Map of the world

  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of King Penguins on South Georgia

    King Penguins on South Georgia by Nigel Wheatley. A small-ship cruise to Antarctica via South Georgia and the Falklands is possibly the ultimate wildlife experience on Earth, although there are many contenders!


    The destinations listed and linked below are the ones we believe are the best in the world for birds and other wildlife. They have been chosen very carefully and for a multitude of reasons, but mainly based on personal experience of some of them and on dreams of visiting the rest, dreams resulting from what we have heard, read or seen.

    It is our intention to update this list regularly as we add destinations and it was last updated in November 2018.

    If there are any other destinations you think should be on the list below please Email us.

    The destinations are listed alphabetically with very brief, usually one-line, summaries for those linked to more detailed pages (to reach these pages click on the destination name). Those not linked to more detailed
    pages are described in a bit more detail here,
    in italics.

    For more information see ...
    The Best (100) Birds in the World,
    The Best (100) Wildlife in the World and
    Best (50) Other Natural Wonders.

    The List

    The first and arguably most important destination to consider is a Local Patch, somewhere a short walk from home where it is possible to see a wide range of birds and other wildlife any day of the year.

  • Worldwide, where are the most birds? Well, species richness per country is roughly like this ...

  • (Figures compiled from latest books and Avibase using IOC 2018 version 8.2, with the South American Classification Committee July 2018 figures in italics in parentheses.)
  • Species/Endemics
  • 300-400
  • Madagascar 305/108
  • New Zealand main islands 387/54

  • 400-500
  • Greece 465
  • Morocco 499

  • 500-600
  • Turkey 511
  • Java (mainland) 512/32
  • Oman 538
  • Iran 551/1 (Pleske’s Ground Jay)
  • Chile 551/10 (498/12) (and 3 endemics on Juan Fernandez Islands)
  • Spain (mainland) 585 (including many vagrants)

  • 600-700
  • France (including Corsica) 600/1 (Corsican Nuthatch) (including many vagrants)
  • The Gambia 606
  • Belize 606
  • Cambodia 632/2 (Cambodian Tailorbird and Cambodian Laughingthrush)
  • Taiwan 665/27
  • Bhutan 683
  • Queensland, Australia 685/27
  • Borneo 685/50 (Malaysian Borneo 634/11)
  • Philippines 687/222
  • Malawi 689
  • Senegal 691
  • Zimbabwe 697

  • 700-800
  • Japan 718/4 (and 10 endemics on Ryukyu, Izu and Bonin Islands)
  • Malay Peninsula 719/3 (Malayan Partridge, Peacock Pheasant and Whistling Thrush)
  • Paraguay 720/1 (694) (Chaco Nothura)
  • Rwanda 727
  • Suriname 734/1 (731) (Arrowhead Piculet)
  • French Guiana 735/1 (698) (Cayenne Nightjar)
  • Guinea 738
  • Cote d’Ivorie 748
  • West Papua 749/43 (including offshore islands such as Biak)
  • Laos 750/1 (Bare-faced Bulbul)
  • Sumatra 754/34
  • Gabon 758
  • Mozambique 774/1 (Namuli Apalis)
  • Ghana 776
  • Guatemala 778/1 (Goldman’s Warbler)
  • New Guinea 780/366
  • Honduras 791/1 (Honduran Emerald)
  • Nicaragua 794
  • CAR 798

  • 800-900
  • Guyana 803 (783)
  • Malaysia 817/17 (includes northern Borneo)
  • Zambia 860/1 (Chaplin’s Barbet)
  • Ethiopia 872/20 (and 14 species shared with Eritrea only)
  • South Africa 885/33
  • Papua New Guinea 892/96

  • 900-1000
  • Nepal 906/1 (Spiny Babbler)
  • Australia 918/334
  • Costa Rica 932/5 (and 3 endemics on Cocos Islands)
  • Vietnam 942/7 (and several more species shared with Laos/Cambodia only)
  • Cameroon 968/5 (and about 30 species shared with Nigeria only)
  • Nigeria 977/1 (Ibadan Malimbe)

  • 1000-1100
  • Angola 1004/13
  • Sudan & S Sudan 1006/1 (Cinnamon Weaver)
  • Panama 1012/9 (and one endemic on Coiba Island)
  • Thailand 1049/1 (Turquoise-throated Barbet)
  • Argentina 1051/14 (and two virtual endemics) (1005/16)
  • Uganda 1084/1 (Fox's Weaver)

  • 1100-1200
  • Myanmar 1116/8 (and Gurney's Pitta?)
  • Mexico 1146/123
  • Kenya 1152/11
  • Tanzania 1160/34
  • DR Congo 1193/22

  • 1300-1400
  • India 1343/77 (including 16 endemics on Andaman and Nicobar Islands)

  • 1400-1500
  • China 1417/59
  • Indonesia (not including West Papua) 1417/601 (and 18 species still undescribed)
  • Venezuela 1430/49 (1383/45)
  • Bolivia 1447/17 (1383/15)

  • 1600-1700
  • Ecuador (mainland) 1662/7 (1632/11)

  • 1700-1800
  • Indonesia (including West Papua) 1778/451

  • 1800-1900
  • Brazil 1865/240 (1804/234)
  • Peru 1871/113 (1803/107)

  • 1900+
  • Colombia 1982/84 (1847/80)
  • As for the number of birds per square mile then the order goes up roughly as follows ...

  • 6.3 % of the total number of bird species occur in Rwanda and Malawi.
  • 7.0-7.1% in Guatemala, Honduras, Suriname, French Guyana and Malaysia.
  • 7.9-8.1% in Guyana and Nepal.
  • 8.3% in Vietnam.
  • 8.6% in Costa Rica.
  • 8.8% in Panama.
  • and an amazing 16 % in Ecuador which has nearly as many birds as Australasia in an area smaller than Arizona.
  • Mongabay went as far as comparing data on amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, mammals and vascular plants to compile a list of the most biodiverse countries. The biggest countries came out on top but on a per square mile basis the small country biodiversity champions were, in ascending order, Brunei, The Gambia, Belize, Jamaica, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea and Panama.

    And now for the A-Z of Destinations.

    Photograph of Buff-breasted Sandpiper

    A beautiful, intricately-marked, displaying Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Barrow by Dubi Shapiro.


    Abruzzo National Park - Italy
    A good chance of Brown Bear and a few birds such as Golden Eagle.

    Grizzly Bear, Beluga, Moose, Musk Ox, millions of seabirds on the Pribilof Islands including Red-legged Kittiwake, and Horned and Tufted Puffins, and, on the mainland, spectacular localized birds such as Spectacled Eider, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Aleutian Tern, Hawk and Snowy Owls, and in autumn, Ross's Gulls.

    Alaska - Southeast
    A chance to see Humpback Whales bubble-net feeding, as well as Grizzly and Black Bears.

    This small country alongside the Adriatic is a land of coastal dunes, salinas, marshes, beech woods, pine woods and fir forests on the inland mountains where in Valbone Valley National Park there is a chance of seeing such birds as Rock Partridge, Black and White-backed Woodpeckers, and Eurasian Nutcracker. Divjaka-Karavasta National Park near Berat supports about 5% of the world's breeding Dalmatian Pelicans as well as Pygmy Cormorant, Greater Flamingo and passage migrant waterbirds such as Marsh Sandpiper and Caspian Tern, with Collared Flycatcher present too. More waterbirds can be found along the coast including the likes of Collared Pratincole and Slender-billed Gull. The first half of April is best for birds, early June for butterflies and flowers.

    Alberta - Canada
    Black and possibly Grizzly Bears, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat and Pronghorn.

    In March 2018 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all travel to areas within 30km of the country’s borders with Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Tunisia and unfortunately the country’s famous endemic bird the Algerian Nuthatch occurs only in the ancient humid forests in the north of the country at Djebel Babor, the Guerrouch Forest in Taza National Park, the Tamentout Forest and the Djimla Forest, all of which are relatively close to each other in the Kabylie of the Babors (Babor Mountains) but all of which are also thought to be used as hide-outs by terrorists. Should the security situation improve Djebel Babor is arguably the most accessible site, a mountain east of Algiers where the best time of the year to visit is May to September when it is also possible to see Levaillant’s (Green) Woodpecker, Moussier’s Redstart, Atlas (Pied) Flycatcher, Tristram’s Warbler and (Tunisian) Coal Tit (ledouci) while the important wetlands along the Mediterranean coast support large numbers of the likes of Ferruginous, Marbled and White-headed Ducks. Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, about 2000 km by 2000 km, and much of the interior, 85% Sahara desert, has yet to be visited by people interested in birds and other wildlife.

    Amazon (Brazil)
    The largest river in the world, flowing through the richest rainforest in the world.

    See Moluccas, below.

    American Samoa (for Western Samoa see Samoa, below)
    American Samoa supports the powelli race of Fiji Shrikebill which some taxonomists believe to be a full species. It occurs on the islands of Ta'u and Ofu-Olosega. Other landbirds present include Blue-crowned Lorikeet, Many-coloured Fruit Dove, Wattled Honeyeater, Cardinal Myzomela, and Polynesian and Samoan Starlings. Many seabirds nest on Rose Atoll NWR including Red-tailed Tropicbird, boobies, frigatebirds, noddies, and Sooty and White Terns.

    This tiny tax haven principality less than 200 sq miles/500 sq km in extent popular with hikers and over ten million skiers per annum lies in the scenic eastern Pyrenees at an average elevation of over 6500 feet (1996 m), rising to nearly 10,000 feet (2942 m) at Coma Pedrosa. The rugged terrain supports a superb flora, many mountain butterflies including Apollos and a typical Pyrenean avifauna with Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Crag Martin, Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch and Rock Bunting, while high up there is also a chance of Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Wallcreeper and Snowfinch.

    Angola has a massive bird list of about 1000 species, of which 13 are endemic; Grey-striped and Swierstra's Francolins, Red-crested Turaco, Red-backed Mousebird, Gabela Akalat, Pulitzer's Longbill, Hartert's (Green-backed) Camaroptera, Angola Slaty Flycatcher, White-fronted Wattle-eye, Braun’s and Gabela Bushshrikes, Gabela Helmetshrike and Angolan (Yellow-bellied) Waxbill, as well as, possibly, Montane (Ludwig's) Double-collared Sunbird and Golden-backed Bishop. There are many near-endemics too, including Finsch's Francolin, Damara Tern, Anchieta's Barbet, White-headed Robin-Chat, Angola and Margaret's Batises, Bocage's Akalat, Damara Rockjumper (Rockrunner), Bocage's Sunbird, White-tailed Shrike, Angola Cave Chat, Bocage's, Gorgeous (Perrin's) and Monteiro’s Bushshrikes, and Cinderella Waxbill, while widespread spectacular species include Greater and Lesser Flamingoes, Palm-nut Vulture, Great Blue Turaco, Giant Kingfisher, Black, Blue-breasted and Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, Blue-throated and Lilac-breasted Rollers, Yellowbill (Blue Malkoha) and Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye. Don't expect to see any grazing mammals or their predators though - they are all shot for food in this very poor country. There are a few monkeys and they include the tiny Angolan (Southern) Talapoin. The best time to look for birds is September, usually before the rainy season kicks in.

    Photograph of Gabela Helmetshrike

    A striking Gabela Helmetshrike in the Caxito Forest, Angola by Dubi Shapiro.

    Antarctica - Emperor Penguins
    Fly in (at great expense) to spend a few days at an Emperor Penguin colony.

    Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands
    Whales, penguins, albatrosses in the most amazing settings on Earth make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Arctic Canada and Greenland
    Polar Bear, Walrus, Narwhal, Bowhead Whale, Beluga and Musk Ox make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Arctic Russia
    The richest tundra in the world, and birds such as Siberian Crane and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

    Argentina - Northern
    Andean Condor, Rufous-throated Dipper and a brilliant hummingbird called a Red-tailed Comet.

    Argentina - Southern
    Killer Whales 'beaching' in pursuit of sealion pups, Southern Right Whale and Southern Elephant Seal.

    Arizona - Southeast
    A greater variety of breeding birds than any other area of comparable size in the United States including Coppery-tailed (Elegant) Trogon.

    Arkansas - USA
    The small state of Arkansas, north of Louisiana, is home to birds such as Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman’s Sparrow, all three of which occur together at some sites in the southern half of the state including the Ouachita National Forest near Waldron where other breeding birds include Greater Roadrunner, and Kentucky, Pine and Prairie Warblers. In the far north of the state next to Missouri are the limestone hills and mountains of the Ozarks which support 18 species of breeding warblers, most of which are best looked for when they are singing, especially during the middle two weeks of May. One of the best areas is the upper Buffalo River near Harrison from Lost Valley to the springs at Mountain View where the bottomlands and valleys support Cerulean, Hooded, Kentucky and Parula Warblers, as well as Bald Eagle and Wood Thrush. Another good birding site in the far north is Mammoth Spring State Park near Hardy where Wood Duck, Red-headed Woodpecker and Warbling Vireo occur.

    Landlocked Armenia is dominated by the lofty Lesser Caucasus mountains which rise to 4090 m (13,420 ft) at Mount Aragats although there is also some semi-desert and a large area of fish ponds at lower elevations. Situated at the junction of Europe, the Middle East and Asia there is a superb selection of birds to be seen in a very small area just a quarter the size of England, including Pygmy Cormorant, Marbled and White-headed Ducks (Armash fish ponds), Lammergeier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Caspian Snowcock (Gndasar Mountain), Caucasian Grouse (Tsaghkunyats Mountains), White-tailed Lapwing (Armash fish ponds), Armenian Gull, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Bimaculated and (Caucasian) Horned/Shore Larks, White-throated Robin, Finsch's and Red-tailed Wheatears, Blackstart, (Western) Rock and Eastern Rock Nuthatches, Green, Menetries's, Moustached and Upcher's (a late arriving summer visitor) Warblers, Rose-coloured Starling, Radde's Accentor, Crimson-winged Finch and Grey-necked Bunting. During the autumn, especially early September, large numbers of Demoiselle Cranes pass through Lake Sevan. Mammals include the Bezoar Ibex which occurs in the Yeranos Mountains. More than 230 species of butterfly include Caucasian specialities and there is a chance of seeing 80 species during the last week of June including Kurdish Copper and Persian Fritillary. The best time for birds is late May to the middle of June.

    Photograph of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

    Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters nest in Armenia. Image by Michael McKee.

    Atlantic Odyssey
    Whales, dolphins and 40 seabird species from Antarctica via South Georgia to Ascension Island.

    Australia - Eastern (Queensland)
    Platypus, Koala, the Great Barrier Reef and numerous birds including Southern Cassowary.

    Photograph of Regent Bowerbird

    The stunning male Regent Bowerbird at Lamington National Park near Brisbane where this species is common and confiding, by Francesco Veronesi.

