 400 per person

The price per person includes return flights from London – Minsk*, airport taxes, 7 nights’ accommodation, all meals, incidental tips, coach transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes Belarus visa costs (approx £75), holiday insurance, optional tips for the driver and local guide, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (Minsk/Minsk) please deduct £ 245 from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

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Savi’s Warbler and White-spotted Bluethroat sing from the banks of the Yaselda River. We take a small ferry across the river to reach some superb marshes and fishponds. A board walk across the marsh makes an excellent viewpoint to look for the marsh’s breeding Citrine Wagtails. The nearby fishponds are home to all three marsh terns, gulls including possible Little and Caspian Gull, and migrant waders. Wildfowl can include both Garganey and Goosander as well as Whooper Swan. The area also holds Common Rosefinch, Golden Oriole and Penduline and Bearded Tit. Little, Spotted and Corn Crakes are all in full voice at this time of the year, and one evening we hope to admire the characteristic song flight of Europe’s rarest songbird, Aquatic Warbler, to the sound of booming Bittern and displaying Snipe. Two nights Beloazersk Day 8 : We drive back to Minsk, birding en route, from where we fly home.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Bulgaria in Spring

ROMANIA



Rhodope Mountains and Black Sea Friday 16 - Sunday 25 May 2014

(10 days)

A 10-day birdwatching tour to one of Europe’s loveliest yet least visited countries, exploring the Rhodope Mountains, Black Sea coast and Danube Valley. Outstanding for birds with Dalmatian Pelican, Pied and Isabelline Wheatears, Paddyfield Warbler, Masked Shrike and Semi-collared Flycatcher among many exciting eastern European specialities. lthough now a fully-fledged member of the EU, Bulgaria remains one of the least visited corners of Europe. The birdlife here is outstanding and this beautiful country is rightly recognised as one of the continent’s most exciting birding venues. Flanked by the Black Sea to the east and the broad sweep of the mighty River Danube in the north, not only do huge numbers of migrants funnel up through Bulgaria each spring but the abundant birdlife has a definite ‘eastern’ flavour. Our tour begins in the picturesque eastern Rhodope Mountains, close to the Greek frontier. Griffon Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Western Rock Nuthatch await our discovery here. Black Storks also nest on the cliffs, Chukars chuckle as they forage amongst the crags, and we shall make a special effort to find Wallcreeper in the region’s limestone gorges - where our splendid photo was taken! Aside from the birds, these lovely hills are simply brimming with plants and butterflies. Leaving the mountains, we journey east towards the Black Sea coast. Montagu’s Harriers quarter the fields, White Storks share their nests with gangs of noisy Spanish Sparrows, and the roadside wires can be peppered with Black-headed Buntings, Beeeaters and Lesser Grey Shrikes. We will stop along the way to search for a few of the more scarce regional specialities such as Masked Shrike, and Eastern Orphean and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Of international standing, wetlands along the Black Sea coast hold the promise of White Pelican, Ruddy Shelduck and Pygmy Cormorant. Inland, the thickly wooded valleys and rugged limestone hills are the haunt of Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Semi-collared Flycatcher. May also offers exciting opportunities to find migrating waders at the coast, before our route swings back inland, across the rolling steppe of Dobruja, to the fertile valley of the Danube. Here wonderful Lake Srebarna is a World Heritage Site, of prime importance for its colony of Dalmatian Pelicans. After a final night spent amongst the pretty wooded hills at Etara, we return full circle to Sofia. Full of eastern promise (and with some surprisingly good local wines!), a spring visit to Bulgaria is sure to surprise and delight. The list of possible birds is both impressive and long, and past

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tour highlights have included several species for which Bulgaria represents the westernmost limit of their world ranges – among them Paddyfield Warbler, and Pied and Isabelline Wheatears. We shall be accompanied by experienced local bird guide Tihomir Stefanov.

Itinerary Day 1 : British Airways morning flight from London to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. We head into the lovely Rhodope Mountains, close to the border with northern Greece, and the alpine resort of Satovcha. Overnight Satovcha

Days 2 - 3 : Leaving Satovcha, we travel to the splendid Trigrad gorge. We have good chances of finding the elusive Wallcreeper here. We wind our way eastwards through the eastern Rhodope Mountains amidst a rugged landscape now dominated by the remnants of extinct volcanoes. Our destination is Krumovgrad, on the banks of the beautiful River Krumovitca. Two nights Krumovgrad Days 4 - 5 : We head north-east this morning towards Pomorie, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. Although Burgas is a major port and town on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, its wetlands support a variety of birdlife matched by few other areas in Europe. Two nights Pomorie, north of Burgas Days 6 - 7 : Leaving Pomorie, we travel north, following the Black Sea coast towards Romania. It’s a landscape of thickly wooded valleys and rugged limestone hills. Small numbers of Semi-collared Flycatchers nest in these woodlands. Lake Durankulak is a mainly brackish lake with reedbeds that hold a small population of Paddyfield Warblers, while the dramatic limestone cliffs of Cape Kaliakra are home to the smart Pied Wheatear. Inland, the sky above the rolling steppe is full of glorious lark song, and also attracts Isabelline Wheatears and parties of dazzling Rose-coloured Starlings, which occur during their periodic invasions from central Asia. Our accommodation for these two nights is a small but comfortable hotel at Kavarna, newly-built and only recently opened. Two nights Kavarna

Kavarna 

BULGARIA

SOFIA

Pomorie 

Krumovgrad  

GREECE

Pamporovo

BULGARIA

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Standards of accommodation are improving rapidly throughout Bulgaria, most notably in the more touristy areas of the Black Sea coast. Inland, hotels are still largely off the tourist track and fairly basic, but clean, comfortable and perfectly adequate for our brief time there. All rooms have private facilities. Our agents are constantly updating their choice of accommodations to make use of the better hotels as they become available in the areas we visit. MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfasts and dinners at the hotels. Lunches will usually be picnics along the way. Meals are fairly simple but food (and local wine!) is generally good. WALKING : Easy. Short walks (up to about 2 miles), on mainly good trails over easy-moderate terrain. Sturdy walking shoes or lightweight boots recommended. GROUND TRANSPORT : By coach with local driver (minibus with small groups) LEADERS :

Brian Small & local guide

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ £ £

1,645 125 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of scheduled return flights London-Sofia, all accommodation, meals, coach or minibus transport (according to final group size), entrance fees, tips to driver and local guide/s, airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leader/s. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

Day 8 : Heading inland, we cross the rolling, cultivated steppe of the Dobruja to reach the extraordinarily rich valley of the Danube. Wonderful Lake Srebarna is of special importance for its colony of Dalmatian Pelicans. We stay tonight at a small, friendly village hotel close by the River Danube and Srebarna lake. Overnight Pelican Lodge, Vetren Day 9 : After a morning walk in which we listen out for Thrush Nightingale, we have a more leisurely day exploring the lake at Srebarna, hoping to get views of Penduline Tit and Grey-headed Woodpecker in the trees around its edge. Walking beside the great river we’ll be looking out for nesting Middle Spotted and Black Woodpeckers, Kingfisher and Redstart. Overnight Pelican Lodge, Vetren Day 10 : After some final early morning birding, we leave Vetren after breakfast and return to Sofia for our British Airways afternoon flight back to London, where the tour concludes.

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Masked Shrike (Photo: Keith Grant)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Bulgaria in Autumn

The ‘Secret Flyway’

Saturday 20- Sunday 28 September 2014

GREECE

BULGARIA

orncrake on the hotel balcony... Lesser Spotted Eagles all but brushing our noses with their wingtips right outside the bedrooms... a party of Black Storks passing by at eye level as we breakfast in the restaurant... a male Pallid Harrier ghosting in from the sea at extremely close range... ‘falls’ of Golden Orioles, Red-breasted Flycatchers and Icterine Warblers... a flock of 1200 roosting White Pelicans... up to 20 different species of birds of prey. These are just some of the many varied highlights from our previous autumn tours to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The annual migration of tens of thousands of birds of prey and storks across the Bosphorus in neighbouring Turkey has long been famous as one of the great European bird spectaculars. But the fact that the majority of these birds – plus countless thousands of storks, pelicans, herons and other migrants – must first travel south through coastal Bulgaria was inexplicably overlooked by travelling birdwatchers until as recently as the late-1990s. As with migration anywhere, the make up and number of birds moving can vary enormously from day to day. But our tour is timed to run during the period when the spectacle of autumn migration along this ‘secret flyway’ is typically at its peak. Arriving in Sofia and leaving via Bucharest gives us maximum time to cover as much of the available migration routes of the Bulgarian coast and the Danube as possible. By happy coincidence, some of Europe’s most important wetlands are also to be found nearby. The coastal saltpans, freshwater lakes and reed beds are a vital staging post for southbound migrants and can hold an impressive array of specialities. White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Crake, Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, Bluethroat and Penduline Tit are among regulars we’ve seen before To the north, the limestone steppe of Cape Kaliakra attracts ‘falls’ of migrant wheatears, warblers, flycatchers and shrikes. Being so little visited, we have good chances here of finding something really special ourselves. Eagle Owl and Pied Wheatear have stolen the show in the past, while the forests just inland of the coast can be outstanding for woodpeckers. Leaving the coast, we then head west along the Danube with views of the open, floodplain landscape and chances of raptors and other

A 9-day birdwatching tour to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, one of Europe’s true migration hotspots. Plus new for our 2014 tour, the Danube River valley, too. Late September is the best time to see birds of prey, pelicans and passerines streaming south along this ‘Secret Flyway’. Join us again for some more terrific autumn birding – without the crowds!

TRIP DETAILS

C

ACCOMMODATION : Three-centre tour based at typically modest but comfortable Bulgarian tourist hotels, well-situated for the best autumn birding. All rooms are en suite. MEALS : All main meals are included in the price. Breakfasts and dinners at the hotels. Lunches will be usually picnics. WALKING : Easy. Short walks (up to approx 2 miles), on mainly good trails over easy-moderate terrain. Sturdy walking shoes or lightweight boots recommended. Pelicans (Photo by tour participant Richard Swinbank)

migrants funnelling round the mountains to the south. The wetlands and trees along the Danube itself can be real migrant traps in the autumn, hosting marsh terns, Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, herons, pelicans and passerines like Redbreasted Flycatchers, shrikes and warblers. We first ‘discovered’ Bulgaria in 1996 and our groups have been returning annually ever since. We shall be accompanied as usual by an experienced local birdwatching guide. Why not join us for an exciting week of birding, revelling in the annual movement of birds of prey, pelicans, storks and innumerable passerine migrants that stream south along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast every autumn? The prospect is irresistible! Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We catch the British Airways morning flight from London Heathrow to Sofia. From here, we travel east along the southern edge of the Balkan Mountains to our first hotel at Pomorie (near Burgas), on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. Overnight Pomorie Days 2 - 3 : Burgas is a large town on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast – but there just happens to be a major bird of prey migration route right overhead! The second half of September generally sees peak passage as columns of birds stream southward. Some of Europe’s major wetlands also lie nearby. In fact, Bulgaria’s most celebrated migration watch-point – Lake Atanasovsko – lies within an easy drive of our hotel. Despite being so close to town, the lake boasts a wealth of bird life. Two nights Pomorie Day 4 : Tearing ourselves away from the fascinating wetlands of the Burgas area, we head north along the coast to our second hotel, at Kavarna. Overnight Kavarna Days 5 - 6 : Set on a hillside overlooking the coast, Kavarna is perfectly situated for an autumn birding tour. Migrants follow the valley here and, if conditions are right, the daylight hours can see birds of prey and storks passing right by us at eyelevel! At night, the town’s lights act as a beacon to nocturnal avian travellers. Having made a thorough check to see what’s new first thing, we will head to Lake Durankulak, a mainly brackish lake that lies

Glossy Ibis (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

(9 days)

GROUND TRANSPORT : By bus with local driver (minibus with small group) LEADERS :

Gary Elton & local guide

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICES : Single supps. : Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 115 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and is fully inclusive of British Airways direct scheduled flights London Heathrow-Sofia / Bucharest-London Heathrow, all accommodation, meals, transportation (minibus with small group), tips, airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leader/s. The price excludes insurance, drinks & other items of a personal nature. These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

just six kilometres from the border with Romania. Not far away, the sheer scrub-topped limestone cliffs of Cape Kaliakra are equally attractive to passerine migrants and act as bottle-necks to southbound raptors and other large soaring birds. Two nights Kavarna

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

Days 7 - 8 : Today we’ll make the relatively short drive northwest, this time passing to the north of the Balkan Mountains, to reach the Danube valley. Passing by the old Roman town of Silistra, we continue a short distance west to Vetren, which lies close to the world-famous reserve of Srebarna, situated next to the Danube. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Srebarna hosts important breeding populations of Dalmatian Pelicans, herons and many other wetland species. Our whole day in the Danube Valley will be taken up with a return visit to Srebarna, with a chance to explore more of the reedbeds and surrounding trees for migrants Two nights Vetren Day 9 : Our afternoon flight will allow us time to enjoy some more birding this morning at Nova Cherna, another special area along the Danube, before we make the short journey north to Bucharest, to catch our British Airways afternoon flight back to London Heathrow, where our tour concludes.

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Birds and Flowers on Aphrodite’s Isle Sunday 30 March – Sunday 6 April 2014

CYPRUS

(8 days)

A spring visit to Cyprus can encounter some of the best bird migration anywhere in the Mediterranean. Add the presence of a number of distinctive island races and two unique species – Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear – with up to 31 species of orchids and several endemic flowers, and the appeal of a spring week on beautiful ‘Aphrodite’s Isle’ is irresistible!

eneath the shadow of the beautiful Troodos Mountains, a buzzing, insect-like song betrays the presence of a striking Cyprus Wheatear perched atop a Calabrian Pine. Far below, along the island’s picturesque south coast, the black head, white whisker and boldly-spotted underside of a jaunty Cyprus Warbler is etched against a backdrop of dazzling white limestone cliffs that plunge into the azure-blue waters of the Mediterranean. While in a quiet valley stretching inland from the coast, the rhythmic call of Black Francolins and manic chuckles of a Great Spotted Cuckoo float over flower-filled meadows, heralding another exciting day’s birdwatching in store... Lying right across the migration route of birds flying north from sub-Saharan Africa, through Egypt, and over the Eastern Mediterranean, the island of Cyprus is one of the most exciting places we know to watch spring migration. We’ll be based close to one of the best areas on the island: Paphos, and the west coast. Visible migration can be dramatic, with flocks of herons of six species going by over the sea, Hoopoes and flocks of larks and wagtails flying in, and parties of Common, Pallid and Alpine Swift and Red-rumped Swallow low overhead. Like so much of the rest of the island, the areas around Paphos headland will be a blaze of colour at this time: carpeted with yellow Crown Daisies, scarlet Poppies, and pink Convolvulus. In the afternoons, the colour changes to blue, as the lovely Barbary Nut Irises open in the sunshine. Smart Black Francolin call from the fields, and the immediate area out towards the headland forms one of the best migration sites on the whole of Cyprus. Neat walled fields of rank grass and wild flowers, with shady figs, carobs and olives, are sure to hold a selection of flycatchers, warblers and shrikes, and are worth checking regularly.

B

We shall pay a visit to the remarkable and extensive third century Roman mosaics near the Byzantine fortress overlooking the harbour. These are regarded as amongst the finest in the Mediterranean. Close by is also the extensive complex of the Tombs of the Kings, itself a good site for migrants. Further afield, the Asprokremnos Dam and Reservoir can hold much of interest, including the endemic Cyprus Warbler, while wintering Finsch’s Wheatear sometimes linger in the area. Along the south coast lie the freshwater wetlands and reedbeds at Phassouri. Much depends on water levels here, but transient waders can include Marsh Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and Spur-winged Plover. The nearby salt lake at Akrotiri often has Greater Flamingo in their hundreds as well as gulls including the lovely Slender-billed Gull. We also aim to spend a day at the island’s northwest extremity on the lovely Akamas peninsula with stunning scenery and some superb flowers. The Baths of Aphrodite are a sheltered spot which can attract a good range of migrants, especially shrikes and flycatchers. Flowers include the endemic Cyprus Gladiolus. Among the many orchids we hope to find during the week are Serapias species, Giant, Syrian and Naked Man Orchids, and a bewildering variety of bee orchids including Omega, Yellow Bee, Mt Carmel, Mammose and the endemic Cyprus Ophrys. Weather permitting, we hope to travel up into the pine-clad Troodos Mountains. These may still have snow on their upper slopes, but amidst the pines can be found the endemic subspecies of Crossbill, Jay, Short-toed Treecreeper and Coal Tit. Several more endemic plants can be found up here, including the delightful Cyprus Crocus.

Akamas 



Paphos

Troodos Mountains   Akrotiri

 Larnaca

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a good quality hotel on the coast near Paphos with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT is by coach with local driver. WALKS : We shall take gentle short walks of a mile or so over easy terrain, except for the walk on the first full day around Paphos headland – which is about 3 miles in total at an easy pace. In the Troodos Mountains, our walks will mostly be along level trails that conveniently follow the contours of the hill. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Gary Elton NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,825 £ 195 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and includes return scheduled flights* from London – Larnaca/Paphos including on-board meals as appropriate, airport taxes, 7 nights’ accommodation, meals, transport, incidental tips and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tip to the local driver, drinks, and other personal expenses. It may be possible to arrange flights from UK regional airports direct to Paphos or Larnaca. Please enquire for details. We can also arrange for a week’s extra hotel accommodation and car hire for those wishing to extend their stay. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (Paphos/Paphos) please deduct £ 195 per person from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take a scheduled flight London-Larnaca and travel across the island towards Paphos: our base for the next seven nights. If we use flights to Paphos, we may have time for a short birdwatch along the coast near the hotel. Days 2 - 7 : We have chosen to be based in one strategically placed hotel for the whole week to make this a most relaxed tour, with plenty of time spent on gentle walks amidst the flowers and birds of this compelling island. In our experience, Cyprus provides some of the most exciting birdwatching in Europe! Seven nights near Paphos Day 8 : We drive back to Larnaca, with some time to look at the salt lakes, usually providing good views of Greater Flamingo, and with other possibilities including Slender-billed and Little Gulls and waders including Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover, before catching our afternoon flight home. If we use a Paphos flight, we will spend the morning birdwatching around Paphos headland (a lot can change in a week!), and visit Larnaca earlier in the trip.

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Ophrys iridicolor (Photo: Keith Grant)

Cretzschmar’s Bunting (Photo: David Cottridge)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Estonia

 Tallinn  Haapsalu

 Saaremaa

 Pärnu

ESTONIA

Autumn migration in the Baltic

Sunday 22 – Sunday 29 September 2013 Sunday 21 – Sunday 28 September 2014 ESTONIA

ew places in Europe can match the excitement of watching Estonia’s amazing wildlife, at almost any time of year. But for just a few weeks of each year, Estonia plays host to one of nature’s great events – mass bird migration. This smallest and northernmost Baltic country lies in a strategic position along one of the continent’s major migratory flyways. Positioned between the Finnish Gulf, the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and Lake Peipsi near the Russian border, the Estonian waters and coastline are the natural stepping-stones along the main route between the breeding and wintering areas for millions of Arctic waterbirds, making birdwatching in Estonia fabulous at migration time. But birdwatching here is not just about non-stop passage overhead: the country’s long and indented coastline, shallow and sheltered bays, straits, coastal meadows, marshes, lagoons and over a thousand unspoilt islands are crucial feeding and stopover sites. And this is not all – the long outstretched peninsulas, spits and narrow straits offer not only plenty of good sea-watching opportunities, but also concentrate large numbers of landbirds before their departure across the sea. At this time several hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and passerine migrants can be seen passing per day at the best sites. A staggering one million waterfowl and nearly three-quarters of a million passerines can be counted on the best days. In total, over 50 million waterbirds are estimated to pass the Estonian coast and marine territories annually. The last half of September is the best time to explore this exciting spectacle, especially given the peak in Common Crane numbers stopping off, as this is the peak time of migration of both water- and landbirds, combined with the most vibrant autumn colours. Many of the birds are travelling on an East-West

F

(8 days) (8 days)

On the shores of the Eastern Baltic is a country of wetlands and forests, where vast numbers of birds concentrate each autumn as they head south from their breeding grounds in arctic Finland and Russia. Join us in one of Europe’s newest and most exciting autumn birdwatching destinations – Estonia! flight line in autumn, heading for southern Sweden before turning south. And along with them may be found late stragglers such as Red-breasted Flycatcher, early arrivals from further north including Bohemian Waxwing and Lapland Bunting, or even Siberian rarities such as Yellow-browed and Pallas’s Warblers to add spice to a day’s birdwatching. Two evening excursions should also enable us to experience some of the country’s nocturnal wildlife, including chances for calling owls and perhaps glimpses of a few mammals, including Elk, Wild Boar and Raccoon Dog. It is not just this superb mix of wildlife which makes this such a brilliant trip. Time has stood still in Estonia, a country still caught in a wonderful time warp, where the farms are rustic and agricultural techniques favour birds and man. The country is beautiful, mainly rural with pretty landscapes and rustic buildings (a little like Old England between the wars). The accommodation is good throughout with wholesome meals and friendly staff, including several lunches at excellent rural restaurants. Roads are good and distances small, giving lots of time for experiencing the wildlife. At this time of year migrants are constantly on the move, so our itinerary remains flexible in order to try to find the best concentrations of birds. Outline Itinerary Please note that this is a provisional itinerary based on our most recent tour here. However the Cranes and other birds may be in different places each year. Our guides will ‘recce’ the area the week before, and may make some last minute changes to the itinerary. We go where the birds are! Days 1 - 3 : We take a scheduled flight from London

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Good quality hotels with all rooms en suite. GROUND TRANSPORT : By minibus. WALKING : Easy. Mostly short walks on level ground. LEADERS : Barrie Cooper & local guides NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES :

2013: £ 1,645 2014: £ 1,745 2013: £ 255 2014: £ 265 £ 300 per person

Single supps. : Deposit:

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London-Tallinn (direct if schedules permit, or via Helsinki), airport taxes, accommodation, all meals, incidental tips, transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, optional tips to the local driver & guides, drinks, and other personal expenses. For an ex-flight cost (starting and finishing the tour in Tallinn) please deduct £ 145 from the tour cost.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

to Tallinn via Helsinki (Finland), and meet our Estonian guide at the airport, before travelling to Haapsalu (Estonia). Three nights Haapsalu Days 4 - 5 : Next day we head for Matsalu Bay. We will move to Saaremaa Island in the late afternoon to reach our hotel in time for dinner. Two nights Saaremaa Island Days 6 - 7 : We return to the mainland in the afternoon and follow the track of bird migration towards the south-west part of the country, the Pärnu area. Two nights Pärnu Day 8 : We will return to Tallinn and may have some free time in the old town before our return flight to London. Cranes on migration (Photo: Arne Ader) Above right: Estonian peatland (Photo: Sven Zacek)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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The Faroe Islands

FAROE ISLANDS



Birds, flowers and geology Monday 14 - Monday 21 July 2014

(8 days)

Join our man in Iceland, Andy Jones, on a trip to the little-known Faroe Islands! Jutting high out of the mid-Atlantic depths, the Faroes offer some stupendous scenery, huge seabird colonies, and historic Viking culture. Andy’s all-round expertise in natural history and geology will be well-used on this imaginative tour, which has sold out very quickly in the past two years! visit to these little known islands is a delightful way to spend a summer’s week. Incredible scenery, lots of seabirds and distinctive wildflowers makes this archipelago of north Atlantic islands a naturalist’s gem. Distances are small and the transport network is good so we’ll be out and about enjoying the islands’ natural history for much of our time. We’ll also have the chance to visit the world’s largest Storm Petrel colony on a night-time trip. July is a great time to visit the Faroe Islands, one of the world’s truly special places. The dramatic landscapes and seascapes provide a wonderful scenic background for a natural history holiday. Trip highlights include the magnificent scenery for which the Faroe Islands are justly famous, the breeding seabirds and waders including storm petrels, the wild flowers which are at their best at this time of year, and, of course, the dramatic geology. Much of the Faroe Islands has been heavily sheep-grazed and as we drive around we will no doubt have some very close views of some of the culprits!

A

Provisional Itinerary Please note that a Faroe Islands itinerary is extremely weather-dependent. This description is based on the actual itinerary of a previous tour. Day 1 : We take a lunchtime flight from Stansted to Thorshaven, capital of the Faroe Islands. We arrive on the island of Vagar and transfer to our small hotel at Gjogv on Eysturoy, a journey time of around two hours. After dinner we take a walk to the shoreline near the settlement. We’ll no doubt encounter many of the breeding Oystercatchers that are such a feature of the short Faroe summer. Overnight Gjogv

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Day 2 : We begin the day with a walk to the cliffs on northern Eysturoy. We expect to see our first auks — including Puffins on the cliffs. Later we’ll travel around the roads of the island and do a little botanising on a delightful walk near Elduvik. The

TRIP DETAILS

scenery is spectacular. Overnight Gjogv

ACCOMMODATION will be in small hotels with all rooms en suite, except for our night on Nolsoy where facilities will be shared.

Day 3 : We spend the day island hopping between the northern islands of Borðoy, Kalsoy and Viðoy using a mixture of tunnels and ferries. We’ll learn a little about the geology of the islands, admire some incredible seascapes and see many of the islands’ different bird species. We should also find Merlin and perhaps Great and Arctic Skuas. Overnight Gjogv

WALKING : Easy. Short walks, some over rough ground.

Day 4 : We cross to the island of Streymoy and explore its southern coasts. There’s some good botanising to be had here. We arrive in the capital of Torshaven in the early afternoon and catch the ferry to Suðuroy, a delightful crossing which takes around 90 minutes. We explore the southern part of Suðuroy and walk out to the cliffs at the southernmost part of the Faroes. We then drive to the small hotel at Oravik. Overnight Oravik Day 5 : We’ll concentrate on the northern part of Suðuroy today. The scenery here is incredible. We’ll take several short walks to different parts of the coastline and enjoy watching the many breeding seabirds in this area which has interesting flowers and geology. Overnight Oravik Day 6 : We’ll take the morning ferry to Tórshavn. We’ll spend the afternoon exploring the capital and check into our hotel before taking an early evening ferry to the island of Nolsoy. After dinner we’ll visit a Storm Petrel colony and hopefully have the chance to see these amazing birds at close hand, before our overnight stay on the island. Overnight Nolsoy Note: Rooms on Nolsoy are not en-suite, however we feel the location is worth it. Day 7 : After a late breakfast we have a leisurely start

LEADER :

Andy Jones

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 2,995 £ 435 £ 500 per person

The prices are per person and include scheduled direct return flights London Stansted-Faroes, airport taxes, ground and boat transportation as outlined above, accommodation on a full-board basis, admissions, local taxes, incidental tips, and the services of the leader. The prices exclude optional seabird boat trip (cost around £ 45), travel insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

then visit the historic settlement of Saksun before travelling to Vestmanna to explore the area of western Streymoy. We also have the chance to take a late afternoon boat trip to the bird cliffs for some close-up views of breeding seabirds as we sail beneath the most amazing cliffs (optional cost around £45). We’ll have dinner at Vestmanna before returning to Tórshaven where we’ll spend the night. Overnight Tórshaven Day 8 : We transfer to the airport for our morning flight to London Stansted.

The Faroes and Whaling Jamie McMillan writes: ‘I have witnessed at first hand the horrific ‘Grindabod’, or Pilot Whale kill. I have campaigned against this, and it was my photos (shocking but accurate) that were used by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in their campaign, and which were reproduced in national newspapers and around the world. I believe that, as with Iceland, the best way to stop this is to engage with local people in debate – not to cut them off from contact altogether. In fact, there are signs that it may be coming to an end soon anyway : the Faroese Chief Medical Officer has declared that whale meat was toxic and recommended that it no longer be consumed.’

What you say: “The islands are as yet unspoilt & wild, the scenery was great and the people very friendly. The trip to see Storm Petrels close up was the chance of a lifetime.’” R & P.G., Bristol “A wonderful holiday. Thank you to all concerned...Andy is the best leader of any holiday I have been on.” F.C., Fife

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Litla Dimun from Sandvik (Photo: Andy Jones)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Camargue & Pyrenees

FRANCE

The best of France in Autumn

Toulouse 

Camargue 

Marseille 



Luz St Sauveur

he freshwater marshes of the Camargue and the surrounding meadows remain one of Europe’s most exciting birdwatching areas. The array of herons is quite outstanding: Grey Herons and both Little and Cattle Egrets are common, and Great White Egret a recent colonist. Raptors are always present in the skies here – usually Marsh Harrier, together with Short-toed Eagle here and there, and Hobby chasing the abundance of dragonflies. Migrant Osprey are also passing through at this time. The shallow pools, mudflats and water meadows also boast a good variety of waders, including Black-winged Stilt and Avocet, together with passage migrants including Curlew Sandpiper. Whiskered Tern can still be found hawking over the freshwater pools and rice paddies, while Slenderbilled Gull and Caspian Tern can also usually be found nearer the coast. Reedbeds form another excellent habitat, with Cetti’s and Fan-tailed Warblers. But perhaps it is the sight of the intense pink and red of the thousands of Greater Flamingos against the green of the reedbeds and the deep blue of the sky that will remain the most indelible memory of these wonderful wetlands. The unique boulder-strewn steppe of the Crau is a superb habitat for birds. France’s only Pin-tailed Sandgrouse are here, and are most active in the early mornings and late evenings. The other specialities, Little Bustard and Stone Curlew are also best seen at these times. Other possibilities here include Montagu’s Harrier and Egyptian Vulture. To the north of the area the limestone hills of the Alpilles with the spectacular hilltop fortress of Les Baux can produce a good variety of raptors, as well as rock-dwelling birds like Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine Swift and Crag Martin. Near to our hotel, the fabled Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard is spectacular in its own right, but has the added attraction to birdwatchers of its colonies of Crag Martin and Rock Sparrow. After four nights here we travel across the south of France to the High Pyrenees. Amidst some of Europe’s most inspiring scenery can be found a selection of really choice mountain birds. Lammergeier patrol the cliff-faces effortlessly, along with Griffon Vulture and Golden Eagle, and both Red-billed and Alpine Chough. One of the attractions of this area is the accessibility of the high mountains by road – both Snow Finch and Alpine

Saturday 30 August - Saturday 6 September 2014

(8 days)

Starting with the famous Camargue, with its pink flamingos, white horses and black fighting bulls, and finishing with the grandeur of the High Pyrenees, we visit some of France's very best areas for birds and wildlife in autumn.

T

Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 4 : We take a scheduled flight from London to Marseille. We will collect our minibuses there and drive to our hotel just outside the Camargue for an evening meal. We have a very flexible programme with some optional early morning excursions. Four nights Camargue

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Our base in the Camargue is the Hotel Robinson (2-star, Logis de France 3cheminées award) in Beaucaire to the north of the area. The hotel has built an exceptional reputation for its Provençale cuisine (and splendid picnic hampers). Rooms are en suite. While most singles have showers, singles with a bath are available for £40 supp. In the Pyrenees, we stay at a fine hotel in Luz St Sauveur (3-stars, Logis de France 3-cheminées) with all rooms en suite, in a quiet area just away from the busy part of the town. LEADERS :

Mike & Liz Read

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp.: Deposit:

£ 1,745 £ 245 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of 7 nights’ accommodation as detailed above, meals, incidental tips, return scheduled flight LondonMarseille/Toulouse-London*, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks (please note that wine is included with meals in Luz) and other personal expenses.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Accentor can sometimes be seen in some of the car parks and there is an outside chance of a Wallcreeper on one of the rock faces. To a southbound migrant, these sheer walls of rock present formidable obstacles. The sight of flocks of raptors gaining height in the thermals amidst the foothills before attempting the crossing is most impressive. Higher up, migrants often become grounded in the valleys, and “falls” of migrants here can rival anything witnessed at an island bird observatory! Mammals include the delightful Alpine Marmot and Isard, the Pyrenean Chamois. The slopes are also good for Naked Ladies (by which we mean Autumn Crocus of course!) and other lovely autumn flowers including Merendera, a Pyrenean endemic, while butterflies can still be found in good numbers. From our base we can choose to drive up many of the passes and to the magnificent Cirques, or corries. The most famous of these, at Gavarnie, is one of the great mountain sights of Europe and not to be missed, but there are many other less busy areas that are equally stunning. Some of the lower valleys can also be worth visiting for several species, but given fine weather our aim will be to visit the higher areas whenever possible.

*For an ex-flight cost (ex-Marseille/Toulouse) please deduct £ 135 from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA

Days 5 - 7 : We drive to Luz St Sauveur in the French Pyrenees. Three nights Luz St Sauveur Day 8 : We drive back to Toulouse for the flight back to London.

What you say: “You have the tour style just right. A really good and memorable holiday – thank you!” J.C., Hants. The Pont du Gard (Photo: Mike Read)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Camargue in Winter

FRANCE

Wallcreepers and Wetlands Saturday 1 - Thursday 6 February 2014

(6 days)

Toulouse 

Camargue 

Marseille 

Join us in the Camargue in search of specialities as the perfect antidote to our grey, winter weather - a dose of excitement as the days start to draw out!

inter in the Camargue, one of Europe’s great river deltas, is a superb time to visit, with birds here in their tens of thousands. Masses of wildfowl, waders, birds of prey, and Greater Flamingos haunt the wetlands, while high alpine species are wintering in the drier country around, waiting for the warmer weather to arrive. These include Wallcreeper, often a difficult species to get to grips with in breeding habitat but easier to see at this time as they forage for insects on the low cliff-faces in and around the lovely town of Les Baux. Other mountain birds that descend here for the winter include Alpine Accentors, which hang around the village in small flocks. Out on the steppe-like habitat of La Crau, Little Bustards also spend the winter – in the past we have seen more than 150 in one flock alone. Resident birds elsewhere in the area range from the majestic Eagle Owl to the humble Rock Sparrow – the latter in the historic setting of the magnificent Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct. Our five night break is based at a hotel in SaintMartin de Crau, on the edge of the former estuary of the Durance River where we find a good range of birds including Little Bustards, which will now be in flocks.

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Day 6 : We catch a return flight from Marseille to London.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Itinerary Days 1 - 5 : We take a scheduled early morning flight from London to Marseille, giving us the chance of some afternoon birdwatching before continuing to Saint-Martin de Crau. We guess that many clients will be keen to go looking for Wallcreepers as soon as possible… so we will visit the limestone hills of Les Alpilles on a number of occasions until we spot the crimsonwinged butterfly-like flight of this species, which overwinters here. We will have time to explore the

attractive town of Les Baux and could even see Wallcreepers on the house walls here too. Other gems of the area include Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Serin and Cirl Bunting together with Bonelli’s Eagle and wintering Alpine Accentors. Among the more common residents are Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Raven and Common Buzzard. We will make a special trip to our favourite Eagle Owl site in the hope of a view of one blinking down at us from a roadside crag. A visit to the dry steppe-like habitat at La Crau could give us views of the many Little Bustards, which spend the winter in the area. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse could also be seen as they start their courtship displays or feeding in loose flocks. Raptors include Red Kite, Peregrine and Hen Harrier. But it will be the Camargue itself that produces views of vast numbers of birds. Wildfowl will be counted in thousands with Teal as the main species. Shoveler, Mallard, Pintail, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Pochard will be common while on some of the lagoons we will look for Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck. Where there is food the predators are sure to be close behind and we can expect to see scores of Common Buzzard together with Marsh and Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine. There may be eagles too with White-tailed and Spotted seen occasionally. Cetti’s Warbler and Bearded Tit will be heard in the reed beds while Penduline Tits winter in small numbers. Waders include Avocet, Snipe, Dunlin, Little Stint, and Grey Plover. Greater Flamingos will be found in the brackish lagoons, which also hold Black-necked Grebes. Five nights Saint-Martin de Crau

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Our base for this tour is a hotel in Saint-Martin de Crau. This hotels position gives us easy access to the stony plains of La Crau, the wetlands of the Camargue and also the hills of the Chaine des Alpilles, the areas where most of our birding will take place. The rooms are clean and comfortable and the meals follow the usual style of Continental breakfasts and lovely Provencal evening meals. We will have picnic lunches out in the countryside. There is free WiFi internet connection if you need it! PRINCIPAL LEADER : Mike Read NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,295 £ 130 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of accommodation as detailed above, meals, incidental tips, return scheduled flight* LondonMarseille, minibus transport, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks (although, as mentioned above, wine is included with meals) and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (ex-Marseille) please deduct £ 145 from the tour cost.

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Blue Rock Thrush (Photo: Roger Wasley) Top: Wallcreeper (Photo: Keith Grant)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Corsica

CORSICA 





Bastia

Corte

CORSICA

Mountains in the Mediterranean Sunday 20 - Sunday 27 April 2014

(8 days)

We return again to the breathtakingly scenic island of Corsica in the Mediterranean, where we will search out its unique wildlife among stunning granite mountains reaching nearly 3,000 metres.

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best migration watchpoints in the Western Mediterranean, and can turn up a good range of grounded migrants as well as the resident Marmora’s Warbler (now split as a species from the ones on the Balearics).

Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 4 : We begin our tour by taking a scheduled flight from London to Bastia. We then transfer by minibus to Corte, a one-and-a-half hour drive, where we stay for four nights in an ideally-situated hotel close to some of the best mountain habitats. Our first few days on this most rugged of islands will be spent exploring the Restonica Gorge and other rivercarved valleys and gorges. The flora here includes many Corsican endemics. Four nights Corte

Days 5 - 7 : On the north-east coast is the nature reserve of the Étang de Biguglia, Corsica’s premier wetland site. This coastal lagoon has good numbers and largest of Reed, Cetti’s and Fan-tailed Warblers. Other birds we should see in this area include egrets and herons, grebes, Marsh Harriers, Bee-eaters and Stone Curlew. On one day we’ll drive to Cap Corse, the very northern tip of the island, in search of Marmora’s Warbler, migrants, seabirds, and several species of orchids. Three nights near Bastia

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in good quality hotels with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT will be by minibus. WALKING : Gentle walks over easy to moderate terrain. LEADERS :

Mike & Liz Read

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,795 £ 245 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of scheduled return flights London-Bastia*, airport taxes, full board accommodation, minibus transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leader. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (ex-Bastia) please deduct £ 165 from the tour cost.

Day 8 : We take a return scheduled flight BastiaLondon.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

orsica is one of the most rugged and mountainous of Mediterranean islands, largely untouched by tourist development. From the clear dark blue seas of the coast, up through the lush green forests of the lower slopes, to the white snowcapped peaks of its highest mountains, the island offers a superb variety of both scenery and wildlife. Much of the northern half of Corsica is a National Park, just recognition for the stunning scenery and its rich natural history. The island’s long isolation from mainland Europe is the prime reason for the high incidence of endemics among its flora and fauna, and our visits have been specially timed to maximise the variety of birds and flora we should encounter. Flowers can be stunning at this time of year, and include over fifteen species of orchids. We will begin our tours in the mountains where we will look for the endemic Corsican Nuthatch, and other prized species such as Corsican Citril Finch (now designated a separate species) and Lammergeier. Our base for the first four nights is a small family-run hotel at the start of the enchanting Restonica Gorge in the heart of the Corsica National Park. Descending to the coast, we will then search for Audouin’s Gull and Cory’s Shearwater, encountering a good range of other exciting Mediterranean birds on the way. Included in our itinerary is a visit to the island’s most important wetland site, the Étang de Biguglia, where we may see a host of waterbirds including egrets, herons and passage waders. Many migrant birds avoid the mountains and fly along the coast, and we should be well-placed to encounter some of these. Cap Corse to the north is one of the

Nice one, citril! A superb Corsican Citril Finch (Photo: Mike Read)

What you say: “Thank you once again for a fantastic trip. I have enjoyed it from beginning to end. You have produced a tour filled with variety. The hotels have been excellent and the picnics much appreciated.” J.P., Bucks “…next year we'd consider going again! Thanks for a great trip!'” M.F. & M.P., Dorset The beautiful Asco Valley and (inset) Corsican Nuthatch (Photos: Mike Read)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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The Dordogne - Wildlife

 Bergerac

Butterflies, Birds, Orchids and Prehistory Saturday 10 - Saturday 17 May 2014

(8 days)

The Dordogne and Vezérè Valleys in SW France have been called ‘an Exotic England, steeped in prehistory’. Our tour there is led by David Simpson, one of the Dordogne’s many English residents who visited and, somehow, never left – this year's tour has an extra day, by popular demand!

round 10° of latitude due south of the UK sits the landlocked Dordogne département in south-west France. The landscape feels instantly recognisable to British visitors whilst the weather is sunnier, warmer, and calmer with early springs. For the naturalist there are a wide range of interesting habitats including dry rocky hillsides, arable plains, heathlands and wetlands. However the area is dominated by the classic Dordogne oak forest and limestone meadows cut through by the great river itself, beneath some impressive cliffs. Farming and other land practices have left many wildlife habitats intact making almost any location of interest. Many butterflies scarce or on the edge of their range in the UK can be seen easily here, including European Swallowtail, Wood White, Black Hairstreak, Duke of Burgundy, Small Pearlbordered, Marsh and Glanville Fritillaries. Then there are the suite of British extreme rarities and extinctions which can be found: Large Copper, Black-veined White, Short-tailed Blue, Chequered Skipper and Mazarine Blue. The warm climate brings a range of southern species as far north as Dordogne including Safflower Skipper, Cleopatra, Turquoise Blue and Spotted Fritillary – some of which could be future UK colonists following further climate change! Amongst this wealth of species can also be found more familiar British butterflies and the continental ‘favourites’: Scarce Swallowtail, Clouded Yellow and Southern White Admiral. In 2011 we recorded fifty species. We will also keep an eye out for birds such as Honey Buzzard, Hoopoe and Golden Oriole and other interesting wildlife. This is the charm of the place and we will take full advantage of it! The great River Dordogne lies immediately outside the hotel and there will be an option to take a mornings cruise to appreciate the birds of prey, dragonflies, dramatic landscape of gallery forest and high crags. Dordogne is famous as a centre of prehistory. The Vézère Valley around Les Eyzies is a

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

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world heritage UNESCO site containing many caves with engravings and paintings, both mono and polychromatic, cliff shelters and troglodytic settlements dating back at least 15,000 years. We’ll make a visit to one of these caves. Honey-coloured villages with Romanesque churches dot the picturesque landscape, amidst castles and chateaux dating from the Hundred Years War when England and France fought over this region. The local Périgord cuisine is renowned, together with the wines of Bergerac and Cahors. This cultural ingredient is all part of the holiday. This tour will be a gentle affair and is particularly aimed at those wishing to improve their identification skills of butterflies. There will also be ample opportunities for photography which we can review each evening at the hotel. David Simpson lives in the Dordogne and his book, ‘Birding Dordogne’ has recently been published. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London Gatwick to Bergerac where we meet David Simpson. From here it is about a half-hour drive down to our riverside hotel in Mauzac. After supper we may step out to the riverside, where Nightingales sing and Green Frogs cackle in the gathering dusk. Overnight Mauzac Days 2 - 7 : The local area is most attractive, and we can walk down to the barrage while Black Kites float overhead and Black Redstarts sing from the rooftops. The river shores are graced with Common Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers, while the riverside copses hold Turtle Dove, Golden Oriole, Serin, Melodious Warbler and Cuckoo. This is David’s local patch, and he will know exactly where to find the many orchid species that are in flower, including Violet Limodore, Woodcock, Fly and Lady Orchids. Butterflies can abound, and include Berger’s Clouded Yellow, Black-veined White and Red-underwing Skipper. A visit to his house

 Mauzac

FRANCE

SPAIN

TRIP DETAILS ACCOMMODATION : We will be based at a cosy riverside hotel in the sleepy village of Mauzac with all rooms en suite. Lunches will be picnics and/or in restaurants to sample the local cuisine or ‘terroir’. LEADER :

David Simpson

NUMBERS :

Max. 7 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,495 £ 145 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return flights London Stansted-Bergerac/Limoges, accommodation, meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses.

*For an ex-flight cost of the tour (ex Bergerac/Limoges) please deduct £ 100 per person from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

could produce bird-table sightings of several species that are usually difficult to approach at this time of year – these have included Hawfinch in the past! The Faux plateau is an excellent site for butterflies, with Knapweed and Glanville Fritillaries plus Mazarine and Green-underside Blue to be looked for, as well as several orchids including Longlipped Serapias. Quail can be heard calling from the arable fields and a dusk visit could also produce the sounds of Stone Curlew, Nightjar, Scops Owl and the ubiquitous Nightingales. The Causse de Daglan is one of the top butterfly sites in Dordogne. Last year we found around 40 species in a day. Here can be found both swallowtails, Southern White Admiral, several fritillaries, Black Hairstreak, Duke of Burgundy, Cleopatra and Mazarine Blue. Lizard Orchids can also be found here. Robust Marsh Orchid is one of the specialities, along with Safflower Skipper. If possible we’ll take a trip on the river in a traditional open ‘courpet’ boat. We’ll have an early start, and drop anchor for a picnic breakfast, surrounded by Western Demoiselles, Common Clubtails and other dragonflies. Villages are both picturesque and good wildlife sites in their own right: ponds can sometimes be excellent for amphibians, including Marbled Newt, Midwife Toad and the spectacular Fire Salamander. We’ll visit Les Eyzies Village, billed as the ‘Prehistory Capital of France’ with the National Museum of Early Man and many settlement sites and caves with paintings around and about. Six nights Mauzac Day 8 : We should have time for a morning in the Dordogne and a farewell lunch before returning to Bergerac for our flight home in the evening.

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River Dordogne at Roque Gageac and, inset, Large Copper (Photos: David Simpson)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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The Dordogne

 Mauzac

FRANCE

SPAIN

ordogne has around 120 species of butterfly recorded. This is twice the number of the United Kingdom and very respectable for a French lowland département. Wherever you travel there are meadows and roadside verges full of butterflies and around half of the species are relatively common. For some of the others we will take you to special sites where the habitats support rarer species. We have chosen mid June as we should encounter peak numbers and diversity of butterflies in Dordogne. The oak forest and adjacent meadows are a good place to start as they surround the sleepy village of Mauzac, our base for the week. We will visit a beauty spot high above the Dordogne river for a short walk. Adonis Blue are often very common and there should be a good mixture of other butterflies such as Black-veined and Wood Whites, Berger’s Pale Clouded Yellow, Ilex Hairstreak, Knapweed, Weaver’s, Glanville, Marbled and Queen of Spain Fritillaries, Pearly Heath, and perhaps Baton, Reverdin’s and Turquoise Blues. Not far away is a limestone plateau capped with Tertiary sands. Here Marsh Fritillary inhabits the grassland where damp ditches line the roadside. Provençal Short-tailed Blue can be common alongside such species as White Admiral and Southern White Admiral. If we are lucky we may find False Ringlet and Large Chequered Skipper. Where streams flow off the plateau, there are hidden meadows amongst the forest. These can harbour Lesser Purple Emperor, as well as High Brown and Heath Fritillaries. Some of the best sites for butterflies in Dordogne are the dry rocky limestone hills, or ‘causses’, with varying amounts of scrub. We plan to

Butterflies & Wildlife

Saturday 14 – Saturday 21 June 2014

(8 days)

The Dordogne in southwest France is a great place to go butterfly watching abroad. It makes for an enjoyable ‘stepping-stone’ between the UK fauna and more exotic ones further south. Many easily seen species are familiar British species, whilst others are scarce or rare at home – and then there is an interesting selection of Continental species. Like other wildlife, south of the English Channel, numbers of species increase, encouraged by the warmer weather – which we also expect to benefit from!

TRIP DETAILS

D

ACCOMMODATION : We will be based at a cosy riverside hotel in the sleepy village of Mauzac with all rooms en suite. Lunches will be picnics and/or in restaurants to sample the local cuisine or ‘terroir’. LEADERS :

David Simpson

NUMBERS :

Max. 7 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,495 £ 145 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return flights London Gatwick-Bergerac, accommodation, meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (ex Bergerac) please deduct £ 100 per person from the tour cost.

visit one in the south-east and various graylings should be starting to emerge – such as the Great Banded. Hairstreaks can be in good numbers including Blue-spot. There are a variety of fritillaries such as Spotted and Heath. Skippers are often abundant and may include Safflower, Redunderwing and Lulworth. The Cleopatra should also be flying. It is a rich area and we regularly record 40 species per day here in June. We will visit the pine forest, mixed woodland and heathland in the west of the département. Damp meadows add to the variety of species here and we will look out for Scarce Swallowtail, Short-tailed and

This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Mazarine Blues, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Map, Large Copper, Mallow Skipper and perhaps even a late Duke of Burgundy or Chequered Skipper. The Vézère is a beautiful winding valley with rocky crags and we aim to visit a number of interesting sites along its course. One of the rarest species we hope to see is the Woodland Brown – only discovered here a couple of years ago. Elsewhere we will keep a sharp eye out for the Great Sooty Satyr and the Twin-spot and Lesser Marbled Fritillaries. If we have time we will visit another dry ‘causse’ area where Niobe Fritillary, Large Wall Brown, Sloe Hairstreak and Provençal Fritillary have been recorded. Finally we head to the southern valleys of the département including its reservoirs. Here there is a good variety of species in a lovely setting. The very rare Chapman’s Blue and Bath White have both been recorded in this area. David Simpson is Butterfly Conservation’s European Interest Group contact in Dordogne.

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TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London Gatwick to Bergerac where we meet David Simpson. From here it is about a half-hour drive down to our riverside hotel in Mauzac. Overnight Mauzac Days 2 - 7 : Six nights Mauzac Day 8 : We should have time for a last morning’s look at the butterflies in the Dordogne and a farewell lunch before returning to Bergerac for our flight home in the evening. Scarce Swallowtail and, top, Large Chequered Skipper (Photos: Roger Wasley)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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The Dordogne Dragonflies and Wildlife

Saturday 5 – Saturday 12 July 2014

(8 days)

The Dordogne and Vezérè Valleys in SW France have been called ‘an Exotic England, steeped in prehistory’. This year we have added another tour there, mainly for the superb range of dragonflies to be found in the area, and led by dragonfly expert Dick Askew.

ordogne is an excellent place for a dragonflywatching holiday. There are around 60 species across a diverse range of wetland habitats: ponds, canals, lakes, fens, streams and of course the great River Dordogne itself together with smaller tributaries, streams and springs. Water quality is high and adjacent grasslands and forest habitats provide further feeding areas. Most habitats are on limestone but we will also visit areas of sandy geology. Rare and extinct UK species can be seen, together with exotic and familiar ones. Sites are plentiful and easily accessible. We are based at the cosy riverside Hotel Le Barrage at Mauzac, just upstream from Lalinde, an excellent venue with comfortable rooms, good food, excellent hosts and dragonflies on tap! Western Demoiselles and smaller damselflies flit close to the bank whilst larger clubtails patrol the open water. Perhaps a Western Spectre will grace us with its presence after dinner above the terrace. Each day we will visit different areas, and there will be ample opportunities for photography which we will have time to review every evening at the hotel. Locally we will visit the main river and adjacent streams where we should be able to find all four demoiselle species and the Mercury Bluet. Clubtails here include the Yellow and Western, plus the Dordogne speciality the Pronged Clubtail Gomphus graslinii. Large and Small Pincertails are also quite common. We hope to take a boat trip upstream of Mauzac beneath the cliffs and gallery forest to enable us to search normally inaccessible areas for river species. This is a possible location for the Splendid Chaser though there have been no recent records in Dordogne. The local canal also offers opportunities for damselflies including the Blue-eye and Western Willow Spreadwing. The local village ponds and small reservoirs provide further habitats where we hope to find Small Red Damsel, three species of feather-leg damselfly together with chasers, darters and hawkers. We will also visit the pine and mixed forests of the Landais and Double areas north of Bergerac. These are quite heathy in places, being on sandy

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 Mauzac

FRANCE

SPAIN

TRIP DETAILS

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 Bergerac

ACCOMMODATION : We will be based at a cosy riverside hotel in the sleepy village of Mauzac with all rooms en suite. Lunches will be picnics and/or in restaurants to sample the local cuisine or ‘terroir’. LEADERS : Dick Askew and David Simpson

Common Clubtail (Photo: Bob Carpenter)

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,495 £ 145 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return flights London Gatwick-Bergerac, accommodation, meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses.

ground. Species here include Small and Large Redeye damselflies, Brilliant Emerald and Broad Scarlet amongst many others. At the ‘Etang de Jemaye’ 30 species of dragonfly have been recorded and we will also visit Dick Askew’s pond illustrated in his book, where a wide range of species can be observed. There are several reservoirs in the arable zone of SW Dordogne and we will visit at least one where a variety of species can be found, including, on feeder streams, the Orange-spotted Emerald (which became extinct in its last Dorset stronghold about twenty years ago). The tour has been designed and will be led by Dick Askew, a keen entomologist and author of ‘Dragonflies of Europe’, who spends much of his time in France. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London Gatwick to Bergerac where we meet David Simpson. From here it is about a half-hour drive down to our riverside hotel in Mauzac. Overnight Mauzac Days 2 - 7 : Six nights Mauzac

*For an ex-flight cost of the tour (ex Bergerac) please deduct £ 100 per person from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Yellow Clubtail (Photo: David Simpson)

Day 8 : We should have time for a morning in the Dordogne and a farewell lunch before returning to Bergerac for our flight home in the evening.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk

River Dordogne near Tremolat and, inset, Western Demoiselle (Photos: David Simpson)


 Bergerac

4/9/13

 Mauzac

FRANCE

SPAIN

round 10° of latitude due south of the UK sits the landlocked Dordogne département in southwest France. The landscape feels instantly recognisable to British visitors whilst the weather is sunnier, warmer, and calmer with early springs. For the naturalist there are a wide range of interesting habitats including dry rocky hillsides, arable plains, heathlands and wetlands. However the area is dominated by the classic Dordogne oak forest and limestone meadows cut through by the great river itself, beneath some impressive cliffs. Farming and other land practices have left many wildlife habitats intact making almost any location of interest. One of the best times for birding in Dordogne is the early spring. As the temperature warms up, early migrants are moving, leafless trees mean the birds are easy to see and the weather can be very comfortable! Wintering mountain birds are a regular but littleknown feature of the Dordogne. If you know the sites, Wallcreepers are relatively easy to find on the cliffs along the main rivers. We have seen up to three birds in one day! Alpine Accentors often accompany them amongst the rocky ledges. All the while Peregrines and Ravens call and fly out from the crags as they set up territories and settle down to nesting. Crag Martins, which only leave Dordogne for a month or so in the winter, cruise past the cliffs in the sunshine. We will keep an eye out for other regular wintering specialities such as Water Pipit and perhaps even Rock Bunting. Dordogne is rich in woodpeckers. During early March they are at their most visible and vocal. We will visit reliable sites for the majestic Black Woodpecker and the ‘difficult’ Middle Spotted Woodpecker – always a delight to see. Green and Great Spotted are in abundance and with luck we will come across the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker too. Perhaps surprisingly, we should be able to see all three European kite species. We will be present in

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The Dordogne

Wallcreepers, Woodpeckers, and Kites Tuesday 25 February - Saturday 1 March 2014

(5 days)

The Dordogne and Vezérè Valleys in SW France have been called ‘an Exotic England, steeped in prehistory’. Our tour there is led by David Simpson, one of the Dordogne’s many English residents who visited and, somehow, never left!

TRIP DETAILS

A

ACCOMMODATION : We will be based at a cosy riverside hotel in the sleepy village of Mauzac with all rooms en suite. Lunches will be in auberges to sample the local cuisine or ‘terroir’. LEADER :

David Simpson

NUMBERS :

Max. 7 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ £ £

995 85 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return flights London Stansted-Bergerac, accommodation, meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, admissions, and leadership.

the middle of the Red Kite migration period as birds move up from Spain. The first Black Kites from Africa will have arrived along the river valleys – the Dordogne has one of the greatest nesting concentrations in France. Lastly we will visit a site in the region for the beautiful Black-shouldered Kite, now becoming established in the SW of France. Large numbers of Common Cranes winter in the open areas of the great Landes Forest where we will visit one of the observation hides. With luck we will catch some of the large skeins flying north, sometimes in their thousands. There are other interesting ‘locals’ which we may see on our travels including Great White Egret, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting, Hawfinch, Hen Harrier and even Eagle Owl. If the sun smiles on us there may be the chance of finding a Large Tortoiseshell butterfly, recently emerged from hibernation. David Simpson lives in the Dordogne and his book, ‘Birding Dordogne’ has recently been published. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London Stansted to Bergerac where we meet David. From here it is about a half-

The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (ex Bergerac) please deduct £ 100 per person from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

hour drive down to our riverside hotel in Mauzac. Overnight Mauzac Day 2 : Woodpecker day. We’ll visit a variety of woodland breeding sites in central Dordogne, searching for Black and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers amongst other woodland birds. Overnight Mauzac Day 3 : We visit the wintering grounds of the Common Cranes at Captieux on the borders of the Gironde and Landes departments – just as the birds prepare to migrate and perhaps even display a little. Overnight Mauzac Day 4 : The riverside cliffs harbour wintering Wallcreeper which can sometimes be seen at close range. Peregrines, Ravens and Crag Martins should be about and Alpine Accentor may be present. Overnight Mauzac

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TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

Day 5 : We should have time for a morning in the Dordogne and a farewell lunch before returning to Bergerac for our flight home in the evening.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker, top: Black Woodpecker (Photos: Denis Cauchoix), right: Wallcreeper (Photo: Graham Lobley)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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The Dordogne

 Bergerac

Moths & Wildlife

Saturday 7 – Saturday 14 September 2013 Saturday 6 – Saturday 13 September 2014

(8 days) (8 days)

The warm, humid nights of early autumn are always an exciting time for moths, with light traps often at their most effective. David Simpson, 'our man in the Dordogne', invites moth enthusiasts to visit and see what the light traps bring in. One of those enthusiasts, Mike Coverdale, has agreed to co-lead our mothing trip! avid Simpson’s home, La Cabane du Pommier, is situated in the department of Dordogne within the region of Aquitaine and is close to the small town of Lalinde, which is on the north bank of the Dordogne River approximately 14 miles east of Bergerac. Its situation presents excellent opportunities for the recording of moths and butterflies due to the wide range of habitats present nearby. The property itself is situated at the edge of woodland with an open meadow looking out across a quiet valley. Other habitats close by range from xerophytic grassland to marshy areas. We will be using La Cabane du Pommier as our ‘Field Station’ and stay in our regular hotel base in Mauzac, on the riverbank nearby. We will run a number of Robinson traps every night, weather permitting, and examine the catch the following morning, with plenty of time available to identify and photograph the moths. We will also make use of a mobile trap to explore other interesting habitats. With around 500 species of macros recorded in the first few years, the diversity and potential of the site is already clear. There will be a range of moth identification guides available for participants including the French identification reference works. An internet link means that we can also make use of on-line resources. In early September we can expect good weather and night times are often somewhat balmy, which is excellent for moth trapping. Equally, temperatures are not likely to be high enough to be over-run with moths, making it a good time to get to know the tremendous variety of moths found here. In addition to moths, the traps often attract large numbers of weevils alongside smaller numbers of coneheads, mantids and beetles. Many of the moths caught will be familiar to

FRANCE

SPAIN

TRIP DETAILS

D

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

 Mauzac

ACCOMMODATION : We will be based at a cosy riverside hotel in the sleepy village of Mauzac with all rooms en suite. Lunches will be picnics and/or in restaurants to sample the local cuisine or ‘terroir’. LEADERS :

Clifden Nonpareil (Photo: Mike Coverdale)

British moth-trappers, but many of them will be scarce residents or vagrants to Britain and could include species such as Orache, Pine-tree Lappet, Dumeril’s Rustic, Tree-lichen Beauty and Clifden Nonpareil. All identification will be of live moths and no specimens will be taken during the week. After lunch back at the hotel we will visit different areas each day in search of butterflies including False Grayling, Map and Silver-spotted Skipper, birds such as Great White Egret, dragonflies and late flowers. We are based at the cosy riverside Hotel Le Barrage at Mauzac, just upstream from Lalinde, an excellent venue with comfortable rooms, good food, and excellent hosts.

Mike Coverdale & David Simpson

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,495 £ 145 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return flights London Gatwick-Bergerac, accommodation, meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (ex Bergerac) please deduct £ 100 per person from the tour cost.

Days 2 - 7 : Six nights Mauzac Day 8 : We should have time for a last morning’s look at the moths in the Dordogne and a farewell lunch before returning to Bergerac for our flight home in the evening.

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London Gatwick to Bergerac where we meet David Simpson. From here it is about a half-hour drive down to our riverside hotel in Mauzac. Overnight Mauzac

Purple Cloud (Photo: Mike Coverdale)

Etiella zinckenella (Photo: Mike Coverdale)

Pine-tree Lappet (Photo: Roger Wasley)

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A welcome for moths. The flower-lined drive at the edge of woodland makes an excellent moth-trapping site (Photo: David Simpson) Inset: Aethes tesserana (Photo: Mike Coverdale)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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French Pyrenees

FRANCE

Spectacular mountain wildlife



Toulouse

Luz St Sauveur

SPAIN

or this delightful summer break we are based at a comfortable hotel in the small Pyrenean town of Luz St. Sauveur. Just a few miles to the north, the towering rock walls of the spectacular Cirque de Gavarnie – itself classified as an Exceptional Heritage Site and a protected natural monument – are home to one of Europe’s rarest and most sought-after birds, the Lammergeier. We will visit a number of favoured haunts for this immense bird, and our previous groups have all enjoyed marvellous views. A few have even been treated to the dramatic sight of a Lammergeier ‘doing its thing’ and dropping bones from height to break them into pieces small enough to swallow! In fact, this is a terrific tour for anyone with a penchant for birds of prey, for many of Europe’s most impressive raptors also breed in these mountains. Eurasian Griffon, Golden Eagle, Honey Buzzard and Red Kite are among species we should come across during the week. Dipper and Grey Wagtail haunt the chill upland streams that tumble down the valleys and, in the forests of pine and beech that cling to the lower slopes, we should find Crested Tit and Firecrest. It’s here we may also chance upon the wild-eyed Black Woodpecker. At higher elevations, upland treats to watch for include Alpine Accentor, Red-billed and Alpine Choughs, Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Snowfinch. If we are extremely fortunate, we might also find the elusive Wallcreeper! The Gavarnie area is a veritable mountain paradise, but it’s one that is only fully accessible during the summer months. Pyrenean Chamois and Alpine Marmot frequent the highest slopes, the latter’s distinctive bird-like whistles carrying far in the crystal air. And it’s only at this season that we have an opportunity to enjoy both the frenzy of alpine flowers that grace the upland pastures and the Pyrenees’ bounty of montane butterflies. The slow-flying Apollo, Piedmont and Bright-eyed Ringlets, Purple Emperor and Little, Turquoise and

F

(8 days)

If you like to combine the joys of summer birding in Europe with good food and a good hotel, gentle wildlife walks and a wider appreciation of the natural world, then this relaxed trip to the south of France is for you. Join us for a superb medley of alpine birds and butterflies, set against a backcloth of summer blooms and stunning montane scenery in the heart of the beautiful French Pyrenees. Gavarnie Blues are just a few of more than 100 different species of butterfly we’ve recorded here over recent tours. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take a morning flight from London to Toulouse. We drive west through an ever-more lovely landscape of steep wooded hillsides, meadows and rustic French villages and towns. At Lourdes, we turn south and wind our way up the picturesque Gavarnie valley. Overnight Luz St Sauveur Days 2 - 7 : With no change of hotel during our stay, we shall be free to devote ourselves fully to enjoying the beautiful Parc National des Pyrenees. At Luz, we are especially well placed to visit sites in the superb Gavarnie valley, including the higher cols and cirques - the great rock walls which divide France from Spain. Though our exact itinerary may be determined by the weather, we will aim to spend time seeking the trickier and more interesting species of the region. Our comfortable hotel offers fine French food and is well chosen to allow relatively short drives to a variety of different spots. Our walks above the tree-line will provide plenty of opportunity to watch for soaring Eurasian Griffons and Golden Eagles. With a steadily increasing population in the Pyrenees, the mighty Lammergeier should also sail into view and we have good chances of Short-toed Eagle, Peregrine and other raptors. Six nights Luz St. Sauveur Day 8 : Reluctantly, we must bid farewell to the Pyrenees after breakfast today. But our journey back allows time to enjoy another leisurely picnic in the foothills west of Toulouse. Returning to Toulouse, we catch a late afternoon flight to London, where our tour concludes.

View near Luz St Sauveur (Photo: Mike Read)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Seven nights at a good hotel in Luz St. Sauveur (French Tourist Board 3-star and Logis de France 3-cheminées award). All rooms en suite. MEALS : All main meals are included in the price. Excellent home-cooking, with breakfasts and dinners at the hotel, in the best traditions of French cuisine. Lunches will usually be taken as picnics in the field. WALKING : Predominantly short walks along good tracks. During the week we shall take one full-day walk up to the breathtaking Cirque de Gavarnie, a round trip of ca. 7 kms; the going is mostly easy but expect a few uphill stretches of course (one section a little more strenuous on the way up). But we take it gently and the rewards at the top are well worth the effort – with the enticement of a cafe and a refreshing glass of beer at the furthest point... and it’s downhill all the way back! Stout walking shoes or lightweight boots with good, corrugated soles for grip advised.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST



Wednesday 18 – Wednesday 25 June 2014

PRINCIPAL LEADER : Robin Chittenden NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,645 £ 165 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London-Toulouse, all accommodation, meals, minibus transport, tips, airport taxes, map, bird and butterfly checklist, and services of the leader/s. The price excludes insurance, drinks & other items of a personal nature. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

Isard (Pyrenean Chamois) at the Cirque de Troumouse (Photo:Mike Read)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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French Pyrenees

FRANCE

Flower Photography

Saturday 28 June - Saturday 5 July 2014

(8 days)

The central French Pyrenees are home to a wonderful range of wildlife ranging from Eagles and Vultures right through to many endemic flowers such as Pyrenean Saxifrage and Spanish Iris. On this, our first specific photographers’ tour to the region, flowers, insects and the magnificent scenery will be the main aims as subjects for our cameras. However, large raptors occasionally pass low overhead and we occasionally pass close to Alpine Marmots in the vehicle, so having a longer lens handy may prove useful.

e often have superb weather in this part of the Pyrenees but we have to bear in mind that mountains can make their own weather. At times we may have mist in the valleys and, as we drive to somewhere like the Cirque de Troumouse or the Col du Tourmalet, we may end up above the clouds! Then, the prospect for stunning landscape photography truly exists. Alternatively we could be concentrating on photographing lovely mountain flowers or fabulous Alpine meadows set amongst mountains or valleys. The opportunities to capture fabulous images are vast.

W

Itinerary Day 1 : We take a morning flight from London to Toulouse. We drive through the scenically beautiful town of Luz-St-Sauveur. Depending on the timing of our arrival, we may detour up on to Hautacam (a climb made famous by the Tour de France) to see what flowers are blooming and to get a ‘birds eye view’ of the mountains we will soon be exploring. 7 nights Luz St Sauveur

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Days 2 - 7 : We will make our selection of outings each day depending on what the weather promises but places to be visited will be chosen from: The Cirque de Gavarnie: Perhaps the most famous and most scenically stunning ‘cirque’ in the French Pyrenees. Beautiful flowers can be found along the way including Common and Yellow Monkshood, Dusky Cranesbill, Elder-flowered Orchid and Red-berried Elder. Insects may include Apollo, Scarce and Common Swallowtails and many different blue and fritillary butterflies. We will take it at a gentle pace to ensure good photo opportunities. The area is so beautiful and floristically rich that we may visit here twice! Col du Tourmalet: At an altitude of 2115m, you

may think this will be a punishing climb. Don’t worry! The vehicle takes the strain of getting us up there! On the way, there will be stops for landscape and flower photography. So much so that we may not reach the Col before lunch! Then we will continue searching for further subjects for our cameras and these can include Garland Flower, Hepatica and the dainty Alpine Snowbell which blooms as soon as the snow melts! Cirque de Troumouse: Again the vehicle will take the strain of getting us there and we can then wander in search of Alpenrose, Moss Campion or Mezereon or perhaps we can experiment with panoramic photography to capture the entire Cirque. Vallee d’Ossoue: A narrow winding road leads us up past cliffs, where Lammergeiers are reputed to nest, and out on to a more open, valley landscape. Glaciers can be seen in the distance while flowers here include Black Vanilla, Burnt and Broad-leaved Marsh Orchids and lovely, deep blue Trumpet Gentians. Other flowers will include a number of beautiful Pyrenean endemics such as Ramonda and Pyrenean Saxifrage. These and other locations will be explored and photographed to our hearts content before we head back to Toulouse on Day 8 for our flight back to the UK, and the task of editing all of our fabulous photos. Day 8 : Reluctantly, we must bid farewell to the Pyrenees after breakfast today. But our leisurely journey back allows time for further photography in the foothills where the range of flowers and insects will be substantially different to what we will have seen in the high mountains and cirques. Returning to Toulouse, we catch a late afternoon flight back to London, where our tour concludes.





Toulouse

Luz St Sauveur

SPAIN

Common monkshood (Photo: Mike Read)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Seven nights at a good hotel in Luz St. Sauveur (French Tourist Board 3-star and Logis de France 3-cheminées award). All rooms en suite. MEALS : All included in the price. Excellent homecooking, with breakfasts and dinners at the hotel, in the best traditions of French cuisine. Lunches will usually be taken as picnics in the field. WALKING : Predominantly short strolls along good tracks. During the week, we shall take one full-day walk up to the breathtaking Cirque de Gavarnie, a round trip of ca. 7 kms; the going is mostly easy but expect a few uphill stretches of course (one section a little more strenuous on the way up). But we take it gently and the rewards at the top are well worth the effort – with the enticement of a cafe and a refreshing glass of beer at the furthest point... and it’s downhill all the way back! Stout walking shoes or lightweight boots with good, corrugated soles for grip advised. WEATHER : Typically warm and sunny in late June (temperatures in the range of 12-26C). As with any upland area however, periods of rain or showers, low cloud or poor visibility are possible even in summer. However, it’s often possible to avoid localised bad weather by moving to a different altitude and we have sometimes found ourselves birdwatching in glorious sunshine above the rain clouds! PRINCIPAL LEADER : Mike Read NUMBERS :

Max. 6 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,695 £ 160 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London-Toulouse, all accommodation, meals, minibus transport, tips, airport taxes, map, bird and butterfly checklist, and services of the leader/s. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses.

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Meadow fritillary (Photo: Mike Read)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Vercors

FRANCE Lyon   Vercors

A magnificent corner of France in spring Sunday 8 – Sunday 15 June 2014

(8 days)

We return again to a superb mountain area on the edge of the French Alps, the Vercors, when the birds and flowers are at their best!

TRIP DETAILS

B

ACCOMMODATION : Both hotels are 2-stars with all rooms en suite. LEADERS :

Mike & Liz Read

NUMBERS : Max. 12 clients PRICES : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,645 £ 195 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of 7 nights' accommodation as detailed above, meals in France, return scheduled flight London-Lyon*, minibus transport, admissions, and leadership.

white, yellow, blue and pink blossoms. Greater Yellow Rattle is absolutely widespread and at times the meadows are coloured by this semi-parasitic plant which is becoming increasingly rare in the UK. Various species of cranesbill, saxifrage and narcissus are perhaps the first plants to be noticed when strolling through these meadows, but then the vivid deep blues of Trumpet or Spring Gentian or the pinks of Fairy Foxglove, Wild Thyme or Thrift catch the eye. Wild orchids are abundant throughout the Vercors with masses of them growing on many of the roadside verges. We often see thirty or more species depending on the timing of the season and our picnic spots are often chosen with flowers or spectacular views in mind. The orchids range in size from the diminutive Coralroot, growing in the depths of beech woodland, to the spectacular Lady’s Slipper which sometimes can be found in large clumps. We also regularly see Spitzel’s Orchid which some books describe as one of Europe’s rarest. How fabulous it is to stroll through areas so full of flowers that it might take an hour to progress a couple of hundred yards. Some of the butterflies can

The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (ex-Lyon) please deduct £ 130 from the tour cost. Clients may opt to travel by train to Lyon (St Exupery) airport.

be difficult to identify, but with care, we are gradually increasing our list of this group. Common and Scarce Swallowtails are regular, Painted Ladies were present in their hundreds prior to the 2009 influx into Britain while the smaller species (blues and skippers) often congregate in good numbers at damp mineral ‘licks’. Mature broad-leaved woodlands give us the possibility of seeing Black Woodpecker and Goshawk, while several roads cross spectacular passes from where we may see Golden or Shorttoed Eagles and other raptors. If the frequent mention of ‘Alpine’ makes you nervous, don’t worry. This is always a gently paced tour with the vehicle taking the strain of reaching higher locations; and once you have visited the Vercors, if you are anything like our leader, you will want to return time and again.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

etween Grenoble and Valence, the Vercors is an area of mountainous limestone. Deep gorges cut by rivers over millions of years are topped by a plateau rising to over 2,300m. The cliff scenery is dramatic. It is an area littleknown outside France, and our tours over the past few years have proved that the area can provide a superb week of wildlife in its own right. Scenic and accessible, this jumble of limestone mountains provides a rich range of flowers, birds, mammals and butterflies, all adding their own magic to a stunningly beautiful part of France. And then, of course, you add in excellent wine and food (but not necessarily in that order!), and you know this is another typically good Travelling Naturalist destination. The high tops here have a good range of mountain birds, including Alpine Chough, Golden Eagle and Citril Finch. Below the plateau, the forests show a decidedly Central and Eastern European influence, with the odd breeding Nutcracker and Tengmalm's Owl amongst the beeches and firs. The mammals here are also fascinating, with Chamois quite widespread, while Alpine Ibex are the subject of a reintroduction scheme. We also visit a colony of Alpine Marmot close to where Alpine Choughs nest in a cave. One walk will take us on to Hauts Plateaux Reserve to search for Black Grouse, Ring Ouzel, Common Crossbill, Crested Tit and a host of other high level species. During the day we search for the special wildlife of the region. On our previous trips we have seen birds as varied as Wallcreepers and Dippers, Goldcrests and Griffon Vultures; the latter being part of a re-introduction scheme. These have in turn attracted wild Griffon Vultures and other species to the area – four species of vulture are a possibility! The flora is superb with alpine meadows full of

Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 3 : We take a scheduled flight from London to Lyon from where we drive to Chichilianne for a three-night stay, with Mont Aiguille as a lovely backdrop. Three nights Chichilianne Days 4 - 7 : We cross to La Chapelle-en-Vercors for a four-night stay. Here we are close to the fabulous Hauts Plateaux reserve and many other stunning and floristically rich locations. Four nights La Chapelle-en-Vercors Day 8 : We drive back to Lyon for our return flight to London.

