It was during our second of three autumn trips to Western Canada that the group had an extraordinary run of luck. While on a small boat at Zeballos in search of Sea Otters, tour leader Tim Melling spotted an animal swimming between two nearby islands. A split second later, the valleys were resounding with his scream of 'Cougar!' and the boat raced forward to take a better look.

 Solitary Sandpiper by Pauline Blewitt

The Isles of Scilly have long enjoyed a reputation for sightings of American birds in September and October but in recent years the Atlantic weather systems responsible for bringing these lost migrants to Europe have tended to track north and brought rarities to Scotland whilst South West England has suffered a relative paucity of records.

With our houseparty-style holidays in the Palentian mountains of Spain proving ever more popular (and with Iberian Wolves once again putting in an appearance during our June 2011 tour), we talk to Tino Garcia, our host in Palencia, about his love of nature and the mountains.

Purple-shot Copper by Mark Galliot

Tour leader Mark Galliot describes a memorable holiday enjoying and photographing a wide variety of special butterflies in the French Pyrenees this summer. This tour is run in conjunction with, and raises money for, the British charity Butterfly Conservation.

Lynx watching is a hot topic at the moment. Tour leader Byron Palacios had a double whammy with a small group on our March 2011 tour, with outstanding views both in Donana and in the Sierra Morena, and with operations manager Paul Stanbury also out of the office earlier this spring on a private Lynx quest during a few days off, Andy Tucker thinks back to September 2006, with memories of Naturetrek's first stab at 'Europe's big cat'.