page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36
page 37
page 38
page 39
page 40
page 41
page 42
page 43
page 44
page 45
page 46
page 47
page 48
page 49
page 50
page 51
page 52
page 53
page 54
page 55
page 56
page 57
page 58
page 59
page 60
page 61
page 62
page 63
page 64
page 65
page 66
page 67
page 68
page 69
page 70
page 71
page 72
page 73
page 74
page 75
page 76
page 77
page 78
page 79
page 80
page 81
page 82
page 83
page 84
page 85
page 86
page 87
page 88
page 89
page 90
page 91
page 92
page 93
page 94
page 95
page 96
page 97
page 98
page 99
page 100
page 101
page 102
page 103
page 104
page 105
page 106
page 107
page 108
page 109
page 110
page 111
page 112
page 113
page 114
page 115
page 116
page 117
page 118
page 119
page 120
page 121
page 122
page 123
page 124
page 125
page 126
page 127
page 128
page 129
page 130
page 131
page 132
page 133
page 134
page 135
page 136
page 137
page 138
page 139
page 140
page 141
page 142
page 143
page 144
page 145
page 146
page 147
page 148
page 149
page 150
page 151
page 152
page 153
page 154
page 155
page 156
page 157
page 158
page 159
page 160
page 161
page 162
page 163
page 164
page 165
page 166
page 167
page 168
page 169
page 170
page 171
page 172
page 173
page 174
page 175
page 176
page 177
page 178
page 179
page 180
page 181
page 182
page 183
page 184
page 185
page 186
page 187
page 188
page 189
page 190
page 191
page 192
page 193
page 194
page 195
page 196
page 197
page 198
page 199
page 200
page 201
page 202
page 203
page 204
page 205
page 206
page 207
page 208
page 209
page 210
page 211
page 212
page 213
page 214
page 215
page 216
page 217
page 218
page 219
page 220
page 221
page 222
page 223
page 224
page 225
page 226
page 227
page 228
page 229
page 230
page 231
page 232
page 233
page 234
page 235
page 236
page 237
page 238
page 239
page 240
page 241
page 242
page 243
page 244
page 245
page 246
page 247
page 248
page 249
page 250
page 251
page 252
page 253
page 254
page 255
page 256
page 257
page 258
page 259
page 260
page 261
page 262
page 263
page 264
page 265
page 266
page 267
page 268
page 269
page 270
page 271
page 272
page 273
page 274
page 275
page 276
page 277
page 278
page 279
page 280
page 281
page 282
page 283
page 284
page 285
page 286
page 287
page 288
page 289
page 290
page 291
page 292

Provence, and especially the region ofthe Camargue, is best known as aspring destination for naturalists.However, there is also much to see inwinter; indeed some birds are more readilyseen at this season. Blue Rock Thrush,Black Redstart, Penduline Tit, RockBunting, Citril Finch, Snow Finch andAlpine Chough are amongst the interestingpasserines that we should find, and aregular highlight of our previous visits hasbeen that most prized of European birds,the enigmatic Wallcreeper. At a time whenonly the occasional Chiffchaff relieves thegloom of a British winter, it is possible tofind up to seven species of warbler inProvence, including Cetti's, Sardinian,Subalpine and Dartford, and even moreexciting is the presence of numerousraptors patrolling the Camargue marshesand surrounding hills, a variety whichcould include Imperial, Spotted, Bootedand Bonelli's Eagles. Best of all, we will beable to enjoy our birdwatching in a climatethat is warmer, and during daylight hoursthat are longer than those at home!Provence is also rich in architectural andhistorical features, a number of which canbe viewed during the course of our birdingactivities. The name itself reminds us thatthe region was a Roman provincia and itcontains a wealth of Roman antiquities. Inthe western part of the Rhône Delta wefind the fully walled medieval city of Aigues-Mortes, founded in 1241 by LouisIX to compete with other Mediterraneanports and to act as base for Crusades. Itnow lies eight kilometres inland as a resultof natural silting. Less grand, butnonetheless interesting, buildings includeshepherds' refuges in exposed parts of thedelta, with characteristic rounded endsplaced towards the prevailing wind.The Camargue itself, covering about 750square kilometres, is the marshy area of theRhône Delta, and we will spend three daysexploring this legendary region of wildhorses and fighting bulls. The GreaterFlamingo is probably its best known denizenbut other wetland birds abound. Flocks of 3-4,000 Red-crested Pochard can be seen,together with Black-necked Grebes, KentishPlovers, Avocets, considerable numbers ofMediterranean Gulls, Cetti's Warblers, andboth Penduline and Bearded Tits. Numerousraptors are attracted by this abundance ofprey and Common Buzzards are aconspicuous