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News in brief: Mexico, Ethiopia, Norway, Chile & Spain

Whale Shark (Nikki Humphrey)

Whale Shark (Nikki Humphrey)

In Mexico …

Avian highlights on our 14-day ‘Baja California & Sea of Cortez’ holiday included Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, the endemic San Benito Sparrow, California Quail, Tricoloured Heron, Reddish Egret, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown and Blue-footed Boobies, Northern-crested Caracara, Wandering Tattler, Anna’s and Costa’s Hummingbirds, Belted Kingfisher, Horned Lark and Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher (writes Naturetrek’s Georgie Head), who accompanied our February whale-watching holiday to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. On San Benito Island, Northern Elephant Seal bulls lined the shore with their small harems of nursing females and shortly after leaving the island, we saw a large Fin Whale – our first whale of the trip. Early the following morning, we arrived in San Ignacio Lagoon and were greeted by a horizon awash with Grey Whale blows, flukes and spyhops. We had several trips into the lagoon in pangas (small local boats), and enjoyed wonderful views of cows with their calves as well as breeding behaviour. In addition to the Grey Whales, we saw Humpback, Blue and Short-finned Pilot Whales; Common, Bottlenose, Common Short-Beaked and Long-Beaked Dolphins, Harbour Seals and California Sea Lions. We also enjoyed some superb snorkelling, though the first snorkel with a group of inquisitive sea lion pups was the most magical. Views of Green and Loggerhead Turtles, and swimming with Whale Sharks on the last day rounded off a fantastic trip.


Our next 14-day Baja California & Sea of Cortez holiday departs Wednesday 21st February 2018. Please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email paul@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.


Ethiopian Wolf

Ethiopian Wolf

In Ethiopia …
 
Every trip to Ethiopia is full of punch-the-air moments and our first ever departure of Ethiopia’s Highlights, in February this year, was no exception (writes tour leader Nick Acheson). The single most remarkable experience was perhaps a golden dawn in the Simien Mountains when we sat among Geladas as they ‘poured’ over the clifftop from their roosts. For some, though, the peak moment was watching an Ethiopian Wolf hunting Blick’s Grass-rats in the Bale Mountains, cocking its ears to the earth, then digging with slender ginger-and-white legs to unearth a hapless rodent. Then again, I had to goad the group for minutes on end to get them to leave a stream-bed from which the glove-puppet heads of Giant Mole-rats were popping unpredictably; so perhaps that was the biggest highlight. It’s hard to know: among the Hippos, the Bright’s Gazelles, the Abyssinian Ground-hornbills and the Northern Carmine Bee-eaters which graced this new tour it would be tricky indeed to pick a favourite moment.


For details about our 16-day Ethiopia’s Highlights holiday please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email dan@naturetrek.co.uk

King Eider

King Eider

In Norway …
 
Highlights on our ‘Fjords, Arctic Birds, & Northern Lights! A Norwegian Coastal Voyage’ holiday in February included views of small herds of Reindeer, a single Elk and some Arctic birds (writes tour leader David Phillips), as well as King Eider, Long-tailed Duck and White-tailed Eagle. On the first evening, we made a short drive away from the city lights of Tromso. The clouds cleared to reveal an arc of the Aurora Borealis stretching right across the sky. We stood enthralled by the gracefully moving curtains of light for an hour before returning to the hotel to warm up and celebrate our good fortune. Boarding the Hurtigruten ship on our second evening gave us further opportunities to enjoy Norway’s awesome landscapes and to see the lights as we cruised through straights, sounds and fjords and crossed the Arctic Circle.

For details about our 6-day Fjords, Arctic Birds, & Northern Lights! A Norwegian Coastal Voyage holiday please call David Phillips on 01962 733051 or email davidphillips@naturetrek.co.uk



Puma (Helen Pinchin)

Puma (Helen Pinchin)

In Chile …
 
Eighteen individual Pumas were seen on our March 'Chile - Just Pumas!' holiday to Torres del Paine National Park (writes tour leader Sebastian Saiter) including cubs ranging in age from 2 to 10 months old. Our group enjoyed watching Pumas eating kills, stalking prey, chasing and attacking Guanacos, and females with cubs. Other highlights included Culpeo Fox, Patagonia Hog-nosed Skunk, Southern Grey Fox, Big Hairy Armadillo, Andean Condors and a rare sighting of Chilean Pigeon at Magellanes in the Pehoé area; the latter had only been seen in this location once before – in 2013.
 
Our next 11-day Chile – Just Pumas! holiday departs Thursday 22nd February 2018. Please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email dan@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.


Ophrys lutea (Paul Harmes)

Ophrys lutea (Paul Harmes)

In Spain …
 
Paul Harmes led our two week-long ‘Spring Flowers of Western Andalucia’ holiday this March. The tour is based in the Ronda area in a delightful finca which has a colony of Great Mouse-eared bats. Despite an early start to the season, our groups managed to see six species of daffodil including Narcissus cuatrecasasii (Rock Jonquil). In addition, there were a good number of orchids, Hyacinthoides hispanicus (Spanish Bluebell), and both groups had good views of Spanish Ibex, and recorded good numbers of Griffon Vultures, Red-billed Chough and Blue Rock Thrush. There were memorable displays of some of the locally endemic plants for which this area is renowned, including Ornithogalum reverchonii, Saxifraga bourgeana and Erodium tordyloides, which kept the photographers very busy! Butterfly highlights included Moroccan Orange Tip, Black-eyed Blue, Spanish Festoon and Large Tortoiseshell.
 
Our next 8-day Spring Flowers of Western Andalucia holiday departs Tuesday 13th March 2018. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email andy@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.