Latest news from Birding Abroad
November Update We're
always interested in places that are emerging as the next 'hip' birding
destination. At the end of October, Nick went to Besh Barmag on the
western shores of the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan. Here he could marvel
at the incredible visible migration for which 'Besh' is becoming renown.
The visit lived up to his expectations, producing birds pouring south
each day over the assembled international counting team. A most amazing
moment came when amongst many larks and finches, a MacQueen's Bustard
flew slowly south, before settling down near to the observation point.
Simply wonderful. There was a real buzz of excitement throughout and
no doubt many birders will be visiting 'Besh' in the near future. Below
is a male Finsch's Wheatear Nick photographed still on its breeding
grounds near Besh Barmag.
Both Lance and Nick have of course been doing some UK birding this autumn, at Spurn as ever and in Dorset, whilst keeping busy preparing for our spring 2019 schedule.
still have a few places on our 2019 tours to Oman in February, Southern
Spain in April and Point Pelee in May, so if you are interested please
check out our Tours Page and contact us for
November 2018 Update What a wonderful time we had in Mongolia, our third visit to this magnificent country. Quickly leaving modern Ulan Bator behind, we visited a series of national parks, thoroughly enjoying the freedom of the country's remote landscapes. A particular group favourite was the high peaks and alpine meadows of the Altai mountain range; located deep within Mongolia's imposing Gobi Desert. Throughout our journey, rolling steppe grasslands was to surround our isolated ger camps, which remarkably furnished great comfort in often isolated environments. The stunning surroundings of Jalman Meadows marked the southern edge of the great Siberian taiga forest, where beauty still reigns over the countryside. Click here to read the full report.
October 2018 Update
Back in the summer, when the country was enjoying a blistering heat-wave,
Birding Abroad hosted a UK mini-tour based in the New Forest. It was
a relaxed natural history break, the group enjoying many speciality
birds, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies of the New Forest, Salisbury
Plain, Martin Down and coastal Dorset. Click
here to read the trip report on our Tour Archive page and watch
out for our next UK based tour, either in autumn to the Yorkshire coast
or in winter to the Hebridean island of Islay.
October 2018 Update Rather belatedly, we have just posted reports describing our visits Colorado in April and to Poland in May. The Colorado tour was highly successful, producing all three rosy-finch species plus five species of grouse watched at their lekking grounds. Amongst other highlights were Barrow's Goldeneye, Lewis's Woodpecker and Chestnut-collared Longspur, with the magnificent peaks of the snowy Rocky Mountains never far away.
Greater Prairie Chicken
Video- Sharp-tailed Grouse lek
weather in Poland ensured all the target summer visitors appeared
on cue, plus unexpected sightings of Greenish Warbler and European
Bee-eater, as well as European Bison. The latter was an added bonus
for Nick who had watched American Bison just one month earlier!
September 2018 Update In February 2018, Nick and Lance visited Dhofar in south Oman, where we checked out various birding sites in preparation for a scheduled tour there in February 2019. It proved to be a fantastic visit with Verreaux's Eagles, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Grey Hypocolius, Arabian Warbler, Golden-winged Grosbeak, Masked Booby, Yemen Serin and a host of other specialities all showing well. Most pleasing were parties of Sociable Lapwings at two locations. The tour is now ready.
See birdingabroad.com/tours for more information on our 2019 South Oman tour.
August-September 2018 Update We would normally be at the Spurn Migfest weekend (for details see spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk, but this year we are leading our Birding Abroad tour to Mongolia in late August and do not return until mid-September. However we will have a stand at the Migfest, with some information about us and our forthcoming tours, so please drop by and take a leaflet.
on the Mongolia tour when we return. It's sure to be an amazing birding
and travel experience!
Early August 2018 Update Our website is in the process of being updated with new tours in 2019, 2020 and even as far ahead as 2021. Please do check out the Tours page.
