NEW! Birds and Mammals featuring Perthshire

Highland birds and mammals including Beaver, Pine Marten and Otter, in Strathspey, Angus and Perthshire.

2020 Dates
  • 25 Jul - 01 Aug 2020
Duration8 Days
2020 Price
£1395 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £200
2021 Dates
  • 24 Jul - 31 Jul 2021
Duration8 Days
2021 Price
£1495 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £200
Max Group Size7
More Info

This holiday can be seen as a companion to our 'Birds and Mammals featuring the islands of Eigg and Muck' tour, which takes place the following week.


An exciting new summer holiday, targeting Pine Marten, European Beaver and Highland birdlife. We divide our time between Strathspey and underwatched Angus and Perthshire, with a daytrip to the spectacular west coast. Dedicated evening visits to a Pine Marten hide and a Beaver viewpoint give us good chances of connecting with these key species, and we also hope to see Otter, Mountain Hare, Red Squirrel, seals, cetaceans and commoner mammals too. Highland birds might include Capercaillie, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill, White-tailed Eagle, Slavonian Grebe and Black-throated Diver amid spectacular surroundings.

In Angus and Perthshire we seek Ptarmigan at close quarters, Black and Red Grouse, Ring Ouzel, Wheatear and raptors perhaps including Golden Eagle and Goshawk. On the coast, Little Gull can be present in high numbers and we search through tern flocks for post-breeding Roseate and Little Tern. Montrose Basin is a famous birding destination, and late summer is a good time to see returning wader flocks on migration (perhaps holding a rarity), with many still in summer plumage. Moulting Common and Velvet Scoter flocks can often contain a Surf Scoter and we also search for Osprey, Dipper, Whinchat and Common Crossbill in the extensive Perthshire forests.

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

  • European Beaver at dusk from a quiet riverbank viewpoint.
  • Pine Marten coming to bait
  • Birdwatching in Highlands, Angus and Perthshire, with rarely seen species including Roseate Tern. 
  • Otter, seals, cetaceans and more on the stunning west coast.

Day 1: Saturday 25 July
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.

Day 2: Sunday 26 July – Local birding
Strathspey is a wonderful place for many target species, and we begin in local woods for Red Squirrel, Crested Tit and the last summer breeders including Tree Pipit, Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher. Scottish Crossbill are found in our forests too and with both Common and Parrot Crossbill also possible, separation of these three species can pose a real identification challenge! Later we enjoy a forest drive in our private estate woodlands to look for Capercaillie, which can show on the ground as autumn berries appear. We also visit local lochs for Slavonian Grebe, Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper and Goldeneye with Brown Hare, Red, Roe and Sika Deer all possible in local fields. After dinner, we may take a short stroll to look for Daubenton’s and Pipistrelle Bat.

Day 3: Monday 27 July – Deeside, Angus and into Perthshire
We drive east through Deeside, then south skirting the edge of the Cairngorms, into Angus with wildlife stops along the way. Moorland in this area is good for Red and Black Grouse, and we may see the latter from the roadside or as birds return to known lekking sites. Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, Kestrel and Short-eared Owl may be seen over moorland, and Goshawk may be encountered around Sitka Spruce plantations. If weather conditions are favourable we can take a scenic walk in the hills for Ptarmigan, Ring Ouzel and Wheatear. Mountain Hare, Brown Hare, Red Deer and Roe Deer are likely and crossbills, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin may be abundant in forestry. Later in the day, Lintrathen or Loch of Kinnordy are likely destinations, where Osprey, Water Rail and breeding wildfowl including Gadwall and Shoveler might feature, and Otter might be seen. After dinner our attention is focused on European Beaver and Pine Marten, with dedicated visits to a hide and viewing area for these elusive mammals. The group will split, with one small party looking for Martens tonight, the other for Beaver, changing over tomorrow.

Day 4: Tuesday 28 July – Montrose Basin and the Angus coast
Today we visit a range of exciting coastal sites. Montrose Basin is renowned for passage waders, and among those we may see are Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Whimbrel, Redshank, Greenshank, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and Turnstone. This is a good time of year for scarcer species, and we work through the flocks for Curlew, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint or Spotted Redshank, with the possibility of Lesser Yellowlegs or Pectoral Sandpiper. Later we visit some small bays before a stroll down to Lunan Bay where we look for moulting Common and Velvet Scoter (Surf Scoter may also be present) and check the surrounding farmland for Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow. Good numbers of Little Gull and occasional Roseate Tern tag onto post-breeding flocks and we will visit harbours and known roosting sites. After a great coastal expereince, we return to our hotel in good time for our second evening excursion for Pine Marten and European Beaver, with clients changing places from the previous evening.

Day 5: Wednesday 29 July – Perthshire Forests and return to Nethy Bridge
Different habitats await today, including River Tay and local forests. Osprey are frequently seen at freshwater lochs, Dipper and Grey Wagtail favour flowing rivers and streams and on woodland walks we hope to see Crossbill, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Treecreeper, Chiffchaff and Red Squirrel. Forests in this area support perhaps the highest concentration of Honey Buzzard in the UK, and though notoriously elusive, if time allows we watch from viewpoints where our guides have seen the birds previously. We return to Nethy Bridge in good time for dinner.

Day 6: Thursday 30 July - The Wild West Coast
With mountains rising straight from the sea, the Highland scenery will be both stunning and dramatic on our west coast circuit. Always an exciting day, we scour the hills for Golden and White-tailed Eagle, where Red Deer (and Mountain/Feral Goat) break the skyline. In sheltered bays, we look for Otter and Common and Grey Seal while notable birds include Black Guillemot, Slavonian Grebe, seaduck, Red-throated and Black-throated Diver, Twite and Rock Pipit. From coastal viewpoints we look for cetaceans, Minke Whale being possible, though Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise are more likely.

Day 7: Friday 31 July – Round up day
We watch the weather and take stock of progress during the week before settling on the day’s activity. Local birding , or visits to the Black Isle or Moray Coast are all possibilities, with resident Bottlenose Dolphin a target if we head for the sea again. In farmland habitats, we may come across Red Fox with Grey Partridge, Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer perhaps featuring on the birdlist.

Day 8: Departure 1 August
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).

What's included in your holiday price

  • Five 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.
  • Two nights comfortable en-suite hotel accommodation in Angus or Perthshire close to evening mammal sites. 
  • 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.
  • All estate access, hide fees.
  • 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. In Perthshire we select from a range of comfortable Hotels. All accommodation is en-suite.
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 hill walking for Ptarmigan can be strenuous and may need us to cover some distance.
Weather - Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Blazing sunshine, wind and rain are equally likely, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing for evening excursions.
Biting insects are unlikely to be encountered, though we recommend you bring insect repellent as a precaution.
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

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About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: 01479 821248