Chichiliane & Mont Aiguille and, top, Griffon Vulture (Photos: Mike Read)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Vercors

FRANCE Lyon 

Flower Photographic Tour Saturday 31 May – Saturday 7 June 2014

 Vercors

(8 days)

Following a highly successful photographic tour in 2013, we return to this area with our cameras to capture the superb flora including up to 30 species of wild orchids amidst stunning scenery.

etween Grenoble and Valence, the Vercors is an area of mountainous limestone. Deep gorges cut by rivers over millions of years are topped by a plateau rising to over 2,300m. The cliff scenery is dramatic. It is an area little known outside France, and our first photographic tour in 2013 proved that the area can provide a superb week of photography in its own right. Scenic and accessible, this jumble of limestone mountains provides a rich range of flowers, butterflies, mammals and birds, all adding their own magic to a stunningly beautiful part of France. And then, of course, you add in excellent wine and food (but not necessarily in that order), and you know this is a typically good Travelling Naturalist destination for wildlife and landscape photography. This tour will concentrate on flower, landscape and, if opportunities arise, insect photography. You will need to bring a single lens reflex camera (digital or film) with lenses and a tripod (plus anything else you might need) together with plenty of storage for digital images or film. We will find different ways to capture the essence of our subjects whether it is a close-up portrait or a wide angle ‘in habitat’ view. We will explore a range of habitats from high level ‘Alpine meadows’ stuffed full of a wide variety of blooming plants right down to valley beech woods where tiny Coralroot Orchids grow in competition with large and showy Lady’s Slipper Orchids which sometimes grow in large clumps. Wild orchids are abundant throughout the Vercors with masses of them growing on many of the roadside verges. We could see thirty or more species depending on the timing of the season and our picnic spots are often chosen with flowers or spectacular views in mind. The orchids are very varied. Some resemble Mountain Thrift that they grow alongside while others are saprophytic and

TRIP DETAILS

B

ACCOMMODATION : Both hotels are 2-stars with all rooms en suite. LEADERS :

Mike Read

NUMBERS : PRICES : Single supp. : Deposit :

Max. 6 clients £ 1,695 £ 195 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of 7 nights’ accommodation as detailed above, meals in France, return scheduled flight London-Lyon*, minibus transport, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (ex-Lyon) please deduct £ 130 from the tour cost. Clients may opt to travel by train to Lyon (St Exupery) airport.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

lack any green leaves or colourful flowers. We also regularly see Spitzel’s Orchid which some books describe as one of Europe’s rarest. The flora is superb with alpine meadows full of white, yellow, blue and pink blossoms. Greater Yellow Rattle is absolutely widespread and at times the meadows are coloured by this semi-parasitic plant which is becoming increasingly rare in the UK. Various species of cranesbill, saxifrage and narcissus are perhaps the first plants to be noticed when strolling through these meadows, but then the vivid deep blues of Trumpet or Spring Gentian or the pinks of Red Clover, Wild Thyme or Mountain Thrift catch the eye. Each photographer will no doubt have their own

requirements and these will be accommodated as much as possible. However, if clients are short of ideas, professional photographer Mike Read will make suggestions based on knowledge gained over more than 10 visits to this scenically stunning and flower rich ‘Parc Naturel’. During the day we search for the special plants and insects of the region. We may also glimpse birds as varied as Wallcreepers and Dippers, Goldcrests and Griffon Vultures; the latter being part of a reintroduction scheme. These have in turn attracted wild Griffon Vultures and other species to the area – four species of vulture are a possibility! How fabulous it is to stroll through areas so full of flowers that a whole day could be spent securing images of the broad range of species in one small area. Butterflies such as blues and skippers can sometimes be seen gathering at mineral licks while others like Common and Scarce Swallowtails, Clouded Apollos and Painted Ladies are often seen. If the frequent mention of ‘Alpine’ makes you nervous, don’t worry. This is always a gently paced tour with the vehicle taking the strain of reaching higher locations; and once you have visited the Vercors, if you are anything like our leader, you will want to return time and again. Itinerary Days 1 - 3 : We take a scheduled flight from London to Lyon from where we drive to Chichilianne for a three-night stay, with Mont Aiguille as a lovely backdrop. Three nights Chichilianne Days 4 - 7 : We cross to La Chapelle-en-Vercors for a four-night stay. Here we are close to the pinewoods of the Reserve Naturelle des Haut Plateaux. Four nights La Chapelle-en-Vercors Day 8 : We drive back to Lyon for our return flight to London.

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Wild flower meadow and, top, Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Photos: Mike Read)

For any Know queries, or toyou make a reservation, please on 01305-267994 before book!: For general travelcontact advice,us please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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GERMANY

GERMANY

Germany

The Bavarian Alps



Munich

AUSTRIA

Kochel-am-See

tretching for more than 180kms along the border between Austria and Germany, the Bavarian Alps comprise some of the most glorious and beautiful countryside to be found anywhere in Western Europe. A ‘picture book’ landscape studded with marshland, rivers and lakes, and with the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Alps as a magnificent backcloth throughout, Bavaria is the perfect setting for a summer birdwatching break. With no bothersome changes of hotel during the week, this holiday will appeal to those who enjoy a more relaxed approach to their birding, as well as making the most of the lovely alpine scenery, of course. We are based throughout in the quiet lakeside town of Kochel-am-See, just eighty minutes drive from Munich airport. Our excellent hotel is situated right on the wooded lakeshore, with delicious meals to look forward to in the hotel’s fine Bavarian restaurant – which also offers panoramic views of sunsets over the lake as Goosanders and Goldeneyes paddle past. Dipper, Bluethroat, Black Redstart and Marsh and Icterine Warblers are among many enticing passerines that breed around the lake. At Kochel, we are well-placed to visit a number of Bavaria’s other wetlands, including the famous lakes of Ammersee and Starnbergersee, and the smaller Lake Zell. The gruff croaking of Great Reed Warblers can be heard beside the shore, and Black Kite and Red-crested Pochard are present in summer. Nearby, Murnauer Moss is an important ancient moorland site, where Tree Pipits and Scarlet Rosefinches sing. To the south and west, Bavaria’s magnificent forests hold Honey Buzzard, Fieldfare and Firecrest. Nutcracker is also possible in June, when the alpine pastures and herb-rich valleys are graced by a profusion of plants (among them twenty kinds of orchids), and butterflies to watch for include Marbled and False Heath Fritillaries. During our stay, we will plan to take a cable car ride up to the summit of the Wankberg, and travel on

S

(8 days)

An easy-paced, 8-day birdwatching tour to the picturesque Bavarian Alps, with Alpine Chough, Water Pipit, Bluethroat and Scarlet Rosefinch among breeding birds. Includes excursion by rail and cable car up the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak.

the famous electric train up the Zugspitze. Rising to 2,966m (9,734 ft), the latter is Germany’s highest peak. Upland specialists include Alpine Accentor, Ring Ouzel and Water Pipit. If the weather is fine and visibility good, we shall be rewarded with spectacular views of the Wetterstein mountain chain while Alpine Choughs play in the clear mountain air. Prior to settling in southern Spain, Stephen Daly lived in Germany for eight years and is a fluent German-speaker. This will be his tenth visit to the picturesque and wildlife-rich Bavarian Alps. Outline Itinerary Please note : as with all upland areas, outlined excursions into the mountains are weather permitting. Day 1 : We fly from London to Munich. Transfer directly to our excellent, family-run hotel in the charming small town of Kochel-am-See, a journey of just under an hour and a half. Overnight Kochel-am-See Days 2 - 7 : Kochel-am-See is a quiet lakeside town, set at an elevation of 600m above sea level. Over the coming days we’ll enjoy a varied programme of birdwatching outings from here, including a couple of really special alpine excursions: the first by cable car to the summit of the Wankberg; and the second travelling by electric train and cable car up to the top of the mighty Zugspitz. At 2966m (10,000ft), this is Germany’s highest peak. As with any visit to an alpine area, our itinerary will remain flexible throughout so as to take best advantage of the weather. Given fine conditions and clear visibility over the peaks however, we will generally head for the higher levels; if conditions are less favourable at altitude, then we will remain at lower elevations – where the sun may often still be out! Either way, there is much to see and with so many enticing places to explore, a wonderful week’s

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at an excellent family-run, three-star hotel with views across lovely Lake Kochel. All rooms are en suite. The hotel has a sauna and steam room for guests that would like to try. MEALS : All included in the price. Splendid buffet breakfasts and dinners at the hotel, in traditional Bavarian-style (Stephen says the hotel restaurant is exceptional). Lunches are our popular mix of picnics and leisurely sit-down meals at one of the region’s many good restaurants or Gasthofs. WALKING : Easy. This trip is not strenuous and should be suitable for anyone with a basic level of fitness that is used to a little regular walking. A stout pair of comfortable walking shoes or walking boots is essential. Some participants find that walking poles are a help in the mountains. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Stephen Daly NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,795 £ 125 £ 300

The price includes return scheduled flights London-Munich, full board accommodation, minibus transport, rail and cable car excursions (as specified above), permits, fees and admissions, airport taxes, tips, map, bird checklist and services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

holiday is assured. Walking will be easy, taken at a very gentle pace. Six nights Kochel-am-See Day 8 : After our farewell Bavarian breakfast, a last intake of exhilarating mountain air should set us up for the drive back to Munich airport and our flight back home to London.

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

Garmisch-Patenkirchen and, right, Scarlet Rosefinch (Photos: Stephen Daly/AndalucianGuides.com)

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST



Saturday 14 – Saturday 21 June 2014

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Germany - Brandenberg

GERMANY

The Crane and Goose Concerto! Sunday 20 - Thursday 24 October 2013 Monday 10 - Friday 14 March 2014 Sunday 19 - Thursday 23 October 2014

he State of Brandenburg is in the old German Democratic Republic (DDR), with Berlin at its centre. The terrain is mainly flat but in many ways unique. Wetlands abound, with lakes, rivers, polders, marshes and reed-fringed fish ponds interspersed with forests and meadows, while swathes of heathland remain from previous Russian Army occupation. Brandenburg holds the last remaining population of Great Bustards in northern Europe with just over a hundred birds. In autumn and winter through to early spring there are huge numbers of geese (sometimes numbering more than 50,000): mostly Bean Geese and White-fronts with a few Barnacle Geese, but also with a few Lesser Whitefronts and the occasional Red-breasted Goose in most years. Ducks are also abundant, whilst flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwings haunt the fields. All this concentration of birdlife attracts a good population of raptors. Visiting White-tailed Eagles augment the local breeding birds and they can be seen most days. Rough-legged Buzzards patrol the rough grassland areas from October to March, while Hen Harriers and Merlins are also usually present. Goshawks are surprisingly numerous – in fact more common than Sparrowhawks! Common Cranes breed and a few stay for the winter. Spectacular numbers migrate through Brandenburg in October on their way south to Extremadura in Spain, while in March they are on the return journey. In the woodlands there is a chance of Black, Middle Spotted and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Hawfinches. We will check the open fields for flocks of finches and buntings, and generally a Great Grey Shrike or two is around. There are excellent facilities for birdwatching in the area with a number of well-constructed hides and observation towers at key locations. The trip has been designed for us by Roger White, author of the excellent, recently published ‘A Birdwatching Guide to Brandenburg and Berlin’ and

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

T

Semlin

(5 days) (5 days) (5 days)

A new tour to an ornithologically 'undiscovered' area of old East Germany. These short spring and autumn visits have been designed to coincide with the time when Bean and White-fronted Geese, and Crane numbers are at their maximum, when there is a good chance of seeing Great Bustards, when White-tailed Eagles, Rough-legged Buzzards and other raptors are most easily seen, and when the woodlands allow the best chance of finding five Woodpecker species. is led by Stephen Daly, whose fluent German will be essential for us in this area little-visited by foreign tourists. Itinerary Day 1 : We take a morning flight to Berlin where we meet Stephen Daly. We then drive west, via Brandenburg and Rathenow, to Semlin, a village by a large lake, where we stay in a comfortable hotel for four nights. Around the village we expect to see Tree Sparrows and Siskins, and feeding geese might be seen from the bedroom windows! Overnight Semlin Days 2 - 4 : We have three full days to explore the area. As we drive around we expect to come across flocks of geese as they fly over or feed in the fields almost anywhere. East of Semlin is one of the Great Bustard areas. Here we will visit both of the tower hides as well as searching the local fields looking not only for the bustards but expecting to see both Common and Rough-legged Buzzards and Hen Harriers. This is also a good site for Great Grey Shrike and for flocks of Golden Plover. Nearby is some mature woodland where we hope to find Black and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers. Further east are the fishponds at Linum, which hold a variety of waterfowl including Red-crested Pochard. The Common Crane roost here is the largest in northern Europe. We will time our walk around the periphery of the ponds, pausing at some of the hides, and along a grass path for about a mile to coincide with the cranes coming in to roost in the early evening. West of Semlin is a large area of damp and sometimes flooded meadows, where there is a good tower hide by a water channel. Whooper Swans, geese, and large numbers of dabbling ducks such as Pintail and Wigeon winter here. There are often



 BERLIN

POLAND

CZECH REPUBLIC

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMODATION : We stay in a comfortable hotel, where all rooms have en-suite facilities. Evening meals will be in nearby restaurants. TRANSPORT : By Minibus WALKING : Gentle walks over easy to moderate terrain. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Stephen Daly NUMBERS : PRICE :

Max. 12 clients

2013: 2014: Single supp. : 2013: 2014: Deposit :

£ 995 £ 1,095 £ 75 £ 95 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of scheduled return flights London-Berlin*, airport taxes, full board accommodation, minibus transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leader (s). The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (ex-Berlin) please deduct £ 125 from the tour cost. March trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

flocks of Cranes, and White-tailed Eagles are also to be seen. Nearby is Gülper See, a large lake, which forms one of the best birding sites in Brandenburg. In and around the lake we expect to find large numbers of wildfowl, and the air can be filled with the calls of flying Bean Geese, White-fronts and Greylags. A short walk through a pine wood leads to a large enclosed hide overlooking the water and the south shore. Great Egrets are resident here, while the adjacent woodland can be productive for woodpeckers. Depending on the water level, a walk along the edge of the lake may reveal some waders, and there will be finches and buntings in the surrounding fields. The north side of the lake is more difficult to view, but in the surrounding fields large numbers of geese and duck are probable. A White-tailed Eagle may be perched on a post or tree in the middle of the lake. There are signs of Beaver activity and several Beaver lodges, but sightings are unlikely. A short journey from here takes us into the neighbouring State of Saxony-Anhalt towards the old Hanseatic hill town of Havelberg. On the way we’ll stop at another hide, overlooking the Havel river and surrounding meadows, which may reveal dabbling ducks, raptors and often a Great Grey Shrike. There will be the opportunity of walking around Havelburg and along the river, before returning to Semlin. Three nights Semlin Day 5 : We leave Semlin after breakfast, depending on our flight times there may be time to stop to view some lakes and woodland on the way to the airport for the afternoon return flight to London.

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Geese at West Havelland (Photo: Nick Ayers)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Lesvos

TURKEY

Skala Kalloni

Spring Migrants in the Aegean Saturday 3 - Saturday 10 May 2014

GREEK ISLANDS

GREECE

he green isle of Lesvos is Greece’s second largest, after Crete. Its hills are covered mostly in pinewoods and olive groves, and these and the open fields are carpeted with drifts of flowers in spring, notably the deep red poppies that are so distinctive. The geology is fascinating, with the evidence of volcanic activity everywhere, from ancient lava plugs, some dramatically topped with churches and monasteries, to the Petrified Forest, where, in a cataclysmic explosion similar to the one that overwhelmed Mount St. Helens, the trees were smothered in volcanic debris. The island is best described as amoeboid in shape, with two huge, almost enclosed gulfs that cut deeply into its coastline. Aristotle, arguably the world’s first naturalist, wrote about and probably stayed on the shores of one, the Gulf of Kalloni, and it is at the head of this gulf, amongst a remarkable set of wetlands and centrally placed for our trips on the island, that we shall make our base. But probably more than its distinctive habitats, it is the island’s location, a few miles off the continental landmass of Asia Minor that makes it such a good place for migrant birds. The wetlands always hold much of interest, and we expect to see Squacco and Purple Herons, Little Bittern, White Stork, Garganey, Black-winged Stilt and splendid flocks of Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns – and that’s just from our hotel balconies! Within easy walking distance, the West River estuary is a great place to start the day, and may hold breeding Stone-Curlew, lots of other waders, and maybe a Black Stork or two. The nearby Kalloni salt pans and surrounding fields provide one of the very best sites, and one that we shall return to several times. The salt-pans themselves should hold a mass of Greater Flamingos and Avocet, together with hundreds of waders, including Curlew Sandpiper, at this time

T

(8 days)

Just a few miles off the Turkish coast, the attractive Greek isle of Lesvos is now firmly on the map as one of the best places, not just in Greece, but in the whole of Europe, for watching birds on spring migration. Add to this, wonderful scenery, lovely flowers in spring, and resident birds including Krüper’s Nuthatch and Cinereous Bunting in their only European breeding location, and you can see why the island is proving so popular! wearing their lovely breeding plumage. Raptors in the area can include both Montagu’s and Marsh Harriers and Short-toed Eagle, while the surrounding fields can hold Collared Pratincole and Red-throated Pipit. Rufous Bushchat should be singing from the scrubby hillsides in this area. The Potamia and Napi valleys near the town are excellent places to walk, swathed in olive groves, interspersed with oaks, and a good place to look for Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Sombre Tit, alongside some of the Aegean specialities, including Masked Shrike and the large but elusive Olive-tree Warbler. Much of the island is clothed in pine forest, and this is home to the delightful Krüper’s Nuthatch, while the west of the island has a rugged landscape of garrigue vegetation and rocky hills. Long-legged Buzzard soar overhead, while both Black-eared and Isabelline Wheatears flit about the rocks, together with Rock Nuthatches & Cretzschmar’s Buntings. But the prize bird by far of this wildest part of the island is Cinereous Bunting, of which several hundred pairs breed. The north coast has cliffs, with fine views, and coastal scrub which harbours Rüppell’s and Subalpine Warblers. Cretzschmar’s Buntings are also found here, and it will be worth keeping an eye open for the first Eleonora’s Falcons returning to their cliff nesting sites in spring. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an early morning flight LondonMytilene, arriving at our hotel in the afternoon. Overnight Kalloni Days 2 - 7 : Each day we’ll be choosing from a fine array of habitats to visit, according to local conditions prevailing at the time.

Purple Heron (Photo: Margaret Welby)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a good quality hotel at Skala Kalloni with all rooms en suite. Lunches will be a mix of picnics and taverna meals. TRANSPORT will be by minibus. WALKING : Easy-paced walks of 1 - 2 miles on easy trails and paths. LEADERS : Rebecca Nason & Phil Harris NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE :

£ 1,695

Single supp. :

£

245

Deposit :

£

300 per person

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST



4/9/13

The price per person includes return flight London - Mytilene including on-board meals as appropriate, airport taxes, accommodation, all meals, incidental tips, coach transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (Mytilene/Mytilene) please deduct £ 195 per person from the tour cost.

The trip is decidedly relaxed, with plenty of time at the end of each day to watch birds in the local marsh – or to appreciate the hotel swimming pool! In the evenings we are just a short stroll from the local village with its breeding Barn and Scops Owls. Six nights Kalloni Day 8 : We catch an early afternoon flight back to the UK. Rüppell’s Warbler (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Holland

THE NETHERLANDS

Wild Goose Chase!

Thursday 28 November - Monday 2 December 2013 Thursday 4 - Monday 8 December 2014

(5 days) (5 days)

Amsterdam 

 Harderwijk

A superb short winter break packed with exceptional birdwatching and led by Dutch birdwatching expert, Arnoud van den Berg. Join us for great flocks of geese, raptors, Black Woodpeckers, Long-eared Owls and more in one of Europe's most birdwatcher-friendly countries. ith its immense flocks of geese and other waterfowl, impressive range of wintering raptors and every chance of the unexpected, Holland boasts some of the finest winter birding in Europe. From November through to March, the Netherlands’ low-lying fields are a haven for geese. All of Europe’s recorded wild species have occurred in recent years - in fact our groups have seen the lot! - mingling with the tens of thousands of Barnacle, Brent, White-fronted and Bean Geese which flock to the Netherlands each winter. There are also large concentrations of ducks to enjoy, with parties of wild swans, smartly-dressed Goosanders and often a few Smew amidst masses of more familiar species. We usually see plenty of birds of prey too. Northern Goshawk, Hen Harrier and Rough-legged Buzzard are always on the cards and there’s usually the odd Peregrine and White-tailed Eagle about. This part of Holland is also blessed with some extensive woodlands and one afternoon will find us waiting eagerly beside a Black Woodpecker’s winter roost. With its crimson top-knot and staring white eye, close encounters with this magnificent bird have been a highlight on all our recent tours. Arnoud van den Berg knows the birds of his native Holland better than anyone, and has led our Dutch tours for us for nearly twenty years. We stay at an excellent new hotel in the forests near Harderwijk, with good food, comfortable rooms and a warm welcome assured. We usually manage the odd stop for hot chocolate and Dutch apple tart during our days in the field too – something of a tradition on this tour. This is both a cracking trip for beginners as well as one that’s just perfect for anyone in search of a rewarding short break that’s simply crammed with great winter birding.

W

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Itinerary Day 1 : Our Dutch Wild Goose Chase begins with a morning flight from London to Amsterdam, where Arnoud will be waiting to welcome us. Our route today will depend largely upon where the various flocks of geese and other wintering birds happen to be. Our destination this evening is an excellent new

hotel situated in forests not far from the charming old town of Harderwijk. This will be our base for all four nights of the holiday. Overnight near Harderwijk Days 2 - 4 : Harderwijk stands at the edge of what was formerly the Zuiderzee, enclosed in 1932 to form one vast, shallow lake – the IJsselmeer. Subsequent drainage and enclosure has led to the creation of the now famous Dutch polders. Largest of these is Flevoland, a patchwork of arable land, woods, marsh and open water that quickly earned a reputation as one of Europe’s top birding spots. Winter birding on Flevoland is always varied and exciting. Western Marsh and Hen Harriers, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard are likely at this season, while Eurasian Bittern, European Water Rail and Bearded Reedling are typical of the more secretive marshland species awaiting our discovery. Noisy flocks of geese will be much in evidence and we should see plenty of European White-fronts, along with Barnacle, Greylag and Bean Geese. The variety of wintering raptors often comes as a welcome surprise to visiting British birders and we have excellent chances of seeing one or two of the scarcer species. Rough-legged Buzzard, Peregrine and the immense White-tailed Eagle have all been present in recent years. Close by our Harderwijk hotel, mixed woodlands of pine, oak and birch in the Leuvenumse Bos are home to an excellent range of forest birds. As we walk the trails looking for Crested and Willow Tits, Short-toed Treecreeper and possibly Raven, it’s here that we shall hope to find an active Black Woodpecker roost... an incredible bird when seen up close. We’ve not missed them yet! During our stay, one longer day trip out will take us north to Friesland – arguably the best winter birding spot in all Holland. Amidst a classic Dutch landscape of meadows and pretty villages dotted with windmills, old and new, the noisy flocks of White-fronted, Bean and Barnacle Geese can run into tens of thousands. There are usually good numbers of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese too. Rarities are seen annually, with perhaps a flight of Snow Geese or even a stunning Red-breasted Goose

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Four nights at an excellent, new hotel set in the forests near Harderwijk. The hotel is comfortable, warm and welcoming, with good food, all rooms en suite... and Black Woodpeckers nearby! MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfasts and dinners at the hotel. Picnic lunches in the field during the day. And not forgetting our ‘trademark’ cafe stops for a mug of hot chocolate and a slice of Dutch apple pie – it’s become something of a tradition over the past 20 years on this tour! WALKING : Easy. Short walks over flat terrain (no hills!). Can sometimes be a little muddy or wet underfoot, so wellies or sturdy waterproof boots with corrugated soles for grip are advised. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Arnoud van den Berg NUMBERS :

Max. 7 clients

PRICES :

2013: 2014: 2013: 2014: £ 300

Single supps. : Deposit :

£ 1,095 £ 1,145 £ 150 £ 160 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London*-Amsterdam, all accommodation, meals, entry fees, tips, airport taxes, map, bird checklist & services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *1 It is usually possible for us to arrange flights from various UK regional airports direct to Amsterdam for participants wishing to avoid London. Please enquire for details and supplement. For those that prefer not to fly, Amsterdam can also be reached by ferry or Eurostar. For further details check online at: http://www.seat61.com/Netherlands.htm These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

to find amidst the ranks of more common species. If they’re present again this winter, we’ll also check a couple of sites for roosting Long-eared Owls. In the past, we have sometimes found the odd Short-eared Owl in amongst them too. Holland is a compact country with an excellent motorway network and, depending on what’s about at the time of our tour, on one day we may also decide to venture south to explore Zeeland and Zuid-Holland. We should find Bewick’s Swans (and perhaps a few Whoopers) today, along with many more geese. Three nights near Harderwijk Day 5 : We bid a reluctant farewell to our hotel after breakfast and set off for the North Sea coast. Having enjoyed pretty much another full day in the field, in the late afternoon we catch our flight home from Amsterdam – getting back into London again about the same time as we took off!

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Smew (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Hungary

Zemplen Hills 

Hortobágy 



Budapest

HUNGARY

HUNGARY

he sweeping landscapes of the steppe country extend across a huge swathe of temperate Eurasia, eastwards to Mongolia and beyond. In only one place does a part of this vast steppe wilderness extend a finger into Europe – the plains of Eastern Hungary. This is the Hortobágy, an ancient flood-plain of steppe grasslands – green and lush in May – and ancient meadows interspersed with marshes and pools. Apart from the odd scattered woodland, nothing breaks the skyline of this immense open landscape reminiscent of the South American pampas, which contains not only steppe grasslands, but also a chain of wetlands of international importance. The famous Hortobágy puszta was once a wild place of fishermen, shepherds and horsemen. This ancient landscape is still grazed by herds of the huge, long-horned Hungarian Grey cattle, descendants of hardy cattle driven here by original Hungarian horsemen more than a thousand years ago. Shepherd dogs, some looking like small bears, run circles around the herds of the strange Racka sheep, also of ancient lineage, while herds of pigs, including the ancient ‘woolly pig’ also roam free. One of Europe's largest national parks, the Hortobágy offers some of Europe's most exciting birdwatching. Freshwater marshes near Debrecen can be superb at this time, and we’ll get our first taste of Hortobágy birds. Here in the shallows, Avocets and Spoonbills ‘sweep’ for food, while Black-winged Stilts call noisily. Black and Whiskered Terns flutter

Spring in the steppes and forests Friday 23 – Friday 30 May 2014

We visit the fabulous steppes, lakes, and marshes of the Hortobágy and the Hungarian forests at the peak of the breeding season. Join us and ‘steppe’ into spring for some of the best birdwatching in Europe!

forests of the Zemplen Hills, which rise to almost 1,000m and are swathed in oak, hornbeam and beech woodland, for a range of raptors and other forest specialities. These green, rolling, forestswathed hills, with the famous Tokaj vineyards clothing their southern slopes, are home to a superb range of central European forest specialities, including Eastern Imperial Eagle, Ural Owl, and an astonishing nine species of woodpecker including the rare White-backed Woodpecker. Meadows along the River Bodrog, where Corncrakes still call, host singing River and Marsh Warblers and Syrian Woodpecker. In the more open country around the Tokaj vineyards, Red-backed Shrike and Barred Warbler breed alongside each other, while Wryneck and Grey-headed Woodpeckers call from the scattered oaks.

T

Ural Owl (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

(8 days)

White-spotted Bluethroat (Photo: Mike Read)

over the centre of the marsh, where Bitterns boom, and occasionally fly across. Depending on the water levels we may have a chance of seeing a good variety of passage waders, some in their superb breeding plumage. The Hortobágy fishponds are large man-made lakes surrounded by reeds, which make a superb rich breeding ground for birds. These include Rednecked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck and Garganey, eight heron species including Purple and Squacco Herons, impressive colonies of Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, a superb variety of warblers and other songbirds. Stunning White-spotted Bluethroats sing from the reed-tops, along with Savi’s and Marsh Warblers. The steppe country, an arid area of salty soil and short grass is unique in Europe, and surprisingly full of life. Here Stone Curlew nest together with Montagu’s Harrier, and on nearby grasslands, we’ll also be looking for another, perhaps more spectacular bird: Great Bustard. There is still a good population of these immensely impressive birds in the Hortobágy, making it one of the most important sites in Europe for them. Finally, further west we’ll explore the steppe woodland looking for Roller, Hoopoe, Tawny Pipit and Lesser Grey Shrike. The small isolated woods that dominate this region offer good nesting sites for raptors, including the superb, colonial Red-footed Falcon, one of the most attractive of its family, as well as Hobby. Later we head for the grassy steppe which forms the domain of the Suslik (a ground squirrel). This delightful gopher-like rodent is an important prey species for an assemblage of raptors unique in Europe, including Saker Falcon. We continue to the Tisza River floodplain, where some salty lakes can be attractive to a variety of passage waders including Temminck’s Stint. During our visit we shall also go up into the

Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 3 : We take a morning scheduled flight London - Budapest, where we meet our local guide and drive to the Zemplen Hills, close to the Slovakian border, where we stay for three nights. Overnight Zemplen Hills Days 4 - 7 : Leaving the Zemplen Hills we drive towards the Great Hungarian plains. On the way we visit Debrecen Woods, some of the oldest oak woodland in the area. Our hotel is well situated near a very productive lake, complete with Little Bitterns. Four nights Hortobágy Day 8 : We drive back to Budapest before catching our return flight to London. Please note that we can arrange optional extensions to the trip in Budapest, for a chance to spend a bit of time in this delightful city. Please let us know at time of booking.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Good hotels with all rooms en suite. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Gabor Simay NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 165 £ 300 per person

The price per person includes return flights from London – Budapest*, airport taxes, 7 nights' accommodation, all meals, incidental tips, coach transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tips for the driver and local guide, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (Budapest/Budapest) please deduct £ 125 per person from the tour cost.

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Hungary

Tokaj

Hortobágy



Steppes and Forests in Autumn Wednesday 16 - Wednesday 23 October 2013 Saturday 11 – Saturday 18 October 2014

(8 days) (8 days)



Budapest HUNGARY

We visit the fabulous steppes, lakes, and marshes of the Hortobágy and the Hungarian forests at the very best time for the spectacular migration of cranes and geese. Join us for some of the best autumn birdwatching in Europe!

he sweeping landscapes of the steppe country extend across a huge swathe of temperate Eurasia, eastwards to Mongolia and beyond. In only one place does a part of this vast steppe wilderness just stretch into Europe – the plains of Eastern Hungary. This is the Hortobágy, an ancient flood-plain that contains not only steppe grasslands, but also a chain of wetlands of international importance. One of Europe’s largest national parks, the Hortobágy offers some of Europe’s most exciting birdwatching, particularly in the autumn. This is the main eastern flyway for Cranes in Europe. At their peak, there may be no less than 110,000 of these magnificent birds in the area. The sight of squadron upon squadron of them filling the sky with their wings, and the air with their calls as they go to roost, must surely be one of Europe’s great wildlife spectacles. During our stay we shall also go up into the forests of the Zemplen Hills, for a range of raptors and other forest specialities including owls and woodpeckers.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

HUNGARY

TRIP DETAILS

T

Itinerary Days 1 - 4 : We take a morning scheduled flight London - Budapest, and drive eastwards to the Hortobágy. As well as the incredible spectacle of the Cranes, thousands of geese and other wildfowl are pouring through the Hortobágy. These are principally Whitefronted Geese from Russia, but also include Bean Geese and a few Lesser White-fronted Geese each year – we have seen up to 70 of the latter on our previous visits. The resident birds can be no less exciting at this time. In autumn, Great Bustards form flocks on the plains, which they share with migrant Stone Curlew and Dotterel. The bustards can be surprisingly elusive and wary, but we usually manage to find them and get nice views with the help of local experts. Raptor numbers can be impressive here, preying upon the abundance of Sousliks and other small mammals, while Northern Grey Shrikes hawk from the roadside wires. Both Imperial and Whitetailed Eagle, Long-legged and Rough-legged Buzzard, the breathtaking Saker Falcon, Goshawk, and Hen and Marsh Harriers can all be found in this



ACCOMMODATION : Good hotels with all rooms en suite. For lunches we usually visit some excellent local restaurants, or picnic in the forest. LEADERS : Barrie Cooper and local guides NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES :

2013: £ 1,495 2014: £ 1,595 2013: £ 155 2014: £ 165 £ 300 per person

Single supp. : Deposit : Arka Castle (Photo: Ray Nowicki)

remarkable area, and we have seen Spotted Eagle on some previous trips. The Hortobágy fishponds will also be well worth a visit. These are large man-made lakes surrounded by reeds, which make a superb rich feeding ground for birds. These include Pygmy Cormorant, a variety of herons, wildfowl including Ferruginous Duck, and migrant waders. The reedbeds hold flocks of Bearded and Penduline Tits. Long-eared Owls also roost in the area – on a previous trip we counted no less than 74 birds! Four nights Hortobágy Days 5 - 7 : Leaving the Hortobágy we drive to Debrecen Woods, some of the oldest oak woodland in the area. This productive area holds a good selection of eastern woodland species, including Middle Spotted and Black Woodpeckers, and Hawfinch. In the afternoon we drive to the edge of the Zemplen Hills, close to the Slovakian border, where we stay for three nights. The following day we drive up into the Zemplen Hills, which rise to almost 1,000m and are swathed in oak and beech woodland. These are home to no less than twelve species of raptor and a superb collection of woodpeckers, including Syrian, and the very rare White-backed Woodpecker, which has given us excellent views on previous trips. Flocks of Hawfinches make another fine sight here. One evening we’ll head high into the hills for a chance of seeing Ural Owl – we have seen both Ural and Eagle Owls on the same evening on one trip! Three nights Zemplen Hills

The price per person includes return flights from London - Budapest, airport taxes, 7 nights’ accommodation, all meals, transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tips for the driver and local leader, drinks, and other personal expenses. For an ex-flight cost of the tour (Budapest/Budapest) please deduct £ 125 per person from the tour cost. The 2013 tour will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Great Bustard (Photo: Ecotours Hungary)

Day 8 : We drive back to Budapest before catching our return flight to London. Please note that we can arrange optional extensions to the trip in Budapest, for a chance to spend a bit of time in this delightful city. Please let us know at time of booking.

What you say: “The memory of thousands of cranes approaching, flying right over our heads, then silhouetted against the setting sun before they landed will remain with me for years. There were other highlights too, such as the Red-breasted Geese, a really close Saker falcon, a Long-eared Owl roost in a residential street…” B.L., London

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Cranes coming into roost at sunset (Photo: Ray Nowicki)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Iceland in Winter

ICELAND 

Snaefellsness

Orcas and Auroras Special

 REYKJAVIK 

ICELAND

Hveragerði

celand’s wildlife has to struggle to survive the harsh winter conditions and often congregates around the coast or other sheltered areas. We expect to see several different species of wildfowl including Harlequin Ducks, perhaps surfing in the sea, and Barrow’s Goldeneye. There’ll be lots of gulls including Glaucous Gull and the eponymous Iceland Gull on the coasts and in harbours. Further inland we should encounter large flocks of Snow Buntings, Ptarmigans in their white winter plumage and there’s always the chance of a Gyr Falcon or even White-tailed Eagle. Of course, all this is complemented by the dramatic landscapes of Iceland and, if the weather allows, displays of the aurora borealis. On this tour we’ll also learn about Iceland’s vibrant volcanic geology as well as making a special journey to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which in recent years has seen magnificent Orcas coming close inshore. We’ll look for them from the land, and, if weather permits, take a boat trip to see them close up. The tour is led by Andy Jones.

Thursday 6 March – Tuesday 11 March 2014

(6 days)

A great winter break searching for birds and whales in south and west Iceland. You’ll travel in a small group in a specially prepared winterised 4x4 vehicle which allows us to reach some out-of-the-way places.

I

Day 2 : We’ll explore the valleys and rivers of southern Iceland searching for Barrow’s goldeneye which we hope to find on ice-free pools and lakes. We’ll also visit the hot springs at Geysir and see the glacial falls of Gullfoss. Wherever we travel there’s a chance of encountering gyrfalcon and ptarmigan as well. We’ll learn about the dynamic geology of Iceland and if conditions allow hope to see the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Overnight near Hveragerði Day 3 : We’ll travel along the south coast of Iceland and search for the different species of gulls that

Day 4 : We travel to Þingvellir, a national park which is historically important as the site of the old Viking parliament. Ecologically and geologically it’s impressive and scenically outstanding. We continue our journey along the shores of Hvalfjörður looking for long-tailed ducks and overwintering waders before heading for our next guesthouse on the south coast of the magnificent Snæfellsnes peninsula where we’ll stay for two nights. Overnight Snæfellsnes Day 5 : A full day exploring Snæfellsnes where we’ll search for white-tailed eagles and Orcas. At this time of year the whales often come close inshore and we

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Small but comfortable hotels with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT : Will be in an especially equipped four wheel drive ‘winterised’ vehicle driven by the leader. WALKING : Walks are no more than three miles in total on any one day and never more than two miles at one time. The terrain is mostly level but may be rough underfoot with sharp lava. Stout walking boots are recommended. LEADER :

Andy Jones

NUMBERS :

Max. 5 clients

PRICES : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,775 £ 170 £ 400 per person

The price per person includes return scheduled flights from London - Keflavik, airport taxes, accommodation as outlined, all meals, incidental tips, transport and the services of the leader(s).

