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News in brief: Germany, France, the UK, the USA, India & Romania

Bavarian Alps

Bavarian Alps

 In Bavaria …
 
Our 8-day holiday based in Bavaria’s Berchtesgadener Alps in June was blessed with very reasonable alpine weather. Avian highlights included Golden Eagle, Alpine Accentor, Nutcracker, Red Squirrel, Chamois and Marmot, whilst 30 species of butterfly were recorded including Camberwell Beauty, Purple-edged Copper and Duke of Burgundy Fritillary. Spring had arrived relatively early this year and Globeflower, Bird’s-eye Primrose, Golden Hawkweed, Tofield’s Asphodel and Bladder Gentian were among the wild flowers admired by our group, as well as Fly, Bird’s-nest, Fragrant and Lesser Butterfly Orchids plus Sword-leaved Helleborine. A visit to the beautiful baroque city of Salzburg and Eagle’s Nest, Adolf Hitler’s infamous mountain retreat were also included on this holiday – and all without travelling more than 200 miles during the entire tour!
 
Our next 8-day The Bavarian Alps holiday departs Monday 4th June 2018. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email andy@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.


Pronged Clubtail

Pronged Clubtail

In France …

32 species of Odonata were recorded on our 8-day ‘Dragonflies & Birds of the Camargue' holiday in June, the highlights perhaps being Pronged Clubtail, Banded and Spotted Darter, Western Spectre and Lesser Emperor (writes tour leader Neil McMahon). We also enjoyed Mottled-winged Antlions in the grassy margins, cicadas singing loudly from trees and bushes, and butterflies such as Cleopatra, Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail and Great Banded Grayling. Avian highlights included Eurasian Eagle Owl with chick, 3 juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoos, Little Bustards, a couple of fly-over Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and plenty of Eurasian Rollers and Eurasian Bee-eaters. We saw eight species of heron, often at close range, flocks of Greater Flamingoes and good numbers of returning waders. Our group also enjoyed brief encounters with Wild Boar and Eurasian Otter, with rather more sightings of Coypu, Red Fox and Eurasian Hare. Our comfortable air-conditioned hotel on the outskirts of Arles provided the perfect retreat during the hottest part of the day, and our hosts provided a plethora of traditional exquisite French cuisine which was much appreciated by all.
 
Our next 8-day Dragonflies & Birds of the Camargue holiday departs Wednesday 27th June 2018. Please call Tom Mabbett on 01962 733051 or email tom@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.
 
 

Tresco, Isles of Scilly

Tresco, Isles of Scilly

In the UK …
 
In the Isles of Scilly …
Highlights on our botanical holiday to the Isles of Scilly in April included dainty natives such as Lesser Adder’s-tongue and Blue Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis subsp. arvensis f. azurea), the stunning vivid blue relative of our common Scarlet Pimpernel which is not uncommon here (writes tour leader Dawn Nelson), as well as towering Chusan Palm, Puya (Puya chillenis) abuzz with Honey Bees, and other exotics from around the world including the iconic African Lily. We visited all five of the inhabited islands, of which two days were spent on Tresco, and enjoyed three excursions on St Mary’s.
 
Our next 8-day The Wild Flowers & Gardens of the Isles of Scilly holiday departs Wednesday 25th April 2018. For further information please call Alison Steel on 01962 733051 or email alisonsteel@naturetrek.co.uk

 
Northern Marsh Orchid

Northern Marsh Orchid


In the north of England …
Highlights on our 4-day ‘The Wild Flowers of Upper Teesdale’ holiday in June included Moonwort on Cronkley Fell (writes tour leader Dawn Nelson), a stunning array of hybrid orchids including ones between Common Spotted-orchid and both Northern Marsh (Dactylorhiza x venusta), which is common here and Common Spotted with Heath Spotted (Dactyorhiza x transiens). We also found many of the iconic local species such as Spring Sandwort and Scottish Asphodel. But most of all we enjoyed each other’s company in stunning scenery surrounded by a wonderful array of interesting species, as well as some great meals!
 
Our next 4-day The Wild Flowers of Upper Teesdale holiday departs Friday 22nd June 2018. Please call Dave Shute on 01962 733051 or email davidshute@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.
 
 
Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager


In the USA …

I have a lot of experience birding in North America, but the thought of spending an entire week’s birding – at the best time of the year for migration – in a colossal city on Naturetrek’s ‘Spring Birding in New York City’ holiday in May did worry me a little (writes tour leader James Lees). My fears were completely unnecessary and very short-lived. New York City is an incredibly exciting place whether you’re a birder or non-birder … but what about the birds? Surely it could not compare to other great migration spots in North America? Wrong! New York definitely ranks among the best! Our hotel was in a great location – just a 5-minute walk from Central Park where, within seconds of arriving, we were looking at Northern Parula and Scarlet Tanagers! There were migrant birds everywhere. During the week, we recorded nearly 100 species of bird right in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world – on some days we had large numbers, and on other days amazing rarities. A particular highlight was the wide variety of American wood warblers in resplendent breeding plumage, including American Redstart, Cape May, Prairie, Bay-breasted, Yellow, Palm, Chestnut-sided, Blackpoll, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green and Hooded Warblers, as well as Worm-eating Warbler and a wide variety of sparrows, vireos, and other species; I’d recommend it to any keen birder!
 