    Australia - Northern
    Saltwater Crocodiles in Kakadu and endemic birds such as Gouldian Finch and Rainbow Pitta.

    Australia - Northwestern
    Tens of thousands of shorebirds at Broome, and Black Grasswren in the Kimberley.

    Australia - Outback
    Red Kangaroo and birds including Malleefowl and Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo.

    Australia - Southeastern (Victoria-Tasmania)
    Platypus, Koala, Tasmanian Devil, kangaroos, wombats and birds such as Plains-wanderer.

    Australia - Western
    Dugong, Whale Shark, Manta Ray and birds such as Malleefowl.

    Pygmy Cormorant, Great Bustard, possibly Saker and fine alpine scenery.

    This small country supports a long list of specialities including Caucasian Grouse, Caspian and Caucasian Snowcocks, Black Francolin, See-see Partridge, Shikra, Black-winged Pratincole, (Caucasian) Great Spotted Woodpecker, Güldenstädt's Redstart, Finsch’s and Persian Wheatears, Green, Ménétries' and Upcher’s Warblers, Mountain Chiffchaff, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Caspian Tit, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Radde's Accentor, Pale Rockfinch, (Caucasian) Twite, Great Rosefinch, Asian Crimson-winged Finch and Grey-necked Bunting, while other birds present include Chukar, Pygmy Cormorant, Lammergeier, White-tailed Lapwing, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-throated Robin, Rosy Starling, Red-fronted Serin, and Mongolian and Trumpeter Finches. These birds are best looked for from mid-May to mid-June and the best areas are Hyrcan National Park (Caspian Tit), the High Caucasus (Caucasian Grouse and Great Rosefinch (Mount Shahdagh)), and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchiva (Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Persian Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Radde’s Accentor and Pale Rockfinch). During the winter birds include Greater and Lesser White-fronted Geese, Marbled and White-headed Ducks, Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Little Bustard (thousands in and around Aggol National Park), Grey-headed Swamphen and Great Black-headed Gull. Many species pass through on migration as well and there is a bottleneck on the the narrow coastal plain below the rock of Besh Barmag less than 100km north of the capital Baku where over a million birds have been recorded during the autumn/fall including waterbirds, raptors, rollers and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. Mammals are less prominent but aerial maps of Azerbaijan even in the mid-2010s showed the presence of great tracts of near-pristine forest where Brown Bears, Wolves and even Leopards still lived.

    Sperm and other whales, Striped and other dolphins, and the rare endemic Azores Bullfinch.


    See Lesser Sundas, below.

    See Moluccas, below.

    Baffin Island - Canada
    The best place in the world for Narwhal, plus a chance of Walrus, Beluga and Bowhead Whale.

    Up to six endemic birds including a very rare nuthatch and one of the best places in the world to swim with dolphins, sharks and Sting Rays.

    The small, green farms on this otherwise arid archipelago in the central Arabian (Persian) Gulf attract a wide variety of passage migrant birds, including Egyptian Nightjar (regular in late October-early November) and Grey Hypocolius (also regular in late October-early November, sometimes all winter), while rocky hills support (Eastern/Iranian persica) Mourning Wheatear and around the coast are Socotra Cormorants (half the world’s population nests on Bahraini islets, notably the Hawar Islands which hard to access and also support the world’s biggest colony of Western Reef Egrets). Large numbers of shorebirds pass through between July and October, and passing landbirds, most numerous in March and April, have included White-throated Robin and Menetries’s Warbler. Other animals include Indo-pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, Green Turtles and the largest herd of Dugongs in the world, formed when mainly mothers and calves gather between Bahrain and the Hawar Islands between August and early April, especially in late autumn.

    Baja California - Mexico
    Whales and dolphins galore, including Blue Whale and confiding Grey Whales.

    Photograph of Red-billed Tropicbirds

    Baja's not all about whales. The birds include Red-billed Tropicbirds. Image by Dave Barnes.

    Balearic Islands
    See Mallorca and Menorca, below

    Bali, Indonesia
    See Indonesia - Bali, below

    Banggai Islands
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    This small, heavily populated country is perhaps best known in the world of wildlife for Spoon-billed Sandpipers and the Sundarbans. Up to perhaps 30% of the few Spoon-billed Sandpipers left on this planet spend the northern winter (November to March) in Bangladesh, along with tens of thousands of other wintering shorebirds including Nordmann’s Greenshank, Great Knot and Asian Dowitcher. The first specimen of the sandpiper was collected in Bangladesh in the mid-19th Century and the country still retains the record for the highest single count anywhere in the world; 202 at Moulevir Char in 1989. Since then a count of more than 100 has never been recorded and numbers have fallen to a minimum of 48 on the Meghna Estuary in the mid 2010s. Hatiya Island near Cox's Bazar, famed for what may be the longest continuous beach in the world, is a major wintering site for Indian Skimmers. The Sundarbans is thought to be the largest mangrove forest left in the world and the place where there are perhaps more Tigers than anywhere else. Also possible on boat trips through the creeks are Ganges River Dolphin, the rare Masked Finfoot, Great Thick-knee, and Black-capped, Brown-winged and Ruddy Kingfishers. In the northeast of the country, near Srimangal, there is a wetland reserve called Hail Haor where Falcated Duck, Pallas’s Fish Eagle (at Baikka Beel), Pied Harrier, Greater Painted Snipe, and Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas occur, and several forest parks and reserves including Adampur (Orange-headed Thrush), Kalachara (Chestnut-headed Bee-eater), Lawachara/Lowacharra (Malayan Night Heron, Rosy Minivet, Black-breasted Thrush and Grey-bellied Tesia, as well as Hoolock Gibbon and Phayre’s Langur), and Satchari (Black Baza, Red-headed Trogon and Common Green Magpie).

    Bay of Fundy (New Brunswick-Nova Scotia, Eastern Canada)
    Fin, Northern Right and a chance of Humpback Whales, seabirds, shorebirds and warblers.

    Beidaihe and Happy Island, China
    One of the best places to experience bird migration on the planet, just 280 km east of Beijing. The passage migrants, many in summer plumage during spring, include many species which are rarities in Europe and Alaska, notably cuckoos, pipits, thrushes, flycatchers, warblers and buntings, some of which turn up in astonishing numbers when there has been a fall (for example, 250 Siberian Blue Robins in one day on Happy Island!). Regular other species include Chinese Egret, Schrenck’s Bittern, Pied Harrier, Amur Falcon, Baillon’s Crake, shorebirds such as Asian Dowitcher and Grey-tailed Tattler, Relict and Saunders’s Gulls, White-throated Needletail, Black-capped Kingfisher, Black-naped Oriole, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Chinese Nuthatch, Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-tailed and Siberian Blue Robins, Forest Wagtail and Chinese Grosbeak. A lot of good habitat is being destroyed around the expanding seaside resort of Beidaihe, which is not as good as it used to be, but Happy Island, about 4 km by 2km and accessible via a 20-minute ferry ride, is still an exciting place to bird, and arguably the best to find many of the most exciting migrants. The first half of May is the peak time for species diversity during spring but spring passage begins in March when four species of crane pass over. The peak time in autumn is late September-early October although the cranes pass over south from mid-October to early November.

    Azure Tit, Aquatic Warbler, Great Snipe and Great Grey Owl in some really wild places.

    Whale Sharks, possibly West Indian Manatee and great coral reef fish.

    Where Golden Langurs and so many brilliant birds are part of the Gross National Happiness.

    Bioko, Equatorial Guinea
    Bioko (called Fernando Po during Portuguese colonization) is a rugged mountainous volcanic island rising to 3000 m (nearly 10,000 ft) in the Gulf of Guinea 32 km off the west coast of Cameroon. It is about 70 km long and about 30 km across with many plantations having replaced a lot of the native rainforest. Nearly 200 bird species have been recorded including two endemics: Bioko (Fernando Po) Speirops and Bioko (Fernando Po) Batis; and at least 28 endemic subspecies including those of Mountain Saw-wing, Red-headed (Grey-necked) Picathartes and Ursula’s Sunbird, while other birds present include White-tailed Tropicbird, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Grey-headed Broadbill and Black-necked Wattle-eye. Mammals include White-bellied (Tree) Pangolin, African Linsang and several monkeys; (Bioko) Drill, (Bioko) Black Colobus, Pennant’s Red Colobus, Preuss’s Guenon, and Crowned, (Bioko) Putty-nosed and (Bioko) Red-eared Monkeys. The best time to visit is mid-December to late February.

    Borneo - Malaysia
    Orang-utan, Proboscis Monkey, Bornean Gibbon and many top birds make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Photograph of Red-tailed Comet

    One of the best images ever of one of the most spectacular hummingbirds, a Red-tailed Comet by Dubi Shapiro, taken at a place called Siberia in Bolivia.

    Several spectacular macaws, endemics including Black-hooded Sunbeam, and about 100 near-endemics and specialities including Red-tailed Comet.

    Much of this country is made up of arid, karst, limestone mountains although there is a large wetland reserve in the south called Hutovo Blato which is contiguous with wetlands associated with the Neretva Delta. The best time to visit is during spring migration especially late April to late May when on a visit which includes the mountains and the Neretva area the following birds may be seen; Ferruginous Duck, Rock Partridge, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Pygmy Cormorant, Lesser Spotted and Short-toed Eagles, Levant Sparrowhawk, Red-footed Falcon, White-winged Tern, Lesser Grey Shrike, Eurasian Nutcracker, Alpine Chough, Eastern Orphean and Olive-tree Warblers, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Collared Flycatcher, and Black-headed and Rock Buntings.

    Bosque del Apache (New Mexico) - USA
    Tens of thousands of Snow Geese and thousands of Sandhill Cranes wintering.

    Many mammals including African Wild Dog, Pel's Fishing Owl and many waterbirds in the Okavango Delta including Slaty Egret and Wattled Crane.

    Brazil - Amazon
    The largest river in the world, inhabited by Grey and Pink River Dolphins, flowing through the richest rainforest in the world, with birds such as Pompadour Cotinga and Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, with a possibility of Crimson Fruitcrow.

    Brazil - Carajas
    Carajas National Forest in southeastern Para state, northeast Brazil, is one of the richest areas for birds in Amazonia and the very long list includes Peruvian Recurvebill, Black-chested Tyrant and Black-and-white Tody-Flycatcher, as well as Bare-faced Curassow, White-crested Guan, Red-throated Piping Guan, Chestnut-headed Chachalaca, Harpy Eagle, Cryptic Forest-Falcon, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Marbled Wood-Quail, Blue-and-yellow, Hyacinth, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, Jandaya and Pearly Parakeets, Red-fan and Vulturine Parrots, Hoatzin, Dot-eared Coquette, Blue-cheeked (Yellow-billed) Jacamar, Rufous-necked Puffbird, Red-necked Aracari, Banded and Wing-banded Antbirds, Black-bellied and Chestnut-belted Gnateaters, Fiery-capped and Opal-crowned Manakins, Purple-breasted, Spangled and White-tailed Cotingas, the wallacei race of White Bellbird, Sharpbill, Slaty-headed Tody Flycatcher, Blackish Pewee, White-naped Jay, Rose-breasted Chat, Para (Guianan) Gnatcatcher, Spotted Tanager and Red-billed Pied Tanager. In the same region, around the town of Caxias in Maranhao state are restricted-range birds such as Buff-browed Chachalaca, Kaempfer’s Woodpecker, Moustached Woodcreeper and Hooded Gnateater, along with Crescent-chested Puffbird, Curl-crested Jay, and Blue and Coal-crested Finches, with a chance of Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo. The best time to visit is August-September.

    Brazil - Central (Minas Gerais)
    Some tour companies tie a trip to the Pantanal with the Campo and Cerrado Region of Minas Gerais state in Central Brazil where the main sites are: Serra da Canastra National Park, where it is possible to see Brazilian Merganser, one of the rarest birds in the world, as well as Giant Anteater, Black-ear-tufted Marmoset, Red-legged Seriema, Aplomado Falcon, Golden-capped Parakeet, Toco Toucan, Campo Miner, Grey-backed Tachuri, Cock-tailed, Sharp-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, Collared Crescentchest, Helmeted Manakin, White-rimmed and White-striped Warblers, Blue Finch and Yellow-rumped Marshbird; Serra do Cipo National Park, where the main attractions are Hyacinth Visorbearer, possibly Horned Sungem, Cipo Canastero and Cipo (Long-tailed) Cinclodes, along with Cinereous Warbling Finch and Pale-throated Pampa Finch; Serra do Caraca National Park, where there is a chance of Maned Wolf on the monastery steps and Black-ear-tufted Marmoset, as well as Slaty-breasted Wood Rail, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Orange-eyed Thornbird, Serra Antwren, Rufous Gnateater, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Swallow-tailed Cotinga and Pin-tailed Manakin; and Caratinga National Park, where Buffy-headed Marmoset, and Brown Howler and Woolly Spider Monkeys occur, and there is a chance of Three-toed Sloth and Giant Helicopter Damselfly. The best time to visit is the dry season, July to October.

    From Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais state it is not far east to the state of Espirito Santo where the adjacent Rio Doce Private Forest Reserve and Sooretama Biological Reserve protect one of the largest remnants of Atlantic coastal lowland rainforest and support Red-billed Curassow, White-necked Hawk, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Black-headed Berryeater and White-winged Cotinga. Not far from there is the town of Santa Theresa where the hummingbird feeders at the home of the late Dr Augusto Ruschi attract a whirl of hummers, including Frilled Coquette. Santa Theresa city park is a good place to see Masked Titi Monkey, Geoffroy’s Marmosets and Common Opossums (on the bird tables at night) and Santa Lucia Reserve near Santa Theresa supports Cinnamon-vented Piha, Bare-throated Bellbird, Sharpbill and many tanagers.

    In 2018 a new reserve was created in the rocky uplands of eastern Minas Gerais to help protect the recently rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-Dove.

    Photograph of Toco Toucan

    Brazil is the best place to see Toco Toucan. Image by Chris Townend.

