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News in brief: Oman, Madagascar, Scotland, Romania, Sri Lanka & the Falkland Islands

Red Squirrel, Scotland

Red Squirrel, Scotland

In Oman …
Highlights from our October 2016 ‘Oman – Birds, Desert & Culture’ holiday included Hume’s Wheatear, Crab Plover, Arabian Partridge, Black Redstart and Desert Warbler, plus Greater Flamingoes and Sanderling among thousands of other waders on salt flats. In total our group recorded 198 species of birds as well as many butterflies, turtles, and other wildlife. Oman is a friendly and hospitable country offering superb birding amongst fantastic scenery, from wadis and khwars to turquoise sea and desert vistas dotted with Frankincense trees.

Our next 11-day Oman – Birds, Desert & Culture holiday departs Saturday 28th October 2017. Please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email for further details.
In Madagascar …
Highlights from our October 2016 ‘Madagascar’s Endemic Birds’ holiday (plus post and pre-tour extensions) included all 4 asities, all 3 mesites, Madagascar Plover, 4 of the 5 ground rollers, Sea Eagle and most of the island’s couas, tetrakas and vangas. On one occasion our group ended up standing around a bush watching a fabulous (and unconcerned) male Red-shouldered Vanga at a distance of less than 2 metres. One of the joys of birdwatching in Madagascar is that not only are there numerous endemic species, many of which are very colourful, but also that most aren’t shy which means that all members of a group nearly always get a very good view. Arguably the sighting of the trip – a fabulous Collared Nightjar sitting on its nest in the crown of a Bird’s-nest Fern!
Our next 9-day Madagascar’s Endemic Birds holiday departs Tuesday 3rd October 2017. Please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email for further details.
In Scotland …
On our September/October ‘Ardnamurchan – The Red Deer Rut’ holiday, timed to coincide with the peak of the red deer rut, our group was given an insight into the breeding ecology and behaviour of the stags by Niall Rowantree, head stalker of the Ardnamurchan Estate. Highlights of the rut included watching bachelor groups of immature males locking antlers as they jousted, and the sight of the alpha stags – some weighing over 200 kg. Standing in a remote glen at sunset, listening to the bellowing of stags silhouetted against the darkening sky, is a magical experience! Our group also saw several Otters in sheltered bays,  Red Squirrels at Glen Righ, and Pine Martens feeding right outside the windows of their accommodation. A stunning range of raptors included Hen Harrier, Merlin and both Golden and White-tailed Eagles.
Our next 5-day Ardnamurchan – The Red Deer Rut holiday departs Friday 29th September 2017. Please call Tom Mabbett on 01962 733051 or email for further details.
In Sri Lanka …
Our November ‘Wild Sri Lanka … in Style!’ holiday recorded 190 bird, 21 mammal and 15 reptile species. At Victoria Park and in the Horton Plains highlights included Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Spot-winged Thrush, Dusky Squirrel, Sambar Deer and Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, while Peregrines at Sigiriya Lion Rock and a Brown Fish Owl in a spice garden near Kandy were also memorable. In Yala National Park, our group saw the Leopards for which the park is famous, and Fin and Blue Whales were seen during whale-watching excursions off Mirissa. Finally, our group enjoyed numerous endemic birds during their two days in Sinharaja rainforest, with a pair of Sri Lanka Spurfowls being sighted in a new location. 
Our next 14-day Wild Sri Lanka … in Style! holiday departs Monday 13th November 2017. Please call Rajan Jolly on 01962 733051 or email for further details.
In the Falkland Islands …
 Our 18-day ‘The Falkland Islands’ holiday in November 2016 visited five of the islands as well as Ascension Island en route. Among the numerous highlights were: 5 species of penguin – Gentoo, Magellanic, Rockhopper, Macaroni and King; thousands of Black-browed Albatrosses in their breeding colony, sitting on their mud nests just an arm’s length away; close encounters with the Striated Caracara, one of the rarest birds of prey in the world; pods of Orca attempting to catch Southern Elephant Seal pups and thousands of young waders and goslings accompanying their parents. Our group enjoyed two boat trips and, on one of them, were thousands of Sooty Shearwaters resting on the sea all around the boat. Other birds seen well and photographed included the flamboyant Long-tailed Meadowlark, Black-chinned Siskin, Falklands Skua, Variable Hawk, a particularly dark race of Short-eared Owl, the charismatic Tussacbird, Blackish Oystercatcher and Southern Giant Petrel.
Our next 18-day The Falkland Islands holiday departs Wednesday 1st November 2017. Please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email for further details.
In Romania …
Transylvanian highlights from our September ‘Romania’s Danube Delta & Carpathian Mountains’ holiday included very close views of foraging Brown Bears, a White-tailed Eagle scooping a fish out of the water right in front of our group, Nutcrackers, Lesser Spotted Eagles, Yellow-bellied Toads, Cardinal butterflies and Large Copper as well as feeding swarms of Migrant Hawkers, pristine Fly Agarics and the fabulous Bran Castle. During their stay in the Danube Delta, cruising on a wonderful floating hotel, our group had fantastic views of pelicans – both White and Dalmatian – as well as constant Pygmy Cormorants, Kingfishers, Ferruginous Ducks, Hobbies and Red-footed Falcons. In addition, a wonderful three quarters of an hour during which 7 woodpecker species were seen at one site, plus Praying Mantids, huge Wolf Spiders and elegant Woodland Grayling made for a very memorable trip.

Our next 10-day Romania’s Danube Delta & Carpathian Mountains holiday departs Saturday 9th September 2017. Please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email for further details.