Our next 8-day Spring Birding in New York City holiday departs Tuesday 1st May 2018. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email andy@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.
 
 
European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater


In Corsica …

Our 8-day ‘Corsica – The Scented Isle’ holiday in April recorded 94 species of bird including Corsican Crossbills, Corsican Finches and Corsican Nuthatches (writes tour leader Andrew Bray), Golden Eagle, Red Kite, Woodlark, Blue Rock Thrush, Marmora’s Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Greater Flamingo, Golden Oriole, Purple Heron and a lunch enjoyed amongst singing Nightingales. We saw over 600 plant species of which Long-leaved Snowflake, Mediterranean White Violet, Corsican Mint, Yellow Horned Poppy and Italian Alder were among the highlights, as well as orchids including Violet Bird’s-nest, Lady, Man, Provence, Dense-Flowered, Early Spider and Green-winged. Some of the other wildlife enjoyed included Corsican Fire Salamander, Bedriaga’s Lizard and Mouflon.
 
Our next 8-day Corsica – The Scented Isle holiday departs Sunday 29th April 2018. For further details please call Tom Mabbett on 01962 733051 or email tom@naturetrek.co.uk
 
 
Wild Asses, Tibet

Wild Asses, Tibet


In India …

Our 15-day ‘Ladakh – Birds & Mammals of Tibetan Plateau’ tour in July in Ladakh recorded 86 bird and 10 mammal species, as well as reptiles, butterflies and wild flowers. In addition, our group enjoyed driving through stunning Himalayan landscapes. Amongst the avian highlights were Ibisbill, Chukar Partridge, Hill Pigeon, Citrine Wagtail, Eurasian Hoopoe, House Sparrow, Common Rosefinch, Cinerous Tit, Black Redstart, Red-billed Chough, Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Horned Lark, Tibetan Snowfinch, Upland Buzzard, Himalayan Vulture, Mountain Finch, Fire-fronted Serin, Golden Eagle, Black-necked Crane, Saker Falcon, Hume’s Groundpecker, Lesser Sand Plover, Streaked Rosefinch, Great Rosefinch, White-throated Dipper, Long-legged Buzzard, Large-billed Crow, Ruddy Shelduck, Robin Accentor, Crag Martin, Bluethroat and Bar-headed Goose. Large-eared and Plateau Pikas, Bharal with young, Urial, Argali, Kiang (largest of the Tibetan asses and a native of the Tibetan Plateau), Desert Hare and Himalayan Marmot were among the special mammals seen.

Our next 15-day Ladakh – Birds & Mammals of Tibetan Plateau holiday departs Friday 29th June 2018. Please call Rajan Jolly on 01962 733051 or email rajan@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.
 
 
 
Great White Pelican

Great White Pelican


In Romania …

Our inaugural 8-day ‘Romania’s Wild Frontier – A Photography Tour’ in April led by award-winning wildlife photographer Kevin Elsby, and based at the remote Ultima Frontiera Reserve, proved a great success. Some of our time was spent in hides specifically designed for wildlife photographers with one-way glass in the windows (writes tour leader Kevin Elsby). From these hides we were able to photograph Golden Jackal (our group had 8 sightings of Golden Jackal over the course of the week) and White-tailed Eagles less than 10 metres away! Tour participants also got excellent shots of Grey-headed Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Little Owl, Redstart, Tree Sparrow, Black-winged Stilt, Kingfisher, Purple Heron and Caspian Gull. We even had a male Marsh Harrier land in front of one hide! Boat excursions on the Danube produced close views of Great White Pelicans, as well as a few much rarer Dalmatian Pelicans. These were joined by all three marsh terns (Black, White-winged Black and Whiskered), as well as Caspian Tern, and Little Gull, all in breeding plumage. We also saw numerous Red-necked Grebe, Black-crowned Night Heron, White-tailed Eagle, Ferruginous Duck and Garganey. A particular highlight was being able to see and photograph Pallas’s Gulls on a sand bar in the Black Sea. As we approached the sand bar many of these gulls came to investigate the boat, in frame-filling distance from our cameras. In addition, thousands of Caspian Gulls flew around us and the sky seemed full of birds. Further along the sand bar many thousand Sandwich and Black Terns were roosting. Other bird highlights included Red-footed Falcons, Bee Eater, Stone Curlew and Glossy Ibis, as well as a Black Woodpecker pair at a nest.
 
For further details about our 8-day Romania’s Wild Frontier – A Photography Tour holiday please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email paul@naturetrek.co.uk