Detailed itineraries for our holidays, as they become available, can be found below. See also out Trip Reports section which has photographs and trip reports of holidays in 2010 and 2011.
Pembrokeshire Taster, 3 day, 4 night holiday, arr Thurs 10th May, leave Mon 14th May 2012
Another new holiday for a birds-eye view of the wonders of Pembrokeshire – land on two islands, explore Ramsey Island by boat to get up close to cliff-nesting seabirds and seals, and walk some of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path with its unbelievable pageant of spring wildflowers and small birds. Click here for full itinerary.
Coast and Islands Spectacular, 6-night holiday, arr Sat 30th June, / leave Fri 6th July 2012
This new holiday is a real treat! Stay on Skomer for 2 nights and see the seabird chicks and the shearwaters, go seawatching off Pembrokeshire, visit Ramsey Island, take a boat trip to see dolphins in Cardigan Bay and visit Springwatch’s Ynys Hir. We’re going to be busy!! Book early, Skomer accommodation will be full by the beginning of October.This new holiday is a real treat! Stay on Skomer for 2 nights and see the seabird chicks and the shearwaters, go seawatching off Pembrokeshire, visit Ramsey Island, take a boat trip to see dolphins in Cardigan Bay and visit Springwatch’s Ynys Hir. We’re going to be busy!! Book early, Skomer accommodation will be full by the beginning of October. Click here for full itinerary.
Skomer Island Spectacular, 7-night holiday, arr Fri 11th May / leave Fri 18th May 2012. A fantastic chance to spend a few days on Skomer Island close up and personal with puffins, witness the miracle of nocturnal shearwaters in their thousands and see plenty of other amazing island wildlife. Explore the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and Ramsey Island too. Book early, Skomer accommodation will be full by the beginning of October! Click here for full itinerary.
Winter Wildlife, South Wales Wetlands and Starlings , 11th – 13th February 2012
- Birds on a wire – starlings preparing to roost, Newport Wetlands
Arrive late afternoon at Newport Station. We’ll head to Redwick, with a quick stop at the estuary at Goldcliff as the light fades, to spot any waders and get our bearings for the next 2 days. We’ll check in at Brick House, then drive to nearby Magor for dinner at the renowned Golden Lion.
12th February – Wonderful Wetlands, Magor Marsh and the Newport Wetlands Centre
We’ll spend the morning at Magor Marsh, a gem of a nature reserve run by the Gwent Wildlife Trust. It is the last remnant of fenland on the Gwent levels and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is a prime example of the succession of plant communities from open water to marsh and scrub woodland, and also includes a managed hay meadow. The present layout of reens (drainage ditches) dates from the 14th century. The reserve is very marshy, and extensive boarded walkways have been provided to protect the delicate habitat – and your boots! In winter, birdlife on the reserve is focussed around wintering wildfowl, with the potential for good numbers of teal on the large pond, little grebe, cormorants, coot, moorhen and potentially shovellers, all of which can be viewed from the hide overlooking the pond. As we walk around the reserve, we’ll also look out for mute swan in the reens, and the variety of plant communities, including large clumps of mistletoe. It also worth keeping our eyes open for signs of otter.
The Newport Wetlands Centre is a great reserve to explore, with its wealth of habitats, and with its excellent Visitor Centre and cafe, where we’ll have our lunch. We’ll arrange our visit around the tides – as the tide comes in, feeding waders such as dunlin, curlew, oystercatchers and mixed gull flocks are driven closer into the shore, and we may also see herons and the increasingly common little egret. There may be a chance to spot a short-eared owl down by the estuary too, maybe past the charismatic East Usk Lighthouse.
We can also explore the rest of the reserve – the woodland margins, the saline lagoons and the fabulous reedbeds. We’ll watch out for thrushes and blackbirds, including our Scandinavian visitors, redwing and fieldfare, as well as other smaller woodland birds, and possibly little owl. Again, we’ll need sharp eyes to possibly catch sight of signs of otter. As dusk approaches, we need to watch out for how the starlings are behaving – flocks of 30,000 – 50,000 or more birds come together in an amazing spectacle of whirling black shapes – a ‘mumuration’ of starlings -before coming down to roost in the reeds. But – they don’t always roost in the same place, so we need a watchful eye to head off for a closer view of the area of highest activity!