    Brazil - Alta Floresta
    This luxurious Cristalino Lodge is about an hour by road and half an hour by river from Alta Floresta which is accessible by air in one and a half hours from Cuiaba, the gateway to the Pantanal, hence the two destinations are often combined by tour operators. Cristalino is situated in southern Amazonian rainforest, the richest place for birds on Earth, hence nearly 600 bird species have been recorded. Many are thin on the ground and/or shy and skulking though so a stay of at least a week is recommended to stand a chance of seeing some of the numerous specialities such as Razor-billed Curassow, Red-throated Piping-Guan, Zigzag Heron, Harpy Eagle, White-browed Hawk, Cryptic Forest Falcon, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Crimson-bellied and Santarem (Painted) Parakeets, Kawallʼs Parrot, Pavonine Quetzal, Tapajos Hermit, Black-bellied Thorntail, Brown-banded, Rufous-necked and (Eastern) Striolated Puffbirds, Blue-necked Jacamar, Black-girdled Barbet, Curl-crested and Red-necked Aracaris, Gould's Toucanet, Glossy Antshrike, Bare-eyed Antbird, Alta Floresta (Spotted) Antpitta, Zimmerʼs Tody-Tyrant, Flame-crowned and Snow-capped Manakins, Slaty-capped Shrike Vireo, Tooth-billed Wren and Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak, as well as more widespread species such as Agami Heron, Sunbittern, Blue-and-yellow, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, Great and Paradise Jacamars, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Chestnut-belted Gnateater, Pompadour, Purple-throated and Spangled Cotingas, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Amazonian Umbrellabird, White-browed Purpletuft, Band-tailed Manakin, Musician Wren and Paradise Tanager. There are two 50 metre high canopy towers, lots of trails and boat trips along the blackwater rivers are available to seek out the birds and mammals, which include Red-handed Howler and several other monkeys. The best time to visit is October-November at the start of the rainy season when more birds are in song and there are more antswarms. Similar species occur at Rio Azul Jungle Lodge, three hours by road from Alta Floresta, including Tapajos Hermit and the forest here is a good place to see the rare Bald Parrot.

    Photograph of Blue Manakin

    A beautiful image of a male Blue Manakin by Lee Dingain.

    Brazil - Northeastern
    In the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceara and Pernambuco it is possible to see over 450 species on a regular trip including over 100 of Brazil’s 218 endemics, some of which occur only in Northeast Brazil such as Lear’s Macaw, White-collared Kite, Grey-breasted (Maroon-faced) Parakeet, Hooded Visorbearer, Pygmy Nightjar, Fringe-backed Fire-eye, Alagoas Antwren, Scalloped Antbird, Arapire Manakin and Seven-coloured Tanager, with the greatest concentration of endemics in Brazil present in the Boa Nova area in Bahia, although many are rare and highly localised in remnant patches of suitable habitat, much of it in the region being arid, badly degraded, low thorny scrub and woodland known as caatinga. Other species present in Northeast Brazil include Giant Snipe, Ruby Topaz, Bare-throated Bellbird, Black-headed Berryeater, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Banded and White-winged Cotingas (both in Catitu Reserve, Itacare), Buff-throated Purpletuft, Sharpbill, and Band-tailed and Blue Manakins, while mammals include White-tufted-ear and Wied's Black-tufted-ear Marmosets, and Coimbra-Filho's Titi Monkey. The best time for birding is January at the start of the rainy season when more birds are vocal.

    Brazil - Southeast
    More endemic birds than any other corner of South America including lots of antbirds, cotingas and tanagers.

    Brazil - Southern (Pantanal-Iguassu)
    Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Hyacinth Macaws and Iguassu Falls make this A Top Ten Destination.

    British Columbia (Western Canada)
    Grizzly Bears fishing for salmon and Killer Whales make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Wallcreeper inland, a migration flyway along the coast, especially good for waterbirds.

    See Myanmar, below.

    See Moluccas, below.

    In December 2018 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all travel to certain parts of Burundi including the main road running west from Kayanza through Kibira Forest NP, and Ruvubu NP, and against all but essential travel to the rest of the country, due mainly to political instability since President Nkrunziza was inaugurated for a controversial third term in August 2015. Should the situation improve the place to head for forest birds is Kibira, contiguous with Nyungwe Forest in neighbouring Rwanda, which supports 21 of the 35 or so Albertine Rift endemics including Mountain Sooty Boubou, Ruwenzori Batis, Red-throated Alethe, Red-collared Mountain Babbler, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Black-faced (Mountain Masked) and Ruwenzori (Collared) Apalises, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Blue-headed, Purple-breasted, Regal and Ruwenzori Double-collared (Stuhlmann’s) Sunbirds, Strange Weaver, and Dusky and Shelley’s Crimsonwings, as well as Black-billed and Great Blue Turacos, Narina Trogon, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Angola Swallow, Equatorial Akalat, Banded Prinia, Black-tailed Oriole, Slender-billed Starling and Yellow-bellied Waxbill. Other good birding sites in this tiny, densely-populated country include the Rusizi Delta/NP near the capital Bujumbura (lots of waterbirds including African Skimmer); Lake Rwihinda (Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek); Kigwena-Rumonge Forest NP (Owl-faced Monkey), The Congo-Nile Ridge Park, Nyakazu, Mwishanga Forest NP and Ruvubu NP (named after the Hippos there this stretch of the Ruvubu River is good for waterbirds, Red-faced Barbet, Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek). The main wet seasons usually last from February to May and September to November, and the driest times of the year are normally from June to August and December to January.


    California (Northern) - USA
    The tallest, largest and oldest trees in the world, Humpback and possibly Blue Whales, and Yosemite.

    Photograph of California Condor

    The USFWS recorded a population of 268 California Condors living in the wild in December 2015, many of them in California where they are being reintroduced into the mountains north of Los Angeles and the Big Sur area of the central coast. Image by Chris Townend.

    California (Southern) - USA
    A wide range of habitats in a small, often scenic, area means Southern California is a top birding destination. Mountains, pine-oak woods, chaparral, deserts, shoreline and ocean combine to support a great diversity of birds including two endemics (Island Scrub Jay and Yellow-billed Magpie) and several specialities; Black-vented Shearwater (off La Jolla Cove), Brown Booby (on cliffs at La Jolla - now breeding on Los Coronados Islands south of San Diego), Scripps’s (Xantus's) Murrelet, Yellow-footed Gull, Allen’s Hummingbird, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, California Thrasher, California Gnatcatcher (San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve), Wrentit, the nomadic Lawrence's Goldfinch, California Towhee and Tricoloured Blackbird, while other spectacular species include Heermann's Gull, Black Skimmer, Burrowing Owl and Greater Roadrunner. The best times to look for these birds are late April-early May and during the winter when there are thousands of Snow Geese (with Ross's Geese), hundreds of Sandhill Cranes and lots of Mountain Plovers around the southern end of the Salton Sea which is the only regular location for Yellow-footed Gull in the United States, although they are rare in winter (numbers usually peak during late summer). 'Desert' Bighorn Sheep occur in Anza-Borrego SP along with Dulzura and Merriam's Kangaroo Rats.

    Irrawaddy Dolphin, Yellow-cheeked Gibbon and rare South East Asian birds like Giant Ibis.

    Several monkeys and lots of birds, including a few endemics, Quail Plover and Red-headed Picathartes.

    Canada - Alberta
    Black and possibly Grizzly Bears, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat and Pronghorn.

    Canada - Arctic, and Greenland
    Polar Bear, Walrus, Narwhal, Bowhead Whale, Beluga and Musk Ox make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Canada - Baffin Island
    The best place in the world for Narwhal, plus a chance of Walrus, Beluga and Bowhead Whale.

    Canada - Eastern (Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick-Nova Scotia)
    Fin, Northern Right and a chance of Humpback Whales, seabirds, shorebirds and warblers.

    Canada - Manitoba
    The greatest concentration of Polar Bears in the world, during October.

    Canada - Newfoundland
    Humpback Whales and spectacular seabird colonies.

    Canada - Northwest Territories
    See Northwest Territories, below.

    Canada - Nunavut
    See Nunavut, below.

    Canada - Point Pelee (Ontario)
    A migration bottleneck in spring, great for up to 30 species of New World warblers.

    Photograph of Magnolia Warbler

    A superb Magnolia Warbler by David Beadle, one of many warblers possible on a good day at Point Pelee.

    Canada - Quebec
    See Quebec, below.

    Canada - Saskatchewan
    See Saskatchewan, below.

    Canada - Western (British Columbia)
    Grizzly Bears fishing for salmon and Killer Whales make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Canada - Yukon
    See Yukon, below.

    Canary Islands
    The Canary Islands which lie about 100 km off the southern coast of Morocco are the tops of a volcanic mountain range lying beneath the Atlantic Ocean and although Pico de Teide rises to 12,198 ft (3718 m) on the island of Tenerife and often has snow on it vast areas of that island and those to the east (Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote) are barren, solidified lava, moon-like landscapes whereas on the wetter western islands El Hierro, Gomera and La Palma there are remnant laurel forests. The islands support at least six endemic bird species: Bolle's (Tenerife and other western islands) and Laurel (Tenerife, Gomera and La Palma) Pigeons, Canary Islands Chat (Fuerteventura), Canary Islands Chiffchaff, and Gran Canaria (rare, maybe less than 200 birds) and Tenerife Blue Chaffinches; near-endemic Plain Swift, Berthelot's Pipit, African Blue Tit and Island Canary; and many endemic subspecies of more widely distributed birds, including Houbara Bustard (fuertaventurae on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote) and Goldcrest (teneriffae on Tenerife and Gomera). Tenerife supports the greatest diversity of endemic and near-endemic birds. Also present on Fuerteventura though are Egyptian Vulture (majorensis), Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Lesser Short-toed Lark and Trumpeter Finch, with the bustard, courser, lark and finch also on Lanzarote. On ferry crossings - such as between Gran Canaria and Tenerife, and Tenerife and Gomera - it is possible to see Cory's and Barolo (Audubon's/Little/Macronesian) Shearwaters, Bulwer's Petrel and even White-faced Storm-Petrel (especially in July when seabird numbers and diversity usually peaks), as well as Short-finned Pilot Whale, Bottlenose Dolphin and Loggerhead Turtle.

    Photograph of Houbara Bustard

    The Canary Islands is still a good place to see the Houbara Bustard. The image of this one was taken on Fuerteventura by Lars Petersson.

    Cape May, New Jersey - USA
    Cape May is one of the best places on Earth to experience visible bird migration. During the autumn/fall birds from a huge area of northern North America pass through this peninsula at the southern end of the state of New Jersey, 160 miles south of New York, before continuing south. Small bird migration usually peaks during the middle two weeks of September and the main period of migration for all species usually lasts between mid-September and mid-October and includes waterbirds, shorebirds, raptors, warblers, vireos, sparrows and buntings. They may occur in astonishing numbers if there has been a 'fallout', usually after wet cold fronts sweep across the cape from the northwest. During such times there are also likely to be lots of Northern Flickers, Blue Jays and Tree Swallows, and plenty of Belted Kingfishers, while the freshwater and saltwater marshes and beaches also support a few Bald Eagles and hundreds of Black Skimmers. The best sites, crowded with birders during peak season, are Higbee Beach WMA (especially for passage migrant passerines early morning, in what is known as the 'morning flight' when nocturnal migrants flit north and west over the dike in search of roosting and foraging sites for the day), Cape May Point SP (for waterbirds, shorebirds, migrating raptors (the Cape May Bird Observatory's hawk watch platform is here) and the 'morning flight' over the dunes), and Edwin B. Forsythe (formerly Brigantine) NWR, about 50 miles north of Cape May (for waterbirds, shorebirds and raptors).

    Although most famous for the autumn/fall migration it is also worth considering visiting Cape May during the spring, when: the spawning of tens of thousands of Horseshoe Crabs in Delaware Bay takes place, their eggs in turn providing food for thousands of passage migrant shorebirds (the spawning usually peaks during the last week of May); over 20 species of warbler may be seen, with nesting and passage migrant species both singing (the greatest variety of warblers and other small migrants usually occurs during the first half of May, especially on overcast days with southwesterly winds); and freshwater and saltwater marshes and beaches support the rare Piping Plover, as well as Bald Eagle and Black Skimmer.

    For information on Cape May Bird Observatory, the annual Cape May Autumn Birding Festival (usually held in late October) and the annual 24-hour fundraising birdrace known as the World Series of Birding (usually held in early May) see the New Jersey Audubon website.

    Cape Verde Islands
    This windy volcanic archipelago of mainly desert and mountains about 350 miles (570 km) west of Senegal, West Africa, is in the Macaronesia ecoregion along with the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira, and therefore in the Western Palearctic. It supports just 36 breeding bird species but of the nine seabirds four are endemic breeding species; Cape Verde (Fea’s) Petrel, Boyd’s (Audubon's/Little) and Cape Verde (Cory's) Shearwaters, and Cape Verde (Band-rumped/Madeiran) Storm Petrel, while almost all of the landbirds are endemic species or subspecies, the five endemics being the very rare Cape Verde (Common) Buzzard, Cape Verde Swift, Raso Lark, Cape Verde (Cane) Warbler and Iago Sparrow, and the endemic subspecies including Purple (Bourne's) Heron, Common (Alexander's and Neglected) Kestrel and Barn (Cape Verde) Owl. Other birds present include Bulwer's Petrel, White-faced Storm Petrel (which can be seen during an overnight stay on Ilheu dos Passeros, off Boa Vista), Red-billed Tropicbird, Western Reef Egret, Brown Booby, Helmeted Guineafowl, Cream-coloured Courser, Grey-headed Kingfisher (which occurs nowhere else in the Western Palearctic), Bar-tailed and Greater Hoopoe Larks, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Brown-necked Raven and Spectacled Warbler. The best islands to visit are: Santiago, the most bird rich island, mainly for Bourne's Heron, Cape Verde Buzzard (in the mountainous centre of the island overlooking Sierra Malagueta), Grey-headed Kingfisher and Cape Verde Warbler, although Praia cliffs is a good place for Red-billed Tropicbirds; Sao Nicolau, mainly for Neglected Kestrel, boat trips to Raso Island for Raso Lark (which has to be looked for from a boat because only researchers are allowed to land on the island which has colonies of Red-billed Tropicbirds and Brown Boobies and sometimes attracts roosting Red-footed Boobies), the crossing which is good for Bulwer's and Cape Verde Petrels, Cape Verde Storm Petrel, and Boyd's and Cape Verde Shearwaters, as well as Atlantic and Pantropical Spotted Dolphins, and Short-finned Pilot Whale, and Ponta do Barril, one of the best places for seawatching in the archipelago, good for the aforementioned seabirds along with Red-billed Tropicbird and Brown Booby, with a chance of White-faced Storm Petrel; and Boa Vista, where the Ilheu de Curral Velho, just offshore, supports a breeding colony of Brown Boobies (and once the last breeding pair of Magnificent Frigatebirds in the Western Palearctic), and Ponta da Varadinha (with a 4WD) where it is possible to see Red-billed Tropicbirds. The best time to visit is during the driest time of the year, December to June, especially March-April, when Humpback Whales can also be seen on whale-watching trips.

    Photograph of Brown Booby

    A great image of a Brown Booby captured in the Cape Verde Islands by Steve Rogers.

    Caroline Islands
    See Micronesia, below.