feature of the Provencelandscape whilst scores of Marsh Harriersand Hen Harriers patrol the reedbeds. Otherrarer birds of prey also occur on occasions,adding the exciting possibility of seeingSpotted, Imperial, Bonelli's or BootedEagles to each excursion in the field.The ancient delta of the Durance - now atributary of the Rhône - forms the areaknown as the Crau, covering some 50,000hectares. This dry stony habitat has beenextensively irrigated and grows crops suchas melons and the famous Crau hay. Thislatter crop, which provides three cuts ayear, is especially prized for feeding racehorses. The surviving areas of originalhabitat support good numbers of LittleBustard and France's only population ofPin-tailed Sandgrouse. Other noteworthyresidents include Calandra Lark,Dartford Warbler and Great Grey Shrike.North-east of our base in Arles is a rangeof hills rising to 387 metres called LesAlpilles, a limestone extension of theLuberon range. Here we will look forWallcreeper, and may also see AlpineAccentor, Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrushand Bonelli's Eagle. A little further away isMont Ventoux (1,909 metres), which we willplan to visit on our final day. The Italianpoet and scholar, Petrarch, ascendedVentoux with his brother in 1336 andinitially revelled in the view. Later, however,he read St. Augustine's admonition that ' should not take pleasure inmountains or scenery...' and regretted hisfrivolity. Hopefully, we can enjoy thissplendid mountain without pangs of guilt!On its lower, wooded slopes we will lookfor the beautiful Citril Finch, and here wemay also see Crested Tit. At higherelevations, above the treeline, we will hopeto find two species characteristic of thisinhospitable terrain, Alpine Accentor andthat hardy alpine sparrow, the Snowfinch.Journeying to and from Mont Ventoux, wepass the great aqueduct known as thePont du Gard. This aqueduct wasconstructed by Agrippa in about 19 BC tocarry the water of the Eure (near Uzés), toNîmes, some 40 kilometres away. It isgenerally regarded as one of the mostremarkable feats of Roman engineering,and provides another chance ofencountering the elusive Wallcreeper thatwould provide such a fitting finale to thiswinter break.Citril FinchesCrested TitGreater Flamingoes69Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Marseille andtransfer to Arles.Day 2/7Arles.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotel serving goodlocal food, all rooms with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Day walks only.FocusMainly birds, a few mammals, plusRoman and medieval antiquities.LeadersJames Bray and Simon Tonkin. Single room supplement£175.Web quick search: FRA18Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationProvence at ChristmasAn 8-day holiday featuring the best of the birdlife of southern France in winter.Saturday 22nd December - Saturday 29th December 2012 Cost: £1,295Sunday 22nd December - Sunday 29th December 2013 Cost: £1,395SPAIN ITALY SWITZERLAND GERMANY BELGIUM PARIS CAMARGUEARLESTOULOUSE BORDEAUX FRENCH ALPS STRASBOURG ENGLISH CHANNEL ATLANTIC OCEAN MEDITERRANEAN SEA FRANCE MARSEILLE

One of the oldest states in Europe,Bavaria lies in the southernmostregion of Germany, along theborder with Austria, and covers 20% ofthe country's total land area. Rich inculture and home to some of Europe's mostbeautiful mountain scenery, there is a localsaying that Bavaria is 'not part of Germany,but near it'. Indeed the state has a verystrong and colourful identity of its own, withBavarians taking great pride in their traditions,which include playing the Alpenhorn andMaypole dancing, the regional dress oflederhosen for men and dirndls for women,such culinary specialities as white sausageand excellent local beers (served by thelitre!), and centuries-old folk music amongstthe many charms of the region.At the heart of the Bavarian Alps, theBerchtesgaden National Park, situatedbetween the Austrian city of Salzburg andthe historic spa town of Bad Reichenhal,conserves the very best of this unique regionand is the focus of this exciting Naturetrekholiday. Once a royal hunting reserve, thisnational park now protects over 200 squarekilometres of pristine mountains rising to2,700 metres. The park's spectacularscenery includes the deep glacial Königssee(King's Lake), glaciated valleys, deepgorges and mountains that are cloaked withforest beneath the 2,000-metre tree-line.We'll explore this wide range of habitats and altitudes during daily walks in Berchtesgaden's fabulous mountains andvalleys, focusing on the