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News in brief: Germany, the USA, Greece, Madagascar, Zambia, Corsica, Gibraltar and New Zealand

Common Cranes

Common Cranes

In Germany ...

Clients on our The Birds of Brandenburg & Berlin holiday in October enjoyed a superb few days exploring the Brandenburg region. Among the avian highlights were White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Great Bustard, Merlin, Great-grey Shrike and fields full of Bean and White-fronted Geese, not to mention about 50,000 Common Cranes! On two evenings they marvelled at the sight of lines of Common Cranes, stretching right across the sky to the horizon, flying low over our clients’ heads. The sight and sound of so many of these large birds on the wing was breathtaking and is certainly one of Europe’s ‘must see’ avian spectacles.

Our next 5-day The Birds of Brandenburg holiday departs Monday 13th March 2017. Please call Tom Mabbett on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In the USA ...

With multiple sightings of Blue Whales and Orcas, breaching Humpback Whales (notably one showy individual which breached 35 times before we gave up counting), plus nine other species of cetacean, this year’s Monterey tours can claim to be amongst our most successful ever. In addition to the whales and dolphins, boat trips produced sightings of thousands of seabirds, including Black-footed Albatross, Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets as well as various shearwaters and petrels. On land excursions our groups enjoyed very close views of Northern Elephant Seals and Sea Otters, while avian highlights included California Condors gliding along a cliff face directly below our clients, 12 other species of raptor and flocks of wading birds, plus hummingbirds and woodpeckers in the hotel gardens. The tiny Pacific Tree Frogs found in the reedbeds here were also a particular favourite amongst our clients!

Our next 9-day Whales & Dolphins of Monterey Bay holiday departs Saturday 26th August 2017. Please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In Greece ...

Our inaugural Greece in Autumn holiday in September focused on three fantastic sites: the unique Dadia Forest and nearby Evros Delta, and the stunning Lake Kerkini. Highlights included thousands of White and hundreds of Dalmatian Pelicans, 24 bird of prey species including one group of 42 Eurasian Black Vultures, plus Eastern Imperial Eagles, Eleanora’s Falcon, Goshawk and Levant’s Sparrowhawk, Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, Eagle Owl, Nightjar, 1,000+ Bee-eaters, Collared and Semi-collared Flycatchers, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, four species of shrike, and four species of pied woodpecker – seen together! With their wonderful local guide, ‘gorgeous Georgos’ our group also enjoyed encounters with a Golden Jackal, a Wildcat, three species of snake, two species of tortoise and 26 species of butterfly.
Our next 8-day Greece in Autumn holiday departs on Tuesday the 5th September 2017. Please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In Madagascar ...

Our 2-week Madagascar’s Lemurs holiday explores the southern-central regions of the country, travelling from east to west. Participants on our October tour encountered a wonderful variety of lemurs, including the critically endangered Greater Bamboo and Golden Bamboo Lemurs in the rainforest at Ranomafana, Ring-tailed Lemurs in the hot, dry central woodland, and Indris at Andasibe. Tiny mouse lemurs came out at dusk while sifakas, including Diademed, Verreaux’s and Milne-Edwards’, all gave stunning views in their remaining wild habitat. With some patience various endemic birds were seen, from the Sickle-billed Vanga to cryptic nightjars, including young of Madagascar and Collared Nightjars. Throughout the tour, our group was astonished by the superb camouflage exhibited by chameleons, frogs and insects – memorable examples include the Flatid Leaf Bugs and stick insects. In the spiny forest, unique and xerophytic (arid habitat-adapted) plants were much enjoyed, from baobabs to Euphorbias and the exquisite octopus trees, which were in leaf and in flower this year!

Our next 14-day Madagascar’s Lemurs holiday departs Saturday 23rd September 2017. Please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In Zambia ...

