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Heatherlea looking forward to Spring

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Heatherlea looking forward to Spring!

Each and every birdwatcher looks forward to spring, and here in the Scottish Highlands we are no different! As the days begin to draw out, we’re already seeing the first indications of the change in season. Waders such as Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher are returning en-masse to breeding territories in the fields and on warmer days Skylark, Mistle and Song Thrush have been heard singing. Black Grouse numbers are building on lekking sites andraptors including Golden Eagle and Goshawk are actively displaying, our late-winter groups enjoying some enthralling aerial clashes! In the forests, Crossbills are early breeders and already nest building, and it won’t be long before the local Crested Tit population follows suit. 

The next three months are a great time to come to Scotland, a period in the birding calendar often yielding a high bird-list as incoming summer breeders overlap with departing winter visitors. If you come to the Scottish Highlands in Early Spring, we’ll see many of our favourite species becoming even more spectacular in appearance, notably the divers and grebes as they moult into summer plumage. April and May tours featuring time on either Mull or Skye are certainly some of the best to appreciate these attractive birds. The stunning island destinations also offer great chances to see White-tailed and Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier as well as Otter.       

Birding in the Highlands during May rarely disappoints, a period when forest birdsong is at its peak and the snow finally melts on the highest summits, encouraging activity among mountain dwellers such as Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting plus newly arrived Ring Ouzel and Wheatear. Seabird colonies are another popular feature of the Scottish avifauna, the busting colonies on Handa Island always a firm favourite with our clients. New birding experiences coming for the first time this spring/early-summer include a boat trip to look for White-billed Diver in summer plumage off the north coast, looking for Nightjar – a rare breeder in the Galloway Forest and watching seabirds on the Ailsa Craig - one of Scotland’s most iconic, yet rarely visited islands.

Few could argue that spring migration is one of the most exciting periods in the birding calendar, and taking the extra leap, and visiting the Northern Isles offers an added dimension and chances to stumble upon a rarity. Orkney and Shetland couldn’t be more different in their topography, but one thing they do have in common is that May is a fabulous time to visit both. On the island outpost of North Ronaldsay we’ve had good fortune many times before, connecting with a UK first (Red-winged Blackbird) on one trip and enjoyed great views of Long-eared and Short-eared Owl on another. The rugged archipelago of Shetland offers some different delights in Spring, a place we’ve enjoyed some incredible falls with migrants in every bush, often on the same day as watching colonies full of breeding seabirds. Our Heatherlea guides can’t wait to get into spring birding in Scotland! - Mark Warren

About Heatherlea Holidays

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The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248