Point Pelee in May 2019 now added! If you have yet to experience
the epic spring migration at the world famous Point Pelee and other
hotspots on both sides of Lake Erie, then this tour is for you - we
visit Pelee, Magee, Rondeau and Long Point for the best of the warbler
falls, wildfowl, waders, raptors, woodpeckers and much more. Our fourth
June 2018 Update Our first ever UK short tour began in June as we congregated at a nice hotel in the New Forest. The British summer of 2018 exceeded all expectations in terms of weather and each day was hot, excellent for the butterflies and damselflies we were seeking. Sought after species included Southern Damselfly, Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly, White Admiral and Lulworth Skipper, whilst reptiles also put on a good show in the warmth with Smooth Snake and Slow Worm both showing well. Amongst the birds, Common Redstart, Dartford Warbler, European Nightjar, Firecrest and Hawfinch were all seen near to the hotel, whilst a day out to visit the Great Bustard re-introduction project on Salisbury Plain was equally impressive.
This was our first mid-week natural history break and feedback from the group was very positive. Watch out for more short UK trips in the future, with both birding and a broader natural history theme.
May 2018 Update Poland has been our most popular destination since we began operating and yet again the wonderful Biebrza Marshes and the ancient Bialowieza Forest did not disappoint, revealing many of their natural wonders to our group. Memorable views of White-winged Terns, Aquatic Warblers, Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers, White-backed Woodpeckers and even several grazing European Bison ensured the group went home hugely impressed with one of our favourite birding countries. A trip report is in preparation.
April 2018 Update April saw us back in Colorado, USA for the grouse lekking season. Terrific close up views of displaying grouse (Sharp-tailed, Greater and Gunnison Sage and Dusky) as well as Greater Prairie-chicken were the highlights of an excellent and bird filled tour. The supporting cast included Prairie Falcons, all three species of rosy-finch, both Chestnut-collared and McCown's Longspurs and Mountain Plovers. The weather switched from warm and sunny one day to arctic-like with blizzards on the next day, making this a memorable tour in more ways than one!
A trip report is in preparation.
2018 Update Our scheduled tour to Cyprus at the end of the month
was a great success. A full group enjoyed some lovely spring birding
in the sunshine, visiting the best migration sites around Paphos in
the west and Larnaca in the east, as well as the Troodos Mountains.
Several Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and Desert Wheatears were noted, indicative
of the southerly airflow which brought several overshoots our way. A
'Caspian Stonechat' was self-found, showing the vagrancy potential of
this magnificent island. We had lots of laughs and much fun on the trip
were pleased to hear from Constantinos Charalambou who represents CABS
(Campaign against Bird Slaughter) on Cyprus. He visited our hotel to
give a presentation about his work. He explained that CABS was a German
organisation dedicated to stopping the illegal practice of trapping
and killing birds. Birding Abroad made a donation of £250 to CABS,
a very worthwhile cause.
January 2018 Update After a long and cold winter in the UK, who fancies a full week bird watching on the sun-kissed island of Cyprus to wash away the winter blues? From two centres on the coast, our forthcoming tour will enjoy a leisurely exploration of all the main sites, revealing a multitude of passage and breeding species all in colourful and pristine spring plumage. Whilst there we intend to absorb some of the cultural history of the island, so if you want a fun time with great bird watching alongside some relaxation and sight-seeing, then visit our tours page to discover the delights of Cyprus. Only two places left. Cyprus Tour Information
December 2017 Update COMING SOON ....... new itineraries for 2019 to south Oman and Arctic Norway.
We have visited Oman several times finding it is an absolutely superb birding destination. Our new itinerary for 2019 will include the south of the country, where local specialities include Verreaux's Eagle, Arabian Partridge, Spotted Thick-Knee, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Grey Hypocolius, South Arabian Wheatear, African Paradise Flycatcher, Black-crowned Tchagra, Tristram's Grackle, Golden-winged Grosbeak, Yemen Serin and African Rock Bunting. Many migrant raptors spend the winter here including several hundred Steppe Eagles alongside lesser numbers of Imperial and Greater Spotted Eagles. Pallid Harriers scour new farms springing up in the desert where we can look for the rare and splendid Sociable Plover. Offshore seabirds include Jouanin's Petrel, Socotra Cormorant, Masked and Brown Booby, whilst Pallas's Gulls in exquisite summer plumage dot the beaches. All this with many other desert, coastal and migrant species. Simply brilliant !
