New Year Birdlist Booster, Scotland: January 2010

January 4, 2020 to January 11, 2020

January 11, 2020 to January 18, 2020

Prices: £1,195pp, no single supplement. Deposit £200

To book: call 01479 821 248 or email

Neil McIntyre

Neil McIntyre

If you’re already planning on taking Bird Watching’s #My200BirdYear challenge in 2020, or if you just want to see the very best of Scotland’s birds in winter, then this fun holiday is for you. Get your New Year birdlist off to a cracking start with a week of birding across the Highlands from coast to coast!

For the second week, you’ll be joined by Bird Watching editor Matt Merritt as well as Heatherlea’s own expert guides.

Top priorities will be the resident Scottish specialities – Capercaillie, Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Scottish Crossbill and Crested Tit – but you’ll also be able to look for a host of northern winter visitors, and finally round-up rarities. By the end of the week, you should have seen around 120 species, including many ‘difficult’ birds you might miss without a guide, or struggle to locate further south in the UK.

There’ll be time spent inland in the Caledonian pinewoods of Abernethy Forest for speciality birds, a visit to the Cairngorm Mountains to see Ptarmigan, and trips to remote glens for eagles and other raptors. Northern coastal habitats provide great birding in winter, and with the Moray Firth, Aberdeenshire, the West Coast and secluded bays north of Inverness all within reach, prospects are excellent, especially at the coast. King Eider and Surf Scoter are regular, and others more than possible. Your guides will closely monitor weather, tides and local bird news to make sure you can use all the available daylight (about eight hours per day).

Holidays are based at the Mountview Hotel, with all transport and expert guidance from our resident team. Heatherlea anticipate that the whole hotel will be given over to the holiday, meaning a great birding atmosphere as the entire week is run by birders for birders: a very enjoyable prospect!

We try to accumulate a sizeable list, building through the week, with all nights at
the Mountview Hotel giving us the maximum flexibility – perfect when an Ivory Gull turns up! We treat you as an individual, meaning your personal sightings are important to us, and we will try to make sure everyone sees everything, particularly the ‘Key Target’ species.

If weather permits we will look for Capercaillie using Heatherlea’s exclusive ‘Private Estate’ access.
We enter through secure gates, and stay inside our ‘mobile hide’ minibuses, driving on tracks with keen eyes to all sides! Our buses are high enough to allow good views into the forest, and Heatherlea are the only birding tour operator allowed to enter these lands by vehicle.

Click for here for full details on PDF

Uganda: February/March 2020

Saturday 29 February – Saturday 14 March 2020

The price of this exceptional all-inclusive, small-group tour is £6,995 per person. Single room supplement of £875 for the trip for anyone wishing to have a single room. Please see our Terms and Conditions for the full details.

To book your place or to ask for more details, please email Alan and Ruth on or call us +44 (0)1492 872407.

The wonderful Shoebill!

The wonderful Shoebill!

Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the bird-rich West African jungle. Where else but in this impossibly lush country can we see Lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with Hippopotamus and huge crocodiles before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a Mountain Gorilla? Not to mention canoeing through the pristine swamps to look for the enigmatic Shoebill.

Uganda is safe and delightfully friendly, and with wonderful lodges and excellent local guides, it offers exceptional wildlife-watching. We can expect to enjoy over 400 species of bird and 40 mammal species on our small group, two-week tour. With only six participants and three guides, and all tracking permits already included in our all-inclusive tour, we can promise you an exceptional experience as you enjoy some of the very best wildlife the African continent has to offer.


Day 1: Arrive in Uganda

Our tour starts at Entebbe Airport where your flight to Uganda will be met and you are transferred to our very comfortable hotel overlooking Lake Victoria. Overnight in our comfortable hotel.

Day 2: Birding the Mabamba Wetlands

Early breakfast, then out to nearby Mabamba Wetlands on the shores of Lake Victoria. This is an extensive papyrus swamp with its labyrinth of channels and lagoons and home to the magnificent Shoebill, Uganda’s most famous avian resident. This charismatic bird is certainly one of the most sought-after birds in Uganda, and we’ll make special efforts today to find it by paddling through the channels by boat. There will of course be a great selection of water birds here too, as well as open country species to enjoy. We expect to see a lot of birds at this wonderful wetland. We then drive to the first national park on this trip, Lake Mburo, ready for our next day’s adventures. Overnight in a lovely lodge close to Lake Mburo (2 nights)

