Last & First Birds of the Year-Dec/Jan
Many of you ask for something special over the New Year holiday, and here it is! Come to the beautiful Highlands for a wonderful Hogmanay (we usually have snow on the mountains), and see all the special birds both before and after the New Year. The holiday begins as you join us on Saturday 28th December for dinner. The birding starts the next morning, and we seek out Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Ptarmigan (weather permitting!), Crested Tit and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill TWICE, once during the last two days of 2013 (30th and 31st December), and again after ‘the bells’ during the first four days of 2014. You should have the birds for both lists! We have plenty of time to visit the Moray Coast, where winter bird lists often reach 60 species per day, the Black Isle, where wintering passerine flocks can number into the hundreds, and round up rarities such as Ring-billed Gull, Surf Scoter, Great Grey Shrike, Snow Goose and many other northern surprises. We will have our finger on the pulse to show you any rarities within reach, and daylight allows us a good seven hours or so birding every day. Maximise your year list for both this year and next! We usually see over 100 bird species on this holiday.
Hogmanay is a time of great celebration in the Highlands, and on the night itself guests will have the opportunity to visit a nearby party, which could typically involve live music and dancing. Held in the open air, this is entirely subject to vagaries of the weather, so wrap up well! For those who prefer to stay indoors we will clear a space in our restaurant and celebrate ‘The Bells’ in the warmth. Breakfast is usually slightly later on the morning of Jan 1, though with a brand new birdlist to begin you may wish to be up early!
Come and enjoy the Last and First Birds of the Year with Heatherlea!
DAY 1: Sat 28 December
Arrival, Dinner and welcome.
DAYS 2 - 4: Sun 29 December - Tues 31 December
On these three days we concentrate on finding Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Crested Tit, Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill and (weather permitting!) Ptarmigan.
Tues evening, 31 December Dinner at 7pm will be a little bit special, and is informal as always. Later we celebrate the New Year with ‘Black Bun’ and mulled wine. Hopefully the weather will allow village fireworks to entertain us. Listen for the sound of gunfire as locals mark the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new! If local villages are throwing a party, we will give the option of attending.
DAY S 5 - 7: Wed 1 January – Fri 3 January
During these three days we aim to get your new year birdlist off with a bang, visit the Black Isle and Moray Coast, and hopefully get into the hills to look for Golden Eagle. Again we will watch the weather and tailor our days accordingly, also rounding up any rarities within reach! You can reasonably expect to top 100 species for your 2014 list.
DAY 8: Sat 4 January
Breakfast and depart.
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).
More holiday information
Accommodation at Mountview Hotel can be seen here. www.mountviewhotel.co.uk . All accommodation is en-suite unless otherwise advised before your booking is confirmed.
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 or wellies.
Walking will be moderate, although mountain walking for Ptarmigan is strenuous.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions, though cold winds and snow are likely. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing.
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 (subject to availability). A camera would be useful too!
Getting here is easy!
BY CAR Travel north to Perth. Take A9 signposted Inverness to exit north of Aviemore. Follow signs northeast through Boat of Garten to Nethy Bridge (ten miles). In Nethy Bridge, drive through the village, over the River Nethy, and you will see our sign 200 metres ahead on the right.
BY RAIL The best train to Aviemore is the ‘Highland Chieftain’ on the East Coast Line. This leaves London Kings Cross at 12.00, arriving Aviemore at 19.28. This train stops at York (13.54), Darlington (14:22), Newcastle (14.53) and Edinburgh (16.32). Change of train may be required at Edinburgh. We recommend you connect with this service if possible. Travellers can reach Edinburgh direct from Plymouth, Bristol, Birmingham, Crewe or Preston. In general, rail travel via Edinburgh is easier than via Glasgow, where a trip across the city between stations is needed, often followed by a change at Perth. Return trains leave Aviemore at 07.25, 08.29 (fast train to London –recommended), 10.00 and 11.33. Please check details before you travel. Rail enquiries: 0845 7484950, www.nationalrail.co.uk . Don't forget our courtesy collection service on Saturdays!
BY AIR Flights to Inverness are becoming available all the time, for latest info call our office. Currently flights to Inverness are available from: Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester, London Gatwick, Isle of Man, Jersey (via Manchester or Gatwick), Newquay (via Manchester) Bergen (summer only), Amsterdam (Flybe), Luton, London Gatwick, Bristol (Easyjet), Dusseldorf (Lufthansa) Zurich (Helvetic – summer only).
What's included in your holiday price
* Seven 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.
* 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 PCV minibus. Access to estate grounds.
* A checklist specifically prepared for your holiday to record your sightings and notes.
* Courtesy bus service to transport in Aviemore.
What's not included in your holiday price
* Transport to The Mountview Hotel.
* Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.
WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA?
Heatherlea is THE place for top quality birding holidays in Scotland, chosen by more and more birders each year. Stay in our own three star Small Hotel, and enjoy first-rate birding with Scotland’s best guiding team. Relax and enjoy yourself, as we do all the planning! Above all, we make it our business to show key wildlife to you. Our fully inclusive guided holidays concentrate on the real experience, and we take time to ensure that each of our guests enjoys everything we do.
* We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 22 years, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* From Jan 2014, Heatherlea holidays based at Mountview Hotel will have a maximum ratio of 7 clients per guide, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
* Heatherlea are the only operator in Scotland awarded 5 stars for Wildlife Experience. This is the highest available grading, classified as ‘exceptional’ by visitScotland.
* There is no single supplement. Single guests are never expected or invited to share.
* Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance loan of Swarovski binoculars, packed lunch and tips to hotels.
* We offer a courtesy transfer between our Hotel and Aviemore rail/bus links on Saturdays.
* Heatherlea hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
* Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland. We are also registered to pay VAT, which is included in your holiday price as quoted on this page.
* Once your holiday is confirmed in writing by us, we promise not to surcharge the price for any reason.
What's included in your holiday price
Seven nights comfortable accommodation at The Mountview Hotel, VisitScotland rated 3 Star. All rooms are en-suite, with colour 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.
Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
Six full days birdwatching.
All transport by comfortable PCV minibus.
Guidance from a professional Group Leader
Transport to and from nearby village celebration on Dec 31, subject to availability and weather.
Checklist to record sightings and notes
What's not included in your holiday price
- Transport to The Mountview Hotel.
- Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.
Enjoy an excellent wildlife holiday with mainland Scotland's only 5 star Wildlife Experience.