Latest news from Birding Abroad
August 2021 Update Gradually, ever so gradually, the travel industry is beginning to re-open as the UK vaccination programme offers protection from the worst effects of the coronavirus. Yet, despite this welcome progress, we still have to be realistic and accept that for the time being, the pandemic is nowhere near over. The current 'stop - start' arrangements for travel are likely to remain that way for another year or so and will continue to hinder confidence, that most important of factors amongst travellers. Whilst this is certainly the case for the more long-haul overseas destinations, we can all take some heart that travel on the domestic UK front seems more assured in the near future.
Abroad believes that due caution is necessary, but we also want to ensure
that we are ready to respond sensibly and flexibly as things pick up.
A prudent and pragmatic approach is needed and our strategy will be
to offer tours closer to home to begin with, and then widen our range
over time as the pandemic recedes. So, we have been re-scheduling our
program to provide a selection of exciting tours, both here in the UK
and to European short haul destinations that are most likely to be amongst
the first to open up during the coming months.
Here in the UK, travel restrictions have recently been lifted and 'staycations' have become the most popular form of holiday. Our New Forest tour in June 2021, just completed, provided a great example of a birding staycation which provided lots of birds and other wildlife interest. Our group explored the best of the New Forest, Salisbury Plain and the Dorset coast, achieving great views of European Honey-buzzard, Dartford Warbler, Hawfinch, Common Redstart, Common Firecrest, Eurasian Stone-curlew, Whinchat, Great Bustard, Smooth Snake, Slow Worm, Sand Lizard and much more. Thanks go to all the participants who joined the group and made it such fun. It felt good to just get going again, experiencing a tour group out in the field. A trip report is now available on the Tour Archive page.
next tour to the New Forest and surrounding area will take place between
and 24th June 2022. This will be our third group visit to this very
special region, which always delivers lots of great birding and natural
Continuing the UK theme, we have decided to introduce a second tour to the Scottish island of Islay in October 2021, because the first was booked up within one week of appearing on the website! This new 6-day break between 21st and 26th October 2021, will witness the astonishing spectacle of thousands of Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted Geese newly arrived from Greenland, in agreeable conditions before the cold of winter sets in. Please click HERE for details or consult the website.
Maintaining the Scottish theme, we will venture to the Outer Hebrides in June 2022, for a week of wildlife watching on North Uist. Golden Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, Corncrakes, Red-necked Phalaropes, Eurasian Otters and much more await on this remote and stunningly beautiful island. Lance and Nick visited in May 2021 and enjoyed a fantastic week and we can't wait to show you around this Outer Hebridean gem.
Returning to the foreign travel theme, the UK Government's traffic light system is establishing a cautious road map ahead for international travel. Starting close to home in Europe, we believe that some foreign travel to fully vaccinated countries will be possible, perhaps routinely, by next spring. We have chosen two destinations that we believe are the most likely to be declared safe for travel for spring 2022 - Cyprus in early April and Andalucía in early May. Both always produce the goods, and both are sun-kissed, bird rich Mediterranean hot-spots, drenched in fabulous resident and migrating birds galore.
Cretzschmar's Bunting, Cyprus Warbler, Caspian Stonechat & Baillon's Crake
Isabelline Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Lesser Kestrel & Collared Pratincole
see the Tour Page of the website for full details,
but you can always give us a phone call if you're interested in any
of the tours and want to know more.
please come along and have a chat if you're going to the Spurn Migfest
too, as we will be at our stand there over the weekend of 10th to12th
next time, for now, wishing you some great birding. Lance & Nick
July 2021 Update As we enter the traditional summer holiday period, the UK Government's traffic light system has created a cautious road map ahead for international travel. There are still however, few countries being given the 'green light' and for those countries assigned to the amber list, there remain some uncertainties and restrictions which make travel problematic and subject to modification almost at whim. This has led to an undermining of confidence in the tourism sector and Birding Abroad is not exempt from this sentiment. Consequently, after much deliberation, we have reluctantly but pragmatically updated our tours programme as follows:
Gambia December 2021 - whilst the prospects are looking much improved
for travel to The Gambia, we think it is prudent to take an extra-guarded
approach in this instance. We therefore intend to cancel this trip set
for December 2021 and re-introduce it in the future once a green light
declaration has been made and travel to this country is back to normal.