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Itinerary Day 1 : Arrive in Iceland and transfer to our south Iceland guesthouse. Later on this, and all other evenings, if conditions allow, we’ll hope for a sighting of the northern lights. Overnight near Hveragerði

overwinter here. We expect to find both glaucous and Iceland gulls. We’ll explore the rocky coasts looking for harlequin ducks and we should also be able to record both Atlantic grey and common seals, too. We’ll also look for cetaceans offshore and on past trips have recorded both minke and humpback whales at this time of year. Overnight near Hveragerði

The price excludes holiday insurance, optional boat trip (cost around £45), drinks, and other personal expenses. For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Keflavik) please deduct £ 225 from the tour cost. This tour will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

hope for some good land based views. Depending on the weather it may be possible to take a boat trip as well (weather dependent and payable locally, cost around £45). Snæfellsnes in winter is a delight and our guesthouse is in a dark area to maximise the chance of auroras. Overnight Snæfellsnes Day 6 : We leave Snæfellsnes and travel via Borgarnes to Iceland’s capital Reykjavík before heading for the airport and our afternoon return flight.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

Orcas (Photos: Andy Jones)

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Iceland

 Grímsey

ICELAND

Principally Puffins Thursday 24 July - Thursday 31 July 2014 Grímsey Island Extension Wednesday 30 July - Sunday 3 August 2014

(8 days) (5 days)

REYKJAVIK   Hveragerði

Westman Islands 

ICELAND

Mention you’ve been to Iceland to a birdwatcher and you’ll soon get the response: “Did you see puffins?” On this trip you certainly shall. Devised especially for us, and led by our man in Iceland, Andy Jones, this trip is timed to give us the best possible views of Puffins as well as the other seabirds of the North Atlantic. e’ll spend two days on the Westman Islands as well as travelling to the incredible bird cliffs of Látrabjarg in NW Iceland. We’ll cross the staggeringly beautiful Breiðafjörður and make a visit to the island of Flatey where there are (yes, you’ve guessed it) more Puffins. Of course, Iceland’s other special birds won’t be forgotten and we’ll look for Harlequin Duck and Barrow’s Goldeneye, Whitetailed Eagle and Gyrfalcon. Wherever we travel we’ll be accompanied by the wonderful breeding waders of Iceland. We are also travelling at a great time for botanists and we’ll no doubt delight in the colourful carpet of many arctic and alpine wild flowers that can be found here. At this time of year we’ve a very good chance of finding cetaceans offshore as well. In fact, there’s something for everyone on this very special trip.

W

Day 5 : It’s a gorgeous day’s exploration today as we leave the small harbour at Stykkishólmur for our cruise across the calm waters of Breiðafjörður. Overnight Flókalundur Day 6 : It’s a leisurely drive to reach the spectacular bird cliffs of Látrabjarg, one of the special places of Iceland. Overnight Flókalundur

Itinerary Day 1 : We arrive in Iceland on a late afternoon flight from London. If time permits we’ll do some seawatching on the way to our guesthouse in Hveragerði, located on the flanks of the mid-Atlantic Ridge in Southern Iceland. Overnight Hveragerði

Day 7 : It’s a gentle day’s journey across the lovely landscapes of west Iceland as we head south. Overnight Reykjavík

Day 2 : We take the morning ferry to the island of Heimaey in the Westman Islands. In the afternoon we’ll visit the new crater and feel the still warm rock beneath. After dinner we’ll visit the Puffin colonies. Overnight Westman Islands

Wednesday 30 July – Sunday 3 August 2014 (5 days) Grímsey, way off the north coast of Iceland, is one of those dream islands that many read about, but few visit. Perhaps surprisingly, it is the only part of Iceland that touches the arctic circle and is home to countless thousands of puffins and other seabirds. Accommodation here is very comfortable (shared facilities).

Day 3 : We’ll spend a full day on the Westman Islands and will have many more opportunities for close encounters with the Puffins and other seabirds of these magnificent islands. There’s also the chance to take a boat trip around the islands (optional, cost around £35, payable locally). Overnight Westman Islands

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Day 4 : It’s a travelling day as we catch the morning ferry from Heimaey for the half hour crossing to the mainland. Our journey, will take us past the hot springs and geysers of Geysir, the magnificent falls of Gullfoss, the rift valley and historical sites of Þingvellir, and the splendid fjord at Hvalfjörður. Overnight Snæfellsnes

Day 8 : Our return flight leaves in the late afternoon. Alternatively why not join our special Grímsey Island extension?

Grímsey Island extension

Itinerary Day 8 : We’ll have a quick tour of Iceland’s capital and see something of its wildlife before we fly to

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Main trip: Hotels/guesthouses with all rooms en suite. The guesthouse we stay in on Grímsey is lovely but please note that none of the rooms here have private facilities. MEALS : are from the hotel or guesthouse ‘dish of the day’ and we have picnic lunches. TRANSPORT : Main trip: Will be in small minibus or four wheel drive vehicle driven by the leader. Transport on Grimsey is on foot. WALKING : On the main trip, walks are no more than three miles in total on any one day and never more than two miles at one time. The terrain is mostly level but may be rough underfoot with sharp lava. Stout walking boots are recommended. On Grímsey we need to walk more than in other places and expect a three mile walk on the second day and a five to six mile walk on the third day, all on marked paths. LEADER :

Andy Jones

NUMBERS :

Max. 10 clients

PRICES :

Main trip: £ 2,595 Grimsey extension: £ 1,195 Single supps.: Main trip: £ 265 Grimsey extension: £ 120 Deposit: £ 400 per person The price per person includes return scheduled flights from London - Keflavik, airport taxes, accommodation as outlined, all meals, incidental tips, transport and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes holiday insurance, optional boat trip on the Westman Islands, drinks, and other personal expenses.

For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Keflavik) please deduct £ 295 from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA.

Grímsey Island via Akureyri. We’ll arrive in the early afternoon. Overnight Grímsey Day 9 : A full day exploring the island. We’ll concentrate on the northern cliffs and will have lots of time to spend in the puffin colonies there. It’s a brilliant place for photographers and provides a magical wildlife experience. There’s also the chance to take a boat trip (not included c £35, payable locally). Overnight Grímsey Day 10 : We spend the morning on Grímsey before taking our afternoon flight via Akureyri to Reykjavík. We’ll spend the night in Iceland’s capital. Overnight Reykjavík Day 11 : Some free time in Reykjavík before we take our return flight to the UK.

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Puffins will expect close views of you! (Photo: Andy Jones)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


ICELAND

4/9/13

 Eyjafjörður

 Snaefellsness ICELAND  REYKJAVIK 

Skálholt

erched astride the mid-Atlantic ridge, Iceland is a new continent in the making. Spectacular volcanic landscapes spawn boiling sulphurous pools and geysers, while mighty waterfalls thunder down great gashes in the earth’s crust. The additional presence of glaciers and ice-capped peaks creates a surreal setting of fire and ice in which to enjoy some of the most exhilarating birdwatching in Europe. Our journey begins in Southwest Iceland, on the rugged Keflavík peninsula, where mosses and lichens cling tenaciously to a moonscape of new lava. The island of Eldey, famous as the last refuge of Great Auk and now home to 16,000 pairs of Gannets, lies offshore. Great Northern and Redthroated Divers haunt the lake at Þingvellir, while a visit to areas close to Eyjafjallajökull – scene of the troublesome 2010 volcanic eruptions – provides the backdrop to our quest for Harlequin Duck. Next, we set off on a full day crossing of the volcanic desert of Iceland’s remote interior, where Pink-footed Geese breed. Our route will take us via the magnificent waterfall at Gullfoss and impressive Strokkur geyser at Geysir, and on to Eyjafjörður, close to Iceland’s beautiful north coast. Lake Myvatn is world-famous for its wildfowl where some 10,000 pairs of fifteen different species nest. During our visit to the lake we can expect to see lots of Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Scaup, Tufted Duck and Wigeon, plus scores of Slavonian Grebes and Rednecked Phalaropes. Drawn by the superabundance of prey, this is also one of the best areas to find the powerful Gyrfalcon. Before we leave this wildlife rich corner of North Iceland, we’ll enjoy the first of three exciting boat trips – in search of whales off Húsavík. Barely fifty miles below the Arctic Circle, here we have an excellent chance of seeing Northern Minke Whale, along with White-beaked Dolphin and possibly other larger whales such as Humpback, too.

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Iceland

The land of ice and fire in summer

Sunday 15 June – Tuesday 24 June 2014

(10 days)

A 10-day summer birdwatching tour to Iceland in search of Gyr Falcon, Harlequin Duck and Barrow’s Goldeneye, and with boat trips to look for whales, White-tailed Eagles and Grey Phalaropes. A scenically spectacular tour, set against a backdrop of some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe!

Our travels conclude on the rugged Snaefellsnes Peninsula, its three-peaked volcano, Snaefellsjoküll, the inspiration for Jules Verne’s classic novel, A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Amidst stunning scenery, Brünnich’s Guillemot, Whooper Swan and Ptarmigan nest. We’ll also enjoy two more cracking boat trips: the first to look for seabirds and, with any luck, the very rare Grey Phalarope on the tiny island of Flatey, while the second should deliver mind-blowing views of the majestic White-tailed Eagle at its eerie. This is but a hint of the magic that awaits on this scenic sub-Arctic spectacular – a trip that’s packed with great northern birding and set amidst some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes in Europe. With expert local guidance and enlightenment from our resident naturalist-guide Trausti Gunnarsson, join us as we return for another thrilling Icelandic adventure! Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Keflavik. Laugaras. Three nights Skalholt Day 2 : Southwest coast and Eyjafjallajökull. Day 3 : Lake Laugar, Þingvellir & Þjorsardalur. Day 4 : Crossing Iceland’s rugged interior. Eyjafjörður. Three nights Eyjafjörður Day 5 : Godafoss, Lake Myvatn & Krafla volcano. Day 6 : Whale-watching boat trip off Husavik and Hrisey Island. Day 7 : North coast to Snaefellsnes. Three nights Snaefellsnes Day 8 : Boat trip to Flatey Island for phalaropes and seabirds. Day 9 : Boat trip for White-tailed Eagle and Snaefellsnes peninsula. Day 10 : To Reykjavík. Fly London.

Lake Myvatn (Photo: Mike Read)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at comfortable hotels and guest houses, with all rooms en suite. MEALS : All included in the price. Lunches will usually be picnics – enjoyed amid some of Europe’s most spectacularly scenic places! WALKING : Short walks over easy paths. Some moderate terrain, rocky and uneven underfoot so sturdy walking boots offering good support essential. BOAT TRIPS : Three are planned and all are included in the tour price, as outlined in the above itinerary. All boat trips are weather permitting of course (but in more than a dozen years of running this tour we have never suffered a cancellation yet). INSECTS : Mosquitoes not a problem on this tour (the famous black flies at Lake Myvatn are non-biting). LEADERS : Trausti Gunnarsson & Gary Elton (In the event of a small group, our Iceland summer tour will be accompanied by Trausti Gunnarsson). NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ £ £

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

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2,895 295 400 per person

The price per person includes return scheduled flights London-Keflavik, all accommodation, meals, minibus transport, three boat trips (for whales, seabirds, Grey Phalarope and Whitetailed Eagle, as detailed in the itinerary), entry fees and admissions, tips, airport taxes, bird checklist, and services of the leader/s. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

What you say: “Leader had excellent local knowledge and contacts, and quickly tuned into the interests of individuals. Great tour – busy but well paced.” J.B., Northumberland Godafoss – Falls of the Gods (Photo: Mike Read)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Iceland

ICELAND

ICELAND

A Volcanic Introduction Thursday 11 – Tuesday 16 September 2014

(6 days)

 REYKJAVIK

 Skálholt

With Iceland’s volcanoes featuring in the news in both 2011 and 2012, we thought it was time to base a tour around Iceland’s amazing geology.

celand’s recent volcanic events have also caused an ‘eruption’ in interest about geology and why landscapes look the way they do. We’ve persuaded Iceland expert Andy Jones to lead these autumn volcano introduction trips for us and participants will get a great introduction to the dynamic geology of this fascinating country. We’ll visit many volcanic landforms, including the areas affected by the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull and the Westman Islands, and spend time exploring the areas around some glaciers as well. Of course, other aspects of natural history are not neglected and we expect to see the Icelandic bird specialities of Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye and Gyrfalcon too. Migration will be well underway and we’ll see the gatherings of Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans as they prepare to fly to warmer climes against the background of wonderful autumn colours of the Icelandic countryside. Oh, and there’s a chance of cetaceans offshore too! Geysers, volcanoes, thermal springs, glaciers and Viking history are all included on this trip – with, as always, any wildlife we see on our travels! Groups are limited to just eight participants, and are all guided by expert naturalist and geologist Andy Jones, who lives in Iceland and also guides our popular summer and winter trips there.

I

Itinerary Day 1 : Afternoon arrival in Iceland then transfer to hotel at Skálholt visiting a volcanic crater on the way. Overnight Skálholt

Day 3 : We travel via the rift valley of Þingvellir which allows us to see the tectonic processes at work here. Iceland is split in two by the movements of two great crustal plates and the evidence for this is etched into the dramatic landscapes around us. The area is also historically very important as it was here in the years following Iceland’s settlement that the old Viking parliament would meet in the open air. Later we travel to the south coast to see the eroded edge of the enormous lava flow of Þjórsárhraun, the largest post glacial lava flow to have occurred on Earth. Overnight Skálholt Day 4 : We visit the areas affected by the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and see at first hand the changes wrought by this volcano. We’ll also visit the glaciers and icecaps of southern Iceland to learn of the ways in which ice has sculpted the landscape here. We’ll finish the day exploring the coastal landscapes of southern Iceland. We should also encounter some of the birds migrating from Iceland for warmer habitats during the winter. Overnight Skálholt

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Comfortable hotel with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT : Will be in small minibus or four wheel drive vehicle driven by the leader. WALKING : Walks are no more than three miles in total on any one day and never more than two miles at one time. The terrain is mostly level but may be rough underfoot with sharp lava. Stout walking boots are recommended. LEADER :

Andy Jones

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,645 £ 150 £ 400 per person

The price per person includes return scheduled flights from London - Keflavik, airport taxes, accommodation as outlined, all meals, incidental tips, transport and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Keflavik) please deduct £ 225 from the tour cost.

Day 5 : We visit the Westman Islands, a volcanic archipelago formed within the last 12,000 years. A submarine eruption in 1963 created the island of Surtsey and in 1973 an eruption on the inhabited island of Heimaey resulted in the temporary evacuation of the island. We’ll explore the crater from the eruption where the ground is still hot from this event. We’ll also visit the new lava field and

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Day 2 : We’ll visit the geothermal area of Geysir and see the geysers before exploring the area of Hekla, arguably Iceland’s best known volcano. We’ll learn about the various eruptions and visit the site of an old Viking farm that was buried under ash from an

eruption in 1104. We’ll also explore a swarm of pseudocraters and examine at first hand the evidence of former eruptions now encapsulated as tephra layers in the landscape itself. Overnight at Skálholt

Lava explosion (Andy Jones)

learn about the human story of the eruption when a third of all homes in the town were covered by the new lava. Overnight Skálholt Day 6 : We’ll explore the geology of the Reykjanes peninsula by visiting some powerful hot springs and climbing a small crater before visiting the geothermal spa at the Blue Lagoon to have a chance to relax in the warm, mineral rich waters which were, of course, heated up by the vibrant and active geology of Iceland! We depart on a late afternoon flight from Iceland.

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Hot springs at Ölkelduháls and, inset, Eyjafjallajökull erupting (Photos: Andy Jones)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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ICELAND

 REYKJAVIK 

Hveragerði

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Iceland in Winter

Harlequins and Northern Lights!

Thursday 21 – Monday 25 November 2013 Thursday 6 – Monday 10 February 2014 Thursday 27 February– Monday 3 March 2014 Thursday 20 – Monday 24 November 2014

(5 days) (5 days) (5 days) (5 days)

What’s it like here in winter? This question is often asked on our popular ‘Iceland in Summer’ trip. Well, now you can find out on this exciting winter break, designed to be taken as a long weekend. celand’s wildlife has to struggle to survive the harsh winter conditions and often congregates around the coast or other sheltered areas. We expect to see several different species of wildfowl including Harlequin Ducks, perhaps surfing in the sea, and Barrow’s Goldeneye. There’ll be lots of gulls including Glaucous Gull and the eponymous Iceland Gull on the coasts and in harbours. Further inland we should encounter large flocks of Snow Buntings, Ptarmigans in their white winter plumage, and there’s always the chance of a Gyr Falcon or even White-tailed Eagle. Of course, all this is complemented by the dramatic landscapes of Iceland and, if the weather allows, displays of the aurora borealis. On this tour we’ll also learn about Iceland’s vibrant volcanic geology. In March 2010 our group actually saw an erupting volcano, and we were delighted for them – but then after six non-Iceland tours with flights cancelled or postponed we were not so sure! Groups are limited to just five, to allow us to travel in our own especially equipped four-wheel drive vehicle, and are all guided by expert naturalist and geologist Andy Jones, who lives in Iceland, and also guides our popular summer trips there.

I

Itinerary Day 1 : We take a scheduled flight from London to Keflavík and transfer to our hotel in the magnificent countryside of south Iceland. After dinner there’ll be an illustrated introductory talk about winter Iceland. We’ll be ready to head out to see the aurorae on this and other evenings if weather conditions allow. Overnight near Hveragerði

aurora borealis or northern lights. We shall, of course, make a special effort to be in the right place to see this unforgettable spectacle, often seen during the long nights of the sub-arctic winter. Please note however that we cannot guarantee northern lights, or the weather for seeing them ! Three nights near Hveragerði

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Comfortable hotel with all rooms en suite. TRANSPORT : Will be in an especially equipped four wheel drive ‘winterised’ vehicle driven by the leader. WALKING : Walks are no more than three miles in total on any one day and never more than two miles at one time. The terrain is mostly level but may be rough underfoot with sharp lava. Stout walking boots are recommended.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Please note that auroras occur at random and can’t be predicted. 2013 is a peak year for solar activity in the current cycle, with 2014 promising to be another great aurora year, and our 2012 tour groups all saw auroras. However chance plays a large part, and there may well be no aurora activity during your short stay. However we hope you will enjoy the wildlife and landscapes during the day and feel that it was a worthwhile trip even if no auroras are seen!

Days 2 - 4 : We’ll make three full day trips to explore the coast and mountains of south Iceland. At this time of year we’ll have around seven to eight hours of daylight, so we expect to see Harlequin Duck and Barrow’s Goldeneye — wildfowl that remain in Iceland over the winter — on the coast and lakes. We’ll travel to Þingvellir where the rift valley formed by the moving crustal plates is particularly well developed and shall look for Snow Buntings and Ptarmigan. We’ll visit the geysers at Geysir and the wonderful waterfall of Gullfoss. There’s always the chance of encountering an Arctic Fox in its white winter coat as well. We’ll spend some time on the coast as it is here that winter birds often congregate. We’ll get to grips with identifying Iceland Gulls from Glaucous Gulls and a spell of seawatching often produces some Black Guillemots, other gulls, Fulmars and seals. Iceland’s geology is not forgotten as we visit lava fields, craters and glaciers, and learn more about the processes that created this incredible landscape. Iceland is one of the best places to see the

PRINCIPAL LEADER : Andy Jones NUMBERS :

Max. 5 clients

PRICE :

2013: £ 1,445 2014: £ 1,495 2013: £ 110 2014: £ 125 £ 400 per person

Single supps. : Deposit :

The price per person includes return scheduled flights from London - Keflavik, airport taxes, accommodation as outlined, all meals, incidental tips, transport and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. For an ex-international flight cost (starting and finishing in Keflavik) please deduct £ 225 from the tour cost. These trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

Snow Bunting (Photo: Mike Read) Inset: Harlequin Duck and, above, Northern Lights (Photos: Andy Jones)

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Italy - Sicily Siracusa & Mt Etna

Wednesday 23 - Wednesday 30 April 2014 Thursday 1 – Thursday 8 May 2014 (8 days)

ITALY

(8 days) SICILY

Join us for another wonderful April week in Eastern Sicily, a hotspot for migrants moving between Africa and Europe. Based throughout at a delightful masseria (farmhouse hotel), with first-rate hospitality and delicious home-cooked Italian cuisine – you simply won’t want to leave! This year, we are offering a choice of two departures. Our 2011, 2012 and 2013 tours sold out very quickly – early booking recommended. eparated from the toe of Italy to the east by the Strait of Messina, and from the coast of Tunisia, one hundred miles to the south, by the Sicilian Strait, Sicily has long been known as a hot spot for migratory birds moving between the continents of Africa and Europe. With parts of the island’s southeast lying geographically to the south of Tunis, this mountainous Mediterranean island is also one of the most fascinating regions of Europe, its landscape the product of a rich blend of history, archaeology, art and culture. Sicilian food and wine are wonderful, and the Sicilian people are as warm and friendly as the island’s climate. The largest of all the Mediterranean islands, first-time visitors may be surprised at just how big Sicily is! For this reason, our spring tours focus solely on the island’s bird-rich eastern side, where we will birdwatch amidst a landscape dominated – and very largely shaped – by the immense cone of Europe’s biggest volcano, Mt Etna. Here we will scour the rugged slopes for two of the island’s special birds: the endemic Sicilian Rock Partridge (a full species now, having been separated from its mainland cousin the Rock Partridge), and the distinctive ‘Sicilian’ Long-tailed Tit, which breeds in the mountain oak woods and scrub. To the south, the port of Siracusa is one of the most beautiful and historic towns in Europe. In spring, the coastal garrigue has breeding Stonecurlews and Calandra Larks; Audouin’s Gulls coast past and nearby wetlands harbour Collared Pratincole and Slender-billed Gull, Ferruginous Duck and the rare Purple Swamphen. Just south of the town, gardens and groves of almond, olive and carob are attractive to migrants including Collared Flycatcher, Nightjar and Hoopoe. West of Siracusa is the beautiful and unspoilt Iblei region: a rough, sheep-grazed limestone escarpment, cut by deep valleys such as the Cava Grande, which we will visit to look for migrating

S



Mt Etna

 Catania 

Siracusa

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We spend all seven nights at a small but comfortable family-run masseria (a renovated former farmhouse hotel), the charming Pozzo di Mazza - an eight hundred year old former winery near Siracusa, in the south of Sicily. All rooms en suite. MEALS : All main meals are included in the tour price. Breakfasts and excellent home-cooked dinners of freshly made Sicilian food are taken at the masseria. Local fish dishes are a regional speciality of the cooks. Lunches will be delicious picnics, with sandwiches or local pastries freshlyprepared that morning using delicious Italian cheeses, hams, vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and aubergines. WALKING : Easy. Short walks over mainly easy terrain. Comfy walking shoes with stout corrugated soles are advised. We do not go to the summit area on this tour. Maximum elevation on this tour: approx. 2000m (6500ft).

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

raptors and local specialities such as Spectacled Warbler and Rock Sparrow. North along the coast are several wetland sites and jutting headlands holding many exciting breeding and migrant species. At this season, birds of prey on the move can include Pallid, Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers. We are based as usual at a comfortable familyrun masseria - the charming Pozzo di Mazza – a fully-renovated, 800-year old former winery near Siracusa. Meals and hospitality are simply a delight. Our expert local guide, Andrea Corso, lives in Siracusa and is Sicily’s foremost ornithologist. Author of the Avifauna di Sicilia and one of the leading lights in birding and conservation in Italy today, he also has a wonderful sense of humour – and a fine singing voice! Andrea possesses an infectious enthusiasm for his country and is a passionate and fantastic guide; his knowledge of the birds of Sicily and where to find them is

LEADERS : April: Brian Small & Andrea Corso May: Peter Kennerley & Andrea Corso NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 125 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and is fully inclusive of scheduled flights London/Catania return, all accommodation and meals, surface transport, admission fees and permits, tips, airport taxes, map, bird checklist & services of the leaders. The price excludes insurance, drinks, optional private sightseeing excursions (outside of the planned group activities) & other items of a personal nature. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

unsurpassed and it is hard to imagine this trip without him! Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Catania. Transfer to Siracusa. Overnight Siracusa Days 2 - 7 : Eastern Sicily including Siracusa, Vendicari wetlands, Murro di Porco, Capo Passero, Mount Etna and the Cava Grande degli Iblei. Six nights Siracusa Day 8 : Penisola Magnisi and Simente River. Fly Catania-London.

What you say: “Everything was superb; we even saw birds we did not expect to see – the Bar-tailed Desert Lark and the Atlas Pied Flycatcher were a real bonus. The island is beautiful at this time of year, the orchids, wild flowers, butterflies and birds all added to a wonderful trip. Please pass our thanks to Brian and Andrea - both excellent guides and such a laugh together. Everyone on the trip was great company.” P. & V. P., Essex

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Mt Etna in winter (Photo: Rene Pop) and, inset, Sardinian Warbler (Photo: Mike Read)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Lapland

 Vardo

 Ivalo

Northern Lights, Astronomy & Wildlife!

HELSINKI 

apland in winter has a bit more to offer than the ‘Father Christmas and his Gnomes’ trips you have seen advertised! The birds at this time include some really sought-after Siberian specialities. We start amidst the conifers of the taiga forest in Finland, which still harbour Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay and Pine Grosbeak, before crossing north into Norway, where the sheltered coastal waters have three species of eider in stunning plumage, and are thronged with seabirds. In March there is plenty of daylight to take advantage of this wildlife, while the nights are still long enough to give us a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights in all their glory. We’ll also do some astronomy here – birding telescopes and even binoculars can be excellent for this. The trip will be led by Barrie Cooper, who, as well as being a wildlife guide is also something of an amateur astronomer.

L

Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London to Helsinki and onwards to Ivalo, where we meet our local guide. From here it is about an hour’s drive north, through the brooding arctic taiga forest and past frozen lakes, to Kaamanen, where we stay overnight. After dinner, if the sky is clear, we’ll get our first chance to go out to check if an aurora is in progress, or, if not, for a bit of winter astronomy. Overnight Kaamanen Day 2 : Despite the bleak wintry appearance of the northern taiga forest in March, it still harbours a range of arctic bird species, some of which are actually easier to see in winter. As at home, the secret of getting good views of the birds is food! We have therefore chosen a lodge with its own bird feeding station. In March this can attract, outstandingly, a dozen or more Pine Grosbeak. Most of the photos you’ll have seen of Pine Grosbeaks in the snow were probably taken here! In addition, the feeders attract Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit, both Mealy and Arctic Redpolls, and ‘northern’ Bullfinches, with a few Greenfinches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers joining the throng. Red Squirrels are another delight to be seen here. The

Sunday 30 March – Saturday 5 April 2014

(7 days)

Our 2013 tour proved highly successful, and with 2014 promising to be another great aurora year, come and join us on this amazing trip!

photographic opportunities are often superb. We’ll spend some time at the feeders before heading off north along the Arctic highway into Norway. It’s about a four-hour drive, through snowy scenery (they are very good at keeping the roads clear here, though!), and we will be keeping a look out for Elk, Reindeer, White-tailed Eagle and Gyrfalcon, while small parties of white Willow Grouse will be well camouflaged against the snow. Once into Norway, the scenery becomes progressively more mountainous before we drop down into the harbourside town of Batsfjord, where we stay for two nights. We’ll be on aurora-alert again, and if lucky, will take a short drive to get away from the town lights. Overnight Batsfjord Day 3 : As well as the chance of seeing auroras – you can’t get much further north in Europe than this! The attraction of Batsfjord at this time of year is its mixed flock of arctic eiders in the sheltered waters of the harbour. King, Steller’s and Common Eiders are all in magnificent breeding plumage at this time, and the light can be wonderful for photography. It is usually possible to see or photograph these birds at close range either from a series of floating pontoons or from the rocky shoreline; the birds here can be very approachable and used to people wandering about on the shore. As well as being in breeding plumage, the males will be displaying it to good effect: courtship display is both visual and vocal, and we’ll hear a mixed chorus of eiders – an unforgettable sound! Vying for attention will be Long-tailed Duck in good numbers, and, predictably in a fishing harbour, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls. Purple Sandpiper, Kittiwake and Black Guillemot complete the picture. After a cold, but hopefully exhilarating day, we’ll once again hope to venture out after dark to look sky-wards. Overnight Batsfjord Day 4 : This morning we drive back over the mountain road, and down to renowned Varangerfjord.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at comfortable hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Barrie Cooper NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 2,795 £ 275 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London-Ivalo, 6 nights' accommodation as outlined above, all meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 7, boat trip as described, minibus transport and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses.

Tucked round the north-east corner of Norway, Varanger is about the only place in northern mainland Europe that does not get warmed by the Gulf Stream. Consequently it has remained as a piece of true Arctic habitat, a little bit of Siberia on the fringe of Europe. Colourful villages and small towns dot the shoreline, which starts off with small birch woods, and then, as you drive progressively eastwards, gets more and more barren. The shelter of the fjord, together with its arctic location, make it a fabulous place for sea-duck. Mixed rafts of Common, King and Steller’s Eiders can be found almost anywhere, while the magnificent White-billed Diver, becomes more likely the further east you go. We are heading for Vardo, at the eastern end of the fjord, where we stay for two nights. Our hotel is situated at the edge of the harbour and we can birdwatch from the dining room. Again, it isn’t far to drive to get away from the town’s lights to look for the Aurora Borealis if the sky is clear. Overnight Vardo

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

FINLAND

Day 5 : Weather permitting we hope to take a boat close to the bird cliffs of Hornoya Island and its seabird colonies. The birds at this time will be gathering offshore, and we hope to get close to Brunnich’s Guillemots as well as innumerable Kittiwakes, Puffins, Razorbills and Common Guillemots. If we haven’t had enough, there should be more Common, King and Steller’s Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks. The island can also be a good place to see Gyrfalcon and White-tailed Eagle. Overnight Vardo Day 6 : After breakfast we drive back into Finland and the taiga forest again. We plan to reach the lodge and its bird feeders in the afternoon to have another chance to see the Siberian specialities. Overnight Kaamanen Day 7 : We drive back to Ivalo for a morning flight to Helsinki connecting with our return flight to London.

The aurora

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Latvia’s Wild Harvest

ESTONIA 

Mushrooms, berries… and other edible wildlife! Monday 15 – Monday 22 September 2014

 Riga

(8 days)

T

Please note : although any fungi offered to sample will be edible, some people may suffer some adverse reactions to some species. We strongly advise caution when tasting fungi, and only eat a very small amount of any species that you are tasting for the first time.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We depart London for Riga in the afternoon, arriving early evening. We drive straight to Nitaure Mill which is a peaceful guesthouse in a converted water mill near an ancient castle mound, a small river and mill pond. Overnight Nitaure Mill Day 2 : The next morning we meet Diana, a Latvian fungus expert who will spend the next two days with

us. We drive to Inciems, a mixed forest which is well known locally for its edible fungi. Later we will visit Krimulda Church at Ragana (within the Gauja National Park), and look for fungi in the surrounding woodland. We stop for a picnic lunch and later take the cable car from Krimulda to Sigulda across the Gauja river valley. From here we can see panoramic views towards Turaida Medieval Castle and Krimulda Castle. In the afternoon we will return to the Mill to look at and identify our fungi. Overnight Nitaure Mill Day 3 : We drive through typical Latvian landscape of rolling farmland with oaks, farmsteads and a mill, to the Araisi Bronze Age settlement built on a lake. Next we visit Ungurmuiža Manor set in a typical park landscape with ancient oak trees. In the park we look for mushrooms growing among ancient oaks. In the afternoon we go mushrooming and berry picking in Lielstraupe forest. Afterwards we cross the river Gauja by a small water-powered ferry to return to the guesthouse. In the evening we drive to Anna’s Hotel, where we will have a mushroom and berry cooking class and enjoy sampling the special dishes made with these foods. Overnight Nitaure Mill

LATVIA

LITHUANIA

LATVIA

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in medium-grade hotels and guest houses with all rooms en suite. WALKING : Walks will be at an easy pace, on level ground, and no more than 2-3 miles in length. The ground may be wet underfoot. Good, waterproof hiking boots are recommended. TRANSPORT will be by minicoach. LEADERS :

Liz Charter and local guide

NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES: Single supps. : Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 165 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and includes scheduled return flights London-Riga, airport taxes, accommodation, all meals in Latvia, incidental tips, transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tips to the local driver & guides, drinks, and other personal expenses.

Day 4 : We drive to the River Amata. Here we can walk through mixed woodland along a riverside trail whose banks are dotted with outcrops of ancient Devonian red sandstone. We continue our tour to the natural coniferous forests at Mežole where we expect to see native mammals in an extensive Wildlife Park. Overnight Nitaure Mill Day 5 : We start the morning with a walk along the Gauja valley which is cut into Devonian sandstone, where we should see a beaver lodge, and various woodland and riverside birds and plants. Later we visit the historic town of Cesis. For the next two nights we stay at Koni mill which is a reconstructed and working flour mill. They bake bread there from grains ground at the mill, as well as spinning wool and making blankets. Overnight Koni Mill guesthouse Day 6 : Our second guide, Andris Klepers, will join us for the next two days. We take a narrow-gauge railway across Seda Bog. This is a good way to see wildlife and the stunning peatland landscape of this extensive nature reserve. Later we visit some Shitake mushroom growers. We can have a look at the forest where they grow these mushrooms on logs, and sample some of the produce. Overnight Koni Mill guesthouse Day 7 : Most of today’s locations are within the North Vidzeme Biosphere reserve.

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 Seda

 Cesis

Join Liz Charter on a fantastic fungus foray to an Eastern European country where wild-gathered food is still a part of the culture – Latvia. Provisional itinerary he Latvians make use of a rich and varied wild harvest from their countryside and September is the very best time to appreciate this. We sample a wide range of local delicacies and seasonal foods, especially fungi and berries, finding them in the wild and learning about their cooking and preparation in the company of local experts. Other sites of interest include a traditional lamprey fishery, an 18th century manor house and a traditional water-powered ferry, as well as forest, lake and peatland habitats. Latvia has extensive natural forests, bogs, wetlands, lakes and coastal habitats, and we aim to visit examples of each. Gauja National Park is one of the largest protected areas in Latvia, and we also visit the North Vidzeme biosphere reserve. We should see migrating birds such as cranes, and find signs of the larger forest animals. We might be lucky enough to see beavers, deer or wild boar. We also expect to see late-flowering plants, some dragonflies, amphibians and reptiles. Liz Charter has been working with local guides, an expert in fungi and a good local ecologist, to plan this new tour. Liz is particularly interested in fungi, peatlands and crafts which use wild plants.

Koni

Gathering Horn of Plenty fungi and, above right, Cesis Castle (Photos: Liz Charter)

We make an early start in order to see more of the wildlife in the Lake Burtnieks area. We should be able to eat lunch near the sea. In our drive along the coast we stop at Ainaži and the coastal Randu Meadows, where we follow the boardwalks through the reeds and go up the birdwatching tower, which offers a fine view of unique shoreline meadows with small lagoons and areas of reeds. Later we visit a Lamprey Weir. We’ll hear about the traditional practices of the fishermen, and then watch lamprey being cooked. We’ll also have a chance to taste them – being careful not to have a surfeit like Henry I! Finally we return to Riga to stay in the modern Island Hotel, close to the airport. Overnight Riga Day 8 : Depending on flight times there will be time to explore Riga, shop and perhaps take a guided tour, before our transfer to the airport.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Slovenia

Julian Alps

G

I Ljubljana

SLOVENIA

Butterflies & Wildlife

Tuesday 15 – Tuesday 22 July 2014 CROATIA

nowy mountain tops or dry grasslands? Both can be found in Slovenia, a nation with wonderful scenery and rich wildlife, and still relatively unknown and undiscovered. Slovenia is extremely rich in forests and other natural landscapes, which host many species that are rarely seen in other countries, especially the mountain ringlets. We start our journey amongst the soaring crags of the Julian Alps, where we explore its lakes, forests and high mountain pastures in search of a large variety of these rarities, with Purple Emperor and Poplar Admiral among the commoner species that inhabit the lower slopes of the mountains, before heading to the Adriatic coast in search of Mediterranean Long-tailed Blue, and Cleopatra. We also visit the beautiful glacial lake of Bohinj in the Triglav National park, the true wilderness of the alpine zone of the Julian Alps. As a special addition to all of this, the last three days will be spent in a very different area on the Slovenian-Hungarian border, where all four Large Blue species co-occur in the Landscape Park of Goričko and the spectacular Őrség National Park of Western Hungary. Our agents Ecotours Wildlife Holidays are committed to support conservation work, and so 5% of the profit will be donated to the Hungarian Natural Heritage Trust, which is working on the protection and sympathetic management of habitats of the Large Blues in the Őrség National Park.

