Tour At A Glance

Cost:

999.00

Deposit:

150.00

Single Room Supplement:

50.00

Tour Code:

Intermediate with optional early morning starts. Up to 3 miles walking per day

Group Size:

Seven plus Leaders

Rock Ptarmigan Osprey Red Deer Parrot Crossbill Crested Tit Loch Morlich

Scotland - Spring in Speyside

Date: 7th - 13th April 2019 [THREE SPACES - Guaranteed departure]
Leaders: Ashley Saunders

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE
We depart Norfolk at approximately 0600 for the long drive north to our base at Dunfermline. Naturally, we will make comfort and meal stops en route. With luck, we should arrive around 1400. After check in at our Premier Inn accommodation, we will make the short drive to nearby RSPB Loch Leven for a couple of hours birding. We should encounter a range of wildfowl, inlcuding Pink-footed Goose flocks, and on the loch itself we will see many Common Goldeneye with the chance of something rarer such as Smew or Greater Scaup. Tree Sparrows are common in the surrounding scrub and the marshy pools hold Common Snipe and an occasional Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff or Little Ringed Plover.
Overnight Premier Inn Dunfermline
 
DAY TWO
This morning we will take a trip out to Largo Bay on the Fife coast to look for seaduck, which should include both Common and Velvet Scoter, Common Eider and Long-tailed Duck. A King Eider is seen here in some years and Surf Scoter is regular. We should keep an eye out for Red-breasted Merganser and Slavonian Grebe too. The surrouding countryside is good for both Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting. We can return to our hotel rooms about 1130 as check out is at noon, collect our luggage and then make our way north up the motorway towards Speyside. We will make a stop for lunch on the way and should arrive around 1430. We will certainly make a couple of birding stops at Loch Insh and Lynachlaggan Wood, where we might see our first Ospreys, Goosander, Sand Martin and Lesser Redpolls. An early Common Redstart or Tree Pipit might also be seen.
Overnight Carrmoor Guest House

DAY THREE
Cairngorm mountain is our first destination today. Here we will use the mountain railway to look for Rock Ptarmigan near the top station, from the viewing area. Snow levels are critical and will dictate our success, but often the birds can be found feeding close to the station and seen with patient scanning using a telescope. 
Following lunch we head north west via the scenic grandeur of the Findhorn Valley, all the time scanning skywards for raptors that might include Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Peregrine, Merlin, Osprey and Common Buzzard. Ring Ouzels may have arrived on the scree covered slopes, Common Ravens tumble overhead in display and we should have no problem encountering Red Deer here. Common Gull, Common Redshank and European Oystercatcher all breed here and perhaps a Common Sandpiper or even an early Common Tern may also be present. We drive the Farr Road over the moor to search for moorland species such as Red Grouse, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit and the possibility of Hen Harrier, Merlin and Short-eared Owl as well as the often numerous Mountain Hare. We take lunch at Loch Ruthven RSPB, where resplendently dressed Slavonian Grebes can often be seen at close range. Red-throated Diver and perhaps a Black Grouse may also be encountered here, while more raptors may be overhead. 
Overnight Carmoor Guest House

DAY FOUR
Speyside is famous for the Ospreys at Loch Garten but this is not the only species that can be encountered in this bird rich area. An early start is essential to get to Abernethy Forest RSPB reserve to try and see Capercaillie at their lek. This spectacular, turkey sized grouse is now in steep decline and we will need good fortune to encounter them, but this is the best time of year. Abernethy is great for the speciality birds including Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill and other common woodland species and also Red Squirrels. Loch Garten should also hold Goosander, Common Goldeneye and the first Common Sandpipers. We return to the accommodation for a well earned breakfast before hading to our next stop at Lochindorb for Black and Red-throated Divers and further opportunities for moorland species that may include European Golden Plover and perhaps Dunlin and Common Snipe, as well as Twite. Continuing north, we bird at several locations on the Moray Firth such as Findhorn Bay, Burghead and Lossiemouth for a wide range of species including sea ducks such as Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, Common and Velvet Scoters, Common Eider, Red-breasted Merganser and Red-throated and Great Northern Divers. Common and Black Guillemots and Razorbill can be seen in the harbours, while in some years scarce wildfowl such as Surf Scoter may be present. Nearby coastal fields should hold Tree Sparrow and flocks of Greylag Geese. Shorebirds include Purple Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone and Dunlin. There is an excellent chance of both Iceland and Glaucous Gulls being present.

Overnight Carrmoor Guest House

 

DAY FIVE
We begin the day at dawn for lekking Black Grouse at a site near Abernethy. The birds can often be seen at mid distance using a scope whilst they carry out their elaborate courtship routines. Numbers are small at this site, but they are quite reliable here. We will return to the hotel for breakfast and then spend a full day out on the stunning West Coast. Crossing the Black Isle, we will pick up our first Red Kites, before travelling out to Dundonnel which will be our first stop. Golden and White-tailed Eagles can sometimes be seen over the ridges here and the sea loch holds Common Greenshank and Red-breasted Merganser. Further on at Gruinard Bay, we will spend some time scanning the sheltered waters for Great Northern Divers, with up to thirty birds often present and many in full summer plumage. Black Guillemot, Kittiwake, Great Skua and passing flocks of geese might also be seen and we have seen Otter and Iceland Gull here in the past as well as more likely Twite and Merlin. We scan the bay from several stopping points to give ourselves the best chance of connecting with more unusual species - White-billed Diver has been seen here on many occasions! We lunch at the beautiful location of Mellon Udrigle, where Northern Wheatear and Twite are often around the car park and divers are again in the bay. From this point we slowly work our way back towards base, stopping to view any areas we feel worthy on the route back. Hopefully a Golden Eagle over a hillside will have us leaping out of the vehicle!
Overnight Carrmoor Guest House

