The Top 20 birds and mammals in autumn

More Info

Your guide(s) will be a member of the Heatherlea team: Ian Ford, Toby Green, Phil Knott, Jonny Pott, Dave Pullan, Kevin Shaw, Scott O'Hara, Rob Jordan, John Picton, Dave Pierce and Mark Warren

Max group size 7 clients per guide.

This is an extraordinary holiday, based in two centres to concentrate on the key birds and mammals everyone wants to see. Autumn migration means we see some birds not around in summer, and you should also see and hear Red Deer roaring at the rut. Enjoy wildlife all the way as we show you the ‘specialities‘, plus an overnight west coast expedition in a remote location.

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

  • White-tailed and Golden Eagle in full view
  • Capercaillie, Ptarmigan and all the Scottish specials
  • Pine Marten visiting our specially baited sites.
  • Bottle-nosed dolphin feeding on the turning tide.


1. Capercaillie 1. Pine Marten
2. White-tailed Eagle 2. Otter
3. Golden Eagle 3. Badger
4. Ptarmigan 4. Red Deer
5. Black Grouse 5. Red Squirrel
6. Crested Tit 6. Mountain Hare
7. Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill 7. Grey Seal
8. Long-tailed Duck 8. Harbour Porpoise
9. Velvet Scoter 9. Roe Deer
10. Great Northern Diver 10. Common Seal

ALSO POSSIBLE Black Grouse Wildcat, Three divers, Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Slavonian Grebe, Brown Hare, Twite ... up to 15 mammals! ...over 100 bird species

Outline Itinerary

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

DAY 2:  Sunday
Capercaillie and Blackcock! We may visit exclusive private estate woodlands or other favoured spots depending on where birds are showing. Staying inside our large minibus, we have an excellent chance of seeing both species extremely well. A walk in the nearby Abernethy Forest to look for Red Squirrel and Roe Deer, Crested Tit and Scottish (Parrot) Crossbill will produce wildlife of interest. Later we search for moorland specialities including Peregrine, Red Grouse, Merlin and Hen Harrier.

We leave early after breakfast, watching out for Common Seal and Hooded Crow as we travel. Once across the Corran Ferry, west of Fort William, we immediately target Golden Eagle and White-tailed Eagle. Otter are always a delight whether fishing in the sea close to our minibus or playing on the rocks. In the evening we look for Pine Marten in secluded west coast locations, before dinner and an overnight stay. We also listen out for Red Deer at the rut – an unforgettable sound! Return to Nethybridge on Tuesday evening in time for dinner.

DAY 5:  Wednesday
Autumn along the Moray coast can be stunning. Rafts of many thousand seaduck will include Velvet and Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Eider and Red-breasted Merganser. We search the flocks for rarities, which in recent years have included Surf Scoter, King Eider and once, a Steller’s Eider. Great Northern, Black and Red-throated Diver, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, and waders including Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin and Ringed Plover, this is a marvellous day. We also hope to collect Grey Seal and Bottle-nosed Dolphin. In the evening, Badgers the easy way! We have private and exclusive access to a comfortable hide close to a very active sett. Photography is allowed, and you should be home before 11pm.

DAY 6:  Thursday
A complete contrast as we head for the hills to find Ptarmigan. We rarely fail to find the birds, and although the mountains support few other species, watch out for Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare. Local birding around beautiful birchwoods completes the afternoon. After dinner, Badgers for those who didn’t go yesterday.

DAY 7:  Friday
We drive to the Black Isle, an underwatched and rewarding wildlife location where we search for Red Kite, Harbour Porpoise, Grey Seal and Bottle-nosed Dolphin. Afterwards we will return to Strathspey, rounding up anything missed earlier in the week.

DAY 8:  Saturday
Breakfast and departure. Don't forget our courtesy bus service to Aviemore station!

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).

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 or wellies.
Walking will be moderate, although mountain walking for Ptarmigan is strenuous.
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.
Biting insects are unlikely to be encountered. 
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,

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

* 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 may be upgraded to double room accommodation at no extra charge.
* One night accommodation in Sunart featuring comfortable, quiet accommodation and good home-prepared food. Our groups have great fun here.
* Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
* Six full days wildlife watching.
* Guidance from a professional Group Leader, and any extra guiding services on the west coast.
* All transport by comfortable minibus.
* All estate access and ferry 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.


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 25 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!’

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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).


Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: 01479 821248