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Sicily in Autumn

Tour Code: ITA15

A 7-day birdwatching holiday, based in the delightful farmhouse of a former winery in the coastal town of Siracusa, focusing on the autumn bird migration and Sicily's varied and interesting scenery.

7 days from £1495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1345 SRS: £150


This 7-day tour will be focusing on the significant number of migrating birds which use Sicily as a stopover point on their journey south for the winter. We will be based for the week in a charming rural converted winery close to the sea and resident birds of the surrounding area include Stone Curlew, Zitting Cisticola, Spotless Starling and Sardinian Warbler! The nearby coast has a series of headlands and marshes that we will visit in search of passerines and raptors such as Booted Eagle, while the area’s superb wetlands are home to Spoonbill, Slender-billed Gull and Greater Flamingoes. Delicious cuisine and a sprinkling of history combined with some excellent seasonal birdwatching should make for an enticing week’s holiday!

  • Search the lava flows of Mount Etna for Sicilian Rock Partridge
  • Take a cable car & 4x4 guided vehicles to the rim of Etna’s crater!
  • Explore headlands for recently arrived migrants
  • Scour coastal wetlands for Little Stint, Avocet & Black-winged Stilt
  • Delightful converted former winery our base
  • Visit the old town of Ortigia & enjoy leisurely picnic lunches
  • Led by expert ornithologist guide

 

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

The charming farmhouse of a former winery, with swimming pool. All rooms have private facilities.

Greater Flamingoes

Greater Flamingoes

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Catania; transfer Siracusa.

Day 2/6 Daily programme of birding excursions from Siracusa.

Day 7 Fly London.

To complement our popular and successful spring birdwatching holidays to Sicily, we are now delighted to offer a new tour — the chance to enjoy this wonderful island in the autumn, focusing on the southward annual migration of birds as well as resident species and other fauna and flora. We will also be able to appreciate a flavour of Sicily’s rich history, its strategic position in the Mediterranean having led to a succession of occupations, the influences of which may still be enjoyed today. By contrast, Mount Etna has been ever present, its eruptions over the centuries responsible for enriching Sicily’s soils with volcanic ash, earning the island the title of ‘bread basket of Rome’, a sobriquet that remains as true today as in Roman times — its vineyards, olive groves, citrus orchards and other agricultural enterprises generating a rich harvest.

This is a single-centre holiday, our base for its six nights being a former winery near the coastal town of Siracusa. A charming and rustic spot, here the pace of life is relaxed and visitors soon adjust to a slower rhythm. It is still a working farm, however, citrus fruits being its primary crop, though the owners still manage to produce thousands of bottles of the special local wine, Nero d’Avola, on the premises! For those who wish, a tasting can be arranged, along with a sumptuous array of local foods to sample, laid on by our charming hosts.

On our spring trips we have found a stunning variety of birds in the surrounding fields on our pre-breakfast walks, from singing Nightingale, Golden Oriole and Sardinian Warbler to Bee-eater, Lesser Kestrel and Hoopoe. This holiday, though, is timed to coincide with the autumn bird migration and we can expect a wide variety of warblers, waders, raptors and other species as they head south for the winter. Sicily, and other Mediterranean islands, provide essential stopovers for these migrants, enabling them to rest and re-fuel before continuing their journey south. We will explore a variety of different habitats during our week here, keeping a sharp look-out both for migrants and for all of the island’s resident species, amongst them Stone Curlew, Zitting Cisticola, Spotless Starling and Sardinian Warbler. In particular, we will focus on such vantage points as local headlands, which act as way-markers, guiding migrants on their way south. We will also look for Richard’s Pipits which overwinter on the island.

Sicily’s coastline is dotted with some superb wetland areas, which are magnets for passing birds and always very rewarding to explore. A wide variety of waders, which may include Marsh Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Ruff and Spotted Redshank, will be heading south in September and we will take the opportunity to learn how to identify the various members of this challenging group. These are joined by Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Avocet, Spoonbill and Slender-billed Gull and we may even be treated to the memorable sight of a sunlit fly-past by a flock of Greater Flamingoes! Penduline Tits are dispersing at this time of year and becoming less secretive, whilst Booted Eagles will be arriving to join resident species such as Marsh Harriers for the winter. Indeed, many raptors will be on the move at this exciting time of the year so we will be regularly scanning the skies to see what else flies past!

We will also drive north for a day to experience Sicily’s main geological attraction, Mount Etna. This active volcano dominates the northern half of the island and we will — weather permitting — ascend its 2,900-metre cone using the cable car and 4-wheel drive vehicles. The views from the top are stunning and this is likely to be one of the week’s highlights. On our way back down, we will explore the pine woods and heaths of Etna’s lower slopes in search of the rare endemic Sicilian race of Rock Partridge as well as Black Redstart, Short-toed Treecreeper, Rock Bunting and Woodlark. We will also hope to explore a nearby gorge in search of Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush and the raptors which regularly use it as an ‘aerial motorway’ on their way south.

Finally, as a visit to Sicily is not complete without an appreciation of the wonderful history and culture of the island, time spent in Siracusa will allow you to view its impressive Greek and Roman amphitheatres, and a visit to the architecturally stunning old town of Ortigia will allow you to enjoy its narrow medieval lanes, Baroque palaces and beautiful piazzas. So ends this gentle-paced new holiday on a beautiful Mediterranean island, with a focus on enjoying the autumn bird migration, pleasant Mediterranean climate and some delicious food and wine.

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S.L.
September 2015
Dave's 10 years experience of the island was much appreciated. The Casa where we stayed was in a wonderful location, so peaceful. The pool was much appreciated and the meals eaten outside were great. The staff were wonderful and we were well looked after.
A.K.
September 2015
Accommodation was in a great location and very comfortable - Nice to be surrounded by 'birdable' habitat.
S.P.
September 2015
Both guides were excellent and so knowledgeable. Also very nice people - I was accompanying my husband who was the real birdwatcher but found my interest sparked by their enthusiasm.
D. & J. C.
September 2015
Dave Nevitt and Simon Woolley worked well together and were both extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They also took everyones's differing abilities into consideration.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Mon 17th September 2018 - Sun 23rd September 2018

YES

£1495

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1345 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Italy

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Tom Mabbett
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01962 733051

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Tour Reviews

Dave's 10 years experience of the island was much appreciated. The Casa where we stayed was in a wonderful location, so peaceful. The pool was much appreciated and the meals eaten outside were great. The staff were wonderful and we were well looked after.
S.L., September 2015