We consider it is important that you have confidence in us to make the
correct judgements, even after taking into account official government
advice. Travelling with a group is quite different to travelling alone
or as a couple.
As regards our 2022 tours
2022 - we are keeping our February dates under review for the time
being, but should we have to defer this tour, then we have already arranged
an additional departure for March 2023. Full details of the 2023 tour
are now on the website or click here.
Kazakhstan 2022 - we are keeping out fingers crossed that the pandemic will have subsided sufficiently for our late May 2022 trip to this astonishing destination to go ahead. Of course, we will know more as the autumn and winter progresses and we will let all clients booked on the tour know what the situation is as soon as possible.
Please give us a call if you are interested in any of the tours and want to know more.
Also, come along and have a chat if you are going to the Spurn Migfest, as we will be at our stand there over the weekend of 10th to 12th September 2021.
now, stay safe and wishing you some great birding. Lance & Nick
March 2021 Update After a full year of the global coronavirus pandemic, we can finally be buoyed by the first real signs that travel may open for tourism during the coming months. Frustrating though the wait has been, we are very conscious that for many it has been a far more serious event, perhaps even involving the loss of loved ones to this dreadful disease - a very sobering thought. The development and roll out of the various vaccines have been truly amazing, offering protection and a renewed hope. With the 'green light' approaching, we have done some preparatory work re-scheduling our tours, ready to get going again as soon as practicable.
2021: Our December 2021 tour to The Gambia is looking viable, a great country to re-open our operations this year.
2022: Our Georgia (Caucasus) tour has been deferred to April next year, joining Morocco and Kazakhstan to make 2022 a really fantastic year for Birding Abroad trips.
Our 2023 tour to Uzbekistan has places available, a Central Asian destination for some wondrous birding and sight-seeing along the ancient Silk Road.
We currently have in mind a future spring trip to Turkey and an autumn trip to coastal China, both mouth-watering birding destinations with a fantastic array of species on offer. It will take a little time to plan the itineraries and to liaise with local experts to ensure smooth hassle-free trips, so please keep checking the website Tours page for details of what's available.
Also, please remember that if you book a tour with us which subsequently cannot proceed due to coronavirus or the pandemic, you will have the option of a receiving a full refund.
On a personal note, Lance and Nick have been enjoying some local patch birding throughout the lockdowns. Just being able to chat has helped us all, as we have been learning to cope with the recent restrictions on our lives. A better future now awaits and we hope that you'll all be enjoying returning to a 'new normal' as spring advances and we can all venture that bit further afield to see family, friends and birds of course.
Lance and Nick at Birding Abroad look forward to seeing you all soon.
Great birding awaits as we come out of lockdown - here's a Bearded Barbet and an Egyptian Plover from the Gambia to whet the appetite.
October 2020 Update We remain optimistic that there are glimmers of hope which could help unlock the restrictions on international travel in the medium term. Improved accuracy and speed of testing at airports and the first signs of success with various vaccines, indicate that good progress is being made. Perhaps things won't be exactly the same as before, and a new normal might prevail, but it will get better and we must be ready to work with whatever the future brings.
Our overseas tour schedule has been updated again to provide a more realistic programme of tours over the next two to three years. We have moved the amazing Uzbekistan tour to 2023, a longer wait than originally anticipated, but well worth it for some top drawer Central Asian bird watching alongside an astonishing cultural experience (click here for information).
UK based tours and Day Trips.
For those of you seeking just a single day out (or even a half day), we have also introduced a series of guided days-out to sites in both Yorkshire and Dorset. These include the Spurn and the outer Humber and Portland/Weymouth, both of which offer fantastic birding through the seasons. We intend to expand the list of destinations offered for these outings, so watch this space. Click here to read more about UK day trips.
