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Sunbird – Itinerary

Wild Discovery Tours

with Dan and Rachael Brown

White-tailed Eagle in Scotland. Photo: Wild Discovery

We are very pleased to announce that we are teaming up with former Sunbird leader Dan Brown, who together with his wife Rachael, have formed their own company, Wild Discovery. Dan and Rachael are offering a series of short ‘Covid-aware’ tours within the UK expertly led by both of them, and these can be booked through Sunbird.

These are different to our usual tours in various aspects: to help maintain social distancing, the tours will be self-drive with participants providing their own transport and choosing who they wish to travel with. Participants can also choose their own accommodation to suit personal preference and budget. Wild Discovery will provide you with a tour pack which will include all the information you require, including a detailed itinerary, suggestions for accommodation and vehicle hire, as well as details on meeting points etc. 

To book on one of these tours, please email us at the Sunbird office at sunbird@sunbirdtours.co.uk

SCOTLAND WINTER BIRDING: 4 -8 January and 8 - 12 February £325

Join us over three full days as we head out in search of Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Crested Tits, Scottish and Parrot Crossbills, Black and Red Grouse, Long-tailed Ducks, Scaup and maybe even the likes of King Eider and Waxwing, not to mention a plethora of waders and wildfowl, and a superb suite of wintering raptors and passerines. The area holds some of the UK’s most highly-prized species and we will be focused on making the most of the daylight, and finding as many as we possibly can. As well as Golden and White-tailed Eagles we will hope to find Goshawk, Peregrine, and Merlin. In contrast, the coast offers some superb farmland birding with Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Grey Partridge all possible. Here the large flocks of geese can hold vagrants, and in winter 2020/21 there have already been Snow Goose and Grey-bellied Brant in the area. 

SCOTLAND WINTER WILDLIFE: 11 - 15 January and 15 - 19 February  £325
We spend three full days in search of Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Bottlenose Dolphins, Crested Tits, Scottish and Parrot Crossbills, Common Seals, Black and Red Grouse, Red Squirrels, Long-tailed Ducks, Reindeer and maybe even the likes of King Eider and Waxwing, not to mention a plethora of waders and wildfowl, mammals, and a superb suite of wintering raptors. The area holds some of the UK’s most highly-prized and enigmatic species and we will be focused on making the most of daylight, and finding as many as we possibly can. As well as Golden and White-tailed Eagles we will hope to see Mountain Hares, Wild Goat, Sika Deer, and find Goshawk, Peregrine, and Merlin. The coast is rich in wildlife with dolphins, seals and otters as well as some brilliant farmland birds, with Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Grey Partridge all possible. Here, the large flocks of geese are spectacular to watch and the coastal mudflats and marshes can throng with birds.  

ISLAY AND JURA IN WINTER: 23 - 26 February  £450
The Inner Hebridean island of Islay is a haven for wildlife year-round, and even in the depths of winter there are still thousands of birds, otters and deer present. Its next door neighbour Jura is even more rugged and home to several pairs of Golden and White-tailed Eagles, as well as thousands of Red Deer and an incredible density of Otters. What better way to start the year off with a short break to these southern-most Hebrides in search of their best wildlife.

In winter, Islay and Jura support around 30,000 Barnacle and 5,000 Greenland White-fronted Geese, the latter around 25% of the world population. Spectacular in itself this huge concentration of birds also attracts predators and the islands have some exceptionally high densities of both Golden and White-tailed Eagles and we expect encounters with both, hopefully on a daily basis. Hen Harriers, Merlin and Peregrine all occur in good numbers alongside a plethora of waders including Grey Plover and Purple Sandpipers, wildfowl such as Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Eiders and Scoters and the sheltered bays hold all three divers and Slavonian Grebes. Along the coast otters are widely scattered and we stand an excellent chance of encountering them. The moors are home to herds of Red Deer whilst the marshes and woodland have Roe Deer. Grey and Common Seals are common around the coast. The dunes and coasts of Islay support a good population of Chough and we plan on enjoying their sublime aerodynamics alongside their larger cousin, the Raven. Islay is even home to farmland and woodland birds, and we hope to find Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Redpoll, Skylark and more.

