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Winter Birds - Higham Hall

Winter Birds - Higham Hall

Goldeneye drake.

The Solway coast is wild and beautiful and packed with birds in winter.  Join us for this ever-popular winter break.

The coldest and bleakest times of the year in Britain can sometimes be the most colourful for birdlife, with swirling flocks of waders and massed gatherings of wildfowl providing spectacular action on our estuaries. The Solway is one of the most important areas for wintering birds in the country, hosting the entire Svalbard population of Barnacle Geese plus multitudes of other wildfowl, waders and their ever attendant raptors.

This course is a regular sell-out, combinign the best of winter birdwatching in Britain with the ever-popular and supremely comfortable Higham Hall. For those wishing to improve on their identification skills, it provides unrivalled chances to study and compare the various species.

4 - 8 December
4 nights
Call Higham for latest availability
3 - 7 December
4 nights
Call Higham for latest availability
9 - 13 December
4 nights
Call Higham for latest availability

4 nights - double room occupancy. (single supplement applies to single room occupancy)

Breakfast, Lunch, Evening meal.

Travel costs whilst on event.

Travel costs to and from venue.

Evening meal on last day of event.

Higham Hall is one of only a handful of independent residential colleges in the north of England providing a range of open learning experiences for adults.

Once people discover Higham they tend to return again and again, often for many years, such is the joy of simply spending intelligent time with like-minded people in such charismatic surroundings.

Higham’s main activity is now as an independent Educational Trust attracting around 3,000 adults each year on over  250 courses of lengths from half a day to up to a week. People come from Cumbria, the North of England, Scotland and further afield. No qualifications needed, just a desire to enjoy learning, and the warmest Cumbrian hospitality.

Day 1
5 - 6 pm    Residents and non-residents check in at reception.  A member of staff will allocate residents’ bedrooms and help with any queries.  
7.45 - 9.15 p.m. Introductions.  Presentation: Winter Birds of Cumbria. Plan for the following day.
Day 2
9am – 4pm
Day outing to the Solway Coast following the route from Burgh by Sands to Bowness-on-Solway.  We will be stopping along the route at a number of important vantage points to view the mudflats and marshes, the vast geese flocks being our main target.  This coastline is excellent for a wide range of waders and wildfowl.  We will also call in at Campfield Marsh RSPB reserve which is an increasingly important refuge for wintering birds. Packed lunch
7.45 - 9.15 pm    Re-cap of the day.  Session on wildfowl and wader identification.

Day 3
9am – 4pm
Day outing to the Solway Coast, this time following the west coast up from Silloth to Grune Point. Here we will have more chances for sea-watching for species such as Scaup, Red-throated Diver and Eider.  Grune Point is an excellent site for a wide range of birds including Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Grey Plover as well as a regular spot for hunters such as Peregrine, Merlin, Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl. Packed lunch
7.45 – 9.15pm    Re-cap of the day. Session on wader and raptor identification.
Day 4
9am – 4pm
The programme for the day will include further sites on the Solway Coast to be confirmed. Packed lunch
7.45 - 9.15 pm    Re-cap of the day.  Session on wader identification.

Day 5
9am –  12.15 pm
For the last morning  we will focus on Bassenthwaite itself and the areas more local to Higham.  Wildfowl gatherings on the lake can be very impressive and we will be watching out also for winter thrushes and raptors.
1230 pm Lunch at Higham and depart.

Course materials to be brought by student:

Binoculars, notebook. (telescope optional).

Clothing should be water/wind proof, warm and ideally inconspicuous in colour.  Don’t forget gloves.

Footwear should be walking boots or Wellingtons.  The ground will be wet in places.

A small rucksack to carry lunch/flask and something waterproof to sit on will be necessary.

RSPB members – please bring your membership cards

Suggested Reading:

Mitchell Beazley Pocket Guide to Birdwatching.

Collins Bird Guide.

Other Information:

The programme may be varied according to weather conditions.  

In order to properly explore the sites there will be a certain amount of walking, sometimes over rough ground and/or over stiles.  It is essential that you are reasonably mobile. However, all destinations have been chosen based upon relatively easy gradients and good paths.  Also each day has planned in a significant time for sitting and watching – the pace will be leisurely.

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