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SPEYSIDE WILDLIFE Bird and Wildlife Watching Holidays in the UK and Overseas 2018


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www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


2018 holiday schedule This is our 2018 schedule at a glance. Details of each holiday or experience, are given in full in this online version, just start turning the pages to find the destination that suits you. In addition, details are also on our website, where you’ll also find photographs and feedback from guests who have been with us on previous trips. A “Holiday Highlights” trip report can also be downloaded from each holiday details web page. To ask about any of these, or for any other queries, don’t hesitate to phone us on +44 (0) 1479 812498.

Colin Scott, Bison on Elk Flats,Yellowstone

Scotland 28 Mar-7 Apr 28 Apr-5 May 4-12 May 5-12 May 18-27 May 19-26 May 26 May-2 Jun 1-13 Jun 12-22 June 24 Jun-1 Jul 30 Jun-7 Jul 7-14 Jul 28 Jul-4 Aug 4-11 Aug 1-8 Sep 1-8 Sep 2-9 Sep 6-13 Oct 13-20 Oct

Europe Islay and Speyside Easter Speyside 24/7 The Outer Hebrides Spring Birds in Speyside North Coast 500 Spring Birds in Speyside Spring Birds in Speyside A Hebridean Odyssey Mull and Speyside in Summer Shetland Isles Wildlife Bonanza Birds, Botany and Botanicals Rewilding Scottish Mammals in Summer Fair Isle Raptors of the Highlands Orkney Autumn Wildlife in Speyside Autumn Wildlife in Speyside

pg 26 pg 38 pg 42 pg 46 pg 50 pg 46 pg 46 pg 60 pg 64 pg 68 pg 70 pg 74 pg 78 pg 86 pg 94 pg 96 pg 98 pg 108 pg 108

The Farne Islands East Yorkshire

pg 76 pg 106

England 7-14 Jul 29 Sep-6 Oct

1-5 Feb 7-15 Feb 7-14 Apr 30 Apr-11 May 5-12 May 19 May-2 Jun 10-18 Jun 16-24 Jun 30 Jun-7 Jul 25 Aug-2 Sep

24 Feb-11 Mar 8-20 Apr 5-12 May 26 May-9 Jun 26 May-10 Jun 25 Aug-2 Sep 25 Aug-8 Sep 8-21 Sep 15-29 Sep 3-14 Nov 3-20 Nov

Asia

All year All year All year

12-28 Jan 17-30 Mar 21 Apr-2 May 1-15 May 29 Jul-14 Aug

Africa 16-27 Mar 22 Jul-5 Aug

Morocco Uganda

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

pg 16 pg 18 pg 28 pg 36 pg 48 pg 54 pg 62 pg 66 pg 72 pg 90

The Americas

Other Experiences Day Trips, Cairngorms, Scotland pg 10 Dusk Watch, Cairngorms, Scotland pg 12 Tailormade Tours pg 13

Andujar - Lynx, Spain Predators of SE Spain Extremadura, Spain Georgia and Armenia Estonia A Spanish Odyssey Hungary in Summer Croatia and Slovenia Birds and Music, Czech Rep. Romania

Costa Rica North Trinidad and Tobago New York City, USA Yellowstone in Spring, USA Peru and Machu Picchu Nova Scotia, Canada Brazilian Pantanal British Columbia, Canada Yellowstone in Autumn, USA Florida, USA Patagonia, Argentina

pg 20 pg 32 pg 44 pg 56 pg 58 pg 88 pg 92 pg 100 pg 102 pg 110 pg 112

Japan Sri Lanka Jordan Iran Mongolia

pg 14 pg 22 pg 34 pg 40 pg 80

pg 24 pg 84 3


WHAT MAKES A SPEYSIDE WILDLIFE HOLIDAY When we started in 1991, running trips and holidays in Speyside in the Scottish Highlands, designated as the Cairngorms National Park in 2003, in recognition of how special this area is, we never dreamed that we would now be running holidays around the world from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Our ethos however remains the same, to deliver fun-filled holidays, packed with wildlife and our destinations have always been determined by this and by where you want to go next. We pride ourselves on our high level of personal attention and won’t race around in pursuit of big lists. We keep to small group sizes (normally 12). Our guides are experienced and their enthusiasm infectious. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced, young or old, we are happy to take the time, so you can enjoy the wildlife to the full. Our dedicated office team make sure everything runs smoothly before you arrive and our expert chef at the Steading in Speyside gets as much praise as the wildlife and can tailor meals to specific requirements. “The Steading is comfortable, clean and warm, but most important of all, welcoming. Lovely seating areas, with lots of interesting books etc - I only wish I’d had more time to sit and enjoy them!” Joan Oglesby, 2015

Cath Wright: The Steading

Fully Inclusive

OUR CUSTOMER SERVICE PROMISE:

Our holidays are just that - holidays. We’ll fit in as many exciting and interesting activites as we can, but still give you completely relaxed enjoyment. You’ll find little if any extra spending money is needed, as our holidays are all-inclusive - the price you see is the final price you pay and covers accommodation, meals, transport, boat and ferry costs and flights, as detailed with each destination. Not included are travel insurance, visas, personal telephone calls, drinks etc. at the accommodation and items of a personal nature.

Typical Days Out We generally breakfast about 8am to make the most of the morning’s bird and wildlife activity, but often arrange optional pre-breakfast excursions. In tropical areas we’ll start earlier to avoid the midday heat, but don’t be frightened to lie-in - it is your holiday after all! We eat out during the day or take a picnic lunch in the field and, at the end of the day, return to freshen up before dinner, where we all eat together.

“From the moment of being picked up at the station through 10 fabulous days, I could not have wished for anything more. Being new to birdwatching I did not know what to expect, but the professionalism, kindness and dedication of our two guides has blown me away.”

Don Mills

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To share oustanding fun-filled wildlife experiences, where you are always treated as an individual, not one of a crowd. Relaxing afterwards, we’ll run through the day’s wildlife sightings and highlights, or perhaps arrange an optional dusk excursion. We try and fit in as much gentle walking as we can during our days out. There may be more rigorous walks occasionally, but wherever possible we shall offer a less strenuous option. You’ll require a moderate degree of fitness, but no more than average. People find our holidays fun and informal, with guests, including both beginners and those more expert, adding to their experience. On each trip, we get a real mixture of singles and couples, spanning a range of age and ability. Our easy-going guides will make sure that your holiday is fun to be on.

Where We Stay Wildlife watching often takes place in beautiful remote regions with beautiful remote accommodation to match. These places are often unique. We try and find the most friendly, rural, good quality, family-run accommodation with ensuite facilities. We blaze a trail by finding some terrific hotels away from the run of the mill tourist fare, places of character that others don’t use. For us, great food and comfortable accommodation, with wildlife watching near at hand, are all vital ingredients for a successful holiday. www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Speyside are the only wildlife holiday firm I’ve ever travelled with, and I can’t see any reason to look at any others! Also, as this was a special occasion for my parents, a Speyside trip seemed the obvious choice, given their close relationship with the firm. You’re practically family to us. ” Alison Cawley Roy Atkins, Purple Honeycreeper, Trinidad and Tobago

Easy To Get To If you’re holidaying with us in Speyside, Inverness airport is only a 1hr 30min flight from London and we can arrange an airport pick-up for you for a small charge. If you prefer to travel by train, we can collect you free of charge from Aviemore train station at 4:30pm, 6:30pm or 7:30pm and of course we’ll return you to the station on departure. All our holidays around Scotland start in Speyside, Inverness, Oban or Glasgow and we’ll give you details of the meeting points for each. Again, if you prefer to travel by train, they all have stations. If you’re joining us on an overseas holiday, a map of the airport or train station, together with a meeting point and time, will be sent to you prior to the start of the holiday.

Roy Atkins, Jaguar, Pantanal

Photography Our holidays are aimed at providing a great wildlife watching experience. While they are not designed as photography holidays, many guests do take the opportunity to capture wonderful photographs to add to their enjoyment (and often the enjoyment of other guests). Most of the pictures in this brochure have been taken by guests or guides and we are pleased to be able to use these to illustrate “what you see is what you get” - our guides really do have a knack of finding birds and animals.

Duncan Macdonald, Gentians, Georgia

HOW TO BOOK Bookings can be made manually, or you can visit our website to check availability and book and pay online. Full terms and conditions are also available online, along with details of each holiday.

Phone

+44 (0) 1479 812498

Email

enquiries@speysidewildlife.co.uk

Please feel free to call or email us and we’ll be happy to advise you of the spaces remaining on your chosen holiday. We can also send you a “Holiday Highlights” trip report.These are also available on the website.

Web

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Whether booking online or sending in a booking form, payments for holidays can be made by bank transfer or cheque. In addition, we accept payment from the following major credit and debit cards via PayPal. (Transaction charges may apply.)

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Post Wester Camerorie Ballieward Grantown on Spey Cairngorms National Park PH26 3PR Scotland

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MEET OUR GUIDES Roy Atkins

“Roy was amazing, he and Paco are just so good together. They both kept everybody informed of the daily plans. It’s always a pleasure having a guide like Roy around, he is just great fun.” Neil Avis 2017

We’ve known Roy for over 25 years. He’s a great all-round naturalist and years’ of experience in the world of teaching have made him a great people person. Our guests travel with him again and again to far-flung places such as Costa Rica, Patagonia, Mongolia and British Columbia. His sense of fun and knowledge of birds, plants and animals make him a very popular leader.

Darren Rees

“Darren was excellent. He was particularly patient with making sure everyone saw and heard what he said. He was also good at getting people on to the target birds.” Carol Dienger 2017

Darren is a great birder and quite simply fun to be with. He has led countless groups for us in Arizona, Texas, California, South Africa and Namibia. This year he will be taking guests to New York, Yellowstone, Nova Scotia and Sri Lanka. He is also a talented artist:‘Bird Impressions’ is his acclaimed collection of bird paintings; and his latest book ‘Ice Bound’ follows his exploits in Antarctica’.

Simon Pawsey

“Simon was FANTASTIC. He endeavored to find as many of the target birds on my list as possible. I had 16 life birds which I think is great. He did a really good job.” Sharon Kirkpatrick 2017.

Originally from NE England, Simon now lives in Speyside and has had a love affair with the area all his life. A keen birder from a young age, he has travelled all over the Highlands and Islands seeking out the Scottish specialities. His extensive knowledge of birds and mamals, coupled with his enthusiasm, warm personality and sense of humour, ensure that you’ll have a great experience with Simon as your guide.

Simon Eaves

“Faultless - always gave us all the information needed and responded to the weather to get the maximum from each day’s activities and never tired of us asking questions.”

Simon is one of Speyside’s keenest birdwatchers. He knows as much as anyone about the wildlife of the Scottish Highlands and has a real interest in scarce birds, mammals and identification challenges - with him as your guide you’ll learn a huge amount about Speyside. That doesn’t stop him taking guests further afield for us however, to places such as New York City and Nova Scotia.

Craig Round

“Craig’s sharp eyes take some beating when it comes to wildlife spotting and he’s very knowledgeable, with a unique

Craig loves Speyside and the Scottish Islands and has led tours in Scotland for nearly 25 years, taking our guests regularly to Mull, Shetland, Fair Isle and the Outer Hebrides. He has a great combination of field naturalist skills, outgoing personality and incredibly sharp eyes; along with an astonishing knowledge of birds, mammals and insects.

sense of humour!” Sarah Sharland 2017

Sharon Cairns

Sharon’s food has won her great plaudits during the time she has been working with us, having started soon after we began our holidays in Glenfeshie. She has produced many of the wonderfully irresistible culinary creations that have expanded waistlines over the years and also manages the day-to-day workings of the Steading on our Speyside holidays. 6

Gill and John Haveron 2017

“Well what can I say? Sharon is amazing. Every day something new and delicious. All that home made cake and shortbread, what’s not to love.” Diana Smith 2017

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


Julian Sykes

“Julian was excellent, he really knew his stuff and was quite prepared to explain how he knew which raptor was which. His networking with the local guides was really helpful.” Ian and Lydia Taylor 2017

A native Yorkshireman, Julian now divides his time between there and Spain, so is the perfect guide to take you on our Andujar, Extremadura and Pyrenees holidays. Not that this stops him from leading tours to British Columbia, India, Estonia and Uganda. He has a lifelong interest in wildlife and his friendly outgoing nature makes him a very popular guide and ideal member of the team.

John Grierson

“John was excellent. His knowledge of the local area is encyclopaedic and he was very happy to share all that knowledge and experience with us.” Pam and Malcolm Mundy 2017

A native of Perthshire, John has lived in Aviemore for over 25 years. Prior to becoming a guide, John was involved in wildlife crime investigation throughout the Highlands and was able to use his extensive knowledge of birds and animals to great advantage. An enthusiastic wildlife watcher, he lists all creatures as favourites and therefore is a perfect choice for days out in the Cairngorms as well as holidays.

Sally Nowell

“Sally was FANTASTIC. SO knowledgable and she had gone above and beyond in trying to get us to see all the things we asked for. She made sure each of us got the best experience possible.” Susan, Robert and Alice Logan 2016

Sally has travelled extensively to pursue her interest in wildlife watching, particularly birds, and has been based in Speyside for the last 22 years, so has an excellent knowledge of Highland wildlife. Sally is a keen walker and loves to try and get off the beaten track to discover the hidden corners of the Highlands. She has recently retired from a career working in the NHS.

John Walters

“John gave my son (and myself) a truly magical evening. I am certain that I will be ‘badgered’ into further dusk watches. I certainly hope so... Thank you for a memorable evening.” John Haswell 2017

A local from Kingussie, John gained his wildlife knowledge working with native species at the Highland Wildlife Park. at nearby Kincraig. He is therefore the perfect choice to guide you on our evening wildlife watching visits to our hide on the Rothiemurchus Estate for views of Pine Martens and Badgers.

Duncan Macdonald

“For us Duncan is up there with the very best of the guides we’ve used over the past 15 years. His interest and knowledge about a wide range of elements of nature and the area we birded in, made the days spent with

With nearly 20 years’ experience leading wildlife watching groups in the Highlands, Duncan is spending more and more time taking our guests further afield to the Pyrenees, Yellowstone, Bulgaria and Extremadura. He has a background in environmental education and conservation, which gives him great guiding skills, as well as knowledge of a wide range of birds, mammals, butterflies and bugs!.

him fascinating.” Richard Gordon 2017

Jack Ward

“Especially I appreciated the breadth and depth of Jack’s knowledge..... from geology to natural history to cultural history... and he was also an excellent birder.” Jonathan Pope 2017

Since moving to the Cairngorms in 2010 Jack has lived and worked across the Scottish Highlands, travelling throughout the Hebrides and the far North West. He has a love of all things wild, with expertise in all UK deer species and birds and loves to explore the relationships between wildlife and their environment. His enthusiasm for wildlife is rivalled only by his desire to share his wildlife experiences with others.

“Crammed a lot into eight hours, which was rewarding. We will remember it as one of the most memorable days of our 25 years of visiting Speyside.” David Smith 2017

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Tim Drew With 30 years’ experience behind him,Tim is a passionate ornithologist and a keen all-round naturalist who was born with ‘binoculars around his neck’. He enjoys nothing more than exploring places in search of birds, butterflies and all other beasties and sharing his knowledge with others. He has a soft spot for the Scottish Highlands and Islands but has also travelled widely throughout Europe and Asia. 7


MEET OUR OTHER “EXPERTS” Our guides are the expert birders and naturalists who lead the tours, but behind them stands the invisible group of other “experts”, who are just as essential in making sure that every holiday runs smoothly and guests have a great time. They include the people who plan, research and organise the individual holidays; who arrange the logistics, provide the meals, deal with queries and generally keep the show on the road.

Sally Dowden

“We have travelled with you many times before - this was our thirteenth trip - so we know what we are getting - quality, quality quality!” Ian and Lydia Taylor 2017

Sally owns Speyside Wildlife and is still very much hands on in the organisation. Responsible for the smooth running and complex logistics of the business, she spends more time nowadays sharing best practice experiences with businesses from other parts of Europe, who come to Scotland to learn about wildlife tourism.

Lisa Gunn

“Booked via email, communication was with Lisa and she was an

Lisa has been with us for twelve years now and is responsible for all the accounting and systems management. Along with the daily accounting processes, company pensions, wages, budgets, contribution schedules and VAT, she organises the hide and vehicle logistics, all of which help to keep her busier than ever!

excellent help.” Amanda Wallace 2016

Tania Pedersen

“Just completed the survey, thanks so much for your help. Your professionalism and efficiency was much appreciated. The trip lived up to and exceeded expectations

Tania is one of the voices you’ll hear when you call our office. She deals with all aspects of administration to ensure you have all the information you need for your holiday. She shares responsibility for organising all our overseas holidays, dealing specifically with the complex logistics of the long-haul trips.

in every way.” Cathy Thompson 2017

Susanne McCafferty

“Thank you for the excellent organisation, which means I don’t have to worry about anything as it’s all been arranged. I look forward to a holiday with you

Susanne has been with us for nearly twelve years. Born and bred in Speyside, she deals with all aspects of our Scottish holidays, such as all the different trips to the Steading, plus Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides and Mull, as well as organising the day guiding in the Cairngorms and further afield.

again next year.” Fay Tempest 2017

Cath Wright

“Cath was absolutely brilliant and quietly and calmly suggested an alternative plan, which she then proceeded to organise very efficiently.” David and Gillian Smith 2017

Cath develops our increasing contact with guests through talks for bird clubs, plus our own events up and down the country. Her background in hospitality and marketing, means she is best placed to ensure we get to see as many of you as possible around the UK and she will often be your first point of contact.

Eliane Barton

“Very many thanks for all the revised information and for your efforts on our behalf – much appreciated. We hope that Christmas will be a special time for you and your family.” David and Mary Penton 2016

Eliane has joined us recently, having returned to her native Speyside with husband Dave and daughter Skye. She shares the responsibility for our overseas trips and undertakes the administration of most of our short-haul holidays. For part of this year she is on maternity leave, following the birth of her second child.

“I have been on many trips with you and they are so well organized. I have never had a bad trip.” Neil Avis 2017

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Viki Hughes Viki has joined us as part of the office team to cover maternity leave for Eliane. She will assist Tania with the administration of your holidays and undertake the organisation of most short-haul trips. When not working in the office, Viki enjoys all aspects of craftwork and will also be taking a part-time course at Inverness College. www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


QUALITY AND STANDARDS We do all we can to ensure we offer the very best standard of service and quality to our clients. 80% of guests return their questionnaires at the end of their holiday, giving us not only very valuable feedback, but also a consistent 90% satisfaction rate. 70% of guests on our trips have been before and in our 25th year, we had over 25 guests who had taken 25 or more holidays with us, a statistic we’re very proud of.

Our Financial Guarantee Keeping your money safe and sound

When you book through us your money is safe and sound. We comply with British and European legislation in respect of the travel industry, in accordance with the Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992, where all guests booking with Speyside Wildlife are fully protected against the loss of any monies paid to us for a non-flight based holiday or trip (and repatriation if required) due to insolvency, by way of a Trust Account. The holidays with flights are ATOL Protected, as we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 4259. In the event of insolvency, the CAA will ensure you are not stranded and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking. For further information, visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk. On any flight-based holiday, CAA regulations dictate that all guests must have insurance. Proof of this cover must be forwarded before we can confirm your final payment, however we strongly advise guests to take out insurance cover on booking any holiday, in case you need to cancel prior to departure due to accident or illness. You are free to use the information sent by us, or to take out your own policy.

Cairngorms National Park

Increasing quality whilst reducing impact We’ve been granted use of this Brand by the Cairngorms National Park Authority. This is only given to those businesses who have agreed to a set of quality standards in respect of their visitor experience, together with a commitment to reducing their impact on the natural environment.

OUR CUSTOMER SERVICE PROMISE: To share oustanding fun-filled wildlife experiences, where you are always treated as an individual and not one of a crowd.

VisitScotland

Quality Assurance Scheme (Wildlife Experience) Speyside Wildlife was one of 40 wildlife businesses to be assessed under VisitScotland’s quality assurance scheme for Wildlife Experiences, achieving four star status for our day tours. An accolade that we’ve kept each year since. Watch out for the designation throughout Scotland.

Green Business UK

Green Tourism Business Scheme (Tour Operator) We have been assessed by Green Business UK for the environmental credentials operating throughout our business and are delighted to have achieved a Gold Green Tourism Award in 2016. The assessment looks at all aspects of the business, awarding credit for different areas, from our recycling policies, through our virtual office set-up, to our increasing use of social media and our newly designed App, eliminating excess paper usage. Consequently, we scored an ‘excellent’ for the purchasing, travel & transport and nature & culture sections and an ‘outstanding’ for innovation!

Environmental Policy

Doing our best for the environment We’re all increasingly aware of our impact on the environment, so we’re doing our bit to reduce our footprint. Not only are we adhering to the “recycle, re-use, reduce” ethos, but we’re also making a contribution to carbon-offset. Speyside Wildlife has linked up with ‘RSPB Abernethy’, who have a long-term vision to extend the Caledonian Pine Forest within the Reserve. For the travel and transport included in our holidays, we contribute to the RSPB to help fund their Abernethy Tree Nursery. Each hour of air travel is offset by ¼ of a tree and each 1,000 kms of car travel is offset by ½ a tree.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

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DAY TRIPS

“Your guided day out is tailored to your specific needs. Whether you want to see Golden Eagle and Black Grouse, or just a broad range of Highland wildlife, with our expert local knowledge, we shall take you to the very best locations and help you find those elusive species.” Simon Pawsey Dates

To suit you, subject to guide availability and preferred itinerary. Our website will show which days are available

Guides

We have local guides who know the wildlife of the Cairngorms and around Scotland, so can tailor the day to highlight your interests

Cost

£195 standard day if booked online (£250 if booked manually via our office) £250 extended day if booked online (£295 if booked manually via our office)

Included Wildlife guide on an exclusive basis for you and up to 6 guests. Transport for the day in comfortable 8-seater minibus or car Packages Tailor-made packages, including meals, accommodation etc. can be arranged to suit your budget - just ask and we’ll be delighted to put a quote together for you Insects Biting midges occur in summer Weather Weather varies from cold to warm and sunny (-5°-25°C), with less rainfall than much of Scotland but snow possible in the mountains Walking

Most walks will be on wide sandy tracks, except in the Cairngorms, where terrain is more steep and uneven, so walking boots are essential. Your guide will discuss walking options with you beforehand

Just some of what you could see: Red-throated Diver Black-throated Diver Slavonian Grebe Golden Eagle White-tailed Eagle Osprey Merlin Peregrine Ptarmigan Black Grouse Red Grouse Capercaillie Dotterel

Dipper Ring Ouzel Crested Tit Scottish Crossbill Snow Bunting Red Squirrel Mountain Hare Pine Marten Badger Otter Red Deer Roe Deer Bottlenose Dolphin

Jane Hope: Red Squirrel, Lochindorb, Crested Tit Colin Scott: Ptarmigan, Simon Eaves: Crossbill 10

If you’ve only a day or two to spare, or you’d like to see the wildlife of the Cairngorms but don’t know where to start, then a day out with one of our wildlife guides is just for you. Our expert guides have a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife of Scotland Book your own guide and comfortable minibus for up to seven guests Target the species you want to see in the Cairngorms National Park and wider area Collection from your accommodation or location of your choice Combine this with an evening at our wildlife watching hide Ideal for families, small groups, couples or individuals Perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, retirement etc. The Cairngorms National Park is home to some of our most iconic but elusive species of wildlife. Finding them in this vast and spectacular landscape can be a real challenge, especially if you have limited time or are unfamiliar with the area. Our expert local guides know the area intimately, so can take you to the best locations to help you find the species you’d most like to see. They can help you identify those species, recognise different bird calls, show you how to use fieldcraft and read animal tracks and signs. They can tell you about the behaviour and general biology of the species that you find in the Highlands, but most of all they will ensure that you have an exciting, fulfilling and rewarding day out. We can provide an itinerary that matches your specific wildlife wishes. Alternatively, if you’d just like to see a diverse range of Highland species, then leave that to us. On the day, we’ll judge the weather and decide where the wildlife can be found. In our comfortable 8-seater minibus we’ll take you through different habitats, to find the best wildlife. The day can include as much, or as little walking as you’d like.

They’ll also agree a start time with you. You’ll be collected from your accommodation in the Grantown-Aviemore-Kingussie area, or we can pick you up from an agreed location. Standard Days out last around eight hours (normally 9am-5pm) and extended days out last around ten hours, with an early start or later finish. To help you choose the best day, we’ve given you our suggested itineraries, showing the habitat you’ll visit and some of the species that can be found there. These are our favourites, but if you’d like to do something different, then please email us and we would be very happy to advise. If you’re staying outwith the Spey Valley, we can organise an exclusive day out, subject to mileage and guide availability and give you a specific price.

Two or three days before your day out, your guide will contact you to discuss what you’d like to see and any specific requests that you may have.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“A guided day out can take you beyond just finding the wildlife. We can help you identify tricky species, discuss aspects of animal behaviour, look at plants and butterflies and it’s all done with good humour. It’s a great way to spend a day.” Simon Pawsey Pine Forest - Visit the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest for Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill and other woodland birds. Mammals may include Red Squirrel and Roe Deer. This itinerary involves a degree of walking on good tracks and trails through the forest. Wildlife can be found year round, but the best seasons can be autumn, winter and early spring. Autumn and winter can be some of the best times to look for Capercaillie. Cairngorm Mountains - Walk into the Cairngorms for Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting, Dotterel and Ring Ouzel. We take the funicular railway up Cairngorm and have special permission to go out from the top station on to the mountain and walk to the summit. The walk is on good paths, but does require walking shoes or boots and suitable clothing. Wildlife can be seen on the higher tops year-round. Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare are present all year; Ring Ouzels arrive from mid-March onwards and Dotterel are present from May until the end of August. A longer walk into the Cairngorms on lower tracks can also be taken dependent upon levels of fitness. Moorland and Moray Firth - Explore the vast open moorlands and windswept lochs for divers, Osprey, Merlin, Peregrine, Red Kite and Red Grouse, before heading to the Moray coast for Osprey (during the summer), seaduck, waders and terns. Dependent on tide times, there’s a chance of Bottlenose Dolphin. This itinerary involves more time driving, so may be suitable for the less mobile. Divers can be found on freshwater lochs during the breeding season

from April through to the end of September,, when they relocate to the coast and winter on the sea. The winter months on the Moray Coast can be excellent for seaduck, including Common and Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck, as well as wintering waders including Purple Sandpiper. Highland Glen - Visit a spectacular local glen for Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine, Merlin, Ring Ouzel, Red Deer, Mountain Hare and Wild Goats. We drive through spectacular scenery into the heart of the mountains and then take a low level walk further into the glen on good gravel tracks. A broad range of wildlife, including the eagles, can be found all year. The Red Deer rut takes place from late September through October. Woodland Walks - Local woods provide a tranquil location to look and listen for Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and other woodland birds. Peregrine breed on the crags and Ospreys are regularly seen throughout the spring/summer. We can walk to the viewpoint if you wish, to get stunning views across to the mountains and surrounding glens. This itinerary does require a reasonable degree of fitness. The best time to visit for migrant birds, is from late April through to August. We’ll combine this location with another lowland wood further along the Strath. River Spey Walk - During spring or early summer the famous ‘River Spey’ will be teeming with birdlife; Dipper, Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Goldeneye, Common Sandpiper and feeding Swifts, Swallows and martins with a chance of

Otter. In summer the riverbanks can be good for butterflies, including Dark Green Fritillary. In winter, the river provides a calm and tranquil place for Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and other resident birds. Our Cairngorms National Park - If you’ve never been before and you want to see what makes this place special, from the landscape, to the wildlife, then just leave it to us. We know all the nooks and crannies in the Cairngorms and the best time of year to visit them. We’ll make sure we target the Scottish specialities and leave more than enough room to drink in the scenery and marvel at the landscape. Golden Eagles in the glens, Red Deer on the hills, Ptarmigan on the mountains and Crested Tits in the forests; we can decide what’s best for you. Our guides will discuss any preferences you have and how much walking you want to do, when they contact you before your day out.

Capercaillie Policy Capercaillie can be found in the forests of the Cairngorms National Park, but they are, for whatever reason, a declining species that are easily disturbed. We minimise any disturbance at crucial times to help protect the birds, by adhering to the following policies: We won’t take guests to look specifically for Capercaillie before 9.00am during the lekking period (1 March - 31 May). When going into Capercaillie habitat, we always stay on marked tracks and paths and never go looking off these. When there is an alpha male (also known as a ‘rogue’ bird) in the area we won’t go to see this bird. They are part of the lek, so we would be ‘knowingly’ disturbing them. We suggest looking for Capercaillie through the autumn and winter months, when the birds can be easier to find. We won’t be disturbing them then and young birds will have fledged and dispersed into the forests.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

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DUSK WATCH

“Memorable wildlife experiences that won’t be forgotten! What could be better than close-up views of shy, native mammals such as Badger and Pine Marten, in the comfort of a large warm hide. The supporting wildlife cast is pretty good too!” John Walters

Cost

£25.00 per adult, if booked online (£30.00 if booked manually via our office)

£10.00 per child 8-14yrs, if booked online (£15.00 if booked manually via our office)

Not suitable for children under 8yrs

Exclusive Use £250.00 per evening, if booked online (£300.00 if booked manually via our office) Opening Times

Nightly from Easter to October on an exclusive basis or as part of a group. From November to Easter on a request basis only for exclusive use or parties of 4 people or more. Pre-booking is essential. Start times vary with the seasons. In summer we don’t start until 9:00pm, in winter we meet around 6:00pm

Group Size

Maximum 12 people in the hide

Insects

Biting midges possible during summer

Walking

A 10 minute walk on a wide sandy track from meeting point to hide

Access

Car access can be arranged in advance for those with limited mobility. The door is wide enough for wheelchair access with a ramp to it. Seating in the hide is at viewing level through large picture windows

Clothing

Warm, non-rustling, subdued outdoor clothing and walking boots or shoes. Advice on the “how to do it” of wildlife watching is provided on booking

Location

A meeting point map and meeting times are provided on booking. Use the map to find the meeting point, rather than “SatNav” which is unreliable. The hide is not located at our office

Photos

Excellent photographic opportunities for exclusive users and some incidental opportunities at other times. Flash photography is not permitted, but there is outside lighting

Mike Hems: Pine Martens at the hide Sally Dowden: Our hide 12

Come and enjoy our famous “State of the Art” warm, comfortable hide in Speyside’s Caledonian Pine Forest, for Pine Marten, Badger, plus Red and Roe Deer and more. Large, comfortable, purpose built hide, in the Cairngorms National Park We regularly see Pine Marten, Badger and much more! Red and Roe Deer are frequent visitors The animals come right up to the windows, you won’t get any closer! You’ll be accompanied throughout by our friendly, expert guide Hire exclusively and have the hide to yourselves Tawny Owl, Woodcock and Buzzard are occasionally seen For a memorable wildlife encounter, spend an evening with our knowledgeable guide and watch the nocturnal creatures that visit our warm and comfortable, baited hide on the Rothiemurchus Estate in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Your guide will meet you just before dusk, at the location just outside Aviemore within the Caledonian Pine Forest and walk with you down the wide track to the hide. Once there, they’ll explain the habits and life cycles of the Pine Martens and Badgers that are the most frequently anticipated night-time visitors, while you sit back and relax and await their appearance. Whilst the animals are free and untamed and appear when they wish, years of understanding their nocturnal habits every night has ensured incredibly reliable sightings.

whatever animals are moving about in the forest around us. The animals will come to the viewing area at different times in an evening, but we expect that to occur within the 2-3 hours you will be in the hide. Photographers prefer to take the hide on an exclusive basis. We’ll meet you and take you into the hide and explain the anticipated behaviour of the animals and then leave you alone to capture the images you’ve always wanted. The outside lighting ensures flash isn’t needed and indeed can’t be used as it disturbs the wildlife. The BBC have filmed here over the years for both The One Show and Springwatch and journalists from around the world have enjoyed the nocturnal antics of the animals that appear.

Red and Roe Deer may come to the viewing area whilst it’s still light, but the visits by Pine Martens and Badgers will usually only occur once it is dark. The hide has outside spotlights however, allowing the animals to be seen clearly from the large picture windows without interference. The hide has been designed to give the maximum viewing area possible for all the guests, without fear of disturbance to the nocturnal visitors. In addition, infra-red cameras give advance notice of

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


TAILORMADE TOURS “All I can say is the trip went brilliantly. Thank you so much for all you and the team have done to accommodate us and be on hand to answer all our questions. You went out of your way to make things work out - whether that was the sorting birthday cakes or helping source moth traps or binoculars. The trip was a resounding success and all of us came back with stories and experiences that will last a life-time. Thank you for all you did to help.” Nick Baker, Naturalist. With a large group in Scotland, July 2017

Dates

To suit you, subject to guide availability. We can advise on the best times of year to go to specific destinations, what can be seen at different times of year and where in the world is best for the wildlife you want to see

All of our holiday itineraries within the UK and overseas can be organised for private groups, with optional extensions and different levels of accommodation and meals available for most destinations

Guides We have a pool of guides, each with specific knowledge and interests, who have guided around Scotland and overseas Cost

All tailormade tours are individually priced according to the number of guests and your specific requirements

Included Your package can include any of the following: flights; ferries; trains; guides; accommodation; transport; meals; and any activities or entrance fees. We make all the arrangements, so you are left just to enjoy yourselves Info

All necessary information regarding travel, walking, weather, insects, meals, clothing and accommodation will be provided in advance of the tour, together with an appropriate species list, notebooks and pens

Perry Fairman: Guests in the Highlands, Arriving on Handa Mary Braddock: Golden Eagle Jane Hope: Red Squirrel

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

For bird clubs, tour operators and friends. Take the hassle out of your group trip and let us arrange all the details, whether in Scotland or overseas, at any time of the year. Design your own holiday the way you want it - anywhere you want it! Guiding, accommodation, meals, transport etc. can all be taken care of Birds, mammals, plants and insects can all be included in what you see Our guides have a wealth of knowledge, in Scotland and around the world Take exclusive use of our Steading in the Cairngorms National Park Combine wildlife watching with culture and heritage to suit your wishes Take the hassle out of the organisation and let us arrange it for you Bird Clubs, groups of families or friends, school parties and tour operators come to us to organise private groups for them. Sometimes it’s a specific itinerary based on what they’d like to see, sometimes they rely on us to design a tour. Either way, they want us to take the hassle out of organising their holiday, so they can concentrate on enjoying the wildlife. For larger groups in Scotland, there is the option of staying at our exclusive Steading in Glen Feshie, in the Cairngorms National Park, allowing the days to be tailored specifically to your requirements. Smaller parties can rely on us to find them appropriate accommodation close to good birdwatching experiences.Wherever it is, our guides will seek out the wildlife you want to see and take you around in comfortable 8xseater minibuses. Enjoy the spectacular mountains, moorlands and pine forests of the Cairngorms looking for all the grouse species, plus Dotterel, Ptarmigan,

Scottish Crossbill and Crested Tit, together with Red and Roe Deer, Red Squirrel and Pine Marten; experience the majesty of sea cliffs on Shetland for auks, Puffins and Gannets, combined with cetacean watching from land and sea and the night-time experience of Storm Petrels churring on Mousa; walk through the Machair of the Outer Hebrides, alive with the sounds of breeding waders and the distinctive call of the Corncrake, then seawatch for Long-tailed and Pomerine Skuas on their spring passage; sample the delights of intimate seabird encounters on the islands off Mull, whilst looking for White-tailed and Golden Eagles, the latter at their highest breeding density in Europe. Let us know when you want to come, what type of accommodation you’d like and how many will be in the group and we’ll do the rest. Our professional guides will take you through beautiful landscapes to show you the finest wildlife you’d like to see.

13


JAPAN

“A winter visit to this wonderful country offers iconic wildlife, from Japanese Macaques in hot springs and resplendent dancing Red-crowned Cranes, to the world’s most magnificent raptor – Steller’s Sea Eagle. From Honshu to Hokkaido, every day will be stacked with incredible sights and sounds.” Julian Sykes Dates

Fri 12 - Sun 28 Jan 2018

Price £7,495 Deposit £1,450 Single Supp £1,050

A cross-section of Japan including Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido, with cranes galore, hordes of swans and flocks of eagles, along with Japanese Macaques, Japanese Serow and Japanese Deer.

Leaders Julian Sykes plus local guide

Marvel at the antics of Japanese Macaques as they bathe in a hot spring Watch both Steller’s and White-tailed Eagles at close range A crane fest, with Red-crowned, White-naped, Hooded and Sandhill Good chance of Blakiston’s Fish Owl - the world’s largest.... Endemics galore - Japanese Serow and Japanese Woodpecker Ancient Murrelet, Least and Crested Auklets, Red-faced Cormorant all possible Visit Matsumoto, one of Japan’s last remaining historic castles

Flights Japan Airlines, scheduled Outbound: Overnight, Heathrow-Tokyo Inbound: Morning, Tokyo-Heathrow Internal: Tokyo-Kagoshima-Tokyo, Tokyo-Kushiro-Tokyo Weather From mild in Kyushu, with a chance of rain and cold in the mountains of Honshu, to very cold in east Hokkaido. Plenty of layers recommended and outer layers should be wind and waterproof Walking

Easy to moderate, beside farm roads, on even tracks, or in the case of the one mile walk to Japanese Macaque site, potentially over snow and ice. Trekking poles are helpful for anyone with mobility issues and ice-grippers recommended for all

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 2 to breakfast on Day 17

Insects Not a problem Accom

Twin and single rooms, mixture of western and Japanese style, all with private toilet. The majority of rooms have a private shower, apart from two hotels where some rooms have use of a communal hot spa (onsen), instead of a private shower. An Onsen is a natural hot spa bathing facility, which is a traditional part of Japanese culture. Ensuite rooms allocated to first bookings

Group

12

1-2

After an overnight flight we arrive in Tokyo and head straight to our hotel for some much needed rest, ahead of gathering for dinner.

3-4

We travel inland to the mountains of Honshu, to our hotel - a traditional Japanese Onsen. On our way we shall stop at Lake Suwa to scour the flocks for Smew, Bewick’s and Whooper Swans, with chances of Dusky Thrush and the near endemic Brown-eared Bulbul. At the beautiful Matsumoto Castle we look for Eastern Spot-billed and possibly Falcated Duck. Next day, we walk through the forest to the hot spring visited by the endemic Japanese Macaques. These famous ‘Snow Monkeys’ pass through the valley, with many of them visiting to warm up. We’ll scour the slopes for Japanese Serow and keep

watch for Golden and Mountain Hawk Eagles flying overhead.

5-6

A full day walking through the beautiful Karuizawa forest and visiting the nearby Myogi Lake, set in dramatic montane scenery. We search here for endemic forest species such as Japanese Pygmy and Japanese Woodpecker, Japanese Bush Warbler and Japanese Grosbeak and if we’re lucky, we may find a Copper Pheasant. In the nearby Myogi Valley we look for Mandarin Duck and the now well established Hwamei, while the nearby river should hold Japanese Wagtail. Along the farmland edges we may find Green Pheasant, Oriental Greenfinch and Rustic Bunting. Late afternoon we fly to Kagoshima.

Just some of what we hope to see: Japanese Macaque Japanese Serow Red-faced Cormorant Ancient Murrelet Falcated Duck Steller’s Sea Eagle

Red-crowned Crane White-naped Crane Hooded Crane Blakiston’s Fish Owl Japanese Woodpecker Japanese Grosbeak

Mark Brazil: Red-crowned Cranes, Blakiston’s Fish Owl, Matsumoto Castle, Hooded Cranes, Steller’s Sea Eagle, Japanese Macaque 14

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“I have dreamed of travelling to Japan ever since I was a young man reading James Clavell’s Shogun, back in the early 80’s. Few countries have such radically different deep-rooted cultures as this eastern archipelago. Once steeped in ancient traditions, it is now being overshadowed by ultra-modern architecture and ‘state of the art’ technology. This has to be the ultimate land of contrasts and I cannot wait to experience it.” Julian Sykes

7-8

Japan in winter is not complete without a visit to Arasaki, for perhaps the most spectacular crane gathering in Asia. Up to 10,000 Hooded Cranes, 1000’s of White-naped Cranes, along with Sandhill and Common Cranes, plus sometimes something rarer is found. Spoonbills are usually seen here, while in the estuaries, flocks of Wigeon and Falcated Duck are found, with possibly American Wigeon We look for Long-billed Plover at a renowned spot. At the coast, we could encounter Temminck’s Cormorant and Vega and Black-tailed Gulls. The surrounding forests support Japanese Green Pigeon and Ryukyu Minivet. Farmland supports flocks of White-cheeked Starling, Eurasian Tree and Russet Sparrows and sometimes Daurian Jackdaw, while rice fields hold both Buff-bellied and Red-throated Pipits.

9-10

We have a travelling day with a return to Kagoshima, bound first for Tokyo then for Kushiro in east Hokkaido. The next day we enjoy the sights and sounds of ‘dancing’ Red-crowned Cranes, plus look for Ural Owl at their day roosts. Red Foxes are sometimes found here, while watching for some local Japanese Deer and White-tailed Eagle is relatively common in this area; who knows our first Steller’s could also be seen.

11-12

East Hokkaido boasts dramatic volcanic scenery and at the

beautiful lakes of Mashu and Kussharo we have time to enjoy some photographic opportunities. Along the coast, we look for seaduck including the gorgeous Harlequin and Long-tailed Ducks and Black and Stejneger’s Scoter, with grebes and divers too. Inland along the rivers, we look for Crested Kingfisher and Brown Dipper, with also the chance of Solitary Snipe. However, this is all about the world’s largest owl and in the comfort of our on-site hotel we shall spend our evenings watching for the fabled Blakiston’s Fish Owl – definitely worth staying up for!

13-15

From our base in south east Hokkaido we head for Lake Furen, where large numbers of Steller’s and White-tailed Eagles gather on the ice, making for a great spectacle and potential tour highlight. Following this, we explore the coastline and capes with a cruise offshore (weather permitting) in search of seabirds such as Ancient Murrelet, Crested and Least Auklets, Spectacled Guillemot and Red-faced Cormorants. There are gulls here, with Slaty-backed, Glaucous and Glaucous-winged, with the headlands occasionally hosting Roughlegged Buzzard, Snow Bunting and Asian Rosyfinch.

16-17

We complete our circuit of Hokkaido by returning to Kushiro for our flight to Tokyo, for our final night in Japan, before returning to the UK.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-2

Overnight flight from London to Tokyo 1 night Excel Hotel Tokyu

Day 3

Drive to Kambayashi Onsen, via Lake Suwa and Matsumoto Castle 1 night Hotel Senjukaku

Days 4-5

Visit hot springs for Snow Monkeys, then Karuizawa and Myogi 2 nights Otowanomori Hotel

Day 6

Flight from Tokyo to Kagoshima 1 night Kirishima Royal Hotel

Days 7-8

Visit Mi-ike and Sendai River areas then on to Arasaki 2 nights Hotel Toko

Days 9-10 Travel day plus visit toTsurui and Kushiro Marsh - 2 nights Hotel Taito Days 11-12 Lakes Mashu and Kussharo, then Yoroushi for Blakiston’s Fish Owl 2 nights Yuyado Daiichi Hotel Days 13-15 Nemuro via Lake Furen for Steller’s Sea Eagle, boat trip Cape Nosappu 3 nights Nemuro Kaiyotei Hotel

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Day 16

Fly to Tokyo - 1 night Excel Hotel Tokyu

Day 17

Flight back to the UK 15


ANDUJAR LYNX

“I have visited the Sierra de Andujar over 50 times, so know how frustratingly elusive Iberian Lynx can be. To compensate, the Jandula River creates an almost spiritual calm, as you sit quietly on the granite rocks, listening to the birdsong and searching for Otter.” Julian Sykes

Dates

Thu 1 - Mon 5 Feb 2018

Price

£1,195

Deposit £230

Andujar holds Spain’s most thriving population of Lynx, the world’s most endangered cat and yet is one of its best kept secrets.