Bespoke UK Trips: There may be some of you who wish to choose yourselves where to go in the UK, with us providing the guiding services and itinerary. That is fine too and we can facilitate this, subject to our availability. Please click here for more information about the arrangements for your own bespoke trip with Lance and Nick.
Finally, on a personal note, Lance and Nick enjoyed some great bird watching in September. Lance took his family to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, enjoying some time-out there in the hassle-free wilderness of these remote and beautiful islands. Nick belatedly celebrated his 60th with his wife in Sicily, a combination of bird watching, sightseeing (Moltalbano locations included!) and wonderful hospitality. We have since reunited at Spurn, enjoying meeting many close friends, some of which we have known most of our lives!
September 2020 Update Though coronavirus continues to dominate lives both here and abroad, we hope that all our clients and friends remain in good health and that you have been able to conduct as normal a life as possible through this unfortunate pandemic. We would also like to thank you for your patience, resilience and very kind support during 2020.
As you will be aware, 2020 has been a dreadful year for the global travel industry, but now is the time we must begin once again to look to the future, because one thing is certain, things will get better!
During these unprecedented times, we have been doing our best to manage the current year's issues, as well as considering very carefully and realistically the composition of our future tour schedules. The safety of you, our clients has been paramount, so it will be no surprise to learn that our 2020 tours to Georgia in April and to The Gambia in December have been re-scheduled to similar dates in 2021. Details for the new dates are now on the Tours Page of this website.
How things will pan out over the coming months remains uncertain. To remove any feelings of uncertainty, and to provide more confidence to our clients, we have gone one step further by making the sensible decision to re-schedule our next Kazakhstan tour to 2022, giving a full 18 months for the situation to improve and for international travel to get back to some kind of normality. Details of these new dates are also on the Tours Page.
NEW TOUR: We are delighted to announce that we are re-introducing our Morocco tour, this time for the springtime of 2022. Based in the Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert, it is full of wonderful Maghreb specialities and our last visit there produced some of the best post-trip reviews we have ever had. Please see the Tours Page for details.
Whilst health concerns are paramount for us all, we also want to reassure you that any bookings made with us will not lead to financial loss on your part. If we have to cancel a tour, you will get a choice of what to do next:
Please be assured that we will monitor closely the global health and travel situation with respect to all our forthcoming tours so we can look after our clients to the very best of our ability.
The picturesque Erg Chebbi sand dunes
African Crimson-winged Finch
April 2020 Update New Tour for April 2021: Poland - Woodpeckers galore, Bison and more!
We would like to introduce a one-week tour to Europe's finest forests and marshes. Our aim is the see all of Europe's resident woodpeckers at the height of their spring activity, alongside several rarer mammals including the rare and enigmatic European Bison. Other avian delights are highly likely to include Hazel Grouse, Northern Nutcracker, Rough-legged Buzzard, Eurasian Pygmy-owl, swans, geese and other mammals will include Elk in numbers and European Beaver. Full details are now on our revised Tour Page.
March 2020 CORONAVIRUS update First and foremost, we hope that all our friends and customers are in good health. It seems imperative to Birding Abroad that we as a nation, jointly and stoically follow the government guidelines to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 thereby minimising harm to vulnerable individuals and the UK population at large.
The coronavirus outbreak has led to unprecedented disruption to global travel plans, and here we report on how it has affected us.
Norway March 2020: Our tour to Arctic Norway in mid-March 2020 sadly fell victim to Europe's rapidly changing response to the coronavirus outbreak. The group left the UK on 12 March with no travel restrictions in place. Arriving in Kirkenes next day, we were dismayed to hear news that the Norwegian Government was to introduce a 14-day quarantine period on all newly arrived foreign tourists. In addition, airlines were cancelling flights and closing airports, including that at Kirkenes. Official advice was that we should leave Norway as soon as practicable. Fortunately, with considerable patience, perseverance and team spirit amongst the group, we were able book return flights in batches, as and when these became available. This enabled all the group to return safely to the UK, though it took a period of three days to do this! It was hugely disappointing to have to end the tour so abruptly, but the safety and well-being of our customers became top priority.
