This is an exciting, fast-paced holiday ideal for the busy birder. We target the Scottish specialities, including Capercaillie, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill, Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Red Grouse and Golden Eagle, and also feature some busy coastal sites where a host of waders, wildfowl and farmland birds are found. We will look for any rarities in reach, targeting an ambitious 100 species (including many species best birded in Scotland).This holiday is perfect for all levels of birding ability, but is run at a slightly faster pace than our ‘SHORT BREAKS’, packing in a lot of birds and lots of sites. Great fun and superb birding!
With an expert local guide and all travel and transfers, accommodation and food for the duration of your stay included in the price, this holiday offers an unbeatable way for busy birders to see the Scottish specials. Capacity is strictly limited to eight clients per Guide, so please don't delay, come and join us!
DAY 1: ARRIVAL
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.
DAY 2: LOCAL DAY
Our first day is firmly focused on the birds which make this wonderful part of the country so special. An early start for Black Grouse will get us off to a great start before breakfast, and you should see Red Grouse too. After breakfast we visit ‘hotspots’ in Caledonian pine forest to see Crested Tit, which can usually be found locally. Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill are nomadic, though usually present throughout the year. We also target Capercaillie, perhaps travelling to our own private forested estate where any views will be from our vehicles. Capercaillie are active at this time, though our chances are weather dependent, and of course we will be very sensitive to the welfare of the birds. Depending on the level of the snow in the mountains we may look for Snow Bunting and Ptarmigan too - can we achieve the 'gripping' four grouse in a day?
DAY 3: COASTAL DAY
A complete contrast as we visit the Moray Coast, where birding is excellent at any time. This day is perhaps the most exciting, as every single minute can hold the unexpected. There are rafts of Common and Velvet Scoter, good numbers of Long-tailed Duck and Eider, and the first returning Goldeneye, Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser may be close to the shore. Red-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe may also be offshore, and in recent years we have seen rarities including King Eider, Surf Scoter and White-billed Diver. Iceland and Glaucous Gull are both regular, and many wader species can be expected. Farmland birds may include Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Stock Dove, Grey Partridge and Yellowhammer. A great day's birding!
DAY 4: EAGLE DAY
Today is a firm favourite at Heatherlea, as we visit remote Highland glens looking for Golden Eagle, our top target. In suitable weather we spend most of our time in the moorlands where we can expect sightings of other species, possibly including Peregrine, Red Grouse, Buzzard and Raven. White-tailed Eagle may also be seen. Red Deer, Roe Deer, Sika, feral Goat and Mountain Hare may also be seen. Many guests tell us this is the day they were hoping for when they chose to holiday in Scotland; top birding amid superb scenery!
DAY 5: DEPARTURE
Breakfast and departure. Don’t forget our courtesy return service to Aviemore.
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 the 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.
Walking will be moderate on the Local Day(s). We may visit mountainous areas for Ptarmigan, depending on weather and sightings. We often scope Ptarmigan, with an optional walk for a closer look.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Cold weather, snow and rain are common during these months, as is blazing sunshine for the entire stay! You will probably experience a bit of everything. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing.
Biting insects are not expected.
Group size maximum 8 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!
This holiday can be combined with:
Short Breaks- Scottish Birding in Winter
SCOTTISH ISLANDS & OTHER UK DESTINATIONS
Southern Scotland- Coast to Coast
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 Don't forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore at 16:30 and 19:30, but please let us know at least 48 hours in advance! 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. We recommend you connect with this service if possible. Our pickup also works well with the 16:19 arrival from Edinburgh. 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), 09.24. 10:27 and 11.23. However we can only make 2 journeys to Aviemore on Saturday morning, so you may be taken to Aviemore a little earlier. Rail enquiries: 0845 7484950, www.nationalrail.co.uk.
BY AIR Flights to Inverness are becoming available all the time, for latest info call our office. Currently direct flights to Inverness are available from: Belfast, Dublin, Amsterdam, Birmingham, Jersey (all Flybe), London Gatwick, London Luton and Bristol (all Easyjet). A new service has just been launched with daily service to London Heathrow with British Airways. Guests arriving in Inverness airport can then take a taxi to Nethy Bridge, or take the Airport Flyer bus to Inverness, from where they can take the train to Aviemore where we can collect you. Our courtesy collection service is at 16:30 and 19:30, but please let us know which at least 48 hours in advance! We will be able to meet the 15:51 and 18:46 trains departing from Inverness that arrive at 16:34 and 19:24 respectively.
What's included in your holiday price
* Four 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.
* Either three full days wildlife watching.
* Guidance from a professional Group Leader.
* All transport by comfortable minibus, access to reserves and private estates.
* A checklist specifically prepared for your holiday to record your sightings and notes.
* Courtesy bus service to and from transport in Aviemore.
What's not included in your holiday price
* 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 27 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* We are a small company, run BY birders FOR birders. Come and see!
* Heatherlea are Mainland Scotland’s FIRST ‘5-Star 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.
Enjoy an excellent birding and wildlife holiday with Heatherlea.
Mainland Scotland’s FIRST ‘5-Star Wildlife Experience!’