Scotland: March/April 2018

Boost your tick list and enjoy expert guidance with an organised trip to bird-rich Scotland

John Peter Photography/Alamy

John Peter Photography/Alamy

Whether you’re planning on taking part in our #My200BirdYear challenge in 2018, would just like to get some new species on your year and life lists, or want to see the best of Scotland’s birds for the first time, our Birders’ Blast holiday, run with Heatherlea, is the perfect answer.

You’ll have started 2018 with a flurry of birding, but the tail end of winter can be a challenging time for birdwatching, with spring migration yet to begin and the worst of the weather arriving.

But it also offers great opportunities, with winter visitors present in large numbers, especially at the coast, and all Scotland’s resident birds present (and often easier to see, as they search for food and breeding territories).

Mike Lane/Alamy

Mike Lane/Alamy

Join us on a Birders’ Blast holiday in March and early April you’ll see some of the UK’s most spectacular resident birds, including perhaps Capercaillie, Ptarmigan and Golden Eagle, as well
as visiting northern coastal locations for geese, waders, ducks and divers, to give a big boost to your 2018 avian experience! Other target species include Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill,
Black Grouse, Red Grouse, Red-throated Diver and Black-throated Diver, as well as any rarities within reach (for example, King Eiders sometimes turn up on the Moray coast), targeting 100 species (including many species best birded in Scotland) on the four-night break and
70 species on the three-night break. 

This holiday is perfect for all levels of birding ability, from absolute beginners to expert twitchers, packing in a lot of birds while having great fun!

Stephen Street/Alamy

Stephen Street/Alamy

With an expert local Heatherlea guide and all travel and transfers, accommodation and food included in the price, this is an unbeatable way to see the Scottish specials! On the 28-31 March trip, you’ll also be joined by Bird Watching editor Matt Merritt.

From briefing on the first evening to round-up on the last, your guide plans the entire holiday, organising it to suit wildlife and weather. Our in-house knowledge is unbeatable, and your guide knows where the birds have been showing, and the best route to maximise your chances. 

We think you will see far more with a Heatherlea guide than under your own steam, so relax and enjoy yourself. 


Scotland reader holiday: outline itinerary

DAY 1: Saturday or Wednesday – arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget Heatherlea’s courtesy service from Aviemore.

DAY 2: Sunday or Thursday – Local Day in Strathspey

We aim high today, exploring Strathspey by vehicle and on foot to look for some of the most elusive and iconic British birds: Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Red Grouse, Golden Eagle, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill and many more. In early spring, anything is possible, and we could see
Hen Harrier, Merlin, Goshawk or White-tailed Eagle. Depending on the level of the snow in the mountains we may look for Snow Bunting and Ptarmigan too, for
a possible ‘four grouse species in a day’.

DAY 3: Monday or Friday  – Moray Coast Day

Spring birding along the Moray Coast is particularly enjoyable as the first arriving migrants complement wintering birds. We may see the first returning Ospreys, rafts of Eider, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Common and Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Great Northern and Red-throated Divers, Black Guillemot and other auks, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, and spring waders, many changing into bright summer plumage, including Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Sanderling and Ringed Plover. Watch out for farmland birds in the stubble and low crops, with Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Stock Dove, Yellowhammer and Grey Partridge all targeted. Rarities are always possible here, King Eider, American Wigeon and Surf Scoter are good examples of what can turn up. With Kittiwake, Gannet, early terns and more, this is a rewarding day with a high birdlist. Watch out for Bottlenosed Dolphin, too!

DAY 4: Tuesday  – Round-up Day

For those on the three day break we keep birding! We fill in any blanks from our Local Day in the morning, heading to new sites at the coast in the afternoon, adding new species. We expect good numbers of wintering birds, with higher numbers than usual as southern birds begin making their way north.

DAY 5: Wednesday or Saturday. Breakfast and departure. 

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather). Accommodation is at the 3-star Heatherlea-owned Mountview Hotel in Nethy Bridge, and can be seen here: mountviewhotel.co.uk


Team members you may meet...

Toby Green: Keen birder Toby always keeps a year list, and with his worldwide travels expects to top 700 species in 2017. The perfect guide to extend your own birding experience!  

Mark Warren: From Shetland to Scilly, Mark has led groups throughout the year for Heatherlea in 2017. Mark estimates he has seen much more than 200 species in the UK this year. 

For more details, go to heatherlea.co.uk and click ‘holidays’, then ‘Mainland Scotland’, then ‘Birders’ Blast’.


SCOTLAND: BIRDERS BLAST

Choose three days birding, four nights DBB – Sat 24 March to Wed 28 March;
Sat 31 March to Wed 4 April

Or two days birding, three nights DBB – Wed 7 March to Sat 10 March,;

Wed 28 March to Sat 31 March; Wed 4 April to Sat 7 April

DETAILS: All accommodation is en-suite, and the holiday price includes dinner, breakfast, packed lunch, all transport during your stay, and the services of an experienced Heatherlea guide. Everything you need! Group size maximum 8 clients per guide.

PRICE: £645 (three days’ birding), £475 (two days’ birding).

EXCLUDES: Travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature.

BOOK NOW: To book, call 01479 821248, or visit heatherlea.co.uk