Guide to the World’s Great Birding Experiences: A month-by-month diary
As anyone interested in ornithology will know, the world of bird watching changes dramatically throughout the year. Migration patterns, mating habits and the weather all have an impact on the location, behaviour and visibility of birds, with every new month bringing fresh opportunities for twitching around the world.
If you’re a fan of all things avian, a bird watching trip will probably be right at the top of your holiday hit list. So if you want to spend your next getaway admiring eagles, viewing vultures and spotting sparrow hawks, take a look at our top picks for the very best bird watching holidays from around the world.
Not only will a trip to Antarctica let you tick this frozen continent off your travel bucket list, a visit to the region in January will give you the chance to see one of the world’s biggest birds, the Albatross. Head to the rugged peaks of South Georgia to see these colossal creatures and enjoy mid summer in the southern hemisphere.
If your holiday budget won’t stretch to the South Pole, Northern Ireland is also a fantastic destination for winter birding trips. Visit Strangford Lough in County Down, the winter home to three-quarters of the world’s population of light bellied brent geese.
Escape the winter blues with a birdwatching holiday in Taman Negara, Malaysia, this February. The national park is home to more than 350 recorded species, making it one of the best birdwatching destinations in Asia. Expect to see hornbills, pheasants, pittas and woodpeckers among many more.
A life saving stop on the springtime migration for birds travelling between South and North America, the Dry Tortugas islands, 70 miles from Key West, see some of the world’s most colourful and bizarre species drop by for a visit. Spot fork-tailed flycatchers, bananaquits, warblers and orioles.
One of the best birdwatching spots in Central America, Monteverde is a fantastic place to see the resplendent quetzal. Once worshipped by the Maya and Aztecs, the bird is a symbol of the region.
Closer to home, the Scottish Highlands make an excellent destination for springtime birdwatching tours. Head to Loch Garten for a chance to see the region’s magnificent Ospreys.
Farne Islands, Northumberland
With the UK home to some of the biggest bird colonies in the word, you don’t always have to travel to the other side of the world for stunning birding spectacles. Visit these rugged islands to see large numbers of puffins, terns and kittiwakes.
The Kitanglad Mountains, located on Mindanao Island, is the best place on earth to spot the endangered Philippine eagle, one of the world’s largest birds of prey. Other rare birds found in the area include the Bukidnon woodcock, the giant scops owl and the montane racket-tail.
Isolated from the rest of the world for millennia, Madagascar has a unique landscape all of its own. A fantastic destination for summer birdwatching breaks, the island is home to the illusive long-tailed ground roller, the Subdesert mesite, couas and vangas.
The UK’s largest gathering of birders is held in Rutland every August. A fantastic chance to find out what’s happening in the world of ornithology, the event takes place close to a wetland reserve where you can see a variety of rare and protected species.
The Rift Valley Lakes in Kenya are home to hundreds of thousands of flamingos. These bright pink birds have been attracting twitchers for generations and a visit to see this famous spectacle is a must for all keen birdwatchers out there.
Dumfries and Galloway
The arrival of autumn signals the start of another great migration. Visit the Scottish borders in October to see whooper swans, barnacle geese and ducks arriving from colder climes to enjoy the comparatively mild Scottish winter.
If you want to squeeze in a bit of sun before winter arrives in earnest, head to the cloud forest in Abra Patricia, northern Peru. There you’ll see the rare marvellous spatuletail hummingbird during their frantic mating displays, and might also spot the royal sunangel, long-whiskered owlet and Lulu’s tody-flycatcher.
Winter offers UK based birdwatchers the chance to see one of the country’s most beautiful birds – the avocet. Wrap up warm and take a cruise down the Exe Estuary for the best chance of seeing this elegant species.
Another exceptional birdwatching opportunity close to home, the mudflats on the North Norfolk Coast are a safe roosting site for around 40,000 pink footed geese. Visit the area at dawn or dusk to see the birds flying overhead.
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