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Birds and Mammals featuring the islands of Muck and Eigg

Speciality birds and mammals including an exploration of the west coast by land and sea.

Max Group Size7
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This holiday can be seen as a companion to our 'Birds and Mammals featuring Perthshire' tour, which takes place the previous week.


A holiday for the wildlife enthusiast with a special emphasis on some of the most sought after mammals of the Highlands. We seek Otter, Common and Grey Seal, cetaceans including Minke Whale, Harbour Porpoise and dolphins during a two-night three-day excursion to the stunning west coast. We use our contacts and experience in west coast areas to give us the best possible chance of success. While in our Nethy Bridge base, we have more opportunities to add to our mammal list, with Mountain and Brown Hare, Red Squirrel and three species of deer possible as is Daubenton’s Bat on an evening stroll close to the hotel.

Speciality birds include Ptarmigan, Black Grouse, Golden and White-tailed Eagle, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill, Slavonian Grebe, Black-throated Diver, Dotterel and perhaps breeding Snow Bunting. On a dedicated boat trip visiting the islands of Muck and Eigg, we aim to see a variety of seabirds including Puffin and Black Guillemot, rafts of Manx Shearwater, all three divers in summer plumage, raptors including Merlin, Peregrine, Hen Harrier, both eagles plus breeding Twite, Wheatear, Whinchat and Rock Pipit. With over 100 species of bird and 15 species of mammal possible, this is a trip designed to give us many chances to see exciting mammals with great birding along the way!

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

  • Minke Whale and dolphins on our boat trip to Eigg and Muck.
  • Otter and seals playing on the rocks of a West Coast sea loch.
  • Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and perhaps Dotterel on the Cairngorm plateau.
  • Eagles in several locations, at a time when both species populations are at their highest.

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

Day 2: Sunday – Local birding
Strathspey is a wonderful place for many of our target species, and we begin in the local woods for Red Squirrel, Crested Tit and the last of the 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! We also visit local lochs, rivers and moorland to look for Osprey, Black-throated Diver, Dipper, Goldeneye, Red Grouse and Peregrine. Brown Hare, Red, Roe and Sika Deer may also be searched for today, and after dinner we take a stroll to look for Daubenton’s, Common and Soprano's Pipistrelle Bat or perhaps a night drive with Badger, Fox and Pine Marten possible.

Day 3: Monday – Cairngorm Mountain
Ptarmigan, late-staying Dotterel and Mountain Hare are key targets during our Cairngorm exploration. A unique and wonderful location where we may also see Snow Bunting, Raven, Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Peregrine and Reindeer during our walk into the hills. If time allows on the way home we check local lochs for Red-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe, or perhaps return to the forests for any unseen local specialities. 

Day 4: Tuesday - Morvern and Ardnamurchan
One of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, the Morvern and Ardnamurchan Peninsulas to the west of Fort William are blessed with wonderful wildlife. Rugged coastlines, steep mountains, and lovely sea lochs provide an attractive backdrop as we scour the skies for Golden and White-tailed Eagle. Otter and Common Seal thrive in these areas and can be found at any number of quiet, coastal locations and we should also see Black Guillemot, Eider, waders, terns and up to three species of diver.

Day 5: Wednesday - Muck and Eigg west coast sea trip
Cetaceans are the day’s main target as we take a boat out to Muck, pausing briefly on Eigg on the way. Minke Whales are regular in these waters, and on our unforgettable boat trip we keep a sharp eye out for this thirty-foot whale surfacing and also look out for playful Common and Bottlenose Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise, Grey Seal and even Basking Shark. Seabirds will feature and with Manx Shearwater breeding on Eigg we might see large feeding rafts throughout the day, plus Shag, Gannet, Kittiwake, Arctic and Common Tern, Guillemot, Razorbill and a few Puffin, Great and Arctic Skua. We plan to land and explore Muck, where species we might see include White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Merlin, 'real' Rock Dove, Twite, Wheatear and Rock Pipit.

Day 6: Thursday - Return to Nethy Bridge
We take a different route back to Strathspey, depending on our success with target species thus far. We have a number of good options, chosen by your guide on the day. We may sea-watch for cetaceans off Ardnamurchan Point, watch the hills for eagles or explore the Arisaig, Loch Sunart or Loch Linnhe coastlines for Otter and birds. Either way, another wildlife filled day is in our sights as we transfer back to Nethy Bridge for dinner.

Day 7: Friday - Round-up day
We enjoy an early start to see Black Grouse perhaps returning to lekking areas. After breakfast we take stock of progress during the week before settling on the day’s activity. The Black Isle or Moray Coast are possibilities with the firth's resident pod of Bottlenose Dolphin in mind. Returning wader passage will be underway, with Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, and Sanderling possible, and some birds will still be in bright summer plumage. Osprey and Red Kite could feature, with farmland birds including Grey Partridge, Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Linnet to add further interest. A fine finish to a great week of wildlife watching.

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

This holiday can be combined with:

Birds and Mammals featuring Perthshire, Mull & Ardnamurchan Wildlife SpectacularHighland High Summer Wildlife, Highland Birding in Late Summer

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

  • 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 at a West Coast location.
  • 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, boat trip and landing 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. On the west coast we select from a range of comfortable Hotels we have used before. 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 light, although mountain walking for Ptarmigan and Dotterel is strenuous and may need us to cover some miles to locate them. The Mountain excursion is completely optional.
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.
Biting insects are unlikely to be encountered, but bring a good 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

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