13th February - Goldcliff Pill
We’ll spend the morning at the fantastic Goldcliff Pill keeping our eyes open for heron and maybe kestrel by the roadside verges. The lagoon habitat here is a nationally important site for waders. We could see oystercatchers, blacktailed godwit, blackheaded gull, teal, widgeon, shelduck and lapwing. It’s also worth keeping an eye open for smaller birds in the undergrowth alongside the reens, as well as kestrel over the meadows. If you’re lucky, you could even spot a kingfisher – just a blue flash - along the stream.
We’ll have a leisurely lunch in Goldcliff, and then, depending on the time of your train home, we may have time to explore the estuary a little further before taking you back to the station for your train home.
Winter Wildlife Mid Wales, 6th – 9th January 2012
Red Kite at Nant yr Arian
Friday 6th January – Arrive Machynlleth station at lunchtime, lunch in Machynlleth. We’ll drive along north shore of Dyfi Estuary, spotting waders and getting a feel for the estuary. We’ll head up to Happy Valley, and blow the cobwebs away with a walk up to the Bearded Lake, looking out for upland birds on our way. Driving on to Talyllyn, we’ll check in at Tyn y Cornel Hotel, with a chance to relax, unwind, discuss the afternoon and aim for dinner at around 7pm.
Saturday 7th January – Flying Kites and Flocking Starlings
When you look outside this morning, you’ll see the magnificent view down the Talyllyn Lake. After breakfast, we’ll explore the lake a little, on the look-out for herons, tufted ducks and any wintering ducks we might spot. We’ll then head south to the wonderful Nant yr Arian forest centre, high in the hills above Aberystwyth, We’ll have a chance to explore the wooded hills and lakes, where you’re bound to hear jays and spot woodpeckers, and then head for the welcoming Visitor Centre for lunch. Then the spectacle begins….. 2pm is kite feeding time, so warmed by lunch, we’ll head down to the lake to get a good viewing point for watching our magnificent red kites swirling and swooping for their daily feed – you won’t be able to keep your eyes off them!
Then as the excitement dies down, we’ll have a last cuppa at the Visitor Centre, keeping an eye open for last stragglers over the lake, then we’ll head down to Aberystwyth for what is, arguably, one of the best starling roosts in the whole of the UK – Aberystwyth Pier, watching them arriving from the surrounding fields in their thousands. Finally as dusk arrives, we’ll go up to Aberystwyth’s renowned Art Centre to browse the exhibitions and the last day of the Arts and Craft Fair, before supper at the fantastic buffet there.
Sunday 8th January – Woodlands and Wetlands
Today’s one of the fabulous highlights of Mid Wales, RSPB Ynys Hir, the new home of Springwatch and described as a ‘honeypot’ of wildlife! With such a wealth of habitats and wildlife, Ynys Hir, together with the nearby reserve which is home to the Dyfi Ospreys in the spring, is worth a whole day – we’ll be exploring the bog, estuary and woodland habitats – and the hospitality of the Visitor Centre. We’ll be looking for wildfowl and geese, and spotting what woodland birds can be seen from the Treetops hide, as well the various estuary and lake hides. if the weather’s favourable, we may even brave one of our famous winter picnics!
Monday 9th January
We’ll start today with a walk up Dolgoch Falls, under the magnificent Talyllyn railway viaduct, and up the ravine to the series of waterfalls which are normally pretty spectacular in the winter. We should see woodland birds and possibly some small waterside birds such as grey wagtails or possibly dippers. At the top of the falls are great views all around the valley. We’ll get our breath back walking down, and head back to Abergynolwyn for and early lunch.
We’ll make our way to Broadwater, the large lagoon at the mouth of the Dysynni, home to hundreds of wintering wildfowl and geese in the winter and have a look at what’s about this afternoon. We’ll make our way back finally to Machynlleth station, through picturesque Aberdovey and along the estuary, to get you on the train in good time for your journey home.
Sunset at Aber Dysynni