Naturetrek's inaugural ‘Leopards & Lions of Zambia’s South Luangwa’ photography tour in October, based in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park, was an overwhelming success. The number of participants was limited to just five, which guaranteed plenty of room in which to work whilst in the safari vehicle, while a canopy-free environment enabled shots to be taken at all angles. As a result, the entire group came back with outstanding shots of all the valley’s major fauna. The added advantage of getting out on safari early, and staying as long as necessary at sightings, meant that all the group could concentrate on both technique and artistry, and capture some extraordinary moments in the lives of the occupants of Zambia's premier national park.
Our next 11-day Leopards & Lions of Zambia's South Luangwa wildlife photography holiday departs Sunday 1st October 2017. Please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In Corsica ...

Participants on our Corsica in Autumn holiday enjoyed a week of late September sunshine amidst stunning scenery. Bird highlights included Blue Rock Thrush, Golden Eagle, a flock of 60+ Corsican Finches, great views of Corsican Nuthatch and Corsican Crossbill in the forests, and a challenging climb to the glacial lakes at the head of the Restonica Valley rewarded our group with a rare Lammergeir and entertaining encounters with Alpine Chough. Notable flowers included Cyclamen hederifolium, Autumn Lady’s-tresses and the endemic Pink Snowflake, with additional colour from the fruits of Strawberry Tree, Berberis, roses and ‘carpets’ of Cyclamen. The fine, late summer weather resulted in an abundance of butterflies with two endemics on the wing, Corsican Wall brown and Corsican Heath, but neither could compete with the spectacular Two-tailed Pasha. Corsica has a rich reptile and amphibian fauna and it was particularly exciting to find the endemic Grass Snake and the showy black and yellow Corsican Fire Salamander, as well as Brook Newt and the secretive Pygmy Algyroides.

Our next 8-day Corsica in Autumn holiday departs Sunday 24th September 2017. Please call Tom Mabbett on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In Gibraltar ...

Highlights from our September Tarifa & Gibraltar: Whales, Dolphins & Autumn Migration holidays included watching raptors at our accommodation, the delightful Huerta Grande eco-lodge. Birdwatching in the grounds of the lodge proved fruitful as the surrounding cork oaks and wild olives bustled with Crested Tits, Firecrests, Short-toed Treecreepers, Hawfinch and Blackcaps. Raptor-watching from key vantage points at this time of year can be spectacular, and our groups enjoyed good views of migrating Spanish Imperial, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Lesser Kestrels, Honey Buzzards and Black Kites, plus Egyptian and Griffon Vultures. A boat trip on the Straits allowed close views of Long-finned Pilot Whales and Striped Dolphins, as well as Ocean Sunfish and a variety of seabird including Cory’s and Scopoli’s Shearwaters. Black-winged Kite, Northern Bald Ibis and flocks of European Bee-eaters rounded off a most enjoyable trip.

Our next 5-day Tarifa & Gibralter: Whales, Dolphins & Autumn Migration holiday departs Thursday 14th September 2017. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In New Zealand ...

New Zealand’s Natural History holiday takes in the very best in wildlife and habitats across New Zealand. The highlights include walking in the lush, verdant temperate rainforests, searching for New Zealand’s unique endemic birdlife, including the bizarre Kiwi; Enjoying watching albatrosses soaring out on the ocean and looking out for the spectacular leaping Dusky Dolphin or the rare Hector’s Dolphin. The islands of Tir Tir, Kapiti and Stewart Island are stunning with large swathes of beautiful rain forest, still holding many of the rare endemic birds, such as Saddlebacks and Stichbird. High in the Southern Alps you can enjoy the spectacular backdrop of these imposing mountains as you walk up glaciated valleys, keeping an eye out for New Zealand Falcons and the playful Kea. The Fiordland Scenery is simply breath-taking as you sail up the Milford Sound, surrounded by imposing snow-capped peaks and waterfalls, here you may see the Fiordland Crested Penguin, one of three species you may encounter on the diverse and spectacular Islands.
Our next 22-day New Zealand's Natural History holiday departs Sunday 29th October 2017. Please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email for further details.