    Cayman Islands
    There are no endemic bird species on these three islands south of Cuba although they do support Vitelline Warbler which otherwise occurs only on the Swan Islands off Honduras. There are many endemic subspecies though including two of Cuban Parrot (caymanensis on Grand Cayman and hesterna on Cayman Brac) and Vitelline Warbler (vitellina on Grand Cayman and crawfordi on Little Cayman). Other specialities include West Indian Whistling Duck, Antillean Nighthawk, West Indian Woodpecker (Grand Cayman), Loggerhead Kingbird, Caribbean Elaenia, La Sagra's Flycatcher, (Western) Red-legged Thrush, Thick-billed Vireo, Yucatan Vireo (Grand Cayman), Bananaquit (sharpei), Western Spindalis (Grand Cayman), Cuban Bullfinch (Grand Cayman) and Greater Antillean Grackle, while more widespread spectacular species include White-tailed Tropicbird, Red-footed Booby (one of the largest breeding colonies on Earth (about 3500 pairs) is on Little Cayman), Magnificent Frigatebird (which also has a breeding colony on Little Cayman), and passage migrant and wintering warblers such as Black-throated Blue. Most resident breeding species nest from late May to July. The endemic fauna includes the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana while rich coral reefs, calm seas and warm, clear water make snorkelling and scuba-diving delightful, the most notable larger species being Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks, Southern Stingray, Spotted Eagle Ray, Green Turtle and Atlantic Tarpon.

    Central African Republic
    Lowland Gorilla, monkeys and spectacular birds such as Red-headed Picathartes.

    After decades of civil war the deserts, arid plains and mountains of Chad are becoming increasingly accessible to foreign visitors in search of somewhere new, remote, beautiful and exciting but in March 2018 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all travel to areas within 30 km of all borders except for the capital N’Djamena and Lake Chad and the parts of Kanem and Lac regions to the west of the towns of Mao and Bol, as well as other regions and against all but essential travel to all remaining parts of the country including the capital, N’Djamena and the town of Faya Largeau, adding that terrorists are very likely to try to carry out indiscriminate attacks and that there is a threat of retaliatory attacks following the French intervention in Mali and due to Chad’s involvement in the regional fight to counter Boko Haram. However, the bird tour company Birdquest enjoyed a successful visit in 2017 in search of Nubian Bustard, Niam-niam Parrot, Black-breasted Barbet, Rusty Bush Lark, African Dunn's Lark, Heuglin's Wheatear and Kordofan (Rufous) Sparrow, and they also saw Scissor-tailed Kite, Arabian Bustard, Black Crowned Crane, Egyptian Plover, Bronze-winged Courser, Abyssinian Roller, Cyprus Wheatear, Blackstart, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Black Scrub Robin, River Prinia, Pygmy Sunbird, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Desert and Sudan Golden Sparrows, and Sahel Paradise Whydah, some of which are northern Sahel specialities. Zakouma National Park in the southeast where Black Crowned Crane and Black-breasted Barbet occur is arguably the last great wilderness in Western Africa, home to over 500 African Elephants and many different subspecies of mammal to those of East and South Africa such as 'Kordofan' Giraffe, plus more localised full species such as Red-fronted Gazelle and Tiang. Night drives are allowed and a good way to see the likes of Crested Porcupine, Leopard, Serval and Honey Badger. Also present are Cheetah (rare), Lion, Buffalo, Spotted Hyaena (scarce), Roan, Lelwel’s Hartebeest, Loder’s (Buffon’s) Kob and Patas Monkey while reptiles include Black-necked Spitting Cobra, Nile Monitor Lizard and West African Crocodile. This park is normally subject to heavy rains between June and October but at the end of the very dry season impressive numbers of birds and mammals gather around any remaining waters. In the northeast Scimitar-horned Oryx is being reintroduced to the huge Ouadi Rime and Ouadi Achim Faunal Reserve where Nubian Bustard and African Dunn's Lark occur. Visiting areas where Kordofan Lark and the near-endemic Chad (Jameson’s) Firefinch (rare in adjacent north Cameroon) have been recorded requires special permission. There are hotels and lodges but to see the best birds in the best places it is necessary to camp with the help of local tour companies equipped with 4x4s during the dry season, especially December to February.

    Puma, a chance of Blue Whale and birds which include Magellanic Woodpecker.

    China - Beidaihe
    See Beidaihe and Happy Island, above.

    China - Central
    Golden Snub-nosed Monkey and a slim chance of Giant Panda in the wild.

    China - Eastern (Poyang Hu)
    The 'Birds of Heaven', that is cranes, lots of wintering cranes, including Siberian.

    China - Hong Kong
    Thousands of summer-plumaged shorebirds possibly including Spoon-billed Sandpiper in April.

    China - Sichuan
    Many superb birds, not least colourful pheasants and Firethroat, and a good chance of Red Panda.

    Photograph of White-browed Tit Warbler

    A beautiful White-browed or Severtzov's or Stoliczka's Tit Warbler at Kanda Shan, a mountain pass in Qinghai province adjacent to Sichuan in China by Dubi Shapiro.

    China - Yunnan
    Black-crested Gibbon, Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey and lots of superb birds and flowers.

    Christmas Island
    Million of migrating Red Crabs in November-December, giant Coconut Crabs, and seabirds.

    Birds, birds, birds, nearly 1900 species of them, more than any other country in the world.

    Colorado - USA
    Seven species of displaying grouse in spring, plus Elk, Bighorn Sheep and Pronghorn.

    Comoros and Mayotte
    There are over 20 and perhaps will end up being over 30 endemic bird species on the volcanic Comoro Islands between Mozambique and Madagascar and just about all of them can be seen by visiting the islands of Anjouan (3 single-island endemics), Grande Comore (8), Moheli (4) and Mayotte (5), actually a department of France rather than politically part of the Comoros, including a blue pigeon, four scops owls, three drongos, one to three thrushes, Humblot’s Flycatcher which is in a unique genus and occurs only on Grande Comore, Comoros Blue Vanga, three white-eyes, four sunbirds and a fody (on Mayotte only). In order to see Karthala (or Grande Comore) Scops Owl and Karthala White-eye it is necessary to camp out near the top of Mount Karthala on Grand Comore which has the largest crater of any of the world’s active volcanoes. Also on this island are Malagasy Harrier, an endemic subspecies of Malagasy (Malachite) Kingfisher and forms of Frances’s Sparrowhawk, Lesser Vasa Parrot, Cuckoo-Roller, Malagasy Spinetail and Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher. Around the coasts of the two main islands of Mayotte it is possible to see White-tailed Tropicbird, Sooty and Bridled Terns, and Brown Noddy, and off the coast of Moheli the endemic temptator form of Persian (or Arabian) Shearwater, Lesser Frigatebird and Masked Booby. The dry season usually lasts from May to November and the end of this period is the best time for birds.

    Photograph of Comoros Blue Pigeon

    A great image of the rather fancy Comoros Blue Pigeon taken on Mount Karthala on the island of Grande Comore by Dubi Shapiro.

    Congo, Democratic Republic of (formerly Zaire)
    See Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), below.

    (Republic of the) Congo
    Although the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to certain regions of Congo its relative political stability in a troubled region means it could become one of Africa’s finest wildlife destinations, especially considering it is possible to see Western Lowland Gorillas in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the remote northwest where there are two habituated families near Ngaga Camp, accessible by air from Brazzaville the capital, and other camps such as M’boko, set in savannah frequented by Elephants and Buffalos. Eleven diurnal primates also live in the park including Guereza Colobus and Moustached Monkey, and nearly 450 species of bird have been recorded, 330 breeding, including Congo Serpent Eagle, White-bellied Kingfisher, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Grey-headed Broadbill, Angola and Bioko Batises, Eastern Wattled Cuckoo Shrike, Black-throated Apalis, Black-collared Bulbul, many greenbuls including Falkenstein’s, and Yellow-capped Weaver. Congo is a low-lying country on the equator between Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where over 50% of the land surface is still covered by rainforest and another national park in the far north, Nouabale-Ndoki, which is contiguous with Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic supports the likes of Sandy Scops Owl, Brown Nightjar, Zenker’s Honeyguide and Preuss’s Weaver. In the far south birds characteristic of the flooded forests in the Kouilou region include White-crested Tiger Heron, Maned Owl and Vermiculated Fishing-owl while other species present in the Lower Kouilou Basin bordered by the Atlantic coast include Damara Tern, Black-headed Bee-eater, African River Martin (September-November) and Loango Weaver. The river martin, as well as Rosy Bee-eater breed in Conkouati National Park in the extreme southwest and the Lefini Faunal Reserve on the Teke Plateau in the southeast next to Gabon supports Finsch’s Francolin, Congo Moor-Chat and Black-chinned Weaver with Brazza’s Martin in neighbouring localities. The best time to visit is the beginning of the rainy season which is usually March in the north and October in the south although the coolest months of the year are July and August.

    Cook Islands
    It is only necessary to visit three of the 15 widely scattered Cook Islands to see the six endemic bird species: the island of Atiu for the endemic Atiu Swiftlet (which can be seen at the nest in Anatakitaki Cave, one of several spectacular caves on the islands) and Lilac-crowned Fruit Dove (which also occurs on Rarotonga but is much scarcer there), as well as Kuhl's Lorikeet, which otherwise occurs only on remote Rimatara in the Austral Islands, and has been reintroduced to this island, Chattering Kingfisher, the range of which extends beyond the Cook Islands to the Society Islands, and the more widespread Pacific Imperial Pigeon; the island of Rarotonga for the endemic Rarotonga Monarch in Takitumu Conservation Area (a bird which has also been introduced to Atiu) and Rarotonga Starling; and the island of Mangaia for the endemic Mangaia (Mewing) Kingfisher and Cook Islands Reed Warbler. In addition, Blue (Violet) Lorikeet has been introduced to Aitutaki where there is also a chance of seeing Bristle-thighed Curlew, mainly from November to March. Seabirds present throughout the Cook Islands include Herald Petrel (most likely on and around Rarotonga), Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Red-footed Booby, Black and Brown Noddies, and White Terns. It is usually dry and cool from June to October, the best time to visit, with most rain falling during the cyclone season between December and May.

    This scenic, sparsely populated, French island nearer the northwest coast of Italy than France supports the endemic Corsican Nuthatch, the near-endemic Marmora's Warbler and Corsican Finch (both of which occur only on Corsica and Sardinia), and the restricted-range Moltoni's (Subalpine) Warbler and Italian Sparrow. In addition there are several endemic subspecies, including the corsa race of Treecreeper. More widespread species include Lammergeier (rare and most likely at Haut Asco), Red Kite, Golden Eagle (scarce), Hoopoe, Alpine Chough, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Firecrest and Spotless Starling, with summer visitors such as European Bee-eater and Woodchat Shrike (the badius subspecies which breeds on Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands). Around the coast and on some etangs it is possible to see a few Audouin's Gulls and offshore, Scopoli's (Cory's) and Yelkouan (Balearic) Shearwaters. The few mammals include Mouflon (most likely at Haut Asco) but there is a rich flora which includes many orchids and those usually in flower during early May (the best time to look for birds) include Sword-leaved Helleborine, Violet Limodore, Yellow Ophrys, Heart-flowered Serapias, and Barton’s, Man, Milky, Pink Butterfly and Tongue Orchids.

    Photograph of Marmora's Warbler

    A singing male Marmora's Warbler by Michael McKee, endemic to the western Mediterranean.

    Costa Rica
    Resplendent Quetzal, Red-eyed Tree Frog, sloths, monkeys and nesting turtles. Costa Rica's got the lot!

    The limestone islands, cliffs, gorges and craggy mountains of Croatia support Scopoli’s (Cory’s) and Yelkouan (Balearic) Shearwaters, Rock Partridge (Pag Island and Paklenica National Park are good sites), Black and White Storks, Eurasian Griffon Vulture (colony/rehabilitation centre on the island on Cres), Lesser Spotted, Short-toed and White-tailed Eagles, Eleonora’s Falcon (Vis Island), European Bee-eater, Black Woodpecker, (Eastern) Black-eared Wheatear, Collared Flycatcher, Sombre Tit, (Western) Rock Nuthatch, Olive-tree and (Eastern) Orphean Warblers, Lesser Grey Shrike, Alpine Accentor (near Veti Jure in Biokova Nature Park), and Black-headed and Rock Buntings, while at wetlands like Lake Vrana it is possible to see a wide range of waterbirds including Pygmy Cormorant. Mammals in Biokova Nature Park include Chamois and Mouflon, both of which are elusive. The rich flora, including lots of orchids, is a fine sight in April and May. The best time for birds is May-June and early June is usually the peak time for butterflies, 190 species of which have been recorded including a wide variety of ‘blues’ and rarities such as Balkan Copper.

    Over 20 endemic birds including a tody, a trogon and the world's smallest; Bee Hummingbird.

    Photograph of Blue-headed Quail Dove

    There are a lot of rather spectacular endemic birds on the island of Cuba, not least the Blue-headed Quail Dove. This fine image was captured at Bermejas near Zapata by Dubi Shapiro.

    Czech Republic
    It is possible to see all ten European woodpeckers in the Czech Republic. The best three areas for birds are: (i) the Sumava Mountains on the border with Germany, which, together with neighbouring Bavaria, support the most extensive forest remaining in Central Europe, home to some great but scarce and very elusive birds such as Black and Hazel Grouse, Eurasian Pygmy and Ural Owls, and Black, (Eurasian) Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers, most of which are best looked for on Mount Boubin where Ring Ouzel (alpestris) and Eurasian Nutcracker also occur; (ii) the five hundred fish ponds in the Trebon area which support White-tailed Eagle, as well as a few White Storks, Red-crested Pochard, Red Kite, Bluethroat, Collared Flycatcher, Reedling and Penduline Tit; and (iii) South Moravia where there is a possibility of seeing Barred Warbler, as well as Saker Falcon and Eastern Imperial Eagle (both most likely in the Hohenau area just across the border in Austria). The best time to look for birds is the middle of May when most of the summer migrants have usually arrived and some owls and woodpeckers are still nesting.

    Situated to the south of Turkey and north of the Nile delta in the eastern Mediterranean the coastal rocky promontories and wetlands on the rugged island of Cyprus are a great place to see migrating birds especially during the northern spring (mainly late March to mid April) when species passing through include Pallid Harrier, Little Crake, Slender-billed Gull, Red-throated Pipit, Black-headed Wagtail, Isabelline Wheatear and Ruppell’s Warbler, with 'regular' vagrants such as Caspian Plover. Good sites include Cape Greco near Larnaca in the far southeast which has hosted rarities such as Grey Hypocolius and Cinereous Bunting; the vast salt lake at Akrotiri (for flocks of Greater Flamingos) and the dry plain known as the Akrotiri Gravel Pits, one of the best areas for migrant passerines, which in turn attract Pallid Harriers; and Paphos (Pafos) Headland in the far southwest, a classic migration site also famous for its Roman ruins. There are three widespread endemic breeding species; a scops-owl, a wheatear and a warbler, and four endemic subspecies; Coal Tit (cypriotes), 'Dorothy's' Short-toed Treecreeper (dorotheae), Jay (glaszneri) and Crossbill (guillemardi), all of which occur in the Troodos Mountains. Other breeding species include Chukar, Black Francolin, Griffon Vulture, Eleonora's Falcon, Spur-winged Plover, Audouin’s Gull, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Masked Shrike, Spectacled Warbler and Cretzschmar’s Bunting. During the autumn, usually from late August to early September, Demoiselle Cranes stopover at Akrotiri Salt Lake where thousands of Greater Flamingos spend the northern winter and other wintering species include Ruddy Shelduck and Finsch's Wheatear (Oct-Mar).