Single Supp £50

Perfectly placed accommodation in the Natural Park Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Black Vulture Visit local wetlands for wildfowl and Greater Flamingos Azure-winged Magpie, Hawfinch, Hoopoe Bats, Otters, Wild Boar, Red and Fallow Deer Some of Spain’s last areas of Mediterranean Forest Fine Spanish cuisine at the end of each day

Leader Julian Sykes Flights

EasyJet, scheduled, Speedy Boarding and extra legroom included Outbound: Morning, Gatwick-Malaga Inbound: Afternoon, Malaga-Gatwick

Weather Probably a mixture of sun and showers (5°-20°C), warmer in lowland areas but can be cool in the mountains Walking There will be some short walks up to 2km on level paths, slightly rockier in the mountains Meals

All included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5

Insects

Biting insects are not usually a problem

Accom

Twin and single rooms all ensuite

Group

7

Day 1

Fly to Malaga and transfer to our base on the edge of the Natural Park, stopping enroute at Laguna Dulce 4 nights at La Caracola Hotel Rural

Days 2-4 Birdwatching and wildlife exploration in Sierra de Andujar Day 5

Transfer to Malaga for our flight to the UK, with time at the Guadalhorce Estuary

Just some of what we hope to see: Iberian Lynx Otter Wild Boar Mouflon Spanish Ibex Greater Mouse-eared Bat

White-headed Duck Black Vulture Spanish Imperial Eagle Golden Eagle Goshawk Iberian Magpie

Julian Skyes: Iberian Lynx, Black Vulture

16

1

After our morning flight to Malaga, we drive north to the Laguna Dulce where we shall spend a little time looking at wildfowl, which could include White-headed Duck and Red Crested Pochard. Greater Flamingos feed in the shallow waters, and occasionally Purple Swamphens can be found moving through the extensive reedbeds. We shall enjoy lunch overlooking open fields and hope to see Merlin, Hen Harrier and Calandra Lark, later driving on to our charming hotel in the heart of the Sierra de Andujar Natural Park, where our rooms overlook deciduous woodland, with a small bird hide on site. Birds around the hotel include Azure-winged Magpie, Firecrest and Short-toed Treecreeper. Once we’ve settled in, we might make our first visit to one of the viewing areas in the hope of finding an Iberian Lynx.

2-4

Three full days will be spent in the Sierra de Andujar, a contrasting region with some of the best representations of Mediterranean Forest still surviving in Europe. It forms part of the Sierra Morena Mountains and has a landscape of hills and mountains formed from granite, quartz and slate, which is bordered by the Jandula and Yeguas rivers. This Natural Park is home to the elusive and highly endangered Iberian Lynx, of which only 400 or so remain in the wild. We shall spend early mornings and late afternoons searching for this secretive animal from strategic points around the sierra. The rest of the time will be spent walking and driving

within the Reserve, along with time to relax in the afternoon at our hotel before our evening vigils. This Natural Park is also home to the magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle and many other soughtafter raptors, including Golden Eagle, Black Vulture and Goshawk. The tranquil rivers, separated by a series of reservoirs, with dramatic dam walls, attract Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Crag Martin and Blue Rock Thrush, with the possibility of Otters fishing the river below. We shall also hope to see Azure-winged Magpies, Short-toed Treecreepers, Firecrests, Nuthatches and Crested Tits.

5

On our final day, we have an optional early start to look for Lynx. After breakfast we’ll make our way back to Malaga Airport, visiting the nearby Mediterranean coastline. Here we hope to find Western Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls, Gannets and possibly Common Scoter offshore, with Booted Eagle and Marsh Harrier over the nearby Nature Reserve.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


Cameron Taylor

Richard Maynard

Pine Marten at Our Hide. Details page 12

Hoopoe, Sri Lanka. Holiday details page 22

Just a few of the images guests and guides have taken on Speyside Wildlife trips

Frank Mawby

Colin Scott

Griffon Vulture, Extremadura. Details page 28

Mountain Hare, Spring Birds. Holiday details page 46

Evelyn Moorkens

Emma Cram

Royal Terns, Costa Rica. Holiday details page 20

Dotterel, Spring Birds. Holiday details page 46

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

17


PREDATORS OF SOUTH EAST SPAIN

“If you fancy a challenge then this is your thing, as we hope to see one of Europe’s most elusive mammals - Genet and one of the rarest mammals in the world - Iberian Lynx in our week. Add to that the chances of Great Bustard, Spanish Imperial Eagle and European Otter and it makes for a mouth-watering prospect” Julian Sykes

Dates

Wed 07- Thu 15 Feb 2018

Price £1,695 Deposit £330

Single Supp £150

Raptors, bustards, sandgrouse, waterbirds, mammals, along with night-time vigil for Genet and morning and evening searches for the rare endemic cat - Iberian Lynx Night time visit to the mountain forest looking for Genet Sierra de Cazorla for Lammergeier, Spanish Ibex and Red Squirrel Beautiful remote hotels in the best habitats Steppe specialities: Great Bustard, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamphen, Greater Flamingo, Bluethroat Chance of the world’s rarest cat - Iberian Lynx Spanish Imperial, Golden & Booted Eagles, plus chance of Greater Spotted Eagle

Leaders Julian Sykes Flights

EasyJet, scheduled, Speedy Boarding and extra legroom included Outbound:Afternoon Gatwick-Alicante Inbound: Afternoon, Malaga-Gatwick

Weather The weather will be mixed (0°-20°C). Expect sun, showers and possibly snow, with cold winds on high exposed plains Walking Varied, from wide tracks, to forest paths. Walking boots are recommended Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 9

Insects Not anticipated this early in the season Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

7

Just some of what we hope to see: Iberian Lynx Genet Spanish Ibex Otter Mouflon Black-necked Grebe Glossy Ibis Greater Flamingo White-headed Duck Golden Eagle Spanish Imperial Eagle Booted Eagle Lammergeier Black Vulture

Purple Swamphen Great Bustard Slender-billed Gull Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Iberian GreenWoodpecker Calandra Lark Bluethroat Azure-winged Magpie Rock Sparrow Rock Bunting

1

After an afternoon flight into Alicante we’ll spend the afternoon in the Santa Pola area visiting the salt-pans and the excellent wetland of El Hondo. Waterbirds such as Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull and Purple Swamphen plus raptors, which include Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier and Osprey, but the real prize is one of the few Greater Spotted Eagles that over-winter here. Late afternoon we head inland to our charming rural base for the next three nights.

2-3

The next two days are very different, with the highlight being an evening visit to the Muela de Cortes National Reserve, for the incredibly elusive and nocturnal Genet. The earlier part of the day will be spent around the nearby Albufera d’Valencia - a huge wetland with vast numbers of waterbirds and wildfowl, including Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret,

wildfowl and waders. This area always tends to produce a surprise or two, with Black Stork being a regular winter visitor along with Common Crane and Ferruginous Duck - you never know! The next day will be spent on the Albacete Plains, where we hope to have a fabulous time getting close views of Great Bustard, along with Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, hundreds of Calandra Larks, Rock Sparrows and Corn Buntings. With all these birds you are never too far from a patrolling raptor, with Merlin, Hen Harrier and Little Owl being a distinct possibility.

4-5

Today we head south into Northern Andalucia, passing through some prime plains habitat and with luck should find more roadside steppe species such as bustards, sandgrouse and larks. We continue over the mountains of the regional northern border of

Julian Sykes: Genet, Iberian Lynx, Spanish Imperial Eagle, European Otter, Andujar landscape, Boar Mary Braddock: Azure-winged Magpie

18

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Spain in winter can be a very interesting destination, with unpredictable weather and equally unpredictable wildlife. 2016 was notable on the Mediterranean coast for having snow for only the second time in 40 years, yet at times the temperatures soared to the low 20’s, with bright sunshine, a great talking point. Whatever the conditions, there will be a profusion of wonderful animal life on offer, which will make any ‘grey day’ so much brighter.” Julian Sykes

Andalucia and on to our hotel near the Sierra de Cazorla. The next morning will be spent exploring the mountain Reserve and with our limited time, we hope to see one of their famous Lammergeiers, part of a very successful re-introduction several years ago. We shall climb the mountain roads to Rambla Seca - a dramatic place where the weather and cattle grazing mould the vegetation and landscape. Birds of prey cruise the limestone ridges, where lots of Griffon Vultures patrol, Golden Eagle and Peregrine might join them and there’s always the chance of a Lammergeier, which now breeds here after 30 year’s absence! We shall also stop at known watchpoints to look for Spanish Ibex that can be found picking their way with ease over the treacherous rocks and scree slopes.

6-8

After breakfast we drive to the Sierra de Andujar, which is arguably the best place in the world to see the incredibly rare Iberian Lynx. Our timing will ensure we have our first try for this exquisite mammal that afternoon, in the mountains of this wonderful Reserve. The next two days will be spent exploring the Sierra, a contrasting Regional Park with some of the best representations of Mediterranean Forest still surviving in Europe.The area forms part of the Sierra Morena Mountains and has a landscape of hills and mountains formed from granite, quartz and slate, which is bordered by two rivers - the Jandula and the Yeguas. Only 400 or so Iberian

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Lynx remain in the wild, so we shall spend every early morning and late afternoon searching for this secretive animal from strategic watchpoints. The rest of the time will be spent walking and driving the roads and tracks within the Reserve, along with time to relax in the afternoon around the hotel before our evening vigil. This Natural Park is also home to the rare and magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle along with many other raptors including Golden Eagle, Goshawk and Black and Griffon Vultures. The tranquil rivers, separating a series of reservoirs, with dramatic dam walls that attract Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush and Crag Martin, with Otters fishing the river below, will be in marked contrast to the lush vegetation of the rest of the trip. Everywhere we look there will be Firecrests, Azure-winged Magpies, Nuthatches, Short-toed Treecreepers and Crested Tits. If time allows we shall even take a drive up to the Santuario Virgen de la Cabeza - a dramatic and historic building that’s perched on top of a mountain in the centre of the Reserve.

9

On our final morning there could be another opportunity to go out early to look for Lynx. However, after breakfast we shall load the minibus and drive to Malaga, possibly stopping enroute, before our flight home.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly to Alicante. Exploration of El Hondo Reserve. 3 nights at Casas de Benalí, Valencia

Days 2-3

An exploration of Albufera d’Valencia wetlands and the Albacete Plains. Evening visit to Muela de Cortes Natural Reserve

Day 4

Transfer to Andalucia 1 night at Hostal San Julian, La Iruela

Day 5

Exploration of the Sierra de Cazorla before transfering to the Sierra de Andujar 4 nights at La Caracola Hotel Rural

Days 6-8

Exploration of the Sierra early morning and late evening for Iberian Lynx

Day 9

Transfer to Malaga for flight home

19


COSTA RICA NORTH

“Costa Rica is simply a joy - there seem to be birds everywhere! Every place brings another selection of toucans, parrots, trogons, hummingbirds, tanagers, raptors and more. Each place has really special species such as Jabiru, Scarlet Macaw, Sungrebe, Sunbittern and of course the astonishing Resplendent Quetzal!” Roy Atkins

Dates

Sat 24 Feb - Sun 11 Mar 2018

Price

£5,395

Approachable Central America, Costa Rica is a very friendly bite-size chunk of exotic rainforest adventure . . . without the rough edges!

Deposit £1,000 Single Supp £650

Friendly, safe country with 5% of the earth’s entire species Around 400 bird species likely and a huge variety of other wildlife Resplendent Quetzal, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, hummingbirds, toucans and macaws Sloths, howler monkeys, orchids and Arenal Volcano Lodges and hotels you won’t want to leave The very best guides who’ll make it extra-special Itinerary perfected by years’ of experience - including Tortuguero!

Leaders Roy Atkins and Paco Madrigal Flights

British Airways scheduled Outbound: Morning, Gatwick-San José Inbound: Overnight, San José-Gatwick

Weather It’s the dry season, but there could be occasional showers (or prolonged downpours) in humid rainforests. Can be cool in the mountains and cloud forest, hot on the coast (12°-35°C) Walking

Generally easy level paths, up to two miles at a slow pace. There may be occasional uphill sections and some steps. Although distances are short you will be standing and scanning for periods of time

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 15

Delicious local food at hotels and restaurants, some buffets, some menus. Rice and beans (the national dish) available everywhere, but not compulsory

Cool drinks and tropical fruit provided

Insects On occasion biting insects can be a nuisance - bring repellent Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

1 2-3

Arriving lin the afternoon we’ll overnight at Heredia, near San José.

After some exciting pre-breakfast birding in the hotel gardens, our journey to Tortuguero National Park includes a boat ride with plenty of birds. Our lodge has beautiful gardens with trogons, manakins and motmots. We shall travel in covered boats to explore the labyrinth of waterways in this atmospheric Reserve, a wonderfully relaxing way to see the birds and mammals here. The forests are teaming with wildlife and boast specialities, including Sungrebe, Agami Heron, Green-and-Rufous and American Pygmy Kingfishers. We’ll watch out for Spider Monkeys and sloths too! Mixed flocks of toucans call noisily, parrots screech overhead and we’ve seen fabulous raptors here, such as Swallow-tailed Kite.

4-6

The forested grounds of Selva Verde Lodge, in the Caribbean lowland rainforest of Sarapiqui, host skulking forest dwellers such as wrens, jacamars, ant-tanagers, woodcreepers and antbirds, while Sunbittern hunt along the river. Nearby La Selva Biological Station, one of the four most famous tropical research facilities in the world, is a must-visit site, where lowland tropical forest, swamp, pasture, rivers and creeks support an outstanding abundance of wildlife. More than 420 bird species have been recorded here, 500 butterflies, 55 snakes and 120 species of mammals! This is where your Tinamou dreams come true, since three species are here and we shall also be looking for trogons, caciques, Rufous and Broad-billed Motmots, Snowy Cotinga and impressive Great Green Macaw. We may find peccaries, agoutis, sloths and monkeys too.

Just some of what we hope to see: Great Tinamou Great Curassow Jabiru Sunbittern Sungrebe Swallow-tailed Kite Scarlet Macaw Spectacled Owl 20

Resplendent Quetzal Keel-billed Toucan Great Potoo Snowy Cotinga Hummingbirds galore Monkeys Three-toed Sloth White-nosed Coati

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“We’ll look out for slow-motion sloths, mischievous monkeys, fantastic frogs, beautiful butterflies, lively lizards and cute coatis. We have a great guide too – he is good fun and I don’t know anyone else who can find wildlife like Paco can - birds that seem invisible to the rest of us!” Roy Atkins

7-8

Arenal is one of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes, though it has gone rather quiet lately, so chances of seeing ‘fireworks’ may now be slim. Our accommodation provides fabulous views of the volcano and excellent birding opportunities in the gardens, while trails through the surrounding forests host Crimson-collared Tanager, Long-billed Gnatwren, Spotted Antbird, White Hawk, Great Curassow and three species of toucan. Feeders here attract colourful tanagers, woodpeckers, honeycreepers and oropendolas, plus remarkably tame White-nosed Coatis, a delightful relation of the Raccoon.

9

Dry tropical forests of the Guanacaste area create an almost vanished habitat, with Turquoise-browed Motmot, Mantled Howler Monkeys,White-throated Magpie-Jay and numerous parrots, woodcreepers and orioles. Limpkins and Snail Kites search for Apple Snails amongst the wet grasslands, where Wood Storks, Jacanas and Muscovy and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are found, but the real speciality is the enormous Jabiru, one of the biggest storks in the world.

species of trogon, and enormous Blue Morpho butterflies around our heads. We’ll search for Orange-collared and Long-tailed Manakins and Royal Flycatcher. Vivid Scarlet Macaws fly over our hotel and the grounds are full of birds, perhaps including Fiery-billed Aracari. Our boat trip is a relaxed way to watch enormous numbers of herons, egrets, frigatebirds, pelicans and shorebirds, including Boat-billed Heron, Roseate Spoonbill and kingfishers, with American Crocodiles basking on the shore. We’ll look for mangrove specialities such as Mangrove Black Hawk, Mangrove Warbler and Mangrove Vireo in the mangroves….. well obviously!

13-14

We’ll enjoy more birding around the dry forest and salt pans here before leaving this idyllic place, then we travel down to the Pacific coast, making stops for birding enroute.

We head to Finca Mirador de Quetzales in the misty highland cloud-forest. This is where one of the most exciting birds of the trip can be found - the Resplendent Quetzal. There are new birds everywhere, with Slaty Flowerpiercer, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Yellow-thighed Finch, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Flame-throated Warbler and Fiery-throated Hummingbird, to name but a few. At nearby Savegre Lodge more new species come thick and fast, Flame-coloured Tanager, Acorn Woodpecker, Collared Redstart, plus a host of hummingbirds at the feeders, including Volcano, Scintillant and Magnificent Hummingbirds.

Carara Biological Reserve, where humid tropical forest meets drier lowlands, has broad, bird-rich forest trails that are captivating at dawn, with antbirds, parrots, pigeons, warblers and four

We travel back across country, making stops enroute to the airport before our flight back home, arriving in London on Day 16.

10-12

15-16

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly to San José 1 night at Hotel Bougainvillea, Heredia

Days 2-3

Transfer to Tortuguero National Park 2 nights at Laguna Lodge

Days 4-6

Transfer to Selva Verde 3 nights at Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqu

Days 7-8

Transfer to Arenal 2 nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge

Day 9

Transfer to Guanacaste, birding at Solimar 1 night at Ensenada Lodge, Guanacaste

Days 10-12 Transfer to Carara National Park area 3 nights at Hotel Villa Lapas,Tarcoles Days 13-14 Birdwatching and wildlife at Finca Mirador de Quetzals and Albergue de Montana Savegre 2 nights at Savegre Hotel Days 15-16 Easy day travelling back to San José and the airport for our flight, arriving in the UK on the morning of Day 16

Roy Atkins: Resplendent Quetzal, Tortuguero, Sungrebe Mark Denman: Sunbittern, Magnificent Hummingbird Roy Cowley: Keel-billed Toucan

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

21


SRI LANKA

“Sri Lanka is a very special destination, with an unbeatable mix of colourful culture and friendly people, beautiful lodges and temples and wonderful wildlife and guides.“ Darren Rees

Dates

Sat 17 - Fri 30 Mar 2018

Price

£5,895

Deposit £1,150 Single Supp £1,000

Exotic wildlife and a wonderfully rich culture, our Sri Lanka holiday is a magical mix of spectacular leopards, fantastic elephants, colourful birds and mighty whales. Leopards at wonderful Wilpattu National Park Blue and Sperm Whales with Spinner Dolphins Colourful birdlife with Sri Lankan endemics Elephants, Crocodiles and Fruit Bats Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Crested Serpent Eagle Langur Monkeys, macaques and ancient temples Fantastic hotels, lodges and food

Leaders Darren Rees and Chas Anderson Flights

Sri Lankan Airlines, scheduled Outbound: Overnight, Heathrow-Colombo Inbound: Afternoon, Colombo-Heathrow

Weather Tropical climate, so sunny and hot. Occasional showers; cooling sea breeze on boat trips (20°-35°C) Walking Easy throughout over flat trails, except for Sigiriya with flights of steps to a temple Meals

All included from lunch on Day 2 to breakfast on Day 14

Health

Please take advice from your local travel clinic/doctor about Malaria prophylaxsis and other recommended inoculations.

The sun can be strong, so sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat are recommended

Insects There will be insects, so bring repellent Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Visa

Tourist Visa is an extra cost, app. £30. Must be obtained online before travel

Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Leopard Asian Elephant Blue Whale Bryde’s Whale Sperm Whale Spinner Dolphin Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin Grey Langur Monkey Toque Macaque Golden Jackal Sambar Deer Ruddy Mongoose Giant Squirrel Mugger Crocodile Water Monitor Lizard 22

Woolly-necked Stork Black-headed Ibis White-bellied Sea Eagle Crested Serpent Eagle Great Coucal Pheasant-tailed Jacana Sri Lanka Green Pigeon Indian Roller Shama Purple Sunbird Loten’s Sunbird Malabar Pied Hornbill White-throated Kingfisher Stork-billed Kingfisher Asian Paradise Flycatcher

1-2

After our overnight flight we arrive in tropical Colombo with a short transfer to the Tamarind Tree Hotel. The remainder of the day is for relaxing - the pool and bar are inviting but the grounds are full of tempting, new birds! Sri Lanka is a birder’s paradise and a chorus of exotic calls and striking looking species will kickstart the list. Yellow-billed Babbler, Black-rumped Flameback, Purple-rumped Sunbird and Oriental Magpie Robin for starters.

3-6

After breakfast we head north and east to Anuradhapura. The colourful, bustling roadside life of the tropics surround us and we’ll include stops for birds and other wildlife that fringe the many lakes and pools, or ‘tanks’. White-breasted Kingfisher, Painted Stork,

Blue-tailed Bee-eater or remarkable Pheasant-tailed Jacana could be on show. From the comfortable Palm Gardens Hotel we’ve three days to explore Wilpattu National Park, the largest in Sri Lanka with 130,000 hectares of lowland forest and scrub, marked by sand rimmed pools and lakes (willu). From our four-wheel drive jeeps we’ll watch a variety of birds gather at the water’s edge alongside Water Buffalo and Mugger Crocodiles. There are also Sambar, Barking and Spotted Deer - prey for the Park’s healthy Leopard population and local guides will ensure that we’ve the best possible chance to see this most beautiful of big cats. Giant Squirrels, Ruddy Mongoose and Toque Macaques will also entertain us and we’ve also seen elusive Sloth Bear. The birdlife is rich and

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Floating with a superpod of Sperm Whales and travelling alongside huge Blue Whales; also our jeeps surrounded by lovable elephants – it’s our time with the gentle giants of Sri Lanka that is so special.” Darren Rees

striking with Great Thick-knee, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle and incomparable peacocks amongst the many treasures. Anuradhapura is the ancient capital of Sri Lanka and a World Heritage Site, so a visit to the preserved ruins is a must: bell-shaped dagobas and stupas mark Buddhist sacred sites, popular with Grey Langurs and Fruit Bats, as well as the locals!

7-8

From our wonderful lodge at Habarana we visit two special sites: Minneriya National Park is a great place to view large groups of Asian Elephants gathering around wetlands that are brimming with an array of egrets and herons, shorebirds and curious Openbill Storks. The historic fortress at Sigiriya is perched atop a spectacular rock formation – we’ll be sure to watch for Shaheen Falcons as we climb the steps!

9-12

Our last base is the Chaaya Blu Hotel, on the beach at Trincomalee on the northeast coast. We’ve three days of whale watching: 4-5 hour excursions each morning on our 20ft launches equipped with sun covers (no toilets). The inter-monsoon season offers calm seas especially in the morning and we sometimes enjoy breakfast on board! Leaving from the beach in front of our rooms we could be among the whales and dolphins within minutes. Sociable Spinner and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins are most likely, but our focus will be on bigger things. Trincomalee has a growing

reputation as one of the best places in the world to see incredible Blue Whales, the largest ever living animal. Floating alongside these magnificent creatures will be a lifetime highlight. Anything else could turn up: we’ve seen Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, a little known deep-diving cetacean, and Eden’s Whale – only recently described to science. Perhaps we can repeat last time’s encounters of being surrounded by a superpod of over one hundred Sperm Whales! As supporting cast, there will be a range of tropical seabirds including Bridled, Crested and Whiskered Terns. Returning to shore around lunchtime, there will be opportunities each afternoon for birding and visits to local sites, including the Commonwealth War Cemetery, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist shrine. Local birds include White-browed Bulbul, Black-hooded Oriole, Purple Sunbird and Orange-breasted Pigeon. At local wetlands there might be Red-wattled Lapwing, Lesser Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Indian Roller or stunning Common Iora.

13-14

After breakfast we drive across country to Negombo, a journey of about 6 hours. There will be birding stops and lunch enroute, before our final night at the Tamarind Tree Hotel, departing next morning for our UK flight.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-2

Fly overnight to Colombo 1 night at Tamarind Tree Hotel.

Days 3-6

To Anuradhapura via Tabbowa wetland. Bird and mammal safaris in the Wilpattu National Park. Also temples and World Heritage Sites 4 nights at Palm Gardens Hotel

Days 7-8

Transfer to Habarana: Elephant safari in Minneriya National Park. Visit historic Sigiriya rock fortress 2 nights at Chaaya Village Hotel

Days 9-12

To Trincomalee via Kantal wetland. Whale watching boat trips. Local birdwatching and visits to cultural sites including Hindu temple and Commonwealth War Cemetry 4 nights at Chaaya Blu Hotel

Days 13-14 Return to Colombo, birdwatching enroute 1 night at Tamarind Tree Hotel Then flight to UK arriving the same day Chitral Jayatilake: Leopard, Asian Elephant, Pied Hornbill Chas Anderson: Sperm Whales,White-breasted Kingsher, Spinner Dolphins

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

23


MOROCCO

“I’m lucky to have been to Morocco several times and I still find it fascinating and diverse, not only for wildlife but also culturally. It’s like three countries in one, from the slow-paced Berbers in the High Atlas, to the Arabic influenced east and the affluent, westernised Atlantic coast. Simply incredible.” Julian Sykes

Dates

Fri 16 - Tue 27 Mar 2018

Price

£2,795

Deposit £550

Single Supp £250

Morocco is arguably the best of all the North African countries for a whole range of wildlife. A land of contrasts, that harbours many speciality bird species and fantastic landscapes. Crimson-winged Finch and Levaillant’s Woodpecker in the High Atlas Larks, wheatears and sandgrouse on the famous Anvid Plateau 4x4 safari for Desert Warbler, Egyptian Nightjar and Desert Sparrow Atlantic coastal cliffs for the rare Northern Bald Ibis Black-crowned Tchagra and Moussier’s Redstart along the Sous River Migrant land-birds and raptors moving north through the country Great diversity of North African mammals, reptiles and butterflies

Leaders Julian Sykes plus local guide Flights

EasyJet, scheduled, Speedy Boarding and extra legroom included Outbound: Morning, Gatwick-Marrakech Inbound: Morning, Agadir-Gatwick

Regional departures may be available, please contact us if this is of interest

Weather

A tour of contrasts from potentially snow in the High Atlas to a more temperate hot climate in the desert and Atlantic coast (0°- 25°C)

Walking Easy to moderate being mainly of a short distance (up to 2km) on good paths and tracks Meals

All included from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 12

Insects

Biting insects can be a problem on the coast – bring repellent

Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Northern Bald Ibis Long-legged Buzzard Lanner Falcon Barbary Partridge Houbara Bustard Cream-coloured Courser Audouin’s Gull Spotted Sandgrouse Pharaoh Eagle Owl Levaillant’s Woodpecker Egyptian Nightjar Fulvous Babbler

24

Thick-billed Lark Temminck’s Horned Lark Moussier’s Redstart White-crownedWheatear Red-rumped Wheatear Seebohm’s Wheatear Tristram’s Warbler African Desert Warbler Crimson-winged Finch Desert Sparrow Alpine Chough Fat Sand Rat

1-2

An early flight into Marrakech, where we drive into the city for lunch, which should yield White Stork, House Bunting and Common Bulbul. Next we transfer to our rural hotel in the Atlas Mountains, stopping occasionally to find Moroccan Magpie, Southern Grey Shrike, plus possibly our first Moussier’s Redstart.

3-4

We head up into the High Atlas Mountains to the ski resort of Oukaimeden (2600m) where snow is still likely to be on the ground! As we weave our way through the Ourika we shall be keeping a careful eye out for Barbary Partridge and the endemic Levaillant’s Woodpecker. At the ski station we shall search the boulder slopes for Crimson-winged Finch, along with North African Shore Lark, Rock Sparrow and Red-billed and Alpine Chough.

The next day we travel through the beautiful and impressive Tizi-n-Tichka pass to Boumalne Dades on the edge of the Anvid Plateau. A half day will be spent searching the hammada (stone desert) for specialty bird species such as Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied and Crowned Sandgrouse, Red-rumped, Desert and Mourning Wheatears and Thick-billed,Temminck’s Horned and Bar-tailed Larks. In the afternoon we shall make a leisurely trip through the spectacular Dades Gorge, where Bonelli’s Eagle breed alongside Crag Martin and Alpine Swift.

5-7

Next we head out east and spend three nights in an Auberge, an oasis that can attract many migrants to its lush gardens, as well as breeding White-crowned Wheatears and Trumpeter Finch.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“It takes your breath away to see the vivid orange sand of Erb Chebbi dunes against the pastel blue sky in the early morning light, with the haunting whistle of a Hoopoe Lark in the distance. Then a Desert Warbler scolds us from a nearby Tamarisk and watches intently with its bright yellow eyes. This is the Sahara Desert at its best!” Julian Sykes We shall be spending two full days in the Sahara, where we have one of the highlights of the holiday – our 4x4 desert safari. This is essential for negotiating the rugged and hostile terrain searching for Houbara Bustard, Egyptian Nightjar and Desert Sparrow. The imposing sand dunes of Erg Chebbi will be a constant backdrop and the habitat surrounding them may produce Brown-necked Raven, Spotted Sandgrouse, Hoopoe Lark and African Desert Warbler. Lunch at a palm oasis, followed by a short walk, may produce Fulvous Babbler, Laughing Dove and some migrants.

Eventually we reach the Atlantic Ocean, spending three nights on the edge of the famous Sous Massa National Park. One day will be spent going north to Tamri, where we shall search the coastal cliffs for the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis.

The second day gives us an excursion for breeding ‘Pharaoh’ Eagle Owl and Barbary Falcon. We return to the accommodation and have an afternoon to ourselves, either relaxing by the pool, or wandering around the gardens in search of migrants such as Sub-alpine and Western Olivaceous Warblers, Iberian Chiffchaff, Nightingale, Wryneck, Stone Curlew and Tawny Pipit.

Another day we shall walk the famous Sous Massa. This vegetated estuary is simply awesome and a haven for breeding and migrants alike. Here we shall listen for Black-crowned Tchagra ringing out from dense cover, but will be hoping to see one. Species to be seen along the river should include Marbled Duck, Osprey, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Purple Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Moustached Warbler, Zitting Cisticola and Hoopoe.

8-11

We leave here and journey west to the Atlantic coastline over two days. As we leave the desert for the lush Draa Valley, we follow the mighty river of the same name. A night is spent in the historic garrison city of Ouarzazate, where we visit the Mansour Eddahbi Dam, looking for waterbirds and passage migrants. The next morning we continue west through the Argan forests of the Sous Valley, a habitat suited to Black-shouldered Kites, which we hope to find along the road.

The whole area is wonderful for birds, with the chance of finding Raven, Moussier’s Redstart, Audouin’s Gull and Gannets offshore. Later in the afternoon we shall visit a river inlet that can hold waterbirds such as White Storks, Spoonbills, Moroccan Cormorant, Kentish Plovers, Common Redshank, Greenshank and Ruff.

12

In the morning we leave our wonderful accommodation and drive to Agadir airport for our flight back to the UK.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-2

Fly to Marrakech and, after lunch in the city, transfer to hotel in the High Atlas mountains 2 nights at La Bergerie Hotel

Days 3-4

Travel through Tizi-n-Tichka pass to Boumalne Dades 2 nights at Kasbah Tizzarouine

Days 5-7

Transfer east to Auberge oasis for birdwatching and wildlife exploration 3 nights at Auberge Derkaoua

Day 8

Begin journey west, birdwatching enroute, with overnight stop at Ouarzazate 1 night at Karam Palace Hotel

Days 9-11

Drive south of Agadir, staying on the edge of the Oued Massa NP, for birdwatching and wildlife exploration here and on the Atlantic coastline 3 nights at Ksar Massa Hotel

Day 12

Fly from Agadir to UK

Julian Sykes: Cream-coloured Courser, Red-rumped Wheatear, Egyptian Nightjar, Atlas Mountains, Spotted Sandgrouse, Bibron’s Agama

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

25


ISLAY AND SPEYSIDE EASTER

“Islay is the jewel of the Hebrides and at this time of year is alive to the sound of geese. Standing on the shore watching thousands of Barnacle Geese coming overhead is simply magical. Islay is also rightly famous for its whisky. What a winning combination!” Duncan Macdonald

Dates

Wed 28 Mar - Sat 7 Apr 2018

Price £1,795 Deposit £300

Single Supp £200

The ultimate winter wildlife combination - the best of Speyside, plus the ‘Queen of the Hebrides’, for geese, Chough and possibly the odd dram!!

Leaders Duncan Macdonald and Craig Round

Speyside specialities - Capercaillie, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill and more Wintering seaduck, divers, grebes and white-winged gulls West Coast day for White-tailed Eagle, Black-throated Diver and more An evening at our hide for Pine Marten and Badger Huge flocks of Barnacle and White-fronted Geese with chance of rarities Otter, Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier and Ptarmigan in white winter plumage An excellent loch-shore hotel on Islay with great food

Weather Varies from cold to warm and sunny with windy weather regular on the isles (0°-10°C), sun and showers Walking There will be some short easy walks on wide paths. Walking boots are recommended Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 11

Insects Biting insects are unlikely to be a problem Accom Steading - double, twin and single ensuite rooms

Bridgend Hotel - double, twin and single ensuite rooms

Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Golden Eagle Short-eared Owl Barnacle Goose Greenland White-fronted Goose Barn Owl Chough Hen Harrier Red-throated Diver Black-throated Diver Great Northern Diver Long-tailed Duck Scaup Pintail Shoveler Eider Common Scoter Purple Sandpiper

Raven Peregrine Merlin Buzzard Kestrel Snipe Rock Dove Stonechat Twite Black Guillemot Shag Eider Gannet Red Squirrel Common Seal Otter Roe Deer Red Deer

1 2-5

Dinner together on Wednesday starts the holiday at the Steading.

The high mountains of the Cairngorms may still be covered in snow at this time of year, making a truly beautiful backdrop to our local birding. From the warmth of our accommodation in Glen Feshie, we’ll enjoy the views, while nearby forests provide excellent chances of Crested Tit, Scottish and Common Crossbill and Red Squirrel. Black Grouse will already be performing at a local lek and we’ll search for Capercaillie in the ancient pines of nearby Abernethy Forest. Wintering Waxwing may linger into this time, while summer Ring Ouzel, Wheatear and Ospreys are just arriving, so we shall be on the aler t.

One evening we’ll head to our wildlife hide, where Pine Marten and Badger are regular visitors - with the chance of close up Red Deer, or perhaps a Tawny Owl too. We’ll visit Cairngorm ski area for Snow Bunting and scan for Ptarmigan, still in their beautiful white winter plumage. This is a fabulous season for Golden Eagle encounters in the glens, with birds performing their astonishing ‘switchback’ display over their territories. At dusk, Hen Harriers flight in from the moors to roost at Insh Marshes, where Whooper Swans, Goosander, Goldeneye and a variety of other duck species can all be seen. A visit to the Moray Coast at this time of year is a must, with wintering flocks of Velvet and Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Eider. There’ll be Red-breasted Merganser, Slavonian

Ian Tulloch: Chough, Brambling, Linnets, Lesser White-fronted Geese, Pale-bellied Brent Geese Simon Eaves: Barnacle Geese Mark Denman: Crested Tit 26

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“This holiday is truly superb. Not only do we take in the best that Speyside has to offer in Spring, with Black Grouse on the hills, Crested Tit singing and returning Ospreys, but also Islay, one of the finest Hebridean Islands and home to thousands of geese, ducks, waders and raptors. What a wonderful combination.” Duncan Macdonald

Grebe, Red-throated and Black-throated Diver and we’ll be on the lookout for Great Northern Diver, or scarcer species like Red-necked Grebe or Surf Scoter. Purple Sandpiper are possible amongst the Turnstones and Pink-footed and Greylag Geese are in the fields. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls sometimes appear and if we hear of any wintering King Eider, we’ll surely take a look! The dramatic peaks and sea lochs around Gruinard Bay make for a memorable day on the remote West Coast. Twite and Great Northern Diver are specialities, Black Guillemot and Shag are common and Otter regularly pop up, but it’s White-tailed Eagle that forms the focus of our quest - all in a spell-binding landscape.

6-9

We journey to Islay through stunning scenery via Oban and south-west to Kennacraig, catching an afternoon ferry. Thousands of Greenland White-fronted Geese and Barnacle Geese occupy every field around RSPB Loch Gruinart. We’ll spend plenty of time enjoying the spectacle and searching through the flocks to find rarer species amongst them. Pale-bellied Brent Geese are likely and several other species have been found, including North American Snow Goose and genuine vagrant Canada Goose, often of the smaller forms, now split as a separate species, known as Lesser Canada Goose. They are surprisingly small and can be the same size as the Brent Geese! Brown Hare are

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

everywhere and Merlin and Peregrine hunt over lagoons where Shoveler, Snipe and Pintail feed. At the dunes of Machir Bay and at Ardnave Point Red-billed Chough are the stars, a species with very limited distribution in Scotland. We’ll also be alert to the chance of Otter, which is relatively common along the shorelines. Loch Gorm has been a good site for rare Snow Goose, whilst the rough moors of the Rhinns are very good for Golden Eagle, Stonechat, Twite and Rock Dove and we’ll check Loch Indaal for all three divers, Scaup and rare gulls such as Ring-billed - we may also pop in to sample a dram at the Bowmore distillery! The evening goose roost at Bridgend is always something special, as thousands of cackling birds drop into the shoreline at dusk against a sunset sky.

10-11

We make the journey back to Speyside and the Steading for our last night, watching out for birds along the way. After breakfast on Saturday we say our farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive at Glen Feshie for 5 nights

Days 2-5

Wildlife and birdwatching exploration throughout Speyside, plus a day on the West Coast

Day 6

Journey to Islay via Oban and the ferry from Kennacraig 4 nights at Bridgend Hotel

Days 7-9

Birdwatching and wildlife exploration on Islay

Day 10

Return by ferry back to the mainland then drive to Speyside 1 night at the Steading

Day 11

Depart after breakfast

27


EXTREMADURA

“The holiday for raptor lovers: kites are everywhere, five eagle species up for grabs and close-up and personal with Griffon Vulture colonies!” Darren Rees

Dates

Sat 07- Sat 14 Apr 2018

Price

£1,945

Deposit £350

Single Supp £150

The best place for birds of prey in Western Europe - Griffon colonies and five breeding eagle species, as well as displaying bustards, sandgrouse and other special birds. Over twenty years’ experience and 45 tours, we know this place well! Early Spring for Great and Little Bustards displaying Three vulture, three kite and five eagle species possible Difficult-to-see birds like Eagle Owl and sandgrouse White Storks and Lesser Kestrels over medieval Trujillo Superb hotel, amidst fabulous grounds, in the Lagares mountains Fabulous wetlands with a wealth of waterbirds

Leaders Darren Rees and Simon Eaves Flights

EasyJet, scheduled, Speedy Boarding and extra legroom included Outbound: Morning, Gatwick-Madrid Inbound: Afternoon, Madrid-Gatwick Other UK airports may be available

Weather Variable in spring, a mixture of sun and showers (12°-25°C) – can be cool on the plains Walking Some short easy walks on level ground Meals

All included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 8. Simple, interesting Spanish fare at the hotel and at local restaurants

Insects

Not a problem

Accom Double, twin and single rooms all ensuite Photos

We are pleased to be able to offer photographic hides to our guests, as an alternative option, for species such as Griffon Vulture, Azure-winged Magpie and Black Kite. Priced at £150pp per session, to include transport and hide fees Please ask for full details

Group 12

1

2-7

With wonderful views over the surrounding countryside of small fields, Holm Oak woodland and mountain ridges, the grounds and lanes around our guesthouse abound with birds: White Stork, Black Kite, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Sardinian Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrikes and immaculate Azure-winged Magpies. Scops Owl might be calling at night and we may not want to leave!

On Caceres Plain, relic areas of steppeland can be covered in a delightful carpet of small flowers and the air above thick with the sound of Calandra and Crested Larks. Rocky outcrops hide Stone Curlews and Little Owls; flocks of Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse chase around the skyline and elegant Montagu’s Harriers

Extremadura is one of the least developed yet most spectacular provinces in Spain, and after our flight to Madrid we’ll make our way to our base at Vina Las Torres, close to Trujillo, at its very heart. This charming traditional style accommodation is off the beaten track and our hosts and friends Juan Pedro and Belen will ensure a week to remember.

The rolling open country of Extremadura is a favourite place to watch birds in spring and this is the time of peak activity amongst the aristocratic Great Bustards that strut across the plains. We shall witness one of the most spectacular bird displays on earth, as huge males literally turn themselves inside out in an attempt to attract a mate! Smaller Little Bustard males prefer blowing raspberries and nodding their heads to attract their females.

Just some of what we hope to see: White Stork Black Stork Spanish Imperial Eagle Short-toed Eagle Bonelli’s Eagle Black-shouldered Kite Montagu’s Harrier Lesser Kestrel Black Vulture Griffon Vulture

28

Purple Swamphen Eagle Owl Scop’s Owl Little Bustard Great Bustard Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Bee-eater Roller Hoopoe

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“At this time of year, the flower-studded plains stage an avian spectacle with Great Bustards courting and Montagu’s Harriers sky-dancing, to the soundtrack of displaying Calandra Larks.” Darren Rees move back to their breeding grounds – watching their graceful sky-dancing display will be a tour highlight.

The area is also home for one of Europe’s rare breeding birds– sensational Black-shouldered Kites hunt over surrounding fields and woodland edge.

Birds of prey are a big part of the wildlife spectacle and both kites and vultures seem to be always on the wing. Magical Monfrague National Park is one of Europe’s finest raptor hot-spots and its mix of wooded hillsides and deep rocky gorges is home to all five species of Spanish eagles: powerful Golden; smaller Booted; hovering Short-toed; scarce Bonelli’s and the critically endangered Spanish Imperial. Rare Black Vultures nest in good numbers and at precipitous Pena Falcon rock, there is a colony of Griffon Vultures, with many on ledges tending young, while others soar overhead with Egyptian Vulture, Peregrine and unusual Black Stork. Smaller birds are welcome co-stars: Crag Martins, Hawfinch, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Subalpine Warblers and Rock Buntings. Here, we’ll also make a special dusk visit: as the vultures return to roost and the Nightingales start their evening chorus, we’ll hope to see charismatic Eagle Owl – fingers crossed!

We’ll visit medieval Trujillo, with its delightful narrow streets, charming old churches and busy Plaza Major. White Storks nest on many of the towers, newly arrived Pallid Swifts chase around the sky and at the town’s bullring we can watch Lesser Kestrels and Spotless Starlings going in and out of the red-tiled roof. The rice fields in the south are also worth exploring, another different habitat attracting interesting species: small populations of Red Avadavat and Common Waxbill work the field margins; vivid blue Rollers and buoyant Collared Pratincoles (half tern, half wader) are found here, along with Little Ringed Plover, Tree and Spanish Sparrows.

Rich wetlands in this region, such as Embalse de Arrocampo and Embalse de Alcollarin, are havens for aquatic wildlife. Marsh Harriers drift over reedbeds where we could find Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Swamphens and Savi’s, Cetti’s and Great Reed Warblers. Gull-billed Terns fly over water dotted with grebes and rimmed with egrets and occasional Spoonbills.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

All the while, in the land that time forgot, Corn Buntings sing from every perch, Woodlarks give their melodic song, Dartford Warblers and Woodchat Shrikes chatter in the bushes and Red-rumped Swallows dash by.....sadly so will our time here!

8

Time allowing, we’ll birdwatch in the morning, before returning to Madrid for our flight back to the UK.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly to Madrid 3-hour transfer to Trujillo 7 nights at Viña Las Torres

Days 2-7

Birdwatching and wildlife exploration of the steppes, woodlands, wetlands and mountain regions of one of Spain’s premier birding locations, including Monfrague National Park, Embalse de Arrocampo and Caceres Plain

Day 8

Transfer to Madrid for flight to Gatwick

Simon Eaves: Great Bustards Mark Bridges: Trujillo church towers with storks Brooke Miller: Black Storks, Blue Rock Thrush, Spanish Imperial Eagle and Griffon Vulture, Azure-winged Magpies Steve Batt: Lesser Kestrels

29


Richard Maynard

Adrienne Pearson

Malibu Hornbill, Sri Lanka. Holiday details page 22

Tamandua, Costa Rica. Holiday details page 20

Just a few of the images guests and guides have taken on Speyside Wildlife trips

Steve Batt

Richard Stacey

Finch’s Wheatear, Georgia & Armenia. Details pg 36

Guests on The Outer Hebrides. Holiday details page 42

Gerald and Ann Turley

Colin Scott

Anhinga, Costa Rica. Holiday details page 20

Bison,Yellowstone Spring. Holiday details page 56

30

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


Richard Stacey

Brooke Miller

Corncrake, The Outer Hebrides. Holiday details page 42

Black Storks, Extremadura. Holiday details page 28

Colin Scott

Ian Tulloch

Red Sqirrel, Spring Birds. Holiday details page 46

Coyote and cub,Yellowstone Spring. Holiday details page 56

Steve Dutton

John Grierson

Ptarmigan, Cairngorms. Details page 10

Guests on Speyside 24/7. Holiday details page 38

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

31


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

“There is something wonderful about seeing Red-billed Tropicbirds and enormous Magnificent Frigatebirds so close - they can be just a few feet away on our trip to Little Tobago and they are fantastic! Add good views of Brown and Red-footed Boobies and this is a brilliant experience.” Roy Atkins

Dates

Sun 8 - Fri 20 April 2018

Price £4,895 Deposit £950

Single Supp £900

Relaxed and easy Caribbean birdwatching based at the famous Asa Wright Centre and Blue Waters Inn - the perfect introduction to South America’s bird and wildlife riches.