Day 3: Lake Mburo National Park

Today we’ll enjoy a boat trip and wildlife drive in our first of many national parks, Lake Mburo. This park has varied habitats from open Acacia woodlands, to a number of papyrus-lined lakes and swamps. Some of the many species we’ll be looking for today include African Finfoot; Palm-nut and White-backed Vultures; Wahlberg’s and African Fish Eagles; Grey Crowned Crane; Senegal, Crowned, and Wattled Lapwings; Great Blue Turaco; Woodland Kingfisher; Lilac-breasted and Broad-billed Rollers; African Grey, Crowned, and Black-and-white Casqued Hornbills; and Greater Blue-eared, Splendid, Rüppell’s Long-tailed Starlings, Mammals will be a large part of our visit to this park, and the many species we might see include the shy Oribi, graceful Impalas, and Common Zebras, all found out in the open, park-like woodland. Overnight in our lovely lodge close to the park.

Day 4: Birding to Bwindi

Today we move on to the southern part of the Bwindi National Park, the excitingly named Impenetrable Forest! We will make plenty of birding stops along the way as we keep our eyes open for the Albertine Rift Endemic species that can be found in this area. Penetrating the impenetrable, we stay overnight in a very comfortable lodge within the forested National Park. Overnight in our mountain lodge (3 nights)

Day 5: Gorilla tracking


We set off to the park headquarters for a briefing prior to Gorilla Tracking. This is the most exciting experience of all time. The gorillas are gentle animals and it is an unforgettable experience to photograph them as they interact. But don’t forget to put down your camera to watch these gentle giants as they play and go about their daily activities. It is indeed a “once in a lifetime” moment that you must never miss. Each encounter is different and has its own rewards; you are likely to enjoy the close view of adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngsters frolic and swing from vines in a delightfully playful display. We will also look for other primates like the L’Hoest Monkey, Mantled Guereza (formerly known as Black and White Colobus); Red tailed monkey and Blue monkey. Other mammals include the Rwenzori duiker, Caruthers’s squirrel, Bohm’s and Alexander’s squirrels, and many other species. Overnight in our mountain lodge.

Day 6: Birding the Albertine Rift Endemics

This section of the park is also home to the Albertine Rift Endemics and we spend our day exploring various trails and tracks looking for species including the beautiful Regal Sunbird, and Archer's Robin-Chat. Some of the other species we have a chance of seeing here include Black-billed and Ross’s Turacos; African Cuckoo, and African Emerald Cuckoo; Narina Trogon; Black and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters; White-starred Robin, White-bellied Robin-Chat; Ruwenzori Batis and many more. Overnight in our mountain lodge

Day 7: Driving to Queen Elizabeth National Park

Today, we shall start early after breakfast and drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is the second largest national park in Uganda and is home to an incredible 600+ diverse species of wildlife. Our route to the park will be determined by road conditions, either passing through the Ishasha sector, well-known for its climbing lions, or alternatively drive through the beautiful scenery of Rukungiri district. The park has a mosaic of habitats from moist forest at Maramagambo to wild savannah excellent for Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Hyenas, Ugandan Kobs, Side-striped Jackal, Baboons, and Giant Hogs, to name just a few. Of course, there will be lots of birds too! Overnight in a luxury safari lodge in the national park (3 nights)

Days 8 and 9: Wildlife drives, birding and boat ride on the Kazinga Channel

Over the next two days we’ll enjoy exciting wildlife drives looking for big mammals and lots of birds. One of the highlights of this area will be the boat ride on the Kazinga Channel, which is one of the best and most thrilling in Africa. This trip is one of the better places to look for African Skimmers as well as Pink-backed Pelicans, Goliath Herons, Saddle-billed and Yellow-billed Storks, and Papyrus Gonolek. This will be our best chance to get really close views of Palearctic waders that spend the winter here in Uganda. Be prepared for bird overload! Overnight in our luxury safari lodge.

Day 10: Birding to Kibale National Park

Today we move on to the extensive Kibale National Park, a huge area of rainforest that offers both excellent birding, as well as the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa, and is famous for its Chimpanzees. Some of the many species we will look for around Kibale include Yellowbill (or Blue Malkoha), Black-billed Turaco, Narina Trogon, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black Bee-eater, White-throated Bee-eater, White-headed Wood Hoopoe, Grey-winged and Snowy-headed Robin-chats, Red-headed Malimbe, Gray-headed Negrofinch, and Black-crowned Waxbill. Overnight in our lovely comfortable lodge (2 nights).

