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News in brief: Borneo, the Azores, Cuba, Sweden, Spain, and the UK

Read about highlights from recent tours to Borneo, The Azores, Cuba, Sweden, Spain, and the UK.

In Borneo...

‘The August Deramakot Forest tour to Borneo exceeded expectations’ (writes tour leader Tim Low). ‘There was a magical 90-minute period during which we saw a Clouded Leopard, two Sun Bears, two Elephants, four Porcupines and a Palm Civet. The Clouded Leopard gave us a generous seven minutes of unobstructed viewing as she strode up and down a remote road, passing less than three metres from our vehicle, as if we weren’t there. The Sun Bears climbed down from a lofty tree hole, one with confidence and the other, her cub, with great hesitation. Other special mammals included Orang-utans, Gibbons, Proboscis Monkeys, Slow Lorises, Leopard Cats, Colugos and a Moonrat. The quality of sightings was excellent, with many animals seen from less than 20 metres away, including a large male Proboscis Monkey that fed on the ground just four metres from our boat. The special birds seen included Whitehead’s Trogon, Storm’s Stork, Lesser Adjutant, White-fronted Falconet and a Crimson-headed Partridge. At night we marvelled at scores of fireflies flashing in synchrony from mangrove trees along the Kinabatangan River.’

Our next ‘Borneo’s Mammals – Deramakot Forest Reserve’ tour departs on 17th August 2019, prices start at £3,795. For more information please click on the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 
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Clouded Leopard (Chris Still)

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Whitehead's Trogon (Chris Still)

In The Azores…

‘Our six-day “Whales and Dolphins of the Azores” tour, in the deep waters off the volcanic island of Pico, revealed a satisfying range of whales and dolphins’ (writes tour leader Sara Frost). ‘We were treated to daily sightings of Sperm Whales with their families (including several individuals breaching near our boat and a wonderful “swim by” from a mother and calf!), two unidentified Beaked Whales (likely Sowerby’s) and a supporting cast of three species of dolphin swimming alongside the boat: Bottlenose, Atlantic Spotted and Risso's. We also enjoyed close views of Loggerhead Turtle, Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, and Common and Roseate Tern. Meanwhile, a land-based tour of the island provided the chance to visit the unique volcanic vineyards (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a collapsed lava tube with its walls and ceiling glittering with silver and gold bacteria, a lake and marshy habitat where we enjoyed Clouded Yellow and Large White butterflies, plus the tame Azorean subspecies of Chaffinch. We also visited Lajes, Pico’s first settlement, where the group had a very informative visit to a whaling museum. Add to that wonderful sunny weather, delicious local wines and cuisine, and we had a truly memorable trip!’

Our next ‘Whales and Dolphins of the Azores’ tour departs on 20th August 2019, prices start at £1,795. For more information please click on the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Sperm Whales (Sara Frost)

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Loggerhead Turtle (Sara Frost)

In Cuba…

‘Our tour in March got off to its usual action-packed start in the forested mountains of La Güira National Park, where we saw a suite of endemics including Cuban Blackbird, Cuban Martins, Cuban Oriole, Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Trogon and the exquisite little Cuban Tody’ (writes tour leader Byron Palacios). ‘We also explored the “Cuevas de los Portales”, caves that housed Che Guevara during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Remnants of his room, office and facilities were still intact. Nearby, the garden of our hotel provided great views of Cuban Emerald, another endemic.’

‘Our next destination was the Zapata Peninsula. En route we saw Cuban Grassquit and several American wood warblers in dazzling breeding plumage. Playa Giron yielded Great Lizard Cuckoo, plus endemics, including Red-shouldered Blackbird, Cuban Pygmy Owl, Cuban Pewee, Cuban Screech Owl, Cuban Amazon, Greater Antillean (Cuban) Nightjar, Cuban Parakeets, Blue-headed Quail-dove and Grey-headed Quail-dove. We also visited Soplillar which produced yet more endemics: Cuban Green Woodpecker, Fernandina Flicker and wonderful views of the rare Zapata Wren. The highlight here at Zapata though, was the amazing Bee Hummingbird – the tiniest bird on the planet, of which we had amazing views!’

‘We next drove north-west into the central mountains near Camaguey, where Rancho La Belen provided great birding, with Tawny-shouldered Blackbird, Greater Antillean Grackles, Cuban Crow, Cuban Palm Crow, Cuban Vireo and Giant Kingbird amongst many others. Our final birding destination was at Cayo Coco off the northern coast. Here we saw a wide range of water and shorebirds, plus the endemic Oriente Warbler, Thick-billed Vireo, Cuban Black Hawk, Cuban Bullfinch and Bahama Mockingbird.’

‘We finished the tour with an informative cultural tour of Havana, where several of our group chose to spend a few additional nights. This tour is Caribbean birding and culture at its best, with comfortable, direct flights from Virgin Atlantic!’

Join Byron in Cuba in March 2019, it is a guaranteed departure but still has places left! For more information, follow the link or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Cuban Tody

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Cuban Trogon

In Sweden…

‘Our final “Sweden’s Mammals” group of the season saw Moose and Beavers, heard Wolves howl and watched Brown Bears from our cosy Bear Hide, successfully ticking off all our major targets’ (writes tour leader Marcus Eldh). ‘Travelling in the late summer also meant that there were plenty of mushrooms and berries in the forest. We picked penny buns and fried them in butter over the open fire, then ate them on cracker bread washed down with lingonberry juice. Although the weather was a little rainy for the first couple of days, it enhanced the beauty of the landscape and we still enjoyed some nice dry evenings around a campfire.’

