This 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.
These short breaks target the birds which make Scotland such a special destination for so many birdwatchers. Enjoy some of the very best wildlife-watching in Britain! See Capercaillie, Golden Eagle, Crested Tit, Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill, Black Grouse and much more during this exciting wildlife-watching short break.
As usual with Heatherlea, everything is included in the price you pay before you join, so there are no extras. Relax in our comfortable three-star Hotel, enjoy meals prepared by chefs who have earned two rosettes for good food, and travel in minibuses which are great mobile hides.
Above all, your holiday includes the services of one of our resident Guides, a very valuable asset! 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 and mammals have been showing, and the best route to maximise your chances. He then organises everything to suit wildlife, weather and your wildlife progress through the holiday. When not leading Heatherlea trips, he is probably busy birding somewhere around the Highlands! We think you will see far more wildlife with a Heatherlea Tour Guide than otherwise, and of course you can relax and enjoy your holiday as we do the planning.
Please note, these 'Birding Bites' are merely a taste of Highland birdlife. Increase your chances of seeing specific species by joining one of our 'Short Breaks', or choose a one-week holiday in Scotland for the full experience.
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. After breakfast we target Capercaillie, often travelling to our own forested Private Estate.
Later we may visit the open mountain landscape to seek Golden Eagle, and perhaps end in the Caledonian pine forest if time allows, to search for Crested Tit, and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill. Red Squirrel are on our Hotel feeders most days.
DAY 3: Friday COASTAL DAY
Autumn along the Moray coast can be stunning. Rafts of seaduck will include Velvet and Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Eider and Red-breasted Merganser. We search the flocks for rarities, which in recent years have included Surf Scoter, King Eider and once, a Steller’s Eider! Waders, divers, gulls can be expected, and farmland birds may include Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge. More encounters with large goose flocks should produce thousands of Greylag and Pink-feet. This an excellent time for geese, and this should be a great day, with a few Barnacle and Brents, and the distinct possibility of taiga and particularly 'tundra' Bean Geese.
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 light. We don't visit mountain areas during this holiday.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Sunshine, rain, and possibly snow, you will probably experience a bit of everything. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing. Hat and gloves are essential for the exposed coast and glens.
Biting insects are not an issue at this time of year.
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.
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!’