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The cold, nutrient-rich waters off CapeCod provide outstanding whale-watching opportunities. Indeed this isone of the top destinations for cetaceansanywhere in the world. Here Humpback,Fin, Minke, Pilot and North Atlantic RightWhales are all on the cards, as are AtlanticWhite-sided Dolphins and HarbourPorpoises . not to mention a littlesightseeing in Boston and the charmingand historic town of Plymouth.On this 6-day holiday we will fly directly toBoston, Massachusetts, and transfer to thehistoric and picturesque waterfront town ofPlymouth, our base for this 4-night stay inNew England. From here we will take fourhalf-day whale-watching trips out to theStellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuarywhere, from April and May onwards,summering concentrations of whales buildup to feed on sand lance, capelin, herringand mackerel. Here Fin, Minke, theacrobatic Humpback and Long-finned PilotWhales may all be seen, plus a range ofdolphin species and possibly even thecritically endangered Northern Right Whale. It is the entertaining Humpback Whale,however, that is likely to be the star of theshow! A Humpback breaching is one of themost exciting sights in nature and, if we getclose enough, the sounds and smell ofthese magnificent creatures will alsoremain in the memory. These whales arehighly migratory and feed voraciouslyduring the summer months to build up fatreserves before moving to tropical watersfor the winter, during which period theyoung calves are born. The Humpback'sunmistakable long flippers, the longest ofany cetacean, earn a quirky local relevancein the creature's scientific name, Megapteranovaeangliae, which translates as 'big wingof New England' a reference to the fact thatthe first described specimen came fromthese northern waters.We will also be on the look-out for suchother marine highlights as HarbourPorpoises, Leatherback Turtles, BaskingSharks and Ocean Sunfish, plus amultitude of seabirds. Depending on theweather conditions, it is possible to seethousands of Wilson's Storm-petrels,together with smaller numbers of Great andSooty Shearwaters and some dainty Red-necked Phalaropes. The contrast in size asgroups of these tiny seabirds feed aroundthe enormous whales is truly remarkable! During our stay there will be plenty of timeto explore Plymouth, where the narrowstreets, clapboard houses and antiquesstores give a familiar old-world feel to thispart of New England. Famous for the 102pilgrims who disembarked here inDecember 1620, the Plymouth waterfront isalso home to Mayflower II, an exact replicaof the 1620 Mayflower. The area along thewaterfront, and to the south, is excellent forterns, with Common, Arctic, Roseate andLittle Terns breeding here, whilst offshorerafts of Common Eiders may be seen. Italso attracts an interesting range ofmigrating shorebirds, amongst them PipingPlovers, and a good variety of passerinessuch as Horned Larks and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows. During the autumn, thetime of our visit, southbound migration willbe in full swing and we additionally haveevery chance of a few avian surprises. We may also have some time forsightseeing in Boston prior to our returnflight to London (or you may wish to extendyour holiday with a stay here). Despitebeing New England's largest and mostimportant city, most of Boston's historicaland architectural attractions can be foundwithout having to walk far. Its 375-yearhistory has left much of interest to choosefrom, whether it be the site of the BostonTea Party (during which ships were forciblyboarded and unloaded), or the relaxingatmosphere of Boston Common (the oldestpublic park in the USA, and home to avariety of resident and migrant Nearcticpasserines). Here we hope to see Red-tailed Hawk, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay,House Finch, Northern Cardinal andCommon Grackle, alongside more familiarspecies such as Rock Dove, EuropeanStarling and House Sparrow - remindersof home that, all too soon, we must return to! Boston, New England & its WhalesA 6-day holiday focusing on the outstanding dolphin and whale-watching off Cape Cod, one of the top destinations for cetaceans anywhere in the world, plus a little sightseeing in Boston and the charming and historic town of Plymouth.Thursday 22nd August - Tuesday 27th August Cost: £1,795Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Boston; transferPlymouth. Day 2/4Daily whale-watchingcruises from Plymouth.Day 5Boston; depart Boston.Day 6Arrive London.AccommodationA comfortable hotel in the historictown of Plymouth; all rooms withprivate facilities.FoodBreakfasts only are included in theprice. Allow £100 for main meals. GradingGentle walking only. Grade A. Easyand optional.FocusCetaceans and birds.LeaderIan Nicholson.Single room supplement£380. Web quick search: USA01190Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryATLANTIC OCEAN CANADA USA BOSTON PLYMOUTH Wilson's Storm-petrel Piping PloverHumpback Whale