A superb and imaginative brand new itinerary covering one of Europe’s newest nations – Slovenia. We travel from the majestic Julian Alps, through Slovenia’s limestone mountains and alpine meadows, to the Mediterranean coast – surely one of the most varied itineraries possible in Europe!

TRIP DETAILS

S

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take an early scheduled flight from London, arriving in Ljubljana early afternoon. Upon arrival we will visit mid-altitude woodlands, which are home to many forest butterflies, including Camberwell Beauty, Purple Emperor, Silver-washed, High Brown and Dark Green Fritillaries. There is a chance to see Poplar Admiral as well. Overnight Podgorje

Day 2 : We explore sub-mediterranean habitats around Podgorje with dry grasslands, pubescent oak and manna ash woodlands on limestone. Many

Spotted Fritillary and, above, Scarce Large Blue

(8 days)

ACCOMMODATION : We will be based at a cosy riverside hotel in the sleepy village of Mauzac with all rooms en suite. Lunches will be picnics and/or in restaurants to sample the local cuisine or ‘terroir’.

lycaenids are common here, including Adonis Blue and Chalk-hill Blue, but rarer satyrids like False Grayling are also present. In the afternoon we drive to Slavnik, a limestone mountain with stunning views over Koper Bay, where Great Sooty Satyr live on the mountains rocky southern face. The mountain grasslands of Slavnik also host populations of our first Maculinea, the Large Blue. Overnight Podgorje Day 3 : We visit Mount Nanos, a lone standing hill with an extremely rich butterfly fauna including the first Maculinea, the Alcon Blue and the elusive and rare Styrian Ringlet. Niobe Fritillary and Southern Small White are also possible on the southern rocky slopes. In the afternoon we drive down to the Adriatic Sea. The target species are the Mediterranean Longtailed Blue, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue, Cardinal and Cleopatra. Overnight Podgorje Days 4 - 5 : After driving north, we dedicate the rest of the day and the following day to explore subalpine and alpine habitats and their butterflies. 16 species of Ringlet occur in Slovenia`s higher mountains and there is a good chance to see quite a few of them on the alpine meadows and rocky slopes, but their activity depends on the season and weather, and some species are local and elusive. We hope to find Yellow Spotted Ringlet, Mountain Ringlet and some other commoner species, while Sooty Ringlet and the endemic Lorkovic’s Brassy Ringlet are more local, confined to rocky alpine grasslands. Other sub-alpine and alpine species found here are Mountain Green-veined White, Geranium Argus and Alpine Blue. Overnight Mangart area Day 6 : Today we leave the alpine region behind and after a few hours drive we arrive in the Goričko Landscape Park, which together with the Őrség National Park in Western

LEADER :

Martin Strauss

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,495 £ 175 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return flights London Gatwick-Ljubljana, accommodation, meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, the fundraising evening and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (ex Ljubljana) please deduct £ 100 per person from the tour cost.

Hungary is home of the four Large Blues. In the afternoon we will find ourselves in “Maculinea country” with all 4 species possible, but we will start searching for the Scarce Large Blue and Dusky Large Blue first. The Large Blues will be introduced by the renowned butterfly specialist and conservationist Szabolcs Sáfián (aka Safi), who works with the Hungarian Natural Heritage Trust, which protects and manages important Maculinea habitats in Western Hungary. Overnight Morvaske Toplice Day 7 : Full day butterfly hunting in various places in Goricko with high chances for the other Maculineas Large Blue and Alcon Blue. Other interesting species widespread in the area are Purple-edge Copper, Common Glider, Spotted Fritillary and Tuftedmarbled Skipper. In the evening a special fundraising moth trapping session is organized near the hotel for the tour participants to show the extremely rich moth fauna of the Goricko-Őrség area and also to raise financial support for the NGO that is very active in protecting their habitats. Szabolcs Sáfián (Safi) will guide you throughout the night with tasting Hungarian wines, making it an unforgettable event. (Obviously, moth activity highly depends on the weather conditions, but weather is usually nice and warm in July). Overnight Morvaske Toplice

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

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Day 8 : Before heading back to Ljubljana, we might have a chance to see the elusive and sought after Freyer’s Purple Emperor on the Slovenian-Hungarian border in the riparian woodlands of the River Mura, but the chance of sighting depends pretty much on the season. Transfer to the airport late afternoon for our early evening return flight to London where our tour concludes.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Montenegro & Albania The unknown Adriatic in Spring Saturday 12 – Sunday 20 April 2014

MONTENEGRO

 Dubrovnik  Virpazar

(9 days)

ALBANIA

An imaginative itinerary visiting Europe’s newest nation, Montenegro, and spend a day in one of its most mysterious: Albania. We’ll birdwatch amongst the area’s rich wetlands, its conifer-clad mountains, the fjords of the Adriatic coast and islands, and end the tour in the wonderful old walled city of Dubrovnik.

ontenegro is the youngest country in Europe that became independent from Serbia in 2006. Despite its tiny size it contains a wealth of different habitats all within easy reach. The Mediterranean Sea Coast has the most striking scenery in Europe, but besides the beaches it also offers saltpans, sand dunes and the delta of River Bojana, all important migration stopovers. Further inland lies Lake Skadar sandwiched between mountains and fed by scenic Rijeka Crnojevica. The lake is home to thousands of Pygmy Cormorants and is the westernmost nesting place of the endangered Dalmatian Pelican. Durmitor National Park offers unspoilt mountains with huge coniferous forests home to Three-toed Woodpecker, Nutcracker and Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler amongst others. We make a short visit into Albania, still one of the least known countries in Europe. Its potential for birding is huge, but the roads in Albania are still in a bad state (and you’ll think Montenegro roads are bad enough!), so we’ve opted to stay just across the border in Montenegro and travel for a day-trip into Albania. This original and innovative itinerary was developed by our good friends at Ecotours Hungary.

Rock Thrush, Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear, Cirl and Rock Buntings and Golden Eagle are all possible here. We cross Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro and enter the valley of Rijeka Crnojevica that leads towards Skadar Lake. The landscape is once again dramatic as the river meanders between the hills into the lake. We spend four nights in Virpazar, a sleepy town on the lakeside, in a guest-house overlooking the lake where Scops Owls call during the evenings. Overnight Virpazar

Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London to Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia, arriving late afternoon. We’ll have some time in the evening to explore the historic city of Dubrovnik and have dinner in a seaside restaurant. Overnight near Dubrovnik

Day 4 : We visit the Ulcinj saltpans along the coast, where we walk along a dyke to view the pools. This is the best place for waders in Montenegro, especially during migration. Levant Sparrowhawk and Roller also occur in the area. Then we explore Velika Plaza along the River Buna, an area of sand dunes, adjoining grassland, forests and wetlands, that is an important breeding site and migration stopover. Overnight Virpazar

M

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Day 2 : Starting from Dubrovnik we cross the border into Montenegro and soon reach the scenic Bay of Kotor, the southernmost fjord in Europe. Our road follows the lakeside until reaching Kotor, a beautiful town between the lake and dramatic cliffs. From here the road climbs up high into the mountains, where from the top we can enjoy the breathtaking vista of Kotor Bay and the surrounding mountains. We then drive through Lovcen National Park stopping en route for birding. Blue Rock Thrush,

Day 3 : We take a boat ride on Lake Skadar, one of the largest freshwater lakes of Europe, to search for its last surviving Dalmatian Pelicans. Black-necked Grebes, Pygmy Cormorants, Ferruginous Ducks, herons and egrets, Spoonbills, Whiskered Terns and Red-rumped Swallows are numerous and migration might turn up surprises. After the boat ride we drive to the northern part of the lake, where we again look for Dalmatian Pelicans amongst other wetland birds. Overnight Virpazar

Day 5 : We cross into Albania and explore floodplain meadows, lagoons and the coast near the border town of Shkoder. The hilly countryside is home to classic open country birds including Red-rumped Swallow, Woodchat Shrike, Spanish Sparrow and a variety of egrets and waders. On the way back to Virpazar we first drive along the Albanian shore of

MONTENEGRO G ALBANIA

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Hotels and guest houses with all rooms en suite LEADER :

István Bártol

NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,795 £ 175 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and includes return flights London - Dubrovnik, airport taxes, ground transportation, accommodation on a full-board basis, local taxes, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tips to the driver and local guides, drinks, and other personal expenses.

Lake Skadar enjoying the views of the lake and the surrounding mountains with the possibility of seeing Dalmatian Pelicans. On the Montenegro side of the border we stop at a tower overlooking the northern part of the lake where Dalmatian Pelicans are easiest to see. The reedbeds hold grebes, ducks and huge colonies of Pygmy Cormorant. Overnight Virpazar Day 6 : We leave Virpazar and drive further northwest into the mountains. We stop shortly to admire Ostrog Monastery built high upon a steep cliff. Late afternoon we reach Zabljak in Durmitor National Park where we spend two nights in a hotel located on the edge of town, looking onto the surrounding forests and mountains. Overnight Zabljak Day 7 : We spend the day in Durmitor National Park exploring its pristine forests for Nutcracker and Common Crossbill. The higher regions are home to Shore Lark, Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor and Snowfinch, but weather conditions may make access by ski lift difficult. We will also visit Tara Canyon, the deepest gorge in Europe where we have a chance to look for Rock Partridge, Wallcreeper and Rock Thrush. Birds of prey are also represented well in the park and we will keep an eye on the sky for Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle or Peregrine. Redbacked and Lesser Grey Shrikes are common in the region too. Overnight Zabljak Day 8 : We drive back to Dubrovnik, birdwatching on the way and stopping at the Tivat saltpans among other places. In the afternoon we arrive at our accommodation near Dubrovnik. Overnight near Dubrovnik Day 9 : After a final morning birding around our accommodation we drive to Dubrovnik Airport to take our flight back to the UK.

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Kotor Bay on the Adriatic coast (Photo: Attila Steiner) Inset: Black-headed Bunting

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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The deep desert, Atlas and the coast

MOROCCO Agadir 

 Boumalne

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Morocco in Spring

MOROCCO

Marrakech 

15:11

Derkaoua 

Wednesday 26 March – Saturday 5 April 2014

(11 days)

A spring journey to the edge of the Sahara, that will take us from the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains across stony desert plains and rocky wadis to the huge golden dunes of Erg Chebbi, back to the coast and finishing at the superb coastal wetland of Oued Massa. All this, and some of the best spring birdwatching anywhere in our region!

T

Our birding concludes at Agadir, beside Morocco’s blue Atlantic shore. Here the bird-rich estuaries of the rivers Souss and Massa offer a remarkable contrast. Waders, wildfowl and other wetland species are abundant. We have chances of Barbary Partridge, Audouin’s Gull, Red-necked Nightjar, Rufous Scrub Robin and Black-crowned Tchagra, as we go in search one of the world’s rarest and weirdest-looking birds, the critically endangered Bald Ibis. All in all, it should make for a fitting climax to a truly wonderful tour – one that we think will surprise you in the warmth of its people, its richness of landscape and, above all, its birds! Guide Arnoud van den Berg has led the vast majority of Limosa’s tours to Morocco over the past 23 years, as well as making numerous research visits and also guiding many Dutch birding groups there. His knowledge of Morocco’s birds and where to find them is second to none. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Marrakech. Marrakech. Day 2 : High Atlas mountains. Two nights Marrakech Day 3 : Cross the Tizi n’Tichka pass, east to Boumalne du Dades. Day 4 : Tagdilt track and Gorges du Todra. Two nights Boumalne Day 5 : Erfoud. Saharan auberge. Day 6 : Merzouga for Desert Sparrow. Two nights Derkaoua Day 7 : Heading west. Night at Ouarzazate. Overnight Ouarzazate Day 8 : Anti-Atlas and the argana forest. Overnight Taroudannt Days 9 - 10 : Atlantic coast: Cap Rhir, Oued Souss and Oued Massa. Agadir. Two nights Agadir Day 11 : North from Agadir. Fly Marrakech-London Please note: airline schedules to Morocco vary year on year, sometimes necessitating an adjustment to the itinerary on Days 1 and Day 11 as outlined above. We have no control over this of course but any changes should not affect the birds seen or places visited on tour.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Hotels range from a former Sultan’s palace in the walled city of Taroudannt to a splendid French-run auberge in the Sahara desert. Standards do vary across Morocco, but overall surprisingly good. All rooms have private facilities. MEALS : All included in the price. Dinner and breakfast at the hotels. Most lunches (and the odd breakfast) will be picnics. Some lunches may be taken at local restaurants, where the food is good. WALKING : Easy. Short walks (approx 1-3 kms) over easy-moderate terrain. Maximum elevation: 2600-3000 metres, at Oukaimeden (for a few hours on one day only). Walking shoes or lightweight boots with sturdy, corrugated soles recommended for this tour. Be prepared for early starts to beat the desert heat. GROUND TRANSPORT : By coach (minibus with small group), switching to 4WD Landrovers in the desert at Merzouga. Please be aware that Morocco is a big country and this tour does involve a fair amount of travelling - but the everchanging backdrop and frequent stops for birds are a treat not to be missed. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Arnoud van den Berg NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,995 £ 195 £ 400 per person

The price is per person and includes return scheduled flights London-Marrakech, all accommodation, meals and transport, 4WD vehicle desert excursion at Merzouga, tips, airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leader/s. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

The view from Cafe Yasmina (Photo: Ray Nowicki) and, inset, Bald Ibis (Photo: Robin Chittenden)

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

he best birding in North Africa on this classic 11day tour exploring the deserts, mountains and marshes of southern Morocco. Bald Ibis, Creamcoloured Courser, Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Black-crowned Tchagra, Maghreb Magpie, 12 species of lark, Tristram’s, Scrub and African Desert Warblers, nine wheatear species, Moussier’s Redstart and Desert Sparrow... all seen on our 2013 tour! Magnificent at any season, Morocco boasts the richest birdlife in North Africa. Set against an everchanging backcloth, our spring visit finds this beautiful and incredibly varied country at its best. With the northward rush of migration in full flow, this is an excellent time to seek Morocco’s long list of outstanding breeding birds: Bald Ibis, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Plain Martin, Bar-tailed, Thick-billed, Temminck’s and Hoopoe Larks, Red-rumped, Desert and Mourning Wheatears, Moussier’s Redstart, Tristram’s Warbler, Fulvous Babbler... the list of specialities seems endless! Our tour starts in Marrakech, with the prospect of Seebohm’s Wheatear and Crimson-winged Finch as we drive to over 2500m in the snow-capped High Atlas mountains. In forests nearby, we will look for Levaillant’s Woodpecker, the first of several species on this tour that are endemic to Northwest Africa. Descending to the oasis town of Ouarzazate, we head next to Boumalne for our first real taste of desert birding. Larks abound on the stony hamada at Tagdilt and we may find sandgrouse and Creamcoloured Courser, too. Continuing east, we head deeper into the desert for a two-night stay at an isolated auberge on the fringes of the great Sahara. An exciting excursion by 4x4 will carry us out to Merzouga, where the huge red dunes of Erg Chebbi create a spectacular setting to our quest for African Desert Warbler, Brown-necked Raven and the declining Desert Sparrow. And although Egyptian Nightjars are not present every year, our last five tours have all been lucky! Retracing our steps to Ouarzazate, we leave the weathered hills and wadis of the interior behind and drop down towards the Moroccan coast. We’ll watch for Black-winged Kite on our way to the ancient walled city of Taroudannt, where our hotel for the night began life as a sultan’s palace and garden birds include Little Swift, Spotless Starling and African Blue Tit.

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Morocco in Autumn Agadir & Goulimime

Saturday 1 - Sunday 8 November 2014

(8 days)

Dispel those mid-winter blues and join us for an exciting week of birding out of Agadir, on Morocco’s sunny Atlantic shore. Bald Ibis, Barbary Partridge, Plain Martin, Moussier’s Redstart and other North African specialities, plus a pelagic boat trip for seabirds – last year we saw Storm Petrels and Balearic Shearwaters. As in 2013, this year’s tour has an extended two-night stay at Goulimime, where we look for larks, wheatears and other desert birds.

f the cold, dark days of winter are getting you down, then this two-centre tour along the sunny Atlantic coast of southern Morocco offers the perfect panacea. With its warm, Mediterranean-type climate and fine diversity of habitats – from arid scrub coast to dramatic mountains – the Agadir region not only attracts good numbers of wintering European migrants but is also home to a fascinating resident bird population that has a distinctly African flavour. Barbary Partridge, Plain Martin, Moussier’s Redstart, Black-crowned Tchagra and the critically endangered Bald Ibis are among many specialities we should see. The cheery calls of Common Bulbuls enliven the hotel gardens, and Spotless Starlings and House Buntings sing from the rooftops. Two of Morocco’s very best birdwatching spots, the estuaries of the rivers Souss and Massa, lie within an easy drive of town. Shorebirds abound, with herons, waders, gulls and terns being numerous on the Souss, and the likes of Marbled Duck, Blackwinged Kite, Laughing Dove and Maghreb Magpie among more exotic species to look for beside the Massa. Agadir lies far enough south that, even in winter, we might also encounter the first returning trans-Saharan migrants, pausing to refuel before continuing their way north to spend the summer in Europe. As a special feature of our winter tour, we include two exciting excursions. The first is a pelagic boat trip out of Agadir in search of shearwaters, petrels and other seabirds wintering off the littleknown Moroccan coast. The second – a trip that we’ve made many times over the years – will carry us south for an extended two-night stay at Goulimime, where the creeping fringes of the Sahara Desert provide a true flavour of this ancient kingdom. Famed for its camel market and as a meeting

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

I

place of the Sahara’s nomadic ‘blue men’ (or Tuareg), the arid Goulimime region is home to a splendid range of desert birds rarely found near Agadir. ‘Atlas’ Long-legged Buzzard, Lanner, Creamcoloured Courser, Bar-tailed Desert and Hoopoe Larks, Scrub Warbler, Red-rumped and Whitecrowned Black Wheatears, Fulvous Babbler and Trumpeter Finch are all possible. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : The tour begins with a flight from London to Agadir, where (flight schedules permitting) we should arrive in time to settle in and enjoy some initial birding this afternoon. Overnight Agadir Days 2 - 3 : Cap Rhir, Bald Ibis and Agadir pelagic boat trip. Two nights Agadir Days 4 - 5 : Setting off early from Agadir on the morning of day four, we travel south to the desert, for a two-night stay at our lovely hotel (with great food!) in the desert town of Goulimime, ‘gateway to the Sahara’. We’ll break our journey with a first visit to the bird-rich estuary of the Oued Massa, which lies about an hour’s drive south of Agadir. Two nights Goulimime Day 6 : After a last look at the desert habitats around Goulimime (morning of day 6), we head back north towards Agadir. It’s a fascinating journey across a range of semi-desert habitats where we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more dry country birds beside the road. We will again plan to break our journey with a visit to the superb Oued Massa complex, exploring a different part of the river this

Moulay Bousselham  Rabat 

 Asilah

 Marrakech

MOROCCO

Agadir 

MOROCCO

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Five nights at the Hotel Golden Tulip Oasis, a good, comfortable and modern 4-star tourist hotel in Agadir, plus two nights at the Hotel Adir Moussafir in Goulimime, a good comfortable hotel. All rooms have private facilities. MEALS : All included in the price. Food is good, with dinner and breakfast at the hotels. Most lunches (and the occasional breakfast on this trip) will be picnics; some meals may occasionally be taken at convenient restaurants along the way. WALKING : Easy, but to make the best of the birding on this tour and to beat the heat of the day, please be prepared for some early starts. Short walks over mostly flat terrain. Comfy walking shoes or lightweight boots recommended to protect against sharp stones in the desert areas and mountains. Walking beside the Souss can sometimes be wet and muddy in places - take a pair of old trainers (or welly boots) that you don’t mind messing up. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Arnoud van den Berg NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 145 £ 300 per person

The prices are per person and include return scheduled flights London-Agadir, all accommodation, meals, coach/minibus transport, pelagic boat trip off Agadir, transport, all entry fees, tips and gratuities, airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leader/s. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. Both trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

afternoon – but with the same exciting prospects for birding! Overnight Agadir Day 7 : We will enjoy a scenic drive inland, climbing high into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains at Imouzzer. Over a refreshing beer or glass of mint tea in the lush terraced water gardens, we can scan for passing Golden Eagle and other raptors, and watch for African Blue Tit as well as the distinctive North African race of Chaffinch with its moss-green back. Overnight Agadir Day 8 : If flight schedules allow, we will make a return visit to the Souss this morning. There is a considerable turnover of birds at this season and one never quite knows what might turn up next; we could find anything from a wintering Green Sandpiper through Desert Grey Shrike to the endemic Moroccan White Wagtail. Return to Agadir airport for our flight home to London, where our tour concludes.

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The High Atlas – the view from Oukaimeden

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Southern Portugal

PORTUGAL

The Alentejo & Algarve in Spring

Saturday 5 – Saturday 12 April 2014



SPAIN

FARO

or this tour we will be based in a truly peaceful hotel in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The rolling plains, dotted with cork oaks, are home to Great and Little Bustards, larks, buntings, raptors including Montagu’s Harrier, breeding White Storks, European Bee-eaters and Hoopoes. Further south, the Algarve has a good variety of coastal habitats, from the rugged cliffs of Cape St Vincent on the Atlantic coast to the easily accessed Pera Marsh and Ria Formosa wetlands. In spring this south-facing coast attracts countless migrant waders and other birds that pass through on their way to their breeding grounds. It is not just the passing migrant birds, though, that give this area such good birdwatching possibilities. There is also an impressive array of resident and breeding birds, including Azure-winged Magpie in the Stone Pines and Purple Gallinule in the freshwater marshes. In addition, the flowers in spring, whether on the plains of the Alentejo or on the coastal heathlands, sand dunes or the limestone cliffs, can be spectacular and varied.

F

Itinerary Days 1 - 7 : We fly from London – Faro with the possibility of doing some coastal birding before heading inland to our spectacularly-situated and peaceful hotel where we stay for the full seven nights. We plan to make two days of excursions around Castro Verde to search for the special birds found on the steppe-like plains here. Both Great and Little Bustards should be displaying at this time of year and we should find Stone Curlew, Black-shouldered and Red Kites, Montagu’s Harrier and Calandra Lark and, if we are lucky, Great Spotted Cuckoo. In this area we even have a chance of seeing a wandering Black Vulture. On one of these ‘plains days’ we will visit the delightful town of Mertola where Lesser Kestrels and White Storks breed.

With its great diversity of habitat providing first landfall for thousands of spring migrants and a fine range of resident birds on the coast and inland, Portugal’s Algarve and Alentejo regions have some of Europe’s finest spring birdwatching, and an outstanding flora. Add to this a range of varied and beautiful landscapes, a rich history, friendly people and some fine food and wine, and you have the makings of a great week! All along the coast, but especially at the Rio Formosa area near Quinta do Lago can be found lakes, salt and fresh-water marshes and estuaries. Reed-lined lakes may have both Purple Gallinule, and the elusive Little Bittern, along with the introduced Common Waxbill. Caspian Tern may be seen along the coast here, and wildfowl and waders, including the elegant Black-winged Stilt, are numerous. Wildfowl may include Red-crested Pochard or even Marbled Duck. The area also has a number of golf courses, whose well-watered greens often prove attractive to Hoopoe, while pine woodland plays host to flocks of delightful Azurewinged Magpies and colourful Bee-eaters. One day we will visit Foia, the Algarve’s highest peak. (Don’t worry; the vehicles will take us right up to the car park at the top!) Here we should get to see Dartford Warbler, Woodlark and Rock Bunting, while the skies here can be crisscrossed by Red-rumped Swallows. These hills inland are home to a good variety of raptors including Booted, Bonelli’s and Short-toed Eagles, with the possibility of migrant Ring Ouzel around the rocky summits, and Iberian Chiffchaff and Hawfinch, together with Short-toed Treecreeper, Woodchat Shrike and Crested Tit in the woods below. Depending on how much time we spend on Foia, we may find time to venture to the most southwesterly point of the European mainland, Cape St Vincent. This spectacular part of the coast boasts flower-covered heathlands and rugged limestone cliffs. Spring flowers include Honeywort and the delightful Hoop Petticoat Daffodil together with a host of Lusitanian endemics such as the remarkably sticky Cistus palhinae. Here can be found both Pallid and Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Chough and Peregrine, while seawatching can produce Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters, and both Great and Arctic Skuas. On the short vegetation a little inland we look for Tawny Pipit, Short-toed and

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a family-run, simple (slightly rustic!) hotel (all rooms en suite) overlooking an attractive lake. The location is excellent for a birdwatching tour. Birdwatching is good around the hotel with Nightingale and Sardinian Warbler found in the picturesque gardens. LEADERS : Mike Read & Frank McLintock NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,645 £ 165 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of accommodation as detailed above, all meals, return flight London – Faro*, airport taxes, minibus transport, admissions, incidental tips and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and personal expenses. *We may be able to arrange flights to Faro from UK regional airports. Please enquire for details. For an ex-flight cost (Faro-Faro), please deduct £ 130 from the tour cost. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA.

Thekla Larks and Spectacled Warbler. Like so many coastal headlands, Cape St Vincent can also attract large numbers of migrants. If we are lucky we may encounter a ‘fall’ of passerines or an unexpected passage of raptors. Seven nights Quinta do Barranca de Estrada Day 8 : We may have some time for a little birdwatching locally before catching our return flight to London.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Barranco de Estrada 

(8 days)

What you say: “After the winter we’ve had, Spring in Portugal was glorious. The wild flower meadows, sun, increasing warmth, good light for seeing the birds, good company, knowledgeable and friendly leaders, stunning setting of the hotel, excellent food eaten in the company of Frank, Daniella & their family, comfortable transport in the 7 seater vehicles, and not forgetting the wide variety of birds made this a really memorable holiday. Would recommend it highly!” P.T. Lincs “A first class trip in every way and thoroughly enjoyable.” J.C., Northants. “….excellent leaders, and we had a lot of laughs. They always ensured everyone saw the bird…” C.W., Hants “Good balance of visits - different distance and venue each day. A very good holiday.” B. & S.G., Devon Great Bustard (Photo: Mike Read)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Romania

ROMANIA ROMANIA

Danube Delta and Black Sea Coast Friday 9 - Saturday 17 May 2014 Saturday 6 - Sunday 14 September 2014

(9 days) (9 days)

 Bucharest

Danube Delta Tulcea 

 Mamaia Black Sea

Our 9-day spring and autumn birdwatching tours to Romania feature three nights aboard a superior hotel-boat exploring the Danube Delta - and a choice of two exciting and differing itineraries within Europe’s greatest wetland wilderness! Plus the Black Sea coast and Macin Mountains National Park. or its serene beauty and richness of birds, the immense Danube Delta is perhaps Europe’s greatest natural treasure. The largest reedbeds in the world are here and, from May through September, the Delta provides one of the continent’s major bird spectacles. It is worth coming to see the pelicans alone, as they plane across the skies like undulating ribbons of smoke. Even today, this whole region remains difficult of access, for few roads threaten this peaceful haven. Indeed, much of our birding is possible only by water and the centrepiece of this wonderful holiday will be an exploration of the vast swamps aboard one of the Danube’s unique ‘hotel-boats’. We spend three nights afloat, using a superior vessel with all cabins en suite and a flat upper deck that affords unrivalled views of the Delta and its magnificent birdlife. Whether your preference is to travel in May or September, both are excellent months to visit Romania. The sheer number and variety of birds present then is impressive: colourful Rollers and Bee-eaters are frequent beside the roads, and the flights of White Pelicans in choreographed flocks above the Delta are a sight not to be missed. Our tour begins with three nights on the birdrich Black Sea coast, where Dobrogea is a region of forested valleys hidden below a plateau of rolling arable land. Birds of prey to watch for include Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk and Red-footed Falcon. There are some excellent wetlands too, thronged by waders, waterfowl, herons and marsh terns. In May, the breeding season will be in full swing. Waves of Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills and Pygmy Cormorants pass across the Delta’s skies and specialities to be found include Dalmatian Pelican, Great Black-headed Gull, Paddyfield Warbler, and Pied and Isabelline Wheatears. Birds can be even more numerous in September, when young families are about. Hobbies hawk for dragonflies, and both months can be outstanding for migrants with a host of raptors, waders, storks and passerines on the move. Our spring visit focuses on the sheltered lakes of the northern delta where most of the breeding takes place, while in autumn we head south to Sacaline, a sandy peninsula on the Black Sea coast and a superb place for migrants! We finish our tour with two nights based at a

TRIP DETAILS

F

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST



ACCOMMODATION : We spend our first night at a 5-star hotel beside the Danube in Silistra (which lies just across the border into Bulgaria); this breaks the long drive to the coast and offers some great birding nearby, making it an ideal stopover. At the coast, we use a good quality medium-grade tourist hotel, with all rooms en suite. In the Delta, we use a superior quality hotel boat (known locally as a ‘ponton’), with all cabins en suite (see below). MEALS : All included in the price. Food is good. WALKING : Easy. Short walks at the coast. Most birding in the Delta must be done by boat, with only limited opportunity for occasional short walks where/when landing on terra firma is possible.

hotel in Tulcea, exploring the region’s saline lakes and the scenic Macin Mountains National Park. Birds of prey, wheatears and Sombre Tit are among a wealth of species to look for. With our experienced local guide Zoli Baczó, and the benefit of more than twenty previous tours to Romania behind us, why not join us for some of the best birding Europe has to offer! Outline Itineraries Please note: The itineraries for our spring and autumn cruises in the Danube delta are different. On our May tour, we start our cruise at the Danube port of Tulcea and travel along the Sulina Channel to access the sheltered bays and lakes of the northern part of delta, where most of the breeding takes place. In September, we embark at Murighiol and travel the St Gheorge Channel, in the southern part of the delta, out to the Sacaline peninsula, a 20km sand bar jutting into the Black Sea. This area is generally better for wetland birds in autumn - and is a hot spot for migrants! Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Fly London-Bucharest. Days 2 - 3 : Black Sea coastal wetlands, woodlands and steppe. Three nights Mamaia

‘HOTEL BOAT’ : In the Delta, we spend four nights sleeping on board a three-storey ‘hotel boat’. Known locally as a “ponton”, a typical boat is equipped with small, twin bedded or double guest rooms (situated on the lower deck of the ponton), each with private facilities. A limited number of single occupancy rooms is usually available on board so please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to be assigned a single. Although not spacious or luxurious, the ponton we use offers clean and comfortable accommodation. Pontons do not have their own engine and so are towed behind a smaller launch. We will endeavour to explore a wide variety of habitats, using a combination of the ponton, small motor boat and occasionally (particularly if water levels are very low) rowing boats manned by the crew. LEADERS : May – Stephen Daly & Zoli Baczó September – Robin Chittenden & Zoli Baczó NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp.* : Deposit :

£ 1,945 £ 190 £ 300 per person

The price per person includes return scheduled flights London-Bucharest, all meals and accommodation including four nights aboard ‘hotel boat’ within the Danube Delta, midi-coach or minibus transport, permit fees, admissions, tips, airport taxes, map, bird checklist & services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. *A limited number of single rooms is available onboard the ponton (‘hotel-boat’). Please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to be assigned a single room. Both trips will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Days 4 - 6 : Babadag Forest and Danube Delta. Three nights on board floating ‘hotel-boat’ Days 7 - 8 : Murighiol lakes and Macin Mountains National Park. Two nights Tulcea Day 9 : Return to Bucharest, fly London.

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Huge reedbeds in the Danube Delta are cut for thatching – perhaps for an English cottage! Top: Red-footed Falcon (Photo: Mike Read)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Northern Spain

FRANCE SPAIN



Wallcreepers and Cranes in Aragón

Huesca 

Daroca



Barcelona

Sunday 17 - Saturday 23 November 2013 Sunday 16 - Saturday 22 November 2014

(7 days) (7 days)

Join us for a late autumn or early spring break to the mountains, steppes and wetlands of Northern Spain, with wintering raptors and mountain birds in the Pyrenean foothills, Dupont's Lark and sandgrouse on the steppes, and thousands of Cranes going to roost at the Laguna de Gallocanta…and an excellent chance of getting close to that stunning mountain sprite, Wallcreeper!

S

Itinerary Days 1 - 3 : We take a scheduled flight from London Barcelona and transfer to our hotel near Huesca. A little to the north of Huesca stand the dramatic sandstone pinnacles of Riglos. The skies here are always full of raptors in fine weather, and we may expect several wintering species. These can include Lammergeier and Griffon Vulture, with a chance of Golden Eagle. Alpine Accentor can be found around the village at this time, together with the resident Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush. Either here, or at the spectacular Castillo de Loarre, just near our superbly-situated hotel, we look for wintering Wallcreeper on the rock faces. This must be one of the best places we know to catch up with this

spectacular, but often elusive species – and we’ve had wonderful close views here in the past. If conditions allow, we also head up into the pretty pine forests of St Juan de la Peña, where Crested Tit, Black Woodpecker and Crossbill may be found. Three nights near Huesca Days 4 - 6 : We travel south of Zaragoza, first visiting the rolling steppe country, where both Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse can be found in small numbers. Calandra and Lesser Short-toed Larks are resident, as well as one of the most difficult lark species to get to grips with, the secretive Dupont’s Lark, which we’ve seen on several past trips. Raptors can include Peregrine, Merlin and Golden Eagle. After this we visit the Laguna de Gallocanta. Even without the spectacle of the Cranes, the laguna would be an excellent wetland, with its wintering wildfowl and raptors. Hen and Marsh Harriers drift over the reedbeds, and ducks, geese, and a few waders are scattered around its shallow margins. But of all these attractions, it is the sight and sound of thousands of Cranes coming in to roost that stands out, and, depending on conditions, we shall be returning more than once to see them. We’ll be based in the highly attractive mediaeval town of Daroca for our stay in this area, within easy reach of both good steppe country, and Gallocanta. Our very friendly and welcoming hotel is one of the nicest we’ve found in Spain, in a beautifully restored building. Three nights Daroca

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay for three nights in the superb setting of Loarre – our hotel is a 'palacete' originally built in the 16th Century, and displays a wonderful mix of renaissance and baroque architecture, followed by three nights in a lovely country hotel in the highly attractive mediaeval town of Daroca. All rooms are en suite. PRINCIPAL LEADER : John Muddeman NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICES :

2013: £ 1,495 2014: £ 1,545 £ 160 £ 300 per person

Single supp. : Deposit :

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of accommodation as detailed above, all meals, scheduled return flights London – Barcelona*, airport taxes, minibus transport, tips, admissions and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost (starting and finishing the tour in Barcelona) please deduct £ 135 from the tour cost.

Day 7 : We return to Barcelona to catch a return afternoon flight to London.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

tarting in the High Pyrenees, and reaching down nearly as far as Valencia, the vast Spanish region of Aragón contains almost all the types of inland wildlife habitat to be found in Spain. Here there are wetlands packed with birds, especially in winter, rolling dry grassland and farmland – the ‘Spanish Steppe’ – rugged forested hills and canyons, and the snowcapped mountains of the Pyrenees themselves. We travel to this area in both late autumn and early spring, when thousands of Cranes are present on one of the lakes, when sandgrouse form flocks on the steppe country, and when high mountain birds, such as Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper have moved to more accessible lower altitudes. Our two-centre tour to this area aims to give us plenty of time in all the main habitats, together with the option of several evenings watching the superb spectacle of the Cranes coming into roost.