area's rich variety ofalpine flowers, birds, butterflies and otherwildlife. Our comfortable base for thisholiday is a traditional family-run Bavarianhotel, enjoying magnificent views of themountains from the forested slopes near thevillage of Bischofswiesen, close to thenational park. Not far away, nestled beneaththe imposing and jagged WatzmannMountain range, lies the picturesque andunspoilt market town of Berchtesgaden -delightfully quaint and quintessentiallyBavarian!Within the national park we will explore thewonderful meadows and forests of theKlausbachtal Valley, rich in such wild flowerssuch as Lady's Slipper Orchid, White andRed Helleborine, Lily of the Valley and MayLily. We will also look out for birds such asGolden Eagle, Hazelhen and Capercaillie.On another day we'll explore the Königssee,scanning the surrounding area for mammalssuch as Chamois and Red Deer as well asthe many woodland and water birds to befound here. After exploring the lake, we willvisit the world-famous St. BartholomewChurch before searching nearby mixedforest and clearings along the lakesidebanks for interesting flora such as HerbParis, Twayblade and Bird's-nest Orchid.These woods are also home to a rich birdlife- including Crested Tit and White-backedWoodpecker - and abundant butterflies.At higher altitudes we'll look for birds suchas Golden Eagle, Alpine Chough, RingOuzel and Alpine Accentor, while descentsthrough the forests give us the chance ofBlack and Three-toed Woodpeckers,Nutcracker and Goshawk. One of thehighlights of a visit to the BerchtesgadenNational Park in early summer is the carpetsof alpine flowers in its high meadows; GlobeFlower, Arnica montana, Alpenrose, AlpineSnowbell, Primula auricula, and numerousgentians are among the many species wehope to see. We'll also keep an eye open forMarmots and Ibex. On one day we may offeran optional, more challenging walk onMount Watzmann, Germany's secondhighest mountain. Here, a winding forest trailleads to a high 'alm' (alpine grazingmeadow) and gives us the chance to lookfor a variety of special forest and alpineplants such as Martagon Lily and WhorledSolomon's Seal, as well as Griffon Vultures,Capercaillies and a wealth of butterflies.While our main aim on this new tour will beto enjoy the mountain scenery, wildlife andflowers, a visit to this region of Germanywould not be complete without the chanceto discover aspects of Bavarian history andculture. We will be based very near thebeautiful city of Salzburg - a WorldHeritage Site, birthplace of Mozart and,more recently, the setting for 'The Sound ofMusic' - and will pay the city a visit duringour tour. The area around BerchtesgadenNational Park is also known for itsassociation with Adolf Hitler and the ThirdReich, and you will have the chance to visitHitler's imposing 'Eagle's Nest', perchedhigh above Berchtesgaden town onKehlstein Mountain. Finally, after a week spent enjoying thestunning mountain scenery, wildlife, flowersand local Bavarian history and culture wereluctantly have to transfer back to Salzburgfor our flight home. However, if you havetime, and wish to extend your stay in thisspecial region of Germany, extra nights inSalzburg are highly recommended. The Bavarian AlpsAn 8-day programme of daily walks in search of the alpine flowers, birds, butterflies andmammals of the Bavarian Alps, plus a wealth of rich local history and culture. Sunday 2nd June - Sunday 9th June Cost: £1,295 Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Salzburg; transfer toBischofswiesen.Day 2/7A programme of dailynatural history walks inthe BerchtesgadenNational Park at theheart of the BavarianAlps.Day 8Transfer to Salzburg; flyStansted.AccommodationA delightful, and typically Bavarian,family-run hotel in the mountainsnear Bischofswiesen. The hotelenjoys stunning mountain views,flower-bedecked balconies andspacious grounds, and has its ownrestaurant serving traditionalBavarian cuisine. All rooms haveprivate facilities.Food All included in the price.Grading Grade A/B. Mountain day-walks at agentle pace (up to 6-8 kilometres aday).Focus Alpine flowers, birds, butterflies,mammals and reptiles; plusmountain walking and local historyand culture.Leaders Andy and Ingrid Patmore(naturalists); Dawn Nelson (botanist).Single room supplementFour single rooms available withoutsupplement, then £150.Web quick search: DEU0170Call now or visit your free Trip ItinerarySALZBURGKÖNIGSSEEBAVARIABISCHOFSWIESENBERCHTESGADENAUSTRIAAUSTRIAGERMANYBERCHTESGADENNATIONAL PARKMartagon LilyRamsau Church, BerchtesgadenWhite-backed Woodpecker