Guided butterfly, botanical & birdwatching holidays
Give us a call - 01473 254658

Wallcreeper & Woodpeckers


Dates & Prices


Dates: 16 – 20 March 2017

Price: £795

Single Room Supplement: £50 (TBC)

Deposit: £150 per person

Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides, printed & bound holiday report and a donation to a wildlife charity

Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to a local wildlife charity

Leader: Paul Tout (a second leader will accompany large groups)

Group Size & Travel: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests plus 1-2 leaders.

Grade: Gentle to moderate walks at a leisurely pace in a variety of terrains

Holiday Highlights

  • A great chance to enjoy seeing the elusive Wallcreeper 
  • Numerous Woodpecker species to look for including Black, Grey-headed, Middle-spotted, Three-toed, White-backed & Lesser
  • Other birds may include Blue Rock Thrush, Great Grey Shrike, Rock Bunting, Alpine Accentor, Eagle Owl & Ural Owl and lots more!
  • Fantastic hotel set in a nature reserve with birding opportunities on site
  • Led by Paul Tout, a local guide who knows the area intimately
  • Relaxed pace ideally suited to  full enjoyment of the wildlife & scenery
  • Contribute to a local wildlife charity

A short 5 day break to see Wallcreepers and other birds, especially woodpeckers, in Istria and the Karst.


Holiday Guide

Paul Tout has lived close to Trieste in NE Italy since 1989 where he taught Environmental Science in a prestigious international school and has lead wildlife tours here since 1992. He now works as a wildlife tour guide, licensed and insured by Italian nature tourism’s representative body, AIGAE and as a self-employed scientific translator and editor.

Paul is an all-round naturalist with particular interests in birds, butterflies and flowering plants. For three years (2011 – 2013) he was head gardener and guide at Carsiana, a themed botanical garden that displays more than 600 species of plants of the limestone Karst around Trieste.

A short 5 day break to see Wallcreepers and other birds, especially woodpeckers, in Istria and the Karst.

Join Paul Tout on his local patch in Istria to look for Wallcreeper and several Woodpecker species, along with other target species, such as Alpine Accentor, Rock Bunting, Ural & Eagle Owl, Crested Tit and more!

Istria is a small peninsula covering 8,000km2 close to the head of the Adriatic and central Europe and today split roughly 20/80, between Slovenia and Croatia together with a sliver of Italy close to Trieste. Its position at a crossroads in Europe together with its varied geology and climate make it rich in biodiversity terms with mountains to 4,500 feet alongside a mild Mediterranean climate beside the coast.

Our single base for the holiday is located on a nature reserve at the mouth of the River Isonzo.  Some rooms are with a balcony looking out towards the river and across to the Alps. There is splendid morning and evening wetland birding around the hotel. Due to its unique position the hotel is very tranquil and there is no passing traffic. Evening meals will be in the hotel and include both vegetarian and vegan options.

Please see the ‘Holiday Itinerary’ tab for a more detailed look at what we’ll be doing during our stay.

All images (c) Domen Stanič except Three-toed Woodpecker which is by Sara Cernich.

Day 1: Arrival in Trieste and transfer to our hotel in Grado.

Depending upon the time of our arrival on Friday afternoon and the weather conditions there may be time to visit one of the local pairs of Eagle Owls, still a common species in this part of Italy. The winter months are the best to hear this bird “singing” and they should still be in good voice in early March. Once egg-laying is complete they tend to fall silent. If we fail on Day 1 we can try on other evenings.

Day 2: Wallcreepers in Trieste & Slovenia

We’ll start our hunt for the elusive Wallcreeper on the rock-faces in Val Rosandra behind Trieste. The species nests high up on cliffs in the Alps but come the autumn move down to similar sites at lower altitude. Like the bird that frequented the Cheddar Gorge for two consecutive winters in the 1970s Wallcreepers are birds of habit and often return to the same sites from year to year. The heavy rain in November 2014 fell as snow in the Alps and birds turned up early on at least two sites in the following days.