What you say: “A lovely break… hotel a real ‘find’, charming service, good food…” J.D., London “Excellent holiday, superb birding, good company, and many thanks for the kind consideration shown by the leaders.” B.B., Cumbria “I enjoyed all the places we visited…memories of Belchite and Gallocanta will remain for a long time. We saw a good selection of birds, with many new ones for me. Many thanks for another great trip.” A.H. Somerset “…the most amazing experience…nothing prepared me for the fantastic birds and awesome scenery.” M.R.,Surrey “The highlight of the trip had to be seeing the Wallcreeper for so long at Riglos and the Lammergeier seen at sunset.” P.H., France The sandstone pinnacles of Riglos, home to Wallcreeper in winter (Photos: John Muddeman)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Extremadura

 MADRID  Trujillo

Spring and autumn weeks in Spain’s secret wilderness Saturday 29 March – Saturday 5 April 2014 Saturday 27 September – Saturday 4 October 2014

(8 days) (8 days)

SPAIN

For more than a decade we’ve been running tours to the heart of one of our favourite areas in Europe, Spain’s secret wilderness of Extremadura, for spring and autumn breaks. Join us for a full week in this Spanish heaven!

he wild and beautiful country of Extremadura holds some of Europe’s most endangered bird species in their last strongholds. The rolling plains of the “Spanish Steppes”, well-represented here, are home to Europe’s strongest remaining population of its largest bird, Great Bustard, together with good numbers of Little Bustard, and both Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. A spectacular assemblage of raptors includes Black Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle and Black-shouldered Kite. High on the list is a visit to Monfragüe National Park, possibly the best year-round raptor-watching site in Europe. Situated to the north of Trujillo, the park is the Spanish stronghold for Black Vulture, which breed here together with both Griffon and summering Egyptian Vultures. Eagles are also well represented, with the star birds being around ten pairs of Spanish Imperial Eagle, which is considered by many to be one of the world’s most endangered raptors. Golden and Bonelli’s Eagles are also resident and are joined in spring by Booted and Short-toed Eagles. Several of these species breed on and around the dramatic pinnacle of Peñafalcón, which also holds Chough, Crag Martin and Alpine Swift, the occasional Black Wheatear, and breeding Eagle Owls nearby. In spring, it is also one of the easiest places in Europe to watch shy Black Storks at a breeding site. Our autumn trip should give us plenty of raptors to watch and we also hope for one of Europe’s rarest birds, the late-nesting Whiterumped Swift. The nearby rolling countryside holds good stands of the open oak woodland, or “dehesa”, which is such a distinctive feature of Extremadura. Here we can find good numbers of Iberian Azurewinged Magpie in its stronghold and keep our eyes open for the very scarce Black-shouldered Kite. In spring, incoming migrants include Bee-eater, Black-

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

T

eared Wheatear, Great Spotted Cuckoo and often Roller. The plains of the area form part of the “Spanish Steppes” with a fascinating assemblage of birds. It is here that we hope to see Great Bustard performing its incredible breeding display, in which the male turns itself into a huge white pom-pom of feathers. We have watched these normally shy males display as close as two hundred yards away from us on spring visits in the past - a breathtaking sight! Little Bustard are usually abundant, and we also hope to see both Pin-tailed and the commoner Black-bellied Sandgrouse, together with local resident passerines including abundant Calandra Lark. Spanish Sparrows are rather scarce in Spain but are common here with flocks of several hundred often seen. Small wetland sites in the area hold Purple Heron, Little Bittern and other waterbirds, including Purple Gallinule, which can be surprisingly easy to see, while the bulrushes and reedbeds hold breeding Savi’s Warbler, Red Avadavat and Common Waxbill, the latter two intriguing introductions to Iberia that are slowly spreading. Trujillo, well-known for its beautiful town square with breeding Pallid Swifts, and White Storks, also has one of the highest concentrations of Lesser Kestrels in Europe during spring and summer – we have counted over a hundred in the air together in the past. Throughout the area, with its picturesque villages and huge savannah-like landscape, White Stork nests can be found almost everywhere you look. This is a unique, and incredibly distinctive part of Europe, with lovely scenery, small empty lanes, and absolutely brimming with birds: don’t just take our word for it – join us here! Our base, a charming guest house or ‘Casa

Rural’ in the steppe countryside just north of Trujillo, couldn’t be better placed to make the most of the area. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London to Madrid. From here it is about a three hour drive to our hotel. We’ll stop on the way for a short break. Overnight near Trujillo Days 2 - 7 : Six nights near Trujillo Day 8 : We leave after breakfast and drive back to Madrid for our flight home in the late afternoon or evening.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay at a Casa Rural, a small country guest house in the Extremadura countryside. All rooms are en suite. Please note that the number of single rooms available is very limited – if you require a single room, you are advised to book as early as possible. Lunches will be mostly picnics. TRANSPORT is by minibus. WALKING : Short walks of up to 1 - 2 miles on easy trails and footpaths. There is an optional climb up steps to the viewpoint in Monfragüe. PRINCIPAL LEADERS : Spring 2014: John Muddeman Autumn 2014: Tim Earl NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,695 £ 185 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of accommodation as detailed above, all meals, return flight London - Madrid*, airport taxes, minibus transport, admissions and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (Madrid/Madrid) please deduct £ 125 per person from the tour cost.

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Birdwatching in the dehesa, inset: Spanish Festoon (Photo: Ray Nowicki), and top: Azure-winged Magpie (Photo: Margaret Welby)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Andalucía

SPAIN

El Rocío  

Seville

 Tarifa

he southbound migration of birds of prey and storks across the Strait of Gibraltar each autumn has long been recognised as one of Europe’s greatest avian spectacles. The narrow stretch of water between the sierras of southernmost Andalucia and the coast of North Africa provides the shortest crossing over the Mediterranean, with the result that huge numbers of migratory soaring birds flock here every September. Our tour will focus on the best raptor watchpoints around Tarifa, with spectacular views across the Strait to the mountains of Morocco. When conditions are right, parties of Black Kites and Honey Buzzards assemble in search of the morning’s first thermals, rising up over the wooded slopes of the coastal sierras. Anticipation grows as the first dots appear in the distance, gradually metamorphosing into an assortment of different shapes and sizes, now discernible as birds of prey. Soon they are with us! At times, some are so close we can see the ‘expression’ on their faces: Eurasian Griffons, Egyptian Vultures, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers... all gathering together in readiness for the crossing to Morocco. With them come clouds of White Storks and often a sprinkling of scarcer Black Storks, seeking to gain height before streaming out across the Strait. Each day will of course be different as the presence of raptors depends very much on the prevailing winds. On days when the winds are not right however, there is much to see elsewhere in this lovely corner of Spain. Black-winged Stilt, Hoopoe and Sardinian Warbler are among a host of classic ‘Mediterranean’ birds to try for and we might also be lucky to find some of the region’s more localised inhabitants, such as Black-winged Kite, Audouin’s Gull, White-rumped and Little Swifts - and perhaps even Rüppell’s Vulture. But all this is to come, for our tour begins to the north of Cadiz with a three-night stay beside Spain’s most illustrious national park, the Coto Doñana. Purple Swamphens clamber about the reeds and troops of exotic Azure-winged Magpies roam the pines, whilst the wetlands at nearby Huelva host migrant waders and terns as well as resident specialities such as Greater Flamingo and Whiteheaded Duck. In September, large numbers of passerine migrants pass through this area too,

Southern Spain in Autumn Tuesday 9 - Tuesday 16 September 2014

(8 days)

Join us for the autumn migration in two of Europe’s best birdwatching areas, for migrant and resident specialities in the Coto de Doñana, and when raptors and other birds are streaming across the Strait of Gibraltar!

TRIP DETAILS

T

FLIGHTS : We use the scheduled services of British Airways or similar, direct from LondonGibraltar. Just occasionally, we may switch routes to fly Seville or Jerez instead, according to airline schedules and timings available at the time. If you are planning to join this tour on a ‘land only’ basis please contact our office before booking your travel plans to check routing and where to meet the group. ACCOMMODATION : We begin with three nights at the charming and comfortable 3-star Hotel Turuño in El Rocio village, with views overlooking the Coto. Its 16 guest rooms feature handmade furniture, antique tiles and private bathroom with shower as well as air conditioning, digital TV and telephone. Followed by four nights at La Codorniz (‘the Quail’), a comfortable 3-star hotel near Tarifa, well-known for its Andalusian-style restaurant and excellent swimming pool - and right on the spot for the passage of birds of prey and storks. Our groups have been using both hotels for a number of years now and their locations are just perfect for our tour. All rooms en suite. Roller (Photo: Stephen Daly/AndalucianGuides.com)

including virtually all the Pied Flycatchers in Europe! We may see Bluethroat and Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron and Slender-billed Gull. ‘Man on the spot’, Stephen Daly, lives at Barbate, just along the coast from Tarifa, and leads many of our Spanish tours. His intimate local knowledge of the fickle winds and weather patterns around The Strait of Gibraltar during the peak season for migration will prove invaluable on this exciting autumn tour. Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 3 : We take a direct flight from London to Gibraltar, where Stephen will be waiting to welcome us. From here we drive directly to El Rocío, a small village right beside the Coto Doñana National Park, which will be our base for a three-night stay. Three nights El Rocío Days 4 - 7 : After three nights at Doñana, we move south into the drier and more mountainous coastal area around Tarifa. Forming one of the great migration channels of Europe, huge numbers of

MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfast and dinner at the hotels. Lunches may be taken at a local venta or as picnics in the field. WALKING : Easy. Short walks, interspersed with periods sitting watching and waiting for migrating birds of prey and storks at the Strait. Comfy walking shoes recommended (if dry, trainers will often suffice). PRINCIPAL LEADER : Stephen Daly NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supps. : Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 165 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and is fully inclusive of return flights London-Gibraltar, all accommodation, meals, surface transport, incidental tips, airport taxes, map, bird checklist and services of the leaders.

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The price excludes insurance, drinks & other items of a personal nature. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

birds – especially raptors and storks – gather here to take advantage of the narrowest crossing over the Strait of Gibraltar into Africa. Our itinerary in this delightful and varied corner of Andalucia will remain flexible throughout so we can make optimal use of the prevailing weather. If conditions are right, we’ll make raptor-watching a priority, ensuring we are in position to witness peak passage of the day’s crop of southbound migrants. Four nights Tarifa Day 8 : After breakfast, we bid a reluctant farewell to Stephen’s enviable ‘home patch’ and drive the short distance back to Gibraltar for our flight back to London. Birding at the Strait of Gilbraltar

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Spanish Lynx Quest

SPAIN

Andujar and Coto Doñana Saturday 1 – Friday 7 March 2014 Saturday 25 – Friday 31 October 2014

(7 days) (7 days)

El Rocío  



Andujar

Seville

Join us to explore some of the most wonderful and wild corners of Andalucia: the vast Doñana National Park and the rugged Andujar Natural Park: the last refuges of the rarest cat in the world, the critically endangered Iberian Lynx, as well as being home to a wealth of other mammals and birds. pain’s very name is derived from ‘Ispania’, which means ‘Land of rabbits’. For it was here, in the unique Mediterranean landscape of cork oak woods and sweet-scented scrub, that this famously fast-breeding vegetarian species originated. And, in parallel, the Iberian Lynx evolved, the latter becoming a specialist predator adapted to a diet almost exclusively of rabbit. So it is no surprise that the cat came to be seen as a competitor by people who enjoyed hunting rabbits. As a result, it was poisoned, trapped and shot, to near-extinction. Just a century ago, the Iberian Lynx ranged throughout over half of the Iberian Peninsula; in March 2001 the Lynx population hit an all-time low of around a hundred individuals. In addition, its range shrunk dramatically to just two viable (but isolated) populations within Andalucia. Still incredibly rare, its population has now recovered a little to around 265 adult individuals, thanks to the efforts made by many organizations who have worked – and are still working – tirelessly to keep increasing and enhancing the Iberian Lynx habitat as much as possible. An expert at slipping through its scrubby habitat unseen, the Iberian Lynx is the smallest of the world’s three lynx species; it has a liberally spotted tawny coat which varies and differs between each individual of the species. Although it is one of the hardest European wild cats to see, we have designed a trip to maximise our chances as well as enabling us to learn about its ecology and conservation. It must be emphasised that although we are looking for these marvellous mammals, our quest will not disturb them in any way. So although we have a realistic chance of seeing this rare animal on this holiday, we must look upon a sighting as a bonus to our enjoyment of the birds and other wildlife of these areas, rather than a sole aim in itself. We will, as usual, also be looking at the other wildlife of these superb semi-wilderness areas. The trip is led by Byron Palacios, who, as well as being very keen on watching Spanish Lynx, is an excellent all-round naturalist.

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

S

Itinerary Day 1 : We take a flight from London – Seville and drive to the rugged, dry and rocky hills and mountains of the Andujar Natural Park, where we stay in forest ‘cabins’ (see below for details). Overnight Andujar Days 2 - 3 : The park has some of the best preserved Mediterranean forest in the Iberian Peninsula. Primarily this is open and spacious oak forest, comprised of Holm, Gall and Cork Oak, though alder, ash and poplars are to be found at the margins of rivers, glades and meadows. Amongst the oak forest that clads these hills are grassy glades and secluded valleys where the Lynx hunt rabbits, rest amongst the rocks, and raise their young in ancient, hollowed oaks. Here live the majority (perhaps 70% or more) of the world’s remaining Iberian Lynx. Perhaps here, in a refuge from the modern world, the Iberian Lynx has a chance of survival. As well as Iberian Lynx, there are Wolves, Otters, Wild Boar, Mouflon and Red Deer to be found. These mountains also hold a large population of Griffon Vultures, as well as good numbers of the rare Black Vulture and Spanish Imperial Eagle. We’ll explore these habitats slowly, watching for tracks and signs of Lynx, and hoping for a sighting. But even if we are not lucky with Lynx, there is plenty of Spanish wildlife to see in this wonderful habitat. Two nights Andujar Day 4 : We drive west to El Rocio, on the edge of the renowned Coto Doñana. The extraordinary village of El Rocío fiercely preserves its own totally distinctive appearance and character. Often described as looking like a ‘Wild West’ town, El Rocio seems more reminiscent of old Mexico: the main form of transport is still horseback. In the evenings riders pause outside the bars to sip sherry and chat on horseback, while Pallid Swifts and Red-rumped Swallows wheel about overhead. Just beside our hotel lies one of the Coto’s fabulous marshes, which, even when dry, attracts birds. In the autumn, Red Deer stags can be heard roaring from the marshes in the early mornings. Overnight El Rocio

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a 3-star hotel in El Rocío and forest cabins in Andujar. All rooms are en suite, except for the singles at Andujar, two of which share a bathroom on the top floor of a cabin (the twins are on the ground floor). We can let clients who wish to have the entire top floor, and thus their own private facilities, at extra cost (see below). MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfast and dinner at hotel. Lunches will be picnics at some wonderfully scenic spots. WALKING : Easy. Up to 3 miles in any one day over mainly easy terrain, but may include occasional shorter walks on steeper slopes. Walking boots advised. GROUND TRANSPORT : By minibus. WEATHER : Typically warm and sunny (temperatures in the range 12-26°C), but can be chilly early mornings and evenings, especially in March. March is often showery, while October is usually dry. PRINCIPAL LEADER :

John Muddeman

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp.** : SS en suite Andujar** Deposit :

£ 1,595 £ 125 £ 260 £ 300 per person

The price per person includes return flight from London – Seville, airport taxes, 6 nights’ accommodation, meals, incidental tips, minibus transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour (Seville/Seville)please deduct £ 125 per person from the tour cost. Please check with us about timings before arranging your own travel. **The single rooms at Andujar, share a bathroom between two on the top floor of a cabin (the twins are on the ground floor). The lower single supp. Is for one of these. The higher single supp is for clients who wish to have the entire top floor, and thus their own private facilities.

Days 5 - 6 : The remainder of the Iberian Lynx population lives in and around the Doñana National Park, a quite different environment of flat grasslands and pine forests where just a few individual oak trees or remnant patches of Mediterranean oak forest are to be found. The chance of seeing an Iberian Lynx by chance here is very small, so we’ll enlist the help of local guides, who will take us for excursions into the National Park where they know the best places to find tracks and signs of Lynx. Two nights El Rocio Day 7 : We return to Seville and catch a return flight to London.

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Iberian Lynx

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Spanish Pyrenees

FRANCE

 Jaca

SPAIN

The High Aragón

Barcelona 

Saturday 24 May - Saturday 31 May 2014

(8 days)

With snowcapped mountains to the north and pine-clad rocky hills rising dramatically from the Aragón Valley floor to the south - the Spanish Pyrenees make a truly spectacular setting for a wildlife holiday. We stay in the town of Jaca in the central Spanish Pyrenees, within easy reach of high mountains to the north, pine forests and the superb pinnacles of Riglos to the south.

TRIP DETAILS

T

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a three-star hotel in the small town of Jaca in the Aragón Valley. All rooms are en suite, and the restaurant offers an excellent, original and very varied cuisine. MEALS : All included in the price. Breakfast and dinner at hotel. Lunches will be picnics at some wonderfully scenic spots.

Short-toed Eagle (Photo: John Muddeman)

Short-toed Treecreeper and Western Bonelli’s Warbler. Such a variety of landscape and habitat ensures that we always have somewhere new to go each day – whether it be in search of the impressive Black Woodpecker in shady stands of pine, or out onto limestone scarps to admire the truly magnificent Lady’s Slipper Orchids. We’re based throughout in the town of Jaca, in the central Spanish Pyrenees, keeping daily travel time to a minimum, and within easy reach of high mountains to the north, and the pine forests and impressive rock pinnacles of Riglos to the south. With its lush green forests, breath-taking ravines, warm scented hillsides and fabulous range of wildlife, this is Wild Spain at its very best! Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We take a morning flight from London – Bilbao (or Barcelona if flight times are awkward!). It is about a four-hour drive through increasingly rugged landscapes until we reach the Aragón Valley and the small town of Jaca, where we stay for the whole week. Overnight Jaca

WALKING : Easy. Up to 3 miles in any one day over mainly easy terrain, but may include occasional shorter walks on steeper slopes. Walking boots advised in the mountains. Comfy walking shoes suitable at lower elevations. GROUND TRANSPORT : By minibus. WEATHER : Typically warm and sunny (temperatures in the range 12-26°C), but can be chilly early morning. As with any upland area, periods of rain or showers, low cloud or poor visibility are possible. In summer, it’s often possible to avoid localised bad weather by moving to a different altitude. PRINCIPAL LEADER : John Muddeman NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,695 £ 175 £ 300 per person

The price per person includes return flight from London – Bilbao/Barcelona, airport taxes, 7 nights’ accommodation, meals, incidental tips, minibus transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. *For an ex-flight cost of the tour please deduct £ 125 per person from the tour cost. Please check with us to see which airport we are using in Spain! This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

he Spanish Pyrenees’s combination of snowcapped peaks, wide river valleys, and jagged forested hills must make this, even after more than ten years of returning here, one of the most exhilarating places we visit! The area is one of the best in Europe for raptors. Red and Black Kites, together with Griffon and Egyptian Vultures and Booted Eagles soar overhead, while Short-toed Eagles hover over the open hillsides searching for snakes and lizards, and Golden Eagles hunt amongst the highest peaks. But for most birdwatchers, one of the major goals of a visit to the Spanish Pyrenees must be to see that most rakish and dashing of vultures, the Lammergeier. This is one of the best places in Europe to see this threatened species, and most years we see individuals on several occasions during our stay. High alpine meadows where Water Pipits pick their way through sheets of buttercups, daffodils and orchids, are the birth place of ice-cold streams, soon to become cascading torrents frequented by Dippers as they crash past pinewoods and plummet into deep gorges that have to be seen to be believed. The massive chasms of rock, sprinkled with endemic Ramonda and Pyrenean Saxifrage, are also home to the fabulous Wallcreeper, which ekes out its existence in a vertical world. As the landscape opens out, the influence of the Mediterranean is immediately apparent. The air is heavy with the scent of gorses and Spanish Broom, and Woodchat Shrike, Hoopoe, Spotless Starling and Bee-eaters start to appear. South of the Pyrenees the landscape unfolds as a series of craggy sandstone outcrops, each with its own hue of pink or brown. Between these ridges runs the pretty Aragón River, with its gravel beds and cultivations, whilst the mixed woods harbour Iberian Chiffchaff,

Days 2 - 7 : As with any tour to montane regions, our itinerary remains flexible so as to allow for any vagaries in the weather. But we shall be sure to visit the full range of habitats available, to get the very best from our week in this special area. Six nights Jaca Day 8 : We return to Barcelona or Bilbao and catch an evening return flight to London.

Looking for flowers and butterflies in the Pyrenees. Inset: Apollo (Photo: Mike Lockwood)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Central Sweden Scandinavian Spring

Thursday 17 – Sunday 20 April 2014 Thursday 24 – Sunday 27 April 2014

(4 days) (4 days)

SWEDEN

Stockholm 

SWEDEN

Spend a few days amongst the wild forests and lakes of central Sweden with Capercaillie, Three-toed Woodpecker, and a wonderful selection of owls. Add breeding waders, Cranes and divers, and some superb hotels and food, and you have the ingredients for a hugely enjoyable short break! entral Sweden’s forests are an outpost of the great belt of ‘taiga’ forest that stretches in a swathe between the arctic tundra and temperate forests of Eurasia. These woodlands are clearly different to almost anything we have in Britain, and an echo, at least, of the original ‘Wildwood’ that covered much of Europe before the arrival of man. And, as befits their wild appearance, these Central Swedish forests are correspondingly rich in fauna, combining elements of the arctic with central European and alpine wildlife. To the British visitor, the area will be most reminiscent of Scotland, especially the Caledonian Pine Forest of Speyside, and indeed it boasts several birds that we think of as characteristically Scottish: Crested Tit, Osprey, Black Grouse and both Red- and Black-throated Divers. Scottish Capercaillies were originally introduced from Sweden, which remains one of the best places to see them. But in addition to these can be found many continental species: the small and often elusive Hazel Grouse, the pineloving Nutcracker, three continental woodpeckers – Black, Grey-headed and Three-toed, and best of all, an excellent concentration of owls, with Pygmy, Tengmalm’s, Ural, Great Grey and Eagle Owls all to be looked for. Mammals include the mighty Elk. We explore the area in the company of the friendly and outgoing local expert Daniel Green, who has designed the following itinerary for us.

C

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Itinerary Day 1 : We take a morning flight from London direct to Stockholm (Arlanda) where Daniel will be waiting to greet us. We will then head for a small wetland, where several pairs of smart Slavonian Grebes will be seen around their nests, and we may see our first Ospreys. The forests here can be good for woodpeckers, from the huge Black to the tiny Lesser

Spotted Woodpeckers, and Goshawk can occasionally be seen flying over the treetops. We spend the early evening by a forest clearing, a regular hunting ground of Great Grey Owls, which have started breeding in the area in the last ten years. This is the southernmost breeding population of Great Greys in Sweden. Woodcocks will surely entertain with their roding as we wait to see if the owls perform. Overnight Salbohedgardens Day 2 : After breakfast (no early start today!) we head for another excellent forest where Hazel Grouse can be found, along with Nutcracker and Capercaillie. Black Woodpeckers can again be looked for. A nearby lake has Black-throated Divers and breeding Osprey, while both Common and Parrot Crossbills and Crested Tits can be found in the pines and spruce forest. Early butterflies include Camberwell Beauty. We pay a visit to a winter feeding station where Crested, Willow and Marsh Tits still might appear, together with Nuthatches of the white-bellied Scandinavian race. Nutcrackers, Grey-headed Woodpeckers, smart northern Bullfinches, and northern Long-tailed Tits might also turn up. We continue down to the Black River Valley and its rich wetlands to enjoy good scenic views, a nice outdoor lunch and to look for locally breeding Whitetailed Eagles, flocks of Bean Geese, Smew, and other wildfowl. Raptors like Hen Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard and Merlin are on passage through the area and winter visitors like Great Grey Shrike and Golden Eagle might linger on. One of the highlights of the trip promises to be to accompany a Ural Owl ringing excursion . In April they ring incubating females, giving superb photographic opportunities. This evening we’ll go in search of Pygmy Owl,

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : On this trip we stay at a comfortable country guesthouse with all rooms en suite. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Daniel Green NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ £ £

1,495 115 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of scheduled return economy-class flights LondonStockholm, airport taxes, accommodation, all meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. The price excludes travel insurance, optional tip to the local guide, drinks and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

which may appear just after sundown to give its short whistling call from the top of a spruce tree at the forest’s edge. Overnight Salbohedgardens Day 3 : This is also prime woodpecker country, and we are out early for Grey-headed, Black and very local Three-toed Woodpeckers. We’ll also witness the ringing of Tengmalm’s Owls breeding in nestboxes. There is really no other way to get really close views and to photograph these charming little, highly nocturnal owls. Black-throated Divers, Capercaillie and Goshawk breed in the area, as do Woodlark and Parrot Crossbill. After an outdoor breakfast, we’ll get back for lunch around noon and an afternoon siesta. We’ll then have a relaxed evening excursion around the beautiful wetlands of Svartådalen with drumming Snipes and calling Curlews. Overnight Salbohedgardens Day 4 : We head out early this morning to a superb area of forest and lakes. Here we hope to see some of Sweden’s choice specialities, including the ‘monarch of the woods’ – Capercaillie. Black Grouse can also be found, and we hope to see them on a lek. If this was not enough, Cranes breed in the area, and the forests should be resounding to their atmospheric calls. We head back to Stockholm airport for our afternoon flight back to London.

What you say: “We had a wonderful time – thoroughly enjoyed it. Leader’s expertise and local knowledge (contacts) was brilliant …want to go back – that’s how good!” C & R.S., Leics.

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Great Grey Owl (Photo: Lars Karlsson)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Central Sweden

Scandinavian Autumn

Thursday 4 – Monday 8 September 2014 SWEDEN

s the summer draws to a close, the peaceful forests, lakes and water meadows of central Sweden act as a magnet for thousands of migrating birds as they head south through Scandinavia to warmer climes. Huge flocks of Bean Geese and Common Cranes gather in the farmland, while up to a dozen species of raptors hunt overhead, from the diminutive Merlin to the huge White-tailed Eagle. Bluethroat numbers also peak in early September; these attractive birds spend a couple of weeks in central Sweden fattening up before continuing east towards their Asian winter haunts. In addition to an abundance of migrants, the many resident birds will be active and busily putting on weight to see them through the snowy months ahead. Pygmy Owls are at their most vocal in the autumn, and up to six species of woodpecker are possible in the forests, along with Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Nutcracker and Crested Tit. Mammals will also be on the cards, including the mighty Elk, the bulls of which will be in prime condition and ready for the autumn rut with a full rack of antlers! At this time, the pine forests are quieter, but birds like Pygmy Owl, Nutcracker, Crested Tit and Three-toed Woodpecker can still be found – especially with the help of local expert Daniel Green, who has designed the following itinerary for us.

Spend a few autumn days amongst the wild forests and lakes of central Sweden with tens of thousands of migrating Cranes and geese, the chance of seeing Bluethroats and other migrants in the hand, a selection of northern moths and butterflies, and even rutting Elk. Add superb hotels and food, and you have the ingredients for a hugely enjoyable short autumn break!

TRIP DETAILS

A

Itinerary Day 1 : We take a morning flight from London direct to Stockholm (Arlanda) where Daniel will be waiting to greet us. Our first excursion goes to Hjälstaviken – a reedfringed wetland with plenty of birds. In the evening we enjoy the sunset by Lake Fläcksjön where hundreds of Common Cranes gather to roost. It promises to be a spectacular (and noisy!) experience. For those interested we do a moth-night during the trip. Overnight Salbohedsgården

(5 days)

ACCOMMODATION : On this trip we stay at a comfortable country guesthouse with all rooms en suite. LEADER :

Daniel Green

NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICES : Single supps. : Deposit :

£ £ £

1,495 165 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of scheduled return economy-class flights LondonStockholm, airport taxes, accommodation, all meals, minibus transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leaders. Bearded Tit (Photo: Daniel Green)

Day 2 : On the west edge of the Black River Valley, lies a vast pineforest – Hälleskogen. With plenty of bogs and mires it is an interesting area to explore on a longer walk. By the lakes White-tailed Eagles, Ospreys, Hobbies and Marsh Harriers are easy to see, and in the evening we go searching for owls with our focus on Pygmy Owl. Overnight Salbohedsgården

The price excludes travel insurance, optional tip to the local guide, drinks and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

Day 3 : We rise early to seize the best morning activity in the forest, this time to search for Threetoed and Black Woodpeckers. The Crane-evening in Svartådalen can be spectacular, but imagine seeing more than ten times as many! Up to 20,000 Common Cranes roost here in autumn, an overwhelming experience to witness. Overnight Sörby Säteri Day 4 : We enjoy a tasty hotel breakfast and start to explore the Kvismare valley: a farmland region which was once a vast marshland, and nowadays, after being drained in the early 1900’s is being restored once again to a wetland area. A patchwork

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

SWEDEN

Stockholm 

15:12

Ural Owl (Photo: Daniel Green)

of lakes, marshes and productive farmland, this area attracts masses of birds – mainly geese and Cranes, but also raptors and passerines. Overnight Sörby Säteri Day 5 : We go out early in the morning to watch Bluethroat ringing. We head down to the reedbed area by the lakes and will be guided by the Kvismare Bird Observatory staff. We then head back to Stockholm airport for an afternoon flight back to London. Common Cranes coming into roost (Photo: Daniel Green)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Switzerland The Swiss Alps in Summer Sunday 15 - Sunday 22 June 2014

FRANCE

(8 days)

An 8-day summer birdwatching holiday to the glorious Swiss Alps, with Lammergeier, Nutcracker and Alpine Accentor among specialities to look for. Also featuring some wonderful alpine butterflies, plus a journey by mountain railway from Zermatt up to 3000m for lunch with the Alpine Choughs, Snowfinch and spectacular views to the Matterhorn!

witzerland is rightly famous for its stupendous upland scenery and crisp mountain air. The southern Valais region that borders with Italy is one of the most beautiful, and a prime location for alpine birding. Crested Tits and Western Bonelli’s Warblers frequent the forests, boldly-spotted Nutcrackers conceal themselves amongst the pines, and the trills of handsome ‘red’ Lesser Redpolls rise above flower-filled alpine meadows. From Geneva, we follow the mighty Rhône valley to reach our base in the picturesque Val d’Herens, which is both a Parc Regional and a Biosphere Reserve. With no changes of hotel to worry about during our stay, here we shall be free to devote ourselves to some of the most spectacular birding and landscapes in all Switzerland: from the glaciers at the head of the lovely Val d’Herens itself, east to the famous Gornergrat with its majestic views of the Matterhorn. In mid-June, the weather in the Alps is typically warm with plenty of sunshine and our aim will certainly be to make the most of this! The woods and mountains around about our hotel are the perfect place to start. Fieldfare, Redbacked Shrike and Serin are to be found in the gardens and meadows around town, and Dippers bob beside the mountain streams as we listen for the chatter of Siskins. On one day, we plan to travel to Zermatt and take the mountain railway up to the Gornergrat. If visibility is good, we shall enjoy uninterrupted views across the glaciers towards the iconic chiselled peak of the Matterhorn, one of the most spectacular views in the world. Up here, at an elevation of around 3000m, we’ll watch for Snowfinch and Alpine Accentor, while playful Alpine Choughs may even feed from our hands! Should visibility on the high tops let us down, we will find birding along the floor of the Rhône valley is equally rewarding, with the likes of Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, Nightingale, Marsh Warbler and Golden Oriole awaiting our discovery. A visit to the Grande Dixence dam, up via a short cable car ride and down by foot, will give us not only

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

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specatcular views, but a chance for some great plants and birds. Alpine Accentor, Ring Ouzel, Lesser Redpolls with ruby red chests, Water Pipits in pastel blue summer plumage, and Golden Eagles are to be expected; the plants should produce Snowden Lily, a variety of primroses, and a good chance of Edelweiss. From Common Eider to Blue Rock Thrush, birding in the Swiss Alps is full of surprises. Our 2012 group found Wallcreeper, enjoyed views of seven Griffon Vultures and a Lammergeier at one site, and watched a breeding pair of Rock Thrushes feeding young at the nest. We’ve even been lucky to encounter the shy Rock Partridge here in the past! Add the prospect of as many as 70 different species of butterfly on the wing – from Mazarine and Amanda’s Blues, through Mountain Dappled White and Clouded Apollo, to Niobe and Cynthia’s Fritillaries – and you have all the right ingredients for a wonderful wildlife holiday. And with easy paced walks and plenty of invigorating Swiss mountain air, this tour offers a splendid introduction to alpine birds and wildlife. Outline Itinerary Day 1 : Our holiday begins with a flight from London to Geneva. We drive east along the Rhône valley to Sion, then swing south to enter the glorious ‘chocolate-box’ landscape of the Val d’Herens. Late afternoon arrival at our quaint little hotel in the beautiful Val d’Herens, which will be our base throughout the holiday. Overnight Evolene Days 2 - 7 : Much of our time will be spent exploring the woods and mountains of the Val d’Herens itself (which is both a Parc Regional and a Biosphere Reserve), with its heady mix of stunning scenery, alpine scents and sounds, and its alluring montane birds. On one of our days, after a relatively short drive east to Zermatt, we’ll take the



SWITZERLAND

Geneva

AUSTRIA

 Evolene

ITALY

SWITZERLAND

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Our hotel for the past 11 years on this tour is a small, quaint and friendly 2star family-run establishment in the quiet rural town of Evolene – right at the heart of the picturesque Val d’Herens, and where accommodations are few and far between. Rooms are modest but all have en suite facilities. MEALS : All included in the tour price. Continentalstyle breakfasts served at the hotel, with dinners taken at a variety of local restaurants within a short walk from our hotel. A mix of picnics and Gasthof lunches. WALKING : The floor of the Rhône valley is relatively flat and the going is easy. Elsewhere, our walks are not strenuous – but this is the Alps so expect some uphill stretches of course, all taken at a gentle pace, with our itinerary being carefully planned to avoid arduous hikes. Swiss alpine trails are well-marked and generally in good condition. Stout walking shoes or lightweight boots with good corrugated soles for grip recommended. Maximum elevation this tour: ca. 3100m (10,000 ft). PRINCIPAL LEADER : Brian Small NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,845 £ 110 £ 300 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return scheduled flights London-Geneva, all accommodation and meals, minibus transport; mountain railway excursion to the Gornergratt, entrance fees, tips, airport taxes, bird and butterfly checklist, and services of the leader/s. The price excludes travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Limosa Holidays.

mountain railway high up to the Gornergratt. Set at around 3000m, if visibility is good, stunning views across the glacier towards the Matterhorn will tempt our eyes away from the schools of playful Alpine Choughs – close enough to stroke last time! – which jostle for visitors’ left-over food. Offering a whole new suite of birds, a visit to the floor of the Rhône Valley can be equally rewarding, with Wallcreepers to look for at a special site and, remarkably, even Blue Rock-thrush at some towering cliffs. Six nights Evolene Day 8 : Bidding a reluctant farewell to the Val d’Herens after breakfast this morning, we will head back west along the Rhône valley. If flight times permit, we will enjoy a short stop at Les Grangettes, where the river flows into the eastern end of Lac Leman. We then continue on to Geneva and board our afternoon flight to London, where the tour concludes.