ISLAY AND JURA IN SPRING: 19 - 22 April  £450
As spring advances Islay becomes a paradise for all wildlife watchers and especially those keen on birds of prey. This short break to the Queen of the Hebrides, Islay, and its neighbour Jura, will focus on experiencing the incredible sky-dancing Hen Harriers, Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Short-eared Owls and other raptors, as well as spending time looking for otters and other wildlife. Mid-April is the peak time to witness the remarkable roller-coaster display of Hen Harriers and, with one of the largest and densest populations anywhere in the UK, we will be able to enjoy some prolonged experiences watching these stunning birds. At this time of year there should still be a few wintering Barnacle Geese and Great Northern Divers present whilst the first Corncrakes may also have returned. The woods and marshes will be alive with birdsong, and Islay and Jura will be a hub of breeding activity and migration. All in all it promises to be a wildlife-filled four days. 

ORCAS IN CAITHNESS: 29 May - 1 June £450

Join us as we search for one of the most enigmatic mammals on the planet from the Scottish mainland coast, the magnificent Orca. Our short tour coincides with the annual Orca Watch event held at Duncansby Head and will maximise our chances of encountering this charismatic species. As well as Orcas we hope to enjoy a plethora of other species from breeding Puffins and Arctic Terns to Grey Seals and a host of cetaceans. At this time of year Caithness is buzzing with wildlife. The coastal cliffs are ablaze with spring flowers and insects, white sandy beaches are home to breeding and migrating waders, and there is no better time to explore this stunning part of the world. 

NORTH WALES LATE WINTER BIRDING: 9 - 11 March £325

As the days start to lengthen and temperatures increase life starts to rebound around the North Wales landscape. March is an ideal time to explore this varied region with the first returning summer migrants mingling with winter visitors and a burst of energy from many resident species. Over three full days we will explore the varied habitats of Anglesey and Snowdonia from the mountain cwms (steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley) to the estuaries, sand dunes and coastal cliffs, not to mention the oakwoods and freshwater marshes. We will seek out a number of local specialities such as Chough, Goshawk, Red Kite, Black Guillemot, Twite and Hawfinch, as well as more regular species such as Slavonian Grebe, Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Purple Sandpiper (plus a superb mix of other waders and wildfowl), Dippers, Grey Wagtails and a plethora of woodland birds. 

NORTHWEST NORFOLK LATE WINTER BIRDING: 5 - 7 March £325

We have a late-winter extravaganza as we enjoy the best of northwest Norfolk birding for three days. These days will be full of superb birding experiences and we should see in excess of 100 species. We will also be making the effort to enjoy some of the best birding spectacles in the UK including wader roosts, vast geese flocks (including at roost sites), and a harrier roost where up to 100 Marsh Harriers have been observed in one area. There should be some excellent photographic opportunities too, and Dan will be on hand to give bird photography pointers.

NORTHWEST NORFOLK IN SPRING: 27 - 29 April £325

There are few better places to look for birds in early spring than in northwest Norfolk. Each day will be crammed full of superb birding experiences including a plethora of waders (many in summer plumage) such as Avocet, Black- and Bar-tailed Godwits and hopefully the likes of Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint and maybe something rarer. Bittern, Great, Little and maybe Cattle Egrets should all be breeding whilst it will be raptors galore along the coast. Farmland species such as Corn Bunting, Grey Partridge and Yellowhammer occur just inland and, with luck, we will find Bearded Tit, Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Crossbill and Goshawk. Summer migrants will be back on territory and we will look for Spoonbill, Little Tern, Nightingale and, of course, all the commoner species that pack the reedbeds and woodlands at this time of year. We will also make the effort to enjoy some of the best birding spectacles in the UK, especially at RSPB Snettisham where we hope to witness 10,000’s of waders being pushed off The Wash and onto the scrapes where they roost over high tide.

Once again there should be some excellent photographic opportunities during this short break, and Dan will be on hand to give bird photography pointers.

Updated: 08 December 2020