    Photograph of Cyprus Warbler

    Cyprus Warbler by Lars Petersson.


    Dakota, North - USA
    See North Dakota, below

    See Lesser Sundas, below.

    Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
    This huge country supports a tremendous variety of wildlife but it is a very difficult place in which to see much of it. One exception is Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve deep in the heart of the Congo where it is possible to see the mythical Congo Peafowl, one of the shyest and most difficult birds to see on planet Earth. In contrast our closest next of kin the rare Bonobo which also occurs here is easy to see thanks to researchers habituating several groups. Getting there is not easy. Once permits (‘ordres de mission’) have been obtained from different ministries it will probably be necessary to charter a plane for the 700 km flight to Basankusu in the province of Equateur then a dugout for a 170 km river trip then it is a 12 km trek to a clearing where there is no accommodation so all camping gear, food etc. will need to be factored into what is in effect an expedition, or you could just contact the tour company Birdquest who visited in 2015 and 2017. They also saw Congo Serpent Eagle, Forbes’s Plover (Basankusu), Yellow-throated Cuckoo, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Blue-throated Roller, Sladen’s Barbet, Blue Cuckoo Shrike, Bates’s Paradise Flycatcher, Congo Martin (Mbandaka), Congo (Mbandaka) and Violet-tailed Sunbirds, Cassin’s Malimbe, Bob-tailed Weaver (at Basankusu and Mbandaka), Woodhouse’s Antpecker and Grant’s Bluebill, as well as Black Mangabey, Angolan Pied Colobus, Wolf’s Monkey and Red River Hog. September is the time to go even though the wet season in the north of the country usually lasts from April to October.

    Seeing an Okapi in the wild is another matter altogether although there is an Okapi Wildlife Reserve run by The Okapi Conservation Project based at Epulu in the northeast. The reserve encompasses 13,700 square kilometers of the Ituri Forest which also supports the largest populations of Chimpanzees and Forest Elephants in the country as well as 13 primates, Bongo and a bucketful of birds.

    In November 2018 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continued to advise against all travel to many provinces of the country especially in the east but there are still tour companies offering tours there to see Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park. The Beni region immediately west of Virunga and the Rwenzori Mountains near the border with Uganda has been under siege from the Allied Defence Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group, for many years, and this group is believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 1500 people and 800 kidnappings since 2014, according to local civil society organizations. In addition, the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus has killed at least 200 people, about half of which were from Beni.

    Despite its small size, just 20,000 square km or so, and often intense heat, Djibouti, a former French colony with a continued French military presence, has a bird list of over 360 species, thanks mainly to its location at the mouth of the African Rift Valley, the narrowest point along the Red Sea (the Bab el Mandeb straits) and close to the Arabian Peninsula, just 28 km away. It therefore has a fascinating mix of African and Middle Eastern species and is on a major migration flyway to boot. The 370 km long coastline has areas of mangrove bordered by large mudflats while inland mountains rise to about 2000 m above semi-desert, acacia bush land, savannas and patches of Juniper forest where the birds include the endemic Djibouti Francolin and restricted-range specialities such as White-eyed Gull, White-cheeked Tern, Somali Bulbul, Gambaga Flycatcher, Somali Starling, Arabian Golden and Somali Sparrows, an odd sunbird tentatively named Toha Sunbird and a yellow-breasted and yellow-tailed form of Green-winged Pytilia that may prove to be a distinct species. Other birds present at various times of the year include Persian Shearwater, Greater Flamingo, Abdim’s Stork, Goliath Heron, Pink-backed Pelican, Verreaux’s Eagle, Crab Plover, Sooty Gull, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Greater Hoopoe Lark, Grey-headed Batis, Ethiopian Boubou, Blackstart, Black Scrub Robin, Sombre Rock Chat, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Graceful Prinia, Arabian, Basra Reed, Brown Woodland, Menetries’s, Red-fronted and Upcher’s Warblers, Nile Valley Sunbird and Ruppell’s Weaver. There are quite a lot of mammals too, including Hamadryas Baboon, Speke's Pectinator, Dorcas and Soemmerring's Gazelles, Salt's Dik-dik and Klipspringer. The best time for birds is arguably December to February when birds which breed far to the north spend the northern winter in the country.

    Sperm and other Whales, dolphins and two endemic parrots.

    Dominican Republic
    One of the few places in the world where it is possible to swim with Humpback Whales.

    Photograph of Broad-billed Tody

    Birds do not come much cuter than todies which are endemic to the Caribbean. This is a Broad-billed Tody on the Sierra de Bahoruco in the Dominican Republic by Dubi Shapiro.


    East Timor
    See Timor/Timor-Leste, below.

    Emperor Penguins - Antarctica
    Fly in (at great expense) to spend a few days at an Emperor Penguin colony.

    Ecuador - Northern
    More birds per square mile than any other country in the world.

    Ecuador - Southern
    A high degree of regional endemism with lots of very local and little known birds including over 40 species shared only with adjacent northern Peru (the Tumbesian Endemics) together with the incredibly bird-rich eastern Andean slope forests and more widespread birds means it is possible to amass a huge list of birds on a trip to Southern Ecuador; easily over 400 species in two weeks and 650 in three weeks, including over 60 hummingbirds, many of which can be seen at several superb feeding stations, and many tanagers. The star birds include El Oro Parakeet, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Jocotoco Antpitta (now coming out of the forest to feed on worms supplied by local guides, along with Chestnut-naped and Undulated Antpittas), Tumbes Tyrant (at Zapotillo, the only known site for this species in Ecuador), White-tailed Jay and Orange-throated Tanager, while more widespread spectacular species include Horned Screamer, Oilbird (along the old Loja-Zamora road), Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Club-winged Manakin, Giant Conebill, Tit-like Dacnis, Plushcap, and Golden-crowned and White-capped Tanagers. Possible mammals include Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth and Mantled Howler Monkey. The best time to look for birds is during January to March because this period usually coincides with the annual rains when resident birds start singing making it easier to find the many skulkers. Make sure you book Jocotoco Foundation’s excellent birding lodges at Buenaventura (El Oro Parakeet and Long-wattled Umbrellabird), Jorupe (Pale-browed Tinamou at feeders) and Tapichalaca (Jocotoco Antpitta) well in advance, as well as Copalinga Lodge, near the Bombuscara entrance to Podocarpus National Park (where Grey Tinamou and Wire-crested Thorntail visit the feeders) and Yankuam Lodge (near where Orange-throated Tanager is easiest to see, and where Spangled Cotinga and White-browed Purpletuft occur).

    Photograph of Long-wattled Umbrellabird

    The truly extraordinary Long-wattled Umbrellabird at Buenaventura by Lars Petersson.

    The main tourist attractions in Egypt are the Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, the Egyptian Museum which hosts Tutankhamun’s treasures, the Temples of Karnak and Luxor, and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, but visitors interested in birds may wish to turn their eyes elsewhere, especially those interested in birds which are difficult or impossible to see elsewhere in the Western Palearctic, birds such as White-eyed Gull (which is difficult to see anywhere else in the world!), Goliath and Striated Herons, Yellow-billed Stork, Brown Booby, Pink-backed Pelican, Sooty Falcon, Greater Painted Snipe, Senegal Thick-knee, Crab, Kittlitz’s and Three-banded Plovers, Sooty Gull, Saunders's Tern (at a colony near Ras Sedr on the Sinai Peninsula), African Skimmer, Chestnut-bellied and Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, African Collared and Namaqua Doves, Senegal Coucal, Hume's Owl, Hooded Wheatear, African Pied Wagtail, Nile Valley and Palestine Sunbirds, Sinai Rosefinch, Red Avadavat and Streaked Weaver. There is even an outside chance of seeing the elusive Yellow Bitterns which were discovered breeding in mangroves along Egypt's southern Red Sea coast at Lahami south of Marsa Alam in 2012-2013 and were still present in 2017. One hour south is the site for Lappet-faced Vulture, at El Shalateen on the border with Sudan. The spring (especially mid-April to early May) and autumn (September-October) migration periods are the best times to visit, with the possibility of large numbers of storks, raptors, shorebirds and passerines, especially at the migration bottlenecks of Suez, Hurghada and Zaranik. The Red Sea is rich in marine life and there are many places where scuba-diving and snorkelling can be spectacular experiences.

    Photograph of White-eyed Gull

    Egypt is the best place in the world to see White-eyed Gull. Image by Michael McKee.

    El Salvador
    The smallest country in Central America has the highest human population density hence there ain’t a lot of forest left. However, all the birds of the dry tropical forest belt that ranges along the Pacific coast from southern Mexico to northern Costa Rica and many species endemic to the highlands between southern Mexico and northern Nicaragua are present including the range-restricted Rufous Sabrewing. The best birding sites include El Imposible National Park (Long-tailed Manakin), Los Volcanes National Park (White-faced Quail Dove, Green-throated Mountain-gem, Rufous-browed Wren, Bushy-crested Jay and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer), Montecristo National Park (Highland Guan, Green-throated Mountain-gem, Rufous-collared Thrush and Rufous-browed Wren) and the Perquín area (Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge and Bushy-crested Jay).

    El Triunfo, Mexico
    The cloud forest in this reserve in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas is one of the few accessible sites in Chiapas and neighbouring Guatemala where Horned Guan occurs, and this is also a good place to see other range-restricted highland specialities such as Highland Guan, White-breasted Hawk, Fulvous Owl, Resplendent Quetzal (the subspecies with the longest tail), Blue-throated Motmot, Green-throated Mountaingem, Emerald-chinned and Wine-throated Hummingbirds, Black-throated Jay, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia and Hooded Grosbeak. At lower altitudes the major speciality is Azure-rumped (Cabanis's) Tanager (most likely at Canada Honda), while others include Rufous Sabrewing, Sparkling-tailed Woodstar, Tody Motmot, Giant Wren (Tapachula area) and White-eared Ground-Sparrow. Other birds include Turquoise-browed Motmot (Paval area), Black-crested Coquette, Grey Silky and Long-tailed Manakin, and mammals present include Central American (Geoffrey's) Spider Monkey, Collared Peccary and Southern Ringtail (Cacomistle). Visitors must have permission from the Instituto de Historia Natural in Tuxtla Gutiérrez which can also help with the logistics in reaching the basic bunkhouse, which involves an uphill hike of about 11 km (6.5 miles), camping lower down, food and so on. The best time to visit is March when Horned Guans are usually calling.

    Photograph of Horned Guan

    The extraordinary Horned Guan at El Triunfo, Mexico by Jon Hornbuckle. It is only possible to see this bird at remote El Triunfo in southern Mexico or in adjacent Guatemala.

    Equatorial Guinea - Bioko
    See Bioko, Equatorial Guinea, above

    At least half of Ethiopia’s 30 or so ‘Abyssinian 'endemics' also occur in this small country; Wattled Ibis, Rouget’s Rail, White-collared Pigeon, Black-winged Lovebird, White-cheeked Turaco, Banded Barbet, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Abyssinian Black-headed Oriole, Thick-billed Raven, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Ruppell's (Black) Chat, White-winged Cliff Chat, Ethiopian (Winding) Cisticola, White-backed Black Tit, White-billed Starling and White-throated (Abyssinian Yellow-rumped) Seedeater. Near-endemics, restricted to the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and easternmost Sudan), include Erckel's Francolin, Blanford's Lark, White-headed and White-rumped Babblers, Abyssinian Black (Mourning) Wheatear, Somali Starling, Swainson's Sparrow, Ruppell's Weaver, African Citril and Brown-rumped Seedeater, while Collared Kingfisher occurs in mangroves along parts of the 1000 km long Red Sea coastline (the only place in Africa where this otherwise widespread Asian species occurs) and other notable species include Red-breasted (Botta's) Wheatear (which only occurs elsewhere in Ethiopia and Arabia), Menetries’s Warbler (a passage migrant and winter visitor), Pale Rock Finch (a winter visitor) and Cinereous Bunting (an uncommon passage migrant). More widespread birds range from Crab Plover, White-eyed Gull and White-cheeked Tern through Steppe and Tawny Eagles, several sandgrouse, Abyssinian Roller and Black Scrub Robin to Greater Hoopoe Lark. Mammals include Abyssinian Wild Ass (on coastal plains), Caracal, Spotted Hyena, Greater Kudu, Dorca’s and Soemmering's Gazelles, and Hamadryas/Sacred Baboon, while offshore there are Dugongs in the Gulf of Zuba and southern Dahlak Islands (along with three species of turtle), Whale Sharks, Manta Rays and a wide variety of coral reef fish. The best times to visit are during the migration periods (February to April and September to November) although some species are more likely to be seen during the June to October highland rainy season.

    Arguably the widest variety of birds in Europe, during spring migration.

    Ethiopian Wolf, Gelada Baboon and 30 or so endemic birds including Stresemann's Bushcrow.

    Photograph of Ethiopian Bee-eater

    The superb Ethiopian (Blue-breasted) Bee-eater in the Jemma Valley, Ethiopia, by David Beadle.

    Extremadura - Spain
    The best place in western Europe for bustards and raptors, including Spanish Eagle.


    Falkland Islands
    King Penguins, Black-browed Albatross colonies and Southern Elephant Seals.

    Quintessential tropical islands with outrageous birds and fantasy fish on the coral reefs.

    Photograph of Golden Dove

    The astonishing Golden Dove is endemic to Fiji where this image was taken by Dubi Shapiro.

    Finland and Arctic Norway
    A good chance of Brown Bear, a chance of Wolverine, owls and other birds.

    Florida - USA
    West Indian Manatee, waterbirds, Swallow-tailed and Snail Kites, and the endemic Florida Scrub Jay.

    France - Southern
    A wonderful combination of wetland and mountain birds in the Camargue and Pyrenees.

