No 1 for Specialist Birdwatching Holidays
Suffolk IP31 1BA,
Tel. 01359 269657
Gourmet Birds Spring Newsletter 2008
Welcome to the GB spring newsletter. If you are fed up with the English spring and need a break and, then thereís still room (and flights available) for our visit to Cyprus, departing 16 April, returning eight days later. We guarantee a rich variety of migrants, plus the bonus of local breeding birds like Eleonoraís falcon, black francolin, Cyprus wheatear, Cyprus warbler and Cretzschmarís bunting. The warm sunshine, super picnics and delightful accommodation explain why we go back every year. Call now for more details.
Our next trip after Cyprus is to Lake Kerkini in northeast Greece, close to the Bulgarian border. This will be the first ever GB trip to Greece, which seems surprising in view of the fact that we have travelled extensively in Eastern Europe during the last 10 years. This holiday is full, but if it proves as good as we hope we will certainly be going back again. It is, apparently, an excellent winter destination, so it might well feature as our late-winter holiday in 2009.
We have taken more holidays to Spain than anywhere, and it remains one of our favourite destinations. The special Hawk & Owl Trust visit to Castile and Leon in June is full, but we are planning new destinations in Spain for future holidays.
The GB safari to Uganda in February was great fun, and a reminder of what a friendly country Uganda is. We recorded close to 440 species of birds, and saw a good variety of mammals including close encounters with mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. Trekking for the gorillas was hard work, so we really felt that we had earned our views, but ironically we encountered another gorilla family a couple of days later, just an easy walk from our lodge.
There were lots of exciting birds. Pride of place must go to the shoebill, and we eventually saw three different individuals, but fine views of 10 species of kingfishers and seven species of bee-eaters were also noteworthy. Uganda is a wonderfully bird-rich country, but finding birds in the rainforest is a challenge. However, the accommodation is generally good, even though the roads are dreadful.
The Sierra de Guara is one of my favourite areas in Spain, and one we have now visited twice more since the first holiday there in 2006. Our visit last month was our first in late winter, and we were rewarded with memorable encounters with wallcreepers and lammergeiers, our two target birds. We also enjoyed stunning views of golden eagles and alpine accentors. We are sure to be going back again in due course.
As you will have noticed, the euro has appreciated by 13% against sterling in the past few months. All our prices were worked out last autumn when the euro was still worth 68p (not 79p as it is now) so we have been forced to add a £50 surcharge to all our European holidays. This is something we hate to do, but complaints, please, to Alistair Darling.
Tour companies delight in boasting about their green credentials. We have planted over 200 native trees here in the last three years, some of which are now over 6ft tall. We have also paid for a barn owl nest box to be erected on our local Suffolk Wildlife Trust Reserve, Micklemere. Those of you who have visited us in Suffolk will be interested to know that recently we have had regular visits from a barn owl, hunting our paddock. Other records this year include a peregrine feeding on a pigeon in the next field to our paddock, a stonechat which spent several days here in March, two records of woodcock and most recent (and most exciting) of all, a long-eared owl seen just up the lane from here. This wasnít totally unexpected, as one was seen hunting the paddock on two consecutive evenings last August, suggesting that this may well be a local breeding bird.
On Saturday 3 May Iím organising a local dayís birdwatching in the Brecks, taking in the RSPBís reserve at Lakenheath, plus Lackford (for nightingales) and various sites in the forest for stone curlews and woodlarks. It will be a full day, starting at 6am: if you would like to join me please give me a call or send an email.
I led my first birdwatching course at the Field Studies Councilís Nettlecombe Court in Somerset in 1976 and havenít missed a year since. My spring course this year runs from 23-26 May, and the summer course 4-11 August. Further details from the Centre, 01984 640320 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GB autumn trip to Bulgaria runs from 17 to 24 September, and promises the chance to see the exceptional migration along the Black Sea coast. Contact me for further details.