Highlands & Orkney
Mid-June means long evenings to increase the prospects for breeding birds, and we enjoy looking for all the special species as the Scottish summer gets into full swing. Join us in the Caledonian pinewoods, the rugged glens and the vast Cairngorm mountain plateau as we seek the birds everyone wants to see. Orkney is a wonderful birding destination at this time, and on this week we explore Mainland Orkney to seek some of the special birds which breed here, including Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl and Black-tailed Godwit. With auks, skuas terns and gulls too, our two-day journey north is full of excitement.
KEY MOMENTS at our Friday round-up – which will be yours?
- Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owls on Orkney
- Capercaillie with chicks from the safe vantage of our mobile hide
- Skuas, auks, gulls and terns in the far north of Scotland
- Breeding waders on Orkney, perhaps including Whimbrel and Black-tailed Godwit
Day 1 (Saturday)
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.
Day 2 (Sunday)
A morning in the Abernethy Forest to look for Crested Tit and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill. We often see adults with fledged young at this time. Later we investigate local lochs and rivers, birchwoods and moorland. Your list may include Osprey, Dipper, Buzzard, Goldeneye, Red Grouse, Black-throated Diver, Redpoll, Peregrine, a host of breeding waders and Slavonian Grebe. Often over fifty species are seen on this day. The beauty of divers and grebes in breeding plumage spellbinds many of our guests, and during this holiday we admire them at close quarters.
Days 3-5 (Monday /Wednesday) CAITHNESS and MAINLAND ORKNEY
A tremendous couple of days as we target Mainland Orkney to see waders, raptors and seabirds. On Monday our drive north will take us to tiny fishing towns in Sutherland where a late staying Iceland Gull, stray Black Guillemot or summering King Eider is a possibility. In Caithness, we make time to see auks at their breeding ledges, with Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbill the major species. At Dunnet Head, mainland Britain’s most northerly point, we should see Great and Arctic Skua, and perhaps rare Red-throated Diver in breeding plumage. On Tuesday, we take the early ferry across to Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Isles, and hope to find beautiful Black-tailed Godwit among as many as eleven breeding wader species. Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl are relatively common here, and we hope to see both quartering the wetlands. With tranquil pools surrounded by yellow irises, and with the sound of Skylark and Meadow Pipit all around, we may be able to add Whimbrel to our lists, as we spend a full day here before sailing south by ferry for a second night in Caithness. On Wednesday we make a leisurely return to Nethy Bridge in time for dinner on Wednesday evening.
Day 6 (Thursday) – Day 7 (Friday)
Capercaillie! We visit exclusive private estate woodlands in our large minibus. In June hen birds are more likely, perhaps with chicks. Later we seek out secluded locations with Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Merlin, Twite, Red Kite and Ring Ouzel as our targets to complete a lovely day.
An optional early start to see Black Grouse at the lek is a great start one day – the birds are more active in May than June. At coastal haunts, expect to see a range of breeding birds including Osprey fishing, Common Eider, Goosander, Merganser, Stonechat, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Grey Partridge. Sandwich, Common, Arctic and Little Tern, Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill are also likely. We also search for any rarities within reach. Please note, with three days devoted to our adventure on Orkney, we don’t visit the Cairngorm plateau during this itinerary.
Day 8 (Saturday)
Breakfast and departure. Don’t forget our courtesy return service to Aviemore.
Enjoy an excellent wildlife holiday with mainland Scotland's only 5 star Wildlife Experience.
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