Northern California has provided thesetting for so many films and novelsthat its landscape seems strangelyfamiliar. Images of the mist-shroudedGolden Gate Bridge and the undulatingstreets of San Francisco are part ofcontemporary culture, yet there is anabundance of surprises to discover as wefocus, during this holiday, on the naturalhistory attractions of the coastline whichmany regard as the most picturesque in theUnited States. The California coast isrenowned for its rich marine-life, particularlythe wide variety of marine mammals, andthere is no better location to search for thesecreatures than Monterey Bay, which offerssome of the best whale and dolphin-watching in North America. During thesummer and early autumn good numbers ofHumpback Whales are found in the Bay,along with various other species of cetaceanincluding regular appearances by BlueWhales, the largest mammal in the world.Always nomadic and unpredictable theseenormous whales are nevertheless a regularvisitor to the deeper waters of Monterey Bayand sightings will be an exciting possibilityon every pelagic trip in August andSeptember. Closer to shore, we will belooking along the coastline for a variety ofresidents including the entertaining SeaOtter, California and Steller's Sea Lions,Harbour Seals and, at one location, the rareNorthern Elephant Seal.Our base for this single-centre holiday willbe the historic town of Monterey, where wewill stay in a comfortable tourist hotel withswimming pool, close to the ocean andcoastal footpath. Nearby, we will be able toenjoy the sights of Fisherman's Wharf and apicturesque harbour, itself a wildlifeparadise. It is possible to observe whalesand dolphins from the shore here, but inorder to make the most of the rich marineenvironment on our doorstep and tomaximise our chances of encounteringcetaceans, we will take to the ocean on atleast three full days during our stay, enjoyingthe use of a specially adapted whale-watching vessel. These rich waters areprotected within the Monterey Bay NationalMarine Sanctuary, the largest marinesanctuary in the United States, in whichnearly 30 different species of cetacean havebeen recorded. It is the nature of thesecruises that some will be far moreproductive than others, but the large whalesare regularly sighted during August andSeptember, and these trips also offer thechance to observe an exciting variety ofseabirds, including such species as Black-footed Albatross, Sooty and Pink-footedShearwater, Ashy Storm Petrel, Sabine'sGull, skuas, Tufted Puffin, and both Cassin'sand Rhinoceros Auklet.During the holiday we will also have theopportunity to spend time in search of seals,sea lions and Sea Otters. The latter, adelightful species, may be found in favouredbays, sometimes floating above beds ofkelp whilst munching on Abalones. As aresult of over-hunting for the fur trade, SeaOtters were almost extinct in California at thebeginning of the 20th century but, in 1935, asmall population of 94 was discovered and,with strict protection, this entertainingcreature has gradually increased, each yearwitnessing the colonisation of a new stretchof coast.The birdlife of coastal California is excitinglydifferent from that found in inland areas ofthe state. Brown Pelicans and Brandt's andPelagic Cormorants are widespread alongthe coast, reflecting the abundance of fish inthese waters, and, as we stop at variouspoints along the coastline, we are also likelyto see a variety of divers, grebes, auks andsea-ducks. Rocky bays and sandy beaches,flanked by lines of Monterey Pines, arefrequented by Heermann's, Western andCalifornia Gulls, Black Turnstones, Surfbirds,Willets, Marbled Godwits, Wandering Tattlersand Black Oystercatchers, whilst passerinespecies may include Bushtit, Tri-colouredBlackbird, Brewer's Blackbird and possiblyeven the elusive Lawrence's Goldfinch. Ourprogramme will be somewhat flexible but willinclude visits to the Carmel Valley, whereYellow-billed Magpie is one of theattractions, as well as Cannery Row,Fisherman's Wharf and Moss Landing. On one of the tour days we will follow thebreathtakingly scenic Big Sur highway to thesouth where, in contrast to the previousdays, we will switch our attention from theocean to the trees and bushes of AndrewMolera State Park where large numbers ofmigrant landbirds can be found infavourable conditions. Nearby is the centreof the California Condor reintroductionscheme and, if we are fortunate, we maysee one or two of these impressive butcritically endangered birds soaring over thehillsides. Later in the day we have a furthertreat as we stop at a vantage-point toobserve Northern Elephant Seals on one oftheir favourite beaches.All too soon our stay in California will cometo an end and we return to San Francisco tocatch a flight back to Europe. Observinggreat whales at close quarters is a veryspecial privilege and we are sure that manytour members will return from Montereyplannng their next whale-watching holiday!Whales & Dolphins of Monterey BayA 9-day holiday to California's Pacific seaboard to enjoy its birdlife and, particularly, the wealth of whales, dolphins and other exciting marine mammals for which Monterey Bay is justly famed.Saturday 24th August - Sunday 1st September Cost: £2,595Saturday 31st August - Sunday 8th September Cost: £2,595 Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationCALIFORNIA PACIFIC OCEAN MONTEREY BAY MONTEREYSAN FRANCISCO Outline itineraryDay 1Fly San Francisco;transfer Monterey.Day 2/7A full programme ofwhale-watching cruisescombined with land-based marine mammaland birdwatchingexcursions, based inMonterey.Day 8Depart San Francisco.Day 9Arrive London. AccommodationA comfortable hotel with pool; allrooms with private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade A. Easy walks only (all ofthem optional). FocusWhales, dolphins, other marinemammals (including Sea Otters)and birds.LeaderPeter Dunn.Single room supplement£175.Web quick search: USA03191Monterey BayBlue WhaleHumpback Whales