A Heatherlea 'Birding Bite' is the ultimate Scottish short birding holiday, ideal for busy birders who want special species in a wonderful landscape. The holiday is based at our private 3-star Hotel in Nethy Bridge, at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, where you will enjoy three nights DBB and two days birding the Highlands. Enjoy some of the very best birding in Britain - estimate around 85 species including many Scottish specials!
In winter we can enjoy special birding close at hand, and we search for Black Grouse, Red Grouse, Crested tit and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill within a few miles of our Hotel in Nethy Bridge.
One of our targets during this exciting holiday is Capercaillie, though of course on such a short trip our chances will be dependent on weather and (to an extent) good fortune. If the tracks are navigable we visit our Private Estate for the birds, viewing from 'mobile hide' minibuses. This exclusive "Capercaillie Safari" has provided excellent views for hundreds of Heatherlea guests over a history of more than 20 years!
Golden Eagle, Raven and other moorland species will also be targets on our first birding day. Our second day will be spent at the Moray coast, where wintering ducks, waders, gulls, divers and geese, plus an interesting variety of farmland birds complete an absorbing and rewarding couple of days. An exciting short adventure birding Scotland in winter!
As usual with Heatherlea, everything is included in the price you pay before you join, there are no extras. Relax in our comfortable three-star Hotel, enjoy meals prepared by our expert chefs, and travel in minibuses with a Heatherlea expert Guide.
Our resident Guides are a very valuable part of your holiday! Much more than a friend to help you identify birds, or a driver to take you to special places, your Heatherlea Guide plans your entire holiday, from briefing on the first evening to round-up on the last. He knows where the birds have been showing, and the best route to maximise your chances; when not leading Heatherlea trips, he is probably busy birding somewhere around the Highlands! He organises everything to suit wildlife, weather and your wildlife progress during your stay with us. We think you will see far more wildlife with a Heatherlea Guide than otherwise, and of course you can relax and enjoy your holiday as we do the planning.
Please note, 'Birding Bites' are merely a taste of Highland birdlife. To see more birds on a longer holiday at this time, please consider one of our 'Short Breaks', or our full week 'Highland Winter Birding' and 'Highlands and East Coast' itineraries.
Join Heatherlea, your gateway to the wildlife of the Highlands!
DAY 1: Wednesday
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.
DAY 2: Thursday LOCAL DAY
This day is 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, and you should see Red Grouse too. We may see Crested Tit in local pinewoods, and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill are often present in the village, and noisy at this time. After breakfast we target Capercaillie, often travelling to our own forested Private Estate. If we have time and the weather is benign, we can often find Ptarmigan through optics without having to walk very far.
Later we may visit the open mountain landscape to seek Golden Eagle, and perhaps end in the Caledonian pine forest once more if time allows. Local birding can include uncommon gulls (such as Iceland and Glaucous), interesting geese (perhaps taiga or tundra Bean Goose), Waxwing, Great Grey Shrike or the completely unexpected! Red Squirrel are on our Hotel feeders most days.
DAY 3: Friday COASTAL DAY
A complete contrast in birding habitats as we visit the Moray Coast, where birding is excellent regardless of the time of year. This day is often highly exciting, as every place we visit might can hold an unusual or unexpected sighting. In winter you can expect Long-tailed Duck, Common and Velvet Scoter, often at relatively close quarters, particularly on a high tide. Divers and Slavonian Grebe are usually present just offshore, there can be more uncommon geese and gulls, and wintering waders are present at many locations. Farmland birds may include Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Grey Partridge and Yellowhammer. A big birdlist on a great day's birding!
DAY 4: Saturday
Breakfast and depart. Don’t forget our courtesy service to transport links in 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. We don't visit mountain areas during this holiday.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Blazing sunshine and rain are equally likely, and you will probably experience a bit of everything including snow! Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing.
Biting insects will not be encountered.
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!
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
* Three 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.
* Two full days wildlife watching.
* Guidance from a professional Heatherlea 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.