    French Guiana
    Forest still covers about 90% of this sparsely populated overseas department of France which means the birding is fantastic. However, the ecotourist infrastructure is relatively basic and many sites are accessible only by boat or plane. The long list of spectacular and special birds includes Agami Heron (the world’s largest nesting colony with about 1500 pairs is at Reserve Naturelle des Marais de Kaw about 70 km from the capital Cayenne), Scarlet Ibis, Hoatzin, Cayenne Tern (Ile de Grand Connetable), Red-fan Parrot, Crimson Topaz, jacamars, trogons, toucans, Guianan and Spotted Puffbirds, Painted Tody Flycatcher, White-plumed Antbird, Capuchinbird, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Guianan Red Cotinga, Pompadour, Purple-breasted and Spangled Cotingas, Dusky Purpletuft, Crimson-hooded Manakin, Musician Wren, Blue-backed Tanager and Red-and-black Grosbeak, with additional species in the primary forest (with trails) surrounding the small, isolated village of Saul in the heart of the country, arguably the top site in the country with over 450 species recorded, accessible only by air, including Black Curassow, Zigzag Heron, Orange-breasted Falcon, Black-and-white Hawk Eagle, Crested and Harpy Eagles, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, all five Amazonian potoos, Fiery-tailed Awlbill, Tufted Coquette, Red-billed Woodcreeper, McConnell’s Spinetail, White-throated Pewee, Dusky and White-browed Antbirds, Band-tailed and Black-throated Antshrikes, Ash-winged, Rufous-rumped, Spot-tailed and Todd’s Antwrens, White Bellbird, Crimson Fruitcrow, Cayenne Jay, Wing-banded Wren, Guianan Gnatcatcher, and possibly Sooty Barbthroat which is known only from French Guiana and the Brazilian state of Amapa) and the single endemic, Cayenne Nightjar, known only from the type specimen collected at Saut Tamanoir in 1917 but two records of a nightjar from Saul in 1999 may relate to this species. At the mouth of the Fleuve Maroni, Awala Yalimapo, in the extreme northwest, Les Hattes beach is a nesting ground for Leatherback Turtles which lay their eggs their between April and July. Mammals include Red-handed (Golden-pawed) Tamarin and Guianan Squirrel Monkey. This is a wet country where the driest months are usually August to October.

    French Polynesia
    Lots of seabirds including White Tern, and endemic birds such as Tuamotu Sandpiper.


    Lowland Gorilla, a chance of Chimpanzee and Mandrill, and great birds like African River Martin.

    Giant Tortoise, Marine Iguana and tame nesting seabirds such as Waved Albatross.

    Easy birding in a small country with Egyptian Plover, plus possibly Patas Monkey.

    Photograph of Abyssinian Roller

    This stunning image of an Abyssinian Roller was taken in Gambia by Nick Cobb.

    Caucasian Grouse, Caucasian Snowcock, Guldenstadt's Redstart and Caucasian Great Rosefinch.

    Several monkeys, and Upper Guinea Forest birds including Yellow-headed Picathartes.

    Photograph of Blue-breasted Kingfisher

    The stunning Blue-breasted Kingfisher occurs across west Africa to Uganda. This image was captured in Mole National Park in Ghana by Dubi Shapiro.

    Goa, India
    Goa is India’s smallest state, just 130 km (80 miles) from north to south and 80 km (50 miles) wide. Situated on the tropical west coast, the white, palm-fringed beaches are a major tourist attraction, but the state is also a great place for birds, from the coast where the lakes, marshes, mudflats and mangroves support a wide range of waterbirds to the foothill forests of the Western Ghats at the eastern end of the state where it is possible to see over 30 of Southern India's endemic and near-endemic species. Water and open-country birds along the coast include Oriental Darter, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Greater and Indian Spotted Eagles, Indian Peafowl, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Small Pratincole, Greater Painted Snipe, Great Black-headed Gull, Plum-headed Parakeet, Black-capped and Stork-billed Kingfishers, Little Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Wire-tailed Swallow, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Orange-headed Thrush and Long-tailed Shrike. To see the specialities however it is necessary to spend at least a few days in the Western Ghats, at places such as the famous Backwoods Camp for example, where it is possible to see Southern Indian endemics such as Grey Junglefowl, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar (Crimson-fronted) and White-cheeked Barbets, Flame-throated (Black-crested) Bulbul, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher and Malabar Whistling Thrush, near-endemics shared with Sri Lanka, including Blue-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Orange (Scarlet) Minivet and Indian (White-browed) Scimitar Babbler, and other spectacular species such as Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Indian Pitta (also possible elsewhere), Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Forest Wagtail, Golden-fronted Leafbird (also possible elsewhere), Indian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Asian Fairy Bluebird and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo. The best time to look for birds is during the northern winter and in two weeks it is possible to see well over 250 species.

    Photograph of Brahminy Kite

    Brahminy Kite. One of the many spectacular birds easily seen at Goa. Image by Michael McKee.

    Greater Flamingo, Pygmy Cormorant, pelicans and vulture feeding station. Also see Lesvos, below.

    Greenland and Arctic Canada
    Polar Bear, Walrus, Narwhal, Bowhead Whale, Beluga and Musk Ox make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Although Guatemala is little more than one-twentieth the size of Mexico it has a birdlist of about 700, almost two-thirds of the Mexico total. In the south of this country with some of the most active volcanoes in the region Central American specialities include Crested and Highland Guans, Spotted Wood Quail, Resplendent Quetzal, hummingbirds such as Rufous and Violet Sabrewings, Blue-throated and Tody Motmots, Chestnut-sided Shrike Vireo, Bushy-crested and Unicoloured Jays, Pink-headed Warbler (at Rincon Suizo) and the rare Azure-rumped (Cabanis's) Tanager, mostly in patches of remnant forest in and around shade-coffee plantations, and on the highest, steepest slopes of the dramatic volcanic landscape, at places such as Finca Los Andes. The best spot in the world for the stunning Goldman’s Warbler, a potential endemic currently considered a subspecies of Myrtle/Yellow-rumped Warbler which occurs only in high-elevation juniper and pine forests in Guatemala is Todos Santos Cuchumatan near Huehuetenango where there is also a chance of Ocellated Quail, Olive Warbler and the Guatemalan subspecies of Yellow-eyed Junco (a possible split from the northern Yellow-eyed Juncos). On the high slopes of Volcan San Pedro around the beautiful crater lake Lago de Atitlan (where the endemic grebe became extinct in the early 1980s) it is also possible to see the localised, rare and spectacular Horned Guan, above 2500 m on the notoriously steep El Sendero de Lagrimas (The Trail of Tears), as well as Amethyst-throated, Sparkling-tailed and Wine-throated Hummingbirds, Blue-throated Motmot and Hooded Grosbeak. Up north is the Classic Mayan site of Tikal where the birdlife includes several Yucatan endemics such as Ocellated Turkey, Ocellated Poorwill and Grey-throated Chat, with numerous other spectacular birds, not least King Vulture and Keel-billed Toucan, as well as Black (Yucatan) Howler Monkey, Central American (Geoffrey's) Spider Monkey and confiding White-nosed Coatis. The peak time to look for birds is January to April.

    Photograph of Pink-headed Warbler

    A Pink-headed Warbler by Nigel Voaden. This beauty occurs only in Guatemala and the adjacent highlands of eastern Chiapas in southern Mexico.

    Guianan Cock-of-the-rock and possibly Crimson Fruitcrow, plus Grey-winged Trumpeter.

    See French Guiana, above.


    Halmahera (and Sulawesi) - Indonesia
    Tarsier, Bear Cuscus and spectacular birds such as Wallace’s Standardwing and Knobbed Hornbill.

    Hange Tham - Nepal
    Himalayan forests where Red Panda is probable not possible!

    Humpback Whale, Manta Ray, Bristle-thighed Curlew, seabirds and the endemic honeycreeper family.

    Hawk Mountain Sanctuary - Pennsylvania
    See Pennsylvania, below.

    Hebrides (Outer) - Scotland
    Corn Crake, White-tailed and Golden Eagles, and a chance of Otter.

    Hundreds of thousands of geese, as well as swans and Smews wintering.

    Whale Sharks, coral reef fish and birds such as Tody and Keel-billed Motmots.

    Hong Kong - China
    Thousands of summer-plumaged shorebirds possibly including Spoon-billed Sandpiper in April.

    Saker, tens of thousands of Cranes in November and Red-footed Falcons in summer.

    Photograph of Red-footed Falcon

    A great shot of a female Red-footed Falcon by Michael McKee.


    Killer and Minke Whales, and birds such as Harlequin Duck,in great scenery.

    Idaho - USA
    From the Snake River to the Sawtooth mountains Idaho supports a fine range of western American birds, best looked for during the second half of May. The Snake River Canyon Birds of Prey National Conservation Area just outside Boise includes an 80-mile-long section of the river where the cliffs provide nesting sites for more than 500 pairs of 15 species of eagles, hawks, falcons and owls including Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon while the surrounding woods and shrub-steppe desert support Calliope Hummingbird, Lewis's Woodpecker, Lazuli Bunting and Black-headed Grosbeak. In contrast the Camas National Wildlife Refuge has numerous nesting waterbirds such as grebes, ducks, Trumpeter Swans, White-faced Ibises, Bald Eagles, Sandhill Cranes and Franklin's Gulls. For mountain birds head up to McCall where Williamson's Sapsucker, MacGillivray's Warbler and Western Tanager occur.

    India - Goa
    See Goa, above.

    India - Northern
    Tiger, Asian Elephant, Gharial and many birds including Sarus Crane make this A Top Ten Destination.

    India - Northeastern
    Indian Rhinoceros, Hoolock Gibbon and many stunning birds including Himalayan Monal, Grandala, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Beautiful Nuthatch.

    Photograph of Grandala

    The beautiful Grandala, one of a flock which these birds usually occur in, by Jon Hornbuckle.

    India - Northwestern
    The best place in the world to look for Snow Leopard, high up in the high mountains of Ladakh.

    India - Southern
    Gaur, Lion-tailed Macaque and endemic birds like Black-and-orange Flycatcher.

    India - Western
    Lion, Wild Ass, Blackbuck, thousands of Demoiselle Cranes and other birds such as Hypocolius.

    Photograph of Indian Courser

    The handsome Indian Courser is most likely to be seen in Western India. Image by Simon Colenutt.

    Photograph of Bali Myna

    Bali Myna in Bali Barat National Park by Dubi Shapiro.

    Indonesia - Bali
    The numerous top birding destinations of Indonesia include the island of Bali, just across the narrow Bali Strait to the east of Java, where the very rare and very beautiful white Bali Myna or Starling is being reintroduced (not very successfully) to Bali Barat National Park, where remnant open lowland deciduous forest and coastal habitats also support Black-winged Myna, Great-billed Heron, Javan Plover and Banded Pitta.

    Indonesia - Java
    Javan Gibbon, leaf monkeys and lots of endemic birds including a trogon and a cochoa.

    Indonesia - Komodo
    Komodo Dragon, rich coral reefs with Green Turtles and birds such as Yellow-crested Cockatoo.

    Indonesia - Lesser Sundas
    See Lesser Sundas, below.

    Indonesia - Sulawesi and Halmahera
    Tarsier, Bear Cuscus and spectacular birds such as Wallace’s Standardwing and Knobbed Hornbill.

    Indonesia - Sulawesi's satellites
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Indonesia - Sumatra
    Orang-utan, Siamang, White-handed Gibbon and endemic birds including Sumatran Cochoa.

    Indonesia - West Papua
    Fantastic birds-of-paradise including Wilson's, and the richest coral reefs in the world!

    Iran is a largely hot, dry and barren country but the Zagros Mountains rise to 12,000 ft (3600 m) and the highest peaks are permanently snow covered. The many great birds include the endemic Pleske's Ground Jay which can be seen in the Dasht-e-Kavir Desert in the northeast. There are also a few regional endemics and specialities such as Socotra Cormorant (south), Sind Pied Woodpecker (southeast), Grey Hypocolius (southwest), Mesopotamian (Hooded) Crow (southwest), Afghan (Common) (south) and Iraq (southwest) Babblers, Caspian (Sombre) Tit (north), Black-headed Penduline Tit (north) and Basra Reed Warbler (southwest), plus White-headed Duck, Indian Pond Heron, Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Crab Plover, White-tailed Plover, Great Thick-knee, Cream-coloured Courser, Indian Roller, several larks and wheatears, White-throated Robin, Eversmann's Redstart, Bay-backed Shrike, Asian Desert, Menetries's and Streaked Scrub Warblers, Radde's Accentor, Purple Sunbird, Dead Sea Sparrow and Crimson-winged Finch, as well as a chance of Asian (Macqueen's) Houbara Bustard. The best time to look for birds is April-May. Mammals include Asian Wild Ass (northeast), Mouflon, Ibex (Wild Goat), Golden Jackal, Goitered Gazelle, Chinkara (Indian Gazelle), Indo-Pacific Humpback (Plumbeous) Dolphin (from boat trips to and from Hormoz Island in the Persian Gulf) and Black Finless Porpoise. About fifty (Asiatic) Cheetahs are thought to survive in the deserts, mainly around Dasht-e Kavir in the northeast, but like (Persian) Leopard, Caracal, Striped Hyaena, Wolf and Sand Cat they are rarely seen by visitors. The 'flower fields' near Chelgerd with their vast swathes of wild Crown Imperials are famous amongst botanists as are the country's colourful Dionysias and irises, amongst a fine flora best viewed during the middle two weeks of April.

    (Republic of) Ireland
    Most British and many other European birders have heard of places such as Tacumshin, Ballycotton, Galley Head, Cape Clear and Bridges of Ross, all of which are in Southern Ireland. Tacumshin is a great wetland for shorebirds, including those from North America, and once there was an incredible record flock of 26 Buff-breasted Sandpipers there, on the 27th September 2011, the same day as two Semipalmated Sandpipers, a White-rumped Sandpiper and an American Golden Plover! Ballycotton is another famous place to look for shorebirds which have included a Long-toed Stint in 1996 and a Red-necked Stint in 2002. Galley Head is one of several prominent headlands along the southern and western coasts of Ireland from which there is a reasonable chance of birds like Fea’s-type Petrels in the right weather conditions, usually deep lows during the summer and early autumn, as well as rare landbirds from North America. Many such rarities have landed on the island of Cape Clear, such as a Blue-winged Warbler in 2000 and Ruby-crowned Kinglet in 2013. Around on the west coast is another great place to seawatch from, Loop Head, especially Bridges of Ross where Fea’s-type Petrels, Leach’s and Wilson’s Storm Petrels, and Sabine’s Gulls are all seen on a regular basis and rare American landbirds have included, mostly at Kilbaha, a Canada Warbler in 2006 and a Philadelphia Vireo in 2008. Farther north at the mouth of Galway Bay are the three Aran Islands including Inishmore (Eastern Kingbird 2012). Another hotspot for North American vagrants as is an island farther north called Inishbofin (Eastern Kingbird 2013). On the nearby mainland are the vertical 650 ft (198 m) high Cliffs of Moher where Atlantic Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills raise their young. These cliffs lie next to The Burren, a huge limestone pavement beloved by botanists in search of rare and beautiful flowers such as Bloody Cranesbill, Burnet Rose and Columbine. On the northwest coast of Ireland there is yet another superb seawatching site called Kilcummin Head where after a northwesterly blow one September day in 1998 some fortunate seawatchers saw over 60 Sabine’s Gulls, 1000 Leach’s Storm Petrels and 3600 Sooty Shearwaters. To the north, the other side of Donegal Bay, is the fishing harbour of Killybegs, famous for possible American Herring, Kumlien’s and Thayer’s Gulls amongst the regular high numbers of Iceland and Glaucous. Other birds present in Ireland include Red Grouse (Willow Ptarmigan), White-throated Dipper and Hooded Crow while notable absentee breeding species, present just across the water on mainland Britain, include Tawny Owl, woodpeckers, Marsh Tit and Nuthatch. The best time to seawatch is from mid-July to October, and the time to look for nearctic shorebirds and passerines is from mid-August to October with the shorebird season usually peaking in mid-September and the very best time for vagrant American passerines being the second week of October.

