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Orchids and other Wildlife of the Chilterns

Tour Code: GBR38

A 3-day tour to discover the orchids, birds and other wildlife of the chalk and a nearby wetland reserve

3 days from £350(flights not included) Land Only Price: £0 SRS: £100

Declared an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) 40 years ago and covering 324 square miles, the Chilterns are rated alongside some of our best known national parks. Rare chalk streams meander through the Chilterns towards the River Thames, providing ideal habitat for a diverse flora including several species of orchid. Red Kites were first reintroduced into the Chilterns in England in 1989, and we’ll be hoping to get good views of this charismatic bird. During our 3-day break we will also visit a wetland site at Otmoor RSPB Reserve, where we will search for birds not found at higher elevations in the Chilterns. We will also enjoy the wild flowers which are re-colonising the wetland meadows, as well as look for butterflies in hedgerows and birds in the reedbeds here.

  • Look for orchids such as Military, Bee, Fly, Monkey & Lady
  • Water Violet & Green-winged Orchid in wet meadows  
  • Water Rail, Reed Bunting, Hobby & Marsh Harrier possible in reedbeds
  • Visit a Red Kite release centre
  • Lapwing, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Grasshopper Warbler, Curlew & Redshank among birds
  • Led by expert naturalist guide



Outline Itinerary Download

Declared an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’ (AONB) 40 years ago and covering 324 square miles, the Chilterns are rated alongside some of our best known national parks including the Lake District and New Forest. The centre of the AONB is situated just 35 miles from Trafalgar Square, making it one of the easiest to access from the capital and a top tourist attraction. Although it has an abundance of tranquil villages and imposing buildings to visit, we will be concentrating on the natural wonders of the area, 20% of which is covered by woods and forests that once provided timber to a thriving furniture industry.  The AONB stretches from the Thames at Goring, on its southern boundary, to Hitchin in Hertfordshire in the north. Rare chalk streams meander here towards the mighty Thames, and orchids such as Military, Bee, Fly, Monkey and Lady will be sought, together with Clustered Bellflower and many other plants. It was in the Chilterns in 1989 that Red Kites were first reintroduced into England, with resounding success! We will be visiting the release area and will take an in-depth look at this charismatic bird.

Leaving the Chilterns for a short trip to nearby Otmoor RSPB Reserve, we will investigate a recreated wetland situated at the lowest point in Oxfordshire, looking for birds and flowers not found in the higher elevations of the Chilterns. Here Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew breed, together with Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Grasshopper Warbler; recognising such birds by their song will be a feature of this holiday. Wetland wild flowers are recolonising the wet meadows here and Water Violet and Green-winged Orchids are to be found. The hedges are managed to encourage rare hairstreak butterflies and we will visit reedbeds that once were arable fields looking for Water Rail, Reed Buntings, Hobbies and maybe even a late Marsh Harrier.

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Wed 15th May 2019 - Fri 17th May 2019



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Flights: Flights are not included with this tourMore info

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

Land only cost: £0 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: United Kingdom

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David Shute
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