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News from the Field - March 2024

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News from the field

This month Ian has highlights from our new Costa Rica Easy Walking trip, John has news from our Morocco holiday, Toby tells us about his tour to the Camargue, Barry shares highlights from this year's Forest of Dean holiday plus Holly has some wonderful highlights from our Highlands & Aberdeenshire tour.


“We have been having a remarkable time so far here in Morocco with 110 species of bird recorded and even a new mammal for me… common gundi! The weather has been mixed though it's looking to improve for the rest of our trip. We have already seen all eight of the possible wheatear species in Morocco, plus gems such as African Crimson-winged Finch, Atlas Shorelark, Temminck's and Thick-billed Lark, Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Lanner, Pharaoh Eagle-owl and Pallid Harrier!

Onwards to the deep desert tomorrow, hopefully with a few new birds en route and the 4x4 trip to look forward to on Friday.” John Muddeman


“I am just back from a fantastic trip to the Camargue where we managed to get great views of most of the targets. We had up to six Alpine Accentors and a Wallcreeper, which were fantastic, as was an Eagle Owl close by. Seven Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and 40 Little Bustards were a highlight on another day. Snowfinch and Griffon Vultures were seen on our Ventoux day and the Camargue wetlands gave us a cracking Wryneck, Moustached Warbler and thousands of water birds, including hundreds of Glossy Ibis, Flamingos and flocks of Common Crane to name but a few. It was truly a memorable trip!” - Toby Green

Forest of Dean

“Our two-centred holiday to the Forest of Dean and the Somerset Levels is full of wonderful contrasts: the birds, the landscapes and two very different and charming hotels both located right in the centre of where the wildlife action is. Timing (and luck!) is everything, so this holiday is timed to coincide with Goshawks displaying, winter wildfowl and a Starling murmuration – but there’s so much more besides.

This year we saw all of the scarce woodland species that included Hawfinch, Crossbill, Firecrest, and displaying Goshawks. We saw a ‘sounder’ group of Wild Boar (females with young), with around twenty humbug-coloured ‘boarlets’. A fine day at Slimbridge, with charismatic Bewick’s Swans seen from the heated hide, Russian White-fronted Geese were observed, and we had the remarkable good luck of a pair of Cranes landing right in front of us, dancing with accompanying trumpets! The Levels were very watery this year, perfect for ducks, including a confiding group of Greater Scaup seen at Cheddar.  A delightful overwintering flock of Cirl Bunting were seen well, though not without some persistence! The murmuration this year was sublime, with clouds of birds that ghosted over us then wheeled above the reedbeds, dimming the light of a glorious golden sunset, as they were harried by Sparrowhawks, leading to some jaw-dropping manoeuvres, to the backdrop sound of a booming Bittern. A most successful and enjoyable tour, with a thorough dose of the best of winter birds seen at the very tail-end of winter.” Barry Embling

Highlands & Aberdeenshire

“We managed to clean up on the local specialities on the first day starting with brilliant views of both Crested Tit and Crossbill, followed by a flock of over 100 Snow Bunting at Cairngorm and rounded off by at least five "ring-tail" Hen Harrier at a winter roost site. Our jaunt to the Aberdeenshire coast started at a Black Grouse Lek, where we had an incredible number of females (or Greyhens) with at least 12 being seen! At the coast we picked up a good mix of waders, waterfowl and farmland birds including Greenshank, a large flock of Golden Plover, Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer. In the afternoon we were treated to the fabulous sight of dancing and mating Cranes! We stopped in at several sites along the eastern Moray Coast on our way back to Nethy Bridge on the Wednesday, enjoying views of two adult Iceland Gull and Purple Sandpiper. Back on home turf the great birds just kept coming with a Green-winged Teal on a local loch followed by Slavonian Grebe and Scaup on the Black Isle. We rounded off the week at the Moray Coast with Surf Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Fulmar returning to a breeding site and some very dapper-looking Pintail. A fantastic week all round!” Holly Page 

Costa Rica Easy Walking

Image Credit: Keith Radley

“This was our first ‘Easy Walking’ itinerary in Costa Rica where we took things at a slower pace than usual. This certainly didn’t mean that we missed out however, and the group finished with a bird list of 318 species! We enjoyed a wonderful range of birds throughout, including a successful search for a Resplendent Quetzal, some incredible boat trips, many mammals including jumping White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, a variety of reptiles, butterflies and tropical flora. A fantastic trip all round with too many highlights to mention!” Ian Ford

About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248