Dates will be early February 2019, to be confirmed.
Arctic Norway is one of those iconic destinations that all birders hold very precious and rate so highly. In late March, winter starts to give way to spring with longer days and wonderful light, but still with good chances of seeing the Northern Lights at night. We will be centred on the famous Varanger Fjord, where sheltered bays hold White-billed Diver, Steller's and King Eiders and islands offshore are home to returning auks including Brunnich's Guillemot. White-tailed Sea Eagles are common and Gyr Falcon frequents the area. The tundra and taiga forests are home to Hawk Owl, Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit, Arctic Redpoll and Pine Grosbeak and we aim to see all these and more during our stay.
Dates will be late March/early April 2019, to be confirmed.
Information on both tours early in the New Year.
November 2017 Update In October, Nick went to the Cape May Bird Observatory in New Jersey to represent Spurn Bird Observatory at the internationally acclaimed Cape May Fall Festival. Along with Bjorn Malmhagen (from Falsterbo Bird Observatory), the two gave the key note presentation of the festival to a Saturday evening gathering at the Grand Hotel of Cape May. It was a real honour to be invited to headline THE top bird festival in the States, and with feedback being excellent, all the preparation was worthwhile.
Nick then stayed
on at Cape May for the International Bird Observatory Council meeting
( IBOC) - three days of presentations , workshops and networking
with representatives from many of the world's top bird observatories.
Nick got to know the wider Cape May area very well - the bird watching
being sensational right through the autumn, and maybe there will
be a Birding Abroad trip there sometime. Watch this space!
The community of birders living at Cape May is extensive and includes some of the leading lights of North American birding - authors, illustrators, researchers and conservationists. The Fall Festival sees them all come together to share in the fun, learning and global networking.
Left to right: Nick with David La Puma (Cape May), legendary US birder Pete Dunne, Bjorn Malmhagen (Falsterbo) and Jonnie Fisk (Spurn) on the Hawk Watch platform at Cape May.
(on the right) with Cape May residents Richard Crossley and Michael
October 2017 Update Majorca Shortly after the "Migfest", we were off to Majorca on a short Birding Abroad autumn tour which targeted the Balearic Warbler and Eleonora's Falcon. In bright sunny weather, we headed to Cape Formentor where we particularly wanted to see the falcons with young before they depart on their autumn migration. Sitting down we watched in admiration at a family party practising their flying skills, and whilst doing so, had wonderful views of the warbler in scrub just below us! Succeeding with both main objectives, we went on to see a great many other birds including resident Purple Swamphen, Red-knobbed Coot, Black Vulture and Moustached Warbler as well as some nice migrants. A trip report is now on posted our Tour Archive page.
Late September 2017 Update Lance and Nick both attended the Spurn Migration Festival in September, fronting our Birding Abroad events stand and display. We distributed leaflets and literature about our tours throughout the weekend, and were pleased to meet many of our past and present clients for a friendly chat. Interest in tours was buoyant and we confirmed bookings for Cyprus and the New Forest in 2018 and for Kazakhstan 2019, the latter tour now having sufficient interest for it to be designated full!
To get the
festival under way, Nick delivered the traditional Friday evening
opening presentation with a talk titled "Spurn - A Magical
Place". This was very well received and even included a photograph
of Lance from previous years! The 2018 Spurn "MigFest"
is unfortunately timed for when we are on tour in Mongolia, but
we still plan to have our display with 2019 tour information available
for those interesting in joining us in future.
"Migfest" is home to the Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder, a competition which seeks to find the UK's most promising birder aged 16 and under. Nick has been involved with the event since its inception and 2017 saw finalists from all over the UK come to Spurn. The winner, as ever just nudging it from the other hugely talented youngsters, was Dante Shepherd from London. Congratulations to Dante and all the amazing finalists.