Day 11: Chimp Tracking

We start our day with a briefing prior to heading into the forest of Kibale National Park to experience our chimpanzee tracking. This can be a quite different though equally exhilarating experience from gorilla-watching as the chimps move easily through the forest and are as likely to be sitting up in the branches as down on the ground. We spend the rest of our day birding in this wonderful rainforest. There is a good chance of encountering some special forest birds here such as Narina Trogon. Overnight in our lovely comfortable lodge.

Day 12: Birding to Murchison Falls National Park

After breakfast, we say goodbye to Kibale National Park and move on to Murchison Falls National Park. Today is a mostly driving day. Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest and protects a large section of untamed savannah bisected by the mighty River Nile. It is named after the dramatic Murchison Falls where the world’s longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge in a frothing pool 43m below. The park is perhaps Uganda’s premier wildlife destination, with an impressive list of mammal species such as Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Rothschild Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Hartebeest, Oribi, Warthog, and the Uganda Kob, as well as a massive bird list. We’ll have two full days here to bird the variety of habitats at Murchison. Some of the many species we’ll look for during our stay here include Rock Pratincole, Black-headed and Wattled Lapwings, Red-headed Lovebird; Long-tailed, Square-tailed, and Pennant-winged Nightjars; Red-throated, Blue-breasted, Swallow-tailed, and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters; Broad-billed Roller; African Gray and Abyssinian Ground-Hornbills, Silverbird, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Spotted Morning-Thrush, , and Blue-throated Wattle-eye. Overnight at our luxury safari lodge (3 nights).

Days 13 and 14: Wildlife drives and afternoon boat cruise to the bottom of the falls and boat to the delta

After an early breakfast, we will have a morning wildlife drive. In the lush Borassus grassland, we may be able to encounter elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and a variety of antelope species. We may also see some lions if we are lucky. After enjoying a packed lunch, we will then have an afternoon boat trip to the bottom of the falls and there we will be able to view huge Nile Crocodiles, big Pods of Hippos, and other wildlife. During our time here we will look for a fantastic array of birds such as Red-necked Falcon, Senegal Thick-knee, Water Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Little Bittern, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Osprey, Abyssinian Roller, and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Red-throated and Blue-breasted Bee-eaters. Here we may also have another chance of sighting the rare Shoebill if we are very lucky. Other birds we will look for on our wildlife drives include Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Vinaceous Dove, Grosbeak Weaver, Buff-bellied Warbler, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Spotted Morning-Thrush, Silverbird, Beautiful Sunbird, Black-headed Gonolek, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Golden-backed Weaver, White-rumped Seedeater, White Crested Turaco, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Standard-winged Nightjar, White-rumped Canary and more. Expect a lot of birds! Mammals include hartebeest, oribi, Uganda kob, elephant, giraffe, bushbuck, buffalo, lion, leopard, spotted hyena, jackal, mongoose and more. Overnight at our luxury safari lodge.

Day 15: Back to Entebbe birding for evening departure

We say farewell to Murchison Falls National Park and make our way back to Entebbe, making several birding stops along the way. Our tour ends at Entebbe in time for evening flights home.

There is an option for guests to stay an extra night in Entebbe before flying home if they wish; please note this is not included in the price. A hotel room will be made available for guests wishing to freshen up before going to the airport, with the transfer to the airport provided.


Our exciting tour includes: 15 days’ guided bird- and mammal-watching; 14 nights’ accommodation on a fully-inclusive basis in very comfortable hotels and lodges with ensuite rooms throughout, close to the best wildlife areas and often actually within the national parks; guiding by Alan and Ruth and an expert English-speaking local guide (the very best guide in Uganda!) throughout the trip plus additional local guides at specific birding locations; transport in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle during the tour; all excursions as itemised in the itinerary; all entrance fees, gorilla and chimp tracking permits already included; all meals (breakfast, lunch and evening meal) from evening meal on Saturday 29 February until lunch on Saturday 14 March; bottled drinking water throughout the tour; use of our field guides; use of our top-of-the-range Leica telescopes; airport transfers to/from Entebbe airport at the start and end of the trip; individual checklists of the birds, mammals and other wildlife we will be looking for. We will run this tour with six participants only and three guides, ensuring that everyone has the highest levels of individual customer service and the best possible wildlife-viewing experience. We want you to have the most enjoyable wildlife holiday on your Birdwatching Trip with us. All tracking permits are already included to guarantee your gorilla and chimpanzee tracking experiences.