DAY SIX
Today we spend a leisurely time birding in the forest hoping to connect with two main targets - Crested Tit and Crossbills of various species. Forest Lodge will be the destination for the whole morning - perhaps a Capercaillie will surprise us by creeping across the track here! A circular walk of around 3 miles will take us through pristine Caledonian Forest and give us a good chance to find our targets. Common Redstart and Lesser Redpoll are often also seen. We lunch at Broomhill Bridge by the River Spey, watching the Sand Martins visiting their breeding holes and maybe spotting a Dipper or Common Sandpiper. The snow-capped Cairngorms can be seen well from here and are often brought o life by passing flocks of migrating Pink-footed Geese. In the afternoon we return to the forest in Glen More to spend more time looking for the more elusive forest specialities, and hopefully get the chance to have a good look at some Crossbills - Common, Scottish and Parrot are all here!
Overnight Carrmoor Guest House

DAY SEVEN
We depart this morning after breakfast for the journey home.

 
 

 

Additional Information

 

WHATS INCLUDED
Six nights en suite accommodation on bed, breakfast and evening meal basis,  packed lunches [except on day one], minibus transport, services of guide, funicular railway on Cairngorm and reserve entrance fees. 
 

NOT INCLUDED
Transport to/from Norfolk and any overnight stay that might be required, drinks, lunch on day one and any items of a purely personal nature. 

 
PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Collection is possible from train stations along our route such as Kings Lynn or Penrith [or Aviemore]. 

 

 

Tour Reports

 

2012  2014  2015  2016  2017  2018

 

Testimonials

 

"Ashley enabled me to fulfil childhood ambitions to see Highland birds. His expert knowledge has taught me a valuable amount. Most of all, Ashley is a birder passionate about his craft and not just concerned with a 'tick list'. That, for me, was a vital reason for choosing Oriole Birding following our Norfolk day Tour in 2015." C.H, Harwich
 
"I couldn't fault anything. Ashley was a superb guide and able to spot a dot in the sky and identify it! He was so enthusiastic about birds, it was infectious." S.A, Harwich
 
"Brilliant birding, excellent accommodation and food and first class guides made for a great holiday -Thanks!" S & C.C. Darlington

"I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the trip" J. B.  North Yorks.

“Thanks again for a really great trip” M. C. Edinburgh
 
" We really enjoyed this ,our first organised birding trip" J S & E S Cornwall
 
" I thoroughly enjoyed my tour in every way. The expertise of the guide at locating the target species ticks all the boxes as far as I am concerned and the guest house couldn't have been better regarding meals, location and welcome. If the birds are there Oriole Birding will find them. You are treated equally regardless of your levels of experience, the group sizes are optimum not overwhelming, and finally, what price do you put on seeing all the grouse, four species of diver including the two White-billed Divers that Ashey found and Golden and White-tailed Eagles within the first three days of the trip!!"  G.B. Buckinghamshire.
 
" Many Thanks for another great trip" A.M. Bridgend
 
"The week in Scotland with Ashley [volcanic Ash as I think I will call him from now on] was terrific. I saw all the birds that I wanted to see and more, the guest house was very good indeed and the scenery was breathtaking" L H London.
 
" Another great trip with Oriole Birding. Ashley is a great guide and it is so much nicer being in a small group. We enjoyed great views of almost all of the species, which is so much more enjoyable than just ticking and moving on to the next one" J S & BM Nottingham
 
"We had a fantastic week as we always do on your trips"   R & B P Essex
 
"Many thanks for another great trip. We both thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the next one." D O Cheltenham
 
" I just wanted to let you know what a great time we had, you make it all seem so effortless although I'm sure its probably hard work...I can see why Dave chooses to come on your trips regularly, hopefully he won't leave me at home too often in the future! It was all very enjoyable so - many, many thanks and hope to see you again soon" V B Gloucs
 
" The flexible arrangements suited everyone and as usual the company was excellent. The itinerary was well planned and the leader skillfully took advantage of the weather to get us fantastic views of all the speciality birds" A J & M S London
 
" We enjoyed the tour immensely. All the birds were delivered, the accommodation was excellent and Ashley was his usual brilliant self we learn so much on your holidays, this was out fourth and we already have two more booked which speaks for itself. Well done" L & RT Worcester
 
" I just thought I'd let you know how much I enjoyed the week in Scotland - I had a great time!! " W S Penarth
 
" Oriole makes the whole travel experience so easy and comfortable. The holiday was incredible value for money and the whole trip was a wonderful experience. Ashley was knowledgeable and helpful beyond reason. He is unfailingly good natured and supportive and knits the group together even when he must be exhausted and you could not wish for a better guide. He never fails to deliver the birds either. As long as I can walk I intend to participate on as many of your holidays as possible - thank you! thank you! thank you for another holiday that was wonderful in every way! D C California
 

 

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