Take to the Skies with Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire and SWAROVSKI OPTIK

Published on : Wednesday, October 7, 2020

As the seasons change and the birds around the 500 acre (200 hectare) estate of Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire start to migrate, there is no better time to experience the property’s unique SWAROVSKI OPTIK Birdwatching experience.

Introduced in collaboration with SWAROVSKI OPTIK, a world-leader manufacturer of long-range optics, to offer guests a fun and sustainable way to discover wild birds in their natural habitats, renowned ornithologist John Clark shares just what guests will encounter on one of the walks this season.

“Warblers, swallow and martins have started their long journey to tropical Africa, while birds that come to us for the winter are arriving in force,” John explains. Guests who stroll down to the property’s historic Tundry Pond will be pleased to see a big increase in the number of birds.

“Shovelers are busy feeding on the surface of the water while tufted ducks are diving for mussels, their favourite food. A squadron of 30 cormorants are diving in unison to try to herd fish into an area where they can catch them. Having taken their fill, they fly up into a large oak tree to dry their wings and others perch on a low fence. Several great crested grebes, still in their summer breeding dress, can be seen diving for fish as well. House martins and swallows are feeding for insects low over the pond before they continue their journeys to the south. As well as the ubiquitous grey heron, two more exotic members of its family are present. A great white egret, a stunning bird with all white plumage and a dagger-shaped yellow bill, was fishing along the shore with six little egrets, which are smaller with a black bill. Little egrets spread into the UK from France and Spain about 30 years ago and are now quite commonplace; the great white egret has recently colonised but is as yet only nesting in a few secret places.”

Further afield on the estate, there is more to be seen with the Hotel’s resident buzzards, kestrels and red kites, often joined by a peregrine falcon or sparrowhawk. John continues, “Owls are elusive but three species occur in the park – barn, tawny and little. There is always a chance of seeing a littleowl as they can be active during the short winter days. And winter is the best time for seeing small birds such as thrushes, finches, nuthatches, treecreepers and woodpeckers because the deciduous trees have shed their leaves. It’s also a good time to see a flash of blue on the pond or nearby Basingstoke Canal – kingfishers are regularly seen.”

The SWAROVSKI OPTIK Birdwatching experience offers guests the chance to see these elusive birds on the guided walk with a pair of high quality CL Companion 8 x 30 or 10 x 30 binoculars, providing high-precision optics that fit perfectly in the hand. The guided bird walk can also be enjoyed alongside the Hotel’s additional wide variety of activities on offer to guests including fishing, croquet, tennis, falconry and cycling. The estate’s original 18th century stable block is home to a luxurious spa, a 20 metre (65 foot) indoor conservatory swimming pool, an outdoor vitality pool and the Hotel’s family adventure pool, Sharkie’s Reef.

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