No 1 for Specialist Birdwatching Holidays
Suffolk IP31 1BA,
Tel. 01359 269657
|Gourmet Birds is a funny name for a bird-tour company. It sounds as if you eat them.
The name started as a joke, but it was original, so we kept it. It does reflect the fact that we give a high priority to good food and wine on our holidays.How long has Gourmet Birds been running?
Our first trip was to France, in 1984.How many countries have you taken tours to?
Many. We have led holidays in England, Scotland, France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, the Balearics, the Canaries, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Finland, Norway, Romania, Cyprus, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Argentina, Costa Rica, Malaysia and Borneo, Singapore, Australia, Egypt, Estonia, Sweden, Bulgaria and KazakhstanHow many holidays do you run each year?
Usually about six, sometimes seven. Most of our holidays are within Europe, but we usually include one long-haul destination each year.Do you cater only for experienced birdwatchers?
Not at all. We are always delighted to welcome those with less experience.How fit do you have to be?
It depends on the holiday. Some require plenty of easy walking, but strenuous hikes are not something we go in for.Do you have an upper age limit?
No. Some of keenest clients are of senior years.What equipment do I need to take with me?
Binoculars and suitable clothing for the country we are visiting. A telescope is useful, but I always carry one for use by the group. Advice on clothing and any other equipment needed (such as torches or flasks) is always given before a holiday.Can you cater for people who need a special diet?
We will try our best as long as we are notified in advance. Not all countries understand the needs of vegetarians.Do you stop to look at animals, too?
Yes. We have seen a pretty good selection of animals on our tours, from aardvarks to zorillas, and not forgetting the odd wombat. Butterflies are also a special interest, and we often take a butterfly net on European holidays.Who leads Gourmet Birds holidays?
I do. We feel we would lose the personal touch if we started using outside leaders. However, we always use top local guides in the countries we visit. On most European trips, Jan (Mrs Tomlinson) comes along to look after lunches and other arrangements.You say that your prices are all inclusive. How inclusive is that?
We try and cover everything except personal items such as laundry and telephone calls. All meals are always included. Unlimited wine at both lunch and dinner is usually a feature, except at certain destinations where wine is unavailable or very expensive.Why is insurance not included in the price of the holiday?
Because many people have their own annual policies. We can arrange holiday insurance for you if you wish, but it is just as easy for you to phone Worldwide Travel Insurance on 01892 833366. We use Worldwide for all our travel insurance, and find the company offers competitive prices and good service.Are you ABTA bonded?
No, we’re not, as it's simply not financially viable for us to be so. Neither do we sell flights, though we will give detailed help in booking them on the internet.How long do you spend in the field on a typical day?
This depends on the destination and the weather. In Europe, our spring trips usually include pre-breakfast excursions, as this is often the best time of the day to see birds. We may also arrange post-dinner expeditions to find owls or nightjars. However, these trips are totally optional. On a typical spring day, we will be out from around 9.30 until 6, but we always get back to our base in time for a leisurely shower and a drink before dinner. Lunch is almost always a picnic, and is eaten in the field.Are many of your holidays suitable for wildlife photography?
Yes, many of them are, while almost all give plenty of scope for digiscoping.What do you do when you are not organising or leading Gourmet Birds holidays?
I am a professional writer, specialising in wildlife subjects. My articles appear in a wide variety of publications, ranging from Country Life to New Scientist and Birdwatch. If I’m not at my desk I am probably either walking the dogs or playing tennis.Is it true that Gourmet Birds received the No1 rating in the last survey of bird-tour companies in the magazine British Birds?
Absolutely true. We can show you the survey if you would like to see it.Do you have a policy about smoking on your holidays?
Yes. The great majority (99%) of our clients are non smokers, so we ask those who do smoke not to do so in the company of the group, which includes in the vehicles, or at lunch or dinner.How many of your holidays run?
The great majority. We are usually prepared to run holidays with small groups that more commercial operators would consider unprofitable.What is your maximum group size?
It depends on the holiday, but never more than 12. On many trips the number is eight, or even as low as six. Big groups mean big profits for the operator, but are unsatisfactory for birding holidays.What sort of ground transport do you use?
We prefer self-drive minibuses, as they give us the most flexibility, but in some countries we use a bus with a driver.Why are your prices so competitive?
Because our overheads are low, and we do not waste money on glossy brochures or advertising.Do you ever advertise your holidays?
Extremely rarely. Nearly all of our custom comes from repeat bookings and recommendations.