News from the field - January 2024
With a number of our trips returning in the past week, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share news from the field. Toby Green has highlights from our new South Africa - Kruger trip and Mark Warren discusses how our new South Korea tour went. Here in Scotland Mike Coleman tells us all about how his New Year Birdlist Booster holiday went and Holly Page shares highlights from her Up Helly Aa group.
“We have just returned from our new SA and Kruger trip and recorded over 360 species of birds with some great endemics and some just spectacular sights, like 100s of thousands of Red-billed Quelea, stunning Southern Carmine Bee-eaters and impressive vultures and raptors!
The mammals didn’t disappoint either with multiple Lion and Leopard sightings loads of Elephants and three very close Rhino to pick just a few of the many highlights! A truly amazing trip!” – Toby Green
“My group really had a fabulous time in South Korea! We enjoyed friendly hospitality throughout, amazing food, stunning scenery and of course wonderful wildlife.
Highlights included Steller's Sea Eagle, Scaly-sided Merganser, Swan Goose, Solitary Snipe, Red-crowned, White-naped and Hooded Crane, while a Baer's Pochard - one of the world's rarest duck was a huge bonus! Also ranking highly was two superb daytime encounters with Leopard Cat, Harlequin Duck, Ancient Murrelet, Spectacled Guillemot and masses of grebes during a boat trip on the seabird rich east coast, Hooded Crane and huge goose flocks around the fields and raptors such as Upland Buzzard (eventually!) in the south. For the gull enthusiasts there where Glaucous, Slaty-backed and Black-tailed Gull, delicate Saunders's Gull, plus rare and difficult Relict Gull during a snow blizzard!
We visited the Crested Ibis reintroduction site at Upo and watching a murmuration of some 300,000 Biakal Teal at Guem will take some beating!
Smart passerines included Yellow-billed Grosbeak, Dusky and Pale Thrush,
Russet Sparrow, Chinese Penduline Tit and fields full of Rustic and
Yellow-throated Bunting.”– Mark Warren
“Proper Highland winter conditions didn't detract from a tremendous week of birding! Highlights included an unexpected swirling mass of five White-tailed Eagles on the West Coast, getting great views of some elusive Hawfinches in an Aberdeenshire park, getting even better views of a flock of Waxwing munching on some cotoneaster berries in a local garden, some close-up roadside lekking Black Grouse followed by a party of over 30 birds in an unusual location, swarms of Snow Buntings in the snow, an obliging quartering female Hen Harrier, thousands of grey geese in a field with one Snow Goose interloper, and the closest ever views of both the handsome male and female Long-tailed Duck swimming around colourful fishing boats in a traditional harbour setting - truly wonderful! Everybody's birdlist was well and truly boosted!” - Mike Coleman
“Shetland is a magical place to visit at any time of year and winter is no exception. Birds are a little thinner on the ground but still exciting! We got great views of an adult Glaucous Gull feeding on a Greylag Goose carcass right by the side of the road and the harbours in Lerwick had at least three Iceland Gulls. Red-throated, Black-throated and Great Northern Divers were all seen well as were Purple Sandpiper and Twite. Mammals featured nicely too with great views of Otter on our first and last day, a pod of Orca off Unst and Mountain Hare standing out from the heather in their white pelage. Add in the spectacle of Up Helly Aa, a Viking fire festival with its torchlight procession, rousing songs culminating in the burning of the galley, our group had a fantastic week!” – Holly Page