Leaders Roy Atkins plus local guides Flights

Morning coffee with the veranda hummingbirds, tanagers and honeycreepers Watch Scarlet Ibis come to roost from our boat - rum punch in hand! Frigatebirds, tropicbirds, boobies and terns on Little Tobago Leatherback Turtles laying eggs on a white sand beach Mysterious Oilbirds in forest caves, plus manakins, toucans, parrots and more Optional reef snorkelling or boat trip for Masked Boobies Two islands, two great hotels, one relaxing holiday

British Airways, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Gatwick-Port of Spain Inbound: Overnight, Port of Spain-Gatwick Internal flights: Port of Spain-Tobago-Port of Spain

Weather It’s the dry season, but it will be humid with occasional showers or downpours (20-30°C) Walking

At Asa Wright all the trails are on sloping ground and some may be muddy after rain, but the paths are generally in good condition with easy walking. The visit to the Oilbirds is a good trail, but with lots of steps. All are taken at a slow pace making them easy for most people

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 12 Delicious local food at hotels and restaurants, with buffets at Asa Wright and a menu at Blue Waters

Insects On occasion biting insects can be a nuisance - bring repellent Boat trips One trip through sheltered channels to a lagoon to see Scarlet Ibis. The other is a 20 minute crossing to Little Tobago on a glass-bottomed boat, with a diversion to spend time over the reefs, which sometimes can be less calm

1-8

Gazing out over Caribbean rainforest from the Asa Wright veranda, a coffee in hand, the feeders come alive with Bananaquits, Red-legged Honeycreepers, Crested Oropendolas, Blue-crowned Motmots and Silver-beakedTanagers. Agoutis pick up the crumbs and hummingbird feeders draw several species to within inches! We’ll check the tree tops for White-tailed Trogon, Orange-winged Parrot and Channel-billed Toucans and all before breakfast! The forested trails yield more new birds - Chestnut and Golden-olive Woodpeckers, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Great Antshrike, Collared Trogon, Golden-headed Manakin and Squirrel Cuckoo. Bearded Bellbirds ‘clang’ above our heads and White-bearded Manakins ‘snap’ and dance at their lek. Vervain flowers attract Tufted Coquettes - tiny hummingbirds with amazing red crests.

Late afternoon, rum punch is served, as we watch more birds and there is a chance of fly-by Oilbirds at sunset! One morning we shall visit the famous caves where the Oilbirds nest, to see them making their eerie clucks and screams in the darkness. Mixed feeding flocks occur in forest along the road to Blanchisseuse in the Northern Range. Cocoa Woodcreeper, Violaceous Trogon and Turquoise Tanagers are here, whilst fruiting trees attract Channel-billed Toucan, orioles and raucous flocks of parrots. Raptors such as Black Hawk, Plumbeous Kite and White Hawk may be here, whilst beaches on the north coast have Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Pelicans riding the waves. We’ll visit mangroves and marshy wetlands to search out Silvered Antbird and American Pygmy Kingfisher, Pied Water-tyrant, Wattled

Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Oilbird Scarlet Ibis Bearded Bellbird White-bearded Manakin Channel-billed Toucan Magnificent Frigatebird 32

Red-billed Tropicbird Tufted Coquette Rufous-tailed Jacamar Red-bellied Macaw Blue-backed Manakin Black-faced Antthrush

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Asa Wright is the perfect place to be based for this trip - the bird life is simply astounding!! Just sitting on the veranda you can see colourful tanagers, honeycreepers, euphonias, parrots, toucans, hummingbirds and a range of exciting raptors and that before you even start investigating the trails or going out on day trips!“ Roy Atkins

Jacana and Yellow-hooded Blackbird. Where coconut palms line the coast, we’ll search for Gray Hawk, Pearl Kite, Yellow-headed Caracara and Yellow-crowned Parrots. Scrubby grassland in the central lowlands, is home to Red-breasted Blackbird, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Yellow-rumped Cacique and Savannah Hawk. We’ll return at dusk to watch Red-bellied Macaws coming to roost and hope to see Sulphury Flycatcher, before searching at dusk for Pauraque, White-tailed Nightjar and Tropical Screech Owl. One evening we’ll witness the moving sight of huge Leatherback Turtles as they haul themselves up the beach to lay their eggs. We’ll watch the whole process from digging their nest hole at the top of the beach, to laying their eggs before they return, exhausted, to the water - a real highlight of the trip. Coastal sites are teeming with shorebirds, plus Large-billed and Royal Terns and bizarre looking Black Skimmers - we may even see them skimming! Cruising slowly through the mangrove lined channels of Caroni Swamp, we’ll look for Common Potoo, Greater Ani, Red-capped Cardinal, Tree Boas and with luck, a Silky Anteater asleep in the trees. Snowy Egrets and Tri-coloured and Little Blue Herons feed amongst the arching roots and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron peer from the branches. Then, with rum punch in hand, we’ll enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of Scarlet Ibis coming to roost, brilliant red in the setting sun, another real highlight.

9-11

It’s a short flight to Tobago and our beachfront hotel where there’ll be time to relax in the sun, stroll on the sand, or snorkel over the coral reefs, but there’ll be excellent birding too! Beautiful trails through the rainforest of the northern ridge provide the chance of Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-legged Thrush and the endangered White-tailed Sabrewing. Great Black Hawk soar above the forest and we may see dancing Blue-backed Manakins! The crossing to Little Tobago, by glass-bottomed boat, is a glimpse into a world of coral reefs and multi-coloured fish. From viewing platforms we’ll enjoy Red-billedTropicbirds just feet away,spectacular Magnificent Frigatebirds and nesting Brown and Red-footed Boobies. We can sometimes arrange an extra boat trip to St Giles Island, where Masked Boobies and thousands of frigatebirds nest. Wetland sites hold White-cheeked Pintails, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Least Grebes and Anhingas and we’ll search the overgrown gardens of the Grafton Estate for Red-crowned Woodpecker, Barred Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren and raucous Rufous-vented Chachalacas.

12-13

arriving on Day 13.

We fly back to Port of Spain for our overnight flight to the UK,

Outline Itinerary Days 1-8

Fly to Port of Spain then a 1 hour transfer to Asa Wright. Birdwatching and wildlife exploration on the trails at Asa Wright plus visits to Coroni Swamp, Waterloo, Blanchisseuse, Nariva Swamp, Arena/Aripo and Matura Beach 8 nights at Asa Wright Centre

Days 9-11

A 45 minute flight to Tobago then 1½ hour transfer to our hotel, with vernadas and sea views. Birdwatching and wildlife exploration including a boat trip to Little Tobago, Grafton Estate and Gilpion Trace in the nothern rainforest 3 nights at Blue Waters Inn

Days 12-13

We return to Port of Spain for our overnight flight back to London, arriving in the UK on the morning of Day 13

Roy Atkins: Red-billed Tropicbird, Scarlet Ibis, Purple Honeycreeper, White-chested Hummingbird, Oilbird, Wattled Jacana

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

33


JORDAN

“Jordan is one of my favourite Middle East destinations. I love the friendliness of the people and the wildlife is top drawer, with a host of resident and migrant speciality birds and mammals. It has it all, including the weather!“ Julian Sykes

Dates

Sat 21 Apr - Wed 2 May 2018

Price £4,655 Deposit £900

Single Supp £500

The ancient “lost” city of Petra is a “must see” destination, but it’s in the less visited wilderness areas that we see so much more of what this country has to offer. Petra – one of the wonders of the Ancient World Striolated Bunting, Syrian Serin and Sinai Rosefinch all possible Sunset over the desert moonscape of Wadi Rum Nubian Ibex, Arabian Oryx and Asiatic Wild Ass Stand by the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth! The amazing ‘sky blue’ Sinai Agama Seabirds, migrants and wetlands by the Red Sea

Leaders Julian Sykes plus local guide Flights British Airways, scheduled Outbound: Evening, Heathrow-Amman Inbound: Morning, Amman-Heathrow Weather The rainy season falls between Nov and Mar. Days can be hot, but dry and cooler nights are common, especially in the desert and hill areas Walking Easy to moderate walking on good tracks and roads, some of reasonable length, but not too strenuous Meals

All included from breakfast on Day 2 to lunch on Day 12 Simple, well prepared meals. Our flight arrives into Amman late evening; there will be light snacks available on the journey to the hotel

Insects Biting insects can be a nuisance in some areas, so bring insect repellent Accom

Twin and single rooms all ensuite A mixture of newer city-type hotels, classic rural guesthouses and environmentally friendly eco-lodges

Group 12

1-2

Upon arrival we head south to the Dead Sea coast. The following day will be spent along this coast – the lowest place on earth! We shall walk along a steep-sided river gorge looking for Bonelli’s Eagle, Striolated Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Martin, keeping a careful watch out for Nubian Ibex, which frequents the higher parts. A short drive south is the excellent Fifa Nature Reserve, where we shall hopefully find the scarce Dead Sea Sparrow and Little Green Bee-eater, along with herons, egrets and waders. Just these two sites will take up most of the day, but who knows, we might even get a chance to go to the shores of the Dead Sea and experience its incredibly saline water.

3-4

We drive south to Dana village, which is surrounded by Pistachio groves and orchards at the head of a wonderful valley. Most of the day will be spent getting to Dana, with regular stops along the way for Woodchat Shrike, Black-eared and Mourning Wheatears. The next day we’ll be in Wadi Dana, visiting the surrounding orchards for Syrian Serin and other woodland species, such as Orphean and Eastern Olivaceaous Warbler, with Masked Shrike and Steppe Buzzards overhead. This is also a fabulous place to find Jordan’s national flower, the lovely Black Iris, just along the roadside verges.

5-6

After breakfast we shall again load the minibus and set off for what is arguably the main event of the holiday – Petra.

Just some of what we hope to see: Steppe Eagle Little Crake Sand Partridge White-eyed Gull Hume’s Owl Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Temminck’s Horned Lark Palestine Sunbird Arabian Warbler

34

Namaqua Dove Dead Sea Sparrow Sinai Rosefinch Syrian Serin Tristram’s Grackle Striolated Bunting Nubian Ibex Arabian Oryx Asiatic Wild Ass

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“What I love about Jordan is it’s not just about birds, mammals and reptiles, the country is also steeped in ancient history, fantastic geology and fantastic landmarks - none more so than Petra, arguably the 8th Wonder of the World. The wildlife’s pretty impressive too mind!” Julian Sykes

You will be enchanted and overwhelmed by the sheer majesty of this historic site and having our local guide to talk us through the history of this very special place is such a bonus. A full day will be spent in this hidden valley, which harbours one of the ‘wonders of the world’. It is not only notable for the incredible architecture, but also for wildlife, with good chances of seeing Sinai Rosefinch, Fan-tailed Raven and Tristram’s Grackle. We shall go out again after dinner to the nearby Little Petra, hoping to hear and see the rare breeding Hume’s Tawny Owl, which will need both luck and help from the local Bedouins!

7-9

We again continue south to Jordan’s southernmost point - Aqaba. This coastal town actually overlooks the head of the Red Sea, making it an ideal location for seabirds and migration. We shall visit Aqaba Wetlands on one of the days, where we shall find plenty of waders, herons and egrets on their northward journey, along with Arabian Babbler and Graceful Prinia. We shall visit the allotments, where migrants such as Wryneck, Collared Flycatcher and Thrush Nightingale are all possible. The south beach area is also good for one of the specialities - White-eyed Gull, along with Heuglin’s and Slender-billed Gulls. On the second day we shall visit the famous Wadi Rum, where we’ll spend time admiring the incredible sandstone landscape of the area.

We shall swap our vehicles at the end of the day for 4x4 transport, that will allow us to be in the best location for the sun setting on this wonderful site. Dinner tonight will be in one of the Bedouin camps, followed by a drive back to Aqaba.

10 -11

Today will be an easy start, followed by a long drive north, punctuated with a number of stops along the route. Eventually we shall arrive at Azraq and check into the fabulous RSCN Eco-lodge. We shall make an early visit to the Shaumari Reserve, where we might find desert species such as Isabelline and Desert Wheatears, Short-toed and Temminck’s Larks, with other migrant passerines possible. Mammals could include the rare Arabian Oryx and Wild Ass, which both roam freely in this area. We shall then proceed along the desert road, hoping to see the very rare Basalt Wheatear, but much luck is needed. The afternoon will be spent at the Azraq Wetland Reserve, which attracts migrating birds, including Little Crake and White-eared Bulbul. It is now a protected habitat and home to some unique fauna.

12

Today we drive back to Amman for our flight back to the UK.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-2

Arrive Amman and transfer to our hotel on the Dead Sea coast Exploration of Mujib and Fifa Reserves, plus visit to the Dead Sea Night visit to Fifa for Nubian Nightjar 2 nights at Ramada Dead Sea Resort

Days 3-4

Transfer south to Dana area Birdwatching and wildlife exploration around Dana and Rummana Camp 2 nights at Dana Guesthouse

Days 5-6

Transfer to Petra, birding enroute, for full day in Petra plus visit to Little Petra 2 nights at Petra Guesthouse

Days 7-9

Transfer to Aqaba, for birding at the Wetland Centre, plus visit to Wadi Rum, including afternoon 4x4 safari 3 nights at Captain’s Hotel

Days 10-11

Transfer to Azraq, visit Azraq Wetlands and Shamari plus the road across the Basalt Desert 2 nights at Eco-lodge

Day 12

Travel to Amman for flight back to UK

John Sykes: Sinai Rosefinch, Palestine Sunbird, Little Green Bee-eater, Petra Julian Sykes: Rufous Robin, Striated Heron

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

35


GEORGIA AND ARMENIA

“From the towering high Caucasus mountains to the arid, semi-desert landscapes of Armenia, this trip is extra special. Birds such as Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Radde’s Accentor and White-throated Robin await us, in some of Europe’s most staggering landscapes”. Duncan Macdonald Dates

Mon 30 Apr - Fri 11 May 2018

Price £4,195 Deposit £800

Single Supp £400

A journey to the edge of Europe amongst the mighty Caucasus Mountains. Eastern specialities such as Radde’s Accentor, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and Upcher’s Warbler. Spectacular mountains for Caucasian Snowcock and Caucasian Black Grouse Stunning wetlands with Pygmy Cormorant, Armenian Gull and Marbled Teal Raptors including Lammergeier, Imperial Eagle and Steppe Buzzard Astonishing historical sites that are great for birding Pied, Finsch’s and Isabelline Wheatears, Rock Thrush and White-throated Robin Wallcreeper, Crimson-winged Finch, Radde’s Accentor and Grey-necked Bunting Famous hospitality, cuisine and wine!

Leaders Duncan Macdonald plus local guide Flights

Lufthansa, scheduled Outbound: Overnight, Heathrow -Tbilisi (Via Munich) Air France, scheduled Inbound: Morning,Yerevan Zvartnots - Heathrow (Via Paris Charles de Gaulle)

Weather Varies from warm and sunny to cooler in the mountains (10°-20°C) Walking There will be walks on tracks, from lakeside paths to rocky mountain terrain. Walking boots are essential. Meals

All included from breakfast on Day 2 to dinner on Day 11, with definite Turkish and Caucasian influences

Insects May be encountered around wetlands, so bring repellant. Accom Twin and single rooms ensuite in good quality hotels Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Caucasian Snowcock Caucasian Black Grouse Lammergeier Steppe Eagle Imperial Eagle Levant Sparrowhawk Long-legged Buzzard Armenian Gull Slender-billed Gull Marbled Teal Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Wallcreeper Rose-coloured Starling

36

White-throated Robin Rock Thrush Güldenstädt’s Redstart Citrine Wagtail Finsch’s Wheatear Radde’s Accentor Green Warbler Caucasian Chiffchaff Menetries’s Warbler Great Rosefinch Common Rosefinch Red-fronted Serin Crimson-winged Finch Grey-necked Bunting

1-4

After an overnight flight we arrive in Tbilisi and head to a nearby hotel for a few hours rest. Once refreshed, we travel towards the Caucasus Mountains, pausing at Zhinvali Dam for woodpeckers and migrating songbirds. Stunning views at Krestovy Pass make a wonderful backdrop, as we scan for Lammergeier, with Water Pipit, Alpine Chough, Snowfinch and even Wallcreeper possible. Arriving at Kazbegi, we’ll spend two days exploring the amazing scenery of the High Caucasus, where Europe stops and Asia starts! We’ll drive to Gergeti Trinity Church at 2200m, where we’ll scan for Caucasian Black Grouse and listen for Caucasian Snowcock calling from cliff-top perches. Güldenstädt’s Redstart and Great Rosefinch are possible, plus Alpine Accentor and Rock Thrush and delightful Red-fronted Serin - and we’ll look for goat-like East Caucasian Tur.

The woodlands hold Green Warbler and Caucasian Chiffchaff from early May and may be teeming with migrants, while Black Kites, Steppe Buzzards and harrier passage can be spectacular.

5-6

We’ll spend the morning in bushes and marshes hopefully surrounded by migrants, then stop again at Krestovy Pass and forest near Ananuri, where good numbers of migrant raptors may include Long-legged Buzzard and Lesser-spotted Eagle. We shall arrive late afternoon in Tbilisi - the following day exploring the vast semi-arid steppes, rocky outcrops, shallow lakes and riverine forest to the east. Jandari Lake is a great stop-over for migratory waterbirds and anything can turn up. Imperial Eagle breeds, as do Pygmy Cormorants and we may see our first Armenian Gulls. We head east to the amazing rock monasteries of Davit Gareja,

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Georgia and Armenia have some spectacular birds, but it doesn’t end there. Carpets of wildflowers, great butterflies and the cuisine of both countries will have us drooling for more.” Duncan Macdonald

where rock-hewn monastic cells were built in the 6th century. The steppes hold Tawny Pipit, Calandra and Short-toed Larks and around the monasteries Western Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush and Pied Wheatear are possible.

7-9

Leaving Georgia we cross the border into Armenia, then a long but interesting drive lies ahead. We pass through the impressive Debed canyon, where nearly every village along the river has a church, chapel and old fort.We’ll look out for Griffon and Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard, arriving at our hotel in Yerevan, late afternoon. From our base in Yerevan we’ll explore the local area, starting with the arid cliffs and hills of Vedi. This magnificent area provides our chance for seeing Grey-necked Bunting, Finsch’s Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Trumpeter Finch, Black-headed Bunting and Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and, with luck, nomadic Mongolian Finch. Our eyes will also be keen to look up as raptors use the valleys to pass northwards. Species may include Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers, Honey Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle. Armash fish ponds are one of Armenia’s richest ornithological hot spots. Nestled in the foothills of Mount Ararat, the extensive wetlands are an oasis in the arid lands of south-western Armenia. The pools, natural salt marshes and extensive reedbeds, provide refuge and breeding habitat for grebes, egrets, herons, ducks, waders and terns. White-headed Duck, Marbled Teal and White-tailed Lapwing breed here, plus Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Glossy Ibis, Collared Pratincole,

Gull-billed Tern, Bearded Tit, Moustached and Paddyfield Warbler. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater should be flying above us, while we look for Lesser Short-toed Lark, Black-headed Wagtail, Penduline Tit and Menetries’s Warbler. May is perfect timing for thousands of migrants, which should include White-winged and Whiskered Terns, with maybe Black-winged Pratincole as a treat!

10

The 12th century monastery of Noravank and the gorge within which it sits, is one of the most spectacular sites in Armenia. The complex of buildings is surrounded by beautifully coloured cliffs, above which Golden Eagles soar. Black-eared Wheatear and Eastern Rock Nuthatch can be seen from the grounds, while Nightingale sing from the bushes. The surrounding area is a rich site for birds, with Red-fronted Serin, Upcher’s Warbler and Lammergeier all possible.

11

Mt Aragats is the highest mountain in Armenia. Driving up to 3200m (if snow allows), we pass small pockets of trees, where Semi-collared Flycatcher breed. The road ends at a small lake, where raptors may include Booted, Short-toed and Lesser Spotted Eagles. Fantastic birding here may produce Radde’s Accentor, White-throated Robin, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, magna Bluethroat (no central spot), Rock Thrush, Common Rosefinch, Rock and Ortolan Bunting, Shorelark and Crimson-winged Finch. We shall also stop at the scenic and remarkable Amberd Fortress, built in the 11th century.

12

In the morning we fly out from Yerevan back to the UK.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-4

We arrive in Tbilisi early on day two after an overnight flight. After a few hours rest we travel to Kazbegi. The following two days are spent exploring the Gergeti Trinity Church area of the High Caucasus 3 nights Rooms Hotel, Kazbegi

Days 5-6

We travel to Tbilisi, stopping to bird at the spectacular Krestovy Pass. The following day is spent exploring Jandari Lake and the rock monasteries of Davit Gareja. 2 nights Hotel Kalasi, Tbilisi

Days 7-11

We cross the border into Armenia and travel to our base in Yerevan. We visit Mount Aragats, Noravank and Arpi Valley, Armash Fish Ponds, Mount Ararat and surrounding areas. 5 nights Hotel Royal Plaza,Yerevan

Day 12

Fly out from Yerevan back to UK

Steve Batt: Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Black Vulture Attila Steiner: Amash Fish Ponds and Mount Ararat, Greater Rosefinch, Noravank Duncan Macdonald: White-throated Robin

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

37


SPEYSIDE 24/7

“A Slavonian Grebe comes out of the reeds followed by another. The sun is shining and we are looking at one of the most colourful birds of the week. I just can’t get enough of them.” John Grierson

Dates

Sat 28 Apr - Sat 5 May 2018

Price

£1,125

Deposit £200

Single Supp £100

Twenty four of the best birds, seven of the best mammals - all in one action-packed week - around the mountains and forests of Speyside, plus the West Coast of Scotland.

Leaders Two from our Speyside team

Kick off your wildlife quest for 2018 in style with the Highland specialities See 7 - and more - of the most sought-after Scottish mammals A spotlight night drive and dusk hide visits for elusive species 24 premier birds that can take years to catch up with in any other place Displaying eagles and Black Grouse, in forest and on moor On the Moray Firth and Black Isle coast - divers, seaduck, terns and dolphins Includes a West Coast trip for White-tailed Eagle

Weather Varies from cold to warm and sunny (8°-15°C), with less rainfall than much of Scotland but snow possible in the mountains Walking Most walks are 1-2 miles on wide sandy tracks, although there is the possibility of a forest walk of up to 5 miles

We can now take groups on to the Cairngorms plateau from the funicular railway summit to see Ptarmigan, therefore it may be necessary to take a walk on paths over uneven and occasionally undulating rocky terrain. Low-level unguided alternatives are available. Walking boots will be needed on the holiday

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Not a problem at this time of year Accom Double, twin and single ensuite rooms at the Steading in Glenfeshie Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Golden Eagle Kestrel White-tailed Eagle Osprey Crested Tit Capercaillie Black Grouse Black-throated Diver Red-throated Diver Slavonian Grebe Scottish Crossbill Oystercatcher Golden Plover Lapwing Dunlin

38

Bar-tailed Godwit Curlew Redshank Sandwich Tern Black Guillemot Dipper Velvet Scoter Long-tailed Duck Pine Marten Red Squirrel Mountain Hare Red Deer Bottlenose Dolphin Harbour Porpoise Badger

1 2-7

Our action-packed week starts with dinner together on Saturday evening, followed by a chat about the coming week.

up views of Pine Martens and Badgers, with Woodcock roding above the trees and the chance of Red and Roe Deer as we walk in.

From our base in Glen Feshie there is plenty to see close to home and we may start with a walk down the river or visit the beautiful Caledonian Pine forest nearby.

Nearby lochans hold beautiful Slavonian Grebes, showing golden plumes in their breeding finery and this is a great time of year to see displaying Golden Eagle or Osprey, the latter just returning to nests, including a pair close to the Steading. In recent years a pair of White-tailed Eagles has taken up residence locally, so you never know your luck!

Here, amongst the ancient pines, we shall search out delightful Crested Tit and parties of Scottish Crossbill - which we’ll need to check carefully, as both Common and Parrot Crossbills have also nested in the area in recent years. Redstarts, Tree Pipits, Siskins and countless Willow Warblers are singing in the forest clearings and Cuckoos call from the wooded slopes. Red Squirrels scamper through the branches and we’ll visit our own baited hide for fabulous close

Capercaillie are now steadily declining, so we shan’t make a special early morning visit to seek them out, but visit areas later in the day. We’ll look for Black Grouse however, as they ‘bubble and coo,’ a wonderful sight and guaranteed to create an appetite for a full cooked breakfast back at our superb Steading accommodation.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“We visit the Black Isle, interestingly not black and not an island and watch Bottlenose Dolphins chasing and catching salmon at close quarters. It has to be the best land-based viewing point for dolphins in Europe.” John Grierson The Black Isle and Moray Coast still have a few of the Long-tailed Duck, Scaup and both Common and Velvet Scoters, that winter here amongst the Eiders and other seaduck. We’ll visit Udale Bay, where passage waders may include Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and more. Flocks of wintering geese may include large flocks of Pink-footed Geese, still lingering before they head north and there may be hundreds of Wigeon, with Teal and other ducks, including a few Pintail. Flocks of Golden Plover feed in nearby fields and we’ll look out for farmland birds such as Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer. We shall make a special effort to see the resident group of Bottlenose Dolphins at a headland on the Black Isle, where they can often come remarkably close to shore, as they hunt fish moving in on the rising tide - with luck perhaps we’ll see some acrobatics! One night we’ll head out with spotlights in search of mammals and owls - we’ve found Pine Martens, Roe Deer and plenty of Brown Hares this way, plus Tawny Owls and we’ve even been lucky and seen Long-eared Owl in the past. We have our own places to find camouflaged Mountain Hare, as Red Deer watch us from the skyline - and we shall keep an eye on the sky for hunting Golden Eagle or Peregrine. Raven pass overhead and we hope for Hen Harrier, Merlin or Short-eared Owl hunting over the moorland where cackling Red Grouse display.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Weather permitting we’ll venture onto the arctic tundra of Cairngorm in search of Ptarmigan amongst the skiers - easy now we have special permission to go out on to the mountain at the top, so can use the Funicular Railway to get there! We’ll have a wonderful day amidst the dramatic mountain peaks and shores of the West Coast. As we drive west the scenery becomes more and more impressive and the beach at Mellon Udrigle is beautiful and so peaceful. It is a great chance to see flocks of Great Northern and Black-throated Divers in breeding plumage just offshore, before they move to their nesting sites. Wild Rock Doves nest on the cliffs and we’ll look out for Ravens, Twite and Black Guillemot, plus Common Seals loafing on the rocks. Along the seaweed strewn shoreline, we’ll search for Otters as they hunt for butterfish and crabs, while another big target here is the resident White-tailed Eagles - huge and impressive as they soar over Scottish Islands. So much to see - it’ll be a busy week!

8

On our final day, we say our farewells after breakfast.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glen Feshie in time for an evening meal and a chat about what we shall do for the coming week. 7 nights at the Steading

Days 2-7 Wildlife and birdwatching exploration including Abernethy Forest, Dava Moor, the Cairngorms, the Moray Firth and West Coast Day 8

After breakfast we say our farewells

Simon Eaves: Slavonian Grebe, Osprey Julian Sykes: Bottlenose Dolphin Mike Hems: Pine Marten Jane Hope: Crested Tit, Red Squirrel Mary Braddock: Capercaillie

39


IRAN

“With fabulous birds such as Pleske’s Ground Jay, Caspian Tit, Caspian Snowcock, Desert Finch, Great Stone Curlew, Purple Sunbird, MacQueen’s Bustard, Grey Hypocolius, Spotted Owlet, Egytian Nightjar and Crowned Sandgrouse, this is a chance to go somewhere really different that is opening up to visitors.” Roy Atkins

Dates

Tue 1 - Tue 15 May 2018

Price £6,895 Deposit £1,350 Single Supp £500 Leaders Roy Atkins plus local guide

Exceptional birding in a little visited region, with stunning scenery and history - from arid deserts and high mountains to coastal marshes and mangroves. Spectacular scenery from coastal plains to deserts and impressive mountains Caspian Snowcock, plus Radde’s Accentor, Red-fronted Serin, Persian Wheatear Endemics including Pleske’s Ground Jay, Caspian Tit and Sind Woodpecker Grey Hypocolius, Great Stone Curlew, Purple Sunbird, Bay-backed Shrike Desert birding with MacQueen’s Bustard, Desert Finch, See-see Partridge, Desert Warbler Visit the remains of the ancient city of Susa and Ziggurat Pyramid of Choghazanbil Chance to explore an area opening up to British birdwatchers

Flights Lufthansa, scheduled (via Frankfurt) Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Tehran British Airways, scheduled (direct) Inbound: Morning, Tehran-Heathrow Internal, Iran Air: Tehran-Bandar Abbas -Ahwaz-Tehran Weather

The Persian Gulf and central Iran can be hot, 30-35˚C midday, also humid in the south. Days here are structured to avoid the midday heat, so we’ll make early starts, taking breakfast in the field, have a late morning siesta, then do more birding from late afternoon. North Iran will be warm, 20˚C midday, with a chilly start one morning when we are at altitude

Walking

Moderate most days with easy terrain on usually flat land. The only more demanding part is one day at Kelardasht, where there may be steeper, but still easy paths, at 3000 metres altitude

Meals

All included from breakfast on Day 2 to breakfast on Day 15. Picnic breakfasts most days in the field

Insects

On occasions biting mosquitoes can be a nuisance, so bring repellent

Accom

Twin and single rooms all ensuite, apart from 2 nights at a home stay in local houses, where facilities are shared

Visa

Tourist Visa to be obtained before travel, additional £170

1-4

We fly to Tehran for an overnight stay in an airport hotel, ready for an early morning internal flight. We transfer to Mehrabad Airport, for our flight to Bandar Abbas on the shores of the Persian Gulf. As well as Indian Sand Larks foraging on the shoreline, waders here may include Greater and Lesser Sand Plover, Temminck’s Stint and with luck Great Knot and Broad-billed Sandpiper. We head to Minab where we stay for the next three nights. Stony plains with scattered bushes, almond and pistachio orchards and sandy cliffs, provide habitat for Purple Sunbird, Spotted Owlet, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Laughing Dove, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Red-wattled Lapwing, Indian Roller, Chestnut-shouldered Sparrow, Isabelline Wheatear and the rare and regional endemic Sind Woodpecker - our main target!

In drier habitats and wadis we may find Graceful Prinia, Little Green Bee-eater, White-eared Bulbul, Turkestan and Bay-backed Shrikes, Pallid Swift, Pale Crag Martin, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Indian Silverbill, Afghan Babbler and Variable Wheatears. After lunch we drive to some mangrove forests, where short boat trips may help us find Indian Pond Heron, Dalmatian Pelican, superb Great Stone Curlew and with luck maybe Crab Plover too. Northeast of Minab is more open plateau, with scattered bushes ideal for Grey Francolin, Chestnut-bellied and Crowned Sandgrouse, Upcher’s Warbler, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and Striolated Bunting.

5-7

We drive to Bandar Abbass for our flight to Ahwaz and, if time permits, some birding nearby, then we have two days to explore the area. North of Ahwaz,

Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see:

Pleske’s Ground Jay Caspian Tit Sind Woodpecker Grey Hypocolius Purple Sunbird Macqueen’s Bustard Great Stone Curlew 40

Oriental Honey-buzzard Persian Wheatear Crowned Sandgrouse Basra Reed Warbler Dead Sea Sparrow Red-wattled Lapwing Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“A thrilling opportunity to visit a country that has felt out of bounds, but where tourism is now growing rapidly, making it into the top ten new destinations in National Geographic magazine. We really see the country, as we travel north and south, in habitats from snowy mountain peaks to arid deserts and coastal wetlands and even fit in a little history, with our visits to ancient Susa and the Ziggurat Pyramid of Choghazanbil.” Roy Atkins two major rivers, the Dez and Karkhe, create ideal habitat for Iraq Babbler, Grey Hypocolius, Mesopotamian Crow, Egyptian Nightjar and Ménétriés’s Warbler. Basra Reed Warbler is a target bird here and we hope for White-throated and Pied Kingfishers, Black-shouldered Kite, Red-wattled Lapwing, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Dead Sea Sparrow, with a slimmer chance of Pied Bushchat and Namaqua Dove. We shall also visit the remains of ancient Susa dating back to 5th millennium B.C. This ancient city of the Proto-Elamite, Elamite, First Persian Empire, Seleucid and Parthian empires of Iran, was one of the most important cities of Ancient Near East. We can also see the Ziggurat Pyramid of Choghazanbil, one of the first Zigurrats in the ancient world - both are Unesco World Heritage Sites.

8-10

Today is a long day as we fly from Ahwaz to Tehran, then pick up 4x4 cars and drive to Kelardasht, a small town on the northern slopes of the Alburz mountains. Here is a totally different world! Beautiful, scenic, mountainous roads connect the barren slopes of southern Alburz, to lush broad-leaf forest of northern Alburz and the Caspian Sea coastal areas. Over the next two days we explore this great area - one day focusing on seeing the recently split endemic, Caspian Tit amongst oak and scattered hawthorn above 2,000 metres. We’ll also drive up to an altitude of 3,500 metres, where Caspian Snowcock can be found on the ridges. The area holds Red-fronted

Serin, Radde’s Accentor, Persian, Pied and Finsch’s Wheatears and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush.

11

We drive to eastern coastal regions of the Caspian Sea near Babolsar, to visit small ponds among rice fields, where we search for Black-headed Penduline Tits, busy weaving their nests in willow trees, then on to Sari for one night.

12-13

We continue on our way to Qale Bala village, located on the boundary of Touran National Park. Touran consists of vast steppes, semi-arid deserts and arid mountains, with Artemisia steppes in the north, the main habitat for the endemic Pleske’s Ground Jay - a must-see bird for the trip! We are into a whole new set of birds here, with chances of MacQueen’s Bustard, Scrub Warbler, Desert Wheatear, Masked Wagtail, Desert Finch, See-see Partridge, Asian Desert Warbler, Black-bellied and Crowned Sandgrouse, Desert Lark, Bar-tailed and Crested Lark, Pale Crag Martin, Trumpeter Finch, Steppe Grey Shrike, Eastern Rock Nuthatch and with luck, Cream-coloured Courser and Hooded Wheatear. We may even find rare Onager (known as Asian Wild Ass) in steppe deserts to the south. Asiatic Cheetah occur here, but with fewer than 100 remaining, we would be lucky even to find signs of their presence.

14-15

We return to the capital, pausing enroute near Parvar Protected Area to look for White-throated Robin, Pale Rock Sparrow and Trumpeter Finch. Our flight home leaves the following morning.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-4

Flight toTehran and overnight in an airport hotel, then internal flight to Bandar Abbas. Drive to Minab for birding in woodlands and coastal habitats 1 night at IBIS Tehran Airport 3 nights at Tourist Inn

Days 5-7 Flight from Bandar Abbass to Ahwaz, then birding wetlands north of Ahwaz and visit the remains of ancient Susa and the Ziggurat Pyramid of Choghazanbil 3 nights at Oxin Hotel Days 8-10

Flight from Ahwaz to Tehran, then drive to Kelardasht, on the northern slopes of the Alburz mountains, for two full days birding 3 nights at Maral Hotel

Day 11

We visit wetlands near Babolsar, close to the Caspian Sea, then continue to Sari - 1 night at Badeleh Hotel

Days 12-13 Drive to Qale Bala village on the boundary of Touran NP 2 nights at home stay in local houses Days 14-15 We return to Tehran for 1 night, then fly back to London on Day 15 1 night at Tehran Grand Hotel #2 Ali Alieslam: Pleske‘s Ground Jay, Caspian Tit, Desert Wheatear, Kelardasht landscape, Little Green Bee-eater AS Kannan Wicki: MacQueen’s Bustard

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

41


THE OUTER HEBRIDES

“A slower pace of life, relaxed and friendly people, a sense of freedom and an escape from the 21st century without travelling out of the UK – thats the Outer Hebrides. It’s a privilege to have islands like these in Britain.” Simon Pawsey

Dates Fri 4 - Sat 12 May 2018 Price

£1,995

Deposit £350 Single Supp £200

Corncrakes rasp from fields and Snipe drum overhead, in a watery landscape that the modern world has passed by, on these timeless low-lying islands at Britain’s Atlantic edge. Successful Corncrake watching every time, on over 40 trips! Nesting waders in farmland that’s vanished elsewhere Mile after mile of unspoilt white beaches and azure seas Wonderful for raptors, rare skuas and Short-eared Owl Summer plumage Great Northern and other divers White-tailed Eagle, Dotterel, Pomarine Skua and Otter With our own two expert guides to the Western Isles

Leaders Craig Round and Simon Pawsey Weather Though usually quite dry, these islands can experience all the seasons during one trip and can be windy (5°-20°C) Walking

Coastal walks on uneven terrain of up to 2 miles.Walking boots recommended with trainers suitable on some occasions. Collapsible/telescopic walking poles could be useful for this trip.

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 9

Insects Biting insects are unlikely to be a problem Accom Double, twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Corncrake Golden Eagle Hen Harrier Merlin Short-eared Owl White-tailed Eagle Peregrine Long-tailed Duck Great Northern Diver Red-throated Diver Great Northern Diver Whooper Swan Whimbrel Purple Sandpiper Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Guillemot Rock Dove

Eider Arctic Skua Great Skua Pomarine Skua Long-tailed Skua Manx Shearwater Red-necked Phalarope Greylag Goose Greenshank Golden Plover Otter Grey Seal Common Seal dolphins

1

We overnight on Friday in Inverness, to give us an early start for our journey down through the Great Glen and across the Isle of Skye to Uig, before catching a ferry to Lochmaddy on North Uist. The crossing gives us a chance to do some sea-watching, with a great diver sity of seabirds to be seen, as we make our way across the Minch, including Arctic Tern, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Gannet, Great and Arctic Skuas, Manx Shearwaters and various cetaceans, even before we reach the islands! Arriving on North Uist the bustle of modern life seems far away.

2-7

Our hotel on North Uist has glorious views out to the west and over Baile Sear ‘machair’ dunes and meadows - formed

by wind-blown shell sand and in the evening the sunsets from the hotel can be truly beautiful, with a backdrop chorus of ‘drumming’ displaying Snipe and calling Redshank overhead. The Uists are one of the last strongholds for one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds the Corncrake and newly arrived territorial males can be seen before the vegetation grows tall, as they give their incredible rasping calls from open cover. Here too Twite feed, Skylark sing and Corn Bunting still give their jangling songs from rusty fences. Cultivated ‘machair’ at Stilligarry and Rubha Ardvule, sown with oats and potatoes, is alive with waders in the spring, all vigorously displaying, including numerous Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Beautiful freshwater

Craig Round: Corncrake, Machair, Corn Bunting, Short-eared Owl,White-tailed Eagle, Pomarine Skua Kevin Tappenden: Great Northern Diver

42

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“The amount of birdlife is staggering. It’s like winding the clock back thirty years, with birds and birdsong filling the air. Migrating flocks of waders, abundant wildfowl, a high density of raptors including Hen Harriers, the chance of rare and exciting vagrants and of course - Corncrakes! It’s such a magical and exciting place.” Simon Pawsey

lochs stud the landscape. All have beds of sedge and flowering bogbean and Flag Iris alive with nesting Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Curlew and Redshank. A few elusive Red-necked Phalaropes arrive in mid-May and birding is always full of surprises - perhaps a summering Whooper Swan or displaying Ruff or Wood Sandpiper. Around the beautiful, unspoilt shell sand beaches and tidal bays, Common, Arctic and Little Tern can be seen. They also hold large numbers of passage waders bound for the Arctic. Most are in stunning summer plumage at this time of year and include Whimbrel, Dunlin, Sanderling and Purple Sandpiper, whilst closer scrutiny may reveal a hidden gem such as Curlew Sandpiper or Little Stint! On rocky headlands there are Black Guillemot, Shag and Rock Dove, with Red-breasted Merganser, Eider, Long-tailed Duck and Great Northern Diver offshore - the latter in breeding plumage. There’s a healthy Otter population and we regularly see them, plus Grey and Common Seals and dolphin species. Optional early morning sea-watching from Aird an Runair is renowned, but dependent on weather, for the passage of rare Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas, plus Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Arctic and Great Skua. We have also recorded other unusual migrants including Snowy Owl, Great White Egret, Glaucous and Iceland Gull, Woodchat Shrike, Garganey, Golden Oriole,

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Subalpine Warbler, Grey-headed Wagtail, Hoopoe and Dotterel - the latter almost annually. Eastward, the land sweeps up from sea level to moors, peaty pools and soaring mountains. Red-throated Divers give their mournful wail and truly wild Greylag Geese nest at Loch Druidibeg, joined by Common Sandpipers and Greenshank. The islanders stack peats to dry, where Dunlin and Golden Plover display, alongside Red Grouse and Wheatear. Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Peregrine and Raven soar together over the dramatic hills. Hen Harrier, Merlin and Short-eared Owl commonly hunt the wild moors and we have a very good chance of seeing that most magnificent of predators, White-tailed Eagle.

8-9

Our last morning gives us a chance to once more experience the sights and sounds of the ‘machair’ and wonderful coastline, before catching a midday ferry back to Skye and making our way back to Inverness for our final overnight stay. On Saturday morning, after breakfast, we say our goodbyes.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Meet in Inverness for overnight stay 1 night at Premier Inn

Day 2

Travel down the Great Glen and across Skye before catching ferry to Lochmaddy and making the short journey to our hotel 6 nights at Temple View Hotel

Days 3-7 Birdwatching and wildlife exploration around North and South Uist and Benbecula Day 8

After morning birdwatching, we catch a ferry from Lochmaddy to Uig, journey back across Skye and make our way back to Inverness 1 night at Premier Inn

Day 9

After breakfast we say our goodbyes

43


NEW YORK CITY

“What I love most about this holiday is you never know which treasure is going to reveal itself next! From beautiful warblers in breeding finery, to grosbeaks, buntings, tanagers, orioles and woodpeckers. On a busy morning the trees are dripping with birds, fantastic!” Darren Rees Dates

Sat 5 - Sat 12 May 2018

Price

£3,295

Deposit £650

Single Supp £700

Birds and Broadway! The ultimate urban birding experience - two of North America’s top birding locations in the most exciting city in the world! Birding and the lights of Broadway! The ultimate urban birding experience Witness the famous ‘Warbler Wave’ at Central Park Diverse migrants - vireos, thrushes, tanagers, woodpeckers Shorebirds and wildfowl at Jamaica Bay Free time to explore New York’s other attractions Museums, galleries, concert halls, shops and more

Leaders Darren Rees and Simon Eaves Flights

British Airways, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-New York Inbound: Overnight, New York-Heathrow

Weather Mild to warm (12-22°C) with sunshine and a chance of rain Walking Easy walking on good paths, averaging 3-4 miles a day at a very relaxed pace Meals

Breakfast and lunch included from Day 2 to Day 7. Dinners included on four evenings

You are welcome to join the guides for dinner on all evenings

There is a small diner at the hotel

Insects Biting insects are likely at Jamaica Bay, so bring repellent Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Magnolia Warbler Bay-breasted Warbler Black-throated Blue Warbler Blackburnian Warbler Canada Warbler Black-and-white Warbler Northern Parula American Redstart Cape May Ovenbird Blue-headed Vireo Red-eyed Vireo Scarlet Tanager Baltimore Oriole Rose-breasted Grosbeak Cedar Waxwing Indigo Bunting

44

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Forster’s Tern Glossy Ibis Willet Short-billed Dowitcher Least Sandpiper Wood Thrush Veery Hermit Thrush White-breasted Nuthatch Great Blue Heron Tricolored Heron Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Red-winged Blackbird Carolina Wren

1 2-6

We meet for our flight to New York then travel to our hotel in central Manhattan.