    Ireland - Northern
    See Northern Ireland, below.

    A migration bottleneck, especially for raptors and storks, plus some localised landbirds.

    Photograph of Masked Shrike

    The smart Masked Shrike is a regular spring migrant in Israel. Image by Michael McKee.

    Italy - Abruzzo National Park
    A good chance of Brown Bear and a few birds such as Golden Eagle.


    This small tropical island supports a staggering 30 or so endemic bird species (including the endemic nana subspecies of the widespread Olive-throated Parakeet, and Jamaican Oriole which occurs only on Jamaica and the remote island of San Andres), many of which are widespread. There are three hummingbirds, including two stunning streamertails, two parrots, a tody, an owl and Arrow-headed Warbler, as well as Ring-tailed Pigeon, Crested Quail Dove (most likely like several endemics along Ecclesdown Road in the John Crow Mountains), a lizard cuckoo (most likely at Hardwar Gap in the Blue Mountains), Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo, a woodpecker, an elaenia, a pewee, two other flycatchers, a becard, two thrushes, a crow, two vireos, a tanager, a euphonia, a grassquit, Orangequit and a blackbird (most likely at Hardwar Gap). Twelve more widespread Caribbean endemics present include West Indian Whistling Duck, Vervain Hummingbird and Rufous-throated Solitaire, and other, more widespread, spectacular species include White-tailed Tropicbird (at Hector's River), Magnificent Frigatebird, Northern Potoo (the endemic jamaicensis race) and wintering warblers from North America, including Black-throated Blue, Cape May and Prairie. There are some spectacular butterflies too, not least the rarely reported endemic Giant Swallowtail (Papilio homerus) which with a wingspan of up to 15 cm is the largest swallowtail butterfly in the Americas. The best time to look for birds is February to early May, later for butterflies.

    Photograph of Black-billed Streamertail

    A wonderful image of a Black-billed Streamertail at Port Antonio in Jamaica by Dubi Shapiro.

    ‘Snow Monkey’ (Japanese Macaque), Steller’s Eagle and Red-crowned Cranes ‘dancing’ in the snow.

    Javan Gibbon, leaf monkeys and lots of endemic birds including a trogon and a cochoa.

    Photograph of Javan Banded Pitta

    A Javan Banded Pitta by Mark Harper.

    Like Israel to the west Jordan lies on a migration bottleneck which sees the passage of an estimated 500 million birds of about 300 species, especially raptors, storks and passerines, and supports some localised landbirds and Western Palearctic rarities such as Sand Partridge, White-eyed Gull, Namaqua Dove, Hume’s Tawny Owl (most likely at the famous ancient city of Petra), Blackstart, Desert, Hooded, Mourning, Red-rumped and White-crowned Black Wheatears, Arabian Babbler, Bar-tailed, Greater Hoopoe and Temminck’s Horned Larks, Masked Shrike, Arabian and Streaked Scrub Warblers, White-spectacled Bulbul, Tristram’s Starling, Palestine Sunbird, Desert Finch, Dead Sea Sparrow, Tristram’s (Syrian) Serin, Sinai Rosefinch and Striolated Bunting, with a chance of Brown Booby, Pharaoh Eagle Owl and Cyprus Pied Wheatear, as well as more widespread birds including Spur-winged Plover, Little Crake, Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfisher, Little Green Bee-eater, Pale Crag Martin, Graceful Prinia, Moustached Warbler, and Brown-necked and Fan-tailed Ravens. Mammals include Nubian Ibex. Spring bird migration usually lasts from March to May and peaks from mid-March to early April which also happens to usually be the best time for most flowers including the national flower the Black Iris. Actually there are five black Irises, as well as Blue, Purple and White ones, and other spectacular flowers include blue and lilac-pink Lupins.


    Kai Islands
    See Moluccas, below.

    Kamchatka (and the Kuril and Commander Islands) - Russia
    Whales, Brown Bear and zillions of seabirds possibly including Short-tailed Albatross.

    Ibisbill, White-browed Tit Warbler, Black and White-winged Larks, and Great Gerbil.

    The best overall wildlife experience in the world and therefore A Top Ten Destination.

    Photograph of Superb Starling

    An aptly-named Superb Starling in Kenya by Steve Garvie.

    Komodo - Indonesia
    Komodo Dragon, rich coral reefs with Green Turtles and birds such as Yellow-crested Cockatoo.

    Korea - South
    See South Korea, below.

    This tiny land of sand lies on a migrant flyway where the passage of birds usually peaks from mid-March to early May (especially early April) and in November and can be good enough at least as far as passerines are concerned during the spring to rival more famous destinations for observing migrating birds such as Eilat in Israel. In addition, Kuwait is situated at the south-eastern extremity of the Western Palearctic and, depending on the season, the best place in the region for Western Palearctic listers to look for the likes of Socotra Cormorant (spring), Red-wattled Lapwing, Indian Roller (winter), Basra Reed Warbler (spring), Afghan Babbler and Grey Hypocolius (winter, when there are regular roost sites or pre/post-roost gatherings). Introduced species, also beloved of listers, include Red-vented Bulbul, Ruppell’s Weaver and some species of myna. During the spring it is also possible to see Levant Sparrowhawk, Shikra, White-cheeked Tern, Egyptian Nightjar, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Dunn’s Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Menetries’s and Upcher’s Warblers, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Pale Rock Sparrow and Cinereous Bunting. During the winter there are usually good numbers of waterbirds in Sulaibikhat Bay including Greater Flamingo, Crab Plover, Broad-billed and Terek Sandpipers, and Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, while in the desert some ‘oases’ such as Jahra Pools Reserve support Greater Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Grey-headed Swamphen, White-tailed Lapwing, Great Black-headed (Pallas’s) Gull, Pied and Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfishers, Oriental Skylark, Red-tailed (Persian) Wheatear, White-eared Bulbul, and Clamorous Reed and Moustached Warblers. Unfortunately it is necessary to obtain permission well in advance to visit some of the best sites, something best organised by a local, and a lot of people shoot birds, particularly during spring and autumn. June to August is not a good time to visit, the summer being uncomfortably hot.

    Photograph of Grey Hypocolius

    The unique Grey Hypocolius in Kuwait in December by Spider.

    This landlocked country to the south of Kazakhstan dominated by the Tien Shan mountain range rising to 7439 m (24,406 ft) supports Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeier, Ibisbill, Hill Pigeon, White-winged Woodpecker, White-tailed Rubythroat, Blue-capped, Eversmann’s and Güldenstädt's Redstarts, Blue Whistling Thrush, White-browed Tit Warbler, Sulphur-bellied and Sykes’s Warblers, Rufous-naped, Songar and Yellow-breasted (Azure) Tits, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Wallcreeper, Alpine, Altai and Black-throated Accentors, Rosy Starling, White-winged Grosbeak, Red-mantled Rosefinch, Mongolian Finch, Brandt’s and Plain Mountain Finches, and Grey-necked, Red-headed and White-capped Buntings. The best time for birds is the northern summer and the best birding sites include Ala-Archa National Park, the May-Saz Valley area and Arslanbob.


    Ladakh - Northwestern India
    The best place in the world to look for Snow Leopard, high up in the high mountains of Ladakh.

    Ancient forests and marshes in this small sparsely populated country means lots of birds such as Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Black Stork, Montagu’s Harrier, Lesser Spotted and White-tailed Eagles, Corn Crake, Common Crane, lekking Ruffs, all three marsh terns, Roller and eight woodpeckers, and mammals including Beaver and Elk. The best area is arguably Kemeri National Park although the forested dunes of Cape Kolka in the Baltic are the best location in spring to see passerine migrants such as Bluethroats and Golden Orioles, with divers and ducks offshore. Peak birding time is around mid-May when it is also possible to see Ural Owl in adjacent and easily accessible Lithuania.

    The tiny, landlocked, mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is a good place to look for the highland Drakensberg avian specialities of southern Africa. The most accessible site in the region for these birds is Sani Pass which although technically in South Africa is a major route into Lesotho and a good place for Drakensberg Rockjumper, Gurney's Sugarbird and Drakensberg Siskin, as well as Grey-winged Francolin, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Eagle Owl, Lammergeier, Cape Vulture, Southern Bald Ibis, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Buff-streaked Chat, Barratt's Warbler, Bush Blackcap and Mountain Pipit, some of which can also be seen at Liqobong on the Mechachaneng Ridge where there is a Cape Vulture colony and other cliff-nesting birds such as Jackal Buzzard (the most numerous raptors at high altitudes, probably due to the abundance of prey in the form of endemic Sloggett's Ice Rats), and at Mafika-Lisiu Pass in the Maluti Mountains, below which lies Bokong NR where there is an ossuary, an area of large slabs of flat rock used by Lammergeiers to drop and break large bones on. Below Bokong look out for Malachite Sunbirds nectaring on red-hot pokers (Kniphofia). In the east of the country Yellow-breasted Pipit occurs in Sehlabathebe NP which is contiguous with South Africa’s Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.

    Lesser Sundas (Nusa Tenggara)
    East of Bali, the islands of Komodo (where the world's largest lizard lives), Flores, Sumba and Timor (for East Timor see Timor/Timor-Leste, below) in Wallacea support more than 80 endemic bird species, including Sumba Buttonquail (Sumba), Citron-crested (Sumba) and Yellow-crested Cockatoos, Wallace's Hanging Parrot (Flores), pigeons, fruit doves, owls, Sumba Hornbill (Sumba), Cinnamon-banded and Glittering (White-rumped) (Flores, Sumbawa and Lombok) Kingfishers, Elegant Pitta, Chestnut-backed, Chestnut-capped and Orange-banded (Timor and Wetar) Thrushes, flycatchers including the very handsome Black-banded (Timor), Bare-throated Whistler (Flores and Sumbawa), Buff-banded Bushbird (Thicket Warbler/Timor), Russet-capped Tesia (Flores and Sumbawa), dark-eyes, white-eyes, flowerpeckers, Apricot-breasted (Sumba) and Flame-breasted Sunbirds, Tricoloured Parrotfinch and Timor Sparrow (Timor). More widespread spectacular species include Lesser Frigatebird, Green Junglefowl, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Javan and Malaysian Plovers, Black-naped Tern, Rainbow Bee-eater, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Pygmy Cupwing (Wren Babbler) (subspecies on Flores and Timor). The best time to look for birds is mid-August to October.

    At the far eastern end of the Lesser Sundas not far from Australia are the Tanimbar Islands where the 14 endemic birds include a scrubfowl (most likely on a small satellite island), a cockatoo, Blue-streaked Lory, Wallace’s Fruit Dove, Pied Bronze Cuckoo, a boobook, a monarch, a triller, Charming Fantail, a flyrobin, Fawn-breasted and Slaty-backed Thrushes, a bush warbler, a starling, a friarbird and an oriole. Australasian (Lesser) Masked Owl also occurs. The main island Yamdena is accessible by air from Ambon. Moving west through the Banda Sea the island of Babar has an endemic race of Southern Boobook, Cinnamon-tailed Fantail and Banda Myzomela, the island of Damar has its own flycatcher, as well Black-banded Fruit Dove, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Banda Sea Monarch, Banda Sea Gerygone and White-tufted Honeyeater, and the tiny island of Leti supports an endemic subspecies of Southern Boobook, Banda Sea Fantail and Grey (Kisar) Friarbird. The much larger island of Wetar has six endemics; a ground dove, a scops owl, two honeyeaters, a figbird and an oriole, as well as several species shared with Timor to the south; Iris, Marigold and Olive-headed Lorikeets, Jonquil Parrot, Black Cuckoo Dove, Timor Imperial Pigeon, Timor Nightjar, Timor Stubtail, Timor Warbling Flycatcher, Fawn-breasted Whistler and Orange-sided Thrush. To the west Alor has Timor Grasshopper Warbler and an undescribed myzomela, and Pantar supports Alor (Southern) Boobook and Alor (Wallacean) Cuckoo Shrike, as well as Broad-billed Monarch, Flame-breasted Sunbird and Black-fronted Flowerpecker. The waters these islands lie in and those of the Flores Sea support Brown and Red-footed Boobies, Bridled and Sooty Terns, and Brown Noddy, as well as cetaceans such as Blue, Bryde’s and Sperm Whales, and Bottlenose, Risso’s and Spinner Dolphins, and the snorkelling is great.

    Photograph of Black-banded Flycatcher

    Black-banded Flycatcher, by Lars Petersson, a striking bird which occurs only on the island of Timor.

    The Greek island of Lesvos is situated in the Aegean Sea to the east of mainland Greece, although it is actually next to the west coast of Turkey. It is a very popular destination with birders during the northern spring when large numbers of a wide variety of birds migrate through the island, including herons, Pallid Harriers, Eleonora's and Red-footed Falcons, Little Crakes, shorebirds including Collared Pratincoles, Whiskered and White-winged Terns, Rollers, Red-throated Pipits, Collared Flycatchers, warblers and shrikes. The numbers of passage migrant birds usually peak in the second half of April which coincides with the usual arrival period of breeding summer visitors such as Short-toed Eagle, European Bee-eater, Isabelline Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Rufous Bush Chat), Masked Shrike, Olive-tree, Eastern Orphean and Ruppell's Warblers, and Black-headed, Cinereous and Cretzschmar's Buntings. These join resident species such as Ruddy Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, White and Black Storks, Long-legged Buzzard, Sombre Tit, and Kruper's and Rock Nuthatches to make a fine selection of birds which may also include rarer migrants such as Levant Sparrowhawk, Baillon's Crake, Spur-winged Plover and Great Snipe, while around the coast there is a chance of Audouin's Gull (a rare resident) and offshore a better chance of Scopoli's (Cory's) and Yelkouan (Balearic) Shearwaters.

