August 2020 – Weekend

 

 

Thursday 13 to Wednesday 19 August 2020

The magnificent Grant Arms Hotel, Grantown on Spey

Join Birding Ecosse for a long  weekend at the luxurious Grant Arms Hotel situated in Grantown on Spey, deep in the Scottish Highlands

*** 2 Spaces available***

Thursday

Arriving on Thursday afternoon why not treat yourself to a couple of “local brews” in the hotels stunning Capercaillie bar, prior to you enjoying your evening meal in the beautiful dining room.

Friday

It’s life on an ocean wave!

 It’s the first Pelagic trip of the season – All aboard!!

An exciting day ahead as we head over to Ullapool to catch the Ferry across to Stornoway. Witness pelagic birds close up, Manx  and Sooty Shearwaters, Storm Petrels, Skuas and Divers, Puffins and Black Guillemots are all up for grabs.  (please note we do not spend time in Stornoway, it is purely a pelagic trip)

The Bonxie (Great Skua)

Culinary highlight of the trip? A fantastic special hot chocolate with whipped cream whilst watching seabirds!

Target Birds for today: Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, Storm Petrels, All the Skuas, Puffin.

Saturday

Highland Birds

This is a “must do” trip when you visit the Highland of Scotland!  The day starts off with a visit to a traditional Black Grouse Lek, and at the same time the “Go Back Go Back Go Back” calls of its Red Cousin fill the air.

Red Grouse

Next it is off to a beautiful classic Scottish Loch, complete with ruined castle in search of Black Throated and Red Throated Divers, 2018 was the first successful season in four years and it was a great feeling to see these two birds finally get off some young, hopefully securing the breeding in this area.

Calling in at the hotels very own superb hide we will check for the arrival of another specialty, that being the beautiful, colourful and charismatic Slavonian Grebe, before heading South to a hide with the definite “Wow” factor, this is one of the few remaining sites where we might, if we are lucky see Hen Harrier.  Being surrounded by grouse moors they are a very very scarce birdy up here.

We finish the day in a what has to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Scotland, and it is here we will search for two of the “Big Ones” they are White Tailed and Golden Eagles.  This area is probably the most productive sites in this part of Scotland to see these iconic birds, and the reason they are here?  Herds of Red Deer roam the hillside, Britain largest land mammal is very common as its it smaller relative the Roe Deer, we may even stumble across the secretive Sika deer.  Mountain Hare, Brown Hare, Feral Goats and Red squirrel are also often encountered.

Great Birds, great Scenery and fantastic experiences it really is a day not to be missed. 

Pick up 0815 – Drop off 1700

Sunday

The Mystical Black Isle

Udale Bay

Merkinch – Black Isle

Situated here in the beautiful Scottish Highlands Autumn on the Moray Firth and Black Isle is a magical time of year. Tide and weather permitted we start the day off with a walk in a local nature reserve, the exposed mud flats attracting hundreds of Ducks, such as Wigeon, Teal and Eider we may be lucky and see the regular overwintering American Wigeon.  Slavonian Grebes loaf about just offshore whilst Waders feed in the seaweed strewn pools and sand banks. And who knows, we may catch a glimpse of the local Otter family as the glide effortlessly among the seaweed beds just off the beach or perhaps catch the flash of blue of a Kingfisher.

Red Breasted Merganser (female)

After this we head over the Firth to the Black Isle, one of my favourite Birding Spots. From Sandy Beaches, mud filled tidal bays to fields and fields of arable farmland it is a cracking place to see a vast array of Species.  The area holds one of the largest and most easily viewable flock of Scaup, sometime numbering several hundred, Long Tailed Ducks mingle with Red Breasted Mergansers and Common Eiders. Several Thousand Pink Footed Geese roost in the area, right in front of the best hide in the Highlands and with a careful check we may pick up Brent, Barnacle, Canada and White Fronted Geese as well, and not to be outdone by the first location we may encounter our second American Wigeon of the day!

Red Kite

The mixed habitat attracts large Finch flocks to the areas, Brambling and Yellowhammer mingle with Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Linnets and only in 2016 the area turned up a Siberian Accentor!

Pick up 0800 – Drop Off 1700

Monday

The Beautiful Moray Firth

The Moray coast, as yet a much undiscovered and unexplored Gem in the Highlands of Scotland’s bird watching scene. Beautiful fishing villages perched right on the coastline, historic castles steeped in local folklore, Typhoon Jets from the RAF giving a bit of excitement and of course lots and lots of Birds!

This area can host an amazing 25000 Long Tailed Ducks, Rafts of Common Scoter with their scarcer cousins the Velvet Scoter being seen in double figure numbers. Red, Black and Great Northern Divers are all relatively common and White Billed Divers are becoming more and more regular.

Long Tailed Duck

Long Tailed Duck

Waders are another draw to this stunning coastline, Purple Sandpipers are seen on nearly every trip, Turnstones, Sanderlings, Redshanks and Knot are all common.

Now the Moray coast is not all Sandy and Rocky Beaches, oh no! it has amazing estuarine habitats, fresh water Lochs and plenty of Farmland, woods and scrub to keep us fully occupied on this full day Birdwatching Tour, and it can produce some great passerines as well. 2017 saw the arrival of a Shorelark, a species not at all common up here in the North, Twite and Snow Bunting are regular and Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow are easy to find, if you know where to look! All in all a great place to visit and with an expected 60+ species list for the day it is a brilliant way to bring on your bird identification skills along with your year list.

                                                           Shorelark

Tuesday

A beautiful day at Tarbat Ness

A super trip to this migrant Hotspot, stopping off at the beautiful village of Portmahommack we will scan for early arriving Long Tailed Duck and Common Scoter, whilst at the same time searching for migrating Terns, Grebes and Divers.

Next is the bird magnet “Tarbat Ness” and it’s famous lighthouse, here we walk through some rare coastal heather moor where the Local Rock and Meadow Pipits rub shoulders with the perky Stonechats, Coal, Blue and Great Tits are easily seen on the feeders in the car park and Yellowhammers jump through the grass picking up the crumbs.

RSPB Nigg bay is an outstanding place, and one of the few locations where we can pick up Pintail, loitering Ospreys are also a high possibility, the flooded scrape behind the hide providing the perfect habitat for migrating waders.

A great day in a very underwatched part of the Highlands

Pick up 0800 – Drop off 1700.

Wednesday

Give yourself a treat!  Enjoy a long lie before you head down for your last breakfast at the Grant Arms. Sit back and enjoy the memories of the past two full days birding in the glorious Scottish Highlands, and start planning your next trip North!

A fantastic break for just £985 per person

So what is included?:

6 nights Full board (Dinner, Bed, Breakfast and packed lunches, see below ) at the Grant Arms Hotel, Grantown on Spey.

Delicious packed Lunch on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

Tea/Coffee morning and afternoon on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

5 Fully guided Birding days.

All transport on outings

All guiding fees.

Use of binoculars if required.

Whats not included:

Transport to and from the Grant Arms Hotel

Drinks at hotel

Personal insurance

Items of a personal nature

A deposit of only £50 is required to secure your place, with the remaining amount of your trip to be paid four weeks prior to start date (preferably by bank transfer)

Interested?  Then please feel free to contact Birding Ecosse for more information or to book your place.

Please note, spaces are very limited so book early to avoid disappointment