The price of this exceptional all-inclusive, small-group tour is £6,995 per person. Single room supplement of £875 for the trip for anyone wishing to have a single room. Please see our Terms and Conditions for the full details.

The price does not include: international flights to/from Entebbe airport; visa; personal travel and medical insurance; medication; alcoholic drinks; any additional drinks or snacks; any items of a personal nature; tips for local guides and driver, gorilla and chimpanzee rangers and trackers.

While we are not able to book flights for you, we work closely with Trailfinders to arrange the flights for our long-haul tours so that they can offer you the benefit of their best possible prices and ABTA bonding. We are very happy to advise you on your international flight arrangements.

To book your place or to ask for more details, please email Alan and Ruth on or call us +44 (0)1492 872407.

General Tour Information:

Difficulty: This tour includes some quite long hikes over uneven and sometimes steep terrain.

Payment: By cheque or electronic bank transfer. We ask for 20% deposit upon booking with the balance due by 70 days before travel. Full details are provided on our Booking Form. Please ensure you also see our Terms and Conditions and Booking Confirmation Statement. We are compliant with the Packaged Travel Regulations 2018 and have Financial Failure Insurance in place.

Participants: This tour will run with a minimum and maximum of six guests. The tour will go ahead provided six guests have booked by 70 days before the start of the tour.

Visas: Tourist Visas are required for visitors to Uganda. Please see for details and application.

Cancellation: Please see our Booking Form and Terms and Conditions on our website

Travel and medical Insurance: Please make sure you have the correct insurance cover in place for this tour before the start of the trip.

North Wales: September 2019

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: CALL 01492 872 407
Monday 9 to Friday 13 September 2019.

DETAILS: Includes guiding by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller, transport, use of top-of-the-range Leica telescopes, free loan of binoculars (request in advance), four nights’ accommodation in comfortable en suite room, all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) from lunch on day one through to lunch on day five, all entrance fees to reserves.

PRICE: £975pp, no single supplement.

Lee Beel / Alamy

Lee Beel / Alamy

September is a wonderful time to visit North Wales with its exciting blend of resident, migrant, returning winter and departing summer birds. Add to this the wide variety of habitats and beautiful scenery, ranging from mountains to coast, and you have the perfect mix for a birdwatching break.

During the tour we will look for such exciting species as: Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Shag, Great Egret, Pintail, Eider, Common Scoter, pale-bellied Brent Goose, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Water Rail, Avocet, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruff and Greenshank.

Plus: Mediterranean Gull, Arctic Skua, Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Stock Dove, Kingfisher, Sky Lark, Rock Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Dipper, Stonechat, Ring Ouzel, Chough, Lapland Bunting, and any other migrants and rarities that may occur at this great time of year. Expect to enjoy around 120 species on the tour.

Your guides for this tour will be the local experts

Alan Davies and Ruth Miller, who have many years’ experience as professional bird guides. Alan is author of the popularly-acclaimed site guide entitled ‘Best Birdwatching Sites in North Wales’ and Ruth writes a monthly column in Bird Watching magazine called Observations. Both Alan and Ruth worked for the RSPB before setting up their successful birdwatching tour company back in 2009, and they now spend much of their time sharing the wonderful birdlife of North Wales with visitors to this beautiful area.

The tour is based at the Princes Arms Hotel in Trefriw, in the Conwy Valley. This lovely country hotel overlooks the Conwy River, so the birdwatching begins right on the doorstep. A warm welcome awaits you from hosts Lindsay and Ann Gordon and the wonderful food is an added bonus of the tour. Additional nights, pre- or post-tour, can be arranged at the hotel.


Day 1: Our tour starts with arrival at the Princes Arms Hotel in the picturesque Conwy Valley in time for lunch. After lunch, we visit RSPB Conwy, where we can expect to enjoy waders and wildfowl at close range.

Day 2: We visit the beautiful island of Anglesey, with its dramatic coastal scenery. Chough and Black Guillemot will be high on our wanted list but we will also look for migrants, raptors and seabirds. A visit to RSPB South Stack will be one of the highlights on this day.

Day 3: A short drive takes us to the Great Orme headland; the sea-cliffs and limestone pavements here are a temporary home to migrant birds and this Local Nature Reserve has a track record for turning up the unexpected. We also visit other sites along the nearby coast for more waders, wildfowl and migrants.