In winter these rock-faces also support Alpine Accentor, Black Redstart, Peregrine Falcon and Raven while elsewhere in the area the activity of the local woodpeckers (five species), should be at fever-pitch together with the songs of resident passerines.

After lunch we will visit to a second site just over the border into Slovenia, the source of the river Osp, where up to three Wallcreepers have wintered in recent years as well as paying a visit to a splendid wetland reserve belonging to the Slovene Birdlife organization, DOPPS, Škocjanski zatok or Val Stagnon where we should pick up a few heron and cormorant species as well as wildfowl and waders.

Our evening meals will be in hotel, about 45 minutes drive from Trieste.

Day 3: The Slovene Karst.

The Karst is a harsh but beautiful land of limestone cliffs, caves and open grasslands together with increasingly large areas of forest. A short distance into Slovenia the cooler climate ensures that Sessile Oak and Beech can grow. As these forests have matured, previously rare woodpeckers including Black, Grey-headed and Middle-spotted Woodpecker have become increasingly common and are sure to be very active in March. Other hard-to-get species that are found in the Karst at this time of year include Rock Bunting and Great Grey Shrike

If we have failed with Wallcreeper on Day One we will try at alternative site, the caves at Škocjan, a UNESCO heritage site with a superb display of spring flowers to boot.

We will round off the day with a visit to the huge karstic lake of Cerknica a little further east in Slovenia where we will search for other woodpecker species (including Three-toed and White-backed). Cranes should be passing through at this time and the lake is used extensively by both wintering juveniles and the local adult pair of White-tailed Eagle. Ural Owls are frequent in the woods and are often active during the day

Day 4: The High Karst

Our priorities will be dictated by whether we have picked up Wallcreepers on the first two days but on Sunday, snow permitting, we will concentrate on sites in the High Karst at over 1000 metres above sea level with a brief visit in the morning to the famous bridge at Solkan where we might pick up Wallcreeper yet again. The forest of Trnovo covers thousands of hectares and is home to Bears, Wolves and Lynx to Three-toed and White-backed Woodpecker as well as Ural and Pygmy Owls. Edible Dormouse numbers are high in 2016 so overwinter survival of raptors should be good. Golden Eagle, Alpine Accentor (wintering) and (rarely) Rock Partridge are also present together with Rock Bunting, Peregrine, Goshawk and Hawfinch along with birds of coniferous forest such as Crested and Willow Tit and Bullfinch.

Day 5: Isola della Cona / Valle Cavanata (and departure). 

On our final morning we will go to Isola della Cona, the European nature reserve with the longest bird check-list: 325 species with Yellow-browed Warbler and Grey Phalarope being added in 2014. In late winter the reserve and the surrounding farmland are a magnet for geese, mostly Greylags and White-fronts but most years there are also a few Tundra Beans, Re-breasted and Lesser White-fronted Geese present although the latter may be difficult to locate within the flocks. If there is time we will also visit Valle Cavanata and / or Valle Artalina in search of the large Greater Flamingo flock that has colonized the area since 2013 when the species first nested in the lagoon of Venice. After lunch we can make our way to the airport just 5 kilometres away in a leisurely fashion for a late afternoon flight arriving at Stansted at about 6 p.m.

Warm clothes (including footwear) are ESSENTIAL for this weekend break. Temperatures are usually above freezing and in sunny weather with no wind can easily reach 20°C. Wellington boots are not necessary if a little care is taken and the puddles are dodged. Most of the Karst is very well-drained with no standing water or muddy areas.

 New holiday so testimonials to follow

New holiday so reports to follow

Latest News

Contact Us

Telephone: 01473 254658 (Mon - Sat 9am - 6pm)


Twitter-Icon-40   Facebook-Icon-40  Pinterest-Icon-40