For those who have never been, or even read about it, it may seem unusual to visit one of the major cities of the world for a birding holiday! However, Central Park, surrounded by the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan, is an oasis for migrant birds and at this time of year, thousands of warblers, thrushes, grosbeaks, orioles and vireos, migrating along the eastern seaboard, stream into the Park to rest and feed before the next leg of their arduous journey. In a single fall, as many as 30 warbler species have been seen! Measuring some two and a half miles from north to south and half a mile east to west, Central Park is unquestionably one of the top

birding spots in the United States. On Turtle Pond we’ll encounter Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons and Green Herons and in shaded muddy corners, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, with Rough-winged and Tree Swallows hawking over the lake and Eastern Kingbirds flycatching from the treetops. We’ll enjoy a drink at the Boathouse before entering The Ramble, a 37 acre wilderness of birding heaven. A mixture of mature trees and low shrubs, with ponds and waterfalls where birds come down to drink and bathe,The Ramble is an ornithological riot of colour! Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped and Black-and-white Warblers surround you, along with beautiful Northern Parulas and showy

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“As we enter The Ramble the harsh sounds of the city subside and the sweet song of warblers and thrushes fills the air; a magical avian kingdom quite unlike anything else in the birding world, you’ll be hard pushed to choose your magic moment!” Darren Rees

American Redstarts. Scarcer species regularly seen include Cape May, Bay-breasted, Canada, Wilson’s and vivid orange Blackburnian Warblers (appropriately named ‘flame throats’). With a supporting cast of orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwing, Indigo Bunting and Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, it really is an embarrassment of riches! In the North Woods, Veery and Wood, Swainson’s and Hermit Thrush hop through the leaf-litter and we’ll hope to see ground dwelling warblers such as Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush and Worm-eating Warbler. We’ll travel out to Jamaica Bay, another of the top birding destinations in America, with over 350 species recorded on the Reserve! We’ll encounter Great Blue Heron and Yellow-crowned Night Heron, with Tricolored and Little Blue Heron also here. American Oystercatcher is common and we’ll look for Willet, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Semi-palmated Plover and Short-billed Dowitcher, as well as Dunlin, Knot and Grey Plover. Glossy Ibis, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls and Forster’s Terns are constant fly overs and there’ll be a buzzing sound-track of Red-winged Blackbirds and Song Sparrows. Prospect Park in Brooklyn is another of New York’s migration hotspots. The Park regularly turns up rarities such as Prothonotary and Cerulean Warblers, plus Yellow-breasted Chat and

is probably the best place in New York to catch up with Eastern Bluebird. On one evening we shall take the elevator up the Empire State Building, where birds hawk for insects in the floodlights at night. To allow you some free time to explore the sigjhts, or take in a show, we have excluded the cost of dinner on two evenings, but you are welcome to join the guides at a local restaurant if you wsh. If you’d like to explore more you could visit Tiffany’s, search for bargains in the Rockefeller Center, visit Times Square, take a boat trip around Manhattan Island, or take a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty up close. Uptown or Downtown, there’ll be time to enjoy the birds and the wealth of attractions, in perhaps the most exciting city in the world!

7-8

After a final morning’s birding in Central Park, we travel to the airport to return home, arriving on the morning of Day 8.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly to New York and travel to our central hotel, with our first visit to Central Park if time allows 7 nights at Wellington Hotel

Days 2-6

Birding the many exciting areas of Central Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and the wonderful Reserve at Jamaica Bay

You are free to visit many of this incredible city’s countless attractions. There really is something for everyone. This is entirely optional, you may still join the guides at all times if preferred

Days 7-8

If time allows, a final morning visit to Central Park for some birding, before we transfer to the airport for our flight home, arriving in the UK on the morning of Day 8

Mark Denman: Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler Simon Eaves: Central Park, Scarlet Tanager David & Franky Perry: Rose-breasted Grosbeak

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

45


SPRING BIRDS IN SPEYSIDE

“A real highlight of a spring birds week is our day trip over to the incredible seabird island of Handa. Here thousands of seabirds cram the ledges of the great stack, whilst Great and Arctic Skuas patrol overhead, against a backdrop of seemingly endless mountains and the azure sea below. It really does take your breath away!” Craig Round Dates

Sat 5 - Sat 12 May 2018 Sat 12 - Sat 19 May 2018 Sat 19 - Sat 26 May 2018 Sat 26 May - Sat 2 June 2018

Our classic signature week, perfected over 25 years, with all Speyside’s special birds at their most active, including Capercaillie and Black Grouse - and time for great mammals too.

Price £1,150 Deposit £200 Single Supp £100

Bird specialities of the ancient Pine Forest of the Highlands of Scotland A west coast trip to fabulous Handa Island in north-west Sutherland The Moray Firth, alive with seaduck, terns and migrants Divers and grebes in spectacular breeding plumage A day for mountain birds in the high tops of the Cairngorms An evening for Pine Martens and Badgers too, at our baited hide Come by train or plane and enjoy the wonders of the Cairngorms National Park

Leaders Two from our Speyside team

Weather Varies from cold to warm and sunny (8°-20°C), with less rainfall than much of Scotland but snow possible in the mountains Walking

Most walks are 1-2 miles on wide sandy tracks, although there is the possibility of a forest walk of up to 4 miles

Our Cairngorms walk is more steep and uneven, but low-level unguided alternatives are available. Walking boots will be needed

Boat Trip Our boat trip to Handa is over sheltered waters and lasts about 15 minutes Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects In June, biting midges occasionally occur on sheltered loch shores Accom Double, twin and single ensuite rooms at the Steading in Glenfeshie Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Black-throated Diver Slavonian Grebe Fulmar Golden Eagle Osprey Ptarmigan Black Grouse Goldeneye Red-breasted Merganser Capercaillie Dotterel Puffin 46

Crested Tit Scottish Crossbill Dunlin Snipe Curlew Redshank Arctic Skua Great Skua Black Guillemot Pine Marten Badger Common Seal

1 2-7

Black Grouse as they ‘bubble and coo’ at dawn - a fabulous spectacle. Red Squirrels are still abundant in the forest with Redstart, Siskin, Tree Pipit and countless Willow Warblers singing in the clearings.

We’ll need to check them carefully, as in recent years both Common and Parrot Crossbills have taken up residence in the area. We’ll keep alert for wary Capercaillie feeding in the shadows - a clatter of wings often the first sign of their presence. We’ll also make a special effort to see

The arctic-tundra plateau of the Cairngorms is unique in Britain and, weather permitting, we’ll head up on the funicular railway to seek out camouflaged Ptarmigan as they feed quietly amongst the boulders. From mid-May we may encounter beautiful Dotterel too and there is always

Dinner together on Saturday evening starts the holiday.

Based in our delightful accommodation in Glen Feshie, we’ll start the week with walks in the local area, perhaps along the river or around beautiful lochans surrounded by forest nearby. Ospreys are at local loch-side eyries, plus more at nearby Loch Insh. The RSPB have extensive Reserves here and we’ll visit the ancient pines of Abernethy Forest, a remnant of the ‘Great Wood of Caledon’, in search of dainty Crested Tits and parties of Scottish Crossbill.

On one evening we’ll visit our baited hide to look for a close encounter with Pine Marten and Badger, with Woodcock roding over the trees. Sparkling forest lochans hold exquisitely plumed Slavonian Grebe - a wonderful chance to see them in their breeding finery. Recently even White-tailed Eagles have begun to nest and we’ll look out for these and Golden Eagles too.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Migration is reaching a peak, with stunning Dotterel returning to the high tops, alongside Ring Ouzel and Ptarmigan. Immaculate Black-throated Divers and Slavonian Grebes are back on lochs, whilst Capercaillie and Black Grouse are lekking and woods are alive with the song of Redstart, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo and Willow Warbler.” Craig Round a chance of Snow Bunting. The River Spey winds its way through the valley with nesting Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Goosander and noisy Common Sandpiper, while Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Snipe display over marshes in river valleys and around Lochindorb and Insh. On tranquil waters beautiful Red-throated Divers give their haunting wail and we’ll take you to remote glens where Golden Eagle hunt Mountain Hares. We’ll search for Raven, Ring Ouzel and Peregrine, with Red Deer on the skyline and even Wild Goats. We may find Hen Harrier, Merlin or Short-eared Owl hunting the open moorland, where we’ll hear cackling Red Grouse and the mournful piping of Golden Plover. Along the coast and tidal bays of the Moray Firth a few Long-tailed Duck and Common or Velvet Scoter may linger with the local Eider. The shingle shores are busy with Arctic, Common and Sandwich Tern and we hope to see fishing Ospreys and perhaps even a Great Northern Diver offshore. Red Kite circle lazily above the rolling farmland of the Black Isle and we’ll search out some of the farmland birds found here, such as Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer. We shall visit a great place to see Bottlenose Dolphins, which may come remarkably close to shore and we hope to see some acrobatics as they hunt fish on the rising tide. The estuary at Udale Bay may have passage waders such as Bar-trailed Godwit and Knot and a few wintering geese may still be lingering. We’ll enjoy a wonderful day travelling through stunning scenery on our way to the far north west

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

of the Scottish Highlands on our day visit to Handa Island. We’ll pause to look for Black-throated Diver enroute and there is always the chance of Golden Eagle or perhaps a Greenshank, as a small number breed this far north. Black Guillemots bob on the water close to the boat as we make our ten minute crossing, then we walk across the island enjoying fantastic views of nesting Great and Arctic Skuas as we go - the Arctic Skuas often chasing each other in their exhilarating display. Gannets pass by offshore and we’ll look out for Rock Dove, Raven and Twite as well. On the far side of the island, towering cliffs and stacks host a seabird city, with thousands of Guillemots and smaller numbers of Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Fulmars. A few delightful Puffins nest on top of the stack - but don’t forget to look back towards the mainland where the scenery . . . well it’s simply breathtaking!

8

After breakfast we say our farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glen Feshie in time for an evening meal and a chat about our plans for the coming week. 7 nights at the Steading

Days 2-7 Wildlife and birdwatching exploration including Abernethy Forest, Dava Moor, the Cairngorms, the Moray Firth and West Coast Day 8

After breakfast we say our farewells

Mark Denman: Crested Tit, Dotterel Simon Eaves: Crossbill, Puffin Jane Hope: Black Grouse Colin Scott: Slavonian Grebe

47


ESTONIA

“The wilderness has huge reed-fringed lakes, stunning Baltic coastline, swamps and meadows, however it’s the forests that are memorable, hosting mouth-watering birds with White-backed, Black, Three-toed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Ural and Pygmy Owls, Hazelhen and Capercaillie all possible.” Julian Sykes Dates

Sat 5 - Sat 12 May 2018

Price £2,795 Deposit £550 Single Supp £250

The Baltic Region at its best - European Brown Bear, Elk and rare birds, such as Great Snipe and Citrine Wagtail, all against a wonderful backdrop of coniferous forest and clear glacial lakes. Pristine meandering rivers, vast floodplains and extensive primeval forests Woodpeckers and owls plus Hazelhen, Black Grouse and chance of Capercaillie Red-breasted Flycatcher, Citrine Wagtail, Blyth’s Reed and River Warblers Lekking Great Snipe and thousands of migrants Boat trip for European Beavers and night watching for Brown Bear Spotlighting for owls and mammals such as Elk Visit the historic capital of Tallinn, a UNESCO city of amazing architecture

Leaders Julian Sykes plus local guides Flights British Airways, scheduled. Outbound: Afternoon, Heathrow to Tallinn Inbound: Evening, Tallinn to Heathrow Weather A mixture of sunshine and light showers (3°-15°C) with early mornings and evenings remaining cooler during the spring Walking

Mainly on good level tracks, but we may also enter the forest in search of tracks and signs and this terrain can be a little more difficult

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to dinner on Day 8

Insects

Could be a problem, please bring repellent and a mosquito hood might be useful

Accom

Comfortable hotels and guesthouses Twin and single rooms all ensuite

Group

7

Just some of what we hope to see: Bittern Black Stork Lesser Spotted Eagle White-tailed Eagle Black Grouse Capercaillie Corncrake Great Snipe Whimbrel White-backedWoodpecker Three-toed Woodpecker Grey-headedWoodpecker Citrine Wagtail 48

Savi´s Warbler River Warbler Icterine Warbler Thrush Nightingale Penduline Tit Golden Oriole Brown Bear European Beaver Elk Raccoon Dog Red Fox Roe Deer Wild Boar

1

Arriving into Tallinn Airport we’ll drive to our hotel in the west, stopping for some birding along the route and if time allows, a walk around the hotel grounds searching for any local specialities such as Common Rosefinch, Icterine Warbler and Thrush Nightingale.

2

In the early morning, we shall enjoy a visit to the Leidissoo area, where a mixture of heathland forests, wetlands, open clearings and fields, provide excellent birding opportunities. We hope to watch the incredible sight of lekking Black Grouse, plus listen for woodpeckers such as White-backed, Grey-headed and Three-toed, amongst the more common species and there is always the chance of an Elk. We’ll continue to the Põõsaspea peninsula, which is a migratory crossroads, where masses of

Common Scoter, long-tailed Duck and various geese congregate.

3

Today we’ll visit the Matsalu National Park, which is the oldest Ramsar site in Estonia and at peak passage, over a million diving duck have been estimated here. A selection of waders also take advantage of the rich feeding grounds, including vast numbers of Ruff. Matsalu is much more than just an avian service area, with 170 breeding birds recorded, such as Osprey, Red-necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Caspian Tern and White-tailed Eagle. At dusk, we shall look for European Beavers leaving their lodges and with a little patience, we are likely to see several individuals going about their nightly construction work and foraging for food along the river.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Estonia is an incredible country for mammals and we’ll make a boat trip to see European Beaver and a night drive in search of Elk, with perhaps Wild Boar and Raccoon Dog. Tracks of Grey Wolf and Northern Lynx have been found in the past, but one true highlight is watching Brown Bears from our comfortable hide - they are just so impressive and magnificent animals to watch.” Julian Sykes

4

Heading south east, by late morning we’ll check-in to our hotel and have lunch in Tartu town, followed by a relaxing afternoon birding at some nearby lakes. We’ll finish the day at one of the best sites in Estonia for Great Snipe, overlooking a flood plain where these very rare European waders breed.

After lunch, we’ll rest and in the late afternoon we’ll drive to Oonurme to our bear hide, complete with comfortable beds and a toilet, to make our night’s stay much easier. Bears can appear at any time during the night, along with Raccoon Dog and possibly Wolf. This will be a night to remember for so many reasons!

5

7

We’ll have an early morning start in one of the oldest protected areas in Estonia Järvselja forest, to see a selection of woodpeckers and other forest species. Although the size of the primeval forest area of Järvselja is not remarkable, it still has significant value and within a small area the diversity of the woodland is simply astounding. It is home to giant spruces over 200 years old, huge birches, incredible aspens, ashes and maples. After lunch we’ll drive to the vast wetlands of Aardla, with lakes and ponds full of waterbirds and hopefully a few surprises, which could include Black Stork, Greater and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Penduline Tit, Citrine Wagtail and much more!

6

Today we’ll drive to one of the most densely forested corners of Estonia – Alutaguse, which is good for Roe Deer and Elk, both targets for carnivores. Being near the Russian border it’s an area with lots of Brown Bears and the heart of Estonian “bear culture”. It is also one of the best places for Black Grouse, Capercaillie and Hazel Grouse, plus Grey-headed, Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers.

With some rest during the night, we will stay in the hide until dawn and as it becomes light the forest is alive with the sounds of woodland passerines such as Spotted Flycatcher, Common Crossbill and possibly Golden Oriole. Occasionally a Golden Eagle or Common Buzzard may appear and if we’re very lucky we may glimpse a Capercaillie or Black Grouse. After this, we’ll siesta back at the hotel, before heading out again in the afternoon in search of Ural and Pygmy Owls, plus a final opportunity to find more mammals.

8

Today we’ll return to the capital and have a pleasant guided tour of Tallinn Old Town before we catch our flight back to the UK.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Tallinn and transfer to Western Estonia 3 nights at Roosta HolidayVillage, Läänemaa

Day 2

Early morning birding in Leidissoo forest with chance of Elk and other mammals, then birding at Põõsaspea

Day 3

Matsalu National Park with Beaver boat trip in the evening

Day 4

Relaxed start then drive to south-east Estonia, some birding locally, plus Great Snipe 2 nights at Hansa Hotel, Tartu

Day 5

Whole day birding Järvselja, Aardla and general area

Day 6

Transfer to north-east Estonia for bear hide 2 nights at Art Hotel, Rakvere

Day 7

Early morning in hide, plus birding in local forests, with a break after lunch. Optional owling session in evening

Day 8

Return to Tallinn for city tour before our flight home

Roy Atkins: Ural Owl, Pygmy Owl Balazs Szigeti: White-backed Woodpecker Yves Gisseleire: Brown Bear Luke Massey: White-tailed Eagle Arne Ader: Great Snipe

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

49


NORTH COAST 500

“Our first NC500 trip was a great success. The wildlife was superb, but it was the vast landscapes and incredible scenery that stayed with me. To see some of the best scenery in the world, day after day in one road trip, was brilliant and really made me appreciate what we have right here in the Highlands” Simon Pawsey

Dates Fri 18- Sun 27 May 2018 Price

£1,995

Deposit £350 Single Supp £250

The NC500 encapsulates everything that is special about the wild Highlands in one superb road trip, as it follows a spectacular coastal route.

Leaders Simon Pawsey and Simon Eaves

Breathtaking scenery with vast mountainous views, on the most scenic roads Huge seascapes from wild headlands, with good chances of Otters and cetaceans Thriving seabird and skua colonies on Handa Island and Dunnet Head Excellent habitat for raptors including Golden and White-tailed Eagles Pristine and deserted white sand beaches The highest mountain pass in the UK, with a good chance of Ptarmigan at the top All three divers in summer plumage

Weather Late May can be beautifully settled, although wind and rain is possible and snow can still be on the highest tops (10°-25°C) Walking Walks will be up to 5 miles on good tracks and paths but some sections are rough and steep Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 10

Insects Should not be a problem Accom Double, twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Route

The Official North Coast 500 route begins and ends at Inverness Castle. Created in 2014, the route brings together just over 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery, naturally following the main roads across the coastal edges of the North Highlands

Just some of what we hope to see: Eider Common Scoter Goldeneye Ptarmigan Black-throated Diver Great Northern Diver Manx Shearwater Gannet White-tailed Eagle Osprey Golden Eagle Hen Harrier Merlin Golden Plover Greenshank Black-tailed Godwit Whimbrel

50

Great Skua Arctic Skua Arctic Tern Puffin Black Guillemot Rock Dove Cuckoo Short-eared Owl Whinchat Ring Ouzel Common Whitethroat Hooded Crow Twite Otter Grey Seal cetaceans

1 2-3

We meet in Inverness for dinner and to discuss the route and itinerary.

Heading north, we shall stop under the Kessock Bridge to scan the Moray and Beauly Firths for Otter and dolphins. Continuing up the coast, we shall visit the RSPB’s Reserve at Nigg Bay for waders, wildfowl and maybe some late Pink-footed Geese. We shall stop at Loch Fleet for breeding Osprey, as well as a reliable site for Greenshank. We’ll continue to stop and scan the bays as we head towards John O’ Groats and the most north easterly point on the UK mainland, Duncansby Head. Our hotel is near Dunnet Bay and we’ll spend the next day exploring the rich wildlife of Caithness. The small Reserve at St John’s Pool

is an absolute gem, with an enviable list of rarities as well as breeding terns, waders and wildfowl. Nearby Dunnet Head has spectacular views over the Pentland Firth and the island of Hoy. Gannets and auks fish in the Firth and recently there have been regular sightings of Orcas. The RSPB’s new Reserve at Broubster Leans, is on a natural floodplain and is fantastic habitat for Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers. We shall visit this Reserve in the evening, to look for hunting raptors as the light fades.

4-6

Continuing along the north coast towards north west Sutherland, the scenery becomes very dramatic, with vast seascapes and towering mountains. We’ll visit Strathy Point where the seawatching can

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“Torridon, Applecross, Assynt - iconic places that fire the imagination. This route covers them all and then some and the wildlife is simply superb. Eagles, Otters, skuas and huge seabird colonies, with some surprises along the way no doubt. I’m really looking forward to doing the NC500 again.” Simon Pawsey

be excellent with Kittiwakes, Shags, auks and maybe cetaceans. Our last visit produced a vagrant White-billed Diver, so anything’s possible! Further along the coast, we shall stop at the Kyle of Tongue, overshadowed by the dramatic peaks of Ben Loyal. This is eagle and Otter country, with a supporting cast of all three divers, Mergansers and breeding waders. Our journey continues around the shores of Loch Eriboll and on towards the village of Scourie, where our hotel is perfectly positioned overlooking Badcall Bay. There’s a good chance of Otters from the hotel and we shall visit Scourie Bay where calling Corncrake can occasionally be heard. The next day we shall explore Balnakeil with its beautiful beach. Some of the land at Balnakeil is managed for Corncrakes and we’ll look and listen for them amongst the nettle beds.The marsh at Balnakeil is little known and can be excellent, with scarce birds always possible. The next day will be spent exploring the fabulous Reserve of Handa Island. The ‘Bonxies’ own Handa and their ever present shapes patrol the skies. Arctic Skuas also breed and we shall get to within a few feet of these birds, but there is much more to Handa, with huge seabird colonies on vertical cliffs. Hundreds of thousands of auks, Fulmars and Kittiwakes breed here and the sights, sounds and smells of Handa are simply incredible. Our journey continues south and through the wilds of Assynt. A famed landscape, with the

iconic peaks of Suilven and Quinag rising from tracts of bare moorland and blanket bog. There are breeding divers and Greenshank here and the chance of Golden Eagle is ever present. Seals haul out on skerries and there is always the chance of Otters. We shall spend the night in the scenic port of Ullapool.

7-8

The dramatic scenery continues as we visit Gruinard Bay, overshadowed by the huge rock walls of An Teallach. This is White-tailed Eagle territory and we shall scan the islands and peaks for eagles and other wildlife. The route takes us through some incredible vistas before running along the shores of Loch Maree Nature Reserve. We shall stay for two nights in Shieldaig where White-tailed Eagles regularly breed on an island in front of the hotel. The next day we’ll explore the Applecross peninsula and drive over the spectacular Bealach Na Ba, the highest pass in the UK. The views from the top to Skye are breathtaking and we shall walk to one of the summits for Ptarmigan.

9

Our final day takes us along the shores of Loch Kishorn towards Inverness. Once we have completed the route, we shall have the opportunity to explore and look for wildlife around Inverness and the Black Isle.

10

After breakfast we say our goodbyes.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

We meet for dinner at our hotel. 1 night Inverness

Days 2-3 Travel to Caithness via John O’Groats and Duncansby Head. During our time here will visit the UK’s most northerly point, Dunnet Head; St John’s Pool and the RSPB’s Broubster Leans. 2 nights Castletown Hotel, Thurso Days 4-5 Travel to Sutherland visiting Loch Eriboll, Balnakeil Bay and Scourie. 2 nights Edrachillies Hotel, Scourie Day 6

Full day on Handa Island and then travel through Assynt to Ullapool. 1 night The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool

Days 7-8

Travel to Gruinard Bay, Poolewe, Loch Maree and Torridon. Exploration of the Bealch na Ba and Applecross peniusula. 2 nights Tigh an Eilean Hotel, Shieldaig.

Day 9

Travel back to Inverness via Lochs Kishorn and Carron.Visit the Black Isle area. 1 night Inverness

Day 10 Depart Inverness Duncan Macdonald: Dark Phase Arctic Skua, Gruinard Bay, Puffin Colin Scott: Eider, Wheatear Ian Tulloch: Gannet

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

51


Colin Scott

Roy Atkins

Osprey, Spring Birds. Holiday details page 46

Matura Beach, Trinidad and Tobago. Holiday details page 32

Just a few of the images guests and guides have taken on Speyside Wildlife trips

Mary Braddock

Steve Batt

Red-footed Falcon, Hungary. Details page 62

Jvari Pass, Georgia and Armenia. Holiday details page 36

Roy Atkins

Angela Land

Guests at Iguazu Falls, Brazilian Pantanal. Holiday details page 92

Bottlenose Dolphins, Scottish Mammals in Summer. Holiday details page 86

52

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


Roy Atkins

Evelyn Moorkens

Guests in Mongolia. Holiday details page 80

Red and Green Macaw, Pantanal. Details page 92

Maggie Tester

Jane Atkins

Grey-crowned Crane, Uganda. Holiday details pg 84

Guests in the Brazilian Pantanal. Holiday details page 92

Ian Bruce

Roy Cowley

River Otter family,Yellowstone in Spring. Holiday details page 56

Northern Harrier, Nova Scotia. Holiday details page 88

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

53


A SPANISH ODYSSEY

“I have never led a two week wildlife holiday in Spain before, but discussed it with friends and colleagues on numerous occasions. It is a mouth-watering prospect of not just the diversity of birdlife, but all the other potentials – it is going to be one heck of an adventure!” Julian Sykes Dates

Sat 19 May - Sat 2 Jun 2018

Price

£3,215

Deposit £625 Single Supp £350

A Spanish road trip to remember, from the wetlands of the Med to the mountains of Cantabria and so much in between – hold on to your sombrero!

Leader Julian Sykes Flights

EasyJet, scheduled, Speedy Boarding and extra legroom included Outbound: Morning, Gatwick-Valencia British Airways, scheduled Inbound: Afternoon, Bilbao-Heathrow

Weather

A complete mixture, with expectations of hot weather on the coast and inland, with much cooler weather in the mountains (10°-25°C)

Walking

Some level of fitness is required, nothing too strenuous, with up 2km walks along tracks, one with a slight incline in the Picos de Europa

Meals

All included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 15

Insects

Biting insects should be expected in several areas, so bring repellent

Accom

Twin and single rooms all ensuite

Group

7

Just some of what we hope to see: Black-necked Grebe Glossy Ibis Little Bittern Greater Flamingo Marbled Duck White-headed Duck Black Vulture Lammergeier Spanish Imperial Eagle Bonelli’s Eagle European Honey Buzzard Lesser Kestrel Great Bustard Little Bustard Collared Pratincole

Audouin’s Gull Slender-billed Gull Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Black-bellied Sandgrouse Roller Red-necked Nightjar European Eagle Owl European Scops Owl Rufous Bush-robin Alpine Accenter Rufous-tailed RockThrush Wallcreeper Snowfinch Citril Finch

See Spain’s wildlife, from the Mediterranean coast, inland to the Bay of Biscay Coastal wetlands for Red-knobbed Coot and Marbled and White-headed Duck Rolling plains with both bustards, sandgrouse and much more Spain’s best kept secret – Sepulveda for Dupont’s Lark Wallcreeper, Snowfinch and Alpine Accentor in the Picos de Europa Fabulous diversity and wonderful sights throughout the journey Rufous Bush-robin, Red-necked Nightjar, Eagle Owl all possible

1

Arrive in Valencia Airport and drive south to Oliva for the next four nights. If time allows, we shall take the minor road south through the extensive rice fields, where we should see our first Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns, plus lots of herons, egrets and gulls. Have your binoculars at the ready!

2-5

The next four days will be spent along the coast and mountains of Valencia, all the way south to Murcia. A network of coastal wetlands and saltpans hug the Mediterranean Sea, which can be good for the rare breeding Red-knobbed Coot and Marbled and White-headed Duck, along with lots more. These few days could easily produce many more specialty species such as Collared Pratincole, Bonelli’s Eagle, Audouin’s Gull, Black Wheatear,

Moustached Warbler and Rufous Bush-robin. A night drive is planned for Red-necked Nightjar, with potentially close views. After breakfast we drive inland west to Castilla La Mancha, firstly visiting the Albacete Plains, where we could encounter our first steppe species. This area of extensive agricultural land is known for Great and Little Bustard and Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. We shall spend most of the day driving the tracks searching for thes, plus Stone Curlew, Rock Sparrow and Calandra Lark. Late afternoon we continue to Mota del Cuervo – a town better known for Don Quixote’s windmills!

6

Another transfer day, with regular stops through to Daimiel, visiting enroute seasonal wetlands for waders and wildfowl. We should now start to see our first White Storks of the holiday,

Mark Denman: Bonellis Eagle, Red-knobbed Coot Roy Atkins: Griffon Vulture, Alpine Accentor Mike Shaw: Collared Pratincole Simon Eaves: Audouin’s Gulls 54

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“We have a realistic chance of seeing in excess of 200 bird species, on this epic road trip from Valencia to Madrid and then north to Cantabria. There will be some fabulous ‘magic moments’ and deciding on just one is going to be almost impossible!” Julian Sykes along with good numbers of wildfowl, plus some new waders and reedbed species.

7-8

This morning we shall visit our first National Park - Tablas de Daimiel, another extensive reedbed wetland, which is excellent for Bearded and Penduline Tits, Spanish Sparrow and Black-winged Kite. After our picnic lunch around the visitor centre, we set off north beyond Madrid, for two nights at Torrelaguna. If time allows and based on local information, we may make an evening visit for Eagle Owl nesting close to the town. We then spend a full day around the environs of the capital, with visits to El Pardo and Escorial, with a possibility of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Sub-alpine and Western Bonelli’s Warblers to name a few.

9-10

Our odyssey moves north again, to the stunning town of Sepulveda for two more nights, on the way visiting Valdetorres de Jarama and Patones de Arriba. This series of quaint villages and valleys along the Rio Jarama could produce more Great Bustards, Lesser Kestrel, Azure-winged Magpie, Rock and Cirl Bunting and Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes. The journey alone is fabulous and we could make stops for roadside vultures and eagles. The Hoces de Duraton National Reserve is superb and we start our day with a pre-breakfast visit for the rare and very elusive Dupont’s Lark. It will be hard to leave, with Calandra, Thekla, Short-toed and Woodlarks, Spectacled and

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Western Orphean Warblers, Tawny Pipit and Black-eared Wheatear vying for attention. After breakfast, we return and spend the rest of the day walking down to the beautiful riverside church for more fabulous wildlife.

11-14

Today we drive north up to the Cordillero de Cantabria Mountains and the famous Picos de Europa National Park. Enroute stops should produce Dipper, Red-backed Shrike, Rock Bunting and Yellowhammer. The next days are spent within the Picos de Europa National Park, walking and driving through some of the most spectacular scenery in Iberia. We obviously have an emphasis on finding the avian specialties; Wallcreeper, Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor, Lammergeier, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Alpine Chough and Iberian Chiffchaff; however, this is not all about birds, as mammals (Southern Chamois, Spanish Ibex, Snow Vole), reptiles and amphibians, butterflies and alpine flowers are abundant - ending the ‘grand tour’ on a literal high!

15

We travel to Bilbao airport and our flight back to the UK.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-4 Coastal wetlands and limestone valleys make for an incredible start to the holiday 4 nights Hotel Font Salada, Oliva Day 5 We cross the Albacete steppes with bustards and sandgrouse 1 night Meson de Don Quixote, Mota del Cuervo Day 6 Travel to Daimiel, visiting seasonal wetlands for waders and wildfowl 1 night Hotel Dona Manuela, Daimiel Days 7-8 Our first National Park - a fantastic reedbed with Bearded Tit and Savi’s Warbler. A full day around Spain’s capital, for a surprisingly productive visit to its environs 2 nights Posada del Camino Real, Torrelaguna Days 9-10 A place that will create a lasting memory - Hoces del Rio Duraton for Dupont’s Lark, aka ‘El Diablo’ 2 nights Hotel Puerte de Sepulveda, Sepulveda Days 11-14 A grand finale of the grand tour, in arguably the most breathtaking scenery in Iberia – Picos de Europa National Park 4 nights Casa Cayo, Potes Day 15 Drive to Bilbao along the ‘Costa Verde’, finishing at the Atlantic coast, before travelling back home

55


YELLOWSTONE IN SPRING

“Spring is the time to see parents with young in Yellowstone: Moose, Pronghorn and Bison tending their calves, bears foraging with cubs - we’ve also seen wolves with pups.” Darren Rees

Dates

Sat 26 May - Sat 9 Jun 2018

Price

£5,425

Deposit £1,050 Single Supp £1,200

Spring in the world’s first National Park. A vast wilderness, with colourful birds and flowers and fantastic mammals – the best place for big game in the Americas! Wolf, Bison, Moose, plus Grizzly and Black Bear Eagles, cranes, bluebirds and colourful migrants Cute critters! Chipmunks, Ground Squirrels, Pika and Beaver Exceptional photo opportunities for wildlife and landscapes Geo-thermal wonders, with erupting geysers and bubbling mud pools Great hotels and food, with friendly hospitality A four-centre tour, staying right in Yellowstone, with years’ of experience

Leaders Darren Rees and Duncan Macdonald Flights

United Airlines, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Jackson Hole (via US stop) Inbound: Overnight, Jackson Hole-Heathrow (via US stop)

Weather

It can be cool (even cold), but daytime temperatures rise to warm and sunny (0°-15°C), with a chance of showers, cold snaps and some snow

Walking There’ll be some short easy walks on wide paths, with optional walks off tracks in the forest

Note that Yellowstone National Park is at high altitude. Most of the Park is above 7,500 feet / 2,275 metres

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 14 and are of good quality

Insects

Biting insects may occasionally be a nuisance, so bring repellent

Accom

Twin and single rooms all ensuite

Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Gray Wolf Black Bear Grizzly Bear Moose Pronghorn Bison Beaver Elk Coyote Yellow-bellied Marmot

56

1-4

Arriving at Jackson after a long travel day, our hotel is just a shor t transfer away. We’ve three full days to explore the breathtaking Grand Teton National Park, a land of towering peaks, pine forests, sagebrush plain, jewel-like lakes and the meandering Snake River. Where do we star t? Common birds include Mountain Chickadee, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Bluebird and Broad-tailed Hummingbird and at nearby Flat Creek we’ll see Trumpeter Swan, Cinnamon Teal and smar t Yellow-headed Blackbirds. The historic Mormon Row barns set amongst the sprawling Antelope Flats, will have you reaching for your camera and we’ll probably see our first Bison, Pronghorn and irresistible

Least Chipmunks and Uinta Ground Squirrels. The National Elk Refuge holds Sandhill Crane, Rock Wren, Horned Lark and perhaps our first Coyote. We’ll stop at famous Oxbow Bend beneath lofty Mount Moran looking for River Otters, Moose, Osprey and soaring Bald Eagles and we’ll return for an evening along the river looking for crepuscular Beavers. Watching these animals swimming back and for th, tending to their dams and lodges is a tour highlight!

5-7

We travel north along scenic Jackson Lake, steadily climbing through endless pine forests to reach the world’s first and most famous National Park - Yellowstone. We stay beside the immense Yellowstone Lake at 7,700 feet. This is a place of untamed nature - the Greater Yellowstone wilderness area is the size of Scotland! The lake hosts Barrow’s Goldeneye,

Bald Eagle Sandhill Crane Harlequin Duck Trumpeter Swan Mountain Bluebird Great Horned Owl Gray Jay Clark’s Nutcracker Western Tanager American Dipper

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“My favourite place for that magical mix of special wildlife in a special landscape. Snow-capped peaks, forests, lakes, roaring waterfalls and unique geo-thermal features. Our Yellowstone tour is full of natural wonders wherever we look.” Darren Rees

Bufflehead and Common Loon, whilst the higher elevations at both Dunraven and Sylvan Passes have endearing Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, Yellow-bellied Marmot and American Pika. We’ll visit the famous Hayden Valley (more than once!) where the wide open spaces are dotted with herds of Bison and American Elk and we’ve often seen charismatic Gray Wolf and Grizzly Bear. Flying raptors include Northern Harrier and Red-tailed and Swainson’s Hawk and along the nearby Yellowstone River are splendid Harlequin Ducks and American Dippers. At Canyon, the river cuts a deep gorge appropriately named the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone - a stunning landscape of colourful eroded pillars and huge spectacular waterfalls. We’ll also spend an early morning and evening at Pelican Creek and Fishing Bridge in search of River Otter, Beaver and Belted Kingfisher.

8-11

We move to Mammoth in the north of Yellowstone, where Elk graze the watered lawns outside our cabin and the friendly ground squirrels will be on the lookout for the local Prairie Falcons. Nearby are the beautiful volcanic travertine terraces and an early morning visit is great for photos and birds such as Townsend’s Solitaire, Hammond’s Flycatcher and Western Tanager. Other early morning excursions will include the famous Lamar Valley, in search of magnificent Gray Wolves. Re-introduced in 1995, these superb animals are an integral part of the restored ecosystem and we’ve had some amazing

encounters: packs travelling the valley floor; chasing Elk and Bison; defending carcasses from Grizzlies. What might we see in America’s Serengeti? Around the Blacktail Deer Plateau we’ll look for Williamson’s Sapsucker, Three-toed Woodpecker, MacGillivray’s Warbler, along with Gray and Steller’s Jay. On the spectacular Beartooth Highway, listed as one of the most beautiful roads in America, we’ll look for specialities of the high country such as Mountain Goat, Bighorn Sheep, Golden Eagle and Black Rosy Finch.

12-13

South of Mammoth is the centre of the geo-thermal wonders of Yellowstone – it’s how the place got its name! Between Norris and Old Faithful basins are an incredible 70% of the world’s geysers and we’ve a day-and-a-half to explore fully the bewildering collection of bubbling mud pools, erupting steam jets and multi-coloured pools. Our accommodation is within walking distance of famous Old Faithful and other predictable geysers like Daisy, Riverside and Grand, so expect a fun morning geyser-gazing! Reluctantly we leave Yellowstone, crossing the Continental Divide and return to Grand Teton National Park, watching for wildlife as we go. We’re sure to stop at Jenny Lake and Signal Mountain for a last look at the stunning mountain scenery, before checking in at Jackson for our last night.

14-15

on Day 15.

We catch our flights home, arriving in the UK early morning

Outline Itinerary Day 1 Fly to Jackson Hole, via US stop, arriving in the evening Short transfer to 49er Inn – 4 nights Days 2-4 Wildlife and birdwatching exploration of Grand Teton National Park Day 5 Relaxed day transfer to Lake Yellowstone - 3 nights Days 6-7 Explore Hayden Valley, north shore of Lake Yellowstone and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Day 8 Wildlife watching on day transfer to Mammoth Hot Springs - 4 nights Days 9-11 Three days to explore north section of Yellowstone, including Lamar Valley, Beartooth Pass and Blacktail Plateau Day 12 Drive via geothermal features, including the spectacular Grand Prismatic Pool to Old Faithful – 1 night Day 13 Geyser-gazing at Old Faithful then south, with wildlife watching on the way, for our final night at Jackson Hole – 1 night Days 14-15 Morning flight from Jackson Hole, evening flight to Heathrow, arriving UK Day 15

Ian Tulloch: Black Bear cub, Bald Eagle, Harlequin Ducks, Mormon Row, Coyote, Norris Springs

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57


PERU AND MACHU PICCHU

“Peru has an exceptional variety of habitats, from Amazonian Rainforest filled with exotic birds such as toucans and macaws, to the high Andes, realm of the Andean Condor, down to the coast with cliffs, smothered in Peruvian Boobies and gorgeous Inca Terns. This promises to be an incredible trip!” Roy Atkins

Dates

Sat 26 May - Sun 10 Jun 2018

Price £8,695 Deposit £1,700 Single Supp £1,250

From bird-rich coastal islands to Amazonian Rainforest and the high Andes - we visit many exciting habitats to see species from Inca Terns to Andean Condors - with a visit to Machu Picchu too!

Leaders Roy Atkins plus local guide

Coastal boat trip for Inca Tern, Peruvian Booby, Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Pelican Scenic train ride to Machu Picchu, where we take a guided tour Exceptional birding in Amazonian Rainforest from our lodge near the Tambopata River Spectacular sight of macaws and parrots coming to clay lick with several species possible Explore the Puna in the high Andes for herds of Vicuna and Andean Condor at Colca Canyon Torrent Duck,White-capped Dipper and many other species in the Aguas Calientes area Hummingbirds, toucans, tanagers, antbirds, tinamous, puffbirds, aracaris, manakins.....

Flights KLM, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Lima (via Amsterdam) Inbound: Overnight, Lima-Heathrow (via Amsterdam) Internal, LATAM: Lima-Puerto Maldonado -Cusco-Arequipa-Lima Weather

Days are typically warm to hot but nights can be cool to cold at higher altitudes. Even during the dry season, infrequent but heavy downpours can occur, which are typically short-lived. 10ºC at night to max 30ºC in the day

Walking

Generally over short distances but in Machu Picchu, some parks and Colca Canyon there are flights of steps. You will also be at altitude so some degree of fitness is required. Walking is always at a leisurely pace

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 15

Insects

Mosquitoes and other biting insects are likely at some places so bring repellent

Accom

Twin and single rooms all ensuite

Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Inca Tern Andean Condor Humboldt Penguin Diademed Sandpiper-Plover Cock-of-the-rock Giant Hummingbird Razor-billed Curassow Giant Coot

Sungrebe Peruvian Thick-knee Guanay Cormorant Blue-and-yellow Macaw Pale-winged Trumpeter King Vulture Andean Motmot Versicolored Barbet

1-4

Coastal seabird colonies close to Lima make a great start to this trip, with stunning Inca Terns perhaps the stars of the show. Peruvian Boobies, Humboldt Penguins, Peruvian Pelicans, Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants are all here, plus marine mammals such as Southern Sea Lions, but this is not the only habitat worth exploring. Arid habitats along the coast hold populations of desert loving birds such as Peruvian Thick-knee, Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Cactus Canastero, Short-tailed Field Tyrant and Peruvian Meadowlark and along the shore we’ll check out the gulls, terns and waders, keeping a special eye out for the extremely rare Peruvian Tern.

5-8

An early morning flight takes us to Puerto Maldonado, from where we drive to the port on the Tambopata River. A motor

boat then takes us all the way to our lodge, where we’ll spend three full days exploring Amazonian Rainforest on different trails through terra firme, várzea and other forest types. Mixed flocks of passerines can include some gorgeous tanagers such as Green-and-gold, Paradise, Flame-crested, Opal-rumped and Turquoise, among others. Striking birds such as Gilded Barbet, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Plum-throated Cotinga and Striolated Puffbird are also possible and sightings of toucans and macaws flying overhead are common. We’ll keep checking the skies for raptors, with some exciting species possible - even Harpy Eagle is here, though we would be lucky indeed to glimpse one! Other great birds of this area include Orinoco Goose, Blue-throated Piping Guan

Luis Segura: Inca Terns Roy Atkins: Red-and-Green Macaws, Machu Picchu, Cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Condor Nigel & Di Hardcastle: Many-coloured Rush Tyrant 58

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“Machu Picchu is one of those places you have to see to believe! It is the location as much as the place itself and it is hard to imagine how people lived in such a remote and high place with steep-sided mountains all around. The surrounding forests are alive with birds and the nearby river has Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dipper - it is just fabulous!” Roy Atkins

and Hoatzin, plus manakins, antbirds, oropendolas, jacamars, motmots and hummingbirds. We shall search for bamboo specialties such as White-cheeked Tody Tyrant, Peruvian Recurvebill, Red-billed Scythebill, Rufous-breasted Piculet and Flammulated Bamboo-tyrant and we’ll pay a visit to the world renowned Tambopata Macaw Clay Lick, where several species of parrots and macaws gather in their hundreds.

9

We return to Puerto Maldonado for a flight to Cusco, then transfer to our hotel, before setting off for Laguna de Huacarpay, a nearby wetland where we hope to find Puna and Speckled Teal, Andean Duck, Yellow-billed Pintail, White-tufted Grebe and Plumbeous Rail. We’ll search the vegetated margins for Wren-like Rushbird, Yellow-winged Blackbird and the stunning Many-colored Rush Tyrant and look out for Puna Ibis, Andean Negrito, Rufous-fronted Canastero and Streak-fronted Thornbird. This is a wonderful place for hummingbirds, including Giant Hummingbird, several species of Trainbearers and with luck, Bearded Mountaineer.

10

Today is Machu Picchu Day!! Our scenic four hour train ride follows the Urubamba River, with beautiful mountain views and perhaps even Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper on the boulders. On arrival in Aguas Calientes we shall transfer to our hotel, before setting off to explore the astonishing ruins of Machu Picchu. Birding takes a back seat for now, though we may see Inca Wren, as we take a guided tour of this famous place, amazed not just by the ruins themselves, but the location on such a steep-sided peak!

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We spend the night at Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel, where Andean Cock-of-the-rock and Andean Motmot may visit the gardens.

11

The trails around Aguas Calientes are well worth exploring and are very bird rich, with Sclater’s and Bolivian Tyrannulets, Silver-backed Tanager, Pale-eyed Thrush, Black-streaked Puffbird, Oleaginous Hemispingus, Capped Conebill and the endemic Masked Fruiteater. Mixed flocks of colourful tanagers abound and hummingbirds are common here.

12

After some free time to enjoy the historical city of Cusco, those who enjoy archaeological sites will have the opportunity to visit the Coricancha, the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God. We then fly to Arequipa.

13-14

We drive to the village of Chivay, pausing at Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve on the way, an Andean Reserve where we can explore the Puna habitat with herds of wild Vicuña.There is a slim possibility of the unique Diademed Sandpiper-Plover so keep your fingers crossed! The following day we leave early for our visit to spectacular Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world and a chance for eye-to-eye views of Andean Condors! We’ll look out for other birds too, such as Canasteros and Earthcreepers before returning to Arequipa.