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The Matterhorn and, inset, Red Vanilla Orchid (Photos: John Muddeman)

Know before you book!: For general travel advice, please refer to: www.fco.gov.uk/travel


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Southern Turkey

Goreme 

TURKEY

Cappadocia Nigde





Tasucu 

Adana 

TURKEY

outhern Turkey offers some of the finest birdwatching to be had anywhere in Europe and the Middle East, and yet remains surprisingly undiscovered amongst birdwatchers. It has all the ingredients: excellent wetlands, including that most productive of all habitats, a river delta; some fine arid habitats with several species at the extreme western edge of their range; open hill and dry steppe with its very specific birds; and finally some wonderful snow-covered peaks, rising to 3,910m at the summit. All these habitats are within a few hours drive of each other in the south, making this the best area of this huge country to visit for a relatively short stay. Our itinerary aims to minimise the distances travelled each day in order to make the most of the area. We spend our first full day around the Adana Delta and its productive marshes. Our first specialities of the trip, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, are a common sight around the hotel, as are Palm Doves and singing Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. The rivers that have created the delta are rich in birdlife and are a superb place to see White-breasted and Pied Kingfishers. The surrounding agricultural areas may hold four species of shrike including Masked and Lesser Grey together with Rufous Bush Robins. Migrant birds can also include Upcher’s, Olive-tree and Barred Warblers. Overhead Long-legged Buzzard and Lesser Kestrel can occasionally be joined by Eleonora’s and Red-footed Falcons. The Goksü Delta is one of the main wetlands on the southern Turkish coast, and as such is a magnet for birds. Lesser Spotted Eagle, Ruddy Shelduck, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, and Purple Gallinule can all be found here. From our hotel balconies and dining room overlooking the turquoise Mediterranean Sea we have also seen Green Turtles and Bottle-nosed Dolphins on calm days. The hills inland are covered with dry maquis scrub and peppered with ancient ruins, including

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Anatolia, the Taurus Mountains and Cappadocia Saturday 10 – Sunday 18 May 2014

(9 days)

We return again to one of the most varied birdwatching areas in our region, with some fabulous birds, superb scenery, and a fascinating culture and history. We concentrate on the south of the country – including its best coastal wetlands, spectacular mountains, inland marshes and arid steppe. All this, at probably the very best time of the birding year! Roman Tombs which are the haunt of Sombre Tit and Rock Nuthatch, while the pine woods may hold Krüper’s Nuthatch and Syrian Woodpecker. Starred Agama lizards and Persian Squirrels scurry over the stunning ruins of the temple of Zeus that can hold White-throated Robin and Masked Shrike. The scenery in the mountains is stupendous, with snow-covered peaks, scree slopes and jagged crags. The most sought-after bird here is Caspian Snowcock; last year we saw two birds, and several more were heard uttering their eerie Curlew-like call. Bezoar Ibex and Golden Jackal have also been seen on previous trips, while the scree slopes hold both Alpine and the very local Radde’s Accentor together with Crimson-winged Finch and Finsch’s Wheatear. The scrub and open grazed land holds the spectacular Red-fronted Serin, Isabelline Wheatear and White-throated Robin. Wallcreeper haunt the cliff faces, and we were treated to great views of one bird last year. Given fine weather, the visit to this superb area may well prove to be one of the highlights of the trip. For the last two years we have added an extra day in the mountains and have discovered a great new inland wetland site, with many wetland and steppe species. This year we are adding an extra day in Cappadocia. We look for impressive birds including White-throated Robin, and we also visit one of its spectacular underground cities. Outline Itinerary Days 1 - 2 : We catch an early morning flight from London Heathrow via Istanbul to Adana, where we stay for two nights at the Hilton Hotel. Not only is this a very comfortable place to stay, but it has excellent birdwatching possibilities in and around the grounds. Two nights Adana Days 3 - 4 : Today we head for one of the

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We are based for two nights at the very comfortable Hilton Hotel, then two nights in a medium-grade hotel, with all rooms en suite. In the mountains we stay for three nights at a family-run guesthouse as described, with some rooms not en suite. Single rooms may not be available here. LEADERS :

Mike Langman with local guides

NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp*. : Deposit :

£ 1,995 £ 335 £ 300 per person

The price per person includes return scheduled flight from London Heathrow - Adana, airport taxes, accommodation, meals, incidental tips, coach transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes the cost of a Turkish visa (c£10 on arrival), holiday insurance, optional tips to the local driver and guides, drinks, and other items of a personal nature. *The single supp. applies to the nights at Tasucu and Adana only. Singles at the guesthouse near Nigde may not be available. For an ex-flight cost (Adana/Adana) please deduct £ 275 from the total cost

richest birdwatching areas in Turkey, the Goksü Delta. Two nights Tasucu Days 5 - 6 : We drive up into the mountains towards Nigde. On the way we’ll stop for a picnic, watching for eagles, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures in the air, while spectacular snow-covered limestone peaks tower above the pine forests. We stay at a small guest house in a stunning location with views up to the snow-capped peak of Mt. Aladag. Family-run, the “pansiyon” provides good home-made food, but not all the rooms are en-suite. However, we have chosen this accommodation for its excellent location and warm welcome. The owner is keen on wildlife, and will be taking us up to the high screes one morning, boarding a tractor and trailer – the only way to get to the best mountain areas! Two nights near Nigde

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

TN 2014 Pages:TN 2005 INTRODUCTION

Day 7 - 8 : Staying in the heart of Cappadocia we have a full day to explore more of the spectacular valleys in Cappadocia, visit one of the underground cities and of course keep our eyes peeled for birds. White-throated Robin, Chukar and even Blackbellied Sandgrouse can be found here. Two nights Goreme The return flight will be from one of the local airports near to Goreme involving a transfer in Istanbul to Heathrow for our return flight arriving early Day 9. Emli Gorge and, inset, Shore Lark (Photos: Mike Langman)

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Migrants and Mosques

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Black Sea

Saturday 14 - Saturday 21 September 2013 Saturday 13 - Saturday 20 September 2014

Sea of Marmara

(8 days) (8 days)

I

EUROPE, NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST

Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We catch a morning flight from Heathrow to Istanbul arriving at our comfortable hotel in Kadiköy on the Asian shore in the early evening. The rooftop restaurant enjoys magnificent views across the Bosporus to the Golden Horn and the city skyline. Overnight Istanbul

Day 4 : We start our day at the eastern end of Lake Apolynt, at the village of the same name, which is still largely dependent on the traditional fishery and seemingly lost in the middle ages. Pygmy Cormorant, herons and marsh terns abound along the lake shore, and the surrounding fields hold larks, chats, warblers and shrikes. We spend the afternoon and early evening at Kus Cenneti or “bird paradise” on the eastern shore of Lake Manyas. This is a stronghold of Dalmatian Pelican and, if we haven’t encountered them already, we should see good numbers here. Overnight Bursa Day 5 : After a visit to the beautiful Yesil Cami mosque in Bursa we begin our return journey to Istanbul stopping at a wonderfully located

Bursa TURKEY

Day 2 : We spend the morning on the Çamlica Hills enjoying our first taste of the raptor migration. Levant Sparrowhawk, Steppe Buzzard, LesserSpotted Eagle and both Black and White Stork should be passing overhead, and can, if the weather is right, give very close views. After lunch we leave Istanbul and take the vehicle ferry across the neck of the Bay of Izmit and travel on to Bursa via the western shore of Lake Iznik. Our hotel is on a hill in the spa resort of Çekirge with wonderful views over the city from the restaurant and bedroom windows. Overnight Bursa Day 3 : After breakfast we begin our ascent of Uludag, the “great mountain”. Passing through fertile hillsides with Cirl Buntings and Red-backed Shrikes, we soon climb into the ancient coniferous forest where Krüper’s Nuthatch is a speciality. At the top, beyond the ski resort, Red-fronted Serin, Shorelark and both Rock Thrushes occur. There are magnificent views from the western ridge overlooking Bursa. Overnight Bursa

Istanbul



The Bosporus at Istanbul is unique. Nowhere else offers the magnificent spectacle of thousands of hawks, buzzards, eagles and storks soaring overhead, together with the chance to explore one of the world’s most vibrant and romantic cities. We also spend three nights at the historic city of Bursa and go in search of mountain specialities, migrant waders and waterbirds. stanbul enjoys a justifiable reputation as one of the world’s great cities, and for many centuries was the capital of the civilised world. For the last 3,000 years, firstly as Byzantium, then Constantinople, and latterly as Istanbul, it has held importance in the Greek, Roman and Ottoman empires. Much of this can be traced to its strategic position guarding the crossroads between Europe and Asia. It is this position at the entrance of the narrow channel running between the Mediterranean and Black Sea which also explains its importance as a migration watch-point, and particularly so for large soaring birds. Approaching from the steppes of Western Russia and the forest and mountains of eastern Europe, migrant raptors are channelled down the Thracian peninsula and, on northerly prevailing winds, across the city and the narrow straits which are never much more than a mile wide. We will observe the unique spectacle of birds approaching over the mosques and skyscrapers of the city from the two Çamlica Hills on the Asian shore. Both hills are well wooded and also provide excellent opportunities for searching out migrant passerines. We will visit the principal historical monuments – Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque. Bursa, lying a hundred miles to the south-west of Istanbul, is also an ancient capital of the Ottoman empire and enjoys a magnificent location on a hillside between Uludag Mountain, the highest in Western Turkey, and the fertile plain below. Our stay allows us to visit the Uludag National Park, the three principal lakes in Western Turkey and the ancient city of Nicaea.



TRIP DETAILS ACCOMMODATION : We stay in good quality three-star hotels with en suite facilities throughout. PRINCIPAL LEADERS : 2013: Mike Langman 2014: Tim Earl NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE :

2013: £ 1,595 2014: £ 1,795 2013: £ 165 2014: £ 175 £ 300 per person

Single supp. : Deposit:

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of return economy scheduled flights London-Istanbul, airport taxes, full board accommodation, coach transport, incidental tips, and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes travel insurance, optional tip to local driver, drinks and other personal expenses. For an ex-flight cost (Instanbul/Istanbul) please deduct £ 245 from the total cost.

restaurant on the shore of Lake Iznik for lunch. In the afternoon we journey along the south shore of the lake to the ancient walled city of Nicaea, now Iznik town, and then on to Kadiköy stopping at promisinglooking woodland, scrub and riverine habitat enroute. Overnight Istanbul Days 6 - 7 : Late September each year is the period which traditionally yields the best raptor passage with the greatest variety of species. In addition to those mentioned above, Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle and Redfooted Falcon should also be passing overhead on their way south. We will spend much of our time on the Çamlica Hills observing this passage and searching the woodland for other migrants. In addition, we will make excursions to the European shore to visit the principal monuments and the world famous covered bazaar. Levant Shearwaters dodge amongst the passenger ferries and larger ships on the incredibly busy crossing. Two nights Istanbul Day 8 : We spend our final morning on the Çamlica Hills before returning over the Bosporus suspension bridge and catching our afternoon flight to Heathrow arriving back in London mid-evening.

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White Storks (Photo: David Cottridge) Inset: Minarets provide a memorable backdrop for watching migration (Photo: Vicky Spicer) Top: Red-fronted Serins (Photo: Mike Langman)

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Ukraine

UKRAINE

UKRAINE



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 Askaniya Nova

CRIMEA

Crimean Peninsula and Black Sea Coast SEA OF AZOV

 Feodosiya

kraine is a young, relatively unknown country that was formed after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Black Sea coast and the Crimean Peninsula are one of the most important migration stopovers for many water birds and waders. Huge steppes, extensive marshes, coastal lagoons, and rolling limestone hills provide wonderful landscapes and rich habitats for migrants and breeding birds. Large flocks of White Pelicans, Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, Great Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls are not an uncommon sight. Breeding birds include such Eastern specialities as Demoiselle Crane, Saker and Red-footed Falcons, Pied Wheatear, Paddyfield Warbler, Rose-coloured Starling and Black-headed Bunting. The tour has been designed for us by our good friends from Ecotours Hungary and will be led by Attila Steiner.

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Itinerary Day 1 : We fly from London to Odessa via Kiev. We spend the night in the historic port town of Odessa. Overnight Odessa Day 2 : After breakfast we drive east through the endless steppe that is now mostly converted to farmland. There are still some steppe birds remaining, however, and we might see Red-footed Falcon, Roller, Calandra Lark, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrike and Ortolan Bunting. We stop at the coastal lagoon of Tiligul Liman, where we should find a good selection of waterbirds. As we reach the Dnipro River we spend some time in the estuary looking for Pygmy Cormorant, White-tailed Eagle and marsh terns. The final leg of our drive takes us to Askaniya Nova, where we spend the night. Overnight Askaniya Nova Day 3 : After breakfast we explore the steppes of the Askaniya Nova Biosphere Reserve, mainly renowned for its rare steppe mammals, but also harbouring some steppe bird species. Here semiwild Saiga Antelopes and Przewalski’s Horses form

Saturday 31 May – Sunday 8 June 2014

(9 days)

We have visited a pocket of Europe's steppe country in Hungary for years, but continuous Eurasian steppe country – the sort that took Ghengis Khan's hordes all the way from Mongolia – only begins as far east as Ukraine. Join us on a journey to Europe's 'Far East'! part of a re-introduction scheme. The Saiga is an extraordinary creature, with a huge, bulbous snout, and, unfortunately for it, two horns which are valued for Chinese medicine. These have contributed to its critically endangered status. Birds are found around the ponds of the reserve and we might encounter Ruddy Shelduck, Common Crane, migrating waders, larks and pipits. Later we travel south until we reach the Crimean Peninsula. We spend the afternoon at the coastal lagoons and salt marshes of Sivash Nature Reserve looking for a wide range of species including White Pelican, Marsh Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Broadbilled Sandpiper, Great Black-headed Gull, marsh terns, Gull-billed and Caspian Tern. At this time of the year Paddyfield Warblers are still singing and are easier to find by their characteristic song performed from the edge of the reedbeds. We then drive to the coastal town of Feodosiya, our base for the next 2 nights. Overnight Feodosiya Day 4 : We spend most of the time exploring the Kerch Peninsula dividing the Azov and Black Sea. The most sought-after species is Demoiselle Crane that has its westernmost population here. Great Bustard also inhabits the steppes and we hope to find them along with other steppe specialities such as Stone Curlew, Pied and Isabelline Wheatears. The southern shore of the Kerch Peninsula is more rugged with cliffs falling into the sea. These cliffs harbour Saker Falcon, Peregrine and Longlegged Buzzard, while the nearby saline lakes are good for large flocks of migrating waders. Redfooted Falcons and Lesser Kestrels are also present. Overnight Feodosiya Day 5 : We drive west along the coast, stopping for birds on the way. The forested hills in this region are home to Chukar, Griffon and Black Vulture, Shorttoed Eagle and Steppe Buzzard. The bushes are a good place to find breeding warblers, including Barred Warbler. Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes are common along the roadside and Golden Orioles are also to be found.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Ukraine is off the beaten tourist trail and standards of hotel are below those in Western Europe. However, those we use are of reasonable quality, chosen for their proximity to the best birding sites. All rooms en suite. Please note there are no hairdryers or coffee-making facilities in rooms. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Attila Steiner NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,895 £ 185 £ 400 per person

The price per person includes return flights from London – Odessa*, airport taxes, 8 nights' accommodation, all meals, incidental tips, coach transport and the services of the leaders. The price excludes holiday insurance, optional tips for the driver and local guide, drinks, and other personal expenses. * For an ex-flight cost (Odessa/Odessa) please deduct £ 195 from the tour cost.

We also explore the sea for Shag, Yelkouan Shearwater and pods of dolphins. We spend the night in the beautifully located Mediterranean-style town of Yalta. Famous for the 1945 conference between the USA, Soviet Union and the UK, this is now an upmarket resort. Overnight Yalta Day 6 : We spend the day in Yalta Mountain Nature Reserve, exploring varied habitats from sea level to the sub-alpine zone. The beech and evergreen forests of the reserve hold Hawfinch, endemic races of Crossbill and Firecrest, while the higher zones are good for Rock Thrush and Woodlark. Raptors also frequent the area and we expect to see vultures, eagles and Steppe Buzzards. Overnight Yalta

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Day 7 : We leave Yalta and drive north to the lagoons and salt marshes of Northern Crimea. On the way through the steppes we look for Eastern Imperial Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Calandra and Short-toed Larks. The Portovoye area is a heaven for waterbirds. Herons, egrets, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, White Pelican and Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed Tern, Slenderbilled and Pallas’s Gull are breeding, while migrating Broad-billed, Terek and Marsh Sandpipers are still possible. Overnight Krasnoperekopsk Day 8 : After a morning birding in the Krasnoperekopsk area we head west to Odessa. Time permitting we have an evening sightseeing in Odessa. Overnight Odessa Day 9 : We fly to Kiev and then onwards to London.

Semi-wild Przewalski’s Horses roam the Askaniya Nova Biosphere Reserve (Photo: Attila Steiner)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Dorset

ENGLAND

Coastal migrants and heathland specialities Monday 5 - Thursday 8 May 2014

(4 days)

Join Bob Ford as we go back to our roots on a spring break in our wonderful home county of Dorset, at one of its very best hotels!

outh Dorset with the Isle of Portland sticking out into the English Channel includes some of the best sites in Britain – and some would say Europe – to witness the spectacle of bird migration. Each spring and autumn thousands of migrants break their journeys by resting on Portland's fields and shoreline. The fields and hedges at this time can be alive with warblers, chats and flycatchers, with Wheatears on the open fields. Offshore, seabirds such as skuas and shearwaters stream past the tip of Portland – ‘the Bill’ – en route to their Arctic breeding areas. Some, such as the Puffin, stop to breed on Portland's high cliffs, along with a growing population of Peregrine Falcons and Ravens. Portland is also famous for producing a surprise or two! The RSPB reserves at Radipole and Lodmoor are nearby with their breeding Bearded Tits and Cetti’s

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Warblers. Dartford Warblers and Wood Larks are only a few miles further away on Dorset’s heathlands.

Dorset Weymouth  Moonfleet 

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Portland Heights is one of Dorset’s best-situated hotels, high on the Portland cliffs overlooking Portland Harbour and Weymouth. It makes an ideal base for a spring birdwatching break. All rooms are en suite. TRAVEL : Rail travellers can be met at Weymouth station between 5 and 6 pm. LEADER :

Bob Ford

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 525 £ 135 £ 150 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of 3 nights’ accommodation, meals from Monday evening to Thursday lunchtime, transport, tips, admissions and the services of the leader. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks and other personal expenses.

Bearded Tit (Photo: Margaret Welby)

New Forest

ENGLAND

Birds and wildlife of heath, woods and coast Monday 2 - Thursday 5 June 2014

Southampton

(4 days)



New Forest

We explore the ancient woodland, heaths, acid bogs and grazed lawns of this fascinating area of southern England for a close look at some of its unique flora and fauna, together with visits to Hampshire’s coastal marshes for breeding terns and returning waders.

he ponds and bogs of the New Forest will be alive with dragonflies and damselflies now, and grasshoppers and crickets will be starting to sing, while the lawns still harbour some of our most threatened plant species, several in flower now. Nightjars are usually at their most active on the warm June evenings, while Hobby, too, can be much in evidence, especially over the ponds catching those dragonflies. Woodlark continue to sing throughout the summer on the open heaths. Woodland birds can be fairly quiet at this time of year, with a few notable exceptions. Honey Buzzard can be very elusive here, but are probably most easily seen at this time. On the coast nearby, Sandwich, Common and Little Terns are feeding well-grown young, and return wader passage is already starting to gather momentum. The forest is famous for its deer, and we hope to go out at dusk in the company of a forest ranger to gain close views of both Fallow and Red Deer.

BRITISH ISLES

T

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A New Forest ride (Photo: Rebecca Nason)

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a small country hotel on the edge of Brockenhurst. All rooms are en suite. TRAVEL : Rail travellers can be met at Brockenhurst station between 5 and 6pm. LEADER :

Bob Ford

NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 495 £ 115 £ 150 per person

The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of 3 nights’ accommodation, meals from Monday evening to Thursday lunchtime, transport, tips, admissions and the services of the leader. The price excludes holiday insurance, drinks and other personal expenses.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Isles of Scilly

Spring and Autumn on the magical isles  Isles of Scilly

Saturday 21 - Friday 27 September 2013 Saturday 17 - Friday 23 May 2014 Saturday 20 - Friday 26 September 2014

(7 days) (7 days) (7 days)

A myriad of rocky isles and islets set in the Atlantic and warmed by the Gulf Stream, with spectacular sub-tropical flowers in bloom around the walls and small gardens… superb ever-changing scenes of rocks, waves, light and shade… a patchwork of small bulb fields surrounded by stone walls and quiet winding lanes, with tall elm trees still thriving in the hedgerows… and, of course, one of the most exciting places in Britain to watch birds! t is partly the scale of Scilly that makes it so special: the biggest town is the size of a village, the main road is a tiny winding lane, and the fields seem like walled gardens. But there again, the diversity of habitats on the largest island, St Mary’s, alone, makes it, somehow, seem bigger than its mere two and a half miles from end to end. Add to this the unique character of each of the islands: Tresco with its amazing variety of lush vegetation, heathland, and lagoon; St Martin’s with its cliffs, sandy beaches, and seals offshore; wild Bryher, which takes the full force of the Atlantic breakers; and lovely St Agnes with its cottages, and tamarisk-edged bulbfields. Horse Point, at the end of Wingletang Down on St Agnes, is the most southwesterly point of Britain. Standing here and gazing out at the waves crashing on to the Western Rocks, you can truly believe that you are right on the edge of the world. And it is the edge of the world for many migrant birds too. Whether they’ve strayed too far out into the Atlantic, and return to find first landfall here, or whether they just keep heading west beyond Cornwall until they simply run out of land, birds arrive here in amazing variety. Although birds are never found here in great numbers, the excitement of birding on the islands is that of simply not knowing what you may find. Every habitat is worth investigating, and every bird worth looking at. On each week we shall be walking more than on our usual trips. It is difficult to predict the distances involved, but we shall be on our feet off and on for most of the day in our search for wildlife.

I

Spring Mid May is an excellent time for spring migrants. Although it is impossible to predict the more unusual birds, the most likely source of these will be

the south, with continental birds overshooting their destinations. Rare herons are a distinct possibility in spring (we’ve seen Purple Heron, Night Heron and Squacco Heron in the past), and Red-rumped Swallow on three occasions. Spring seabirds here include Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin – the latter best seen on some of the boat trips. We hope to take a boat trip out to Annet one spring evening to view the Manx Shearwater gatherings that occur here. While we aim to visit the main off-islands of Tresco, Bryher, St Martin’s, and St Agnes, the itinerary is very weather-dependent. An outline is as follows: Day 1 : Depart Land’s End/Newquay in the afternoon on a scheduled Skybus flight (20 mins) Land’s EndSt Mary’s. Evening slide talk by Will Wagstaff. Days 2 - 6 : Excursions will include:  Morning walk on St Mary’s. Afternoon (or morning depending on tide) cruise around the islands for seabirds, ducks, high tide roost of waders etc.  Day trip to Tresco, including trip to the subtropical gardens.  Day trip to St Agnes.  Day on St Mary’s. Evening Shearwater boat trip, weather permitting.  Day trip to Bryher or St Martin’s. Day 7 : Depart St Mary's Airfield on a morning flight to Land’s End/Newquay. Autumn The autumn itinerary is simple to describe – we go where the birds are! The cost of the week will include any island trips we need to make in order to see the range of birds that are about at the time. Complete flexibility is essential here at this time of year, and the final decisions need to be made on the spot by the leader – not by the brochure-writer! But for the best possible chance in Britain, and possibly

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We are based at The St Mary’s Hall Hotel, in Hugh Town, St Mary’s, just 5 minutes walk from the quay. This is an extensively refurbished townhouse, which offers a high standard of accommodation set within its own grounds. All Rooms are en suite. LEADER :

Will Wagstaff

NUMBERS :

Max. 10 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,295 £ 195 £ 300 per person

The price is per person and includes return scheduled Skybus flight* Land’s End or NewquaySt Mary’s, 6 nights’ accommodation, all meals including lunches from dinner on the first evening to breakfast on the final morning, travel as on the itinerary including boat fees, landing fees and admissions and the services of the leaders. Prices exclude travel insurance (please do not send your insurance premium at the time of booking, as we offer special Isles of Scilly travel insurance for this holiday and will send you details with confirmation of booking), travel to and from Land’s End, drinks and other personal expenses. *The helicopter flights from Penzance were discontinued in early 2013. We will therefore be using the Skybus small planes from St Just airfield in Land’s End or Newquay. There will also be direct flights from Exeter, Plymouth or Southampton available at a higher cost. It is possible to travel to St Mary’s by the Scillonian ferry, Please enquire if you would like to do this, or to extend your stay. For an ex-flight cost, please deduct £ 175 from the cost of the holiday.

Europe, of seeing rare birds, this is undoubtedly the time and the place. Autumn often gives us an American wader or two, and more unpredictable continental migrants. Some of the more predictable ‘scarcities’ at this time include Wryneck (we’ve seen up to eight in one week!), Bluethroat, Pectoral Sandpiper, Common Rosefinch and both Ortolan and Lapland Buntings. This is also probably one of the best places in the UK to get close views of that real skulker, Jack Snipe.

What you say :

The view from St Martin’s (Photo: Will Wagstaff) and, top, Puffins

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

BRITISH ISLES

“Thank you for organising such a good holiday: birds, flowers, butterflies, an unusual dragonfly…we shall be back! Certainly we’ve never been on a holiday before where there’s been so much laughter.” I. & N.S., W. Midlands “It was a splendid week. I hope to be back on one of your other holidays and I shall certainly recommend this one. Many thanks.” D.C., Yorks.

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Lewis and Harris

Lewis

Divers, Seabirds and Standing Stones Saturday 26 April – Friday 2 May 2014

(7 days)



Stornoway

Harris

Join us for a new trip to the northern Outer Hebrides – the ornithologically unexplored conjoined isles of Lewis and Harris. The former has vast moorlands, the latter high mountains, but both have the fabulous machair grassland where waders and Corncrakes nest, wonderful coastlines for seabirds, and probably the best chance in Britain of seeing four species of diver in breeding plumage! he islands of the Outer Hebrides, or Western Isles, are renowned for their wild, windswept beauty, with glorious white shell-sand beaches on the Atlantic coast, and rugged moorland indented with numerous lochs in the east. All these habitats can be found within a few minutes drive of each other, and it is this diversity, packed into a small area, that gives these isles such a wealth of birds. These are also isles of hauntingly beautiful landscapes, still sprinkled here and there with traditional turf-roofed ‘white houses’, built with mighty stone walls to keep out the all-pervasive wind that is such a constant feature. While most birdwatchers head for the ‘long island’ of the Uists, with its excellent raptor populations, the northern isles of Lewis and its conjoined neighbour Harris have been ornithologically neglected. However, their attraction for migrants both on land and sea, their breeding wildfowl and waders and above all, the chance to see four species of diver, including the rare arctic White-billed Diver, have drawn birdwatchers northwards. Add to this some wonderful wild scenery and some superb historical sites, including what are arguably the most impressively-sited standing stones in Europe, at Callanish, and you have the ingredients for a great British holiday, in the company of Outer Hebrides resident naturalist Stephen Duffield.

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Outline Itinerary Day 1 : We meet up with Stephen at Stornoway airport during the afternoon. From here we head to the hotel, perhaps with a short birdwatching stop depending on flight times. Our hotel is situated on the west coast of Lewis, not far from the famous standing stones of Callanish. There will be the chance to take a local evening walk from the hotel for any who want to. Day 2 : This morning we head for Ness and the dramatic coastline of the Butt of Lewis, but first we

stop to check the sea for divers. Red-throated Divers breed beside small lochs but go down to the sea to feed, while Great Northern Divers are here on passage, on their way back to Iceland and the Canadian Arctic. All should be in their spectacular breeding plumage. This coast is the only site in the UK where White-billed Divers have been a regular feature in recent springs. The Butt of Lewis lies a couple of miles further north and we’ll take a gentle walk from the lighthouse around the headland and the contorted rocks making up the cliffs here. It is early for Corncrakes, but the first few should have arrived, and are easier to see at this time when the vegetation is short. After dinner there will be the option of an evening walk and excursion to Carloway Broch, one of the best preserved of these mysterious and imposing Iron Age defence towers on the islands. Day 3 : Today we head across the Pentland Road traversing an expanse of moorland that holds breeding Golden Eagle, Merlin, Greenshank, Golden Plover and Red-throated Diver. This single track road also provides us with a short cut to Stornoway from where we will begin our exploration of Broad Bay. From here we head to the north end of Point and Tiumpan Head then retrace our route back to Stornoway to explore the harbour and nearby Castle Grounds. Finally we shall venture along the western side of Broad Bay calling in at Tongue, Gress and North Tolsta where we’ll take a short walk along the “Road to Nowhere”. For all those interested, after the evening meal we’ll head to the nearby Callanish Stones to see them at their best when the site is quiet without visitors. Day 4 : Today we head south to the hilly island of Harris and the dramatic scenery of the Sound of Taransay. Further south we’ll stop and scan the Atlantic waters at various view-points adding to our tally of sea duck and divers before stopping at Northton for

SCOTLAND

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a hotel in the township of Carloway on the west side of the Isle of Lewis, which offers comfortable accommodation, fine food and spectacular surroundings. Part of the hotel’s charm and tranquil feeling is accentuated by the beautiful lochan that fronts the hotel. All rooms are en suite. TRAVEL : We meet Stephen at Stornoway airport on the first day at 1630, to meet the flight leaving from Glasgow at 1500, and pay our farewells there at around 1000 on the last day in time for the 1225 flight (based on 2013 schedules). Clients wishing to travel by ferry will be sent directions. LEADER :

Stephen Duffield

NUMBERS :

Max. 7 clients

PRICE : Single supp*. : Deposit :

£ 1,195 £ NIL £ 300 per person

The price is per person and includes 6 nights' accommodation, all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 7, minibus transport, admissions, incidental tips and the services of the leader. The price excludes flights to and from Stornoway airport, travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. * limited number of singles available at no supplement

a short walk across the machair. Turning back north we complete a circuit of southern Harris by taking the Golden Road along the east side of the island. This passes through an area known as Bays, well-known for its Otters. It’s also got the feel of another world with so much exposed rock it is often compared with the surface of the moon! Day 5 : Today we head out to the remote west side of Lewis and begin our exploration at Mangersta. Moving on we visit the golden sands of Uig beach famed for the uncovering of the Lewis Chessmen whose origin and circumstances of their discovery remain a mystery. Anything could turn up in spring but with residents like Golden Eagle around we certainly won’t be stuck for something to look at.

BRITISH ISLES

Day 6 : Today we head back towards the Butt of Lewis calling in at Skigersta and Port of Ness in search of White-billed Divers once more. Migration is in full swing and Ness, lying at the north end of the land mass of the Outer Hebrides, is a magnet for migrants. Day 7 : We hope to have time this morning to focus on looking for eagles on the road to Lochs in east Lewis. Both White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle occur in the area in good numbers. The tour concludes at Stornoway airport for return flights in the afternoon.

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Standing Stones at Callanish, with the hills of Harris in the background.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Orkney

Rousay 

Birsay  Hoy



ORKNEY

SCOTLAND

Wildlife and History Thursday 15 April – Thursday 22 May 2014

(8 days)

We spend a spring week on the green isles of the north for huge numbers of breeding birds, an excellent array of northern flowers, and some of Europe’s finest archaeological monuments.

he archipelago of Orkney forms a complex jigsaw of land and water, and the land itself is a patchwork of habitats: from sea-cliffs and beaches, through rich farmland and wetland, with numerous freshwater lochs, to areas of dry moorland. The isles are much more fertile than their Shetland neighbours to the north, prompting the observation that on Orkney they are farmers with fishing boats, whereas on Shetland they are fishermen with crofts! The fertility of both the land and the sea, and the diversity here, gives rise to a corresponding wealth of wildlife, particularly birds. Here can be found an amazing concentration of RSPB reserves protecting the huge numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Kittiwake and Fulmar on the cliffs. Breeding wildfowl, waders and superb Red-throated Diver are found on the small lochans, and, perhaps in their highest concentrations in Britain, Short-eared Owl on the moorland, along with both Great and Arctic Skua and a few Hen Harrier. Wild flowers also abound, including the minute and vivid Scottish Primrose. Orkney is also famous for its superb array of archaeological monuments, including Maes Howe, generally acknowledged to be the finest neolithic chambered tomb in Europe, and the splendidly preserved Skara Brae, a village dating from 3,000 BC. Fast-forward 2,500 years, and Orkney becomes the land of the Picts and their immediate ancestors, the remains of whose fortified brochs still stud the coastline. We shall be taking time to visit several of these sites, many of which are also in the best areas for wildlife! This is lovely walking country, and we’ll be taking some fine walks along cliffs and over moorland. The light, especially at this time of year when the long summer evenings never seem to end, is clear and

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Birds and Ancient History at the Ring of Brodgar

wonderfully atmospheric, and the late sunsets can be magnificent! Once again leading this splendid all-round tour will be Liz Charter, who worked in Orkney both as a wildlife adviser for 10 years and a freshwater expert before that. She will be accompanied by Tim Earl, TN’s principal leader and a great bird guide.

Itinerary Clients may be met either at Stromness, where the ferry from Scrabster arrives in the early evening, or at Kirkwall Airport by arrangement on Day 1. During the week we plan two boat trips to other islands (weather permitting!) to Rousay and Hoy, as well as exploring Orkney Mainland and several other islands reachable by causeway. The tour concludes

after breakfast on Day 8, when clients will be offered transport either to Stromness or Kirkwall.

TRIP DETAILS ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a beautifullysituated hotel standing in its own grounds in the most wonderful location: on the shores of one of north Mainland’s many lochs. It has an awardwinning restaurant, featuring in several gastronomic guides. PRINCIPAL LEADERS : Liz Charter & Tim Earl NUMBERS :

Max. 12 clients

PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,195 £ 195 £ 200 per person

The price is per person and includes 7 nights’ accommodation, meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 8, transport within Orkney, admissions, and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes travel to and from Orkney, holiday insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses. Please do not book your flights to and from Orkney until you have had confirmation from us that the trip is going ahead as planned, and that your proposed times are suitable. This trip will be operated in conjunction with Naturalist Journeys of the USA.

“It was a superb week - one of the best…We learnt so much and I’m sure you know we also had great fun and laughs…” J.S., Beds “A very good mix of history and wildlife. A thoroughly enjoyable tour – well up to my expectations.” J.R., Middx. Old Man of Hoy

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

BRITISH ISLES

What you say :

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Outer Hebrides

North Uist Benbecula

The Uists and Benbecula

Sunday 8 – Saturday 14 June 2014 Sunday 27 July – Saturday 2 August 2014

(7 days) (7 days)

South Uist

SCOTLAND

We return to one of Britain’s most remote and beautiful corners, where waders still breed in abundance, where divers in full breeding plumage haunt the lochs, where Golden Eagles soar, and where, almost uniquely now, the rasping calls of Corncrake can still be heard around the crofts. he islands of the Outer Hebrides, or Western Isles, are renowned for their wild, windswept beauty, with glorious white shell-sand beaches on the Atlantic coast, and rugged moorland indented with numerous lochs in the east. All these habitats can be found within a few minutes drive of each other, and it is this diversity, packed into a small area, that gives these isles such a wealth of birds. These are also isles of hauntingly beautiful landscapes, still sprinkled here and there with traditional turf-roofed ‘white houses’, built with mighty stone walls to keep out the all-pervasive wind that is such a constant feature. The “machair”, an alkaline grassland formed from seashell sand, is in full bloom at this time, but the main attraction here will be one of the best concentrations of breeding waders in Britain. Amidst the cacophony of wader calls here we shall pick out Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redshank and Dunlin, with the fabulous ‘drumming’ of Snipe. Here too we listen for the area’s most sought-after bird: the elusive Corncrake. We will hear the distinctive rasping call of this formerly common British bird around the crofts, but patience will be needed to see them well. In contrast, the eastern moorlands and lochs should hold breeding Red- and possibly Blackthroated Divers, and the skies are always worth inspecting here – these islands remain one of the best areas in Britain to see the magnificent Golden Eagle, while other breeding raptors include Peregrine, Merlin, Kestrel, Hen Harrier, and Buzzard, with White-tailed Eagle always a possibility. Shorteared Owls are another delightful moorland bird, and Arctic Skua also breed. Late July is best for the diversity of flowers and insects. The very rare Irish Ladies Tresses orchid is coming into flower, while there should still be some Lesser Butterfly orchids in bloom. The increasingly rare Great Yellow Bumblebee is a strong possibility. We also hope to do some moth trapping, which could produce some northern specialities.

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Langass Stone Circle, North Uist

We travel to the islands from Oban, in daylight on each occasion, to get the best out of one of the most attractive of Hebridean sea voyages (a six-hour crossing), with Manx Shearwaters, Gannets and auks abundant on the sea, and with a possibility of Storm Petrels, porpoises and dolphins as well.

Itinerary Day 1 : Meet Stephen at Oban at around 2.30 pm, for a 3.40 pm ferry departure to Lochboisdale on South Uist, with dinner on the ferry and arriving at around 10.00 pm. Overnight Benbecula Days 2 - 6 : Five nights Benbecula Day 7 : Depart Lochboisdale on South Uist at about

2 pm on Day 7, returning to Oban by around 7.30 pm. We can give details of overnight accommodation in Oban if required.

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : We stay in a well-situated hotel on Benbecula (2-star, “Taste of Scotland” awards) with all rooms en suite. LEADER :

Stephen Duffield

NUMBERS :

Max. 7 clients

PRICE : Single supp*. : Deposit :

£ 1,195 £ NIL £ 300 per person

The price is per person and includes 6 nights’ accommodation, all meals (except on the ferry crossings), ferry crossings as described above, minibus transport, admissions, incidental tips and the services of the leader(s). The price excludes travel to and from Oban, travel insurance, meals on the ferry crossings, drinks and other personal expenses. * Limited number of singles available at no supplement.

What you say: BRITISH ISLES

“Stephen always went the extra yard for his clients…outstanding natural history, altogether a very enjoyable week!” J.N., Herts. “Excellent guiding…tour style and balance excellent. Would very much like to repeat this sort of trip.” L.N., Herts.

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A White House on South Uist

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Scottish Highlands

An Autumn Spectacular at Aigas and a Bon Voyage to Robin Noble

Aigas 

 Inverness

SCOTLAND

Saturday 12 - Saturday 19 October 2013

(8 days)

Join us in the Highlands for the last time with Robin Noble, as the bracken and birch leaves turn gold and the red deer are rutting in the hills. We explore the Caledonian Pine Forest and firths full of wildfowl while based on a splendid Victorian estate. Expect roaring Red Deer stags in the estate and roaring log fires to come home to! This will be Robins final tour for us here at The Travelling Naturalist before we bid him a fond ‘adieu’ for his new adventure in France!

Dear Friends, I have been working for The Travelling Naturalist quite literally for longer than I can remember..maybe somewhere in the office that first contact lurks in some file! I know that it all started at Aigas Field Centre, which is based in a Victorian country-house near Beauly, Inverness-shire. I had been working there as General Manager for some years, during which time I got to know Simon Beard, a schoolmaster and friend of Jamie’s, who came each year with his school for a wonderful week of exploration of the natural richness and freedom of the Scottish Highlands. Jamie mentioned to Simon that he was looking for someone to lead trips to Orkney, and Simon remarked that I used to live in Orkney, where I had previously been running a small Field Centre. And so it began.... As I say, I have no idea how many of those introductory trips to Orkney I have done, since Jamie and I did the first one together. I went on to add a few other, contrasting trips: one to the inner Hebridean isles of Eigg and Rum, another based in three centres, on the East, North and West of that enormous, empty, beautiful County of Sutherland-(where I lived, latterly). The Eigg and Rum trip was fun, but quite hard work for everyone concerned, as there was, effectively, no transport on either island and we simply had to walk-the further we walked, the more we saw. Our accommodation was very varied too; from the homely comfort and wonderful cooking at Kildonnan House on Eigg, to the run-down splendour of Kinloch Castle on Rum-a building which makes the House of Aigas look modest! The Orkney trips were almost constant for many years, and it gave me great pleasure to introduce so many people to these wonderful islands. I made a lot of friends in the process, and we had a great deal of fun, I think-but I do recall a few problems too: the midges on Rum, the (unnamed) hotel which had forgotten we were coming, the day when we had to find emergency accommodation in Mallaig, because we could not see the Small Isles, let alone reach them, with a wild gale blowing down the Sound of Sleat. As it all began with Aigas, so, appropriately, I will lead my last trip for The Travelling Naturalist at TRIP DETAILS Aigas, this October 2013. Thanks to all the wonderful guests and friends, to everyone who has been so TRAVEL : Clients may be met either at Inverness helpful and efficient over the years in the office, and, especially, of course, to Jamie. railway station, or at Inverness airport after 3 pm on Day 1, or may arrive at Aigas after 3pm. We gather for afternoon tea at 4.30pm on Day 1 and the holiday concludes after breakfast on Day 8, although earlier departures can be arranged.

he Scottish Highlands are at their most romantic in late September and October, with autumn colours permeating the trees, mist lingering in the glens and stags roaring in the hills. We stay fifteen miles southwest of Inverness, based at Aigas Field Centre, a fine Victorian mansion built as a shooting lodge. Aigas has been Scotland’s premier residential Field Centre since 1977, and is the family home of Sir John and Lady Lucy Lister-Kaye. They always make us feel most welcome here, and John

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Aigas House: a superb base for a week in the Highlands

delights in interpreting the origins of the landscape, geology and ancient history that are unique to Aigas, and that form a backdrop to his muchacclaimed book ‘Song of the Rolling Earth’. Aigas has a well-deserved reputation for comfort and excellent food, and its small estate includes mixed woodland, pine plantation and a most attractive loch. Guests are accommodated in spacious wooden lodges. Aigas is the site for a trial introduction scheme for European Beavers, which has featured several times on BBC television programmes, including ‘Autumnwatch’ and ‘Johnny Kingdom goes to Scotland’. Uniquely, we can now see beaver-felled trees and beaver lodges around a loch for the first time in Britain for over three hundred years! The Beavers themselves are more difficult to see, but have been seen on early-morning visits to the lochside hides. We’ll also be visiting a hide to watch for Pine Martens and Badgers one evening. The lodge is the perfect base for exploring the Highlands. One day visit Easter Ross and the Black Isle. This year we have added an additional boat trip out of Cromarty Bay in search of Bottle-nosed Dolphins. To the north and west, the long glens run between the mountains, with soaring Golden Eagles. The hills are also the realm of the evergrowing Red Deer herds. We will also make one longer expedition to the west coast via Loch Maree.

