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NEW! Highland Summer Spectacular

All the birding highlights of summer on a new holiday full of variety

Max Group Size7 per guide
More Info

No single supplement. Deposit £300. 

Here in the Scottish Highlands, June is a month of high summer activity, one of the busiest periods in the birding calendar! With raptors busily feeding youngsters, mountain species perhaps with chicks, auks on the open water and passerines feeding young, bird activity is high and on this new holiday we make the most of long evenings to enjoy the highlights of summer. Based throughout at the Mountview Hotel, we have ultimate flexibility and your guide can choose the best daily activities to suit the weather and our birding targets.

On this varied tour, we visit the local pine forests, moorland habitats, rugged west coast and the high Cairngorm plateau. A boat-trip into the Moray Firth to watch Bottlenose Dolphins will be a highlight, as will a visit to the seabird rich cliffs of Troup Head. Among the species we seek are Crested Tit, Ptarmigan, Red Grouse, Golden and White-tailed Eagle, Osprey, Slavonian Grebe, Red-throated and Black-throated Diver, Dotterel, Scottish Crossbill and many more. Raptors will feature, and we utilise the evening light to look for quartering Short-eared Owl over local heather moorland. A wide range of passage waders, returning winter wildfowl and summer woodland breeders will help us build a healthy bird-list and mammals could include Otter, Red Deer, Mountain Hare, Red Squirrel, both seals and cetaceans. Capercaillie are increasingly scarce, and we no longer look for them at this time of year, though incidental sightings are possible.

This tour is strictly limited to one Guide/minibus, and a maximum of seven clients.

KEY MOMENTS at our Friday round-up - which will be yours?

  • White-tailed and Golden Eagle on the dramatic West Coast
  • A wonderful boat trip into the Cromarty Firth for Bottlenose Dolphins and seabirds.
  • Ptarmigan and Dotterel on the Cairngorm plateau
  • Returning waders in smart summer-plumage at coastal sites

Day 1: Saturday - Arrival
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.

Day 2: Sunday – Local Forest Birding
A morning birding in the Abernethy Forest where Crested Tit and other local breeders will be among our first targets. Scottish Crossbill are found in the Pine forests, and with both Common and Parrot Crossbill also present, separation of these three species can pose a real identification challenge! Other summer visitors including Redstart, Tree Pipit and Spotted Flycatcher will all be busy feeding young, while the local Birch-woods support Lesser Redpoll, plus a few Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler. We visit small lochans and flowing rivers nearby, where species such as Slavonian Grebe, Osprey, Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Common Sandpiper may be seen. A great first day!

Day 3: Monday – Black Isle Boat Trip
Travelling just beyond Inverness to the Black Isle, we begin with a wonderful boat trip out into the Moray Firth. The summer home of a semi-resident pod of Bottlenose Dolphin, views can be excellent from our small boat and our skipper has over 30 years experience of watching these animals. Seabirds out in the firth can include Red-throated Diver, Shag, Cormorant, Guillemot and Razorbill, Kittiwake and a variety of terns - a great adventure! Later we investigate the Cromarty Firth, where estuarine sites support passage waders including Turnstone, Knot, Dunlin, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit and all will be in brilliant summer plumage. Scaup and moulting summer flocks of Eider and Red-breasted Merganser may also feature along with Red Kite and farmland birds.

Day 4: Tuesday – The Wild West Coast
Out on the rugged west coast, we take an early start to make the most of a day exploring. Birding in some of the most dramatic scenery in Scotland where mountains climb from the sea we scan for both Golden and White-tailed Eagle. Summer plumaged Great Northern, Black-throated and Red-throated Diver are all possible, as are Black Guillemot, Raven, Hooded Crow and both Great and Arctic Skua. Greenshank and Golden Plover may be seen on moorland, and in coastal fields a few Wheatear, Stonechat, Rock Pipit and perhaps Twite may be encountered. Red Deer, Otter, Grey and Common Seal, Common Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise offer further interest on an exciting day.

Day 5: Wednesday – Glenlivet and the Moray Coast
A varied day combining moorland and upland specialities in the east of the Cairngorm National Park with the wildlife rich Moray Coast. Raptors will feature, with up to 11 species possible including Osprey, Golden and White-tailed Eagle, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Kestrel and Merlin! There is an outside chance of a few loafing Black Grouse near lekking sites and exclusive vehicular access at Glenlivet gets us closer to key sites. Later we relocate to the Moray coast, perhaps visiting Spey Bay first for fishing Osprey, a variety of waders, sea-duck including Eider, Common Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser plus Sandwich, Arctic, Common and Little Tern too.

Day 6: Thursday - Cairngorm Mountain
A full day on the Cairngorm plateau, with unforgettable mountain scenery all around as we head to the right places for Ptarmigan and Dotterel on the high tops. Snow Bunting, Ring Ouzel and Wheatear may also be seen as part of a brilliant day’s birding in a very special habitat. Later we enjoy a Highland summer evening with a leisurely drive up to the moors close to The Mountview Hotel to look for Short-eared Owl, Red Grouse, Snipe and if lucky Woodcock. A lovely evening!

Day 7: Friday – Troup Head and round-up day
Today we drive northeast to Aberdeenshire and Troup Head, a gem of an RSPB reserve which supports the only breeding Gannets on mainland Scotland. Enjoy close-up clifftop views of Gannets, other seabirds include Rock Pipit, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Fulmar, Kittiwake, a few Puffin and an occasional Great Skua. Cetaceans including Harbour Porpoise and Minke Whale may be present offshore, and we look for farmland species including Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Stock Dove, Grey Partridge and Corn Bunting and perhaps any summer rarities within reach.

Day 8: Saturday
Breakfast and departure. Don’t forget our courtesy return service to Aviemore.

This holiday can be combined with:

Highland Wildlife in early SummerEagles, Divers and Dotterel, Highlands and Wester Ross

Orkney in High Summer

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).

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 may be upgraded to double room accommodation at no extra charge.
  • boat trip out into the Moray Firth for birds and cetaceans
  • Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
  • Six full days wildlife watching.
  • Guidance from a professional Group Leader
  • All transport by comfortable minibus.
  • 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.

More holiday information

Accommodation at Mountview Hotel can be seen here. 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 mainly light, although mountain walking for Ptarmigan and Dotterel is more challenging over rough and rocky terrain. All walks are optional.
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, with hat and gloves in your day sack especially if you wish to take the boat trip!
Biting insects may be encountered in the evenings or around standing water, especially in the west of Scotland, though not as a serious problem. Please bring a 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!

Other birdwatching holidays in Highlands

Why choose Heatherlea for your Scottish birding holiday?

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 30 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!’

Visit Scotland - 5 star wildlife experience

Visit Scotland

Tour Details

About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248