15-16

We fly back to Lima, where we connect with our flight home.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-4 Fly to Lima, exploration of the coastal seabird colonies, semi-desert and wetlands of this area 4 nights Casa Andina Premium Miraflores Days 5-8 Early morning flight to Puerto Maldonado, then drive to Tambopata River for motor boat to our lodge. Three full days exploring Amazonian Rainforest 4 nights Tambopata Research Center Day 9 Flight from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco, then birding around Laguna de Huacarpay 1 night Casa Andina Premium Cusco Day 10 Train to Aguas Calientes then exploration of Machu Picchu 1 night Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel Day 11 Birding around Aguas Calientes before returning to Cusco 1 night Casa Andina Premium Cusco Day 12 Visit Cusco and Coricancha Inca Temple before our flight to Arequipa 1 night CasaAndina PremiumArequipa Day 13 Drive to Chivay, exploring Salinas and Aguada Blanca NR - the chance to explore the Puna habitat 1 night at Casa Andina Standard Colca Day 14 Visit Colca Canyon before returning to Arequipa 1 night at Casa Andina Premium Arequipa Days 15-16 Flight back to Lima and our connecting flight to London, arrive UK Day 16 59


A HEBRIDEAN ODYSSEY

“It feels like we’re leaving the UK behind to visit distant islands. The pace of life is slow and relaxed and the people are warm and friendly. Then there’s the landscape and the wildlife, which is quite simply breathtaking in its beauty and its scope. This promises to be a great adventure.” Simon Pawsey

Dates

Fri 1 - Wed 13 June 2018

Price

£2,745

Deposit £500

Single Supp £350

A journey through magical isles on the edge of the Atlantic. A diverse landscape of vast white beaches, rugged mountains, fertile machair and huge seascapes. Raptor watching with both eagles, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Peregrine Summer-plumaged divers, including Red-throated and Great Northern Unspoilt and deserted white sand beaches with shallow crystal clear waters Unique machair habitat in bloom, full of nesting waders and birds Excellent chance of Corncrake amidst lush vegetation Otters plus the chance of cetaceans and Basking Shark World famous Callanish Standing Stones and ancient Dun Carloway Broch

Leaders Craig Round and Simon Pawsey Walking

Coastal walks on uneven terrain of up to 2 miles. Walking boots recommended with trainers suitable on some occasions. Collapsible or telescopic walking poles could be useful for this trip

Weather Though usually quite dry, these islands can experience all the seasons during one trip and can be windy (5°-20°C) Insects Biting insects are not usually a problem but bring repellant just in case Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 13

Accom Double, twin, single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Corncrake Golden Eagle White-tailed Eagle Hen Harrier Merlin Short-eared Owl Peregrine Great Northern Diver Red-throated Diver Black-throated Diver Eider Whimbrel Arctic Tern Little Tern Black Guillemot

Rock Dove Arctic Skua Great Skua Manx Shearwater Storm Petrel Red-necked Phalarope Greenshank Golden Plover Red Grouse Corn Bunting Twite Otter Grey and common seals Dolphins and whales Basking Shark

1

Our adventure begins with a meal together in Inverness and a run through the trip itinerary.

2-5

We head north west through dramatic mountain scenery to Ullapool and the ferry to Lewis. There’s a sense of anticipation as we gather on deck for some sea watching - auks, Gannets, skuas, shearwaters and divers are likely, plus a chance of Storm Petrel and cetaceans on the crossing. We’ll spend four days exploring the islands of Lewis and Harris - two very different islands with wide expanses of peat moor, wild coastlines and incredible bare-rock scenery. Some of our most iconic raptors hunt these vast landscapes and we shall follow the Hebridean Bird of Prey Trail for Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Hen Harrier,

Short-eared owls, Merlin, Kestrel and Peregrine. We shall explore the wild Atlantic edge along the north western coast of Lewis up to the Butt of Lewis. This windswept and spectacular place is one of the best locations in the UK for seawatching for both birds and cetaceans. Though not common, Minke Whale, Common or even Risso’s Dolphin and other species are possible. The shallow lochs of the west coast are a refuge for wildfowl, waders and scarce migrants with the possibility of a vagrant American Wader if we’re lucky. The sea lochs and beaches of the rugged south west coast of Lewis are a wild, remote and underwatched habitat for Otters, eagles and divers, including Red-throated and Great Northern and we should find Cuckoo and Twite here.

Richard Stacey: Short-eared Owl, Dunlin, Corncrake, Little Tern Cath Wright: Luskentyre, Harris Mary Braddock: Great Skua Craig Round: White-tailed Eagle 60

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“Harriers, Short-eared Owls, both eagles, Otters, Corncrakes, thousands of waders and the chance of rare vagrants, all amidst a wonderful wild and historic landscape. The Outer Hebrides are so special and this new trip, which will take us right through the archipelago from north to south, will showcase everything that’s unique about them. I can’t wait to go!” Simon Pawsey

The Standing Stones of Callanish are archaeologically world famous and a stunning example of a circle and cruciform arrangement with almost 50 still standing. Walking amongst them ignites the imagination. We shall also visit Dun Carloway, one of the best preserved iron age brochs in Scotland. Harris is conjoined to Lewis, but the habitat and feel is very different. The north is a rugged mountainous moonscape, whereas the west coast has open machair and vast spectacular and deserted beaches. We shall walk on one of the world’s great beaches at Luskentyre, which is simply stunning and a superb location for Golden Eagles. We shall visit North Harris Eagle observatory, with a good chance of Merlin too, which regularly nest close by.

6-9

We leave Harris and weave our way by ferry through an archipelago of skerries, a rich feeding area for divers, seaduck and White-tailed Eagles, to beautiful Berneray and the Uists. We shall explore North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay. Birds seem to be everywhere and we shall visit the unique machair, alive with waders, Corn Bunting, Skylark and Twite. The RSPB Reserve at Balranald is a gem and gives us our best chance of Corncrake, calling from the iris beds. The Uists are wonderful for raptors and the chance of eagles is ever present, with Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers quartering the peatlands. The beaches and shallow bays of the west coast are fished by Common, Arctic and Little Terns,

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Great Northern Divers and a very healthy Otter population. Red-necked Phalaropes breed here and there is always the chance of finding a rarity. We’ve recorded Snowy Owl, Woodchat Shrike and Subalpine Warbler on previous trips - anything is possible!

10-11

We take the ferry from Eriskay across the Sound to Barra and Vatersay, both linked by a causeway. These are gentle, peaceful islands and a relaxing end to our Hebridean adventure. Basking Sharks are frequently seen from land and Golden Eagles and Merlin breed. We shall visit Traigh Mor, a beautiful beach and the spectacular site of Barra’s amazing airport.

12

The ferry from Barra across the fertile waters of The Minch to Oban provides more chances of Minke Whale, Basking Shark and seabirds - then from Oban we head back to Inverness for our evening meal and to reflect on our adventure.

13

After breakfast on Wednesday we say our fond farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1 Meet in Inverness for overnight stay 1 night at Premier Inn Day 2 Travel north west to Ullapool to catch the ferry to Stornoway on Lewis 4 nights at The Royal Hotel Days 3-5 Birding and wildlife exploration around Lewis and Harris Days 6-9 Ferry crossing from Harris to Berneray. Birding and wildlife exploration on Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay 4 nights at Temple View Hotel Days 10-11 Ferry crossing from Eriskay to Barra. Birding and wildlife exploration of Barra and Vatersay 2 nights at Isle of Barra Beach Hotel Day 12 Ferry crossing from Barra to Oban then journey north east to Inverness 1 night at Premier Inn Day 13 After breakfast we say our farewells

61


HUNGARY IN SUMMER

“Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a bird photographer, but enjoy taking images. I’m really excited to visit the Hungarian photo hides and go eye to eye with acrobatic Red-footed Falcons, beautifully coloured Bee-eaters and stunning Rollers – just fabulous.” Julian Sykes

Dates

Sun 10 - Mon 18 Jun 2018

Price £2,495 Deposit £500

Single Supp £200

Leader

Julian Sykes plus local guides

Flights

British Airways, scheduled Outbound: Afternoon, Heathrow - Budapest Inbound: Evening, Budapest - Heathrow

A host of eastern birds, butterflies and even bats – plus a great chance to visit photo hides for incredibly close views of some very special birds, whether you bring a camera or not! Three centre holiday around Kiskunság National Park, Bükk Hills and Lakitelek Photo hides for Red-footed Falcon, Roller, Bee-eater and woodland birds Eastern Imperial Eagle, Saker, Montagu’s Harrier and Honey Buzzard Opportunity to see bats in the hand at mist-netting session Savi’s, Icterine and Barred Warblers, Golden Oriole and Lesser Grey Shrike Butterflies including Common Glider, Great-banded Grayling and many more Several woodpecker species possible, plus Collared Flycatcher and Hawfinch

Weather Can be quite hot in the middle of the day, but pleasant in the morning and evenings (15°-28°C) Walking Short easy walks on level, wide paths Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 9

Insects

Mosquitos can be a nuisance at dusk around wetlands, so bring repellent

Accom

Comfortable accommodation in double, twin and single ensuite rooms

Activities Dinner within the old wine cellars of the Thümmerer family. Special access to photographic hides Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Red-footed Falcon (from hide) Roller (from hide) Bee-eater (from hide) Hawfinch (from hide) Eastern Imperial Eagle Saker Falcon Collared Pratincole Black Stork Middle Spotted Woodpecker Grey-headed Woodpecker Syrian Woodpecker Black Woodpecker Great Bustard

62

Collared Flycatcher Wryneck Lesser Spotted Eagle Lesser Grey Shrike Golden Oriole Penduline Tit Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Marsh Warbler Edible Dormouse Forest Dormouse European Souslik Barbastelle Bat Leisler’s Bat Whiskered Bat Fabulous butterflies

1-2

After arriving at Budapest Airport it is a short drive to our hotel near the Kiskunság National Park. Here, between the Danube and Tisza Rivers, Great Bustard have their largest population in Hungary and we also hope to find Lesser Grey Shrike, Golden Oriole and raptors such as Saker, Red-footed Falcon and Montagu’s Harrier. Around the hotel, Collared Flycatcher and Icterine Warbler nest and garden birds include Short-toed Treecreeper and Syrian and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. Wet meadows and fishponds hold good populations of breeding Savi’s Warblers and Bearded and Penduline Tits. Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck are possible amongst the reed-fringed pools and we shall carefully check a colony of Collared Pratincoles as, in some years,

Black-winged Pratincole have also occurred. A nearby alkaline lake is home to waders, including Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Ruff - perhaps in breeding plumage. Stone Curlew inhabit the stony ridges, Nightingales sing from the bushes and we’ll look out for Icterine and Barred Warblers and Red-backed Shrike.

3-5

Travelling to the Bükk National Park, we’ll pause enroute for Eastern Imperial Eagle and Saker Falcon, in farmland scattered with small woods. Our delightful hotel is a family pension with great food and tasty regional wine. Morning walks may produce up to six species of woodpeckers, including Syrian, Middle Spotted, Black and Wryneck.

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“Having only previously travelled through Hungary, I am relishing getting to know it and its fabulous wildlife much better. I am loving the fact that this is not just out and out birding, with a great chance of seeing an incredible diversity of species, some of which will even be new to me! There is the challenge of sorting out the butterflies and seeing some of these obscure mammals up close and personal – really does tick the boxes!” Julian Sykes

We’ll explore the attractive Hór Valley, where old beech woodland is home to elusive White-backed Woodpecker, plus Hawfinch, Wood Warbler and Collared Flycatcher. Goshawk is sometimes seen soaring above the trees and open areas may hold River Warbler. Many butterflies can be found here, including Common Glider, Great-banded Grayling and many fritillaries and blues. Beautiful pasture woodland, where Hungarian Grey Cattle graze, is the hunting ground of Honey Buzzard, along with both Short-toed and Lesser Spotted Eagles. Barred Warbler lurk in dense shrubs and Golden Oriole sing from the treetops. Short-toed Treecreeper, Red-backed Shrike and Woodlark breed here and butterflies abound, with many species including Large Copper, Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow, Eastern Short-tailed Blue and Silver-washed Fritillary. We hope to visit a nestbox project for dormice nearby, where Edible, Forest and Hazel Dormouse are all possible and one evening we’ll join a local expert, monitoring bat populations with mist nets and hope to catch several species. British species such as Common Pipistrelle and Daubenton, may be joined by Leisler’s, Barbastelle, Bechstein’s, or one of the horseshoe bats - a great opportunity to see them in the hand. One evening we’ll enjoy an evening meal in the old wine cellars of the Thümmerer family, famous for a variety of wines, but especially the so called ‘Bull’s Blood’. We’ll try a taste of this delicious wine, along

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with other fabulous reds and whites.

6-8

We move on to a wonderful area of wetlands in the Lakitelek area, where we can find nesting Pygmy Cormorant and Squacco, Purple and Night Herons, with a good chance of Spoonbill and Ferruginous Duck. In good years all three marsh terns are possible here, while Black Stork and White-tailed Eagle nest in the gallery forest and White Storks in nearby villages. We have sites for scarce Long-legged Buzzard and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. And now a real highlight of the trip - we have special access to several photo hides to gain super-close views that are impossible to see on normal birding tours. Hides beside breeding Roller, Bee-eater and Red-footed Falcon, allow fabulous views, plus the chance of Hawfinch, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and more common woodland birds at a drinking pool hide - all from just a few metres! These hides are normally reserved for photographers and only take three or so people at a time, so we’ll swap around so everyone gets a chance to try each hide. Most have easy access, though one is accessed via a ladder, with a hand-rail - don’t forget your camera!

9

After birding in the morning, we head west to Budapest to catch our flight home.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-2 Fly to Budapest airport and transfer to hotel near Kiskunság National Park then a full day birdwatching here 2 nights at Forster Hunting Lodge Days 3-5 Birdwatching as we go, we transfer to the Bükk Hills National Park area for woodland birding, dormice projects, bat mist-netting and a wine tasting evening 3 nights at Nomad Pension Days 6-8 Transfer to Lakitelek. Birdwatching and visits to bird hides for close-up views of some exciting species 2 nights at Hotel Club Tisza Day 9 Transfer to Budapest for flight to UK Mary Braddock: Red-footed Falcon, Bee-eaters Balazs Szigeti: Eastern Imperial Eagle, Hawfinch, Barred Warbler, Saker Falcon Peter Molnar: Marsh nearTiszaalpar

63


MULL AND SPEYSIDE IN SUMMER

“I visited Mull for the first time since childhood recently and it still retains its magic, even in the rain!! Stunning scenery on a magnificent scale, there’s never a dull moment, Mull just keeps on delivering spectacular wildlife.” Sally Nowell

Dates

Tue 12 - Fri 22 Jun 2018

Price

£1,895

Deposit £300 Single Supp £200

Mull in summer plus Speyside - Britain’s very best and, we think, striking wildlife, including eagles, Otters and a boat trip for “up close and personal” views of Puffins and seabirds. Amazing opportunities to see White-tailed and Golden Eagle in spectacular habitat Otter spotting wherever we go Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier and divers A trip to Iona with chance to hear and, who knows, even see the elusive Corncrake Treshnish boat trip for close-up Puffins and loads more Scarce mountain birds in the Cairngorms An evening in our ‘dusk watch’ hide for Pine Marten and Badger

Leaders Sally Nowell and Jack Ward Weather Mixture of sun and showers, but cooler on boat trips and in the mountains (10°- 25°C) Walking

Most walks are 1-2 miles on wide sandy tracks, although there is the possibility of a forest walk of up to 4 miles Our Cairngorms walk is more steep and uneven, but low-level unguided alternatives are available

Walks on Lunga and Staffa, although approx only 1 mile long, are more challenging and only suitable for those with good mobility and balance Walking boots will be needed

Boat Trips Our boat trip to Lunga lasts 6 hours, including 3 hours onshore. Our trip to Iona is a short 10 min ferry ride Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 11

Insects Biting midges will be encountered Accom

Steading - double, twin and single rooms all ensuite Isle of Mull Hotel - double, twin and single rooms all ensuite

Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: White-tailed Eagle Golden Eagle Hen Harrier Short-eared Owl Crested Tit Scottish Crossbill Ring Ouzel Red-throated Diver Red Kite Ptarmigan

64

1 2-4

Dinner together on Tuesday starts the holiday at the Steading.

In Speyside’s ancient Caledonian Pines, amongst gnarled and lichen festooned ‘granny’ Pines, there’ll be Scottish Crossbill, Crested Tit, Black Grouse and wary Capercaillie. The woods are also full of summer migrants at this time of year, such as Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Tree Pipit and Wood Warblers giving out their fantastic pulsating ‘trilling’ song, from nearby birches and fragments of oak woodland. Ptarmigan are well camouflaged amidst the boulders of the Cairngorms, with Dotterel on the plateau and some fantastic views to be had from the high tops. On wild moors there are Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Red Grouse, Merlin

and breeding waders such as Golden Plover and Curlew. Moorland lochs hold Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, now in full summer plumage and exquisitely plumaged Slavonian Grebes, always a real gem of Speyside! Ospreys may be busy at their nest sites, Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Common Sandpiper will be on our target list and we’ll also visit our hide in the evening for Pine Marten, Badger and not forgetting Wood Mouse! A scattering of Eider, Red-breasted Merganser and maybe a lingering Long-tailed Duck or Arctic Skua will be in the Moray Firth, whilst Red Kite and Common Buzzard circle overhead. The shingle shores are busy with Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns, whilst migrant waders such as Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin are

Dotterel Raven Peregrine Osprey Puffin Arctic Skua Guillemot Razorbill Otter Pine Marten

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Guests are always astounded by the diversity in Strathspey; forests, rivers and mountains all combine to provide the ideal habitat for a plethora of Scotland’s best flora and fauna. Combining Strathspey with Mull showcases just what amazing wildlife Scotland has to offer.” Sally Nowell

bound for Arctic breeding sites and we’ll also spend some time scanning for the Moray Firth’s famous population of Bottlenose Dolphins, which can be seen here offshore.

We’ll visit the stunning white shell sand beaches and famous Abbey on Iona, where Corncrakes call from hay meadows full of wildflowers, alongside a clear azure blue sea.

5-10

A highlight will be our day out on the Treshnish Isles. On the boat trip over to the islands, we’ll be alert for Minke Whales and also watch out for Black Guillemot and the odd Great Skua, Manx Shearwater and Storm Petrel. We take in the island of Staffa and the basalt columns of ‘Fingal’s Cave’, before landing on Lunga Island with its fantastic seabird colony.

We journey through stunning west coast scenery via Fort William and Loch Linnhe, to catch an afternoon ferry to Mull; during our short boat crossing looking out for passing seabirds and possible cetaceans, such as Harbour Porpoise. Here, from our seashore base, Gannets go by, whilst offshore Red-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver linger and we’ll watch for majestic White-tailed and Golden Eagles now busy feeding young. Mull is probably ‘the’ best place in Britain to see White-tailed Eagles, with around 16 pairs of this magnificent bird of prey nesting on the island and Golden Eagles at their highest density in Europe. Around the coast, Common Seals haul out on the offshore rocky islets and skerries and we’ll spend time quietly seeking out some of the island’s Otters, whilst Greenshank and Common Sandpiper and noisy ‘kleeping’ Oystercatcher, keep us company on weedy rocks. Raven and Peregrine patrol the dramatic and imposing Gribun Cliffs and Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl can be seen hunting low over the island’s moorlands, grassland and pine plantations.

Rock Dove and Twite are here and we’ll wander amongst hundreds of Puffins, green-eyed Shags, Guillemots and Razorbills on the Harp Rock. Fulmar cackle, Kittiwake cries echo up from narrow chasms and Arctic Skuas patrol offshore, amongst the flocks of wheeling seabirds ... it’s a wonderful place! On the last day we’ll bring you back to Speyside and the Steading for the night.

11

After breakfast on Friday we say our farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glen Feshie 4 nights at the Steading

Days 2-4

Wildlife and birdwatching exploration throughout Speyside, including Abernethy Forest, the Cairngorms and the Moray Firth

Day 5

Journey through stunning scenery, before catching the ferry to Mull 5 nights at Isle of Mull Hotel

Days 6-9

Wildlife and birdwatching exploration on Mull, including a boat trip to the Treshnish Isles

Day 10

Ferry back to mainland then drive to Speyside birdwatching enroute 1 night at the Steading

Day 11

Depart after breakfast

Craig Round: Otter, White-tailed Eagle, Gannets Simon Eaves: Lunga, Puffins Mark Denman: Crested Tit

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

65


CROATIA AND SLOVENIA

“The astonishing variety of wildlife we saw on our visit last year, including 74 species of butterflies, exciting dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians, as well as a breathtaking show of alpine flowers, make this a great trip for anyone interested in all sorts of wildlife.” Roy Atkins

Dates

Sat 16 - Sun 24 Jun 2018

Price

£2,755

Deposit £550

Single Supp £250

This trip has so much to offer the general naturalist - birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians - all in stunning scenery, from the Croatian coastline to the Julian Alps.

Leaders Roy Atkins plus local guides Flights

Easyjet, scheduled. Speedy Boarding and extra legroom included Outbound: Afternoon, Gatwick - Split Inbound: Evening, Ljubljana - Gatwick

Weather

Warm to hot in lower areas in June, around 25˚C, with hotter temperatures possible – perhaps 30˚C or more. Cooler in the mountains, possibly chilly early in the day, with chance of rain. Bring light rain gear, layers and walking boots, plus lighter-weight footwear

Walking

Walks up to 5km are on a variety of tracks, mostly easy, but others more difficult on uneven ground and in places quite steep, for example in the gorge at Paklenica. There may be further steep walks in the mountains, depending where we try to get to and how far we can drive (dependent on snow!)

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 9

Insects

Insects are unlikely to be a problem, but bring repellent just in case

Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite. Our first hotel only has seven rooms so the last two rooms to be booked will be accommodated at apartments 5mins away Group 12

Beautiful scenery, from the Croatian coastline to the mountains of Slovenia Crystal-coloured, blue-green lakes and beautiful waterfalls at Plitvice Rock Nuthatch, Orphean Warbler, Snowfinch, Sombre Tit, Alpine Accentor and more Fabulous variety of butterflies and some exciting dragonflies Local guide with extensive knowledge of reptiles and amphibians Beautiful alpine flowers high in the Julian Alps Visit to the famous karst caves at Postojna

1

After arrival at Split airport, we drive to our hotel on the Croatian coastline. The rocky coast here is beautiful, with vineyards, vegetable plots, orchards and olive groves and our hotel looks out over habitat with Golden Oriole, Serin, Turtle Dove, Red-backed Shrike and Hoopoe, as well as Italian Wall Lizards and many butterflies.

2-3

We spend time exploring Paklenica National Park, with its river-carved canyons and attractive landscape, home to Western Rock Nuthatch, Crag Martin, Sombre Tit and Blue Rock Thrush, though Rock Partridge is difficult at this time of year. The area is fabulous for reptiles and our local guide will astonish with his ability to catch species such as Western Green and Italian Wall Lizard and even snakes for close up

views. Butterflies are everywhere, including Southern White Admiral, Great Banded Grayling, Blue-spot Hairstreak, Chequered Blue and many more - last time we saw over 70 species on this trip! Nearby Pag Island has Black-eared Wheatear, Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrike, Montagu’s Harrier and exciting dragonflies such as Bladetail and Black Pennant. If time permits, we shall visit a lake where herons and egrets, Zitting Cisticola, Avocet and Pygmy Cormorant may be found.

4

We play at being tourists next, as we head to Plitvice Lakes, a valley situated between high forested mountains where, one below another, lie a string of beautiful lakes and tarns of crystal blue-green colour. Fed by many small streams, they spill into each other in foaming cascades, their unique beauty earning them a place in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Just some of what we hope to see: Western Rock Nuthatch Alpine Accentor Snowfinch Sombre Tit Grey-headed Woodpecker Western Bonelli’s Warbler Golden Oriole Eastern Orphean Warbler Black-eared Wheatear

66

Blue Rock Thrush Woodchat Shrike Rock Bunting Olm (in cave aquarium) Fabulous selection of butterflies Many species of reptiles and amphibians

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“The scenery and beauty of these two countries are as much a part of this holiday as the wildlife. The snow-capped Julian Alps are stunningly beautiful and the rocky Croatian coastline has a different beauty of its own. We also visit the stunning Plitvice Lakes and the caves at Postojna - look them up and you’ll see why we just couldn’t leave them out!” Roy Atkins We shall walk the trails with the many tourists, but it is well worth the diversion and we can look out for Green-eyed Hawker and Beautiful Demoiselle and a few woodland birds.

5

We head next to another UNESCO World Heritage site - the amazing caves at Postojna. A fantastic web of tunnels, passages, galleries and astonishing diversity of Karst features attract many visitors and we’ll take a 5km journey by electric cave train, deep into this underground world. Once here, we shall follow our guide past thousands of stalactites, stalagmites and other incredible features. Bizarre looking pink Olms live here in inaccessible underground lakes, but we can enjoy the privilege of seeing these blind, aquatic, cave salamanders, as they keep a few in an aquarium here.

6-8

We’ll explore Mt Nanos, standing like a secret garden above the surrounding plain and full of flowers and butterflies. Poplar Admiral, Great Sooty Satyr, Scarce Large Blue and many more are found here and crags and woodlands are home to Woodlark, Rock Bunting and Rock Thrush. Reptiles found in this area include Western Green Lizard, Dalmatian Wall Lizard, Western Whip Snake or perhaps even Nose-horned Viper, among other species. In the afternoon we drive to our hotel near Lake Bohinj, a beautiful location in the Julian Alps. The Julian Alps and surrounding areas are a beautiful mix of habitats and we may start by walking on the north side of Lake Bohinj, through pastures where butterflies abound.

Heath and False Heath Fritillary, Black-veined White, Woodland Ringlet, Southern Comma and many other species are possible. Beech and Norway Spruce hold Grey-headed Woodpecker, Western Bonelli’s Warbler and Hawfinch and in the afternoon we shall visit Pokljuka plateau, a forested karst plateau at 1,100m to 1,400m, where Common Crossbill, Firecrest and Crested Tit are possible.There are flowers such as Aconiteleaved Buttercup and Round-headed Rampions and we’ll check small pools for Alpine and Italian Crested Newts. Mangart Pass at 2,070m is the highest road in Slovenia, a unique opportunity to get high into an alpine habitat, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and fabulous alpine plants. We shall be surrounded with a display no alpine gardener could ever compete with, filled with Alpine Forget-me-not, Mountain Avens, Spring Gentian, Purple Coltsfoot, Alpine Clematis and many other beautiful species. Golden Eagles hunt for Alpine Marmot here and we’ll search for Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit, Alpine Swift, Alpine Chough and Snowfinch. A short stop as we descend may produce Horvath’s Wall Lizard, one of the rarest lizards of Europe.

9

We drive to Ljubljana for our flight back to London.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-3

Fly to Split airport then drive to our hotel on the Croatian coast. Spend a day at Paklenica National Park. Also have a day around Pag Island and Lun Peninsular 3 nights at Hotel Rajna and Dinko’s Apartments

Day 4

Travel north and visit the stunningly beautiful waterfalls and blue-green Plitvice Lakes - a UNESCO World Heritage site 1 night at Tourist Center Marko

Day 5

We cross in to Slovenia and visit the famous caves at Postojna, which are also a UNESCO World Heritage site 1 night at Hotel Jama

Days 6-8

Explore Mt Nanos, before heading to our hotel near Lake Bohinj. Take a walk by Lake Bohinj and visit Pokljuka plateau. Visit high alpine zone at Mangart Pass 3 nights at Hotel Jezero

Day 9

Travel to Ljubljana for flight back to London

Roy Atkins: Southern White Admiral, Bladetail, Alpine Chough, Eidelweis, Western Green Lizard Balazs Szigeti: Plitvice Lakes

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

67


SHETLAND ISLES

“Midsummer on Shetland is a magical time, when the sun barely seems to set. Last year as we landed around midnight on Mousa and looked west, we were treated to a breathtaking sunset with the sky seemingly on fire, as all around Storm Petrels flicked low over the sea and began to swirl like bats around the walls of the ancient broch.” Craig Round

Dates

Sun 24 Jun - Sun 1 Jul 2018

Price

£2,135

Deposit £400 Single Supp £250

Just 6° south of the Arctic Circle - far northern isles and world-class wildlife, huge seabird colonies and delightful Red-necked Phalaropes, at the Simmer Dim. Islands at the ‘Simmer Dim’ when the sun barely sets Easy flight to Shetland rather than the 14-hour ferry Mousa’s Storm Petrels, Fetlar’s Red-necked Phalaropes The spectacular seabird cities of Noss, Hermaness and Sumburgh Otters and offshore whales and dolphins Regular rarities and summering scarce breeders Closer to Norway than to mainland Scotland

Leaders Craig Round and Tim Drew Flights

Loganair, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Aberdeen-Sumburgh Inbound: Afternoon, Sumburgh-Aberdeen

Weather

During a typical week in this season we expect to experience mixed sun and showers, with temperatures in the range 10-20ºC

Walking Walking is generally very relaxed and easy, but on at least two of the days we may take walks of up to 3-4 miles on rough grassland and small coastal paths Meals

All included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 8

Insects Biting insects are not a problem Accom

SaxaVord, Unst - double, twin ensuite, single non-ensuite rooms in individual houses. Please note that single rooms will be sharing a bathroom with one other guest unless a further supplement is paid

Busta House Hotel - double, twin and single ensuite rooms

Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Red-necked Phalarope Whimbrel Storm Petrel Red-throated Diver Great Northern Diver Long-tailed Duck Whooper Swan Great Skua Arctic Skua Gannet Puffin Black Guillemot Common Tern Arctic Tern 68

Dunlin Golden Plover Twite Rock Dove Raven Twite Otter Minke Whale White-beaked Dolphin White-sided Dolphin Killer Whale Harbour Porpoise Harbour Seal Grey Seal

1

Flying from Aberdeen, we arrive in Shetland and drive north over Mainland. Crossing using inter-island ferries to the low-lying island of Yell we go onwards to our base on Unst, the northernmost inhabited island of the British Isles. With Great Skuas passing overhead and the wild calls of Curlew and Whimbrel all around, it really does feel like a different world here.

2-3

On Unst we really are at the end of the British Isles! We shall cross the moorland to the wild and dramatic cliffs of Hermaness, dodging dive-bombing Great Skuas (in Shetland called Bonxies, meaning ‘dumpy bird’) as breeding Snipe and Dunlin display overhead, to reach the vast seabird cliffs and gannetry at Saito, as a blizzard of gannets ride the updrafts. Puffins emerge from their burrows and scurry around our feet, as we look out to Muckle Flugga lighthouse and the small rocky island of ‘Oootsta’ or Out

Stack– after which there is no more Britain! Unst also supports Wheatear, Twite, Whimbrel and occasionally Icelandic race Black-tailed Godwit. Shetland lies at 60° north, where in midsummer the sun is above the horizon for 19 hours and where, given clear skies in the long twilight, or “simmer dim” the sun barely seems to set. These northern isles have a distinctly Scandinavian feel to them, with many of Shetland’s place names reflecting the long association it has had with its Norwegian neighbours and its Viking past, also reflected in the pattern and colours of the Shetland flag. On our regular short ferry crossings between islands, the tiny harbours are a favourite haunt of Otters and during the crossings Gannets can be seen diving in synchronised teams. Marauding Arctic Skuas harry passing Arctic Terns and streams of Puffins and other auks are always on the move. We shall also be alert to the sight of fins breaking the surface, betraying a

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Shetland has some of the best birding and wildlife spectacles to be seen anywhere in the UK and is a place of incredible beauty, where the wildlife is literally all around you. Last year, after a patient wait, we watched a stunning male Red-necked Phalarope drop from high out of the sky onto the loch, landing only a few feet away, right in front of us. Shetland magic!” Craig Round Porpoise close inshore, or maybe even Killer Whales! Another of our inter-island boat journeys takes us to Fetlar, reputed to originate from the Viking for ‘fat or fertile land’ and the fourth largest island in the Shetland Isles. It is home to stunning and rare Red-necked Phalaropes, as they delicately spin on small lochans, picking insects from the waterside stones. Red-throated Divers may have young and we shall hear their weird courtship wailing. Arctic Skua, Golden Plover, Dunlin and Whimbrel or ‘peerie whap’ in Shetland meaning small Curlew, can also be seen on the tundra-like heath of Fetlar and their ‘rippling’ calls can be heard across the island. It also supports outstanding numbers of other breeding waders, such as Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, with Curlew, Snipe and Redshank in the flower-filled meadows. North Shetland, renowned for Otters, is probably the UK’s premier location for this elusive mammal and we have been lucky with fine views at a number of sites we know. Along the shores we shall see Red-breasted Merganser and Eider or (Dunter) and further inland, coastal species nest everywhere, including Arctic Skuas (Skootie Alan) and Fulmar (Maalies) – we shall really be learning our Shetland bird names!

4-7

Leaving the north and its myriad islands and skerries behind us, we venture south to explore Mainland Shetland. Great Northern Diver, Long-tailed Duck and Whooper Swan all over-summer here and we’ll also see Rock Dove, Raven and perhaps Peregrine. At Sumburgh Head, close to the dramatic Viking

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

settlement of Jarlshoff and also at Lax Firth, we’ve seen White-beaked and White-sided Dolphins and watched Humpback, Minke and predatory Killer Whales! Shetland for a long time was part of the Norse kingdoms and, along with Orkney, Fair Isle and the Faroes, was a staging post for the Norse invasions of Western Ireland. History is never far away on these islands. A trip highlight for many, is our dusk visit to the island of Mousa, where inside the stonework of the 2,000 year old Iron Age Broch, we are enveloped in silence, until the rhythmic ‘churring’ of Storm Petrels amongst the stones brings the walls alive, a moment of real ‘Shetland magic’! It’s a total privilege to watch these tiny ocean-going seabirds flick in low off the sea, returning to their nest sites and patter at our feet and as they swirl like bats around our heads in the fiery sunset of the ‘simmer dim’, the real world seems a million miles away. The island of Noss is without doubt one of the finest single seabird islands in Europe. On our boat trip around the island, we’ll cruise in under the incredible sheer seabird cliffs of the Noup, towering some 590ft above us, it’s a truly awesome sight! These are the largest cliffs on Shetland’s east coast and home to almost 9,000 pairs of Gannet! Sheer seabird heaven! The great bird city also holds Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Shag and we’ll see the delightful Black Guillemot (Tystie).

8

We should have some time to birdwatch on the final morning, before taking an afternoon flight back to Aberdeen.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly into Sumburgh and travel north to our base at Saxa Vord on Unst

Days 2-3 Exploration of Unst, including the wild cliffs of Hermaness and the small island of Fetlar Day 4

Travel south on the ferry to our base on the Mainland

Days 5-7 Birdwatching and wildlife exploration of south Mainland, including a visit to Noss, the Viking settlement of Jarlshoff and a night visit to Mousa Day 8

Depart in the afternoon, after a morning spent bird and wildlife watching, on a flight back to Aberdeen

Craig Round: Gannets, Red-necked Phalarope, Great Skua, Arctic Tern, Storm Petrels Cath Wright: Guillemots Adam Moan: Puffin

69


WILDLIFE BONANZA

“The list of species we see on this holiday is breathtaking and any general naturalist into all sorts of wildlife cannot fail to be astonished by the variety of wildlife that is special to the Highlands - from the delicate Northern Damselfly, through rare orchids, up to mighty eagles - there is just so much to see” Duncan Macdonald Dates

Sat 30 Jun - Sat 7 Jul 2018

Price

£1,125

Deposit £200

Single Supp £100

The special northern dragonflies, butterflies and wild flowers are our focus, with the chance of some Highland birds and mammals too, on our much requested Highland Full Monty! Special and scarce, Highland butterflies and dragonflies Walk in Glen Affric to beautiful, dragonfly rich, Coire Lochan A dozen species of orchid likely, including Small White and Lesser Twayblade Relaxed Cairngorm walk for alpine flowers as well as Frog Orchid A great list of Scottish birds and mammals too Based at our fabulous Steading with our outstanding chefs The perfect holiday for the ‘all-round’ naturalist

Leaders Duncan Macdonald and Jack Ward Weather

The weather can vary enormously. During a typical week in this season we would expect mixed sun and showers with temperatures in the range of 10-25ºC.

Walking

There’ll be some short easy strolls on wide paths but also two longer more strenuous but unrushed walks, including an “at-your-pace” 3 mile round trip walk into the Cairngorms and a walk around the ‘yellow route’ to Coire Lochan in Glen Affric. Walking boots are recommended.

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Biting midges can occasionally be a nuisance by lochs and shores, especially in the west. Accom Double, twin and single ensuite rooms at our very special, delightfully furnished converted barn, the Steading. Group

12

70

Our action-packed week star ts with dinner together at the Steading on Saturday evening. On this week, more than any other, our itinerary is dictated by the weather! If the sun is shining we shall head to lochans and streams for dragonflies and flowery meadows or moorland for butterflies. Some of these species need sunshine to be on the wing, so we may need to grab these times if the forecast is not so good. If it is raining - well the flowers will look fabulous whatever the weather!

2-7

Just some of what we hope to see: Northern Emerald White-faced Darter Northern Damselfly Northern Brown Argus Large Heath Brilliant Emerald Azure Hawker Dark-green Fritillary Twinflower Common Wintergreen Serrated-leavedWintergreen Lesser Butterfly Orchid Heath Fragrant Orchid Small White Orchid

1

Frog Orchid Lesser Twayblade Globe Flower Starry Saxifrage Dwarf Cornel Pine Marten Red Squirrel Golden Eagle White-tailed Eagle Black-throated Diver Crested Tit Scottish Crossbill Slavonian Grebe Osprey

Our focus this week is the special Highland species of dragonflies, butterflies and flowers, so we may star t locally visiting ancient Caledonian Pines, where delicate Twinflower spread in patches on the forest floor - their tiny paired flowers are

exquisite and surely one of the most beautiful of the flowers we shall see this week. Common, Intermediate and Serrated-leaved Wintergreen are here too, while boggy pools hold Four-spotted Chaser and Common Hawker, plus rare Nor thern Damselfly and White-faced Dar ter. Orchid meadows host Small White, Greater and Lesser Butterfly, Nor thern Marsh and Heath Fragrant Orchids and we’ll search for Lesser Twayblade, always tricky with its habit of growing under the heather! On slopes dotted with Rockrose, we’ll hunt for Nor thern Brown Argus in its full Scottish form - with white dots on the forewings. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Large Heath are on the wing and we’ll also run a moth trap whenever we can. The forests provide the chance of Red Squirrel, Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill, though we shall need to check these carefully as both

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“We’ll be hoping for some good weather to bring out those dragonflies and butterflies that are so special to the Scottish Highlands, as they can be a real highlight of this trip - some are simply stunning, such as the glittering green Brilliant Emerald or the delightful Northern Brown Argus. The flowers will be wonderful whatever the weather!” Duncan Macdonald Common and Parrot Crossbill now breed here too. We’ll also make a visit to our mammal hide, with fingers crossed for close up views of Badger and delightful Pine Mar tens! The Findhorn Valley provides a chance of Golden Eagle and Mountain Hare, plus Red Deer, Dipper and Peregrine. Mountain Pansy, Stagshorn Clubmoss, Alpine Bistor t and Bearberry are likely as we cross the moorland to Loch Ruthven, the stronghold of beautiful Slavonian Grebe, here in colourful breeding plumage. There is always a chance of fishing Osprey here and we may find Water Lobelia – a beautiful plant with submerged leaves and white flowers. If the sun is out we’ll make a dash to beautiful Loch Bran, where the rare, metallic green Brilliant Emerald and other dragonflies such as Highland Dar ter may be on the wing. We’ll spend a whole day walking in beautiful Glen Affric, following a trail that will lead us to a lily-studded lochan where Downy Emerald, Golden-ringed Dragonfly and White-faced Dar ter can be found, along with some of the more common damselflies. Our walk includes some steeper sections, but we can take it slowly - and one section of wide track holds Common Hawker and sometimes the ‘holy grail’ of nor thern dragonflies - Azure Hawker - with slim chances of Highland Dar ter and Dark-green Fritillary too. Fur ther west, we’ll visit sea lochs where White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Rock Dove, Black Guillemot and Red-throated and

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Black-throated Divers are possible. Common Seals haul out on the rocks, Great Skua cruise over the islands and Arctic Terns breed, but the real focus is Loch Maree, in the hear t of Torridon, where we have our best chance to find Azure Hawker and Nor thern Emerald Dragonflies - two real Highland specialities. Great and Round-leaved Sundews trap midges here, as does Butterwor t and we’ll see other typical moorland species like Bog Asphodel, Lousewor t and Bog Myr tle. Our route up into the alpine world of the Cairngorm Corries is not too steep and we can stop for rests to enjoy the flowers on the way. We can compare up to six berry-bearing bushes as we walk, including Bog Bilberry, Crowberry, Bearberry and Cloudberry. The beautiful alpine flowers include Starry Saxifrage, Dwarf Cornel, Globe Flower and Trailing Azalea as we gain height. We’ll get excited about club-mosses with Fir, Interrupted and Alpine, then as we get higher, we hope to find more alpine flowers, including Alpine Ladies Mantle, Alpine Sawwor t, Alpine Meadow Rue, Roseroot and perhaps the rare Alpine Speedwell - with tiny deep blue flowers. We have found patches of Frog Orchid in the past and if we have time to get beyond the large boulders in the corrie, we may even add Moss Campion and Arctic Mouse-ear.

8

We say our farewells after breakfast on Saturday.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glen Feshie in time for an evening meal and a chat about our plans for the coming week. 7 nights at the Steading.

Days 2-7 Wildlife and birdwatching exploration including Abernethy Forest, the Cairngorms, Loch Maree, Glen Affric and West Coast. Day 8

After breakfast we say our farewells and depart.

Roy Atkins: Northern Brown Argus, Twinflower, Northern Emerald, Large Heath Steve Dudley: Azure Hawker Colin Scott: Slavonian Grebe Pierre Vernay: Pine Marten

71


BIRDS AND MUSIC

““The landscapes of central Europe are steeped in history and rich in birdlife and nowhere better exemplifies this than medieval Prague and the forests, mountains and valleys of the charming Czech Republic. I can’t wait!” Darren Rees

Dates

Sat 30 Jun - Sat 7 Jul 2018

Price

£2,375

Deposit £450

Single Supp £200

We visit two fabulous birding regions of the Czech Republic and include tours of Prague and Ceský Krumlov; a delightful medieval town, plus two classical concerts in Prague. Unique combination of birds and culture Two classical concerts in the famous Concert Halls of Prague Black, Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers Visit to the Trebonsko Biosphere Reserve for wetland birds and White-tailed Eagles Chance of Collared Flycatcher, River Warbler, Bluethroat and Golden Oriole Scenic landscapes and some beautifully preserved medieval towns Common Rosefinch, Honey Buzzard and Red-backed Shrike in Sumava Mountains

Leaders Darren Rees and local guides Flights

British Airways, scheduled. Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Prague Inbound: Afternoon, Prague-Heathrow

Weather It is usually nice and warm in July (12°-30°C), with a chance it may be hot, but showers or thunderstorms are possible and it can be cool in the early mornings or evenings. Walking Mostly easy walks on even paths with some uphill walks. Meals

All included from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8. Czech cuisine is very tasty and filling.

Insects Mosquitos and ticks might be present in low numbers, repellent is recommended Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Red-crested Pochard Black-necked Grebe White Stork Spoonbill Great Egret Honey Buzzard Marsh Harrier White-tailed Eagle Hobby Crested Tit

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker Grey-headedWoodpecker Red-backed Shrike River Warbler Firecrest Short-toed Treecreeper

1-2

Arriving in Prague we settle into our hotel then, if time allows, we’ll enjoy a little local birding in one of the city parks. Middle Spotted Woodpecker are likely here, along with Marsh and Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch and Short-toed Treecreeper and perhaps Grey-headed or even Black Woodpecker if we are lucky. Prague is regarded by many as one of Europe’s most charming and beautiful cities and we shall take a guided tour. The centre is a wonderful mix of stunning architecture, from Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, to Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Cubist. The medieval lanes of the Old Town and the Castle District offer a lot to see, with the Charles Bridge spanning the banks of the Vltava River to connect them. The Jewish Quarter is also worth a visit, with Europe’s

oldest active synagogue. In the evening we shall attend a concert in one of the famous music halls of the city.

3-4

We leave Prague and drive south to the picturesque town of Trebon, situated in a basin where ancient trees, hundreds of medieval ponds and peat bogs are preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site, called the Trebonsko Biosphere Reserve. Golden Oriole call from the poplars as we walk amongst the ponds, along embankments lined with old oak trees. White-tailed Eagles have a well established breeding population in this area, with over twenty pairs and we hope for good views of these. We’ll also be on the lookout for Penduline Tit, Reed and Great Reed Warbler, Red-crested Pochard and it is always nice to see birds such as Pochard and Gadwall with ducklings!