Here they are with the Spurn and BTO assessors (Nick kneeling at the front is head judge!) and Professor Ian Newton (far right) who kindly presented the prizes.
September 2017 Update Lance and Nick will be at Spurn Migfest over the weekend of 8 -10 September where Birding Abroad have a stand. We'd love to see you there, so do drop in to have a cuppa and a chat with us if you're at Spurn that weekend.
New for 2018 New Forest and surrounding areas. A new feature for our 2018 schedule will be the introduction of a British based tour. This will be a 4 night relaxing mid-week break, based in a comfortable hotel in the New Forest, Hampshire. The tour is aimed at those with both a birding and a broader natural history interest. We visit various parts of the New Forest, the chalk downs and grasslands of Salisbury Plain and coastal Dorset. Highlights include Dartford Warbler, Honey Buzzard and Stone Curlew and a look at the Great Bustard reintroduction scheme. All the British reptiles are found in the region here as well as some scarce butterflies and dragonflies - some of the best of southern England's wildlife amongst some lovely countryside.
"Dear Lance and Nick,
I have to tell you how much I enjoyed the Canada and America trip. The variety of birds was really special, the different colours and types and every day we found new birds.
The food was great, the hotels were great, and above all it was great meeting new friends. The weather really was kind all the holiday; we never had a bad day. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon and hopefully be arranging to go on another trip with Birding Abroad in the near future. Again I can't thank you enough for a wonderful birding holiday."
Baden Barker, Nottinghamshire
August 2017 Update Details of our tours for 2018 are shown on the Tours page and a summer newsletter will be coming out soon. We still have places on the March tour to Cyprus and the April tour of Colorado. Reservations for the latter must be made by the end of August 2017 so we can reserve places at the various private grouse leks that we visit.
July 2017 Update Lance and Nick have just returned from a visit to Kazakhstan, one of the Western Palaearctic's top birding destinations. We were amazed by the variety of terrific birds seen, the trip proving an instant hit with awesome landscapes and warm hospitality. Amongst the major targets we saw were Black Lark, White-winged Lark, Demoiselle Crane, Black-winged Pratincole, Booted Warbler, Sykes's Warbler, Caspian Plover, Pallas's Sandgrouse, Asian Crimson-winged Finch, Macqueen's Bustard, Ibisbill, Eversmann's Redstart, Guldenstadt's Redstarts, all three of Black-throated, Altai and Brown Accentors, White-browed Tit-warbler - the list just goes on and on. Check out the Gallery for images from the visit We are pleased to announce that Birding Abroad will be hosting a trip to Kazakhstan in June 2019. Details are on the Tours Page of our website and reservations are being taken now for this not to be missed tour.
June 2017 Update In May we visited Point Pelee, one of the world's top spring migration hotspots. Here we witnessed a good many American wood-warblers all in fine attire with a supporting cast of waders, woodpeckers, thrushes and much more. The trip included a few days at Magee Marsh on the USA side of the Lake Erie, enabling us to compare this great spot with Pelee. Both are simply superb, so it was no surprise when the group couldn't decide which was best - a photo-finish was declared! Read more in our trip report on the Tour Archive page.
Scarlet Tanagers like this brilliant male are always crowd pleasers
Prothonotory Warbler, several pairs were breeding at both Pelee and Magee this year
The group enjoy an ice-cream and a break from the birding
May 2017 Update The Sicily trip in early April was our first "Tilted Wine Glass" style tour, designed to mix birding with some cultural highlights. The endemic Sicilian Rock Partridge and Sicilian Long-tailed Tit (a possible split) were both found and we encountered some excellent spring passerine migration including several stunning male Collared Flycatchers. An excursion with wine tasting and a traditional Sicilian lunch at the Planeta vineyard proved popular, as did our guided walk around the ancient island city of Ortigia, once home to the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. Sumptuous local cuisine, combined with some great birding and wonderful landscapes achieved a big 'thumbs up' from the group. Read more in our trip report posted on the Tour Archive page.
