International Birdwatching Tours – 2020

After our very successful international tours in 2018 & 2019, we are delighted to announce that we will be offering a small number of international tours again in 2020. We have selected four very exciting destinations, the dates for which are as follows:

These tours are being offered in conjunction with our friends at Oriole Birding, an established and very well regarded provider of birdwatching and wildlife holidays worldwide. By partnering with Oriole Birding, we are able to offer you all the assurances of booking with an international tour operator, including ATOL protection, as well as added benefits including credit/debit card booking.

Spanish Pyrenees & Steppe – Dupont's Lark & Wallcreeper

Spanish Pyrenees collage

Dates: 26th February-2nd March 2020

Price: £1199.00 (single room supplement £50.00)

This tour is a short winter break to look for some of the specialised birds of the Spanish Pyrenees and steppes, in particular two iconic species – Wallcreeper and Dupont's Lark.

In the winter, many of the montane species descend to lower altitudes, giving us a great opportunity for viewing these enigmatic birds without the need for scaling the high peaks. We will spend the first four days exploring the Pyrenees. As well as Wallcreeper, we will look for Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough and if we are lucky, Citril Finch. Lammergeier is likely here too, as well as Griffon Vulture and possibly also Black Vulture, all the midst of some fantastic scenery.

Dupont's Lark is one of Europe’s rarest breeding birds, found only in Spain (outside of North Africa), and this is the best area to look for them. At this time of year, they sing almost exclusively at dawn and dusk. The steppes are also home to several other much sought after species, such as Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Little Bustard and, with a bit of luck, also Great Bustard. We will also visit an excellent wetland site where we have a good chance of seeing White-spotted Bluethroat and Penduline Tit and, if time allows on our way back to the airport, we will call in at the Llobregat Delta where we might find wintering Moustached Warbler, as well as a selection of other waterbirds.

For more information on this tour, please see the Oriole Birding website here. If you are interested in booking a place, please contact us directly.

Extremadura – Winter in the Spanish Steppes

Extremadura collage

Dates: 31st January-4th February 2020

Price: £1099.00 (no single supplement)

Extremadura is one of the most exciting and rewarding areas for birdwatching in Spain, and spring is a great time to visit. The region is particularly renowned for its steppe birds, including Great and Little Bustards, and Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. These may gather in large winter flocks, which makes it a good time of year to look for them. It is also a great place for raptors, particularly Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture and Black-winged Kite, which can also be easier to find at this time of year.

Many other species come here for the winter. Foremost amongst them is the Common Crane and up to 75,000 gather here at this time of year. The sight of spectacular flocks of Common Cranes feeding in the dehesa or flying in to roost is unmissable. In addition, huge numbers of wildfowl winter on the reservoirs, Bluethroats occur in the damp reed beds and it is possible to find montane species such as Alpine Accentor here at lower levels at this time of year too.

As well as the steppes and reservoirs, we will visit the internationally renowned Monfrague National Park, a great place to get close views of large numbers of raptors. A stop at the excellent Arrocampo Almaraz marsh should produce a variety of wetland birds including Purple Swamp-Hen and Penduline Tit. Other interesting resident species which we will look for on this tour include Azure-winged Magpie, Southern Grey Shrike, Rock Bunting, Calandra, Wood and Thekla Larks, Griffon Vulture, Stone Curlew, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Sparrow. In total, we can expect to see around 115 species over the five days of this trip, but it may be the spectacular winter flocks which linger long in the memory.

For more information on this tour, please see the Oriole Birding website here. If you are interested in booking a place, please contact us directly.

Northern Greece – Lake Kerkini in Spring

Kerkini collage

Dates: 29th April-5th May 2020

Price: £1350.00 (single room supplement £100.00)

Lake Kerkini in the north of Greece, only one hour’s drive from the major city of Thessaloniki, is considered one of the country's most important wetlands. Waterbirds are the main attraction here, with large numbers of Dalmation Pelicans and Pygmy Cormorants, in particular. White Pelicans too are increasingly common and the lake boasts breeding colonies of all the European herons, egrets and Glossy Ibis.

In spring, this area is on a major migration flyway for vast numbers of birds heading north to breed in Eastern and Northern Europe. The muddy margins can host a range of migrant waders such as Marsh, Terek & Broad-billed Sandpipers and Temminck's Stint, plus White-winged Black and Whiskered Terns and Collared Pratincole. Passerine migration will still be underway and we will search the woodland and scrub for prize species such as Black-headed Bunting, Icterine, Great Reed, Eastern Subalpine and Eastern Orphean Warblers.

Raptors also feature highly on this tour, with Lesser Spotted, Short-toed, Booted and Golden Eagles, flocks of Red-footed Falcons, European Honey Buzzard and Levant Sparrowhawk all being likely. One day will be spent further north, near the Bulgarian border, when we will go looking for woodland birds in the morning, with a chance of Lesser and Middle-spotted, Grey-headed, Syrian and Black Woodpeckers, with the afternoon spent checking rocky areas for Rock Bunting, Western Rock Nuthatch and Sombre Tit. With our last day spent up in the mountains, we also have an outside chance of catching up with one or two scarce species such as Spotted Nutcracker, Semi-collared Flycatcher and Rock Partridge.

The terrain is mostly easy and there is little walking as we bird from tracks or roads in most locations. A short boat trip onto the lake has been arranged to get superb close-ups the globally threatened Dalmatian Pelicans in their stunning breeding plumage. You can expect a whopping 170+ species on this highly diverse tour to Europe's best up and coming destinations. This is really a destination not to be missed!

For more information on this tour, please see the Oriole Birding website here. If you are interested in booking a place, please contact us directly.

The Gambia – Birding the Smiling Coast

The Gambia collage

Dates: 13th-20th November 2020

Price: £1699.00 (single room supplement £150.00)

The Gambia offers a great introduction to West African birding, easily accessible with good road and infrastructure. This tour is designed as a relaxing and bird-filled break, basing ourselves at the Senegambia Beach Hotel set in 20 acres of tropical woodland! We will take excursions from here to explore the surrounding area, to sites including Kotu Creek, Abuko, Tujareng, Pirang, Brufut and Kartong.

Likely raptors include African Harrier-hawk, Shikra, Black-winged Kite, Osprey, Red-necked Falcon and Hooded Vulture, among many others. Kingfishers are well represented, from the tiny African Pygmy to the enormous Great Kingfisher. Then there are turacos, hornbills and ground-hornbills, honeyguides, drongos, bulbuls and babblers, robin-chats, paradise flycatchers, sunbirds, bush-shrikes and helmetshrikes, glossy starlings, oxpeckers, widow birds and bishops, and waxbills and weavers. We will look for elusive species like White-spotted Flufftail and Verreaux's Eagle Owl, and we will explore the river estuary, pools and shore for a variety of gulls, terns and waders such as White-fronted Plover and Painted Snipe. In the last few years, we have seen over 200 species on this tour.

The pace is relaxed and there will be plenty of opportunities for down time, particularly during the hot part of the afternoon, where the schedule allows. For more information on this tour, please see the Oriole Birding website here. If you are interested in booking a place, please contact us directly.

T: 01263 861 892
M: 07785 534734
E: info@birdtour.co.uk



Cley Spy
Cley Spy – specialist in
Optics
Bird watching tours in Norfolk and beyond