Golden Oriole Fieldfare Collared Flycatcher Common Rosefinch Night Heron

Mary Braddock: Black Woodpecker Balazs Szigeti: Prague at night, Common Rosefinch, Hawfinch, Red-backed Shrike Roy Atkins: Grey-headed Woodpecker 72

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“This is a very relaxed trip, with time spent looking for the birds, butterflies and dragonflies of this charming country, as well as taking in Prague itself, with its fascinating history and architecture. Add to this the two classical concerts and you have a beautiful balance of wildlife and culture.” Darren Rees

A few Black Storks nest here and the shallower pools may hold Great White Egret, Spoonbill, Garganey and Black-necked Grebe and there is an easily viewed colony of Night Herons. Marsh Harrier hunt over the reeds and where there are muddy edges, the first waders may already be heading south, including Wood and Green Sandpiper, Ruff and Greenshank. Scrubby areas hold Marsh and River Warbler, plus elusive Bluethroat and Middle Spotted and Grey-headed Woodpecker are likely, along with Turtle Dove, Icterine and Barred Warbler, Serin and Hawfinch. Collared Flycatcher breed here, but can be difficult at this time of year. We’ll also be alert for Otters, as they are sometimes seen during the day. It is a great area for dragonflies and butterflies and we’ll pause to identify species such as Black and White-tailed Skimmers, Brown Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Hungarian Glider, Lesser Purple Emperor and more.

5-6

We leave Trebon and drive towards the Sumava mountains. On the way we visit famous Ceský Krumlov, situated on the banks of the Vltava river. The town was built around a 13th-century castle with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. It is an outstanding example of a small central European medieval town, whose architectural heritage has remained intact thanks to its peaceful evolution over more than five centuries. In the afternoon we reach our hotel in the Sumava National Park. The Sumava Range is covered by the most extensive forest in Central Europe. Raised peat bogs, glacial lakes

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

and remnants of primeval forests, create a wonderful mosaic of habitats, which are little disturbed by human settlements, as most of the German speaking inhabitants were expelled after World War II and the area became a deserted zone along the Eastern Block border. Black Redstart call from the roof of our hotel and we may see Black Stork flying above the forest, along with raptors including Goshawk, Honey Buzzard and Hobby. Walking in beautiful flowery meadows, we’ll be distracted by a wealth of butterflies, as we search for Red-backed Shrike, Common Rosefinch, Tree Pipit, Whinchat and breeding Fieldfare. Great Grey Shrike are here in small numbers and in the forest, Crested and Willow Tit, Firecrest, Bullfinch, Hawfinch and Common Crossbill can be found.

7

After a morning birding in the Sumava region we drive to Prague, stopping for birds enroute, where in the evening we shall attend another concert in one of the famous music halls of the city.

8

We drive to Prague Airport for our flight back to London.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

On arrival in Prague we shall settle into our first hotel with time in the afternoon for birding in one of the city’s local parks 2 nights Hotel Adalbert, Prague

Day 2

Guided city tour of Prague with stunning architecture and medieval lanes, followed by an evening concert in one of the famous music halls of the city

Days 3-4

We leave Prague and drive south to the picturesque town of Trebon and the UNESCO World Heritage site, Trebonsko Biosphere Reserve for birdwatching and wildlife 2 nights Hotel Zlata Hvezda, Trebon

Days 5-6

Leaving Trebon, we shall explore the medieval town of Český Krumlov, before driving to the Sumava mountain range, for birding that afternoon and the following day 2 nights Schlosshotel, Sumava

Day 7

Further birding in the Sumava region before returning to Prague for our final night and evening music concert 1 night Prague

Day 8

Transfer to airport for flight home

73


BIRDS, BOTANY AND BOTANICALS

“Orchids, wintergreens, creeping ladies tresses, stunning jewels from the forest floor that we shall hope to discover whilst exploring the forests, woodland canopy and Highland skies for birds and mammals of Scotland. I am so excited about this holiday!” Sally Nowell

Dates

Sat 7 - Sat 14 Jul 2018

Price

£1,175

This holiday combines all aspects of Highland flora and fauna, with a fascinating glimpse into the world of Highland craft gins.

Deposit £200 Single Supp £100

Private visits to craft gin distilleries in the Highlands Walk the mountains and moors for the unique flora that infuse the spirit Ten species of orchid possible, including Small White and Lesser Twayblade Cairngorm walk for alpine flowers as well as Frog Orchid Twinflower, wintergreens and other special Highland flowers Based at our fabulous Steading with a chance to savour our local gin! Throughout the week, a great list of Scottish birds and mammals too

Leaders Sally Nowell and Duncan Macdonald Weather

The weather can vary enormously. During a typical week in this season we would expect mixed sun and showers with temperatures in the range of 10-25ºC.

Walking

There’ll be some short easy strolls on wide paths, but also a longer more strenuous “at-your-pace” 3 mile round trip walk into the Cairngorms. Walking boots are recommended

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Biting midges can occasionally be a nuisance by lochs and shores, especially in the west. Accom Double, twin and single ensuite rooms at our very special, delightfully furnished converted barn, the Steading. Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Twinflower Common Wintergreen Serrated-leaved Wintergreen Lesser Butterfly Orchid Creeping Ladies Tresses Heath Fragrant Orchid Small White Orchid Frog Orchid Lesser Twayblade Globe Flower Roseroot Starry Saxifrage 74

Dwarf Cornel Pine Marten Red Squirrel Mountain Hare Golden Eagle White-tailed Eagle Peregrine Black-throated Diver Red-throated Diver Crested Tit Scottish Crossbill Slavonian Grebe Osprey Black Guillemot Great Skua

1 2-7

Our holiday star ts with dinner together at the Steading on Saturday evening.

Whilst a lot of our focus this week will be on the unique flora of the Highlands, we shall be doing this in combination with seeking out the bird and mammal specialities which inhabit the area. We shall be searching the forest for Red Squirrel, Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill, though we shall need to check these carefully, as both Common and Parrot Crossbill breed here too. We’ll also make a visit to our mammal hide, with fingers crossed for close up views of Badger and delightful Pine Mar tens! We aim to see, not only those species special to the area, but also those plants that are used in the ever-growing craft gin distillation industry. These small-scale hand-crafted products utilise

fragrant plants, from Juniper and Bilberry to Rowan and Bog Myr tle and as we explore the Cairngorms and other wild areas, we shall look out for the many flowers and plants that are being used to add interesting flavours to the gin. We can then see how this is done on our private visits to local craft distilleries, where we shall see the making of these highly distinctive local drinks. It won’t just be the fragrant plants for gin making that we search for, so we may star t by visiting the ancient Caledonian Pines, where delicate Twinflower spread in patches on the forest floor - their tiny paired flowers are exquisite and surely one of the most beautiful of the flowers we shall see this week. Intermediate, Serrated-leaved and Common Wintergreen are here too and we’ll find the slim spikes of Creeping Ladies Tresses and star-like flowers

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Sharing a love of nature is a constant theme I hear from guests. Come and join us on this holiday, to share a love of birds, with a chance to discover some of the hidden Highland gems of the plant world. This journey of discovery will be blended with visits to our Highland Gin distilleries, where we shall hear how our Highland flora influences some of the gins you find on your supermarket shelves today.” Sally Nowell

of Chickweed Wintergreen beneath the trees. Orchid meadows host Small White, Greater and Lesser Butterfly, Nor thern Marsh, Heath Spotted and Heath Fragrant Orchids and we’ll search for Lesser Twayblade, always a tricky one with its minute flowers and habit of growing under the heather! On two days we shall match the flora of the Cairngorms with private visits to local distilleries, where we shall meet the master distillers whose job it is to take these plants and create craft gin. They will show us the process and we shall be able to sample the fruits of their labours. Each one is different and each one reflects the areas from which the plants are gathered. The Findhorn Valley provides a chance of Golden Eagle and Mountain Hare, plus Red Deer, Dipper and Peregrine. Mountain Pansy, Stagshorn Clubmoss, Alpine Bistor t and Bearberry are likely as we cross the moorland to Loch Ruthven, the stronghold of beautiful Slavonian Grebe, here in colourful breeding plumage.There is always a chance of fishing Osprey here as well. Fur ther west, we’ll visit sea lochs where White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Rock Dove, Black Guillemot and Red-throated and Black-throated Divers are possible. Common Seals haul out on the rocks, Great Skua cruise over the islands and Arctic Terns breed. Great and Round-leaved Sundews trap midges here,

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

as does Butterwor t and we’ll see other typical moorland species such as Bog Asphodel, Lousewor t and Bog Myr tle. Our route up into the alpine world of the Cairngorm Corries is not too steep and we can stop for rests to enjoy the flowers on the way. We can compare up to six berry-bearing bushes as we walk, including Bog Bilberry, Crowberry, Bearberry and Cloudberry. As we gain height, the beautiful alpine flowers around us include Starry Saxifrage, Dwarf Cornel, Globe Flower and Trailing Azalea. We’ll get excited about club-mosses with Fir, Interrupted and Alpine, then as we get higher, we hope to find more alpine flowers, including Alpine Ladies Mantle, Alpine Sawwor t, Alpine Meadow Rue, Roseroot and perhaps the rare Alpine Speedwell - with tiny deep blue flowers. We have found patches of Frog Orchid in the past and if we have time to get beyond the large boulders in the corrie, we may even add Moss Campion and Arctic Mouse-ear.

8

We say our farewells after breakfast on Saturday.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glen Feshie in time for an evening meal and a chat about our plans for the coming week. 7 nights at the Steading.

Days 2-7 Exploration of the local area, including Abernethy Forest, the Cairngorms, Loch Maree, and West Coast, plus two visits to local gin distilleries. Day 8

After breakfast we say our farewells and depart.

Jane Hope: Caorunn Diagram, Red Squirrel, Caorunn Garden Loch Ness Gin: Juniper Simon Eaves: Crossbill Roy Atkins: Twin Flower, Small White Orchid

75


THE FARNE ISLANDS

“Northumberland has always had a reputation for fantastic castles, rugged coastline and huge numbers of nesting seabirds. It is not so well known for its pods of off-shore dolphins, superb coastal wetlands and extensive coniferous forest - yet this incredible county has it all.” Julian Sykes Dates

Sat 7 Jul - Sat 14 Jul 2018

Price

£1,695

Deposit £300

Single Supp £200

Fabulous summer birdwatching, as we explore the coastlines, forests and moorlands of this corner of historic Northumberland, around the famous Farne Islands. Full day visiting two Farne Islands looking at seabird colonies - not to be missed! Day in the famous Kielder Forest for Red Squirrel, Osprey and crossbill South to Teeside for Common Seal, waders and wildfowl Beautiful coastline with long sandy beaches, jagged rocks and migrant waders Boat trip out into the North Sea, with possibly White-beaked Dolphins A trip out to Coquet Island to watch Roseate Terns and Grey Seals Comfortable hotel to return to each day

Leader Julian Sykes Weather Variable, with a good chance of sunshine, (10°-20°C) but on the boat trips waterproofs, warm clothing and walking boots are needed Walking Walks of up to two miles, mainly on level tracks around Reserves Boat Trips Our trip to the Farne Islands lasts 6 hrs, including 2 hrs onshore on both Staple and Inner Farne. Trip to Coquet Island lasts 1 hr. Our evening White-beaked Dolphin trip lasts 4 hrs Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Could be a problem, especially on the inland day Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

Just some of what we hope to see:

76

We are based in the beautiful, historic town of Alnwick, inland but perfectly placed to explore the wonderful scenery and wildlife of this fabulous north east county. The hotel is noted for its excellent, local and wholesome cuisine, with portions to satisfy the keenest of appetites. Depending on time of arrival, a short walk into town towards the local park and castle, could produce some of the commoner woodland species of this region. Later that evening we have dinner, followed by a look at the planned itinerary, which will be weather and tide dependent.

2-7

7

Puffin Kittiwake Arctic Tern Common Tern Sandwich Tern Roseate Tern Little Tern Mediterranean Gull Eider Crossbill Goshawk Red Grouse

1

Red-throated Diver Little Egret Avocet Tree Sparrow Yellowhammer Stonechat Osprey White-beaked Dolphin Harbour Porpoise Common Seal Grey Seal Red Squirrel

This is a full and diverse week, where a certain amount of flexibility is required, due to the uncertainty of the weather and wildlife on offer, with a possibility of scarce and rare migrants. Our lovely hotel is within easy reach of the North Sea and an easy walk along the many coastal paths can produce Northern Wheatear, Linnet, singing

Reed Bunting and possibly Yellow Wagtail. Offshore we shall find Eider, or the local ‘Cuddy Ducks’ (after St Cuthbert’s) loafing around the bays, along with Red-breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Guillemot and possibly Common Scoter. North of Alnwick is Newton by the Sea, where a stop overlooking the North Sea can produce a Little Tern fishing in the shallows. There are some excellent pools here that are always worthy of investigation, as migrant waders tend to make a stop here on their journey south. Our longest drive is into the adjacent county of Teeside (bring your passport!), to a couple of their flagship Reserves along the River Tees – Seal Sands NR and Saltholme RSPB Reserve. Both are excellent and both very different, with the former being notable for Common Seals hauled out on the river edge and the latter for its breeding Avocets, along with plenty of other wildfowl and waders.This is also an area that can produce an avian surprise or two, especially since

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Visiting in mid-July always involves the chance of passage waders and seabirds starting their return journey south to their wintering grounds. This could involve something a wee bit special, with each year producing a British scarcity or rarity, culminating in our group finding a Temminck’s Stint in 2017 - fingers crossed for this year.” Julian Sykes

waders such as Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank are moving south from their breeding grounds. Thousands of seabirds breed in Northumberland and we’ll enjoy special boat trips to see them astonishingly close up. A visit to the Farne Islands needs no introduction and will be one of the highlights of the week. Our day here includes landings on both Inner Farne and Staple and we shall see birds at incredibly close range - expect Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Shags and Eider at your feet - a photographer’s dream! Arctic Terns nest beside the paths and dive-bomb you as you walk - a good hat or a stick held aloft will keep us safe from their sharp bills! Colonies of Sandwich and Common Terns are here too and inquisitive Grey Seals lift their heads from the water as we pass. A second boat trip takes us to RSPB Coquet Island (no landing) where 90% of the UK’s Roseate Terns breed. It’s a great opportunity to see this scarce breeding species fishing and loafing around on the rocks adjacent to their nesting boxes. The target of our third boat trip is to glimpse one of the small groups of White-beaked Dolphins in these waters. This little known cetacean spends its summer along the Northumberland coastline, feeding in the fish-rich waters and trying to avoid their larger cousins who they see as a threat. This tour takes us out into deeper water and as a consequence we have a chance to see Gannets fishing, Red-throated Diver and possibly Manx Shearwater.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Our coastal hopscotch day is punctuated with visits to the pools and wetlands just inland from Druridge Bay. Reed and Sedge Warblers sing from the extensive phragmites beds, along with the more difficult Grasshopper Warbler. We hope to encounter the UK’s most northerly breeding Avocets at one of the Reserves, along with Common Snipe, Redshank, Dunlin and Green Sandpiper. There are usually a few surprises, with Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull or Whimbrel distinct possibilities. One day we drive inland to the mighty Kielder Water – a huge reservoir that’s surrounded by coniferous forest. Due to the construction of platforms, it offers the chance of finding the nest of an Osprey and if our luck is in, one fishing in the lake itself. A stop enroute could also produce Grey Wagtail in the river and we shall also be keeping an eye out for game birds on the drive across the moorland. Typical pine forest species all breed in Kielder and we shall look for Common Crossbills and Red Squirrel in this vast forest - there’s always a chance of finding a Goshawk here too.

8

After our last ‘full english’ breakfast we say our fond farewells and conclude this ‘canny’ visit to the north east.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

We meet at The Oaks Hotel for a 7 night stay

Days 2-7 Exploration of the coast, forest and moorland, including 3 boat trips for The Farne Islands, White-beaked Dolphins and Coquet Island Day 8

We say our farewells and depart after breakfast

Simon Eaves: Guillemots Ray Burgess: White-beaked Dolphins Craig Round: Puffin Sally Dowden: Arctic Terns Mark Denman: Kittiwake and Sandwich Tern Colin Scott: Eider Duck Chrissie Nicholson: Grey Seals

77


REWILDING

“I think rewilding is one of the most exiting things being discussed in the world of conservation. It gives us an insight into what has happened and ideas about what could happen in the future.” Sally Nowell Dates

Sat 28 Jul - Sat 4 Aug 2018

Price

£1,195

Deposit £200

Single Supp £100

Rewilding is all about exciting and innovative ideas for developing our wild places for wildlife. Find out more about what’s happening in the Scottish Highlands on this exciting new holiday. Spend a week in the stunning Cairngorms National Park Find out about rewilding initiatives in the Scottish Highlands A day on the West Coast of Scotland looking for White-tailed Eagle Hear from RSPB Abernethy about their work to expand the forest Visit Aigas Field Centre to hear about Wildcat and Beaver projects A day on the high mountain plateau in search of Dotterel and Ptarmigan Visit areas where Beavers are in the wild and Wild Boar are rewilding themselves!

Leaders Sally Nowell and Jack Ward Weather The weather can vary enormously. During a typical week in this season we would expect mixed sun and showers with temperatures in the range of 10-25ºC Walking

Time will be spent patiently watching and waiting, with only occasional gentle walks of up to 1-2 miles. Walking boots are recommended, but walking shoes are fine

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Biting midges can occasionally be a nuisance by lochs and shores, so bring repellent Accom Double, twin and single ensuite rooms at the Steading in Glenfeshie Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: White-tailed Eagle Golden Eagle Red Kite Osprey Black-throated Diver Red-throated Diver Scottish Crossbill Crested Tit

Black Grouse European Beaver Red Deer Red Squirrel Pine Marten Mountain Hare Ring Ouzel Ptarmigan

1-7

We shall spend our week immersing ourselves in the very best of Highland wildlife and habitat, to give you a fascinating insight into the new ideas and developments to conserve and expand Scotland’s wild areas.

Here at Forest Lodge, Scotland’s largest wooden building, we’ll meet a member of the Abernethy team, who will talk us through the plans to expand the remaining remnants of the Caledonian Pine forest.

After arriving at our comfortable accommodation we shall have dinner and then, as an introduction to the concept of rewilding, we shall hear from Pete Cairns, a professional photographer and leading figure in the project ‘Scotland’s Big Picture,’ who will share his knowledge about the exciting subject of rewilding and illustrate his talk with some stunning images. This should whet our appetites and get our brains buzzing for the rest of the week.

We know you will be itching to get out, so we shall walk from Forest Lodge into this beautiful area, to see the work being undertaken, but also to look for the Pine Forest specilaities such as Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill. This is an excellent site for Red Squirrels and Pine Martens, but our best chance of the latter will be on a visit to our mammal hide one evening, where we hope to see these superb animals at close quarters and our resident Badgers too!

Our week will be necessarily flexible depending on the weather, but we intend to start with a visit to the RSPB’s Reserve at Abernethy Forest.

We shall spend time in a beautiful Scottish Glen, where there are chances of Golden Eagle and other mountain residents. White-tailed Eagles are

Jane Hope: Red Squirrel, Heather Moor, Wild Boar Duncan Macdonald: Water Vole Mark Denman: Red Deer Craig Round: Red Grouse Mike Hems: Pine Martens 78

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“One of the most interesting aspects of rewilding, is how it sits alongside our modern world. The debates are challenging and there are many facets of this fascinating subject to consider, that pull us from one side to the other. If you want a stimulating discussion, join us for one about rewilding!” Sally Nowell

becoming more frequent here, as their territory expands from their introduction site on the West Coast. We’ll scan for Mountain Hare on the granite-strewn hillsides and spot large herds of Red Deer and we’ll discuss the complex issues surrounding this animal, that can cause habitat problems when in large numbers, but are a major income source for Highland Estates. As we drive you across the Highlands enroute to our various destinations, we’ll be constantly on the lookout for exciting birds such as Red-throated and Black-throated Divers in spectacular breeding plumage, Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Stonechat and charmingly engaging Red Grouse and we’ll be hoping for Black Grouse too. One of our destinations is Aigas Field Centre. Aigas has a 40 year history of sharing its knowledge of the Highlands with visitors to their stunning property.Their project to protect what is probably Britain’s rarest mammal, the Scottish Wildcat, is the main focus of our visit here. Rewilding is often associated with the re-introduction of now extinct species in the UK and we shall also hear about their European Beaver project and hope to catch a glimpse of their captive population of beavers, featured on the BBC Spring and Winterwatch. We shall head into Perthshire, to see areas where the presence of European Beaver is having an impact on the landscape, creating the kind of habitat that we expect to see in areas of Northern Europe and which was once common in the UK. Wildlife enthusiasts and farmers have somewhat

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

different views on these changes! There is much discussion related to re-introduction of other species such as Wolf, Lynx and Moose, but two species that are already a huge success are White-tailed Eagle and Red Kite; species we hope to see on our visit to the West Coast. The issues surrounding the re-introduction of any species will undoubtedly be part of our discussions throughout the week. A trip to the Highlands is not complete without a visit to the Cairngorm Plateau, where we hope to see Dotterel and Ptarmigan and take in the spectacular views, in what is perhaps the most untouched habitat in the UK. This week is an excellent opportunity to see Scotland’s wildlife and wild places through a ‘different lens’ - that of rewilding. Whatever your interest, knowledge or views on this subject, we hope you will find this an optimistic and exciting opportunity to look into the future of our natural habitat.

8

We say our farewells after breakfast on Saturday.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glenfeshie in time for dinner and a presentation by Pete Cairns

Days 2-7 Visit to Forest Lodge, to meet a member of the RSPB Abernethy team. Head west to visit a project looking at the preservation of Scottish Wildcat. Visit a Highland Glen looking for resident species. Travel to the southern Highlands to see evidence of Beaver activity in their wild environment. Visit Dundreggan to hear about their work to preserve this immense and stunning landscape and their work with Wild Boar. Visit the high mountain tops to seek out specialities of the high plateau Day 8

Depart after breakfast

79


MONGOLIA

“At last, a real chance to see Snow Leopard without too much roughing it! Although we shall be in high mountains, the terrain is ok for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and we shall be sleeping in comfortable yurts. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed we actually get to see one!” Roy Atkins Dates

Sun 29 Jul - Tue 14 Aug 2018

Price

£6,775

Deposit £1,350 Single Supp £550

Your chance to see the holy grail of big cats - Snow Leopard! Plus we have kept all the best bits from our last trip - the Gobi Desert, vast steppes and alkaline lakes.

Leaders Roy Atkins and Ecotours guide Flights

Korean Airlines, scheduled Outbound: Overnight, Heathrow-Ulaanbaatar Inbound: Overnight, Ulaanbaatar-Heathrow (outbound and inbound are via Seoul) Internal: Ulaanbaatar-Dalandzadgad -Ulaanbaatar-Khovd-Ulaanbaatar

Weather

Generally warm or hot during the day, but it can be chilly at night and in the early mornings. Cold weather can be expected at higher altitudes and rain is possible any time. Day temperatures 15-25˚C, while night-time temperatures in the mountains can drop significantly

Walking

From short easy walks to more moderate in the mountains. While looking for Snow Leopards there may be long periods of waiting and scanning. We shall try to limit the walking by using 4x4s to get as close as possible, depending on the terrain (often rough) and location of the den, however, medium distance walking on uneven, rocky terrain may be encountered

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 2 to dinner on Day 16

Insects Mosquitoes can be a nuisance, so bring repellent Accom Twin and single rooms/yurts, ensuite at hotels and Steppe Nomads Camp, shared facilites at other Ger camps Visa

To be obtained before travel, additional £100

Group

12

Snow Leopard!! Good chance of seeing this enigmatic and beautiful big cat Vast steppes with Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Oriental Plover and Shorelarks Lammergeier, Steppe Eagle, Amur and Saker Falcons and Eastern Marsh Harrier A mix of hotels and comfortable traditional yurts - we think you’ll love ‘em! Wetlands with White-naped and Demoiselle Cranes and chance of eastern waders Wolf, Saiga Antelope and other mammals such as delightful Siberian Jerboas Henderson’s Ground Jay, Altai Snowcock, Swan Goose, Güldenstädt’s Redstart

1-2

After an overnight flight, via Seoul, we arrive late evening in Ulaanbaatar, where we check into our hotel. If time permits, we shall go birding beside the Tuul River in search of Azure Tit. Azure-winged Magpie, Long-tailed Rosefinch and White-capped Penduline Tit are here with Black-eared Kites overhead.

3

We fly to Dalandzadgad and drive to Yolin Am - the ‘Valley of the Lammergeier!’ Here, in the Gobi-Altai, a small stream at the bottom of the gorge draws in Mongolian Finch, White-winged Snowfinch, Eastern Black Redstart, Common and Beautiful Rosefinch, Wallcreeper and Kozlov’s, Brown and Alpine Accentors, with Himalayan Griffon Vultures and Lammergeier overhead. Ibex may be on the cliffs and Sousliks, Gerbils and Daurian Picas are everwhere!

4-5

In the morning we may experience the spectacular possibilities a small

plantation in the middle of the desert can offer. These few trees are a magnet for migrants and the irrigation the only water for miles around. We hope to spend time identifying thrushes, warblers, shrikes, flycatchers and perhaps some real surprises - last time we found Oriental Turtle Dove. Our best chance for beautiful Oriental Plover is on our long drive through the immense rocky desert that takes us to our Ger (yurt) camp by Mongolia’s biggest sand dunes, the Khongorin Els, with distant views of the Altai Mountains. Shore Larks are everywhere, plus Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Saxaul Sparrow in scrub nearby, plus Asian Desert Warbler, Steppe Grey Shrike and superb Mongolian Ground Jay.

6-8

We return to Dalandzadgad birding enroute, then the following day fly back to Ullaanbatar. We now head out to a beautiful area of steppe and our Ger camp at Guun Galut,

Just some of what we hope to see: Snow Leopard Oriental Plover White-naped Crane Demoiselle Crane Pallas’s Sandgrouse Mongolian Ground Jay Azure Tit Lammergeier 80

Steppe Eagle Amur Falcon Grey Wolf Saiga Antelope Siberian Jerboas Güldenstädt’s Redstart Altai Snowcock Swan Goose

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“We have kept many of the best bits from our previous Mongolia trip, making this a fabulous birding holiday as well - with chances of some truly superb birds such as White-naped Crane, Oriental Plover, Mongolian Ground Jay, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Amur Falcon, Pallas’s Gull and Azure Tit to name but a few!” Roy Atkins where we stay in ensuite chalets. Here, mountain rocky steppes and wetlands provide the chance for White-naped Crane, Bar-headed and Swan Goose, Amur Falcon, Lammergeier and Black Vultures. Argali Sheep are possible and shallow alkaline lakes attract migrant waders - sometimes eastern species such as Asiatic Dowitcher and Red-necked Stint.

9-14

Returning to Ulaanbaatar we fly to Khovd, then drive to our remote Ger camp, operated by a local wildlife protection community. The camp, in the foothills of the Jargalant Mountains, overlooks semi-desert to a huge lake. We shall be remote here, probably not meeting any other humans during our stay. Facilities are shared and basic, but our local team is keen to provide everything we need, with shower and toilet yurts for men and women and a generator providing hot water. For the next five days our target is the elusive Snow Leopard! We have timed our trip for when the young cats are still with their mother, spending time outside the den playing. Our local guides locate one or more dens every year and we hope for one in an easily accessible area. Walking is unpredictable and may be on rocky, uneven or steeper terrain, so basic fitness is required, however, many observation points can be reached by 4x4 vehicle, or a 2km walk on almost flat terrain. If no den has been found, we’ll scan key areas where animals regularly hunt. We may need patience, but the slow pace allows time to admire the breathtaking scenery, the alpine flora and birds without haste. There are always things to enjoy

- soaring raptors, playful Siberian Marmots, Argali Sheep or Ibex on the cliffs and we’ll look for Altai Snowcocks, plus White-winged Snowfinch, Saker Falcon, Lammergeier and beautiful Güldenstädt’s Redstart on the peaks. On one or two nights we’ll search for Grey Wolf, perhaps using the traditional method to lure them closer - howling! Saiga Antelope is now critically endangered but one population is nearby. We’ll take torches to search for delightful Siberian Jerboas, with huge ears and fluffy-tipped tails. We shall also visit a huge lake and adjacent wetlands for Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Dalmatian Pelican, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Red-crested Pochard and Citrine Wagtail. Pallas’s Bunting and Eastern Marsh Harrier nest in the reedbeds and we hope for Pallas’s Gull and the very rare Relict Gull. On one evening we hope to see an organised short performance of dance and music - a chance to appreciate the region’s ancient and rich cultural and spiritual heritage.

15-17

We fly back to Ulaanbaatar for an overnight stay and then catch our flight home, arriving in the UK on Day 17. A donation will be made on your behalf towards the local NGO, led by two extremely enthusiastic local people, who are working with villagers to protect Snow Leopards around Jargalant Nature Reserve. They are continuously out on patrol talking to local herders and the village community about the importance of conservation, discussing various issues including sheep grazing and hunting.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-2

Ovenight flight to Ulaanbaatar, via Seoul, chance for birding beside the Tuulk River - 1 night Corporate Hotel

Day 3

Fly to Dalandzadgad and visit Yolin Am for birding in this beautiful mountain and semi-desert scenery 1 night Khan-Uul Hotel

Days 4-5

After local birding, a long drive a cross rocky desert to our Ger (yurt) camp at Khongorin Els 2 nights Juulchin Gobi-2 Camp

Day 6

Return to Dalandzadgad birding enroute 1 night Khan-Uul Hotel

Days 7-8

Early morning flight to Ullaanbatar then drive to our ger camp at Guun Galut - 2 nights Steppe Nomads Camp

Days 9-14

Return to Ulaanbaatar for flight to Khovd, drive to remote Ger camp. Five days looking for Snow Leopard 6 nights Snow Leopard camp

Days 15-17 Fly to Ulaanbaatar for an overnight stay, then catch our flight back home, arriving in the UK Day 17 Marcel Langthim: Snow Leopard John Oates: Amur Falcon, Khongorin Els, Pallas’s Sandgrouse. Balazs Szigeti: White-naped Cranes Andrew Dodd: Henderson’s Ground Jay

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

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Christine Maughan

John Osborne

Great Blue Heron, British Columbia. Details page 100

Eider, Autumn Wildlife in Speyside. Holiday details page 108

Just a few of the images guests and guides have taken on Speyside Wildlife trips

Maggie Tester

Mary Braddock

African Fish Eagles, Uganda. Details page 84

Orcas, British Columbia. Holiday details page 100

Lyn Gregory

Yves Gisseleire

Jackson Lake,Yellowstone Autumn. Holiday details page 102

Marsh Harrier, Romania. Holiday details page 90

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www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


John Osborne

Christine Maughan

Red Squirrel, Autumn Wildlife in Speyside. Holiday details page 108

Song Sparrow, British Columbia. Details pg 100

John Osborne

Stephen Rowland

Gannets, Autumn Wildlife. Holiday details page 108

Grizzly Bear,Yellowstone in Spring. Holiday details page 56

Steve Batt

Roy Cowley

Wood Duck, British Columbia. Holiday details page 100

Great Shearwater, Nova Scotia. Holiday details page 88

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

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UGANDA

“In 2016 we soon came face to face with a troop of Mountain Gorillas as they wandered nonchalantly through the forest. Then minutes later, to be within metres of their massive Silverback, with his few months old son nestled into his side, chomping on vegetation together, is something that will last in the memory forever!” Julian Sykes Dates

Sun 22 Jul - Sun 5 Aug 2018

Price £7,995 Deposit £1,500 Single Supp £1,000

This incredibly rich country provides the chance of some exceptional mammal and bird watching, with one massive highlight being the chance to observe Mountain Gorillas. Search for Shoebill from small wooden boats on Lake Victoria Trek to see the incredibly rare and impressive Mountain Gorillas African Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Hippo and tree-dwelling Lions Huge list of birds including bee-eaters, rollers, parrots and hornbills Forest walk for a chance of Chimpanzees African Finfoot, Giant Kingfisher, Great Blue Turaco More fabulous primates! Red Colobus, Blue Monkey and more

Leaders Julian Sykes plus local guides Flights

KLM, scheduled, via Amsterdam Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Entebbe Inbound: Overnight, Entebbe-Heathrow

Weather

Similar throughout the year, with temperatures in the range of 17º-27ºC. Rainfall occurs in every month, but this is one of the driest times of year

Walking Easy to moderate, even for Chimpanzee and Gorilla trekking, which is variable and can be physically more demanding than other walks, depending on where the animals happen to be.

For safety, due to the presence of wild animals, little walking is possible away from the lodges within most of the National Parks

Meals

All included from breakfast on Day 2 to Dinner on Day 14

Health

Malaria is present and even though there are only a few mosquitoes, it isnecessary to take precautions, so please consult with your travel clinic/doctor. A Yellow Fever vaccine certificate is required for entry

Insects

There will be some biting insects, so bring repellent

Accom

We stay at a combination of comfortable lodges and guest houses, all with private facilities

1 2

Arriving in Entebbe we are met by our local guide and head to our guest house.

It’s an exciting early start, taking small wooden boats along the shore of Lake Victoria. Swamp Flycatchers and Malachite Kingfishers fly down the narrow channels, Black Crakes scurry in the reeds and Blue-breasted Bee-eaters hawk overhead - but our target here is the prehistoric looking Shoebill and with luck we’ll encounter one, standing grey and silent, on the edge of the waterway. Other birds include Red-chested Sunbird, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Splendid Starling, African Pied Hornbill, Broad-billed Roller and Great Blue Turaco and with luck we may find Sitatunga Antelope. After a picnic lunch, we’ll spend the afternoon driving north.

3-5

We stop at Budongo, one of the richest forests in Central Africa, to search for Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, African Dwarf Kingfisher, White-thighed Hornbill and Blue-throated Roller along the famous Royal Mile. We may hear Chimpanzees in the forest and see Guereza Colobus and Blue Monkey. Then on to Murchison Falls National Park, on the banks of the Nile, a fabulous birding site, where more open habitat provides chances for Rock Pratincole, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Red-throated Bee-eater, Spotted Morning Thrush, Silverbird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Piapiac, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet and even Pel’s Fishing Owl if we are lucky! We’ll also take a cruise up the Nile to see the dramatic Murchison Falls.

Visa/Fees Visa required, additional cost app. £40 Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Mountain Gorilla Chimpanzee African Lion Leopard African Elephant Shoebill African Finfoot Great Blue Turaco 84

Pel’s Fishing Owl Black & White Casqued Hornbill Pennant-winged Nightjar Papyrus Gonolek African Broadbill

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“On my first visit to Uganda, I naively thought this tour was all about primates, birds and the prehistoric Shoebill – wrong! I cannot forget being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and variety of ‘big game’ seen throughout Uganda, easily on a par with any other East African destination. The butterflies are pretty awesome too!” Julian Sykes

6-7

Kibale National Park has the highest diversity of primates of any forest! We hope for excellent sightings of Red Colobus, Blue Monkey and Grey-cheeked Mangabey, but this site is famous for Chimpanzees. We shall join a Chimp trekking walk to try and see them, but they are highly mobile, wary and intelligent creatures and there are no guarantees. Kibale’s trails are alive with butterflies and birds, with specialities including Joyful Greenbul and Masked Apalis. Noisy African Grey Parrots greet the dawn, as we watch for African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed and Great Blue Turacos, Narina Trogon, Hairy-breasted Barbet and Lühder’s Bush-shrike and perhaps rare White-naped Pigeons sitting out in the morning sun.

the equally famous Mountain Gorilla. Here we’ll join a party led by one of the Park’s specialist tracker-guides, in a quest to find these wonderful primates. Treks are unpredictable, the going can be slightly strenuous at times, over rough terrain, lasting between one and three hours (depending where the animals are feeding) – but we do have help and if successful, the rewards are immense, for a close encounter with this ‘gentle giant’ ape is an experience never to be forgotten!

8-9

African Grey Parrots squawk overhead, Chimpanzees shriek from the forest and we’ll look out for catlike L’Hoest’s monkey. Black-faced Rufous Warblers call from the forest edge and gorgeous Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatchers and Narrow-tailed Starlings frequent the verdant canopy.

Queen Elizabeth National Park provides a chance for Uganda Kob and African Elephant. Birds include White-backed Vultures, Martial Eagle, Black-bellied Bustard, Red-necked Spurfowl, Rüppell’s Glossy Starling and Red-chested Sunbird. We’ll look out for Leopards, but ironically it is African Lions that are famous for tree climbing here! The Kasinga Channel bisects the Park, flowing between Lakes Edward and George and from our boat we hope for Goliath Heron, Yellow-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Water Thick-knee and African Skimmer. Waterside vegetation is home to gaudy Papyrus Gonolek and mammals include Hippos, African Elephant, African Buffalo and Marsh Mongoose.

10-12

Nestled in the Kigezi highlands, Bwindi “Impenetrable Forest” is Uganda’s most famous forest and home to

The bird list is impressive and we may see Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Elliot’s Woodpecker, Blue-throated Roller, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Chestnut Wattle-eye and Equatorial Akalat.

13-15

We make the long drive to Lake Mburo National Park through scenic lake and mountain scenery. In the morning African Fish Eagles and Hippos watch as we glide past on our boat trip here. African Finfoot, Giant Kingfisher and Goliath Heron are likely and African Jacanas run along the waterlilies. The dry woodlands are home to Bushbuck, Plains Zebra, Impala and Topi. Later we head back to Entebbe for our late flight to London, arriving on Day 15.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Flight from London to Entebbe 1 night local guest house

Day 2

Shoebill boat trip 1 night Masindi Kolping Guest House

Days 3-4

Drive to Murchison Falls NP 2 nights Pakuba Safari Lodge

Day 5

Game drive - 1 night Masindi GH

Days 6-7

Kibale National Park, Chimp trekking 2 nights Chimpanzee Forest GH

Days 8-9

Drive to Queen Elizabeth NP for birding, game drives and boat trip 2 nights Mweya Safari Lodge

Days 10-12 Travel to Bwindi, Gorilla trekking and birding 3 nights Mahogany Springs Lodge Day 13 Long drive to Mburo National Park 1 night Rwakobo Rock Lodge Days 14-15 Morning boat trip on Lake Mburo then drive to Entebbe for late flight home, arriving in UK Day 15

Tertius A Gous: Mountain Gorilla Maggie and John Tester: Rothschild’s Giraffes, African Fish Eagle, Grey-crowned Crane, Lion, Shoebill

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

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SCOTTISH MAMMALS IN SUMMER

“With Pine Marten and Badger, Red and Roe Deer, Brown and Mountain Hare, cetaceans and seals off the coasts, as well as Otters and a variety of birds and other wildlife, it’s easy to see why this trip is so popular.” Duncan Macdonald

Dates

Sat 4 - Sat 11 Aug 2018

Price

£1,265

Deposit £200

Single Supp £100

The first holiday of its kind and you tell us, still the best - with a night drive and boat trips. We focus on mammals, but won’t leave out the birds and other special wildlife of the Scottish Highlands. A superb selection of Scottish wildlife Exclusive use of our evening wildlife watching hide An inshore boat trip for Bottlenose Dolphins A spotlighting night drive on a private Estate A West Coast boat trip for Minke Whale and more Skuas, divers, shearwaters and seals Eagles, Ospreys and good chance of Otter

Leaders Craig Round and Duncan Macdonald Weather

The weather can vary enormously. During a typical week in this season we would expect mixed sun and showers, with temperatures in the range of 15-25ºC. It could be cooler on the boat trips. You may want to bring sunscreen.

Walking

Time will be spent patiently watching and waiting with only occasional gentle walks of up to 1-2 miles. Walking boots are recommended, but walking shoes are fine

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Biting midges can occasionally be a nuisance by lochs and shores, especially in the west Boats

Boat trips are in relatively sheltered waters and last 2 hrs (Moray Firth), 2½ hrs (West Coast)

Accom Double, twin and single ensuite rooms at our very special, delightfully furnished converted barn, the Steading. General Most days will finish very late - when our target mammals are most active - but will be compensated by late breakfasts Group

1

Dinner together on Saturday evening starts the holiday, followed by coffee as we discuss the coming week.

2-7

We may start the week with walks near our delightful Steading accommodation, where pale-tailed Red Squirrels can be busy at the feeders and confiding Roe Deer often browse in the meadows. Or we may head up into the wild uplands in search of Mountain Hare. They are grey-brown at this time of year, but may keep white feet or ears! Golden Eagles hunt the mountain slopes here and on the skyline the dramatic silhouette of Red Deer antlers encapsulates so much about the grandeur of the Highlands. After dinner we’ll visit our baited hide to see elusive Pine Marten. Full of character, this cat-sized member of the stoat family emerges from the

12

forest, revealing bushy tail and cream-coloured bib - a wonderful animal and a highlight of the week. This is also a chance to enjoy Badgers at very close quarters and perhaps deer too. In the ancient pines of Abernethy Forest we’ll look for Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill, with the chance of Common or Parrot Crossbill too, but Capercaillie and Black Grouse are very elusive at this time of year as they are mid-moult. On Cairngorm’s slopes, we’ll have a close encounter with Reindeer. Reintroduced many years ago, we shall walk in with a guide to feed these delightful and friendly animals, while learning about their adaptations to the cold climate in which they live. Late one night, using 4x4 vehicles and powerful spotlights, we’ll visit a private Estate in search of Fox, Badger, deer and owls. We have been lucky to see Long-eared Owl

Just some of what we hope to see: Pine Marten Badger Otter Common Seal Bottlenose Dolphin Minke Whale Red Squirrel Mountain Hare Pipistrelle Bat Mountain Goat

86

Red Deer Roe Deer Harbour Porpoise Golden Eagle Crested Tit Osprey Black-throated Diver Great Spotted Woodpecker

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“The sea off the west coast of Scotland is rich for cetaceans and our boat trip is a highlight. We look for Minke Whale, Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin, with seabirds such as shearwaters, auks and skuas keeping us excited while we wait for the blow!” Duncan Macdonald

in the past and sometimes Pine Marten appear. Using a bat detector we shall see what species are flitting around the trees - Pipistrelle is most likely, but occasionally we find Brown Long-eared Bats too. On another day we shall visit a different private Estate for a fascinating insight into how such an area survives these days. This includes a visit to a large area of moorland, where we’ll see Red Deer and Red Grouse - both important species for them and a focus of land management. We’ll spend a day on the Black Isle in search of Bottlenose Dolphins, both from land and on an exciting two hour boat trip. There’s nothing more thrilling than the sight of these powerful mammals breaching clear of the water and we stand good chances as they frequently come very close to shore and on our boat ride. We have a fast and very powerful boat, able to cover large distances if the animals are some distance away and sometimes they seem to enjoy following in the wake or bow-riding. We’ll also watch for Common Seal, Harbour Porpoise and numerous seabirds, including various tern species, Eider and auks. Otters are at home in both fresh and seawater and we’ll search for signs and wait patiently at favoured lochs for a sighting of these sleek, playful creatures. While we know of a good freshwater loch near the Moray Coast, the tranquil West Coast sea-lochs offer our best chance. The scenery becomes more and more spectacular

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

as you travel west and Otter activity here is linked more to the tides than the time of day, making them likely to be out in daylight. We have enjoyed wonderful sightings when they catch something too big to handle at sea and they bring it ashore to deal with. Birds such as Black-throated Diver and White-tailed Eagle are also likely here, plus Rock Dove, Twite, Raven and maybe Golden Eagle too. On this special West Coast day we’ll also experience an exciting boat journey into the realm of the Minke Whale. Heading out to sea to the north of Skye the scenery all around is breathtaking and we’ll surely see hundreds of Manx Shearwater plus Gannets, Kittiwakes and Guillemots. We’re likely to see Harbour Porpoise and both Grey and Common Seals too - but we’ll look out for ‘hurries’ of Kittiwakes and other birds over the water, signifying a mass of fish below the surface. This is often where a Minke Whale may be found - a thrilling experience.