A nightly feature in the hotel grounds - Eurasian Scops Owl
March 2017 Update What is becoming an almost annual visit to Andalucía, this year for a group from Dorset and Hampshire, was again successful in seeking out the elusive Iberian Lynx and many great birds including Spanish Eagle and Great Bustard. Click here for Andalucia Trip Report.
March 2017 Birding Abroad in Cuba, December 2016
and Nick have recently returned from a very successful tour of Cuba,
guiding eleven clients from the south coast county of Dorset and Yorkshire.
Everybody joined in the fun and all were enamoured by the weather, landscapes,
birds and the quality of the accommodation, the latter not always to
be taken for granted in Cuba! Visiting three special areas, a total
of 24 endemics were logged and in addition 17 Caribbean endemics.
Star sightings at La Guira included a flock of over a dozen Cuban Grassquits and sightings of Olive-capped Warblers on all three days, plus Gundlach's Hawk for some.
January 2017 Update
Customer Loyalty - at Birding Abroad we are pleased to welcome
new and returning clients each year. Of course we don't take customer
loyalty for granted and work hard to ensure that any chosen birding
tour meets and even exceeds the most comprehensive of expectations.
AUTUMN 2016 proved in every way a classic one for the east coast of Yorkshire, and we are pleased to report that Birding Abroad personnel played a notable role in the merriment!
Firstly, it was lucky 13th October for Lance when he was searching for migrants alongside the Easington Gas Terminal when he came across a Siberian Accentor, only the second record ever for Britain and following hot on the heels of the first just four days previously on Shetland. The bird stayed for a week becoming a minor celebrity during this time, with articles featuring in most national newspapers and the bird even commanding a slot on national TV. A huge twitch followed, resulting in the bird being widely regarded as the avian highlight of the year by many, particularly since it showed so well.
Siberian Accentor photo courtesy of Ron Marshall
Nick organised two Basic Birding Skills Workshop events on behalf of Spurn Bird Observatory, each being very successful and well attended. These comprised a short classroom session to introduce some useful tips on bird identification, followed by two guided walks where the theory was put into practice. Lance was on hand to help out of course! A lovely hot buffet lunch was included, kindly provided by Westmere Farm. These events, aimed at beginners, were the second of an annual event, so look out next year for new dates on the Spurn Bird Observatory website if you know someone who might be interested.
L-R Nick, David, Michael, Bjorn and Rob Adams (Spurn chairman)
has been working to develop new partnerships for Spurn with Cape May
(USA) and Falsterbo (Sweden) bird observatories, and a new "Friendship
Agreement" with these two world renowned bird observatories has
been signed. So it was great to welcome the directors of both bird
observatories David La Puma and Bjorn Malmhagen to Spurn's MIGFEST
in September. Both were warmly received and entertained the crowds
with a splendid talk in the traditional Saturday evening prime slot.
David was accompanied by Micheal Lanzone, a leading authority on new
satellite tagging technology. Nick is reciprocating with a visit to
CMBO's Bird Festival in October this year, so maybe there's a chance
of a future Birding Abroad trip to Cape May and its surrounding area
- some terrific migration watching! Watch this space.
July 2016 a new concept in bird tours
Birding Abroad are pleased to announce the introduction of a new concept within their annual tour schedule - symbolised by our TILTED WINE GLASS logo.
Whilst maintaining a strong bird watching focus, the TILTED WINE GLASS tours are designed to explore a wider range of interests amongst our group members, so we will set time aside to seek out some of the important cultural traditions and historical heritage of the countries we visit. The pace of these tours will be more relaxed as we unwind and enjoy our time away together.
To this end, Sicily in April 2017 will be our first TILTED WINE GLASS tour, where we include some activities not normally part of our regular tours. Amongst others we include: an ascent by cable car and Unimob to the higher slopes of Mount Etna to see an active volcano in real life; a guided tour of ornate Ortigia, the cultural heart of Syracuse, which was founded by the ancient Greeks and is now listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site; a tour of the Planeta vineyard with wine tasting and sumptuous traditional Sicilian lunch.
We believe a visit of this kind will appeal to both keen birdwatchers and those less keen who might equally enjoy the culture, cuisine and sheer beauty of Sicily.
