News

News in brief: India, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Norway, the UK and Sweden

Read about highlights from recent tours to India, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Norway, the UK and Sweden.

In India...


Tiger Direct
'February's  tour was an exciting one with fantastic wildlife sightings' (write tour leaders Durgesh Singh & Kaustubh Mulay). 'We saw 11 Tigers, 5 Leopards, 3 Dholes and 1 Sloth Bear in Tadoba, Pench and Kanha National Parks. We also came away with an enviable bird list totalling 189 species, largely due to the presence of winter migrants. We were especially lucky with owls, seeing Spotted Owlet, Jungle Owlet, Indian Scops Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Brown Hawk Owl and Spot bellied Eagle Owl.'

'As usual with Tiger Direct, we had some excellent Tigers encounters, with prolonged views from both long and short range. The tour highlight occurred during our final drive in Kanha. A herd of Gaurs were drinking at a waterhole when a Tiger emerged, also looking for a drink. The Gaurs reacted by grouping up tightly and snorting aggressively at the Tiger. Seeing the united herd, the Tiger had its access to the waterhole blocked having to change its path multiple times to avoid the huge wild cattle.'

'March/April's holiday was similarly successful, with a total of 28 species of mammal and 145 species of bird seen. We began with a pre-tour extension to Tadoba. In Tadoba alone we saw five adult Tigers and several cubs! There are many to choose from, but perhaps our most memorable encounter was with a Sloth Bear. We first spotted it lapping honey up from the forest floor, which was dripping from a tree above. It concluded its meal with a drink from a nearby stream, making loud slurping noises as it sucked up water, much to the amusement of all present!’

‘Our good fortune continued as we moved on to Pench and Kanha, with multiple Leopard sightings and a particularly good sighting of a large male Tiger, which we found sitting in the middle of the road! At one point this unwary individual walked within 5 metres of our jeep, where it sniffed at a tree. Another notable experience was watching a pack of 17 Dhole chasing a small herd of Spotted Deer.’

‘Our post-tour extension to Satpura National Park provided multiple Sloth Bear sightings. During a night drive we were lucky enough to see a mother with two cubs, and in the end we spent 20 minutes with them in the beautiful Satpura wilderness.’

Our next ‘Tiger Direct’ tour departs on Sunday 18th November, prices start at £2,995. 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..


Wild India in Style
‘The trip started at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary near Delhi. February is one of the best months to visit and it was bustling with bird activity. We particularly enjoyed watching a pair of Sarus Cranes sounding their mating calls with accompanying neck-stretching displays. Other highlights were Spot-billed Ducks, Northern Shoveler, Greylag Geese, Ferruginous Duck, Gadwall, Greater-spotted Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, White-throated and Pied Kingfishers and Hoopoe.’

‘Our next stop was Kanha National Park where we saw 8 individual Tigers! One morning we picked up some fresh Tiger tracks. The tracks were heading towards another parallel road, so we picked a spot there and waited for around 30 minutes. With not even a blade of grass moving, we decided it was time to move on, when suddenly the jungle came alive with loud deer alarm calls. After two short minutes a Tigress finally appeared, and we spent a memorable 40 minutes following her.’

‘For the post-tour extension, we first visited Bharatpur, rightly known as the Mecca for birdwatchers. We spotted Pond Herons, Painted Storks, Great, Intermediate and Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Bar-headed Geese, Spot-billed Ducks, Teal, Greater Spotted Eagles, Tawny Eagles, Dusky Eagle Owls and a great many other interesting species.’

Our next ‘Wild India in Style’ tour departs on 15th February 2019, prices start at £3,495. 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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Female Tiger

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Dhole

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Painted Sandgrouse

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Sarus Cranes

In Sri Lanka…

'We enjoyed good weather almost throughout our "Sri Lanka's Mammals" tour, with a superb mixture of mammal sightings beginning with the spectacular Indian Flying Fox and the abundant Palm Squirrel' (writes tour leader Saman Kumara Gamage). 'Good numbers of Asian Elephants were sighted on our first jeep safari at Minneriya National Park, which is famous for its wild Asian Elephants congregating to mate, socialise and feed. The endemic Purple-faced Leaf Monkey was also sighted here along with more conspicuous Water Buffalo, Toque Macaque and Grey Langurs. We were particularly delighted to observe many Grey Slender Lorises during our late evening drives at Sigiriya. Ring-tailed Civet, Black-naped Hare, Mouse Deer, and Indian Gerbil were also spotted at night.

Our visits to historical sites gave us an insight into the country's rich history whilst also enabling good birding opportunities, during which we encountered Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Sri Lanka Wood-shrike, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Crested Serpent Eagle and many other species. Our ascent up to the central mountains meant that we soon became acquainted with the mysterious Giant Flying Squirrel, the shy Muntjac and the friendly Sambar Deer of Hortons Plains National Park. Brown Wood Owl, Collared Scops Owl, Brown Fish Owl, and Jungle Owlet were all recorded in one day at their roosts. On our safari in the famous Yala National Park, sightings of  Leopard and  Sloth Bear were a wonderful finale to another very successful mammal tour. In total we saw 26 Mammals, 14 Reptiles and 137 Bird species.'

