Newsletter October 2003

The first Gourmet Birds holiday was to France in 1984, so 2004 marks our 20th anniversary. Since 1984 we have led nearly 100 trips to Europe, Africa, south-east Asia, Australia and Central and South America, and seen more than 2,500 species

Planning a series of new trips for a new year is always a challenge. Our aim for our anniversary year is to offer a mix of familiar favourites, and one or two exciting new destinations. At the same time we have tried not to be too ambitious, as there's nothing more frustrating than putting a lot of work into planning a trip, only to cancel it due to lack of interest.

For 2004 we start in Spain - our first winter trip to the centre of Iberia. As the length of day in January is limited, we give considerable emphasis to good hotels, as we have to spend more time in them. We don't think anyone will be disappointed with those we have chosen for this trip, nor with the birds, which are sure to include several of Europe's most spectacular species: vultures and eagles, cranes and bustards.

Missing from our programme is our annual visit to France, as rising prices (especially car hire) make it uneconomical. So in February our only outing is the annual GB field day in Kent, on Sunday February 15th (please call for details if you want to come). In March we are offering only our second-ever visit to South America with an affordable trip to Brazil. We have resisted the temptation to travel extensively, and will be based at the Serra dos Tucanos lodge for 11 days, finishing with three days at Iguaçu Falls.

In April we return to Cyprus for the first time for three years, opting for the last week of April. We may miss the warbler migration, but will be sure to see such birds as Eleonora's falcons, lesser grey shrikes, bee-eaters and black-headed buntings, all species that tend to return late from migration.

Then, at the end of May, we're doing a bit of pioneering with a trip to the Ukraine. As far as we know, no other bird-tour company has visited this country, nor is planning to do so. We are, however, working with a small company that knows the country well.

Autumn trips are always a challenge, as many destinations that are outstanding in spring can be dull in autumn. Bulgaria is an exception, with a spectacular southward migration, which is why we are planning to go there.

David Tomlinson