8

After breakfast on Saturday we say our farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glen Feshie in time for an evening meal and a chat about our plans for the coming week. 7 nights at the Steading

Days 2-7 Wildlife and birdwatching exploration including Abernethy Forest, Dava Moor, the Cairngorms, the Moray Firth and West Coast Day 8

After breakfast we say our farewells and depart

Mike Hems: Pine Marten Craig Round: Bottlenose Dolphin Andy Croft: Badger Jessie Brown: Bottlenose Dolphin Jane Hope: Cairngorm Reindeer Roy Atkins: Common Seal Mark Denman: Red Squirrel

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NOVA SCOTIA

“Being next to whales gets me every time: the explosive exhale as they surface; the spy-hopping and pec-slapping when they’re in curious mode; and the out-andout thrill of a full breach when 35 tons of Humpback leaps out of the water - it still gets me yelling for joy!” Darren Rees

Dates

Sat 25 Aug - Sun 2 Sep 2018

Price

£3,495

Deposit £700

Single Supp £400

Get close-up with Humpback Whales, plus a good chance of rare Northern Right Whales. Great migrant birds, with flocks of shearwaters, petrels and phalaropes. Big whales close-up from short, sheltered boat trips Humpback, Fin and Northern Right Whales Fantastic migrant warblers, flycatchers and raptors Flocks of shearwaters, phalaropes and petrels Wild spruce forests running down to beautiful rocky shores Canada’s Eastern Maritimes, only 6 hours away Small group, at a quiet shoreline lodge, on magical Brier Island

Leaders Darren Rees and Julian Sykes Flights

Air Canada, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Halifax Inbound: Overnight, Halifax-Heathrow

Weather Warm and sunny with a chance of showers Cooler on boats May experience coastal fog (15°-25°C) Walking 1-2 miles on easy tracks Light footwear recommended Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to dinner on Day 8 and are of good quality

Insects A few biting insects may be encountered, so bring repellent Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

10

Just some of what we hope to see: Humpback Whale Northern Right Whale Fin Whale Minke Whale White-sided Dolphin Great Shearwater Sooty Shearwater Wilson’s Storm Petrel Bald Eagle Hooded Merganser Killdeer Semi-palmated Sandpiper Least Sandpiper Short-billed Dowitcher Red-necked Phalarope Grey Phalarope

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Belted Kingfisher Ruby-throated Hummingbird Boreal Chickadee Red-breasted Nuthatch Cedar Waxwing Red-eyed Vireo Northern Parula Black-throated GreenWarbler Black-and-white Warbler Blackburnian Warbler American Redstart Ovenbird Common Yellowthroat Northern Waterthrush Eastern Chipmunk Beaver

1

Arriving in Halifax mid-afternoon, we drive two-and-a-half hours southwest to delightful Digby, for an early evening meal overlooking the water. Then we take two short ferry rides to arrive at our base for the week, the charming Brier Island.

2-7

The small islands that poke from the mainland into the rich Bay of Fundy are truly magical and captivating. Beautiful spruce forests roll down to a rocky shore, marked with quiet bays and sleepy fishing ports. A delightful landscape of painted clapperboard houses; bright, bold lighthouses; wooden jetties with stacks of drying lobster pots and oh, foghorns. These sheltered waters see the rise and fall of the greatest tides on earth. Plankton, fish and sand lance in abundance, bring whales close to the shore – we’ve even seen them from the hotel!

We’ll take three boat trips from Brier Island to see these magnificent mammals, two half-day trips and one longer ‘survey’ trip. The sea is likely to be calm, though boat trips are always weather dependent and we’ll get close to big numbers of seabirds along with the great whales! Minke Whales, up to 30-foot long, are generally unobtrusive but Fin Whales - at 70-foot, the second longest whale, are sleek, with a tall blow and a back that seems to roll on forever. Humpbacks are the star performers as they regularly raise their tail flukes when they dive. They often pound the surface with their huge white pectoral fins or, if we are fortunate, launch their 40 tons clear of the water! Sometimes acrobatic White-sided Dolphins come around the boat, but it will be enigmatic Northern Right Whales that we’ll celebrate most over and we’ll take a full day boat trip to look for

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“The recipe for a perfect day - a morning with the bright warblers, vireos and flycatchers on Brier Island, followed by an afternoon in the company of gentle Humpbacks in the Bay of Fundy. Bring it on!” Darren Rees them. These are listed as critically endangered whales, with only around 300 individuals remaining in the world and we’ve enjoyed wonderful views in the past, fingers crossed! Ocean-going seabirds will also be a big feature and we can expect close views of large numbers of Great, Sooty and some Manx Shearwaters. Wilson’s Petrels patter their feet over the surface and great flocks of thousands of Red-necked and Grey Phalaropes pick delicately on mats of weed. On Brier Island, we’ll see some great bird migration. It’s a bottleneck for dazzling migrating warbler flocks that may hold Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Magnolia, Canada, Parula, Chestnut-sided and more – we’ll join our friends at the nearby banding (ringing) station and see some in the hand. There may be a variety of those confusing American flycatchers, plus Purple Finch and Eastern Kingbird. At Pond Cove, the stunted spruce forest sweeps out around the bay, where Common Eider and Black Guillemot loaf, whilst mighty Bald Eagle sweep low overhead. Least Sandpipers and Semi-palmated Plovers scurry along the seaweed and, on marshy pools, we may find Short-billed Dowitcher and White-rumped Sandpiper. Migrant Monarch butterflies drift by, Great Blue Heron stand in the shallows and Pine Siskins twitter in the trees. Locally we can explore for landbirds on Digby Neck. Each day we’ll take the quiet roads and little ferries that link the islands. There can be a steady movement of southward bound raptors - Turkey

Vulture teeter on raised wings, Osprey flap by and small spirals of hawks include Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned, with Goshawk, Merlin and American Kestrel amongst them. Belted Kingfisher, Spotted Sandpiper and Hooded Merganser are on local ponds, whilst Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Goldfinch and Dark-eyed Junco inhabit nearby gardens. The southern end of Long Island has weed-strewn bays that hold Solitary, Spotted and Semi-palmated Sandpipers and both Greater and LesserYellowlegs. Noisy Blue Jays may accompany us on our walk along the Balancing Rock Trail to the misty coast, with Cedar Waxwings and flocks of warblers that may include Black-and-white, Northern Parula and American Redstart, plus Black-capped Chickadee and Red-breasted Nuthatch. Elsewhere, in the lichen encrusted tamarack and spruce forests, we may see some of the specialities such as Boreal Chickadees and Gray Jays, with Palm Warbler and Hermit Thrush in the supporting cast. There are Eastern Chipmunk and we’ve enjoyed views of lodge-building Beavers.

8-9

We reluctantly leave Brier, travelling first to Annapolis Royal, where a well landscaped wetland Reserve always turns up a new selection of birds: there’s bright Cardinals, Cedar Waxwing and ducks include Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Ruddy, Ring-necked and Wood Duck. Finally we arrive at Halifax for our evening flight, arriving back in the morning of Day 9.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly London to Halifax arriving mid-afternoon. Drive 2.5 hours to Digby for early evening meal Final 1.5 hour transfer to base at Brier Island - 7 nights Brier Island Lodge

Day 2

First boat trip out from Brier Island

Day 3

Exploration of Brier Island including Northlight and Pond Cove areas

Days 4-7

Flexible four days with further birding hikes; second full day boat trip in Bay of Fundy; one day exploration of Long Island (Boar’s Light and Balancing Rock); third boat trip (half day) from Brier Island

Days 8-9

Transfer day with birding stop at Annapolis Royal Marsh, arriving Halifax late afternoon for evening flight, arriving UK morning of Day 9

Roy Cowley: Humpack Whale, Great Shearwater, whalewatching boat, Least Sandpiper, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Bald Eagle

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

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ROMANIA

“Sitting in a hide in the middle of the forest waiting for bears is a fantastic and memorable experience. We had eight different bears last time, including a cub! There are wolves here also, so fingers crossed!” Duncan Macdonald

Dates

Sat 25 Aug - Sun 2 Sep 2018

Price £2,595 Deposit £500

Single Supp £250

Leader

Duncan Macdonald plus local guides

Flights

British Airways, scheduled Outbound: Afternoon, Heathrow - Bucharest Inbound: Afternoon, Bucharest - Heathrow

Weather Should be very pleasant temperatures around 14°-24°C with a chance of showers, may be cooler in the mountains Walking Easy walking up to two miles on good tracks Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 9

Insects

Mosquitos can be a nuisance in a few places, so bring repellent

Accom

Twin, double and single ensuite rooms

Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Brown Bear Dalmatian Pelican White Pelican Pygmy Cormorant Black Stork Little Egret Great White Egret Purple Heron Squacco Heron Little Bittern Ruddy Shelduck Ferruginous Duck Whiskered Tern White-winged Tern Marsh Sandpiper White-tailed Eagle Lesser Spotted Eagle Red-footed Falcon

90

Hobby Levant Sparrowhawk Long-legged Buzzard Grey-headedWoodpecker Syrian Woodpecker Black Woodpecker Alpine Swift Nutcracker Red-breasted Flycatcher Sombre Tit Paddyfield Warbler Golden Oriole Black-eared Wheatear Isabelline Wheatear Caspian Tern Pallas’s Gull Red-necked Grebe European Souslik

Enjoy autumn migration in the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea Coast. Stay on the ‘floating hotel’ in the Danube Delta, plus an exciting visit to a Brown Bear hide! Beautiful Carpathian Mountains and Zarnesti Gorge Nutcracker, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon and Levant Sparrowhawk Fantastic close up views of Brown Bear from within a comfortable hide Visit to area of Dracula’s spectacular cliff-top castle Chance of surprise migrants: Pallid Harrier, Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers Relaxed birding from our floating hotel in the Danube Delta Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron and Glossy Ibis

1

We meet our guide at Bucharest Airport, then drive to our scenically located hotel in the southern Carpathian Mountains. The surrounding area is dominated by the view of the 8,000ft high Omul Peak and views from the hotel are just lovely.

Hawfinch and Red-backed Shrike. As dusk falls we’ll continue up the valley for the real highlight of the trip - our visit to the Bear Hide. Here we’ll sit and wait for Brown Bears to appear and enjoy exceptional views, as they come to feed on bait put out to attract them.

2-3

The surrounding countryside is still farmed largely with horses and by hand. Red-backed Shrikes are everywhere and Bee-eaters swoop over the hedgerows, while wildflowers attract butterflies such as Silver-washed Fritillary and Cardinal. This is the homeland of the bloody figure of Vlad Tepes, better known as “Count Dracula”. The “Dracula Castle” was built in 1378 atop a cliff and had a strategic role in protecting the pass.

A short walk from the hotel may produce migrant warblers, shrikes, Black Redstart and perhaps our first Nutcracker. Nearby Zarnesti Gorge can be quiet for birds, but the sheer rock walls towering above us make for a special walk, with Alpine Swift above and Marsh Tits, Nuthatch and further chances of Nutcracker possible. We’ll visit the beautiful wooded Stramba valley, where Lesser Spotted Eagle is likely, plus woodpeckers, with Grey-headed, Black, Middle Spotted and even White-backed possible. Golden Oriole and Nutcracker are likely, plus Honey Buzzard,

We shall make a short stop in the village below the castle and perhaps taste some of the local products.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“The Danube delta is quite simply huge. It is also filled with herons, terns, ducks, Pygmy Cormorants and White-tailed Eagles. Our floating hotel is a luxurious base from which to explore this paradise.” Duncan Macdonald

4-5

We travel down to the Black Sea coast, birding on the way. The wetlands of Histria and Vadu offer fabulous birding, with muddy pools, ponds, extensive reedbeds, steppe and sandy scrub attracting many species. White and Dalmatian Pelicans can often be seen, plus a host of waders, including a chance of Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpiper, plus terns and gulls, including with luck Pallas’s Gull. Lesser Grey Shrike, Roller and Bee-eaters are likely and migrants may include Red-breasted Flycatcher, chats, warblers, wagtails and maybe a late Paddyfield Warbler. Butterflies abound and we’ll look out for European Sousliks. The extensive salt marshes of Vadu may hold a fine selection of waders, gulls and terns and orchards in the small villages are perfect for Syrian Woodpecker. We have had great views of Red-footed Falcons here and other possible raptors include Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk and with luck even Pallid Harrier!

6-8

We move on to the Danube Delta a huge area of divided river channels, reedbeds, lakes and woodlands, where we are welcomed aboard our delightful floating hotel. This is relaxed birdwatching, with two full days on rich waterways in the heart of the Danube Delta! Breakfast is served on board and we shall leave our floating hotel on a small motor boat to explore the narrow channels and smaller lakes, or take a walk along the river bank. We shall

seek Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, Spoonbill, Great White Egrets and Purple Herons, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Caspian Tern, Kingfisher and more. In the reedbeds, Bearded and Penduline Tits call and our journey along the river is accompanied by flocks of Whiskered Terns, with smaller numbers of White-winged and Black Terns. The forests in the delta are good for Black Stork, White-tailed Eagle and woodpeckers, with Grey-headed the most common, but Black and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker also likely. Golden Oriole should still be around and plenty of Hobbies, as we spend some relaxing hours birding from the observation platform of our hotel, enjoying the beauty of this huge wetland, with no roads and traffic. Dinner will be served on board, while enjoying a tranquil sunset. Bliss!

9

After breakfast we leave the boat and head towards Bucharest Airport for our flight back to London.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Flight from London to Bucharest. Travel to our scenically located hotel in the Southern Carpathian Mountains 3 nights at Villa Hermani

Days 2-3

Birding in the Southern Carpathian Mountains and gorges including the beautiful Stramba valley, plus an evening visit to a bear watching hide

Days 4-5 Travel down to the Black Sea Coast birding on the way. Spend time at Histria and Vadu wetlands where extensive reedbeds, steppe and sandy scrub attract many species 2 nights Hotel Splendid Days 6-8

Travel to the Danube Delta for wonderfully relaxed birding from our floating hotel amongst divided river channels, reedbeds, lake and woodlands 3 nights Floating Hotel

Day 9

Return to Bucharest for our flight to the UK

Yves Gisseleire: Brown Bear, Little Bittern, Little Egrets and Glossy Ibis Roy Atkins: Paddyfield Warbler, Red-necked Grebe, Lesser Spotted Eagle

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

91


BRAZILIAN PANTANAL

“What an incredible place!! Masses of herons, egrets, storks, raptors and Cayman feeding in the shrinking patches of water - the chance of a dusk encounter with a Tapir (we even saw an Ocelot last time) but it will be sightings of the famous Jaguars that will top it all!” Roy Atkins

Dates

Sat 25 Aug - Sat 8 Sep 2018

Price

£6,795

Deposit £1,350 Single Supp £625

Good chance of Jaguar in this famous seasonal wetland, plus Giant Otters, Brazilian Tapir and with luck, Giant Anteaters too - and Hyacinth Macaw - the biggest parrot in the world! Jaguars! Your best chance of seeing this stunningly beautiful big cat The incomparable Iguazú Falls - we spend two days here with fabulous views Around 300 species of birds likely, plus many mammals Watch Great Dusky Swifts as they come to roost behind a curtain of water Hyacinth Macaws - the biggest and perhaps most beautiful parrot in the world Brazilian Tapir, Giant Otter, Capybara and with luck - Giant Anteater Toco Toucan, Red-legged Seriema, Jabiru, Southern Screamer and lots more

Leaders Roy Atkins and local guide Flights

British Airways, scheduled Outbound: Overnight, Heathrow-Sao Paulo Inbound: Overnight, Sao Paulo-Heathrow Internal, local airlines: Sao Paulo -Cuiabá-Foz do Iguaçu-Sao Paulo

Weather

In the Pantanal it is the dry season, but there could still be showers. Temperatures should be around 25ºC but are not entirely predictable and could be chilly in the early morning and very hot at midday (15ºC at night to max of 34ºC during day). Iguazú is in an area of rainforest, so showers can be expected, with temps around 17ºC, (12ºC at night to max 26ºC during the day) but again unpredictable and last time we had frost one morning!

Walking

Pantanal walks will be on easy forest trails. In Iguazú, the walkways at the waterfalls are wide and elevated, built on metal grid plates with solid handrails, with some steps. We shall also be on wide forest trails that, depending on rains, might be muddy

Meals

All included from lunch on Day 2 to lunch on Day 14

Health

Although Malaria and Yellow Fever are uncommon please consult your doctor

Insects There will be biting insects in some of the areas visited, so repellent is essential

1-2

Arriving at Sao Paulo early in the morning, we then take an onward flight to Cuiabá, arriving in time for lunch, before driving to our delightful lodge in the Chapada dos Guimaraes, looking out for parrots, macaws and toucans on the way. We should have time to sample the excellent birding round the lodge before sunset.

3

The dry savannah, with gnarled trees of the Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park, provides a complete contrast to the coming Pantanal - and a completely different selection of birds. Amongst many species special to this area we hope to find Peach-fronted Parakeet, Red-shouldered Macaw, Curl-crested Jay, Cliff Flycatcher, Guira Cuckoo, Black-faced Saltator, Shrike-like Tanager and with luck Horned Sungem! Red-legged Seriema, South America’s answer

to the Secretary Bird, is possible here, as are gorgeous Campo Flickers, various macaws and there is always the chance of an Armadillo!

4-6

After more birding in the Chapada, we drive towards the famous Pantanal - a vast area of seasonal wetland covering roughly 142,500 sq. kilometres - bigger than England!! As the flood waters dry up, the huge flocks of birds are concentrated around the remaining water and we’ll pause to enjoy spectacular mixed flocks of herons, egrets and ibis, plus Roseate Spoonbill, Maguari and Wood Storks, Rufescent Tiger Herons, Limpkin and enormous Jabiru. Snail Kites, Savannah Hawks and Black-collared Hawks are common and we’ll look out for Whistling and Capped Herons and Sunbittern. Large-billed Terns and Black Skimmer fish in the channels, White-headed Marsh-Tyrants perch on wires, rare Marsh Deer

Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Jaguar Giant Otter Brazilian Tapir Giant Anteater Hyacinth Macaw Jabiru 92

Red-legged Seriema Toco Toucan Plush-crested Jay Sungrebe Greater Rhea Black-collared Hawk

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Iguazú Falls is considered by most people the best, most spectacular waterfall in the world and we’ll spend two days enjoying different views from the walkways here, before watching hundreds of Great Dusky Swifts swooping down to roost behind the cascade of water - a wonderful finish to the trip!” Roy Atkins

are possible and there’ll be astonishing numbers of Yacare Cayman. This whole area is worth exploring, with an impressive bird list including Nanday Parakeets, Chestnut-eared Araçari, Golden-collared Macaw, Bare-faced Curassow and stately Greater Rheas among many others. Dryer areas covered in termite mounds provide our best chance for Giant Anteater and we hope to see Brazilian Tapir and other mammals such as Crab-eating Fox or Collared Peccary.

7-9

We move on to the end of the road and Porto Jofre, where raucous Hyacinth Macaws feed around our lodge, but our big target here is that most mythical and enigmatic of cats - the Jaguar! During the dry season, this beautiful cat can frequently be found along the scrubby river banks and it will be with baited breath and crossed fingers that we take four boat trips along the Cuiabá River, where chances are high, especially now that the boats are all in radio contact. Keep your cameras at hand, as even if no Jaguars appear, there is plenty of other wildlife to keep us happy - Giant Otters, Capybara and plenty of birds including Sungrebe, Pied and Collared Plovers, Great Black Hawk, White Woodpecker, Orange-backed Troupial, Vermillion Flycatcher and enormous Southern Screamers! At dusk, spectacular Greater Bulldog Bats and Band-tailed Nighthawks skim the water.

10

We bid farewell to the Pantanal and drive back to Cuiabá, birding enroute.

11-13

Our early flight takes us to Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), where we cross the border into Argentina. We’ll visit the hummingbird garden, where feeders attract Black Jacobin, Guilded Sapphire, Purple-crowned Woodnymph, Versicolored Emerald and Planalto Hermit, amongst others. Over the next two days we’ll enjoy myriad colourful birds in Iguazú’s rainforests - trogons, manakins, noisy flocks of parrots and parakeets, antwrens, antshrikes, woodpeckers and toucans just for starters! Iguazú Falls are 1.7 miles long and considered by many the most spectacular collection of waterfalls in the world!! Numerous islands divide it into between 150 and 300 separate waterfalls depending on the flow - with half the river’s flow falling into a single long, narrow chasm called the Devil’s Throat. This spectacle can be enjoyed from different walkways reached by road and a narrow gauge railway and we shall have plenty of time to take it all in. Plush-crested Jay are tame here and around picnic sites we may be a bit too close to Southern Coati and Tufted Capuchin Monkeys! At sunset, Great Dusky Swifts dive through the foaming water to roost behind the falls - an incredible sight.

14-15

We take a morning flight to Sao Paulo to connect with the flight back to London, arriving in the morning of Day 15.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-3 Overnight flight to Sao Paulo, then

onward flight to Cuiabá and transfer to Chapada dos Guimaraes 2 nights at Pousada do Parque

Days 4-6

Transfer to Transpantaneira. Two full days wildlife watching in this excellent area - great birding plus perhaps Tapir and Giant Anteater 3 nights at Pouso Alegre

Days 7-9

Transfer to Porto Jofre. Boat trips on the river in search of the big cat, Giant Otter and birds 3 nights at Hotel Porto Jofre

Day 10

Transfer to Cuiabá - 1 night at Hotel Taina

Days 11-13 Morning flight to Foz do Iguaçu. Visit Iguazú Falls. Two full days in the area with superb birding 3 nights at La Cantera Jungle Lodge Days 14-15 Morning flight to Sao Paulo then flight back to UK, arriving Day 15 Steve Kourik: Jaguar Roy Atkins: Iguazú Falls, Toco Toucan Jean & Chris Parrott: Hyacinth Macaws, Bare-faced Curasow, Giant Otter

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

93


FAIR ISLE

“Some of last autumn’s bird highlights included Icterine and Barred Warblers, Ortolan Bunting, flocks of mobile Lapland Buntings roaming the island, including an incredible flock of 18 swirling overhead, as well as finding a well hidden Wryneck, poking its head out of a hole in one of the islands dry stone walls! Who knows what we’ll find this year, I cant wait!” Craig Round Dates

Sat 1 - Sat 8 Sep 2018

Price

£1,755

Deposit £350

Single Supp £50

Leader

Craig Round

Flights

Loganair, scheduled Outbound: Morning Aberdeen-Sumburgh Inbound:Afternoon Sumburgh-Aberdeen

A special welcome to the migration stepping stone, with plenty of common migrants and a good chance of something really rare turning up - an addictive island! A dot in the seas between Orkney and Shetland Plenty of pleasant walks amidst cliffs and crofting land The last of the season’s lingering seabirds and skuas Famous for bird migration and rarities in easterly winds Traditional knitwear, local music, crafts and boat building All based at the comfortable Bird Observatory Fantastic scenery and possibly the Northern Lights

Weather Cool to warm, with changeable weather, expect sun and squally showers, may be windy (8°-15°C) Ferries

We shall travel from Shetland to Fair Isle by a small ferry with the potential for rough seas. Please be prepared for this.

Walking Walking is generally very relaxed and easy, with walks of up to 3-4 miles on roads and rough grassland Meals

All included from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Biting insects will not be a problem Accom Comfortable double, twin and single ensuite accommodation. Most rooms are on the first floor. Group 7

Just some of what we hope to see: Sooty Shearwater Storm Petrel Wryneck Citrine Wagtail Richard’s Pipit Olive-backed Pipit Bluethroat Yellow-browed Warbler Barred Warbler Lanceolated Warbler Red-backed Shrike Great Grey Shrike

94

Ortolan Bunting Mealy Redpoll Lapland Bunting Snow Bunting Short-eared Owl Long-eared Owl Merlin Spotted Flycatcher Pied Flycatcher Redstart Ring Ouzel Jack Snipe

1

We fly into Sumburgh on Shetland and take the ferry, the ‘Good Shepherd’ across to Fair Isle, or ‘Fridarey’ as it was known in old Norse, meaning ‘the peaceful isle’. As we leave Shetland, we pass under the towering cliffs of Sumburgh Head, rising up above us, before heading out to sea towards Fair Isle, with the possibility during the ferry crossing of seeing seabirds such as Great and Arctic Skuas, Sooty Shearwater, Fulmar, Gannet, Puffin and also Storm Petrels jinking low over the waves, plus cetaceans such as Minke Whale, Harbour Porpoise or Whitebeaked Dolphin. As the isle comes into view, we pass close to the shorter North Lighthouse perched on top of the cliffs, before arriving into the shelter of the harbour at North Haven, where we make our way up to the Observatory, with its friendly atmosphere and good food, as we become part of the wider island community for the week.

2-7

The bird Observatory is superbly positioned and enjoys stunning coastal views across to the seabird cliffs of Sheep Rock and the headland of Buness, with the beaches of the North and South Havens only a short walk away. Here, close flocks of passage waders such as Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin and Turnstone can be seen busily feeding and roosting on the beaches, whilst the Observatory gardens, vegetable patches and plantation will often hold migrant warblers, pipits, chats and flycatchers at this time year. This allows you to birdwatch from the comfort of the Observatory’s lounge, dining room or even your bedroom! The Observatory minibus will take us to the far reaches of the island, but we’ll also enjoy plenty of walking and on foot we’ll be able to explore every nook and cranny, from seabird cliff, to cultivated garden and crofting land, on this fabulous island.

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Fair Isle is a simply amazing island, where you can witness the miracle of bird migration first hand and get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. With stunning coastal scenery and cliffs and crofting land that can be alive with birds at this time of year, it really is a magnet to birds on migration and you never know what bird might turn up next! I’ve been lucky to visit this unique and beautiful island many times over the years, but for me a visit to the magical isle, is always one of the highlights of my birding year!” Craig Round

At dawn we’ll have the chance to accompany one of the wardens checking the Heligoland traps, to discover what new migrants may have arrived overnight and we’ll be closely involved with the study and ringing of any birds back at the Observatory, allowing us to be able to see them up close in the hand - to be sure not to miss any rarities caught. Fair Isle really is one of ‘the’ best places to experience the thrill of bird migration in action and if the winds are right, we’ll explore the wild and dramatic west cliffs and geo’s, as well as the moorland and hill ground in the north of the island, where birds can be found feeding and seeking shelter, dwarfed by the huge cliffs and sea below, as well as the gentler crofting land in the south of the island. Mixed flocks of waders including Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Lapwing, Golden Plover and Ruff can be found feeding in the fields and meadows at this time of year and with the autumn migration reaching its peak, in the right weather and fall conditions, the island can be simply alive with common migrants around every corner, including Tree Pipit, Redstart, Spotted and Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Sedge and Reed Warbler, and numerous Willow Warbler and Northern Wheatears, or hoped for scarce and rare birds such as Bluethroat, Pallid Harrier, Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck, Common Rosefinch, Ortolan and Lapland Bunting and Citrine Wagtail and warblers such as Marsh, Arctic, Greenish, Booted, Subalpine, Icterine, Savi’s and Barred. With the island grapevine, news of rarities will reach us wherever we are - with the Observatory

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

minibus flying a red flag on occasion to let everyone on the island know of a mega-rarity! Or we might just find that Lanceolated Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Olive-backed Pipit or Citrine Wagtail ourselves! We are at the mercy of the winds, but in quieter periods, or when no new birds arrive, we shall still have the time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the fascinating history, geology and culture of this unique and wonderful island. We’ll explore the dramatic and rocky coast and shoreline in the south of the island around the South Harbour and Lighthouse, which often holds more passage waders including Purple Sandpiper, Knot, Turnstone, Sanderling, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew and Whimbrel, whilst Rock Pipits, Northern Wheatears, White Wagtails and Fair Isle race Wrens can often be found foraging amongst the rocks and seaweed on the beaches, with Eider and Black Guillemots just offshore. We’ll also be sure to check some of the island’s freshwater pools, marshes and wetlands of Da Water, Easter Lother and Golden Water, where scarcer waders can sometimes be found, such as Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpiper, along with flocks of newly arrived migrant wildfowl such as Wigeon and Teal and both Common and Jack Snipe. Some lingering seabirds such as Gannets and Fulmars, will still be on ledges on the towering sandstone cliffs in the north, while breeding Great Skuas and maybe some late breeding Arctic Skuas are still present on their territories on the higher moorland.

8

We return by ferry to Sumburgh for our flight back to Aberdeen.

Outline Itinerary Day 1 Fly Aberdeen to Shetland then take the ‘Good Shepherd’ ferry across to Fair Isle passing Sumburgh Head enroute Days 2-7 Birdwatching and wildlife exploration of the island from our base at the comfortable Fair Isle Bird Observatory Day 8

Return back to mainland Shetland for our flight back to Aberdeen from Sumburgh

Craig Round: Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Bluethroat, Thrush Nightingale Simon Eaves: Pied Flycatcher David Kjaer: Wryneck David Constantine: Jack Snipe

95


RAPTORS OF THE HIGHLANDS

“I saw my first Golden Eagle when I was eight years old in Strathdearn and I can still picture it now. Taking our guests to Strathdearn and watching eagles over the same hill is a real pleasure and it’s a great experience to share these magnificent birds with others.” Simon Pawsey

Dates

Sat 1 - Sat 8 Sep 2018

Price

£1,545

Deposit £250

Single Supp £150

The Cairngorms National Park and the Isle of Skye provide fabulous opportunities to see iconic raptors against a backdrop of mountains, moorland and ancient forest. Golden and White-tailed Eagles in stunning mountain and island locations A boat trip to see White-tailed Eagles up close Secretive Goshawks in ancient Caledonian Pine Forests Ospreys breeding on our doorstep and fishing in local lochs Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls quartering open moorlands Peregrine and Merlin hunting and dashing after their prey Evening trips to look for Long-eared, Tawny and Barn Owls

Leaders Simon Pawsey and Simon Eaves Weather Mixture of sunshine and showers (15°-25°C). It could be cooler on the boat trip Walking Walks will be up to five miles on relatively flat gravel and forest tracks Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects It is coming to the end of midge season but it can still be warm, so they may be a nuisance Accom The Steading - double, twin and single rooms all ensuite

Dunorin Hotel - double, twin and single rooms all ensuite

Boat trip The boat trip off Skye will be in relatively sheltered waters Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Golden Eagle White-tailed Eagle Goshawk Sparrowhawk Peregrine Merlin Kestrel Osprey Red Kite Hen Harrier Short-eared Owl Long-eared Owl Barn Owl Tawny Owl Crossbill Crested Tit

96

Great Northern Diver Red-throated Diver Black-throated Diver Black Guillemot Razorbill Guillemot Gannet Twite Dipper Hooded Crow Rock Dove Mountain Hare Otter Red and Roe Deer Grey Seal cetaceans

1

Dinner together on Saturday evening is followed by coffee and a run through of the week’s itinerary.

2-3

The Cairngorms National Park is a spectacular land of mountains, bleak windswept moorlands and ancient forests, one of the best places in the UK to watch our iconic raptors. We may start with a full day in Strathdearn, which follows the River Findhorn deep into the Monadhliath Mountains. Here, a wealth of different habitats from woodlands to moorland and exposed mountains, provide habitat for up to twelve species of raptor, including Golden and White-tailed Eagle, Goshawk, Peregrine, Merlin, Osprey, Hen Harrier and Red Kite.

Weather permitting, we shall walk into the mountains on flat gravel tracks and explore the upper reaches of the glen on foot, which can be outstanding for Golden and White-tailed Eagles. Merlin and Peregrine also hunt here and it’s not unusual to watch fierce little Merlins mobbing massive eagles. Goshawk and Red Kite are possible and Ospreys regularly fish the river. The scenery in the upper reaches is spectacular and it is a truly wild place. The RSPB’s Reserve at Abernethy consists of ancient pine forest, open moorland and high mountain plateau. This is our best opportunity of finding the elusive ‘ghost of the forest’ - the Northern Goshawk. We shall keep our eyes peeled for this secretive and elusive raptor during our full day spent in Abernethy Forest exploring remote areas, where there are

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Raptors are certainly the focus of this trip, but there will be much more to see. We’ll be looking hard for some of the other Highland specialities and immersing ourselves in unique habitats, with wonderful ambience and scenery in two very different locations.” Simon Pawsey

also chances for Capercaillie, as well as crossbills and Crested Tit. The area is also good for eagles with Golden and White-tailed hunting over the Reserve. Abernethy is an exceptional habitat and if we explore the quieter areas of the forest it just might reveal its secrets to us. In the evening, we shall venture out in search of owls. Long-eared, Tawny and Barn Owls are all possible and Short-eared Owls can be found quartering the moors. The days are long at this time of the year, giving us a good chance of finding owls as the sun sets.

4-6

After breakfast we shall leave for the west coast and the Isle of Skye. We shall journey through Glen Shiel and over the Ratagan Pass, before we descend to Glenelg to catch the famous turntable ferry to Kylerhea on Skye. From the ferry we may see our first island White-tailed Eagles and Otter is always possible. Once on Skye we shall explore the quieter parts of the island, including the Waternish andTrotternish peninsulas. The scenery on Skye is spectacular and unrivalled in the UK and Trotternish has some of the most iconic geological landmarks in Britain. We shall search for Golden Eagles around the Quirang and the Old Man of Storr and on the rocky coastlines look for Otters. Hen Harrier, Merlin and Short-eared Owls are rare breeders, but will be target species for us here, however there is so much more to Skye and we can hope to see Great Northern and

Red-throated Divers and breeding waders before they depart for wintering grounds. Passerine species include Skylark, Twite and Linnet and as Skye is relatively under-watched who knows what we might turn up! One of the highlights of our stay on Skye will be an exclusive trip on a comfortable boat to look for White-tailed Eagles. They can be seen very close from the boat and we may see the birds gliding in to pick fish off the surface, potentially giving great photo opportunities. We may also encounter dolphins and other marine animals and birds.

7

On our return from Skye we shall cross the Skye Bridge. Weather permitting, we shall take the Bealach na Ba alpine pass through the spectacular mountains of the Applecross Peninsula and then weave our way through Torridon, stopping at Beinn Eighe NNR, a rugged landscape and another chance to find Golden Eagle, as well as other species of raptor. We shall arrive back at The Steading in time for our evening meal, followed by coffee and a look back over the week with a dram or two!

8

After breakfast on Saturday we say our farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive at Glen Feshie 3 nights at The Steading

Days 2-3 Search for raptors and other wildlife in Speyside including Strathdearn and Abernethy Forest Day 4

Travel to the Isle of Skye via Glenelg and Kylerhea Ferry, birding and looking for raptors enroute 3 nights at Dunorin Hotel

Days 5-6

Search for raptors and wildlife amidst stunning scenery on Skye, including Waternish and Trotternish peninsulas and a boat trip for White-tailed Eagle

Day 7

Travel back to Glen Feshie, via the Bealach na Ba Pass and Torridon 1 night at The Steading

Day 8

Depart after breakfast

Yves Gisseleire: White-tailed Eagle Roy Atkins: View from Quiraing Louise Darby: Otter, Osprey Mary Braddock: Golden Eagle Richard Stacey: Short-eared Owl

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

97


ORKNEY

“The peace and tranquillity is infectious. The slow island pace means that as soon as you land on Orkney you can feel yourself relax. The depth of history emanating from the archaeology, coupled with the wide seascapes, leaves you feeling refreshed and revived.” Jack Ward

Dates

Sun 2 - Sun 9 Sep 2018

Price

£1,875

Deposit £300

Single Supp £450

Enjoy the magic of Orkney – autumn bird migration, coupled with world class archaeological sites, on a holiday dedicated to both, on this delightful island archipelago. Autumn migration on Orkney - you never know what might turn up! Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier, Red-throated Divers and skuas Visit to Rousay, one of the many islands Tomb of the Eagles, via Churchill Barriers Maeshowe, Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness The Loons RSPB Reserve Visit to ancient settlement of Skara Brae

Leaders Tim Drew and Jack Ward Weather The weather can vary enormously. During a typical week in this season we would expect to experience mixed sun and showers with temperatures in the range 10-20ºC. Around the remote coastline of Orkney we may expect cooler temperatures and though it is possible that we shall see unbroken sunshine and settled weather, Orkney can receive wet and windy squalls and occasionally fog. Having said all of that, it can often be warm and sunny and you may want to bring sunscreen. Walking Meals

On Orkney the walking is generally very relaxed and easy, but on at least two of the days we may take walks of up to 3-4 miles on rough grassland and small coastal paths with some climbing. All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Biting insects should not be a problem Accom Premier Inn, Inverness; Lynnfield Hotel, Orkney; Double, twin and single rooms all ensuite Group 12

1

We meet in Inverness in time for dinner in our overnight hotel, giving us time to discuss the coming week.

2-7

From Inverness, we follow the coast road through the eastern seaboard of Sutherland and Caithness, to catch our ferry from Scrabster to Orkney. Along the route, past historic villages such as Golspie and Helmsdale, the last Sandwich and Arctic Terns fish on their way south and some of the autumn’s Eider and Common and Velvet Scoter can be seen. Buzzards are common and we may also see Red Kite circling above the rich farmland of Easter Ross. The crossing, on a large modern, fully equipped ferry, takes us across The Pentland Firth, rightly famous for the strength of its tidal race. These waters provide rich pickings for wildlife, cetaceans

in particular and we shall be vigilant during the crossing and watch for Storm Petrel, Manx Shearwater, skuas and dolphins. We shall be travelling during the peak of migration and species such as Sooty Shearwater and Grey Phalarope could be seen. The ferry takes us past the impressive cliffs of Hoy and past the great sea stack of the Old Man of Hoy, to land us in the wonderful harbour of Stromness, where the great author George Mackay-Brown lived. The landscape of Orkney has broad coastal vistas, interspersed with ancient archaeological wonders. The pastures are home to Brown Hare, with Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl quartering the moors and meadows. At this time of year there is also the good chance

Just some of what we hope to see: Hen Harrier Short-eared Owl Merlin Great Skua Arctic Skua Pomarine Skua Manx Shearwater Sooty Shearwater Red-throated Diver 98

Pink-footed Goose Black Guillemot Golden Plover Sanderling Bar-tailed Godwit Ruff Lapland Bunting

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Orkney offers a wealth of wildlife, from charismatic raptors such as the Hen Harrier to impressive numbers of many seabirds, including Fulmars, gannets and skuas. As if this isn’t enough, all this wildlife is surrounded by wild seascapes and beautiful landscapes!” Jack Ward

of migrants and we shall check through the passage flocks of waders for any rarities that might be amongst them, such as Pectoral Sandpiper. Over the years many exciting birds have been found on these northern islands, including Wryneck, Common Rosefinch and Red-breasted Flycatcher. We shall also look out for Black Guillemot, Great Northern Diver, Twite and Rock Dove and of course Otter is always a possibility. There will be Red-throated Diver, often still in their breeding finery and Turnstone, picking at seaweed on the rocky shore. With the approaching winter, Greylag, Barnacle and White-fronted Geese begin to arrive too. Orkney is an archipelago and although we are based on Mainland, we shall also travel to the island of Rousay, to the north. This island has a lot of heather moorland and we shall look for raptors such as Hen Harrier and Merlin. There will be waders on the shore and species such as Stonechat should be obvious. The gardens around the ferry point can be good shelter for migrants, so we shall work these to see what we can find! We’ll also visit the chambered tomb and broch of Midhowe, whilst being observed by the curious Common Seals along the shore. The archaeological sites of Orkney cannot be missed. Skara Brae is an absolute must - an entire prehistoric settlement with rooms,

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

beds, dressers and pottery, all exposed by a storm some 5000 years after it was built. The Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, where 36 of the original circle of 60 stones still stand, are both impressive, however it’s the magnificent Maeshowe that steals the show, along with the Tomb of the Eagles, where we can see neolithic artefacts. The Tomb of the Eagles is situated on South Ronaldsay and our journey here will take us over the Churchill Barriers that connect the southern islands, where the bays hold divers and waders and we shall look for Otters. This tomb holds the echoes of our past connections with the totemic wildlife around us, in particular the White-tailed Eagle that was once abundant here. Now, after an absence of nearly 200 years, a pair has established itself on the island of Hoy. On our penultimate day we’ll take the return ferry from Mainland back to Scrabster. There are some good wildlife locations near to Scrabster and we shall explore Dunnet Bay, as well as the most northerly point on mainland UK, Dunnet Head, where we could encounter Twite and Wheatear. Just nearby is a freshwater loch with hide, where we may fill in some of the gaps in our list with species such as Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and the two Highland rarities Coot and Moorhen! We shall return to Inverness in time for dinner on our final evening.

8

After breakfast we say our farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Inverness 1 night at the Premier Inn

Day 2

Travel up the north east coast of Caithness and Sutherland and take the ferry to Orkney 5 nights at the Lynnfield Hotel

Days 3-6 Wildlife and archaeological exploration of Mainland and the islands Day 7

Take early morning ferry from Orkney and travel back down the coast to Inverness 1 night at the Premier Inn

Day 8

Depart after breakfast

Colin Scott: Arctic Skua, Red-throated Diver, Little Grebe Roy Atkins: Ring of Brodgar Mary Braddock: Black Guillemots Chrissie Nicholson: Old Man of Hoy

99


BRITISH COLUMBIA

“I shall be in ‘7th Heaven’ on this visit to the awesome Vancouver Island as it’s my seventh year here and one of my all time favourite places. Each tour always produces something new and different for me, which is testament to how wildlife-rich this gorgeous place is – just get me there…” Julian Sykes

Dates

Sat 8 - Fri 21 Sept 2018

Price

£4,945

Deposit £950

Single Supp £900

On Canada’s rugged west coast, Vancouver Island awaits, brimming with bears, birds, whales and more, as they seize the autumn bounty before the winter closes in. Boat trips in search of Orcas, Humpbacks and Gray Whales Grizzly Bears hunting salmon on spawning grounds Dall’s Porpoise, Steller’s Sea Lions plus, with luck, Pacific White-sided Dolphin Black Bear, Beaver, Sea Otter and chance of Raccoon West Coast special birds including shorebirds, seabirds, divers and scoters Beautiful Pacific Rim Rainforest and famous Long Beach Stunning scenery of lakes, fjords and forests, amidst towering mountains

Leaders Julian Sykes and Darren Rees Flights

Air Canada, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Vancouver Inbound: Overnight,Vancouver-Heathrow

Weather

It varies across the island, with wetter conditions in the west around Tofino and Zeballos, drier on the east coast. Expect some rain (we sometimes have rain for a whole day or more) and fog is possible in the west, but generally warm and sunny with mild conditions (14°-22°C)

Walking

There’ll be some short easy walks on wide tracks in the forest, in some places with lots of steps. Nothing steep or strenuous, but a reasonable degree of fitness is required

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 13

Insects

Biting insects are generally not a problem on Vancouver Island, but repellent is a good idea just in case

Boat trips Boats vary from larger boats with indoor seating areas that can hold over 50 people, to smaller uncovered boats with no facilities. Sometimes the groups may be split between two boats each with a guide. All boats are excellent Accom Double, twin and single rooms all ensuite Last room booked will stay at Dolphin Motel in Tofino

1-2

Arriving in Vancouver we transfer to our hotel in Delta. The following day we enjoy a full day at George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary, where Sandhill Crane, Wood Duck, dowitchers and yellowlegs, Red-winged Blackbird, Northern Harrier and Lincoln’s Sparrow are all possible. It is a fabulous and very productive place. Late afternoon, if time allows, we may take a walk along Boundary Bay looking for more shorebirds. This whole area can be great birding and may prove to be one of the most bird rich days of the trip!

3-4

After some relaxed birding enroute to the Nanaimo ferry for shorebirds, gulls and scoters, we board the ferry and check the jetties for Black Turnstone and perhaps Surfbird. We then have a long drive north to our ocean front lodge overlooking Johnstone Strait.

The grounds are a haven for wildlife and we have watched Black Bears turning rocks on the shore here and, with luck, even River Otter and Raccoons. We can relax, or wander in search of White-crowned and Fox Sparrows, warblers and woodpeckers in the surrounding woodland. We shall be picked up from the jetty for a boat ride into rich waters covered in gulls, Common and Pigeon Guillemots, Rhinoceros Auklets and dainty Red-necked Phalaropes. Watched by tree top Bald Eagles, this is our best chance for Orcas and we hope to encounter resident groups at close quarters! Dall’s Porpoise and Steller’s Sea Lions are here too and, with luck, Pacific White-sided Dolphins. Even if we don’t see Orcas, we’ll be thrilled by great sightings of Humpback Whales!

Group 12

Just some of what we hope to see: Grizzly Bear Dall’s Porpoise Black Bear Black Oystercatcher Sea Otter Black Turnstone 100

Humpback Whale Heermann’s Gull Orca Rhinoceros Auklet Gray Whale Marbled Murrelet

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Forget Grizzly Bears gorging on salmon in glacial rivers; a pod of Orca surfacing alongside the boat; Humpback Whales breaching through rafts of seabirds. Forget the mind-blowing scenery of the Canadian fjords; or watching incredibly cute Sea Otters in the mighty Pacific Ocean; this will be my first tour with Darren Rees – what a combination!” Julian Sykes

5-6

We move on to Zeballos on a scenic west coast inlet, an old Gold-rush village where Cedar Waxwing, Steller’s Jays and migrant warblers such as Wilson’s and Yellow-rumped are possible and we hope to find Beavers on a nearby pond. Sea Otters have a good population in this area and we’ll explore the beautiful inlets and rocky shorelines by boat to enjoy great views, as they lie on their backs and smash shellfish on a stone on their belly! Black Bears are also possible along the shoreline, turning over boulders as they search for crabs.

