New Year Birdlist Booster
Get your 2014 birdlist off to a cracking start!
Your holiday lasts as long as you want it to. Price from Sat pm to Tues pm is £495pp fully inclusive. Stay for longer to round-up more birds, and each extra DBB costs £50, as does each extra day birding. Your room will be held available so you can stay for as long as you wish. No single supplement at any point.
If you stay for the full week, add 4 x DBB plus 3 x days birding = 7 x £50 = £350 + £495 = £845 for a full week birding Scotland with a big yearlist in mind - great value!
New Year Birdlist Booster
This holiday is great birding fun, so get your yearlist off to a cracking start! Top priorities will be resident special birds you have to visit Scotland to see. This means we will be spending time inland looking for Capercaillie, Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Scottish Crossbill and Crested Tit, our key targets. Next we seek a host of northern winter visitors, and round-up rarities and anything we might have missed. By the end, you should have 'done' Scotland for your 2014 yearlist. Holidays are based here at Mountview Hotel, with all transport and expert guidance from our resident team. We will spend a lot of time at the coast, particularly targeting rarities. King Eider and Surf Scoter are regular, others more than possible (read about our Brunnich's Guillemot!). Holidays will be joined by a 'Top Birder Guest', whose job it will be to help us scour those goose flocks and seaduck rafts - more below! Target up to 120 ticks for your yearlist, including many 'difficult' birds you might otherwise miss.
Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Ptarmigan, Crested Tit, Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle
Probables for your list:
Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Red Grouse, Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Red Kite, Purple Sandpiper, Iceland Gull, Dipper, Hooded Crow, Raven, Tree Sparrow, Twite, Redpoll, Snow Bunting, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting
Bean Goose, Barnacle Goose, Brent Goose, Pintail, King Eider, Surf Scoter, Grey Partridge, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Merlin, Peregrine, Golden Plover, Spotted Redshank, Glaucous Gull, Waxwing, Great Grey Shrike, Brambling, Common Crossbill
(by no means a definitive list, though all these have been seen at this time in the past few years)
Ross’ Goose, Red-breasted Goose, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, American Black Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Black Scoter, White-billed Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Greater Yellowlegs, Bonaparte's Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Ross's Gull, Ivory Gull, Brünnich’s Guillemot, Little Auk.
Plus of course many commoner species – expect 100 -120 for your list!
Holidays run Saturday - Saturday, with the option of just doing the first three days, or leaving at any point afterwards. During the first three days we try to find all the ‘key species’ and also visit the coast, meaning that busy birders can head home hopefully having ticked around 100 birds, including all the Scottish specials. After this, guests may leave Heatherlea, or choose to 'add-on' extra nights/days birding. We recommend you stay for the full week, at a very attractive price of £845. We will continue to maximise the list during the rest of the week, perhaps covering ground more than once for things we have missed. 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.
TOP BIRDER GUESTS
This holiday features well-known British birders, who join the Heatherlea guiding team. We will again be joining forces with Birdwatch magazine, and Founder and Managing Editor Dominic Mitchell was our first 'top birder guest' on January 2013. We hope our featured birding friends will help you find even more species!
An example of the unexpected here in northern Scotland!
Back in November 2011, one of our Capercaillie Short Break holiday groups visited the Moray Firth to look for a rather flighty King Eider. Whilst checking the sea on both sides of Burghead, we also had a quick look around the harbour area itself. Many Heatherlea friends will know that there are often nice surprises here, maybe a close-up seal, sometimes a stray Black Guillemot or Long-tailed Duck, with cracking close-up views of any bird or mammal loitering among the small boats. On this day, not much doing …. Just a Common Guillemot in winter plumage. Oops! Big mistake! Some time after the holiday ended and the Trip Report was written and published, a photo caught the eagle-eye of another Heatherlea guide going through our computer records over Hogmanay. ‘What’s this Brunnich’s pic doing mixed in with a Scottish holiday?’ was the inevitable question. We like to think we don’t miss much, but unfortunately we missed this one. The bird is now confirmed as mainland Scotland’s first Brunnich’s Guillemot since one found at Girdle Ness in 2007, and our three-day list was altered from 97 species to 98. The lesson is obvious, check everything! We certainly weren’t expecting a Brunnich’s, but that’s the beauty of birding! On these special 'listing' holidays in winter, anything is possible!