We believe we had a superb tour lined up and the weather was looking perfect for birding as dwindling group members waited for their re-scheduled flights. The last three to leave Kirkenes witnessed blue skies and still air whilst marooned, and managed to see no less than four Northern Hawk-owls and two Great Grey Owls before making their way to the airport for the last 'evacuation' flight home. Nearby garden feeders had attracted Arctic and Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeak and Siberian Tits and overhead soaring White-tailed Eagle and Gyr Falcon were both observed. We can only surmise what would birds would have been seen had the tour been able to go ahead, but the indications were looking very good! Below a photo of one of the Great Grey Owls and activity at a feeder, taken by Sue Brook whilst we waited.
Whilst we were hugely disappointed to have to leave prematurely, the experience has not dented our desire to return to Varanger in the future. It's unfinished business, so look out for a re-scheduled itinerary in the future!
Georgia April 2020: Our tour to Georgia in the Caucasus in late April will have to be cancelled. Governments in both countries are enforcing travel bans and restrictions to entry until mid-April at the earliest. There seems no prospect of the bans being lifted at the present time and even if the travel ban was to be lifted, there remains risks from other factors, so our existing tour dates are untenable and we will have to cancel the tour. We are very sorry about this, but this serious situation has been caused by factors beyond our control. We regret the inconvenience this may cause, but we also know our clients will appreciate and support the measures taken worldwide to beat the virus.
Our plan is to re-schedule the tour to Thursday 22 April to Friday 30 April 2021. Customers will be offered the chance of a full refund of the ground tour price or transferring the booking to the 2021 tour.
Wishing you all good health. Stay safe and keep looking after one another as we get through this coronavirus outbreak.
November Update Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan tour reports now added to Tour Archive page
In mid-October we travelled to China on a reconnaissance trip, our first visit to the country since 1992! We focused on various coastal sites within a three-hour drive of Shanghai, where we hoped to witness some of the fantastic autumn migration which occurs down the Yellow Sea flyway. Passerine passage was very impressive, with almost daily sightings of Siberian, White's and Eye-browed Thrushes, Siberian Rubythoat, Daurian Redstart and Red-flanked Bluetail.
Mugimaki Flycatchers included some stunning males, and though most Phylloscopus warblers had already moved south, we still saw many Pallas's and Yellow-browed, plus Eastern-crowned and Pale-legged Warblers. We enjoyed no fewer than eight species of buntings. These included Yellow-breasted, Tristram's and Yellow-browed, though it was Black-faced which proved commonest with up to 50 birds seen each day. This is certainly one of the places to go if you want to become well acquainted with those Siberian vagrants which occur, or potentially could occur, in Britain.
In addition, this area is probably the best in the world to find Spoon-billed Sandpiper and we located at least 8 individuals on two successive days. The mudflats and pools were filled with many other sought-after wader species including Nordmann's Greenshanks, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Long-toed Stints.
An autumn visit to coastal China is a strong possibility for a future year, so please watch the Tours Page from time to time as its updated.
Autumn 2019 Update After returning from Uzbekistan in mid-June, we took a short summer break before venturing to Bulgaria for some Pontic Flyway birding along the Black Sea coast. It has been five years since the last Birding Abroad tour there, so it was great to renew acquaintance with the many bird-rich migration sites along the coast. One of our prime targets was Broad-billed Sandpiper and we managed some brilliant views as shown by the video below. Equally exciting was a visit to a local ringing camp where we could see some elusive species close up, such as the Savi's Warbler also shown below. It's certainly a destination we are likely to put into our schedule again in the near future.
