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News in brief: Corsica, the Isle of Wight, Madeira, Spain & the UK



In Corsica …
Our group recorded 18 species of orchid on our Corsica – The Scented Isle holiday in May, including Early Spider, Green-winged, Lady, Pink Butterfly and Provence Orchids. Over 750 plant species were seen in total, including 65 endemics, from the huge Corsican Pine to the beautiful Corsican Crocus and the minute-leaved Corsican Mint. Scented maquis vegetation was another highlight, as was (the not-so-sweet) Helicodiceros muscivorus which was seen in flower at the Scala di Santa Regina gorge. Special birds included Corsican Nuthatch, Corsican Finch and Corsican Crossbill as well as Audouin’s Gull, Bee-eater and Lammergeier. Besides the superb local flora and fauna our group was treated to delicious food every day, often washed down with a glass of local wine.

Our next 8-day Corsica – The Scented Isle holiday departs Sunday 30th April 2017. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In the Isle of Wight …
Butterfly highlights of our 4-day The Isle of Wight in Spring holiday included large numbers of Glanville Fritillary, good views of Small Blue, Dingy Skipper and Green Hairstreak, plus numerous Painted Ladies arriving all over the island. As for moths, Cream-spot Tiger, Mother Shipton, Burnet Companion and Six-spot Burnet were all seen, as well as thousands of Diamond Back; in addition, our group saw Azure Damselfly and several species of damselfly. Special plants included Field Cow Wheat, Purple Broomrape and Sea Stock and Bee Orchid. As for birds, Mediterranean Gulls and Little Egret were both seen on the marshes in good numbers, while several Little Owl showed well at our group’s accommodation. Other wildlife seen included Wall Lizards, a few Red Squirrels and Common Seal and Roseate Tern – the latter two species as our group was leaving the port on the last day!

Our next 4-day The Isle of Wight in Spring holiday departs on Monday 5th June 2017. Please call Dave Shute on 01962 733051 or email for further information.

In Madeira …

Macaronesia is a superb destination for seabird enthusiasts, and our 5-day Madeira & Desertas – A Seabird Extravaganza holiday recorded both of Madeira’s breeding species of fea’s petrel – Zino’s and Desertas, the Madeiran subspecies of Band-rumped Storm-petrel and White-faced Storm-petrel. An undoubted highlight of the tour is the chance to spend one night on Deserta Grande (either in tents or in the open air) and listen to the sound of thousands of Cory’s Shearwaters, Bulwer’s Petrels and Band-rumped Storm-petrels coming back to their nests on the island during the hours of darkness. A brief sortie inland on Madeira also added the endemic Trocaz Pigeon and Madeiran Firecrest to the tour list.
Our next 5-day Madeira & Desertas – A Seabird Extravaganza departs Tuesday 13th June 2017. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In Spain …

Clients on our 8-day Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains holiday in June enjoyed an array of botanical treasures including 17 different species of orchid. The sight of Lizard Orchids in full bloom and vast wild flower meadows was spectacular. Notable birds included Egyptian Vulture, Alpine Accentor, Short-toed Eagle, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Cirl Bunting and Eurasian Sparrowhawk (a rare bird for this region), while Chamois was also spotted. Stunning mountain scenery, comfortable hotels run by friendly staff and tasty local food and wine all added to the enjoyment of this holiday in a remote and beautiful region of Spain.
Our next 8-day Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains holiday departs Thursday 8th June 2017. Please call Andy Tucker on 01962 733051 or email for further details.

In Shetland …

Highlights from our 9-day holiday in Shetland included the Gannet colony on the Isle of Noss, a delightful family of five Shetland Wrens and three long sightings of Otters – at the ferry terminal at Toft a large hunting dog Otter came within 50 feet of our group. Whimbrel and chicks, drumming Snipe, stunning views of Red-necked Phalaropes and hundreds of calling Mousa’s Storm-petrels on the wing were among the highlights on Fetlar. Among the more unusual birds seen were White Wagtail with two chicks, a beautiful Black-tailed Godwit in full breeding plumage and the most northerly Chiff-chaff in the UK. Our group saw 21 species with chicks or juveniles: the highlight being newly hatched Bonxie (Great Skua) chicks and the lowlight being a Puffin chick ... being eaten by a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Bright sunshine and amazing views of Shetland's landscapes and beaches gave the air and vistas a rather Caribbean feel, though the water was somewhat colder!

Our next 9-day Shetland’s Wildlife holiday departs on Monday 19th June 2017. Please call Dave Shute on 01962 733051 or email for further information.
In England …
The Upper Teesdale is a botanically rich area in the North Pennines Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and plant lover’s paradise! Clients on our 4-day Wild Flowers of Upper Teesdale holiday in July enjoyed the sight of road verges thick with Meadow Crane’s-bill and Melancholy Thistle, as well as Sweet Cicely. Yellow Rattle, Ragged-robin and Greater Burnet were seen in hay meadows, and other treasures included rare alpines such as Alpine Bartsia, Yellow Saxifrage and Spring Sandwort. There was an abundance of orchids, including Butterfly Orchid, two species of fragrant orchid, Northern and Early Marsh-orchids as well as Heath and Common Spotted Orchids and many Dactylorhiza hybrids.

Our next 4-day The Wild Flowers of Upper Teesdale holiday departs on Friday 30th June 2017. Please call Dave Shute on 01962 733051 or email for further information.