In the words of Herman Melville in Moby-Dick, 'Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!', enough of each to visit all the top bird and other wildlife destinations on Earth. Alas, there exists strength and patience but neither time nor cash permit such indulgence. So, in order to make sure the trips that can be made are the best, I have been researching the 200 Destinations, 100 best Birds and 100 best other Wildlife on this website since the 1980s, both at home and abroad, on travels to all seven continents, some several times, mostly on 'Wheatley's Waste Not Want Not Tours'. Even the results of this research though, published and updated regularly on this website, again in the words of Melville, are 'but a draught - nay, but the draught of a draught'.
Still going after all these years and still seeing some fantastic birds, like this Wilson's Bird-of-paradise watched for hours at its display court on Waigeo, an island off West Papua. My old birding companion Nick Cobb, also known as Chief, took the image, from the palm-frond hide.
It is important to remember that the more preparation you make before setting off the more exciting a trip is likely to be. However, while I hope to help answer some of the questions you may ask yourself before heading off, for the first or fortieth time, I cannot (and do not wish to) direct you to every bird and animal in the minutest detail. This website is not an up-to-the-minute trip report - I urge you to seek the many excellent trip reports out via the websites listed on the Trip Reports page, and to write up your own experiences and share them - so some sites will have changed when you arrive at your destination, some may not even be there at all, and new ones may have opened up. Fortunately some uncertainty is what makes travelling, especially in search of birds and other wildlife, so much more exciting. It would be a poor pastime if every bird and animal was lined up on an X on a map, and while some are teed up on this website I hope there are not many and that the information presented is enough to be a guiding light to the best places on the planet for birds and other wildlife, places where, unlike many others, birds and other wildlife still thrive. I hope there is enough of the right type of information to encourage you to visit at least some of the destinations, and to help you to plan and execute successful and enjoyable trips to them. In turn, your visits may help to ensure that these destinations are conserved, for the wildlife they support, and for future generations to enjoy. I have long been a supporter of ecotourism because I believe that landowners, hopefully the local community, encouraged by visiting birders, other wildlife enthusiasts and so on, may decide not to sell, say an area forest, to, say a multinational intent on clearing the forest to make way for a palm oil plantation, for short-term gain, and keep and manage that forest instead if they can see it helping to support their community for generation after generation. Ecotourism is certainly playing a part in protecting what is left.
The planet is suffering badly from too many people; our need for water and shelter, the intensive farming needed to feed us, the ransacking of resources to provide the infrastructure now demanded and to satisfy the seemingly insatiable appetite for the latest technology, as well as the pollution created. The majority of us also have to live in filthy, noisy, overcrowded cities where the air is not fit to breathe. The quantity of life is increasing rapidly while the quality of life plummets. However, despite our selfish and stupid degradation and destruction of the planet which is our home, amidst the carnage, some places have, so far, somehow, avoided the worst we can do, and are still full of birds and other wildlife, so my research is ongoing. Since 2001 when I wrote the last of the books listed below I have been to the sparsely populated and tourist-free extensive forests and grasslands of Gabon where I watched a Red-headed Picathartes and beautiful Rosy Bee-eaters at one of their colonies; the mountains of Mexico where I heard the murmur of millions of Monarch butterfly wings and saw multicoloured warblers galore; Uganda, where two, separate, truly wonderful, hours were spent with Chimpanzees and Gorillas; across the Southern Ocean to the King Penguin rookeries and synchronised flying displays of Light-mantled Albatrosses on South Georgia, and on to awesome Antarctica; Papua New Guinea, to watch some aptly-named birds-of-paradise, the most fantastic living things on Earth; and West Papua, to watch yet more birds-of-paradise, including Western Parotia, Magnificent Bird-of-paradise and Wilson's Bird-of-paradise displaying at their courts. Parts of the world are still beautiful. Long may they be so.
Nigel Wheatley, September 2017