Day 4: We head east to the Dee Estuary in search of more raptors, wildfowl and waders and who knows, perhaps a Great White Egret or other scarce bird; in September anything is possible! A visit to RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands will be part of this exciting day.

Day 5: We spend the morning exploring the Conwy Valley and adjacent uplands. We return to the hotel for lunch before guests depart for their homeward journey at the end of our North Wales tour.

The exact itinerary may change due to latest bird information, weather, tides or other circumstances beyond our control.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: CALL 01492 872 407
Monday 9 to Friday 13 September 2019.

Somerset July & November 2019 / January 2020

New dates announced following the success of earlier tours: 18-21 July 2019; 21-24 November 2019; 23-26 January 2020

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: CALL 01934 712831

Choose from three, each with two-and-a-half days’ birding and three nights’ DBB
• Thu 18 to Sun 21 July 2019 • Thu 21 to Sun 24 November 2019
• Thu 23 to Sunday 26 January 2020

DETAILS: All accommodation is en suite in luxury converted cottages or an adjacent B&B, and the holiday price includes dinner and drinks, self-service breakfast, pub lunch, all transport during your stay, and the services of our guides Stephen and Graeme. Group size maximum seven clients.

PRICE: £565pp (deposit £100) Single room supplement £75pp


Great White, Little and Cattle Egrets float over the reedbeds, or fish in the watery ditches known as rhynes. Bitterns, too, are often glimpsed as they fly low over the reeds. In July, you can watch returning waders along the coast, Marsh Harriers overhead, and if we are lucky, Cranes – Europe’s tallest bird. In winter, the marshes are packed with waterbirds, and up to half a million Starlings!

Depending on the time of year, we also visit Cheddar Reservoir, the Quantock and Mendip Hills, and the coast, where almost anything can – and does – turn up. At a time when much of Britain’s birdlife is in decline, Somerset offers a truly awesome birding experience.

We at Somerset Birdwatching Holidays pride ourselves on our attention to detail: we take a maximum of seven clients in our special vehicle (christened Thunderbird One), and offer luxury accommodation, splendid food and convivial company. With naturalist and author Stephen Moss and keen birder Graeme Mitchell as your guides, this holiday is ideal for birdwatchers at any level, from complete beginner onwards.

Our unrivalled knowledge of some of Somerset’s best-kept secret sites, and their birds, means you’ll get unforgettable views of some of Britain’s most charismatic species.

We love showing people not just the birds and other wildlife of Somerset, but also the history and culture of this unique county and its myriad landscapes: from hills, to coast, to those magical wetlands. So please join us on a relaxing, enjoyable and above all memorable tour.

Somerset is now the best place in Britain to see – and get great views of – some of the country’s most sought-after bird species. The Avalon Marshes are the heron capital of Britain, with up to seven species breeding there. And in winter they play host to one of the greatest of all British birding spectacles: the famous Starling murmurations.

Stephen’s top 5 Somerset specials

Our star species – and the proud logo of Somerset Birdwatching Holidays – is one of Britain’s greatest conservation success stories. Having arrived on the Avalon Marshes less than a decade ago, these stately white herons now breed in large numbers, and sightings are absolutely guaranteed.

Or ‘toasted heron’, as one local schoolboy named it. One of Britain’s most elusive species, the Bittern has made an extraordinary comeback, from just 11 booming males in the 1990s to more than 50 now on the Avalon Marshes alone! We’ll keep a sharp eye out for these charismatic birds as they appear momentarily on the edge of a reedbed, or fly overhead.

Europe’s tallest bird – and one of its most spectacular – can be surprisingly hard to track down in this huge wetland, but we’ll check out the latest reports and hope to connect with flocks of these stately waterbirds in the fields around West Sedgemoor.

This elegant falcon returns from Africa in late April, when flocks gather over the marshes on fine spring days. We’ll keep a constant eye out for these speed merchants as they hawk acrobatically for insects in the skies above.

Europe’s smallest egret first bred in the UK on 2009 – guess where? Yes, Somerset! Since then flocks of more than 100 birds have been seen, lending a touch of Africa to the West Country. We’ll visit a local heronry where the birds breed, and hope to see them as they fly in and out.

Watching half a million Starlings performing their aerial acrobatics is a truly awesome experience – however many times you are lucky enough to see it! We ensure that we are in place well in time on a winter’s afternoon to witness this incredible ‘Starling Spectacular’!

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: CALL 01934 712831