Birdwatching is hugely popular as birds are widespread, fascinating and highly photogenic. Many of our bird watching holidays include trips, destinations and locations which offer chances to see a range of birds in conjunction with local wildlife and nature, such as...
Why our bird watching holidays are so successful
Birdwatching: What birds to see and where
Our African safaris offer a multitude of opportunities to see the continent’s amazingly rich sub-Saharan birdlife. The curious-looking shoebill is perhaps best seen in Bangweulu Swamp in northern Zambia, while Botswana, Uganda and Ethiopia are all excellent for birding. Elsewhere in the Old World, the forests of Sweden offer excellent sightings of golden eagles, and the Delta of the Danube in Romania. The jungles of Papua New Guinea are the place to see birds of paradise, while those of Borneo are full of hornbills.
Across the Atlantic, our trips to the Americas afford countless chances to observe New World species – from the bald eagles of British Columbia to the neotropical species of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, which include the endangered hyacinth macaw and the jabiru stork. The swamps of island Trinidad are home to intensely-coloured scarlet ibis, while out in the Pacific Ocean the Galapagos Islands are home to Darwin’s finches which caused the great naturalist to reflect on the process of evolution. In Central America, Costa Rica’s phenomenally rich birdlife includes the resplendent quetzal and a multitude of iridescent hummingbirds.
The remarkable shoebill (Balaeniceps rex), whose conspicuous boat-shaped bill lends it a prehistoric appearance, is a distant relative of the pelican. It is distributed across the freshwater marshlands of tropical central Africa, but we encounter it in northern Zambia’s Bangweulu Swamp. Although non-migratory, it moves on a limited seasonal basis as a result of habitat changes, availability of food, and human disturbance.
The island of New Guinea is by far the best place to see birds-of-paradise, with their spectacular brightly-coloured plumage, due to the diversity of species found there and in the neighbouring islands. Out of a total of 43 species, 38 are found here – including one of the most spectacular of all - the raggiana (or Count Raggi's) bird-of-paradise, (Paradisaea raggiana), the national bird of the nation of Papua New Guinea.
The downward-curving beak and brilliant coloration of the scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), one of the two national birds that feature on Trinidad and Tobago’s coat of arms, make it totally unmistakable. Found in various regions of tropical South America and the islands of the Caribbean, it is sociable and gregarious, and generally lives in large colonies – such as in the Caroni Swamp on the coast just south of Port of Spain.
Possibly the best-known of all the birds in the northern hemisphere, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is still the most widely distributed of the eagles despite disappearing from many regions. Winter in Sweden presents fantastic opportunities to photograph these magnificent raptors at close quarters from a forest hide, to which they are attracted by carrion.
One of the three surviving populations of endangered hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) – the largest of the macaws and the world’s largest flying parrot – lives in the wetlands semi-open wooded habitats of the Pantanal, along the border between Brazil’s Mato Grosso state and Bolivia. The combination of habitat loss and trapping for the cage bird trade has taken a heavy toll on the population in the wild.
The 15 species known collectively as Darwin’s or Galápagos finches, are found (with one exception) only on the Galapagos Islands, and range from tiny warbler-finches to the vegetarian finch, the largest. Significant differences between species – particularly the size and shape of their beaks, which are highly adapted to the food sources on each island – gave Charles Darwin clues that led to his seminal work The Origin of Species.