Spurn Migfest In September we had our regular stand at the Spurn Bird Observatory Migfest event. It was nice to see many friends there and have a good chat with everyone. The headline speaker was the world acclaimed birder and ornithologist Per Alstrom who flew-in to Humberside Airport from Sweden especially for the weekend festival. Nick was designated as his chauffeur on the airport runs and so had the chance to talk very informally with 'the master', who later made a visit to the Birding Abroad stand. Pictured below left to right at the 'Mig Fest' are Rob Adams, Chair of Spurn Bird Observatory, Per Alstrom, David Lindo the Urban Birder and Nick Whitehouse.
Late Spring/ early Summer 2019 Update We embarked upon our epic tour of Kazakhstan at the end of May. There is no place on tour where Lance's smile is bigger (well maybe only in India!), than when in Kazakhstan. The birding is quite phenomenal. We were joined by a large group of birders, including many friends stretching back to our younger days in the 1970s so it was really great to spend time together again and experience the deserts, steppe, lush river valleys and the high mountains of the Tien Shan range. Our full trip report is in prep and will be posted on the Tour Archive page soon. We are touring Kazakhstan again in 2021 and there are only a few places left - so please let us know if you would like to join us. See the Tours Page.
Kazakhstan tour over, we stayed on and flew across to Tashkent in Uzbekistan
and completed a week's tour, again visiting a variety of habitats. The
cultural aspect of the tour was just as impressive, with the ancient
cities of Bukhara and Samarkand leaving us aghast at the amazingly well-preserved
architecture. Uzbekistan for its birding and culture warrants
a full trip and so we have put together a tour there for spring 2022.
More on this later, but it will include sites for Pander's Ground-jay
and the rare and localised Zarodny's Sparrow (just over the border into
Turkmenistan) now treated as distinct from the Desert Sparrow of the
Sahara. If you're interested and wish to register for a place, then
please contact us.
Early Spring 2019 Update We were back together on tour in early February, visiting southern Oman's Dhofar region. This is one of our favourite destinations, providing a unique mix of Palearctic, Oriental and Afro-tropical birding set amongst stunning scenery and in perfect warm winter sunshine. Some highlights included the 'eagle fest' near Salalah, Brown and Masked Booby together, Socotra Cormorants, Arabian Partridges, Arabian Wheatear, Yemen Serin, Arabian Scops-owl and several Hypocolius. A full trip report appears on our Trip Archive page of our website.
Hypocolius and a young Imperial Eagle. Both featured on our February 2019 Oman tour.
In February Nick went to The Gambia to carry out a full 'recce' trip. This fabulous winter sun birding destination has now been added to our 2020 schedule - please see the Tours Page.
African Finfoot and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater to whet the appetite for our Gambia trip in 2020.
In late March and early April, Nick went to Israel to reacquaint himself with the amazing migration through the Arava valley and other sites. This was his first visit there since 1984 and although much had changed, the birding was just as spellbinding as he remembered all those years ago. Whilst there he dropped in on the 3rd International Bird Observatories Council (IBOC) meeting in Eilat. IBOC is certainly helping to unite birders and conservationists from all across the world and it was great to see Spurn Bird Observatory represented. Watch this space for a future spring Birding Abroad Tour of Israel. One not to be missed.
Dead Sea Sparrow (Peter Howlett) and Ruppell's Warbler in Israel spring 2019
Late April saw us back in action enjoying a bird-rich trip to Andalucia. Spring in southern Spain is simply a delight and each day was filled with great European birding. A trip report is on Tour Archive page. If you have a group wanting us to help with a trip to this region, then please just contact us. We can put together bespoke trips for private groups and bird clubs - we're only an e-mail or phone call away.
A Little Swift and Honey-buzzard graced the skies above Andalucia this spring. (John Price)
In May, we crossed the Atlantic to visit Point Pelee in Canada and Magee Marsh in USA, both self-proclaimed 'warbler capitals of the world'. It's always a photo-finish between these two giants of North American spring migration situated on the opposite shores of Lake Erie. Both were superb. The 'fall-out' of warblers at Pelee was one of the best for many years - what memories we have of the birds hopping around our feet. A full trip report again on our Tour Archive page.
Prairie Warbler and Hooded Warbler (Mike Wilkinson)
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."
sincerely 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