Highlands Reader Holiday full itinerary

DAY 1: Saturday

Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.

DAY 2: Sunday

A morning in the Abernethy to look for Crested Tit and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill. We often see adults with fledged young at this time. Later we investigate local lochs and rivers, birchwoods and moorland. Your list may include Osprey, Dipper, Buzzard, Goldeneye, Red Grouse, Black-throated Diver, Lesser Redpoll, Peregrine, a host of breeding waders and Slavonian Grebe. Often over fifty species are seen on this day. The beauty of divers and grebes in breeding plumage spellbinds many of our guests, and during this holiday we make time to find them at close quarters to admire them. Obviously this will be done in a sensitive and responsible way, and our mobile hide minibuses will be invaluable!

DAY 3: Monday -  An optional early start to see Black Grouse at the lek is a great start. After breakfast we may head north to explore coastal haunts, and could expect to see a range of breeding birds including Osprey fishing, Common Eider, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Stonechat, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Grey Partridge. Sandwich, Common, Arctic and Little Tern, Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill are also likelyWe may also search for any rarities within reach.

DAY 4: Tuesday - We journey west, watching out for Black Grouse, Black Guillemot, Common Seal and Hooded Crow as we travel. We may stop off to see Peregrine at the nest, Whooper Swans wintering on the marshes, or perhaps a Golden Eagle after we cross Loch Linnhe onto the west coast. Once across the Great Glen we take our time - we are in prime raptor and Otter country! We head over to Mull and target iconic wildlife at sites we know well. We immediately look for White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle, found here at their highest densities in the UK. Moorland species may include Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl, and off the rugged shoreline we aim to find Otter and perhaps a late Great Northern Diver in breeding plumage.

DAY 5: Wednesday - In these weeks our private estate woodlands often produce hen Capercaillie, and cock birds are more active now too, frequently seen from Heatherlea mobile hides. Moorland and upland specialities such as Slavonian Grebe, Hen Harrier, Stonechat, Common Sandpiper, Peregrine, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, plus Golden Eagle and Osprey, Merlin, Red Kite and Ring Ouzel as our targets, this can be a good time to enjoy close views. Stonechat, Common Sandpiper and a host of Scottish moorland specialities complete a lovely day.

DAY 6: Thursday - A full day on the Cairngorm plateau, with unforgettable mountain scenery all around as we head to the right spots for Ptarmigan and Dotterel, both perhaps with piping young running behind. Snow Bunting may also be seen. A brilliant day’s birding in a very special habitat. Later we enjoy a Highland summer evening with a leisurely drive to the moors close to The Mountview Hotel. Short-eared Owl breed here, and we frequently see the adults quartering over heather. Black-throated Diver and Red Grouse are also likely, and look out for waders including Dunlin, Redshank and Common Sandpiper in smart summer plumage. A lovely evening!

DAY 7: Friday - Friday is often a round-up day, perhaps at another coastal location with great birding. We may drive north to look for Osprey fishing and the first returning summer waders including Turnstone, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit in brilliant colours. We will also look for Red Kite, Tree Sparrow, and farmland birds such as Grey Partridge and Yellowhammer and also search for any rarities within reach.

OR we can head west

Today we head across the Highlands to the West Coast, where our key target is White-tailed Eagle. We have excellent chances of Golden Eagle too, and other western birds of interest are Hooded Crow, Twite and Cuckoo and on the sea Great Northern Diver and Black Guillemot in full breeding plumage. A great day amongst fabulous west coast scenery.

DAY 8: Saturday - Breakfast

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