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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 2021 tours, please email us at the Sunbird office at sunbird@sunbirdtours.co.uk

SCOTLAND - Orcas in Caithness: 29 May - 1 June 

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. 

SCOTLAND’S BIG FIVE: In summer: 11 - 14 June; In autumn: 13 - 16 September

The Ardnamurchan Peninsula is an imposing landmass jutting out into the Sea of the Hebrides. Home to the UK’s largest volcano and some of the best mammal watching in the British Isles. It is THE best place to see “Scotland’s Big Five”: Golden Eagle, Otter, Red Squirrel, Common Seal, and Red Deer. To a backdrop of stunning scenery, glens and rugged coast we will search for these species and many more. Sheltered sea lochs are home to Harbour Porpoise, Common Seal, Otter and White-tailed Eagle. From the exposed headlands we may see Minke Whale and Common Dolphin as well as Fulmar, Manx Shearwater and auks. As dusk approaches we will look out for Pine Marten which occur in high numbers on Ardnamurchan as well as several species of bat. An incredible 20 species of mammals are possible during our four days, not to mention two species of eagles and Basking Sharks.

NORTH WALES: 17 -20 June

North-west Wales is a haven for wildlife. For such a small area it packs in a diverse array of habitats, many of international importance, and a remarkable suite of species from Puffins to Otters, Fly Orchids to Glow Worms. Coastal heaths ablaze with flowers hold Adder and Silver-studded Blue butterflies, and clifftops are home to Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Kittiwake. The mires of Anglesey are crammed with orchids which should be at their peak, and we can expect to see Fly, Bee and Butterfly Orchids, not to mention an incredible diversity of dragonflies and damselflies. Bittern and Marsh Harrier are recent additions to Anglesey’s avifauna and we may even see Otter in the lowland wetlands. At dusk we will head out in search of Glow Worms and bats, and before the day starts proper we’ll check to see what diversity of moths we have caught during the previous evening. On the mainland we will search the Welsh oak woods for Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and maybe even Goshawk. Snowdonia is not only stunning but home to many Arctic-alpine plants as well as Ring Ouzels and Twite. The hills are patrolled by Peregrine and Red Kite and we should also find Osprey and Hen Harrier. We also plan to look for Sand Lizard amongst the rich dunes of North Wales. 

WILDLIFE IN DEESIDE - Pine Martens to Puffins: 28 - 30 June, 20 - 22 July;  Cairngorms to the Coast: 25 - 27 August

Deeside is the undiscovered side of the Cairngorms National Park. This royal valley is home to swathes of Caledonian forest that hug the fringes of munros and shelter the delightful villages of Braemar and Ballater. It is also a haven for wildlife and the perfect place to get a real feel for just how diverse and spectacular wildlife is in Scotland. In any one day you can walk past ancient Granny pines, watch Mountain Hares soak in the sun, awe at Golden and White-tailed Eagles, marvel at Crossbills adeptly harvesting cones, observe nationally rare butterflies, moths and dragonflies, and finish off by getting face to face with Pine Martens and Badgers with an optional extra evening at a viewing hide. Over three days we will show you everything from the remarkable Arctic-alpine plants, Beavers, eagles and Red Deer to seabird cities, Bottlenose Dolphins and stunning butterflies. As many as 15 species of mammal may be encountered as well as 120 species of bird.

GOLDEN DEESIDE: 20 - 22 September; 15 - 17 October

Autumn in Royal Deeside is truly stunning. Bathed in crisp morning air and with the sense of change and movement occurring every day it is a prime place to not only witness autumn in action but to discover an unexplored side of the Cairngorms National Park. Swathes of Caledonian forest hug the fringes of munros and shelter the delightful villages of Braemar and Ballater and it is a haven for wildlife; a perfect place to get a sense of how diverse and spectacular wildlife is in Scotland. Skeins of Pink-footed Geese will be migrating overhead as we stroll past ancient Granny pines. Mountain Hares soak in the soft autumnal light as their fur starts to turn white for winter. Golden and White-tailed Eagles cruise the ridges and we’ll marvel at Crossbills adeptly harvesting cones. Rich yellow and brown tones flush the forest as the leaves change whilst the open moors glow with colour. Autumn is the season for fungi too and we expect to enjoy their myriad forms and colours. We will spend a day along the coast where hundreds of seals gather and thousands of waders will be feeding, whilst offshore Bottlenose Dolphins cavort along the coast. There will be an option to finish off our tour by getting face to face with Pine Martens and Badgers. Over three days we’ll show you everything from eagles and rutting Red Deer to hundreds of coastal birds, Beavers, Bottlenose Dolphins, vibrant fungi and dazzling autumn foliage.

ISLAY AND JURA - Autumn Wildlife Spectacle: 25 - 28 October

The rugged island of Islay is a haven for wildlife year-round but in autumn it’s transformed into a true haven for tens of thousands of birds not to mention the resident Otters, seals and deer. Its next-door neighbour, Jura, is even more rugged and home to several pairs of Golden and White-tailed Eagles year-round. Also here 5,000 Red Deer graze the stark hillsides, and an incredible density of Otters can be found along the coast. Islay and Jura support around 30,000 Barnacle and 6,500 Greenland White-fronted Geese in autumn, the latter around 30% 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 some good encounters with both. 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 return to the sea lochs, 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. Islay is even home to farmland and woodland birds, and we hope to find Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Redpoll, Skylark and more. The dunes and coasts of Islay support a good population of Chough and we plan on enjoying their sublime aerodynamics along with their larger cousin, the Raven. Join us for what promises to be a wildlife-filled four days!

ISLAY AND JURA - Eagle Quest: 1 - 4 November

The rugged island of Islay is a haven for eagles and other wildlife year-round but in autumn it becomes one of Britain’s hotspots for the best raptor aggregations. Drawn to the islands by an abundance of prey, Islay and Jura are incredible places to come and watch both Golden and White-tailed Eagles. The former are resident and we will check territories known to us whilst immature White-tailed Eagles will often congregate in areas where food sources are abundant on Islay. Islay is also an exceptional island for Hen Harriers and we can expect to see them daily and hopefully watch them coming into and out of their roost at dusk and dawn. Merlin, Peregrine and Kestrel are all widespread as well as Sparrowhawk and Buzzard and we should also be able to find Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl. As well as the raptors, Islay and Jura are home to tens of thousands of birds, not to mention the resident Otters, seals and deer. The islands support around 30,000 Barnacle and 6,500 Greenland White-fronted Geese in autumn, the latter around 30% of the world population. Spectacular in itself this huge concentration of birds also attracts the eagles. On Jura around 5,000 Red Deer graze the stark hillsides in large herds and an incredible density of Otters can be found along the coast. Our searches will undoubtedly yield other species too and we hope to see a plethora of waders and wildfowl in the sea lochs, whilst the sheltered bays hold all three divers and Slavonian Grebes. The moors are home to herds of Red Deer whilst the marshes and woodland have Roe Deer. Grey and Common Seals are familiar sights around the coast. Islay is also home to farmland and woodland birds, while the dunes and coastline support a good population of Chough and we plan on enjoying their sublime aerodynamics along with their larger cousin, the Raven, as we search for eagles and harriers. Join us for what promises to be a raptor-filled four days!

 

Updated: 01 March 2021