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Eagles, Divers and Dotterel including Mull

Britain's best birding in summer, from the Cairngorm plateau to the Isle of Mull

2024 Dates
  • 06 Jul - 13 Jul 2024
  • 13 Jul - 20 Jul 2024
Duration8 Days
2024 Price
£1695 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £300
2025 Dates
  • 12 Jul - 19 Jul 2025
Duration8 Days
2025 Price
£1695 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £300
Max Group Size7 per guide
EARLY BIRDER OFFER - Book 2024 for only £1595pp SAVE £100!*
*Offer only applies to week commencing the 13 July 2024

Where do you go in the ‘quiet’ birding weeks of summer? Glorious scenery, long evenings and the best summer birding in Britain await you with Heatherlea in July. After the main breeding season we can expect to see raptors on the wing at their maximum numbers, mountain birds with chicks, and moorland species preparing for autumn moulting. We enjoy an overnight stay on the magical Isle of Mull, giving us plenty of time to enjoy the fabulous birding and unforgettable scenery. An exciting time to be birding in Scotland!

We will search for Golden and White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine, fishing Osprey, Slavonian Grebe, Red and Black-throated Divers, Scottish Crossbill, Crested Tit and lots more! Breeding Ptarmigan and Dotterel ensure a great day out on the Cairngorm mountains, and we also utilise the evening light to seek out quartering Short-eared Owl over local heather moorland. Guaranteed excitement from magnificent mountaintop to the scenic grandeur of Mull, where we watch for eagles and Otters. As we journey west to the island, we might encounter Black Guillemot, Common Seal and Hooded Crow, may see Golden or White-tailed Eagle after we cross Loch Linnhe onto the west coast. Once on the island we target iconic wildlife at sites we know well, immediately looking for White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl on the hills and moors. We stay overnight here, giving a full day around the island enjoying eagles and looking for Otter. We have ample time to enjoy Mull to the full in high summer, a very enjoyable experience.

We also enjoy an absorbing day on the Crown Estates at Glenlivet where we have exclusive access to secluded spots where you won’t see many other birders, with further chances of Golden Eagle and perhaps Merlin too. The stunning surrounding scenery, less known among birders, contributes to a truly special day. Your raptor list should be impressive, with perhaps between eight and twelve species in total by the end of the week. 

July is the best month in the Highlands for butterflies and as we go may well see Northern Brown Argus, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Large Heath among others.  

We spend six nights based in our own Mountview Hotel in Nethy Bridge, and one night in a comfortable Hotel on Mull. This is a fantastic way to enjoy some of the best summer birding in the UK! 

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

  • White-tailed Eagle in close-up - the ‘flying barndoor’! 
  • Red and Black-throated Divers against beautiful moorland scenery
  • Short-eared Owl ghosting over heather in the evening light
  • Dotterel on the Cairngorm plateau.

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

Day 2: Sunday - Local Birding
A morning birding in the Abernethy with Crested Tit and local birds our first targets. Scottish Crossbill are found in the forests and with both Common and Parrot Crossbill also present, separation of these three species can pose a real identification challenge! At lunch we may see Osprey, Dipper, Buzzard and Goldeneye or perhaps Red Squirrel. Later we visit moorland where Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Black-throated Diver, Ring Ouzel, Red Grouse and upland waders may all be seen.

Day 3 - 4: Monday - Tuesday - Magical Mull
White-tailed Eagle – the flying barndoor! Today we travel west to the mountainous Isle of Mull, to look for one of Scotland’s most spectacular birds. Successfully re-introduced and now widespread in the Highlands, with an eight-foot wingspan White-tailed Eagle are rarely mistaken for anything else! We arrive on Mull early afternoon, and immediately begin our search for both White-tailed and Golden Eagle. After a comfortable night on Mull, we will be ready to tour the island in the morning to look for eagles again, and off the rugged shoreline we may find Otter plus Common and Grey Seal. Other birds should include Black Guillemot, Hooded Crow, Raven, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Great Northern and Red-throated Diver. We return in time for dinner at The Mountview Hotel on Tuesday.

Day 5: Wednesday - Crown Estates
We visit the Crown Estates at Glenlivet where we have exclusive access to secluded spots where you won’t see many other birders, with further chances of Golden Eagle and perhaps Merlin too. Other moorland and upland specialities will feature, such as Stonechat, Common Sandpiper, Peregrine, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Osprey... your raptor list for today alone should be impressive, perhaps totalling as many as twelve species by the end of the week!

Day 6: Thursday - Cairngorm Mountain
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 as part of a brilliant day’s birding in a very special habitat. Later we may also see Red-throated Diver, Goldeneye, Peregrine and Crested Tit as we descend, plus Redpoll and Siskin flocks in local birch woods. After dinner 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. Black-throated Diver and Red Grouse are also likely, and we look out for waders including Snipe, Redshank and Curlew. A lovely evening!

Day 7: Friday - Coastal Birding
Often a round-up day, and we will be flexible perhaps visiting another coastal location with great birding. We could drive east to Troup Head, a gem of an RSPB reserve where the only breeding Gannets in mainland Scotland make their home. Enjoying clifftop views of the birds, we will also see other seabirds including Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Shag, Fulmar, Kittiwake and perhaps Great Skua. At lowland coastal sites, the first returning summer waders might including Turnstone, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit in brilliant colours. We also look for Red Kite, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer and scarcer farmland birds including Grey Partridge and Corn Bunting may also feature.

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

This holiday can be combined with:

Highlands and Wester Ross, Butterflies, Dragons and Birds, Highland Mammals and more, Highland Wildlife in High Summer

Coll and Tiree in Summer, Mull and Ardnamurchan Wildlife SpectacularOrkney 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

  • Six 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.
  • One night comfortable en-suite hotel accommodation on Mull.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 light, although the mountain walking for Ptarmigan and Dotterel is a strenuous all-day hike. July sees the birds typically on the highest tops, with 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 the exit north of Aviemore for the A95. 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 11:00, arriving Aviemore at 19:22. We recommend you connect with this service if possible. Our pickup also works well with the 16:26 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 08:32 (fast train to London – recommended), 09:26. 10:31 and 11:30. 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, Birmingham, Manchester (all Loganair), London Gatwick, London Luton, Bristol (all easyJet) and London Heathrow (British Airways). Guests arriving in Inverness airport can then take a taxi to Nethy Bridge, or take the Airport Flyer bus to Inverness, from there they can take the train to Aviemore where we can collect you. Our courtesy collection service is on Saturdays at 16:30 and 19:30, but please let us know at least 48 hours in advance if you wish to be collected! We will be able to meet the 15:44 and 18:53 trains departing from Inverness that arrive at 16:25 and 19:26 respectively.

Other birdwatching holidays in Highlands

Other birdwatching holidays in Mull

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