Coronavirus update, 29 April 2020
Since we last wrote on this subject much has changed, though in a way very little has changed as we all get used to living without our usual level of contact with nature. We hope you are managing to enjoy your birding spring, while keeping safe and observing the necessary guidelines. Thank you for your great patience and forbearance, as we deal with many holiday cancellations in unaccustomed times.
Here in northern Scotland, Strathspey is beautiful, quiet and peaceful, and it has been a glorious spring so far, as we take an enforced rest from the business we all love. Our rural environment gives us more chances than most to get into the countryside, and the adjacent Abernethy Forest, nearby Loch Garten, and moors, rivers and Scotland’s wide-open spaces seem even more beautiful and bird-filled than ever this year. Despite this, we are incredibly keen to resume our normal lives welcoming you to wildlife tours both here and around the world.
Looking forward we will of course continue to strictly follow the guidelines of both UK and Scottish Governments, and these are due for review on Thursday 7 May. In the meantime, most holidays due to depart in May are now cancelled. We will contact all participants in person, please be patient while we do this. For holidays from June onwards, please make balance payments by the due date. If holidays don’t take place, you will be offered either a full refund or transfer to another date. Should you choose to cancel your holiday before we officially cancel, booking conditions will apply, though you may be able to claim our cancellation charge from your insurer. To contact us please email '[email protected]' in the first instance, and we will endeavour to reply promptly. You are of course welcome to phone for a chat, though our Office is closed, and we currently only have one telephone line which is often overloaded.
We will of course continue to closely review the situation, though please note that here in Nethy Bridge we own Mountview Hotel and most of our staff live locally, and under appropriate circumstances we can resume operations at very short notice. It is possible we will be open for birding tours here earlier than elsewhere in the world.
We know how much you are missing travelling to see wildlife, and many of you have transferred your booking to the equivalent holiday next year, thank you! Our latest Enewsletter features some 2021 destinations where we are already filling, and also some ‘holidays of a lifetime’. We are allowed to dream! If you haven't seen our Enewsletter, you can subscribe by clicking the blue box at the top of this page.
Please also see our new page dedicated to Mr Jonny Pott, our dear friend and long-standing Heatherlea Guide, who sadly passed away recently.
With all best wishes for your safety and good health,
Kevin, Caryl and all the Heatherlea Team
Mr Jonny Pott
With deep sadness, I have to report the passing of our dear friend and much-loved Heatherlea Guide, Jonny Pott. Jonny died peacefully in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, late on the evening of Thursday 16 April, with his family around him.
Jonny had been suffering for some time with an incurable condition which he bore bravely and with great dignity. His optimism for life never departed, and even when retiring from Heatherlea on health grounds earlier this year, his only thought was to return in some role where he could be involved with wildlife and our clients. Very sadly, this was not to be.
My heartfelt sympathies to his family, and to all friends in the wider Heatherlea family, many of whom had known and loved Jonny for years.
Sustained by his strong religious faith, Jonny was an inspiration, not least to those who joined him in enjoyment of our wonderful Scottish natural history. His tales, good humour, and caring personality will always be remembered by everyone who knew him. Jonny was committed to many good works, and his effort for the poor in Haiti is worthy of mention on this saddest of days.
Jonny Pott was perhaps the kindest and most humane person I have ever met. I am privileged to have known him.
Kevin Shaw, 17 April 2020
BIRDING IN SCOTLAND - April 2020
During the current 'lockdown', birding is not easy, and many of us are greatly restricted. As an optimistic attempt to look forward, we are pleased to launch a new tour for October 2020 in the latest Bird Watching magazine (May Issue). Click the link below to read more.
'Scottish Specialities in Autumn - A welcome return to Scotland's wide open spaces'.
It is important to be positive, so this is a new idea to tempt you when conditions allow, and with only seven clients for each date, an exclusive tour which we very much look forward to delivering! To participate, please email [email protected] giving your telephone number, and we will call back. Should the regulations on movement not be lifted and we can't run the tour, then clients booked will receive a full refund.
In the same magazine, our advertisement talks of a new Holiday Planner, where you can book 'Holidays of a lifetime through to 2024, without deposit'. For obvious reasons, we have to delay this new service for awhile, though it will be available as soon as world conditions allow. More soon!
Finally, on a personal note, Caryl and I have started a Highland Garden Checklist, now up to a massive 28 species! Recent highlights include a brief visit to the seed feeders of a stunning pair of Yellowhammer, and two Mallards in our pond. We don't have Magpie here, nor Pied Wagtail nor Song Thrush yet in these days of early spring. Hopefully we will reach the giddy heights of around 40 birds by the end of May, all seen from indoors!
Please stay safe, and may we wish you a bright spring, full of birdlife. We WILL meet again!
Kevin, Caryl, and all the Heatherlea Team.
Welcome to Heatherlea, your natural destination for wildlife!
Birding & Wildlife Holidays in Scotland and Worldwide
Heatherlea are your natural choice! We specialise in friendly holidays to see birds and mammals in the wild. Our fully inclusive tours include comfortable en-suite hotel accommodation, all food, transport and the services of top quality experienced Leaders. Everything you need!
We have recently launched all our dates and destinations for 2021 holidays, with many exciting new tours in both the UK and further afield. Read all about our tours on this website, and please also see our new 2020/21 Brochure!
Click here to read our 2020/21 Brochure, all holidays now booking!