This summer marks the 20th anniversary of our move to the Mountview Hotel here in Nethy Bridge, and this special holiday is designed to help us celebrate. Join us here to see Scotland’s iconic birds! We have chosen 20 species as our key targets, one for each year Heatherlea have been at Mountview, though of course we will see many more. Your holiday includes an exciting daytrip to Mull, and is available at a very special low price. We hope many of our long-standing friends will be able to join us, though everyone is of course welcome!
We will of course enjoy all the wildlife we encounter, though these will be our 20 targets;
Capercaillie, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Crested Tit, Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill, Red-throated Diver, Ptarmigan, Black-throated Diver, Dotterel, Slavonian Grebe, Black Grouse, Hen Harrier, Ring Ouzel, Snow Bunting, Raven, Osprey, Hooded Crow, Red Grouse, Short-eared Owl and Corn Bunting. We will see a few special mammals too, perhaps including Otter, Red Squirrel, Mountain Hare, Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Grey Seal and Common Seal.
Your guides will be popular Heatherlea favourites Scott O'hara and Ian Ford. Ian is a particularly suitable Guide for this tour, as he joined Heatherlea at the beginning of the 1999 season, initially guiding tours from the Mountview Hotel, and so is celebrating his own 20th year with the company.
A recent Heatherlea Group on Mull!
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 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, Lesser 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 make time to find them at close quarters to admire them. Obviously this will be done in a sensitive and responsible way, and our mobile hide minibuses will be invaluable.
DAY 3: Monday Magical Mull!
Today we travel west to the mountainous Isle of Mull, to look for some of Scotland’s most spectacular birds. As we travel we watch out for Black Grouse, Black Guillemot, Common Seal and Hooded Crow. Once across the Great Glen we take our time - we are in prime raptor and Otter country! We head over to Mull and target iconic wildlife at sites we know well. We immediately look for White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle, found here at their highest densities in the UK. Moorland species may include Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl, and off the rugged shoreline we aim to find Otter and perhaps a late Great Northern Diver in breeding plumage.
White-tailed Eagle – The flying barndoor! Successfully re-introduced and now widespread in the Highlands, White-tailed Eagle are rarely mistaken for anything else, and never forgotten! A massive eight-foot wingspan, with wings almost twice as deep as those of a Golden Eagle.....absolutely breathtaking. We return in time for dinner at The Mountview Hotel.
DAY 4: Tuesday - An optional early start to see Black Grouse at the lek is a great start. After breakfast we may head north to explore coastal haunts, and could expect to see a range of breeding birds including Osprey fishing, Common Eider, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Stonechat, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer. Sandwich, Common, Arctic and Little Tern, Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill are also likely. We also search for any rarities within reach.
DAY 5: Wednesday - At this time our private estate woodlands may produce cock Capercaillie or perhaps a hen bird taking food before settling to breed, and frequently seen from Heatherlea mobile hides. Moorland and upland specialities such as Slavonian Grebe, Hen Harrier, Ring Ouzel, Raven, Twite, Stonechat, Common Sandpiper, Peregrine, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, plus Golden Eagle and Osprey... your raptor list for today should be impressive!
DAY 6: Thursday - A full day on the Cairngorm plateau, with unforgettable mountain scenery all around as we head to the right spots for Ptarmigan and Dotterel, both perhaps with piping young running behind. Snow Bunting may also be seen. A brilliant day’s birding in a very special habitat. Later we enjoy a Highland summer evening with a leisurely drive to the moors close to The Mountview Hotel. Short-eared Owl breed here, and we frequently see the adults quartering over heather. Red-throated Diver and Red Grouse are also likely, and look out for waders including Dunlin, Redshank and Common Sandpiper in smart summer plumage. A lovely evening!
DAY 7: Friday - Friday is often a round-up day, perhaps at another coastal location with great birding. We may drive north to look for Osprey fishing and the first returning summer waders including Turnstone, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit in brilliant colours. We will also look for Red Kite, Tree Sparrow and other farmland birds such as Grey Partridge and Yellowhammer and also search for any rarities within reach.
DAY 8: Saturday - 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).
Ian Ford & Scott O'Hara
Heatherlea Guides Ian and Scott will plan your itinerary each day, deciding where to go after considering both weather and wildlife. Both are highly experienced Leaders, who are looking forward to exploring the birdlife of the Highlands with you!
Ian and Scott
More Holiday Information
Accommodation at 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, although mountain walking for Ptarmigan and Dotterel is strenuous. This time of year sees the birds typically on the highest tops, with up to a 6-7 mile return walk with around 1200ft of climb. Guests can opt out of this excursion.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Blazing sunshine and rain are equally likely, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing, especially hat and gloves for the mountain excursion.
Biting insects may be encountered in the evenings or around standing water, though it is rarely a problem. Please bring a good general repellent just in case.
Group size maximum 7 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 on Saturdays 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 Saturdays 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
- Seven 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 might be upgraded to double room accommodation at no extra charge.
- Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
- Six full days birdwatching.
- All transport by comfortable minibus during six full days' birding. All access and ferry fees.
- Guidance from a professional Group Leader. Two Heatherlea Leaders with more than seven clients.
- Saturday courtesy pick-up and return service to Aviemore.
- A checklist specifically prepared for your holiday to record your sightings and notes.
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 more than 25 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* Our ‘Mainland Scotland’ holidays based at Mountview Hotel have a maximum ratio of 7 clients per guide, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
* 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!’
'Exceptional' - VisitScotland