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News in brief: Georgia, Borneo, the UK & Peru

Lesser Spotted Eagle (Julian Thomas)

Lesser Spotted Eagle (Julian Thomas)

In Georgia …
Stepping off the plane to find a male Pallid Harrier whizzing across the airfield was a fitting start to what proved to be an unforgettable week in Georgia this September, watching Eurasian birds of prey at one of the world’s greatest bottlenecks for eagles, hawks and falcons (writes tour leader Chris Murphy). Highlights on our inaugural ‘Georgia’s Raptor Spectacular’ holiday included observing ‘kettles’ of buzzards, harriers, kites and Booted Eagles – we had thousands passing over our heads at times, among them smaller numbers of Lesser and Greater Spotted, Eastern Imperial and Steppe Eagles (a constant challenge to our ID and digital photography skills!). Whenever passage slowed, usually during or just after rain, the Chorokhi Delta and Lake Paliastomi invariably held an excellent range and diversity of migrants on land and water including Red-necked, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes, Feruginous Ducks, Night and Purple Herons, Black Storks, Black-winged Pratincoles, Grey-necked Swamphens, Spotted Crakes and Red-throated Pipits, to name a few.

Our next 8-day Georgia’s Raptor Spectacular holiday departs Saturday 22nd September 2018. Please call David Phillips on 01962 733051 or email davidphillips@naturetrek.co.uk for further details. 


In Borneo ...
Highlights from our September ‘Borneo’s Orang-utans’ holiday included a tarsier, slow lorises, Borneo Pygmy Elephants, flying lemurs, gibbons, a Yellow-throated Marten, Binturong, Orang-utans, Proboscis Monkeys, leaf monkeys and macaques (writes tour leader Tim Low). Our group saw every category of gliding animal found in Asia – gliding squirrels, lemurs, snakes, dragons, geckoes and frogs! A good variety of Borneo's endemic birds was seen including Bornean Bristlehead, Black-crowned Pitta and Black-and-crimson Pitta, along with 7 species of hornbill. The world’s largest moth, the Atlas Moth, was also seen and photographed. The quality of many of our mammal sightings was outstanding, with highlights including sustained views of an elephant at night seen from a boat just 8 metres away, and of a tarsier perched in a low tree in full view. We watched Orang-utans at length in multiple locations, including an adult male eating mangoes in a tree by the Kinabatangan River, and another male building a nest right beside the Borneo Rainforest Lodge and using a branch as an umbrella in the rain!
 
Our next 11-day Borneo’s Orang-utans holiday departs Thursday 6th September 2018. Please call Tom Mabbett on 01962 733051 or email tom@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.

 
In the UK …
1. Ardnamurchan – The Red Deer Rut
Pine Marten

Pine Marten

Participants on our September and October tours to watch the Red Deer rut in Scotland braved rain and cool winds (writes tour leader Andy Bray) to enjoy some excellent autumn mammal-watching. Highlights included good views of Pine Marten, especially on our October trip, and both groups enjoyed seeing the area’s Red Squirrels. The star of the show, Red Deer, were in full rut: roaring, strutting and displaying as they competed for access to the hinds. Everyone enjoyed watching the variety of behaviours exhibited by both the stags and hinds – it seemed to us as if the largest stags thought they knew that they were the bosses, but as if some of the hinds had other ideas!

Our next 5-day Ardnamurchan – The Red Deer Rut holiday departs Saturday 29th September 2018. Please call Tom Mabbett on 01962 733051 or email tom@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.
 
2. Lyme Bay day-trips
We were delighted to be able to resume our Lyme Bay boat trips – in search of dolphins and seabirds – in 2017, on a new charter catamaran from Brigham (writes Operations Manager Dave Shute). Despite rather unsettled weather conditions this summer, we managed to run three of our four proposed excursions and encountered a good range of species. The birds, in particular, showed well and they were often enticed close to the boat by ‘chumming’, which provided excellent viewing and photographic opportunities. The sea was exceptionally warm this year which brought many normally ocean-going species closer inshore. Manx Shearwater numbers built steadily during the season and peaked at around 1,400 on the last trip! Good numbers of Balearic Shearwaters were also seen (with a peak of 50) along with the occasional Sooty Shearwater. Three species of skua were recorded with Arctic and Great present on two sailings and Pomarine on one. Storm Petrels were seen well by all groups, with an impressive 27 counted on one trip. In addition there were the more usual sightings of Guillemots, Gannets, Kittiwakes and Puffins (the latter with a good count of 18 on the first sailing). Large pods of Common Dolphins were seen well on two of the sailings with around 65 animals recorded, whilst Harbour Porpoises were also encountered. The pod of White-beaked Dolphins that usually inhabits the bay has not been recorded this year. It is not clear why they vacated the area but individuals of this pod with recognisable markings were seen from boat trips off south-west Cornwall. We are all hopeful that they will return to Lyme Bay in 2018!

Our next Lyme Bay – Dolphins & Seabird Cruises Cruises will operate from June to September 2018. Please call Dave Shute on 01962 733051 or email davidshute@naturetrek.co.uk for further details about these day-trips.
 

In Peru …
Our September tour to the beautiful Lago Soledad Lodge in the Amazon rainforest of south-east Peru produced a wealth of wildlife for our group of six, with Brazilian Tapir, Black Spider Monkey, both Brown and White-fronted Capuchins, Red Howler Monkey, Squirrel Monkey, Saddleback Tamarin and Dusky Titi Monkey all seen well (writes tour leader Pepe Moscoso). Giant River Otters were seen every day, together with Capybara, Brown Agouti, White, Black and Dwarf Caimans; an active colpa (clay lick) with attendant parrots, parakeets and Red and Green Macaws added additional colour and variety. Some of the group then chose to extend their holiday with visits to Cusco, Machu Picchu, Manu and Lake Titicaca in search of further wildlife opportunities or Andean scenery and culture.
 
Our next 9-day Peru’s Rainforest Mammals holiday departs Wednesday 12th September 2018. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email andy@naturetrek.co.uk for further details.
 
If you are interested in a tailormade holiday to Peru please contact Georgie Head on 01962 733051 or email
georgie@naturetrek.co.uk