Our next ‘Sri Lanka's Mammals’ holiday departs on the 5th July 2019 and costs £3,295. 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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Leopard

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Purple-faced Leaf Monkey

In Mongolia…

‘Our recent “Mongolia: Birding in the Steppes of Genghis Khan” holiday was a hugely enjoyable tour, greatly enhanced by good weather, attractive ger camp accommodation and the ever helpful and friendly ground crew’ (writes tour leader Alan Curry). ‘With 175 species seen the birds did not disappoint either, with most of the regional specialities making a welcome appearance. Highlights included prolonged views of a male Black-billed Capercaillie creeping along the forest floor, a Saker Falcon snatching prey from the ground only a few metres in front of the vehicle, dancing Wallcreepers in the Yolyn Am gorge and sublime Azure Tits attending a nest hole along the Tuul River. Mammals were also well represented with Przewalski's Horse, two species of Gazelle, Siberian Ibex, Corsac Fox and Tolai Hare all proving group favourites. Add to the mix a constant backdrop of rolling horizons whether they be forest, steppe or desert, they all ensured that this tour would not be easily forgotten!’

Our next ‘Mongolia: Birding in the Steppes of Genghis Khan’ holiday departs on the 22nd May 2019 and costs £4,895. 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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Demoiselle Crane (Alan Curry)

In Norway…

‘Members of our “Whales and Seabirds of Norway's Lofoten Islands” group met at Bodo on Norway’s north-west coast, before taking a ferry over to the southern end of the Lofoten Islands. Our first White-tailed Eagle was spotted atop a rocky island not far outside the harbour!' (writes tour leader Neil McMahon).

‘Jagged pinnacles of snow dusted rock engulfed in low cloud provided a mystical, nebulous glow as we approached some of the most dramatic scenery in the world. Sea birds had been visible during the crossing and more greeted us as we docked at Moskenes. A short ten-minute drive found us at our lodgings for two nights in the postcard village of Reine.'

'The following day saw us exploring the southern end of these stunning islands and finding some quality birds including Red-throated Divers in eye-catching summer plumage, a beautiful Bluethroat, resplendent Slavonian Grebes and a Golden Eagle. Next, we drove slowly up to the Vesteralen Islands, taking in the scenery and enjoying some great birdwatching, which included four summer plumage Black-throated Divers and several White-tailed Eagles, and lots of roadside Fieldfares and Redwings.'

'The fabulous Marmelkroken Guest House was our base for the next three nights. From here we ventured out on a whale-watching trip where we enjoyed sustained views of a magnificent Sperm Whale and, on another trip, enjoyed sailing among thousands of Atlantic Puffins and a group of White-tailed Eagles.'

'All too soon our adventure was over and we returned to the much warmer temperatures of the UK, but agreeing that we had all visited one of the most dramatic and beautiful places in the world, sampling a little of the wonderful wildlife that this northern archipelago has to offer.'

Our next 'Whales and Seabirds of Norway's Lofoten Islands' holiday departs on the 21st June 2019. 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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Red-throated Diver

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White-tailed Eagle

In the UK…

'This June’s "Wild Flowers of Upper Teesdale" tour was enjoyed by five clients in glorious weather' (writes tour leader Dawn Nelson). 'Highlights, as ever, included the navy-blue flowering heads of Alpine Bartsia (Bartsia alpina) at Widdybank Farm, as well as the endemic Hoary Rockrose (Helianthemum oelandicum subsp. levigatum) on Cronkley Fell, where we also found Alpine Bistort (Persicaria vivipara), Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala) and Hoary Whitlowgrass (Draba incana) in flower and several fertile fronds of Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria) in two locations.'

'A variety of orchids were seen; including the locally common Hybrid Orchid (Dactylorhiza x venusta) which is the cross between Northern Marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella) and Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), all of which we saw in abundance, plus two species of Fragrant Orchids (Gymnadenia borealis and G. conopsea) and both species of Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera bifolia and P. chlorantha).'

'We also enjoyed watching gambolling Hares as well Black Grouse and Red Grouse. Even the short drives to the various locations provided verges awash with Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense), stunning shows of Melancholy Thistle (Cirsium heterophyllum) and Globeflowers (Trollius europaeus).'

'On our riverside walks we not only saw native Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa), but also Salmon leaping up Low Force and numerous good sightings of Dippers which added to our enjoyment of this short break.'

Our next ‘Wild Flowers of Upper Teesdale’ tour departs on the 1st July 2019. 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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Northern Marsh-orchid

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White-throated Dipper

In Sweden...

'Clients on our “Sweden in Spring” tour were afforded views of over one hundred bird species and several of Sweden’s more charismatic mammals during this four-day trip!’ (writes co-leader Tim Russ). ‘Sätra Brunn provided the perfect base from which to explore Sweden’s forests and wetlands and also provided a home for a host of passerine species which were sought after each morning by the early risers in the group. The forests spoilt us with close-up encounters with Ural, Great Grey and Tengmalm’s Owl, as well as one particularly feisty Pygmy Owl. Whilst memorable species such as Black Woodpecker, Camberwell Beauty and Woodcock, whose silhouette against the setting sun was unmistakable, and Red Deer, all added to the experience. The wetlands were just as impressive and guests were treated to views of fishing Osprey, White-tailed Eagles, Marsh Harrier, Slavonian Grebe and Snipe. A solitary Thrush Nightingale “wowed us” with an unforgettable vocal display and a very relaxed Beaver also put in an appearance one evening, seemingly oblivious to our presence. All this coupled with the glorious weather and mouth-watering food made for a fantastic few days!'

Our next ‘Sweden in Spring’ tour departs on the 9th May 2019. For more information please click the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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Birdwatching (Daniel Green)