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News in brief: Canada, Spain & Iceland

Wallcreeper

Wallcreeper

In Western Canada …
Our September groups enjoyed a wonderful cruise in the Great Bear Rainforest this year. Highlights included some amazing encounters with up to 9 different Grizzly Bears (one of which was a very relaxed female with 3 yearling cubs) at Mussel Inlet, Black Bears foraging in the intertidal zone and trying to catch salmon in the rivers, and some prolonged and truly outstanding views of a Spirit Bear catching and eating salmon just a few metres in front of the entire group. This was one of the best views of a Spirit Bear any of us had ever experienced! Other highlights included distant views of coastal Wolves (two animals moving along an estuary) and the unforgettable experience of hearing a full chorus of Wolf howling that echoed through the surrounding mountains. Our group watched American Martens foraging for scraps of salmon alongside the river, saw Sea Otters, Humpbacks (some of which breached more than 60 times alongside our boat), Fin Whales and Dall’s Porpoises. An entire pod of Northern Resident (salmon-eating) Orcas even showed up at the end of the trip, impressing everyone with tail-slapping displays alongside the boat.

Our next 10-day ‘Spirit Bears, Grizzlies & Humpbacks – Cruising the Great Bear Rainforest’ holiday departs Sunday 4th September 2016. Contact Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email paul@naturetrek.co.uk to reserve a place or find out more.


Birdwatching, in Spain …
Clients on our October ‘Wallcreepers & Cranes’ holiday were greeted on arrival by the attractive sight of bright yellow stands of poplar trees in the village of Alquezar where they were based for the first part of the holiday. Highlights included: a record number of Wallcreeper and Lammergeier sightings at Santa Cilia; good views of a pair of Black Wheatear at Gallocanta as well as the spectacle of 5000+ Common Cranes flying across the lake at dawn, numerous Hen and Marsh Harriers, 14 Great Bustards, 24 Little Bustards and 30 + Black-bellied Sandgrouse! Javier, the group’s local guide, had a surprise bird in store – the first record of nesting Black-winged Kite, and everyone enjoyed watching one of the young birds taking its first flights around the nest. 4 Golden Eagle sightings were enjoyed in the north, while in the striking landscapes around Belchite, Lesser short-toed Larks and a small flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse were among the special birds seen, while White Storks (some on their nests), and hundreds of Collared Doves surrounding a grain store made for an exciting end to the trip.

The next three departures of our 7-day ‘Wallcreepers & Cranes in Northern Spain’ tour will be on Wednesday 17th February, Tuesday 23rd February and Sunday 23rd October 2016. Contact Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email andy@naturetrek.co.uk to reserve a place or find out more.

 
Wolf-watching, in Spain …
Clients on our late October Wolf-watching holiday, which is based in a wild, unpopulated region of Palencia, enjoyed watching a group of 6 wolves going about their business one morning, playing and interacting with each other. Rock Sparrows, Rock Buntings, Dartford Warbler and Serins kept our group entertained while waiting for Wolves to appear, and they also found recent evidence of Cantabrian Brown Bear during walks. Other highlights  included watching a pair of Golden Eagles flying among a group of vultures, and an elusive Wildcat busy hunting voles! On the plains, they saw Great Bustards, Common Cranes and other steppe birds, plus Black-eared Wheatear and a Yellow-browed Warbler.

Our next 5-day 'Wolf-watching in Spain' holiday departs on Sunday 11th September 2016. Contact Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email andy@naturetrek.co.uk for more information.
 

In Iceland …
In September, two groups travelled to Iceland in search of migrating birds, beautiful autumnal scenery and the the Aurora Borealis. Our first group enjoyed exceptional weather throughout the tour and stunning displays of the Northern Lights on two consecutive nights! Our second group had ‘sunshine and showers’, but were also lucky enough to have good views of the Aurora on their first night in Iceland. To a backdrop of huge waterfalls, lava covered landscapes, an erupting geysir and a spectacular iceberg lagoon, the tours’ wildlife highlights included Barrow's Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Great Northern Diver, guillemot, razorbill and Puffin, plus roadside flocks of Greylag, Pink-footed, White-fronted and Barnacle Geese, and Minke Whales.
 
The next two departures of our 5-day 'Iceland in Autumn – Glaciers, Icebergs & Waterfalls' holiday are on Sunday 11th September and Sunday 18th September 2016. Contact Kerrie Porteous on 01962 733051 or email kerrie@naturetrek.co.uk for more information.