7-9

After breakfast we head for Campbell River, a great area for birding, with shorebirds, Harlequin Duck, Bonaparte’s Gull, grebes and divers, plus Red-breasted Sapsucker in the trees. We’ll also visit the sub-alpine forest of Mount Washington in search of tame Gray Jay, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, woodpeckers and more. There is lots to see, but we’ll tear ourselves away because there’s the lure of Grizzly Bears! We’ll have a full-day boat trip to a picturesque inlet, where guides will take us to a purpose built viewing platform. We hope for great close up views as the bears walk the banks, or down the middle of the river, scanning the water for any hint of a fish to chase - then it’s a mad dash, with the occasional bear even being successful!

10-11

It is a long and spectacular drive to Tofino on the west coast. We’ll break the journey, pausing to enjoy the astonishing trees of Cathedral Grove enroute and visit

a beautiful river to watch Chinook Salmon migrate upstream and leap the falls! From our hotel near Tofino we’ll visit Pacific Rim National Park - lush temperate rainforest, with cushions of moss on branches of towering Hemlocks, vast beaches and the ocean stretching off as far as the eye can see. The forest can be quiet with Pacific Wren, Steller’s Jay and Chestnut-backed Chickadees often the only birds, but it is beautiful and well worth the visit! The beaches may hold flocks of Western Sandpipers, while offshore are Red-necked Grebes, Surf Scoter, Pacific Loons and Marbled Murrelet, with Bald Eagles overhead. We’ll go whale-watching too, taking a boat trip into Clayoquot Sound, looking for Gray Whales, or Humpbacks if the last Gray Whales have left. Amidst the maze of rocky islets, there’ll be Harbour Seals and huge Steller’s Sea Lions, plus Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants, Heermann’s Gull, Rhinoceros Auklet and Pigeon Guillemots and we’ll check rocky islands for Wandering Tattler and Black Oystercatcher.

Outline Itinerary

12-14

We head back to Vancouver, where we overnight in Delta again. On the following day we visit the huge area of Boundary Bay again, before dragging ourselves away for our flight home, arriving in London on Day 14.

Days 1-2

Fly to Vancouver. Full day birding local area and George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary 2 nights at Tsawwassen Inn

Days 3-4

Ferry to Vancouver Island, then drive towards Port McNeill and our hotel overlooking Johnstone Strait. Boat trip to look for Orcas 2 nights at Hidden Cove Lodge

Days 5-6

Drive to Zeballos on west coast to explore the coastal forest and inlets from our Sea Otter boat trip 2 nights at Cedars Inn

Days 7-9

Drive to Campbell River, then birding local area and a full-day boat trip to Grizzly Bear fishing grounds 3 nights at Painter’s Lodge

Days 10-11 Transfer to Tofino on the west coast, with boat trip for Humpback/Gray Whales and walk in Pacific Rim Rainforest 2 nights at Jamie’s Rainforest Inn or Dolphin Motel Day 12

Return to Vancouver 1 night at Tsawwassen Inn

Days 13-14 Birding Boundary Bay before flight back to London in afternoon, arriving in London on Day 14 Steve Batt: Grizzly Bear, Steller’s Sea Lions Christine Maughan: Sea Otters, Orcas Roy Atkins: Humpback Whale, Lesser Yellowlegs

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

101


YELLOWSTONE IN AUTUMN

“The fall colours in Grand Teton and Yellowstone are gorgeous, as bears are feeding up for their hibernation; Moose have full racks of antlers and Elk take on cars in Mammoth! I can’t wait.” Duncan Macdonald

Dates

Sat 15 - Sat 29 Sep 2018

Price

£5,495

Deposit £1,050 Single Supp £1,200

A favourite time to visit two of the finest of America’s National Parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, resplendent with fall colours, plus wolves, bears, bison, beavers and birds. Legendary wildlife of the Yellowstone wilderness Bison, Pronghorn and Gray Wolf in the Lamar Valley Fabulous encounters with Grizzly and Black Bears feeding before hibernation Crazy critters: Beaver, Moose, Pika, Chipmunks and River Otters Lots of migrant wildfowl, shorebirds and passerines Spectacular Grand Teton National Park with breathtaking autumn colours Geothermal wonders of geysers, bubbling mud and multi-coloured pools

Leaders Duncan Macdonald and Simon Eaves Flights

United Airlines, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Heathrow-Jackson Hole (via US stop) Inbound: Overnight, Jackson Hole-Heathrow (via US stop)

Weather It can be cool (even cold), but daytime temperatures rise to warm and sunny (0°-15°C), with a chance of showers and some snow possible at high altitudes Walking There’ll be some short, easy walks on wide paths with optional short, easy walks off tracks in the forest

Note that Yellowstone National Park is at high altitude. Most of the Park is above 7,500 feet / 2,275 metres

Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 14 and are of good quality

Insects Biting insects are rarely a problem Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Gray Wolf Coyote Grizzly Bear Black Bear Moose American Elk Beaver River Otter

Pika Trumpeter Swan White Pelican Bald Eagle Ferruginous Hawk Prairie Falcon American Dipper Black Rosy Finch

1-4

Arriving early evening there is a short transfer to our hotel in Jackson Hole. From here, we explore the breathtaking Grand Teton National Park, a land of jagged peaks soaring above a sagebrush plain dotted with herds of Bison and Pronghorn. With the changing of seasons, flocks of American Robins, Audubon’s Warblers, White-crowned Sparrows and Brewer’s Blackbirds will be on the move, but perhaps the mammals will be greater prizes: willows along the Snake River are great places to look for Moose – the males will be looking magnificent with ‘racks’ of antlers. We’ll also make a visit at dusk, when Beavers will be tending to their lodges. Wildfowl numbers at Jackson Lake are increasing, so expect Trumpeter Swan, Cinnamon Teal and Lesser Scaup, as well as Western Grebe, White Pelican and migrant shorebirds. The historic

barns at Mormon Row will have you reaching for the cameras and we’ll be alert for birds of the sagebrush like Vesper Sparrow, Prairie Falcon and maybe Sage Grouse. There’ll be our first Coyote and who knows what else? We may see our first bear … bushes full of chokeberries are favourites for Black Bears, keen to pile on the calories before winter.

5-7

We’ll travel north to the world’s first, and most famous, National Park - Yellowstone. We stay near the shores of the immense Yellowstone Lake at 7,700ft, hosting Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Loon and Bufflehead. Here, we are in the middle of a vast wilderness, realm of both Grizzly and Black Bears and at nearby Hayden Valley we’ve often seen Gray Wolf. There may be lingering Harlequin Ducks and raptors include Northern Harrier and Red-tailed and Swainson’s Hawk.

Lin Gregory: Black Bear, Elk, Bison Duncan Macdonald: Mountain Bluebird, Coyote, Landscape 102

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“This trip would still be stunning without the wildlife, as the scenery is simply breathtaking, but add to this Moose, bears, wolves and bison and it becomes a must-do.” Duncan Macdonald We’ll explore lofty Dunraven Pass, hopefully finding wildlife of the higher altitudes: Golden Eagle, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and perhaps a lazy Yellow-bellied Marmot reluctant to start its hibernation.We’ll visit the mighty Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, where the Yellowstone River has carved a stunning landscape of colourful eroded pillars and spectacular waterfalls. Early mornings and evenings at Pelican Creek and Fishing Bridge are good for River Otter, Beaver and Belted Kingfisher.

8-11

We move to Mammoth in the north of Yellowstone, where Elk will be grazing outside our cabins! In September the males ‘bugle’ to round up their harems - confrontations between rival bulls and their ritual calling can go on through the night! Spectacular travertine terraces mark the volcanic activity in the area, especially evocative in the early morning. Other dawn excursions will target Gray Wolves: a successful re-introduction programme started in 1995 and now there are numerous packs, particularly in the scenic Lamar Valley. Here, colourful stands of aspen and cottonwood and herds of Bison and Pronghorn, provide the perfect backdrop for watching wolves. We’ll hope for Grizzly Bears too - these often follow wolf packs to scavenge on the carrion from wolf kills. Birds include American Dipper, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Fox Sparrow and Gray Jay. The spectacular Beartooth Pass leads out of the National Park through spruce forests

and higher, to peaks over 12,000ft. We’ll look for more specialities of the high country such as Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Pika, Pine Grosbeak and Black Rosy Finch.

12-13

We journey south to the centre of the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone at Old Faithful - 70% of the world’s geysers are here! As its name suggests, the historic, timber Old Faithful Inn is by the planet’s most well-known geyser and it’s perfect for marvelling at the expulsion of steam and water in the cool air. Neighbouring geysers are even more spectacular and there are the bubbling mud-pools of Fountain Paintpots, plus the largest multi-coloured pool at Grand Prismatic. On our last full day in the field we travel south, watching for birds and mammals as we go. We’re sure to stop at Oxbow Lake and Willow Flats, now ablaze with the fall colours from quaking Aspens, before reaching our final overnight stop at Jackson Hole.

14-15

Leaving Jackson, we fly home, arriving in the UK on the morning of Day 15.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly to Jackson Hole, via US stop, arriving in the evening. Short transfer to 49er Inn – 4 nights

Days 2-4

Three days exploring Grand Teton National Park, including Elk Refuge, Mormon Row, Jenny Lake and Ox Bow Bend

Day 5

North, via Jackson Lake, to Lake Yellowstone – 3 nights

Days 6-7

Explore Hayden Valley, north shore of Lake Yellowstone and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Day 8

Relaxed day transfer, via Dunraven Pass, to Mammoth Hot Springs – 4 nights

Days 9-11 Three days to explore north section of Yellowstone, including Lamar Valley, Beartooth Pass and Blacktail Plateau Day 12

Drive via geothermal features at Norris to Old Faithful – 1 night

Day 13

Geyser gazing at Old Faithful then south for last night at Jackson Hole 49er Inn – 1 night

Days 14-15 Morning flight out, then an evening flight to Heathrow, arriving in the morning of Day 15

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

103


Jean Parrott

Patricia Frochaux

Jaguar, Brazilian Pantanal. Holiday details page 92

South American Sea Lions, surrounded by Imperial Cormorants, Patagonia. Holiday details page 112

Just a few of the images guests and guides have taken on Speyside Wildlife trips

Mike Grimshaw

Sue and Bill Gill

Treecreeper, Cairngorms. Details page10

Red Grouse, Autumn Wildlife in Speyside. Holiday details page 108

Patricia Frochaux-Martin

Mike Hems

Making friends in Patagonia. Holiday details page 112

Pine Martens at our hide. Details page 12

104

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


Andrew Dodd

John Osborne

Demoiselle Crane, Mongolia. Holiday details page 80

Roe Deer, Autumn Wildlife. Holiday details page 108

Katie Barton

Christine Maughan

Tawny Owl, Mammals. Holiday details page 86

Torres del Paine, Patagonia. Holiday details page 112

Richard Maynard

Steve Batt

Changeable Hawk Eagle, Sri Lanka Holiday details page 22

Grizzly Bear, British Columbia. Holiday details page 100

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

105


EAST YORKSHIRE

“The area we are visiting is being described as the ‘Yorkshire nature triangle’. You never know what might turn up - spectacular numbers of common species, great views of local residents such as Bearded Tit or Marsh Harrier, or an unexpected migrant.” Sally Nowell Dates

Sat 29 Sep - Sat 6 Oct 2018

Price

£1,695

Deposit £300 Single Supp £150

An excellent chance to witness migration in action, as thousands of birds are on the move - from waders and warblers, to pipits, thrushes and seabirds - and a chance of rarities too! Yorkshire’s autumn migration hotspots - Spurn, Flamborough and Filey Witness migration of thousands of pipits, finches, thrushes and more Flexible itinerary just in case any major rarities turn up nearby Visit key Yorkshire birding sites such as Blacktoft Sands and Bempton Cliffs An evening visit to a local reserve to witness a starling mummeration if conditions allow Scarce migrants such as Yellow-browed Warbler, Lapland Bunting and Wryneck See ringing first hand at a Spurn Bird Observatory demonstration

Leaders Sally Nowell and Julian Sykes Weather Can be extremely variable at this time of year, so come prepared for everything from rain and wind, to calm autumnal sunshine! Walking Mostly easy walking on level paths up to 3 miles, with perhaps a little more if rarities require it! Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Unlikely to be a problem at this time of year Accom

Double, twin and single rooms all ensuite A lovely rural venue in the heart of East Yorkshire in a stunning location. A transfer can be arranged from York train station

Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Brambling Winter thrushes Redstart Bearded Tit Marsh Harrier Sooty Shearwater Pomerine Skua Little Gull Jack Snipe Shore Lark Black Redstart Barn Owl Short-eared Owl Woodcock

106

Water Rail Red-throated Diver Pink-footed Goose Velvet Scoter Scarce migrants such as.. Yellow-browed Warbler Ring Ouzel Firecrest Wryneck Lapland Bunting Red-breasted Flycatcher Little Bunting Rarities - anything could turn up!

1

We meet up at our hotel in time for dinner and a chance to discuss the coming week. Our well placed accommodation means that most of the sites we shall visit are an hour or less away.

2-7

The Yorkshire coast at this time of year is a thrilling place!! Thousands of birds are on the move and to witness this mass migration as birds head south along the coast is a wonderful experience. We have timed this trip to enjoy migration in action, with common migrants still passing through in good numbers, but also the chance of something a bit rarer - or with luck - very rare indeed!! East Yorkshire has become renowned as the place to witness autumn migration and has several sites from which to experience this massive annual movement of birds. Spurn Point is perhaps the most famous - its unusual shape acting as a funnel,

which concentrates birds as they move towards the point. Whilst this can be weather dependent, the birding here can be astonishing, with large numbers of common migrants such as pipits, thrushes, finches, Robins and Goldcrests and often plenty of scarcer species too, with double figure numbers of Yellow-browed Warblers and the chance of species such as Richard’s Pipit, Firecrest,Wryneck, Shorelark, Lapland Bunting and more. What is more, we shall get an insight into how research on migration is carried out and see birds in the hand, with a ringing demonstration at Spurn Bird Observatory. We shall also cast our eyes seawards as, at this time of year, Filey Brigg and Flamborough Head provide excellent sea-watching opportunities. We’ll look out for Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, Arctic, Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas, divers and flocks of seaduck and geese. Like Spurn, these sites can

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Since I was a child this area has excited me. Driving out towards Spurn Point filled me with anticipation, though a flat and apparently featureless landscape, there was something mysterious about it. Swarms of Starlings going to roost, a Barn Owl flying across the road, or a field full of Golden Plover, there was always an surprise in store somewhere on the journey.” Sally Nowell

also be first landfall for high numbers of birds, with thrushes and Bramblings coming in off the sea and all three sites have had more than their fair share of national rarities. Each day we shall be keeping an eye on ‘what’s about’ and will be in touch with local birders, so plans may alter rapidly if something very special is found. Anything can turn up, but some years are incredible, such as 2016 when Siberian Accentor, White’s Thrush, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Isabelline Wheatear and Black-browed Albatross were exceptional finds. We can’t promise the same rarities necessarily, but we can promise an exciting time searching for the unexpected, with the opportunity to polish our skills when it comes to our less familiar warblers, whilst looking out for gems including Pallas’s and Dusky Warbler. Yorkshire has some fabulous Reserves and habitats, wetlands, cliffs, forest, coast and estuarine marsh. We’ll visit Blacktoft Sands, where the wetlands and reedbeds are superb at this time of year. Wader passage will include common species such as Dunlin, but should also include Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff. Marsh Harriers hunt over the reeds, where ‘pinging’ flocks of Bearded Tits can be seen and if we are very lucky, perhaps a Water Rail or Bittern will appear. At Bempton Cliffs, the huge seabird colonies will have departed, but this spectacular place can also provide chances to see migration and amongst

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

the common migrants, we’ll be on the lookout for shrikes, flycatchers, or scarcer warblers. We shall also introduce you to some newer and less well known, but equally impressive, birding hot spots on our daily outings. East Yorkshire is a varied county, with rich agricultural land providing ideal feeding grounds for large numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover. The subtly rolling hills of the Yorkshire Wolds, providing habitat for Barn Owls, Skylarks, Red Kite and Brown Hare, feature in a lot of David Hockney’s recent work. We plan to visit Robert Fuller’s wildlife art gallery and get a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of some of the ingenious ways he spies on his local wildlife. His paintings sell all over the world and his trademark, highly-detailed images, have been adopted by the RSPB and the National Trust.

8

After breakfast on our final day we say our fond farewells. You may wish to extend your holiday by spending time in Yorkshire’s historic county town, or explore further up Yorkshire’s east coast, to places such as Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Meet at our hotel in time for our evening meal 7 nights at Rudstone Walk, Brough

Days 2-7 Exploration of the migration hotspots of Spurn Point, Flamborough Head, Filey Brigg and Bempton Cliffs. We’ll also seawatch from headlands and visit Blacktoft Sands for wetland and reedbed birds, plus visit the Yorkshire Wolds and the David Fuller Art Gallery Day 8

After breakfast we say our farewells and depart

James Stevens: Shore Lark Simon Eaves: Red-breasted Flycatcher, Marsh Harrier, Spotted Redshank David Constantine: Dunlin, Sanderling, Yellow-browed Warbler Ian Smith: Lapland Bunting

107


AUTUMN WILDLIFE IN SPEYSIDE

“Autumn in the Highlands is a special time. The glens are resounding to the roaring of stags, while Golden Eagles soar above. Mountain Hares may be starting to turn white and Ptarmigan are beginning to group together. Stunning.” Duncan Macdonald

Dates

Sat 6 - Sat 13 Oct 2018 Sat 13 - Sat 20 Oct 2018

Price

£1,125

Deposit £200

Single Supp £100

The season of golden colours, roaring stags, hunting eagles, seaduck and rarities - this is a wonderful time to be in glorious Speyside, within the Cairngorms National Park. Capercaillie, Black Grouse and Speyside specialities Includes a West Coast ‘White-tailed Eagle’ trip Seaduck, geese and thrushes arriving from the north Regular rare skuas, ducks and white-winged gulls Young Golden Eagles above roaring Red Deer stags Ptarmigan parties in the Cairngorms An evening for Pine Marten, Badger and more

Leaders Two from our Speyside Team Weather The weather can vary enormously. Snow can occur in the mountains at any season with sunny warm weather also possible. During a typical week in autumn we would expect to experience mixed sun and showers with temperatures in the range 8-18ºC. You may want to bring sunscreen Walking Most walks are 1-2 miles on wide sandy tracks, although there is the possibility of a forest walk of up to 4 miles We take groups on to the Cairngorms plateau from the funicular railway summit to see Ptarmigan, therefore may be necessary to take a walk on paths over uneven and occasionally undulating rocky terrain. Low-level unguided alternatives are available. Walking boots will be needed on the holiday Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8

Insects Biting midges are rare at this time of year Accom Double, twin and single ensuite rooms at our very special, delightfully furnished converted barn, the Steading. Group

1

Dinner together on Saturday evening followed by coffee and a run through the coming week starts the holiday.

2-7

As colder weather grips northern Scandinavia, thousands of birds stream south to warmer waters, many spending the winter off our shores. Like grains from a pepperpot, seaduck, grebes and divers are scattered across the sea like nowhere else in Britain. Rafts of Common and Velvet Scoter can be found in Findhorn Bay and we’ll search through them for rare Surf Scoter which are annual here - lost birds from North America. Long-tailed Duck are in beautiful winter plumage and we’ll check through flocks of Eider just in case a rare King Eider is amongst them. There will be Slavonian Grebe, Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, Scaup and the chance of passing Great and Arctic Skuas - even Red-necked Grebe is possible.

Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Turnstone pick around sea-weedy rocks and we’ll visit estuaries alive with waders. Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwit, which may hide something more unusual and we’ll find big flocks of Wigeon plus Teal and Pintail. Skeins of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese are constantly on the move and may be arriving in their thousands. If winds come from the north we’ll check through the flocks of gulls, as there is always the chance of stray Glaucous or Iceland Gulls. Red Kite drift over farmland on the Black Isle and we’ll visit a spot where Bottlenose Dolphins frequently come surprisingly close to the shore and hope for some acrobatics as they chase salmon coming in on the rising tide! At Insh Marshes, Icelandic Whooper Swans quietly feed and Goosander and Goldeneye dive in small pools, where furtive Teal skulk in the margins. Towards dusk, Hen Harriers fly buoyantly

12

Just some of what we hope to see: Golden Eagle White-tailed Eagle Ptarmigan Black Grouse Capercaillie Pink-footed Goose Long-tailed Duck Scaup Common Scoter 108

Velevt Scoter Rock Dove Crested Tit Scottish Crossbill Snow Bunting Red Squirrel Pine Marten

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk


“Migration is in full swing at this time of year, bringing thousands of ducks, geese and waders to winter around the Moray Firth and we get into the thick of it. What else may be among the flocks? Iceland Gull, King Eider, American Wigeon. Let’s get looking!” Duncan Macdonald

in from the moors to roost in the long grasses here, sometimes Merlin too. Golden Eagle and Peregrine hunt the higher glens and we’ll search for Mountain Hares - now moulting into their winter coat and starting to go white in patches. A real highlight can be watching the Red Deer. This is the time when they are rutting and the roar of rutting stags echoes across the valley. Occasionally we see a real confrontation, as stags meet head to head, or we may see males that have adorned their antlers with grass and heather! Open moorland holds parties of Red Grouse and, weather permitting, we’ll explore the Cairngorms for cryptically camouflaged Ptarmigan - so much easier now with the funicular railway to help us get to higher ground! In the ancient pines of Abernethy Forest, Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill are found and flocks of Siskin, Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Treecreeper weave through trees that flank the mountains. There is always the chance of Common and Parrot Crossbill too and we’ll keep alert for elusive Capercaillie and Black Grouse - though neither species are easy at this time of year. Golden Eagle are possible and there is now a resident pair of White-tailed Eagles here, so keep your fingers crossed! Flocks of winter thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare, or even scarce Waxwing may appear on berry bushes. One night we’ll visit our comfortable baited hide for the chance of close up views of delightful Pine Martens and Badgers!

www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

We shall also venture to the remote west coast through the dramatic peaks and sea lochs of wildest Wester Ross. The scenery gets more and more spectacular as you head west and the coastal beaches around Laide and Mellon Udrigle are beautiful too, with stunning mountain views towards Sutherland. Wild Rock Dove may be found here along with Raven, Twite, Stonechat and Golden Eagle, but it’s imposing White-tailed Eagle that may steal the show. We’ll search for Red-throated and Great Northern Divers amongst more numerous Black-throated Divers that winter here, along with Black Guillemots, Eider and Shags. Common Seals may be hauled out on the rocks and we’ll scan the water and rocky shore for Otters. These wonderful animals are more linked to tide than time of day here, allowing the chance of animals out in daylight. We have enjoyed some wonderful views of them here - especially when they catch something they need to bring to shore to deal with!

8

After breakfast on Saturday we say our farewells.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Arrive in Glen Feshie in time for an evening meal and a chat about our plans for the coming week. 7 nights at the Steading

Days 2-7 Wildlife and birdwatching exploration including Abernethy Forest, Dava Moor, the Cairngorms, the Moray Firth and West Coast Day 8

After breakfast we say our farewells and depart

Craig Round: Red Grouse, Ptarmigan Roy Atkins: Loch Garten Mark Denman: Long-tailed Duck, Snow Bunting Jane Hope: Whooper Swan Yves Gisseleire: White-tailed Eagle

109


FLORIDA

“This famed vacation State is wilder than you imagine – vast interior pine forests, cypress swamps that extend to Alabama and Texas (I want there to be Ivory-billed Woodpecker there!) and the endless mangroves and saw-grass prairie of the amazing Everglades – come see for yourself.” Darren Rees Dates

Sat 3 - Wed 14 Nov 2018

Price

£3,845

Deposit £750

Single Supp £700

Brimming with approachable wildlife and an unexpected watery wilderness, enjoy our fun and easy tour of the ‘Sunshine State’ – winter birding in the sun. Cape Canaveral, Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys Skimmers, woodpeckers, owls, shorebirds and Bald Eagles Famous Reserves such as Corkscrew Swamp and Merritt Island Beautiful beaches, prairies, palms and pine woods Alligators, manatees, dolphins, turtles and armadillos Terrific for wildlife photo opportunities Specialities such as Limpkin, Florida Scrub Jay and Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Leaders Darren Rees and Julian Sykes Flights

Virgin Atlantic, scheduled Outbound: Morning, Gatwick-Orlando Inbound: Overnight, Miami-Heathrow

Weather Warm and sunny with a chance of showers (15°-25°C) Walking Short easy walks on level wide paths Meals

All included from dinner on Day 1 to dinner on Day 11

Insects

Mosquitoes and ‘no-see-ums’ can often be a nuisance and are a particular problem in the Everglades at dusk and on still days, so bring repellent

Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

12

Just some of what we hope to see: American White Pelican Anhinga Magnificent Frigatebird Great White Heron Tri-colored Heron Reddish Egret Roseate Spoonbill Wood Stork Osprey Snail Kite Bald Eagle Short-tailed Hawk Crested Caracara Wild Turkey Limpkin Whooping Crane Black Skimmer White-crowned Pigeon Great Horned Owl

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Burrowing Owl Barred Owl Ruby-throated Hummingbird Belted Kingfisher Red-headed Woodpecker Red-cockadedWoodpecker Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Florida Scrub Jay Northern Parula Black-and-white Warbler Painted Bunting Bottlenose Dolphin West Indian Manatee Bobcat Raccoon American Alligator American Crocodile

1-3

It’s a short transfer from Orlando to Titusville on the warm Atlantic coast, where Brown Pelicans skim the waves, Belted Kingfishers perch on wires and Boat-tailed Grackles point to the blue sky. An early morning visit to Tosohatchee State Reserve will be full of new birds with Carolina Chickadee, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebirds and a mix of characterful woodpeckers such as Red-bellied, Red-headed, Pileated and Downy, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Northern Flicker! Prepare for close up encounters with waterbirds at Blue Heron Water Lagoons and famous Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – egrets, herons, ibis and sandpipers are everywhere and Florida offers unrivalled photo opportunities – fill those

memory cards! Stilt Sandpiper, American Avocet and Marbled Godwits are on the shallow pools; swirls of White Pelicans, patrolling Bald Eagles and hovering Ospreys will be airborne and both Turkey and Black Vulture ride ocean breezes over the dunes. As we watch the lines of egrets, Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills coming to roost, we’ll hear Great Horned Owls calling. We’ll see Florida Scrub Jay, Northern Cardinal, Common Yellowthroat and incredible American Alligators. We’ll check favourite backwaters for West Indian Manatees and Bottlenose Dolphins and we’ve even seen elusive Bobcat!

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Heading south and west to Sebring, the interior landscape of fields and prairie are dotted with Killdeer, Eastern Meadowlark, Crested Caracara, Wild Turkeys and Sandhill Cranes

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“Florida’s birdlife is spectacular – with approachable herons, egrets, ibis, spoonbills and pelicans making this a photographer’s paradise – throw in specialities such as Snail Kite, Limpkin, Red-cockaded Woodpecker and White-crowned Pigeon and you have a great winter birding destination.” Darren Rees (some flocks include rare, recently re-introduced Whooping Cranes). At Lake Kissimmee we’ll look for endangered Snail Kites with their remarkable hooked bill (adapted for hunting for apple snails) and nearby, in the pines at Three Lakes, are scarce Red-cockaded Woodpeckers amongst Pine Warblers and Tufted Titmice.

5-7

Heading west to the Gulf of Mexico, we’ll visit Six Mile Cypress Slough to look for elusive Limpkin, before reaching our hotel at Fort Myers Beach. From here, beautiful Lovers Key and Bunch Beach can be busy with birds - Greater Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, American Oystercatcher, Wilson’s, Piping and Semi-palmated Plover and remarkable Black Skimmers. At Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Roseate Spoonbill and Brown Pelicans stand out amongst the wealth of waterbirds, whilst bushes shelter wintering passerines with Prairie, Yellow-throated and Myrtle Warblers likely. It’s also a great place to see daytime Raccoons! Strolling the boardwalk at famous Corkscrew Swamp Preserve is a tour highlight. We meander through lofty Cypress trees, their huge buttress roots standing in water and their limbs draped in Spanish Moss. White Ibis, Green Heron and Limpkin feed quietly in the pools, Barred Owls roost and even Black Bear and Florida Panther roam.

8-10

We’ll drive along the ‘Tamiami Trail’ that crosses lower Florida to our

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base at Homestead, birding all the way. We’ll check local spots for Florida Burrowing Owls – a species in decline with the loss of grasslands – fortunately we’ve seen them on golf courses, airfields and school playgrounds! From our last base we visit the spectacular Everglades National Park, a vast shallow sea of saw-grass, dotted with domes of impenetrable Mahogany and Gumbo Limbo trees. The Anhinga Trail boardwalk gives incredible views of snake-like Anhingas (of course) as well as American Bittern and Purple Gallinule. Skies can be filled with raptors, with Florida Red-shouldered Hawk and scarce Short-tailed Hawks. From Flamingo we’ll look across endless shallows for Reddish Egret, scarce Great White Heron and a local rarity, American Crocodile. A night excursion might reveal Eastern Screech Owl, Whip-poor-will, Chuck-wills Widow or perhaps a Nine-banded Armadillo. We also travel to the beautiful Florida Keys – a chain of sub-tropical islands reaching towards the Caribbean, with mangroves and shallow blue seas. We shall be especially watchful for patrolling Magnificent Frigatebirds, unusual White-crowned Pigeons and the diminutive endemic Key Deer.

11-12

A morning birding the suburbs around Homestead can yield surprising wintering birds – Ruby-throated Hummingbird attend feeders and we’ve seen beautiful Painted Bunting before! Finally we catch our evening flight home, arriving in the UK on the morning of Day 12.

Outline Itinerary Day 1

Fly to Orlando followed by 1 hour transfer to Titusville 3 nights at Hampton Inn

Days 2-3

Birdwatching and wildlife exploration

Day 4

Relaxed transfer to Sebring birding enroute - 1 night at Inn on the Lakes

Days 5-7

Transfer to Fort Myers Beach birding enroute - 3 nights at Wyndham Garden

Days 8-10 Transfer to Homestead birding enroute - 3 nights at Best Western Days 11-12 Local birding in morning, then transfer to Miami for evening flight, arriving in the UK on the morning of Day 12 Mark Denman: American Avocet Darren Rees: Anhinga, Snail Kite, Manatee, American Bittern Franky and David Perry: Roseate Spoonbills Roy Cowley: Yellow-crowned Night Heron

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PATAGONIA

“I never thought I would ever see a Mountain Lion, but we enjoyed incredible close-up views on both our previous trips, with the aid of our local ‘Puma-tracker’. What a wonderful animal it is, completely at ease in this spectacular landscape.” Roy Atkins Dates

Sat 3 - Tue 20 Nov 2018

Price

£9,845

Deposit £1,950 Single Supp £1,500

This immense wilderness of glaciers, mountains and spectacular coastlines, hosts an astonishing mix of wildlife, including our best chance of Mountain Lion. Close up views of Southern Right Whales on a boat trip Stunning scenery of Torres del Paine and Andes Mountains Steamer Ducks Magellanic Woodpecker and Austral Parakeet in Tierra del Fuego Huge Magellanic Penguin colony with birds right by our feet! Visit to the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier Andean Condors above snowy mountain peaks and exciting birds Mountain Lion! Your best chance of seeing this beautiful big cat

Leaders Roy Atkins and local guide Flights

British Airways, scheduled Outbound: Overnight, Heathrow-Buenos Aires Inbound: Overnight, Buenos Aires-Heathrow Internal flights, Aerolineas Argentinas Buenos Aires-Trelew-El Calafate -Ushuaia-Buenos Aires

Weather Highly variable, from warm or even hot and dry in Buenos Aires and the northern part, to potentially cold, wet and windy in the south, though we hope for nice weather there too! (5°-25°C) Walking

Mainly easy walking on good tracks with some slightly steeper walks in the mountains, but the amount of walking may be a little unpredictable, when searching for Pumas or even Magellanic Woodpeckers!

Meals

All included from lunch on Day 2 to lunch on Day 17

Health

Although Malaria and Yellow Fever are uncommon, please consult your doctor for individual advice

Insects There may be biting insects in some of the areas visited, so bring repellent Accom Twin and single rooms all ensuite Group

1-3

Arriving in Buenos Aires we start our trip at Costanera Sur, where it is hard to believe you are just 10 minutes from downtown Buenos Aires. The wetlands and bushes along the trails can hold White-tufted Grebe, Rosy-billed Pochard, Masked Gnatcatcher, Nanday Parakeet, Golden-billed Saltator and many more. Further north we shall spend a full day exploring a fabulously rich area of marshland and farmland, which may prove the most ‘birdy’ day of the trip! Warbling Dorodito, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Southern Screamer, Limpkins and many flycatchers, spinetails, finches, raptors, storks, herons, ducks and waders are all possible at this very rich area, where birds just keep on coming!

4-6

We head now to Patagonia, an immense region of unexplored wilderness, creating

the southernmost tip of Argentina and Chile. We fly to Trelew, where a nearby wetland holds Coscoroba Swan, Lake Duck, Chilean Flamingo and Silvery Grebe. A little way down the coast we meet our first young Elephant Seals and search out localised Chubut Steamer Ducks, before heading to our first Magellanic Penguin colony if we have time, as it is still a long drive to Puerto Piramides on Peninsula Valdés. We have two full days to explore this world renowned wildlife reserve. More than 800 Southern Right Whales come here to breed - the largest population on Earth - and our boat trip should provide close views. We’ll also see young Elephant Seals at a colony on a private beach, with Southern Giant Petrel and Great Grebe offshore. Lesser Rhea and Elegant Crested Tinamou roam the scrubby landscape, along with Guanaco and Mara - the largest rodent in Patagonia.

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Just some of what we hope to see: Mountain Lion Andean Condor Southern Right Whale Magellanic Penguin Black-browed Albatross Southern Elephant Seal Magellanic Plover 112

Guanacos Magellanic Woodpecker Chilean Flamingo Steamer Duck Torrent Duck Mara Kelp Goose

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“The scenery on this trip is simply jaw-dropping and provides the most amazing backdrop to the wildlife we see. The glaciers, snow-peaked mountains and sparkling turquoise lakes of the Andes, contrast beautifully with the barren steppes and arid coast of the Peninsula Valdes.” Roy Atkins

At Punta Norte we’ll visit a huge Magellanic Penguin colony with penguins right at our feet.

7-8

Depending on flights times, our morning flight to El Calafate might allow time for birding Laguna Nímez, on the shores of Lake Argentino. This reed-fringed lagoon holds Chilean Flamingo, Andean Ruddy Duck, Upland Goose, Cinereous Harrier and rare Magellanic Plover - and we shall certainly get there at some point! We’ll visit Los Glaciares National Park, created in 1937 to preserve this unique wilderness of Southern Beech forests, Andean lakes and 13 spectacular glaciers. Glaciar Perito Moreno is the best known and a series of trails and lookouts provide breathtaking close-up views. This is our first chance for magnificent Andean Condor and we’ll search for Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Chilean Flicker, Magellanic Tapaculo and Rufous-tailed Plantcutter.

9-12

The long drive to Torres del Paine, in Chile, crosses Patagonia’s high plateau, where we’ll look out for Chocolatevented Tyrant, then after crossing the border, the Paine Massif shows in full from the shores of Lake Sarmiento. We have two full days to explore Torres del Paine National Park, a fantastic area for mammals, with Guanaco, Andean Deer, Hairy Armadillo, Chilla Fox and Culpeo Fox all possible - but our main goal is the enigmatic Mountain Lion or Puma. Chances of seeing this beautiful cat are high and we hope to get good views - perhaps the biggest highlight

of the trip! Birding is good too, with Torrent and Spectacled Ducks, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Austral Negrito, Black-necked Swan, Least Seedsnipe and plenty more Andean Condors!

13-15

We return to El Calafate for our flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city on earth! Overlooking the Beagle Channel we are close to Tierra del Fuego National Park, a vast relict of coastal Southern Beech forest. Magellanic Woodpecker, White-throated Treerunner, Thorn-tailed Rayadito and Austral Parakeet are here and we hope to find Magellanic Horned and Austral Pygmy Owls. We’ll scan the waters for Flying Steamer Duck, Fuegian Steamer Duck, Kelp Goose and Ashy-headed Goose, with Blackish Oystercatcher and Black-faced Ibis on the shore. We’ll explore the Beagle Channel by catamaran, where Southern Sea Lion colonies dot the islands and seabirds are abundant. Imperial and Rock Shags, Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins, South American Tern, Chilean Skua, Dolphin Gull, Southern Giant Petrel, Black-browed Albatross and Southern Fulmar create a fabulous list.

16-18

We have the chance for some relaxed birding before our afternoon flight to Buenos Aires, where we’ll relax on the morning of Day 17, before our flight home in the afternoon, arriving back in London on Day 18.

Outline Itinerary Days 1-3

Overnight flight to Buenos Aires then birding at Costanera Sur Nature Reserve and full day birding to the north of Buenos Aires 2 nights at Lafayette Hotel

Days 4-6

Flight to Trelew, then exploring the Valdés Peninsula, including boat trip with Southern Right Whales, visit to Elephant Seal and Penguin colonies 2 nights at Hostería The Paradise 1 night at Hotel Peninsula Valdes

Days 7-8

Flight to El Calafate, then birding the shores of Lake Argentino and visit to Los Glaciares National Park 2 nights at Kau Yatun Hotel

Days 9-12

Drive to and exploring Torres del Paine, Chile, for mammals including Puma! 3 nights at Las Torres Hotel, Chile 1 night at Kau Yatun Hotel

Days 13-14 Flight from El Calafate to Ushuaia then birding Tierra del Fuego NP. Boat trip in the Beagle Channel 3 nights at Tolkeyen Hotel Days 16-18 Flight to Buenos Aires, overnight stay. Then overnight flight home Day 17 arriving in UK on Day 18 Roy Atkins: Mountain Lion, Perito Moreno Glacier, Magellanic Woodpecker Patricia Frochaux-Martin: Guancao, Southern Right Whale, Magellanic Penguins

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OUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS Please take a few minutes to read the following, that often gets overlooked. We pride ourselves on safeguarding not only you on your holidays, but also your payments made to us. In return, we have to comply with certain legal requirements, that means we need some information from you. All this is designed to take the worry and hassle out of your holidays with us. 1. A reservation is made once a booking form, together with deposit, has been received from you and confirmed in writing by us or, when booking through our website, you receive your booking confirmation by email. Provisional reservations may be made by telephone or email, as long as a completed booking form follows within 10 days. For reservations within 10 weeks prior to the commencement of the holiday a completed booking form and full payment must follow within 48 hours of a provisional booking.

8. If you have a complaint, would you please notify us as soon as possible in order that the matter can be dealt with promptly. 9. All names and addresses on the Speyside Wildlife mailing list are held on computer. Names are automatically deleted after 3 years if no booking is made. No information so stored will ever be passed to a third party. If however, you object to your name and address being stored, please inform us and we shall remove your details.

2.The balance must be paid not less than 10 weeks prior to the commencement of the holiday. The date the balance is payable will be advised by Speyside Wildlife when we confirm your booking. Unless notice of cancellation is received prior to the balance payment date, balance monies will remain due and payable.

10. All clients booked on a non-UK holiday must be in possession of a valid passport. Full details of requirements for a specific holiday will be sent when we confirm your booking.

3. If you book a place in a twin ensuite we shall endeavour to find you a fellow guest to take the other place. If we fail to do so, we shall contact you before the balance is due on the holiday, to let you know how much the single supplement would be to have the room to yourself and keep the booking. If you don’t want to pay the supplement, you may cancel your booking and your deposit will be returned.

11. Speyside Wildlife complies with the requirements set out in Statutory Instrument 1992 No 3288 ‘The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992’. Speyside Wildlife also holds an ATOL (Air Travel Organisers Licence) No 4259, issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the name of Suzanne Dowden trading as Speyside Wildlife.

4. No increase will be made to the prices in respect of these holidays.The price you see is the maximum price you will pay. Speyside Wildlife holidays are fully inclusive of meals, accommodation, transport and entrance fees as detailed. Not included are travel insurance and items of a personal nature. Where guests incur expenditure for telephone calls, drinks etc, this bill must be settled by you, prior to departure. Last minute discounts may be available through the office. Any change in price in respect of these will be detailed on an individual basis, prior to your booking being made.

12. Your Financial Protection. All passengers booking a non-flight based holiday with Speyside Wildlife are protected against the loss of all monies paid to us in advance (and repatriation if applicable) in the event of our insolvency, by way of a Trust Account, administered by Peter Munro & Co, Chartered/Certified Accountants, Kingussie. Tel number 01540 661360.

5. If you cancel a booking the deposit is non-refundable. If you cancel any holiday less than 10 weeks prior to commencement, all balance monies will be forfeit. Once balance monies have been paid, rather than cancelling, you are at liberty to transfer your booking to another person, provided sufficient notice is given to us and it is possible for us to make the substitution. In this event any transfer costs arising must be borne by you. In addition, you are at liberty to transfer an existing booking to another holiday within the same year, any time up to 4 weeks prior to the balance monies being due. Again any transfer costs must be borne by you. An administration charge of £50 will be levied on each and any transfer. 6. Speyside Wildlife will do everything possible to ensure that your holiday runs as described. In the unlikely event this is not possible we shall advise you at the earliest opportunity of any significant alterations. Any alterations so made will be of a similar quality to those described. No responsibility can be held by Speyside Wildlife for any holiday altered or cancelled due to reasons beyond our control, under circumstances which could not be avoided and where alternative arrangements cannot be made. In the event of cancellation all monies will be returned promptly to you in full. We do, however, reserve the right to cancel any holiday up to 10 weeks prior to departure, should insufficient reservations have been made. In this instance again all monies paid will be refunded in full. 7. Speyside Wildlife cannot be responsible for any loss or damage to personal items, or for personal accident or injury. Guests are therefore strongly recommended to take out personal insurance against cancellation charges and other loss or injury. To this end, we have arranged suitable cover. If you wish this to apply, please contact Arthur J Gallagher of Fort William on 01397 705 858. Clients booked on flight-based holidays must have sufficient personal cover prior to travel. If you do not wish to use our insurer, then a copy of the policy you take out must be provided to us.We shall take responsibility should the services detailed in the holiday descriptions not be of a suitable standard. We shall also take responsibility for any acts or omissions by ourselves which result in any loss or injury to you. We cannot however take responsibility for any loss or injury resulting from any act or omission by persons over whom we have no control.

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All our flight-inclusive holidays are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. For more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL certificate. (Civil Aviation Authority ATOL Standard Term 1.1).

CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY ATOL STANDARD TERMS When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists what is financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong. (Civil Aviation Authority ATOL Standard Term 1.5) We, or the suppliers identified on your ATOL Certificate, will provide you with the services listed on the ATOL Certificate (or a suitable alternative). In some cases, where neither we nor the supplier are able to do so for reasons of insolvency, an alternative ATOL holder may provide you with the services you have bought, or a suitable alternative (at no extra cost to you). You agree to accept that in those circumstances the alternative ATOL holder will perform those obligations and you agree to pay any money outstanding to be paid by you under your contract to that alternative ATOL holder. However you also agree that in some cases it will not be possible to appoint an alternative ATOL holder, in which case you will be entitled to make a claim under the ATOL scheme (or your credit card issuer where applicable). (Civil Aviation Authority ATOL Standard Term 1.7A) If we, or the suppliers identified on your ATOL certificate, are unable to provide the services listed (or a suitable alternative, through an alternative ATOL holder or otherwise) for reasons of insolvency, the Trustees of the Air Travel Trust may make a payment to (or confer a benefit on) you under the ATOL scheme. You agree that in return for such a payment or benefit, you assign absolutely to those Trustees any claims which you have or may have arising out of or relating to the non-provision of the services, including any claims against us (CAA), the travel agent (tour operator), or your credit card issuer where applicable. You also agree that any such claims may be re-assigned to another body, if that other body has paid sums you have claimed under the ATOL scheme. (Civil Aviation Authority Standard Term 1.7B)

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enquiries@speysidewildlife.co.uk +44 (0)1479 812498 www.speysidewildlife.co.uk

Front Cover and Inside Covers Mark Denman: Blue Rock Thrush, Overseas montage and Scottish montage Back Cover Colin Scott: Western Tanager Mark Denman: Long-tailedTit (Caudates) Roy Atkins: Sea Otter James Shooter: Griffon Vulture Patricia Frochaux-Martin: Rock Cormorants

2018 Speyside Wildlife Holiday Brochure  

We’ve been running holidays and wildlife experiences in the UK and Overseas for 26 years and our holidays are just that - holidays. We’ll tr...