ACCOMMODATION : At Aigas Field Centre, as described above in twin rooms with private bathrooms. A very limited number of single rooms are available. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Robin Noble NUMBERS :

Max. 14 clients

PRICES : Single Supp. : Deposit :

£ 1,245 NIL £ 200 per person

The price is per person and includes 7 nights’ accommodation, all meals on the tour, transport on the tour and Inverness/Aigas, admissions, and leadership. The price excludes travel to and from Inverness, travel insurance, drinks and other personal expenses. Please do not book your flights to and from Inverness until you have had confirmation from us that the trip is going ahead as planned, and that your proposed times are suitable.

What you say: “It was a good mixture, with lots of educational value. Aigas was certainly a unique experience I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you!” S.H, Cheshire “It was a great success…Robin is good at sharing his wide knowledge of the geology, wildlife and history of Scotland.” H.C., Somerset

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

BRITISH ISLES

Best wishes

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Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula Penguin paradise on South Georgia

Wildlife riches of the Sub-Antarctic

FALKLAND ISLANDS SOUTH GEORGIA

ANTARCTIC PENINSULA

FALKLAND IS.

22 November – 10 December 2013 (18 days) Aboard Akademik Ioffe 31 January – 18 February 2014 (18 days) Aboard Akademik Ioffe Other Departure dates are available, please see the website or enquire for more details.

Ushuaia - Ushuaia Ushuaia – Ushuaia

You may feel, as we do, that if you make the journey to the bottom of the world you may as well stay awhile. On this farreaching expedition to the islands of the South Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic mainland, you will revel in 18 eye-popping days of exploration. Busybody penguins in rookeries by the thousands, behemoth icebergs reflecting startling greens and blues, humpback whales feeding on krill and of course the continent-sized sweeping ice sheet of Antarctica. his is our most extensive Antarctic expedition. We depart from Ushuaia and make our first stop in the Falkland Islands. Here, we will find a relatively warm climate where an abundance of unusual wildlife thrives. Sixty species of migratory birds and the rare rockhopper penguin inhabit these islands. Our voyage on the well-appointed Akademic Ioffe, continues through the Antarctic convergence to the pristine island of South Georgia. Towering glacier-covered mountains are merely the backdrop to spectacular wildlife sightings including rookeries of the pompous king penguin, several seal species and the laughable macaroni penguin. We hope to see the South Orkney Islands, often cloaked in mist, as we make our way to the South Shetland Archipelago and Antarctica. We all experience a deep sense of awe when we first glimpse the much-anticipated continent. Even our One Ocean Expeditions’ leaders, who have led more than a hundred expeditions, are still overcome by its formidable beauty. We are greeted by thousands of icebergs that look like modern art sculptures lining the bays of Paradise Harbour or Hope Bay. Meanwhile an overwhelming profusion of wildlife is on display from penguins torpedoing

WILD AMBITIONS

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through the water, to predatory leopard seals staking their claim on ice floes. We hope to stand on the mainland of the White Continent itself. From this vantage point, it is easy to understand why legendary explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Sir Ernest Shackleton were so captivated by this haunting region. Note : As with all our expeditions, safety is our top priority. For that reason weather, ice or other conditions may require us to change our itinerary and shore excursions as we go, but that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment. Day 1 : Ushuaia – Embarkation, and set sail for the Beagle Channel Day 2 : At Sea Days 3 - 4 : Falkland Islands Days 5 - 6 : At Sea Days 7 - 9 : South Georgia Days 10 - 12 : At Sea and the South Orkneys Days 13 - 16 : South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Mainland Days 17 - 18 : Drake Passage Day 19 : Ushuaia – Disembark

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : Please see our website for details of the cruise ships, and deck plans showing the cabins. LEADERS : Specialist Antarctica guides attached to each ship. NUMBERS : The maximum number of passengers is given with the ship details. PRICES PER PERSON : from £7,995 per person for 17 nights based on a triple share DEPOSIT : from 10% cost price per person The prices are per person, and are fully inclusive of the cruise, meals during the voyage, shore excursions by Zodiac and activities throughout the voyage, leadership, taxes and port charges. The prices usually exclude flights to and from the departure port (although there may be a special charter flight included on some), travel insurance, optional tips to leaders and crew, drinks, and other personal expenses. For other South Georgia cruises, and the full itinerary for the cruise described above, please refer to our website for further information.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Antarctica

South Shetlands 

ANTARCTIC PENINSULA

‘The Ultimate Wilderness’

Multiple departure dates from December 2013-March 2014 and December 2014-March 2015. Please enquire for full details.

Voyage south, to what must surely be the ultimate destination for the lover of wildlife and wild places – the vast, mountainous, ice-bound continent of Antarctica. Cruise amidst the immense icebergs, the towering peaks, the awe-inspiring glaciers, the steaming volcanoes and the growling sea-ice of this last great wilderness.

TRIP DETAILS

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Gentoo Penguin colony

ACCOMMODATION : Please see our website for details of the cruise ships, and deck plans showing the cabins. LEADERS : Specialist Antarctica guides attached to each ship. NUMBERS : The maximum number of pagssengers is given with the ship details. PRICES PER PERSON : from £ 3,950 per person for 9 nights based on a triple share Adelie Penguins

lovely Light-mantled Sooty and Grey-headed Albatrosses, abundant Cape Petrels and delightful prions. At some point you'll cross the Antarctic Convergence – where the cold Antarctic waters suddenly meet the warmer ocean. As well as the temperature, the birds change abruptly too, with Southern Fulmars accompanying the ship, and the chance of seeing your first penguins 'porpoising' through the waves. You can also keep a sharp lookout for the first icebergs, which truly herald your arrival in the Antarctic, and always cause excitement on board. But when you arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula, be prepared to be dazzled! Even experienced cruise guides, many of whom have visited the southern region countless times, are still astonished by its beauty and its wildlife. Enormous numbers of penguins, whales, seals and seabirds can be seen congregating in the food-rich waters along the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic shores. Antarctic Fur Seals and gargantuan Elephant Seals breed in dense colonies on beaches. Here, dominant males maintain large harems of females in territories creating a wildlife spectacular never to

DEPOSIT : from £ 10% cost price per person The prices are per person, and are fully inclusive of the cruise, meals during the voyage, shore excursions by Zodiac and activities throughout the voyage, leadership, taxes and port charges. The prices usually exclude flights to and from the departure port (although there may be a special charter flight included on some), travel insurance, optional tips to leaders and crew, drinks, and other personal expenses.

Occasionally the Antarctic weather can be glorious!

be forgotten, whilst the ferocious-looking Leopard Seals hunt penguins and seals off the ice shelves. You’ll also visit vast rookeries of waddling Gentoo, comic Adélie (often described as ‘miniature men in evening dress’), and abundant Chinstrap Penguins. While the problem on most wildlife trips is to get the groups close enough to see the wildlife – here the problem is keeping far enough away! With no experience of man as a predator, most of the wildlife is completely fearless, and will allow really close-up views. Put all this together and you can see why many experienced travellers think that Antarctica offers the best wildlife adventure in the world. All of this can be experienced from the comfort of one of our purpose built vessels, Plancius, Akademik Ioffe, or Orion I and II. With expert guides on board to lead you during the landings via zodiacs and guide you through this wondrous environment, we will make sure that not a single opportunity is missed to make memories that will last a lifetime.

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

WILD AMBITIONS

ne of the last truly unspoilt environments on the planet, the mysterious and enigmatic White Continent is unparalleled in its majesty: a landscape where nature reigns supreme! Breathtaking scenery of towering snowcapped mountains, dormant volcanoes, fiords, glaciers and icebergs, enchants us as we follow in the footsteps of the early intrepid polar explorers, taking us to the last great wilderness right at the ‘End of the World’. Since the days when it appeared on maps as a shadowy land to the south of the known world marked simply ‘Terra Incognita’, Antarctica has captured the imagination of adventurous spirits. Even in today’s shrinking world where nowhere is more than a twenty-four hour flight away, this region is still, for most, only accessible by ship. With a summer of continual daylight, and winter of continual darkness, Antarctica has possibly the coldest, driest, most unpredictable and inhospitable climates on earth. This, combined with its inaccessibility, has helped to preserve it as pristine wilderness. During the short polar summer at least part of the continent becomes free of ice and accessible for landings, and it is then that Antarctica can reveal a few of its secrets to the more adventurous traveller. The region’s wildlife is truly extraordinary: fur seals, sea lions, whales, penguins, albatrosses and petrels… rarely will an hour pass without some spellbinding sight as we travel to places redolent with history and adventure. The adventure starts as soon as you board the ship in Ushuaia, where seabirds patrol offshore, but as you head south of Cape Horn and cross the Drake Passage, seabirds accompany the ship, providing wonderful close-up views of many, from the huge Wandering Albatross to the diminutive Wilson's Storm-petrel. Others you may encounter include

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Iguazu Falls and Ibera Wetlands ‘Wildlife of Northeastern Argentina’

Fixed departure dates: (10 Day tour) Saturday 14 September – Monday 23 September 2013 Other departure dates available throughout the year. Please enquire for details.

Iguazu 

ARGENTINA Valdes





Buenos Aires



ARGENTINA

Calafate

This tour has been specially designed for those who enjoy general natural history and nature photography, staying only in two hotels/lodges throughout the entire trip. Join us on this wonderful nature travel adventure through the subtropical rainforest of Iguazú, with its spectacular waterfalls, and the marshlands of Iberá, home to a large array of wildlife, including Capybaras, Caymans and a great diversity of birds. This is a dream journey for naturalists who enjoy fauna, flora, photography and learning about the local culture. Our group size limit for this tour is 8 participants with one Tour leader. Iguazú Falls

ortheastern Argentina is a land of extensive marshlands, grasslands and rainforests. Iguazú National Park is perhaps the most wellknown protected area in this region, but it is certainly not the only one. The two northeasternmost provinces of Argentina contain the highest concentration of bird diversity in our country: these are Corrientes and Misiones. Misiones is the province of the mighty Iguazú Falls, and our journey starts here, watching and photographing the unique fauna and flora of the Interior Atlantic Forest. Great Dusky Swifts fly overhead and into the falls by the thousands in the area of Devil’s Throat, where the highest and most impressive falls stand. Such exotic birds as Toucans, mixed flocks of colourful Tanagers and many other rainforest dwellers will be part of our Iguazú welcome committee, along with nearly 500 species of astounding butterflies. Mammals are both attractive and diverse here. Coatis are a common sighting around the visitor areas of the falls, and Capuchin Monkeys are often seen along the forest trails. There are many marsupials here, with some tiny, secretive species like Ihering’s Three-striped Short-tailed Opossum, and larger, more conspicuous ones, like Whiteeared Opossum. Deer live in these forests as well, and chances are high for close encounters with three different species of Brocket-Deer. The Iguazú mammals list is extensive, and these are only some of the many animals that we hope to see during this part of the tour. Our journey continues towards the southwest, crossing the Campos, a restricted area of savannas in smooth hills with patches of forests. The wide diversity and vast numbers of wetland bird species are overwhelming in this area. This is the habitat of the endangered Saffron-cowled Blackbird and the gorgeous Streamer-tailed Tyrant. We will spend the last part of our journey exploring Iberá Marshes, the

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largest wetland in Argentina. Here we’ll have our best chances to find birds with highly restricted distribution ranges in Argentina, such as Strangetailed Tyrant, Ochre-breasted Pipit and White-tailed Goldenthroat. Mammals and reptiles are also abundant in Iberá. Black-and-gold Howler Monkeys can be spotted regularly in the surroundings of our lodge. Marsh Deer are common sightings in the marshlands and Capybaras thrive in every lagoon, sharing their realm with Caymans and Yellow Anaconda. Itinerary: Day 1 - 3 : Your Tour leader will meet you at the airport of the Argentine city of Puerto Iguazú, in the afternoon of Day 1. We will spend Days 2 and 3 exploring the Argentine side of Iguazú National Park. Besides visiting the area of the falls, we will also have chances to explore other isolated trails, normally closed to general visitors, where we’ll search for rare birds and other wildlife. Three nights Iguazu

WILD AMBITIONS

PACE : We will not be walking very far on this tour (2-3 miles on a walk at most). TRANSPORT : Is by air conditioned minibus and 4-wheel drive where absolutely necessary. WILDLIFE HIGHLIGHTS : Capybara, Toco Toucan, Spectacled Cayman, Blue Manakin, Black-and-gold Howler-Monkey, Yellow Anaconda, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Marsh Deer, Green-headed tanager and an incredible array of butterflies. PRINCIPAL LEADER : Pablo Petracci NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

GUIDE PRICE : Single supp. : Deposit :

£ 2,795 £ 350 £ 600 per person

Prices are also valid for all departures before April 2014.

Day 5 : We will go visiting a provincial reserve near Iguazú, where the forest is different, with a dense bamboo understory and different bird species. Overnight Iguazu

FLIGHTS : TBC (we may require full payment in advance for these in addition to the main tour deposit). However please allow approx. £ 1000 per person for the International flights, and £ 200 for the domesric flights.

Day 6 : We will leave Iguazú for Iberá. On our way there, we will cross one of the most important Argentine bird habitats: the Campos of Misiones. We will stop along the way to explore the wide diversity of wetlands and forest patches of this area. Overnight Ibera Wetlands

Day 10 : We will drive to the city of Posadas, where the tour ends at the local airport.

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ALTITUDE : Low elevations.

Day 4 : We will cross the border and get into Brazil, to visit the Brazilian side of Iguazú. Overnight Iguazu

Days 7 - 9 : Are the last three of this tour, and are to be spent at the spectacular Iberá Marshes, exploring such diverse habitats as savannas dotted with patches of forest, lagoons, marshes and rice plantations. Three nights Ibera Wetlands

Capybara

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION : At Iguazu we stay in a 3 star/comfortable hotel, set in it’s own grounds with all rooms en-suite. At the Ibera wetlands we stay at a remote lodge in an excellent location. Some rooms may share a bathroom with one other room.

Single room requested at time of booking (may not always be available) The price includes private transportation for all transfers and excursions, accommodations on a twin/double basis. (Single supplements on request), full time tour leader to accompany the group from day 1 in Iguazú to day 10 in Posadas, all breakfasts, lunches, box-lunches and dinners with one non alcoholic drink per person/meal, admission fees to all national parks and nature reserves. The price does not include, International and domestic airfares and airport taxes, tips to guides, drivers, hotel & restaurants personnel, etc, personal travel and medical insurance and anything not specified in “What is included?” Please Note : If there is no availability at the Ibera Lodge, we will use a lodge in a nearby village with all rooms en suite.

For further information, please visit www.naturalist.co.uk


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Maquenque  Tortuguero  Arenal   La Selva San José

Costa Rica

Turtles & Toucans!

Departures throughout July-September 2013-2014 PANAMA

Pacific Ocean

e begin at Tortuguero “Region of Turtles”. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles nest and hatch here throughout the months of July to October, all along the beaches of the Tortuguero National Park. Huge adult females up to six feet long haul themselves up on to the beaches to dig their immense nesting pits, whilst tiny hatchlings are digging their way out of eggs the size of golfballs, and beginning their race to the sea like tiny ‘clockwork toys’, where – if they are males – they could then spend the next 100 years without ever returning to land! Spending a night vigil watching these amazing creatures emerge from the ocean to lay their eggs, and the newly emerged hatchlings at sunrise propelling themselves toward their life at sea is one of the world’s great wildlife-watching experiences. Toruguero is not just turtle-beaches however: a system of canals and waterways winds through the rich, low-lying rainforest. The best way to see these is by boat, and we’ll be taking a dawn wildlife cruise here, watching the forest come to life as the Caribbean sun rises. Costa Rica also has a vast array of fauna and birdlife, and we will explore the low lying rainforests, swamps, and a variety of jungle habitats in search of Mantled Howler Monkeys, Keel Billed toucans, Great Green Macaws, bare-necked Umbrella birds and a wide array of parrots to name but a few! La Selva Biological Reserve alone is home to more than half of the countrys’ birds amongst an astonishing array of other wildlife. This really is a naturalists heaven!

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Caribbean Sea



COSTA RICA

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(11 days)

Costa Rica is amongst our favourite destinations anywhere in the world, containing spectacular mountains, active volcanoes, luxurious hot springs, pristine beaches, tropical rainforest festooned with orchids and bromeliads, and a truly amazing diversity of flora and fauna. We’ve designed this ‘Turtles & Toucans’ tour as an introduction to Costa Rica’s superb natural wealth. It also just happens to be the most important nesting site in the entire Western half of the Caribbean for the endangered Pacific Green Sea Turtle! (Chelonia Mydas). We combine all this with a visit to Volcan Arenal, the most consistently active volcano in the world. Please Note: Tours will be led by our excellent local guides based in Costa Rica. Itinerary Day 1 : Arrive San Jose, airport shuttle to the hotel. Overnight hotel Bougainvillea (D) Day 2 : Transfer to Cano Blanco dock, and transfer by boat to Jungle Lodge in Tortuguero. Night hike along the beach of Tortuguero in search of nesting sea turtles. (B,L,D) Overnight Laguna Lodge (B,L,D) Day 3 : Dawn canal journey to see the Caribbean sunrise, explore the unique paradise of Tortuguero, before your second night turtle watching. Overnight Laguna Lodge (B,L,D) Day 4 - 5 : Sarapiqui. Transfer to La Selva Verde Lodge for your two night stay exploring the rainforests only a short distance from La Selva Reserve. The superb network of trails allows access to every habitat, and the local guides really know their area well. The birds here seem used to visitors, and species like the normally secretive Great Curassow, may be seen wandering about only a few feet away. The lodge is an excellent wildlife area in its own right. We have seen Sunbittern, Fasciated TigerHeron and Two-toed Sloth in the area, while bats can

TRIP DETAILS

ACCOMMODATION will be in hotels or lodges with all rooms en suite. Some of the lodges are remote, and have simpler–style rooms, often in cabins. MEALS : All meals mentioned above included in the price (B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner) TRANSPORT is by car or minibus usually driven by the guide. WALKING : Walks will be taken at a slow pace stopping frequently to observe wildlife. PRINCIPAL LEADER : English speaking local Naturalist Leaders NUMBERS :

Max. 8 clients

GUIDE PRICES : (for a group of 2 persons) 2013: £ 3,245 per person 2014: £ 3,445 per person Single supp. : £ TBC Deposit : £ 500 per person Cost does not include international flights, meals and snacks other than those specified, alchoholic beverages, airport departure tax US$28.00 per person, tips & gratuities. Please note: prices above quoted for a minimum group size of 2PAX sharing. For single supplements please enquire.

be seen roosting in the eaves of the cabins. Two nights Selva Verde Lodge (B,L,D) Days 6 - 7 : Transfer to the Caribbean-slope forests around Lake Arenal. Towering above the lake is Volcan Arenal, the most consistently active volcano in the world. Previous groups have seen red-hot lava boulders rolling down the distant black slopes at night, but even if it is covered in cloud you can hear odd explosions and rumbles coming from the mist. We stay overnight at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, affording views of the green lower slopes and the rocky, barren cone of the volcano in clear weather. The second day will be spent exploring the trails of the area, and visiting the Ecotermales Hot Springs, (where you can swim in a volcanically-heated pool!) in the afternoon. Two nights Arenal Observatory Lodge (B,L,D)

WILD AMBITIONS

Days 8 - 9: Transfer to the area of Boca Tapada, San Carlos, for two days explrong the forests and trails of the area, and scouring the river banks in search of parrots! Two nights Maquenque Lodge (B,L,D) Day 10 : Transfer back to San Jose, with stop en-route for lunch. The afternoon is for you to enjoy at leisure. Overnight hotel Bougainvillea (B,L,D) Day 11 : Farewell Costa Rica! Transfer back to the airport for your return flight home. (B) Leatherback Sea Turtle

Know before you book!: For travel health advice, please refer to: www.nathnac.org

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Magnifcicent Frigatebirds (Photo: Mike Read)

Galapagos & Ecuador

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

The Enchanted Isles and Cloud-forests

Departures: Every Friday throughout the year subject to availability. Aboard M/V Beluga

The isles of the Galapagos are surely on every wildlife enthusiast’s dream-list of places to visit. Join us for a cruise around these ‘enchanted isles’ on one of the best of the smaller vessels operating there. And why not combine this with a trip to the fabulous cloud-forests of the Andes, with a dazzling array of birds.

ying 600 miles away from the continent of South America, the remote isles of the Galapagos have played a central role in the history of man’s ideas. Named “The Enchanted Isles” by the first sailors because of the mist that often hid them from sight, they have had a long history as a haven for both explorers and pirates. But it was Charles Darwin’s observations of the relationships between the islands’ species, inspiring one of the most revolutionary of scientific theories, that ultimately caused the human species to look at itself quite differently. Today the scientific value of these isles in providing a natural laboratory of ecology and evolution is probably greater than ever. The Galapagos Islands are one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the world. As well as their twenty-six endemic bird species and amazing seabird colonies, they have many unique creatures, including Giant Tortoises and Marine Iguanas. Formed by volcanic action, never joined to any continent, and still very isolated, these islands display a classic evolutionary history. Colonisation, almost at random, followed by the evolution of the few colonising species into a variety of often strangely adapted forms has produced an incredibly distinct and characteristic assemblage of life forms. The islands today form a fascinating but fragile evolutionary laboratory, and

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Santa Cruz

Fernandina

Isabela

San Cristóbal Floreana

Española

G Galapagos Islands

are still the subject of intense biological study. But it is probably the tameness and abundance of the birds and other wildlife that make the Galapagos uniquely attractive to anyone with an interest in the natural world. Their position in the cold Humboldt current flowing north from the Antarctic, and bringing nutrients to the surface, make the surrounding waters rich in fish and plankton, and account for the huge numbers of seabirds here, including, amazingly on the equator, Galapagos Penguin. The underwater world is no less fascinating, and, although the water can be surprisingly cool, there will be several chances to snorkel over the reefs and submerged volcanoes around the Galapagos shores, looking at the enormous diversity of fish, including huge Manta Rays, sharks (including Scalloped Hammerhead), as well as turtles and some of the other abundant marine life. One of the very best boats that cruise around the islands is a small luxury motor-yacht, the M/V Beluga. With a maximum capacity of 16 passengers in double cabins, each equipped with private facilities, the yacht is fully air-conditioned (lovely when you come back in for lunch!) and has a 9-man crew. The Beluga is outfitted with a stabilizer system making for the smoothest running in the calm Galápagos seas. The main salon is spacious, and

equipped with sofas and chairs, a bar and entertainment center. Passengers gather here for briefings by our guides, to watch films, enjoy a drink at the bar or just relax. She has eight very comfortable and luxurious cabins with plenty of storage. The sun deck offers plenty of space to sunbathe, read a book, take pictures, or just enjoy the journey to the next island, and there is plenty of deck space for watching seabirds and marine life, also providing superb photographic opportunities. It is also one of the fastest, meaning less time spent travelling between the islands. Smaller yachts have much more flexibility than the larger vessels, and we’ll be able to enjoy a really top quality experience during our voyage through the islands. Landings – some wet, some dry – will be made from small open ‘pangas’ or dinghies. Activities like snorkelling or swimming, which are optional, are normally performed before or after the main morning and afternoon visits. Because the naturalist guides need to be present during these activities, guests who do not wish to participate in them will stay on board. We offer two itineraries that run in alternate weeks. If you have a favoured itinerary, please check the dates with us. We can also combine all or part of the two itineraries to make a longer cruise. IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE ITINERARIES: These itineraries are subject to change without notice for various factors including but not limited to: safety, weather, mechanical breakdown, unforeseen emergencies, and the discretion of the Captain, Guide, and the Galapagos National Park.

WILD AMBITIONS

Fernandina Itinerary Day 1 : Upon Arrival in Quito you will be met by our representative at Quito airport and transferred to your hotel for your overnight stay. Day 2 : We take a morning flight from Quito to the small island of Baltra in the Galapagos, where we board Beluga, our boat that is to be our home for the next seven days. Where we go depends on the

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Our vessel, the Beluga (Photo: John Muddeman)

For full details, please visit the Wild Ambitions website: www.wildambitions.co.uk


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weather, but a provisional itinerary should proceed as follows: You will then head to Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz is one of the oldest islands, with lush vegetation in the highlands. We travel up to the brim of an extinct volcano to look for a number of landbird specialities, including the dashing Vermilion Flycatcher and Cactus Finch. We also visit some of the local farms. This is the best place for Giant Tortoises, sometimes seen grazing alongside cattle, and has much endemic flora. Back down at Puerto Ayora, the main Galapagos town, we’ll visit the Charles Darwin Research Station for a look at their captive breeding programme.

Day 4 : Overnight we’ll make the long crossing west to Isabela and Fernandina. Here we can see one of the key endemic species, Galapagos Flightless Cormorant. As in the other islands, we’ll also be able to see a variety of Darwin’s Finches, including Large Cactus Finch. The endemic Lava Gulls can also be found. Wedge-rumped Storm-petrels nest, and, true to Galapagos’ unique style, they are active by day! The waters to the west of the islands offer the best chances for encountering cetaceans, including both Bottle-nosed and Common Dolphins, and with a chance of Humpback and Bryde’s Whales. Days 5 - 6 : Isabela Island (Albemarle) is the largest of the Galapagos Islands formed by five active volcanoes fused together. Highlights include the Tortoise Breeding Station. Day 7 : Fernandina Island (Narborough) is the youngest volcanic island and is still active, famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and for Galapagos Flightless cormorant & Galapagos Penguin. Day 8 : We cross to Santiago, or James Island. The volcanic lava cones of James Island have some good surrounding rock pools, alive with the orange and yellow Sally Lightfoot Crabs, but it is the Galapagos Fur Seal that is the main wildlife attraction here, together with some recent lava flows. Day 9 : Tiny North Seymour, where we make our penultimate landing, has incredibly tame Bluefooted Boobies to step carefully around, with Magnificent Frigatebirds inflating their outrageous gular pouches at eye-level. Return to Baltra for your return flight to Quito.

Giant Tortoise (Photo: John Muddeman)

TRIP DETAILS

Day 10 : After breakfast this morning depending on your flight schedule there may be time to shop for some local crafts and souvenirs at the nearby market, before being met once again by our representative and transferred to Quito airport for your return flight.

ACCOMMODATION : Cabins as described above subject to availability. Single cabins may be available on request with a supplement.

Tower Itinerary: Day 1 : As in the Fernandina itinerary.

TRAVEL : We can arrange your international flights for you. Please contact us for prices and availability.

Day 2 : We take a morning flight from Quito to the small island of Baltra in the Galapagos, where we board Beluga, our boat that is to be our home for the next seven days. Where we go depends on the weather, but a provisional itinerary should proceed as follows: You will then head to Santa Cruz Island, where you may get your first sighting of the world famous Giant Tortoise! It’s a very short ride to the harbour where we board Beluga, our boat that is to be our home for the next seven days. Day 3 : We head to the south of Santa Cruz where we visit the small island of Santa Fe. Here there are Galapagos Sealions and Land Iguanas, with nesting Brown Pelicans. The well-known Land Iguanas here can grow over five feet long. In the afternoon we continue to South Plaza island, which has one of the largest populations of Land Iguanas in the Galapagos, and is also home to Marine Iguanas living along the coast, as well as a unique hybrid between the two – a possible new species evolving! Day 4 : We then head east to San Cristobal (Chatham), first visiting Punta Pitt on the north-east tip of the island. This is a superb area for volcanic tuff formations, and all three booby species: Bluefooted, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies can be seen together, as well as both Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds. Day 5 : As next day dawns we’ll find ourselves off Española (Hood) whose remote location has given it a large number of endemic creatures. These include a distinctive purple subspecies of Marine Iguana, and Hood Mockingbird which have no fear of man and frequently land on visitors’ heads and shoulders searching for food. However the star attraction here is the Waved Albatross, from Apr to Dec. The island’s steep cliffs serve as the perfect launching pads for these large birds which remain on Española until December when the chick is fully grown. Day 6 : You will then head to Santa Cruz Island. See Day 2 of the Fernandina itinerary Day 7 : Santiago or James Is. See Day 8 of Fernandina itinerary.

LEADERS : Galápagos National Park Guides from Enchanted Expeditions. NUMBERS :

Max. 15 clients

PRICES (ex international flight) Guide prices : High Season*: £ 3,795 Low Season: £ 3,495 Single supp. (Quito only) : £ 245 Single cabin supp.** £ 1,495 Deposit : £ 1,000 per person High Season* 08 Dec – 30 Apr, 16 Jun – 31 Aug, 01 Nov – 30 Nov Please add £120.00 net per person for Christmas and New Year periods. The price is per person, and is fully inclusive of scheduled return flights Quito to Galapagos, full board accommodation, transfers and cruise as described and the services of the local guides. The prices exclude return flights UK/Quito (please allow approximately £900.00), fuel surcharges, travel insurance, Galapagos National park entry fee (currently US$100 pp), tips, Quito Airport departure tax, any meals in Quito, optional tips to guides and crew(allow $150 pp), drinks, and other personal expenses. **It may be possible to offer one or two cabins as singles subject to availability.

with a harbour in the submerged caldera. At Darwin Bay the steep cliffs dominate the island. Arguably the best seabird colony in the whole of the Galapagos, the area is thronged with thousands of Magnificent Frigatebirds, Red-footed Boobies, noddies, and tropicbirds. The endemic Lava Gulls can also be found here alongside Wedge-rumped Storm-petrels, and, true to Galapagos’ unique style, they are active by day! Day 9 : Turtle Cove is a red mangrove lagoon on Santa Cruz and a perfect example of how mangroves alter the marine environment to create a rich and unique habitat. Return to Baltra for your return flight to Quito.

WILD AMBITIONS

Day 3 : We visit Floreana Island (Charles). Floreana is best known for its colorful history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts, and early colonists, and intriguing human history! Punta Cormorant, has two contrasting beaches and a large inland lagoon where flamingoes can be seen. Devils Crown is a snorkelling site located just off Punta Cormorant where hammerhead sharks can often be seen lazing on the ocean floor. The site is a completely submerged volcano that has eroded to create the appearance of a jagged crown. Post Office Bay is one of the few sites visited for its human history as well as being an excellent snorkelling site for turtles.

Day 10 : As Day 10 on Fernandina itinerary. These are itineraries for a Galapagos cruise ONLY. As you will fly to and from the Ecuadorian mainland why not allow us to help you plan an unforgettably wonderful vacation in the Andes or Amazon along with your stay in the Galápagos?

Day 8 : Overnight we’ll make the long crossing north to Genovesa (Tower), an eroded flat volcanic island Plush-capped Finch (Photo: John Muddeman)

For any queries, or to make a reservation, please contact us on 01305-267994

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Booking Information

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WHEN TO BOOK

The short answer is as early as possible! Because we run smallgroup holidays, popular tours can fill up very fast indeed, sometimes, as tour details appear on our website early, before the brochure comes out! Several bookings come in over a year ahead for tours, and as a rule of thumb, many tours are full around four to six months in advance. Single rooms are usually the first to be filled, so please think ahead even earlier if you require one of these. However we do get a few last-minute cancellations, and it is definitely worth enquiring about vacancies on any tour, even just a few weeks in advance. Please also note the section on early booking discounts below. Last-minute bookings: We inevitably receive a few unexpected late cancellations over the course of a season so it is always worth enquiring about vacancies on any tour – even for those departing in just a few weeks time!

BEFORE BOOKING

 Please make sure you have checked the Health Advice for the destination. See The National Travel Health Network and Centre website www.nathnac.org  Please make sure you have checked the latest Travel Advice for the destination. Visit the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk  Please read through, and, if possible, print out the long detailed version of our tour description on our website. The detailed information, which is not provided in this brochure, may answer many of your queries about the tour.

How to Book

 Give us a ring or email us first (info@naturalist.co.uk) to check availability of your preferred tour and dates.  We can hold provisional telephone reservations for up to 14 days.  Bookings can be made directly online by using our website www.naturalist.co.uk and use credit or debit card for payment (see below for credit card charges for balance payments)  Bookings can also be made by post. Please fill in the booking form (enclosed with this brochure) and send it with a cheque made payable to "The Travelling Naturalist" or credit /debit card details as deposit.  If you would like information sent to more than one address, please use a separate booking form for each address, even if sharing a room on the tour.  Please let us know about any extra arrangements, tour extensions or connecting flights that you would like us to arrange at time of booking.

Client Loyalty Discounts

BOOKING INFORMATION

Our loyalty discount scheme has been operating for several years now. This year, we're continuing to give a 5% discount of the main tour price (excluding any single supplement) on every fifth trip you take with us! To claim the discount, just let us know how many trips you think you've taken with us when you book (still sending the full deposit), and we'll check against our files, and deduct the appropriate amount from the final invoice. If you wish, you can save up two 5% discounts to get a 10% discount on your tenth tour! Please note that this loyalty discount scheme applies to tours that appear in this brochure, and on The Travelling Naturalist’s website!

Early-booking Discounts

Early bookings help both you and us in many ways. Not only are you sure of your place on a trip, but we can secure flight tickets and accommodation much more easily well in advance. This is especially true for long-haul destinations. To further encourage early booking, we're offering a straight £ 40 per person discount for each 2014 & 2015 departure booked before 31 October 2013. Please note that booking forms and full deposits must actually be received by us by that date to qualify, and that the discount will be deducted from the balance, not the deposit. Please note that this early booking discount scheme applies only to tours that appear in this brochure.

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 Please include your travel insurance details if possible with the deposit.  We will forward, normally within seven working days, full written confirmation and an invoice, showing the balance due, and the date by which it should be paid. Please make a note of this date in your diary, as reminders are not sent unless stated.  About three months before departure you will receive joining instructions and details for the holiday.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries.

PAYMENTS

 Deposits: The amount of deposit per person is given with each tour description. We accept payment by cheque (drawn on a UK bank in GB Pounds Sterling), by BACS or internet banking (please ask us for our bank details), and by debit card. We also accept most major credit cards (not AmEx).  Final Balance: Full payment of the balance is due not later than 12 weeks prior to departure (18 weeks for some US tours). We will send you an invoice with booking confirmation. We accept payment for final balances by cheque or debit card, and by credit card (with a 2% commission charge for the latter– see below).  Credit Card Charges: Please note that due to escalating credit card charges we are no longer able to absorb the cost of these. We will not charge for payment of the initial minimum deposit (as detailed in each tour description), but will make a 2% commission charge on any balances or subsequent payments (eg interim flight deposits) paid by credit card. We will not charge this for payments made by debit card, or by cheque.  If you are paying by credit or debit card, please use the secure payment facilities on the website, or let us have the card details on the printed booking form or by phone – please do not email us the card details. Card details are destroyed once used, so we may need to phone you for details for second or subsequent payments, and also sometimes need verbal authorisation from you in addition to the details.  Payment by overseas clients must be in UK £ sterling and may be made by debit card or credit card (with a 2% commission charge for the latter).  Late Bookings: In order for us to guarantee airline seats, hotels etc for you, full payment is required at time of booking for all late bookings (i.e. bookings made within 12 weeks of departure).  Please note that we do not accept cheques drawn on US Banks in US Dollars, or cheques in Euros, or Eurocheques.  Please note that we do not accept part payment of deposits or balances, nor post-dated cheques, which will be returned to you.

Recommend a Friend – and you can both save £50!

Why not request a brochure for a friend who is new to The Travelling Naturalist, and who you think would enjoy our style of holidays? In fact many of our new clients have already come to us this way… and then stay with us! If your friend then books for the first time with us, and you are named on their booking form, we’ll say thanks by giving both you and your friend a £50 discount on your next holiday with us – and we’ll repeat this for every new friend that books! For example: recommending two friends who book will save you £100 off your next holiday and your friends £50 each off their holiday. So go on – spread the word! To claim your £50 :  When your friend books a holiday, ask them to mention at time of booking your name and address.  If they have never travelled with us before, we will give them a discount of £50 per person.  We will send you a £50 voucher off a future holiday with The Travelling Naturalist for each friend you have recommended.