For more details
visit our Tours Page under Sicily 2017.
June 2016 Summer Update
Birding Abroad have just concluded another busy spring featuring two tours. The first very successful tour searched out the endemic Corsican Nuthatch and virtually endemic Corsican Finch on the ruggedly beautiful island of Corsica. Additional special birds included both Marmora's and Moltoni's Warblers, Lammergeier, badius Woodchat Shrikes and Audouin's Gulls amongst a host of migrants.
Then at the end of May a week in arctic Norway at Varanger beckoned, where all target species gradually fell into place including memorable views of Gyr Falcon, Brunnich's Guillemot, King Eider, Hawk Owl, Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Tit and Siberian Jay and many more.
Both these superb trips now have reports on the Tour Archive pages of our website. We are sure to return to these destinations in future years, so do keep an eye on our Tours Page where our forthcoming trips are announced.
May 2016 Corsica
We have just returned from Corsica where the group had a great time, with wonderful views of the endemic nuthatch and other specialities. Superb accommodation, cuisine and lovely scenery just enhance the terrific birding in this stunningly pretty island. Photos of Corsican Nuthatch, Marmora's Warbler and the group ready to explore the mountainous interior are show below. A full trip report with photos will follow soon. We are sure to revisit Corsica, so watch the Tours Page of our website for our future schedules to be announced mid summer.
February 2016 Lance has just returned from a very successful visit to Gujarat in India, successfully seeking out the rare mammals for which this most western state is famous. Of less common knowledge is an abundance of birds, many of which are range restricted or otherwise difficult to find. We thought you would like to see a selection of his photographs now posted on the "Tour Archive" page of this website.
Nick has just returned from the recce to Texas, one of the best birding areas in the USA. A few of his photos appear on the "Tour Archive" page of the website. Here a pair of Whooping Cranes, the rarest crane species in the world show well at their Aransas wintering grounds.
December 2015 Birding Cuba revisited
Lance has just returned from a very successful second birding visit to Cuba, so we thought you would like to see a selection of his photographs. Cuba has much more to offer than just birds and we hope this comes across in the gallery now posted on the "Tour Archive" page of this website.
November 2015 Birding Abroad find a vagrant Oriental Stork!
Whilst bird watching at Gun Galut nature reserve in Tuv province, Mongolia on 31st August 2015, Birding Abroad group members noticed a large bird similar in appearance to a White Stork. Closer inspection revealed that the bird possessed a red eye ring, a bill that was strong and all black and additionally a small red gular patch was noted at the base of the bill. In combination these features showed the bird to be an Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana. This endangered species has a world population of fewer than 2000 birds and is very rare in Mongolia with fewer than 10 records. It was so rare in fact that the sighting prompted a twitch from Ulan Bator!
Photo courtesy of tour participant Andrew Ashworth
During the course of observations, the bird flew several times to reveal a piebald wing pattern formed by greyish white outer webs to the secondaries and inner primaries, which were also visible on the standing bird as a pale panel on the folded wing. White Stork has all black secondaries and primaries. Photo courtesy L Jargal
September 2015 Notes on Great Grey Shrikes
Great Grey Shrikes are interesting in Mongolia. Traditional nomenclature reveals the local race sibiricus as the most easterly of Great Grey Shrike complex. However look at the photos here of juveniles from the Tuul valley, and see how different they are from a young Great Grey Shrike! In fact they seem much more closely related to the race borealis (from North America), in which juveniles also have much browner upperparts, and these two races will probably be split in the future as Northern Grey Shrike. We found them in isolated trees within valley meadows, but adjacent to conifer forest.
July 2015 Recent testimonial following India 2015 tour
Lance and Nick.both
Jeff and I would like to thank you for a fantastic 10 day experience
on your Northern India Plains and Tiger tour. The combination of bird
watching, wildlife and culture suited us perfectly! Our main objective
of this holiday, or so we thought, was to see the tiger in its natural
habitat and visit the awe inspiring Taj Mahal, but it became so much