Day 1 - Saturday
The holiday begins in Perth, where we will pick-up from Perth rail station. Drivers may park in a secure location at the train station. Briefing and overnight stay at a comfortable hotel in Perth.
Day 2 - Sunday - Perthshire and Fife
As we depart Perth towards Scone Palace, where the largest flock of Hawfinches in Scotland can be found. This is a regular flock, so your chances of seeing the birds are good. Next, bird our way south, visiting Vane Farm for large numbers of Geese and huge gatherings of wildfowl, which often include rarer visitors such as Ring-Necked Duck, American Wigeon and also possibly White tailed Eagle. Vane Farm sits on Loch Leven, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and escaped from an island castle on the loch. If any other rare or interesting birds are in the area (for example, Loch Awe Meadows or Lochgelly), we will detour to catch up with them. The scenic coastal towns of South Fife are visited on the Firth of Forth where we expect to see great rafts of sea duck congregating which may include some scarce or rare species and White-winged gulls. We stay the night in Lower Largo – the birth town of Alexander Selkirk who provided inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
Day 3 - Monday - Fife
We spend the morning birding the picturesque East Neuk of Fife, visiting the university town of St Andrews. The Eden Estuary is our next port of call, a haven for sea birds, wildfowl and winter waders, followed by the famous Tay Estuary, where sea ducks and waders can be seen. We head over the Tay Road Bridge to Dundee, famous for jute, jam and journalism, and on to Carnoustie, visiting the Bay if time allows before arriving at our hotel, just outside Montrose where we stay for two nights.
Day 4 -Tuesday - Angus
A break from the coast as we head inland through Kirriemuir (the birthplace of JM Barrie, Peter Pan’s creator) to Loch of Kinnordy, a noted winter site for Bittern and home to at least one pair of European Beaver. We then drive up Glen Clova, one of the five Angus Glens, to look for majestic Golden Eagles soaring over the lovely peaks of the Mounth Hills. Black and Red Grouse, plus other moorland species may also be seen before we head back to Montrose via Forfar or Balgavies Loch.
Day 5 - Wednesday - Angus to Aberdeenshire
Our final day in Angus, we may revisit some of the best birding sites. Rocky coasts and harbours play home to Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Eider, Rock Pipit and often an Iceland or Glaucous Gull. We visit some of the small bays before a stroll down to Lunan Bay where we look for scoter, divers and gulls and check the surrounding farmland for Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow. We spend the afternoon at Montrose Basin where large numbers of geese, wildfowl and overwintering waders will be present. The Basin has a impressive track record of rare birds in winter including Ivory Gull and Lesser Yellowlegs.
Day 6 -Thursday - Aberdeenshire
We drive north towards Aberdeen checking bays and farmland for flocks of geese, swans and farmland birds, and any gull roosts for scarce species. As we work north we will keep an eye on any rare birds turning up, and we will be ready to 'twitch' them! Once in the Aberdeen area we have a number of birding options. Migrant hotspots at Girdleness or nearby may be worthy of attention if conditions are favourable, likewise the productive Don and Dee estuary mouths. If time allows we scan off the coast at Blackdog or Murcar for divers, scoter and other seabirds before heading to our hotel for the next two nights.
Day 7 - Friday - Aberdeenshire
We spend our final full day exploring the area around the Ythan Estuary, an important migration site and SSSI, before heading on to Fraserburgh and Loch of Strathbeg RSPB. This last place is Britain’s largest dune loch, famed for supporting 20% of the world’s population of Pink-footed Geese in winter, and previous trips have also produced rarities including Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Smew, Ross’s and Snow Goose. Rattray Head can be good for sea-watching, with Snow Bunting and fresh-in migrants in the dunes doing their best to evade hunting Merlin, Peregrine and Hen Harrier. The harbour and bays at Fraserburgh have a good track record for rare gulls, with several records of Ross’s Gull here while Iceland and Glaucous Gull occur annually. Local farmland can be very productive with herds of Whooper Swan, feeding geese and large numbers of Tree Sparrow, finches and buntings (including Corn Bunting) expected. We finish the day with a round-up of the week’s birding.
Day 8 - Saturday
Early transfer Perth, to collect vehicles and meet train services.We aim to arrive into Perth at roughly 1pm.
This holiday can be combined with:
Highland Autumn Birding, Short Breaks in Autumn.