England & Scotland Spring Migration 2019: From the Kings’ Ancient Forest to Caledonia

March 27 - April 06, 2019
Tour Length: 11 days Est. Spaces Left: 7


No Tour Extensions Listed.
Future Departures:
March 22, 2020
Tour Leaders:
Max # Birders:
Seven plus High Lonesome and local leader
Birds; Photography; Culture;
; Fairly relaxed with some early mornings.
Double Accommodation:
$ 4800
[per person]
Single Supplement:
+ $ 200
$750 [per person]

Late winter and early spring is a glorious time to enjoy the wildlife of the Scottish Highlands. We visit at a time when many of the resident species are beginning their breeding routines and the earliest summer migrants are starting to arrive. In particular, our tour is timed to coincide with the lekking of the forest grouse and aerial acrobatics of displaying raptors. This is also a time when coastal bays are thronged with extensive flocks of migrating wildfowl and secluded bays and lochs resound to the haunting calls of displaying divers. Add to this the magical atmosphere of the tracts of native Caledonian forests, dramatic mountain vistas and wide open skies and the gushing waters of the mighty River Spey and its many tributaries for an unforgettable experience. In addition to the Scottish element of the tour, we are able to include a unique opportunity to visit the ancient woodlands of Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean and the vast marshes of the Somerset Levels, an area recently benefitting by increased habitat preservation and management which has really put it on the birding map as a top destination. Its network of relatively new reserves will hopefully safeguard large tracts of this important wetland habitat for many generations to come. Numbers of wildfowl here are impressive, and with regular over-wintering Great White and Cattle Egrets and even occasional Glossy Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbills, it is certainly an area worthy of exploration. During March and early April, Great Bitterns are booming everywhere and the reeds hold shouting Cetti’s Warblers, ‘pinging’ Bearded Tits and quartering Marsh Harriers. Freshwater drains support Otter families and at dusk the skies are transformed by swarming Common Starlings coming into roost. Raptors unsurprisingly feature in this watery landscape, and include Peregrine, Hen Harrier and both Barn and Short-eared Owls. Chew Valley Lake in neighbouring Avon is also visited, adding the chance of rarities such as Lesser Scaup or Ring-necked Duck, as well as the first spring migrants that could include Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Green and Common Sandpipers, Garganey, Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap. The Forest of Dean will precede this wetland wilderness, and here in pristine woodland we look for Hawfinch, Common Crossbill, Northern Goshawk, Willow Tit, Mandarin Duck, Eurasian Siskin, Brambling and Lesser Redpoll, while Great Grey Shrike and Firecrest could also be available.  The terrain is mostly easy, though you can expect to walk up to five miles per day. The pace is relaxed and the accommodation charming, cosy and traditional rather than large hotels. Owing to the nature of some of the species involved, there will be some early starts, though these are purely optional. However, we recommend that you try to participate fully for maximum enjoyment of the tour. Your tour leader will be Paul Roberts and you can expect to see approximately 150 species. We may also visit sites not mentioned in the main itinerary.

Photo: Bearded Tit, by F. Davis


  • Meeting Location

    Heathrow Airport, London; depart Edinburgh or Glasgow TBD


    Very comfortable guesthouses and manor house.


    Ten nights en suite accommodation in comfortable guesthouses and manor house hotel throughout the tour, airport transfers in the UK, ground transport in UK in comfortable, well maintained minibuses, one way internal flight from Bristol to Edinburgh [20kg allowance], services of leaders, reserve entrance fees, meals from dinner on day one to breakfast on day eleven, packed lunches and road tolls.


    International flights, travel insurance, drinks other than tea and coffee, meals other than stated, any personal items, laundry and additional luggage allowance for the internal flight [please note this will be charged by the kilogramme and must be advised upon booking] and gratuities.

  • Top Birds

    Among the numerous species not commonly seen in the North America: Whooper Swan;  Ferrugiinous Duck; Great Bittern; Eurasian Spoonbill; Capercaille; Marsh & Hen Harrier; European Oystercatcher; Red & Black Grouse; Pied Avocet; White-tailed Eagle; Red Kites; Common Kingfisher; Common Greenshank; Common& Little Ringed Plovers; Ruff; Spotted & Common Redshanks; Green & Common Sandpipers;  Black-tailed Godwit; Eurasian Woodcock; Great Crested, Slavovian & Little Grebes’ Cetti’s warbler; Great Spotted & Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers; Bearded, Marsh, Blue, Great, Long-tailed, Crested, & Willow Tits; Hoopoe; Eurasian Wryneck; Ring Ouzel;  Meadow Pipit; Reed Bunting; Redwing; Parrot Crossbill;  Common Chaffinch; Hawfinch and many others.

    Bearded Tit
    112. MarshTit
    113. BlueTit
    114. GreatTit
    115. CoalTit
    116. Long-tailed Tit
    117. CrestedTit

    Top Mammals

    Red Fox; Pine Marten; Red & Grey Squirrel; River Otter.

    Habitats Covered

    Seashore; lochs; moors; native Caledonia forest; ancient woodlands of Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean; marshes and wetlands.

    Expected Climate

    Mild to cold at higher elevations; occasional rains.

  • Other Attractions

    England and Scotland countryside; old castles; beautiful shorelines and lakes.

    Suggested Clothing & Gear
    • Valid, current passport (w/ 4 blank pages)
    • Credit cards / cash
    • Binoculars
    • Scope and tripod (optional)
    • Sunglasses and sunscreen
    • Water bottle
    • Small umbrella
    • Small day pack / fanny pack
    • Small flashlight
    • Prescription drugs - carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems
    • OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)
    • Toiletries
    • Hair Dryer
    • Small alarm clock
    • Field guides
    • Note pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)
    • Hiking Boots/Shoes
    • Hat with brim/visor
    • Safari (e.g., Tilly) hat
    • Rain jacket/wind breaker
    • Medium-weight jacket
    • Medium-weight long pants
    • Medium-weight long-sleeved shirts
    • Warm hat with visor
    • Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
    • Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
    • Long sleeve shirts (various weights)
    • T-shirts or undershirts (capilene or polypropylene)
    • Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)
    • PJs or shorts for lounging/sleeping
    • Wool socks (various weights) and liners.
    • Moleskin for blisters
    Recommended Reading
    • Birds of Europe

      Killian Mullarney, et al. (1999)
      Princeton University Press
    • Birds of Europe with North Africa & the Middle East

      Lars Jonsson (1992)
      Princeton University Press
    • A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain & Europe

      Ian Lewington, et al. (1991)
      Domino Books, Ltd.



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