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     **SCHOOL OF BIRDING NEXT AVAILABLE COURSE DATES**                             




"I can't stop thinking about last week, how much I learnt, and most importantly where it's going to take me next. I don't think I realised at the time how revolutionary it was, but you've really fanned a spark that was just flickering." Sarah Hutton, Class 1 of '23

This is the best school that you didn't get a chance to go to. There are certainly no exams or tests, definitely no homework and absolutely no double maths or cross country! Just professionally delivered birding instruction, which is stimulating and easy to understand, delivered with good humour by two passionate and professional guides at a relaxed pace designed to build your core birding skills. At the end of the course you will have achieved a priceless lifetime qualification - you will have Become A Better Birder !

 The School of Birding is proud to be supported by ZEISS Birding. A range of top class Zeiss binoculars and                             scopes will be available for all our guests to use, free of charge, with some very special offers available at the                         end of each course.

This is an opportunity to relax and go birding with like minded people in a wonderful part of the world. Regardless of your age or ability you will come away seeing birds and the natural world through fresh eyes and with new found knowledge. The course is based at the famous Grant Arms Hotel, the country's premier wildlife watching hotel in Grantown on Spey within the Cairngorms National Park. (

"Highly recommended for all levels of birders - highly organised by knowledgeable and enthusiastic professionals, friendly, patient and helpful to all their guests. I could go on and on. I loved everything. It's the best week I've ever had at the Grant Arms." Elizabeth Lawson Class 1 of '23

The course follows a structured curriculum over five days and is designed for novice birders who want to increase their confidence and take birding to the next level and for intermediate birders who want to polish and hone their skills and levels of knowledge.

The course will focus on how to identify birds, but will also take you far beyond that with an holistic 'big picture' approach to birding. Lessons will be delivered by Simon and Mark each evening before dinner in the Osprey Suite at the hotel, which has excellent audio-visual equipment.


 Our days will be spent birding in and around the Cairngorms National Park and the Moray coast. Birds we will be searching for include golden and white-tailed eagles, hen harrier, goshawk and other raptors, crested tit, crossbills, snow bunting, red and black grouse, black-throated, red-throated and great-northern divers, velvet scoter, slavonian grebe, long-tailed duck and greater scaup, as well as geese and a wide variety of wader species. There's always the possibility of vagrant and scarce migrants at this time of the year as well such as king eider, surf scoter and waxwings.

"Simon and Mark are both not only excellent teachers, but all round great blokes - friendly, helpful and entertaining! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole week, and to learn so much into the bargain was an unbeatable combination. I would have loved to just do the week over again!" Sheena Langford Class 1 of '23


Understanding and choosing habitat is an important part of the course and over the five days we will go birding in the following range of diverse habitats :-

  •   Mountain and moorland

  •   Forest and freshwater

  •   Estuary and coast

The course is restricted to ten guests to allow a low guest to instructor ratio and although you will be part of a birding team, you will be treated as an individual, with your own personal goals and objectives highlighted to the instructors on the first evening of the course.  

During the course some of the subjects we will cover in the classroom and out in the field include:-

  • Bird topography

  • Bird identification 

  • The seven habits of a good birder

  • Habitat choice​

  • Fieldcraft 

  • Bird calls and song

  • Migration 

  • Climate change and rewilding and the effects on birds and wildlife.

  • Note taking and field sketches

  • Binoculars, telescopes and tripods. How to choose models for your style of birding and budget and how to use them correctly.

  • Field guides -  which ones to use and how and when to use them, including electronic guides and apps.

  • How and where to record your sightings

There will be some walking on the course and this consists of walks of two to three miles along predominantly good tracks.

What's included in the price :-

  • Six nights dinner, bed & breakfast at the Grant Arms Hotel, Grantown on Spey

  • Five full days guiding and instruction

  • Use of Zeiss binoculars, telescopes and thermal imaging devices.

  • Transport in large comfortable vehicles and fuel during the five guided days out

  • Packed lunch prepared by the hotel

  • Tea, coffee & biscuits whilst out in the field and at the hotel before and during evening lessons.

To express an interest in attending the course, or if you have any questions at all regarding the course please contact Simon Pawsey via email -



Mark is an obsessive Yorkshire coast birder and naturalist whose roles include wildlife guide, ecologist, speaker, writer and educator.

He is well known as a passionate, exceptional communicator, whether in the field with his clients, in the classroom, in lecture theatres, on television screens, on radio airwaves or via the written word

Mark is in demand as a communications expert, with many successful past and present projects involving Birdlife International, Birdlife Israel, Champions of the Flyway, RSPB, several British Bird Observatories and many others. He also has a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science and an HND in Ornithology.

Mark's nature writing has been a constant feature in the UK media over recent years. His regular pieces in Birdwatch magazine and Birdguides are well known, as are his many articles for the RSPB, Birdwatching magazine, British Birds and various others. Recent book commissions include writing sections for the bestselling Lost In London and Birding Frontiers – Challenge Series books.

“We need more people like Mark – passionate, engaging, knowledgeable leaders in their field” - Chris Packham

"Quite simply the best birder and guide that I know. He's inspirational, professional, incredibly knowledgable and delivers it all with passion, humility and good humour. We're so lucky to have him as a School of Birding instructor" - Simon Pawsey, Cairngorms Birding



The owner and operator of Cairngorms Birding and a guide in residence at The Grant Arms Hotel. Simon has also guided clients for Wildlife Worldwide, Zoothera Birding, Explore Nature and Speyside Wildlife. He also works as an ornithological consultant for an ecological survey company. Most of what you need to know about Simon and his guiding and communication skills can be found amongst the pages of this website and the very generous testimonials of his guests. 


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