Our next ‘Sweden’s Mammals’ tour departs on 29th May 2019, prices start at £1,695. For more information please click on the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Brown Bear

In Spain…

'Our "Wild Asturias" tour in July once again showcased the stunning Somiedo region of mountainous northern Spain' (writes tour leader Byron Palacios). 'Walks along rivers and mountain ridges brought encounters with Iberian Chiffchaff, Crested Tit, Whitethroat, White-throated Dipper and the always handsome Firecrest. The colourful flora of the area kept us very busy with a plentiful spread of orchids and other flowers, including the endemic Centaurum somiedensus and Saxifraga babiensis. The impressive crags and rocky walls were populated by Crag Martins and their much larger neighbours Griffon and Egyptian Vultures. Higher up the valleys and towards the summits, just under 2,000 metres above the sea level, we enjoyed lovely walks in breathtaking landscapes, seeing Rock Buntings, Water Pipits, Alpine Choughs and Golden Eagle.

'As the warm days became pleasant evenings, our search for the most sought-after creature and largest carnivore in the Iberian peninsula began! Our patience was rewarded when, after a period of careful scanning across lush meadows and rocky outcrops, we found this beautiful Cantabrian Brown Bear satisfying his hunger by grabbing berries and other fruits from the hedgerows, whilst nibbling on invertebrates he found by overturning rocks at the same time. We had a long hour of pleasure watching this amazing animal enjoying his patch, an unforgettable wildlife experience!'

'Another highlight from the tour was watching a Short-toed Eagle hunting an adder!'

'We also enjoyed the delicious local gastronomy of the area! Join us next July to enjoy the stunning landscapes, wildlife and gastronomy of Asturias, a truly hidden jewel of northern Spain!'

Our next ‘Wild Asturias - Realm of the Bear’ tour departs on 5th July 2019, prices start at £1,495. For more information please click on the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Brown Bear (Byron Palacios)

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Short-toed Eagle (Byron Palacios)

In the Scotland…

'The “Scotland's Mammals & Highlights of the Highlands” tour starting on 17th August might have begun and ended in the rain, but the interim period saw plenty of variable weather with periods of sunshine’ (writes tour leader Neil McMahon). ‘The Ardnamurchan Peninsula again provided beautiful surroundings as we explored the sheltered beaches, craggy outcrops and temperate rainforest of this unique region, looking for Otters, seals and any other mammals and wildlife of interest. We also took to the water with an excursion down to the island of Staffa to see the fascinating Fingal's Cave and a gentle but very rewarding chug around the wonderful Loch Sunart, which provided close views of White-tailed Eagle, Harbour Seals and a variety of seabirds.’

‘Otters provided regular sightings, a Pine Marten visited our feeding station and was viewed from the comfort of our lounge almost every night, becoming bolder and earlier in the evenings as the week progressed, and we saw plenty of deer, a couple of Red Squirrels and a renegade Mink! Both White-tailed and Golden Eagles strutted their stuff, we found the long-staying American Black Duck, enjoyed the antics of Dippers, and had fleeting views of Hen Harrier. Scotch Argus butterflies and dragonflies were still on the wing and by night we saw Red Fox, Hedgehog and Red Deer stags very close!’

Our next ‘Scotland’s Mammals & Highlights of the Highlands’ tour departs on 1st August 2019, prices start at £1,395. For more information please click on the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Loch Sunart

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White-throated Dipper

In England...

‘The Best of Dorset’s Wildlife is a short tour that takes in some of the reserves and lovely countryside near the south coast of Dorset’ (writes tour leader Alison Steel). ‘Despite the heat this year, a reasonable variety of wildlife was seen, from orchids to butterflies and birds to Badgers.’

‘Starting in the Purbecks and the wildflower meadows at Durlston, a number of wild flower species were found, including Woolley Thistle, Wild Parsnip, Pyramidal Orchid and Yellow Rattle, as well as the amazing Bloody-nosed Beetle and a range of butterflies, not least the Dark Green Fritillary.’

‘Over a couple of visits, Arne RSPB Reserve yielded European Nightjar, Dartford Warbler, Sika Deer, Red Fox, Common Cuckoo, Emperor Moth, Greater Bagworm Moth, Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Spoonbill, Mediterranean Gull, Long-tailed Tit and Eurasian Sparrowhawk.’

‘One afternoon was taken to enjoy the local villages of Wykeham and Corfe Castle. Outside the hotel there were Common Swift screaming overhead, and occasionally a Common Kestrel hovered above as it sought out its next meal.’

‘Further to the west, Lodmoor and Radipole RSPB Reserves gave us the chance to see some more reed-bed species, including Marsh Harrier, Bearded Reedling and Reed Bunting, as well as a range of ducks, gulls, terns and other water birds. Also seen were Scarlet Tiger Moth and Brown Bee Orchid.’

‘Portland Bill was fairly quiet – a few Razorbill and Guillemots on the water and cliff face, one or two Rock Pipits, a family of Northern Wheatear and some Northern Ravens. From the top of the hill we were able to look along the miles of Chesil Beach, curving away from us to the north-west. Heading inland, the evening was spent in a dedicated Badger hide where both foxes and several Badgers put in appearances, while Kestrel and Tawny Owl used a nearby post as a lookout point.’

‘The last morning gave a chance for enjoying more of this scenic county. Hardy’s Monument and Abbotsbury gave some slightly elevated views of the rolling countryside, while Burton Bradstock gave us an opportunity to understand more of the geography of the spectacular Jurassic Coast.’

Our next ‘Best of Dorset’s Wildlife’ tour departs in May 2019. For more information please click on the link above, or email Alison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Corfe Castle

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European Nightjar

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Bearded Tit