NEW! Top 30 Birds in Summer

The best summer birding in the UK?

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This very low price is only available for this departure as the first of our '30th Anniversary' Celebrations!

Next season marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of Heatherlea. We will celebrate in many ways, and the fun begins with this exciting new holiday to see Scotland’s iconic birds. We have chosen 30 species for this special week, one for each year Heatherlea have been operating, though we will of course see much more and enjoy all the wildlife we encounter! Your holiday takes you from the central Highlands through the hills to the west, includes a night on magical Mull, and is available at a very special low price. We hope many of our long-standing friends will be able to join us in this celebration, though everyone is more than welcome!

Our 30 key species are;

Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill, Red-throated Diver, Ptarmigan, Black-throated Diver, Dotterel, Slavonian Grebe, Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Hen Harrier, Ring Ouzel, Snow Bunting, Raven, Osprey, Hooded Crow, Red Grouse, Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Corn Bunting, Grey Partridge, Tree Sparrow, Black Guillemot, Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Greenshank, Dipper, Little Tern and Twite.

We will also seek a few special mammals too, including Otter, Red Squirrel, Mountain Hare, Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Grey Seal and Common Seal. A superb week of summer wildlife watching!

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

Day 2: Sunday
We begin with a short walk through local Pine forest to search for Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill and other summer passerines including Redstart and Tree Pipit. At this time our private estate woodlands may produce Capercaillie and we look for them responsibly from our mobile hide vehicles. Rivers, birchwood and moorland hold Osprey, Dipper, Goldeneye, Red Grouse, Lesser Redpoll to add to our growing list and perhaps Wood Warbler if we are lucky. Black-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe may be found on lochs - the beauty of both in breeding plumage spellbinds many of our guests.

Days 3 - 4: Monday - Tuesday
We transfer to magical Mull and over two days seek some of Scotland’s most spectacular birds. Raptors are important targets and we may even encounter our first White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier or Peregrine as we travel through western hills. We cross Loch Linnhe onto the Morven peninsula and time will be spent looking for divers, Black Guillemot, Great Skua, Greenshank and other waders and wildfowl at sea level. Twite may be found feeding along the shoreline and adjacent low-lying fields are important for breeding passerines including Skylark, Stonechat, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit and Linnet. We keep a good eye on the rugged shoreline for Otter with surfacing Harbour Porpoise possible in calm sea lochs. On Mull we visit the best sites for our target birds, scanning hills for eagles and rich moorland and meadows for Hen Harrier, Merlin and Short-eared Owl. The island offers several chances to see breeding Red-throated Diver on fishing forays plus Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Shag and Common Sandpiper. On route to or from Mull we may see Black Grouse or Common Crossbill in plantations.

Day 5: Wednesday
Exploring moorland and upland areas in Strathspey we hope to see Ring Ouzel, Raven, Peregrine, Golden Eagle, Red Kite and Osprey. We have second chances for Black Grouse and Red Grouse too and if we’re lucky breeding Golden Plover might still be around. In the afternoon we might drive north to the Black Isle to look for summer waders including Turnstone, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit in brilliant colours.

Day 6: Thursday
A full day on the Cairngorm plateau, with unforgettable mountain scenery all around as we head to the right spots for Ptarmigan and Dotterel. Snow Bunting, Red Grouse, Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Raven and raptors including Peregrine may also be seen. A brilliant day’s birding in a very special habitat.

Day 7: Friday
On the Moray coast we can expect to add further new species. A range of breeding and early passage birds including Osprey, Eider, Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser are possible. Sandwich, Common, Arctic and Little Tern are likely plus other seabirds including Arctic Skua and Gannet. Farmland birds will feature, and we will devote some time looking for Grey Partridge, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting, and we will also attempt to connect with any of the 30 targets not yet seen, and any rarities within reach.

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

This holiday can be combined with:

Eagles, Divers & Dotterel, High Summer Highland Wildlife

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

  • 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.

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 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 at 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.

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: 01479 821248