26 Oct - 2 Nov 2019
To book this holiday: Call 01479 821 248 / Email
Want to give your #My200BirdYear list an autumn boost, or just sample the delights of birding the Scottish Highlands? This exciting holiday incorporates special, local birding with a three-day adventure to remotest Aberdeenshire, one of the best yet most underwatched birding counties in the UK! This holiday will cover all habitats from mountain to the sea, giving you a full flavour of how good birding can be in the Highlands in Autumn. Particular focus will be given to the key spectacle of large numbers of wildfowl, recently arrived from their breeding grounds. We will enjoy the numbers, but also look closely to find the rarities hidden among the commoner species! With big rafts of sea-ducks, fields full of geese and a good range of migrant and resident birds it promises to be an unforgettable week.
KEY MOMENTS at our Friday round-up - which will be yours?
· Ptarmigan in winter moult on the hills
· Vast numbers of wildfowl, fresh in for the winter.
· Raptors galore, with up to 10 species possible and including both eagles.
· Discovering a rarity in a quiet, rarely birded location in Aberdeenshire
Day 1: Saturday
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing.
Day 2: Sunday – Strathspey and the local area
We may visit exclusive private estate woodlands or other favoured spots depending on where birds are showing, to see Capercaillie and Black Grouse. We also walk in the nearby Abernethy Forest to look for Red Squirrel, Roe Deer and Crested Tit. Scottish Crossbill are also found in this habitat, with both Common and Parrot Crossbill present too. Later we search for moorland specialities including Peregrine, Red and Black Grouse, Merlin and Hen Harrier and travel to a local glen for Golden Eagle.
Days 3 - 5: Monday - Wednesday - Aberdeenshire Adventure
We head east for the area around the Ythan estuary, with a chance of rarities such as Snow or Red-breasted Goose among the commoner species, plus King Eider, and possible rafts of Common Scoter with a chance of Velvet Scoter, Surf Scoter, or perhaps even a Black or White-winged Scoter thrown in! Expected are Great Northern and Red-throated Diver. Waders could include Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin and Ringed Plover.
The next day we work the Loch of Strathbeg RSPB reserve carefully, especially for scarce wildfowl, then move along the coast, to find Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting, Stock Dove and Tree Sparrow. Our route takes us through several busy harbours to look for anything which may have followed the trawlers into port, perhaps the first returning Iceland or Glaucous Gull?
Our last day will see us wrap up any coastal species before heading inland in to Royal Deeside, a good area for crossbills, Goshawk and Golden Eagle, plus Red Grouse and Mountain Hare. We arrive back at the Mountview in time for dinner on Wednesday evening.
Day 6: Thursday – Cairngorms and Strathspey
A complete contrast as we head for the hills to find Ptarmigan, plus Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare, while birding around beautiful autumnal woodlands may produce Lesser and Common Redpoll, Fieldfare, Redwing and much more.
Day 7: Friday – Round up day
We keep our last day flexible so that we have the opportunity to catch up on species missed or to target any exciting rarities within reach.
Day 8: Saturday
Breakfast and departure.
What's included in your holiday price
Five nights’ comfortable accommodation at The Mountview Hotel, VisitScotland rated 3 Star. All rooms are en-suite, with TV and hospitality tray. There is no single supplement, and guests are never expected to share. Single guests may be upgraded to double room accommodation at no extra charge. Two nights in a comfortable hotel in Aberdeenshire, all rooms en-suite.
Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
Six full days wildlife watching.
Guidance from a professional Group Leader.
All transport by comfortable minibus.
A checklist specifically prepared for your holiday to record your sightings and notes.
Courtesy bus service to and from transport in Aviemore.
Food: There is a choice of evening meal, and vegetarian, vegan and other diets are welcome. Breakfast may be chosen from a full Scottish menu. You don't need flasks for hot drinks.
Walking will be light, although the optional mountain walking for Ptarmigan is strenuous. Guests can opt out of this excursion.
Weather: Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing. Hat and gloves are essential for the mountain and exposed coastal locations. Biting insects are not expected.
Group size: Maximum 7 clients per guide.
Optics: Telescopes will be useful, and you should bring binoculars. We have a limited number of top quality Swarovski binoculars, which you may borrow at no charge. A camera would be useful too!
Guides: George Gay, Jonny Pott, Mark Warren
Price: £1,295pp, no single supplement, deposit £200