Many of you ask for something special over the New Year holiday, and here it is! Come to the beautiful Highlands for a wonderful Hogmanay (we usually have snow on the mountains), and see all the special birds both before and after the New Year. The holiday begins as you join us on 29th December for dinner. Birding begins the next morning, and we seek out Capercaillie, Golden Eagle, Black Grouse, Ptarmigan (weather permitting!), Crested Tit and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill during the last two days of 2018 with a day at the coast too, and after ‘the bells’ we head out after breakfast for a full day of birding to get your 2019 birdlist off to a flyer. You may have some birds for two yearlists! We have at least a day to visit the Moray Coast, where winter bird lists often reach 60 species, or the Black Isle, where wintering passerine flocks can number into the hundreds, and round up rarities such as Ring-billed Gull, Surf Scoter, Great Grey Shrike, Snow Goose and many other northern surprises. We will have our finger on the pulse to show you any rarities within reach, and daylight allows us a good seven hours or so birding every day. We reasonably expect around 90-100 bird species on this holiday.
Hogmanay is a time of great celebration in the Highlands, and on the night itself guests will have the opportunity to visit a nearby party, which could typically involve live music and dancing. Held in the open air, this is entirely subject to vagaries of the weather, so wrap up well! For those who prefer to stay indoors we will clear a space in our restaurant and celebrate ‘The Bells’ in the warmth. Breakfast is usually slightly later on the morning of Jan 1, though with a brand new birdlist to begin you may wish to be up early!
Come and enjoy a Highland Birding Hogmanay with Heatherlea!
DAY 1: Sat 29 December 2018
Arrival, Dinner and welcome.
DAYS 2 - 3: Sun 30 December & Mon 31 December 2018
We will enjoy a day birding for the specialities in the local area, including Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Crested Tit, Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill and (weather permitting!) Ptarmigan, with of course Golden Eagle a top target too. On the other day we will make a visit to the coast, where birding is always fascinating at this time of year, with seaduck in large numbers including Long-tailed Duck, both Common and Velvet Scoter, and Red-breasted Merganser. Rarities in recent years have included American Coot, American Wigeon, Surf Scoter, Ring-billed Gull and many more - you never know what to expect in northern Scotland at this time!
Mon evening, 31 December Dinner will be a little bit special, and is informal as always. Later we celebrate the New Year with mulled wine. Hopefully the weather will allow village fireworks to entertain us. Listen for the sound of gunfire as locals mark the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new! If local villages are throwing a party, we will give the option of attending.
DAY 4: Tues 1 January 2019
Get your birdlist off to the best start with a cracking day of birding. We will look at the weather carefully, and plan an exciting day of birding. Some of the birds you might target on these days are Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, and of course a second chance for key specialities including Capercaillie, Black Grouse and Crested Tit.
DAY 5: Wed 2 January
West Coast! If the weather allows we will head to the West Coast to give our New Year list a real boost with top targets including Great Northern and Black-throated Divers, Black Guillemot and White-tailed Eagle. A real chance of Otter too in some of the some stunning scenery in Scotland.
DAY 6: Thurs 3 January
A day in the glens as we target Golden Eagle, Dipper and hopefully a good range of other upland birds, which may include Peregrine, Goshawk or Hen Harrier. Red Deer and Mountain Hare should also show well in stunning Highland scenery.
DAY 7: Fri 4 January
Another visit to the coast, perhaps the Black Isle, the Moray Coast or even Aberdeenshire in a bid to see a good range of farmland and coastal species.
DAY 8: Sat 5 January
Breakfast and depart.
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).
This holiday can be combined with:
New Year Birdlist Booster
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 moderate, although optional mountain walking for Ptarmigan is strenuous, depending on the snow level.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions, though cold winds and snow are likely. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing. Wellies not required!
Biting insects are not expected.
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 on 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 may be upgraded to double room accommodation at no extra charge.
- 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. Access to estate grounds.
- Transport to and from nearby Hogmanay celebration on Dec 31, subject to availability.
- A checklist specifically prepared for your holiday to record your sightings and notes.
- Courtesy bus service to transport in Aviemore.
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 27 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!
- 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!’