    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    After many years of civil wars, military coups, ‘blood diamonds’ - supporting the insurgency in neighbouring Sierra Leone with weapons and training in exchange for diamonds - this small West African country was at peace again in the mid-2010s. Along the 600 km Atlantic coastline are mangroves, sandbars and lagoons. Inland the coastal plains rise to rolling plateaux and low mountains and as recently as the early 2000s rich forest still covered some 40% of the land, enough to support all 15 Upper Guinea Endemic Bird Area species and 184 species of the Guinea Congo forest biome, birds which occur at places such as Mount Nimba where large scale ongoing iron ore mining continues to reduce the height of the mountain (from 5748 ft (1752 m)), and remove and degrade much of the remaining forest. Another top birding site is Sapo National Park, Liberia's first and only fully protected area at the heart of the largest remaining block of Upper Guinean Forest in west Africa, providing habitat for species that need to range over large areas such as ‘Forest’ Elephants. The 15 Upper Guinea specialities are White-breasted Guineafowl, Rufous Fishing Owl, Brown-cheeked Hornbill, Western Wattled Cuckoo Shrike, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Nimba Flycatcher, Black-headed Rufous Warbler, Sierra Leone Prinia, Sharpe’s Apalis, White-necked Picathartes, Rufous-winged Illadopsis, Copper-tailed Starling, Gola Malimbe and Liberian Greenbul although recent research suggests this latter species is merely a colour aberration. With so much forest intact Liberia also supports the last remaining viable populations of Pygmy Hippopotamus and ‘West African’ Chimpanzee. Wet summers usually last from April to November making birding difficult and dust-laden harmattan winds which often blow across the country from the Sahara between December and March don't help much either.

    It is possible to see nearly 200 species on a short trip during the second half of May to the picturesque meadows, bogs, woods, river valleys and lake systems of Lithuania if led by local guides, including, in Nemunas Delta Regional Park, Great Spotted Eagle, Great Snipe and Aquatic Warbler, in Curronian Spit National Park, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, and in the east, Black Stork, Lesser Spotted and White-tailed Eagles, Hazel Grouse, Eurasian Pygmy, Tengmalm’s and Ural Owls, White-backed Woodpecker and Eurasian Nutcracker. Lithuania is easily accessible from Latvia – there are no border restrictions – and would make a great combination with that country. The peak time to observe autumn migration along the Baltic Flyway is the first week of October. Millions of birds, especially geese, ducks, divers, raptors and shorebirds, pass through the Baltic states at this time of the year with Lithuania at the narrowest point hence Vente Cape has the largest bird banding/ringing station in the world. Up to 800,000 birds have been known to fly over the cape each day while at Curronian Spit National Park, another migration hot-spot, mainly for raptors and passerines, up to 1.5 million migrants have been counted passing on peak days!

    Louisiana - USA
    Many taiga and prairie pothole breeding species winter in the rice-growing region of southwest Louisiana; geese, ducks, sparrows and, best of all, Yellow Rails. Thanks to the rice-harvesting schedule of Cajun farmers there is a better chance of seeing these secretive little birds here than virtually anywhere else. During early November when the annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival is held the rice combine harvesters collect the lagniappe (extra) autumn crop and flush the birds as they spiral inwards, along with other rails, American Bitterns and sparrows. The rice fields were formerly coastal wet prairie where Prairie Chickens and Whooping Cranes nested; both have gone although between 2011 and 2017 ten to 16 hatched juvenile cranes were released annually in a reintroduction scheme which by 2016 had resulted in five pairs making nine nesting attempts one of which included the first successful wild-hatched Whooping Crane in Louisiana since 1939. In addition, pine woods support resident southeastern specialties Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman's Sparrow, and the coastal marshes, beaches and cheniers (tree islands) provide food and shelter for numerous resident waterbirds, wintering species and migrants, and during the spring the sometimes spectacular migration associated with the adjacent Texas coast can be just as good in little-known Louisiana where summer breeding species include Swallow-tailed Kite and Swainson’s Warbler.


    Macedonia (A referendum on a proposed name change to ‘Republic of Northern Macedonia’ is due to take place on 30th September 2018.)
    This small, landlocked, mountainous country next to Bulgaria and Greece is a good place to see Rock Partridge as well as a wide range of raptors including Egyptian and Griffon Vultures (both at Vitachevo vulture feeding station), Eastern Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Levant Sparrowhawk and Lesser Kestrel, European Roller, Lesser Grey Shrike, Golden Oriole, Eurasian Nutcracker, Rock Bunting and species confined to southeast Europe during the breeding season such as Olive-tree Warbler and Black-headed Bunting. The best places for waterbirds such as Dalmatian Pelicans and Pygmy Cormorants are the two huge lakes, Megali Prespa and Ohrid, in the southwest corner of the country. Pelister National Park to the northeast, along with the Galicica Plateau and the Vardar Valley which runs across Macedonia are the top places for butterflies in a country where over 200 species have been recorded including Apollo, Clouded Apollo, coppers, and lots of blues and fritillaries. The peak time for most butterflies is usually the second half of June which is also a good time to look for most birds.

    Lemurs like Indri, chameleons and about 100 endemic birds including five Ground Rollers.

    Photograph of Blue Vanga

    Blue Vanga by Dubi Shapiro, one of many unique and stunning birds on the island of Madagascar.

    Bulwer's, Fea's and Zino's Petrels, Madeiran and White-faced Storm Petrels, and dolphins.

    Maine - USA
    From late May to late June in Maine, the peak of the breeding season where many species reach their northernmost or southernmost limits, it is possible to see thousands of seabirds such as Great Shearwater, Leach's and Wilson's Petrels (all three as well as Fin Whales in 'the Ballpark', a rich area of upwelling, accessible along with Petit Manan Island (where breeding Arctic Terns, Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Common Guillemots/Murres and Black Guillemots can be seen at close quarters) on half-day boat trips out of Bar Harbor), as well as Ruffed and Spruce Grouse, Bald Eagle, 'Eastern' Willet, Upland Sandpiper (Kennebunk Plains), Blue-headed Vireo, lots of flycatchers, Blue and Grey Jays, Boreal Chickadee, several thrushes including Bicknell’s (on Mount Washington in the White Mountains just across the state border in New Hampshire) and up to 25 species of warbler including Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided and Magnolia, as well as, possibly, American Woodcock displaying, Piping Plover and Black-backed Woodpecker.

    Pel's Fishing Owl, Boehm's Bee-eater, White-winged Apalis and some mammals.

    Malaysia - Borneo
    Orang-utan, Proboscis Monkey, Bornean Gibbon and many top birds make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Malaysia - Malay Peninsula
    A chance of Malayan Tapir, Siamang and White-handed Gibbon, and many lovely birds.

    Photograph of Green Broadbill

    A fabulous Green Broadbill at Danum Valley in Borneo by Nigel Voaden, one of several spectacular broadbills which may be seen on mainland Malaysia and/or in Borneo.

    Whales and dolphins, Whale Sharks and Manta Rays, and fanastic fish.

    The largest Balearic Island has a wide range of habitats ranging from one of the largest freshwater marshes in the Mediterranean to mountains that rise to over 1000 m. Speciality birds include Balearic and Scopoli’s (Cory’s) Shearwaters, Eleonora’s Falcon, Audouin’s Gull, ‘Balearic’ Woodchat Shrike (badius), Balearic (Marmora’s) (at its highest density on Isla de Cabrera), Moltoni’s (Subalpine) (also on Isla de Cabrera) and Moustached Warblers, ‘Balearic’ Spotted Flycatcher (balearica), Spotless Starling and 'Balearic' Crossbill, while more widespread species include Purple and Squacco Herons, Cinereous and Griffon Vultures, Bonelli’s and Booted Eagles, Eurasian Scops Owl, Pallid Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Western Bonelli’s, Sardinian and Spectacled Warblers, and Firecrest. Amongst over 30 endemic plants are a relic from the ice age, Hypericum balearicum, and orchids like Bug and Loose-flowered. The main birding site is S’Albufera de Mallorca National Park with a bird list of over 270 species including Marbled Teal, Red-crested Pochard (reintroduced), Little Bittern, Western (Purple) Swamphen (reintroduced), Red-knobbed Coot (reintroduced) and Great Reed, Moustached and Savi’s Warblers. Spring migration usually peaks in mid-April, autumn passage in mid-October.

    Photograph of Eleonora's Falcon

    Eleonora's Falcon at Sa Dragonera, Mallorca, by Lars Petersson.

    Manitoba - Canada
    The greatest concentration of Polar Bears in the world, during October.

    Manu (Southern Peru)
    Clay-licks which attract many macaws, and many other birds such as Pale-winged Trumpeter.

    Mariana Islands
    See Micronesia, below.

    Massachusetts - USA
    Humpback Whales and seabirds during the summer.

    This large country to the north of Senegal is about two thirds Sahara one third Sahel but the most important site for birds is the Banc d’Arguin National Park which protects 40% of the 750 km long Mauritanian Atlantic coastline between Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and has been known to support more than two million migrant shorebirds, the largest concentration of such birds in Africa. However, most visiting birders are after adding several species that have restricted ranges in the Western Palearctic (WP) to their WP lists. Using the epic nine-volume Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa the definition of the WP means that these species must be seen north of 21°N and, bizarrely, in the air above the islands and maritime areas of the Banc d’Arguin. Along the coast the WP specialities are Long-tailed (Reed) and White-breasted (Great) Cormorants, Grey-headed Gull and Royal Tern, while other species include Brown Booby and Western Reef Egret. Inland the WP goodies are African Collared and Namaqua Doves, African Grey Woodpecker, Dunn’s Lark, Cricket, ‘Saharan’ Olivaceous and Western Orphean Warblers, and Sudan Golden Sparrow while other possibilities include Blue-naped Mousebird and other birds present are Lanner Falcon, Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Bar-tailed, Desert and Greater Hoopoe Larks, Black-crowned Finch Lark, Rock Martin, White-crowned Black Wheatear, Fulvous Babbler, African Desert Warbler, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Desert Sparrow and House Bunting, and mammals include Fennec Fox. Two of the best wadis are north of the settlement of Ouadane, a green oasis in the otherwise barren landscape to the east of the town of Atar where it is possible to arrange the required 4WD with driver.

    Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues
    Since Mauritius was discovered by modern man in the late 1500s all but 3% of the natural vegetation has been destroyed and several species have become extinct, notably the Dodo which was wiped out by the 1660s. Most of the surviving endemic birds are endangered too, especially the kestrel, the pigeon and the parakeet, while the other five endemics are all declining; a rare cuckoo shrike, a rare bulbul, a rare white-eye, a relatively 'common' white-eye and a rare fody. Other birds present on the island include Mascarene Swiftlet, Mascarene Martin, the rare Mascarene (Mauritius) Paradise Flycatcher (which also occurs on Reunion) and several introduced species. One of the best places to see the endemic landbirds is Black River Gorges National Park although Bras d'Eau National Park is better for the paradise flycatcher. Seawatching is arguably best from La Roche qui Pleure on the south coast where the possibilities include Barau's, Herald/Trinidade/Round Island and Mascarene Petrels. From the north coast it is possible to telescope Gunner's Quoin Island although it is better to hire a boat to visit the island and the surrounding waters in order to see both tropicbirds and Masked Booby. Other possible seabirds around the island include Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Brown and Lesser Noddies, and Sooty Tern. Offshore, Round Island, which can be viewed by boat, supports nesting Herald/Trinidade/Round Island Petrels, the largest colony of Red-tailed Tropicbirds in the Indian Ocean (2000-2500 pairs), lesser numbers of White-tailed Tropicbirds and large numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, as well as an endemic boa and skink.

    The heavily degraded island of Rodrigues supports two endemic landbirds; a warbler and a fody, both of which are rare in some high vegetated gulleys, as well as Rodrigues (Golden) Flying Fox.

    The forested volcanic mountains of Reunion are where Barau’s and Mascarene (Reunion Black) Petrels nest, and they also support six endemic landbirds; a harrier, a cuckoo shrike, a bulbul, a stonechat and two white-eyes, all of which can be seen in remnant natural forest along the trail from La Roche Ecrite, about half an hour by road from St Denis. Other landbirds present there include Mascarene (Reunion) Paradise Flycatcher, while seawatching near dusk from the the St. Etienne rivermouth area may reveal Barau's and Mascarene Petrels, and Audubon's (Tropical) Shearwaters, massing before flying inland to their nesting sites high among the volcanic peaks. The best time to visit these islands is October-November.

    Photograph of Mauritius Fody

    Mauritius Fody by Dubi Shapiro.

    See See Comoros and Mayotte, above

    The greenest Balearic Island is noted for its wild flower displays, especially orchids, in late April, and Europe’s only sedentary population of Egyptian Vultures with other birds present during the spring at least including Balearic and Scopoli’s (Cory’s) Shearwaters, Purple and Squacco Herons, Ferruginous Duck, Red Kite, Booted Eagle, Audouin’s Gull, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, ‘Balearic’ Woodchat Shrike (badius), Thekla Lark, Tawny Pipit, Blue Rock Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, ‘Balearic’ Spotted Flycatcher (balearica) and Spotless Starling. There is also a chance of Moustached Warbler at sites such as the Tirant Marshes near Platages/Playa de Fornells.

    Mexico - Baja California
    Whales and dolphins galore, including Blue Whale and confiding Grey Whales.

    Mexico - Central (Michoacan)
    Millions of Monarch butterflies at their winter roosts make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Photograph of Chestnut-sided Shrike Vireo

    The one-and-only Chestnut-sided Shrike Vireo in Colima, Mexico, by Brian Field.

    Mexico - El Triunfo
    See El Triunfo, Mexico, above.

    Mexico - Oaxaca
    See Oaxaca, Mexico, below.

    Mexico - Southern (Yucatan-Chiapas)
    One of the best places in the world to swim with Whale Sharks.

    Mexico - Veracruz
    The best raptor migration in the world, with 4-6 million birds each autumn/fall.

    Mexico - Western (including the Durango Highway, San Blas, and Colima and Jalisco)
    The spectacular endemic Tufted Jay can be seen in the Sierra Madre Occidental, accessible along the Durango Highway, along which also occur the rare Sinaloa Martin, Red-headed Tanager and Mexico's famous flocks of warblers which here contain Crescent-chested, Olive, Red and Red-faced. Lower down, specialities include Military Macaw, Purplish-backed Jay and wintering Black-capped Vireos. At the coast, on the Gulf of California, rocky islets viewable (with telescopes) from Mazatlan support breeding Red-billed Tropicbirds and Blue-footed Boobies. Further south along the Pacific coast lies the small holiday resort of San Blas where it is possible to see 250 species in a week, less than a thousand miles south of the U.S. border, including about 30 endemics (such as Citreoline Trogon and San Blas Jay), as well as Rufous-necked Wood Rail, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Collared Forest Falcon, Northern Potoo, Military Macaw, Russet-crowned Motmot, Fan-tailed Warbler and Rosy Thrush Tanager. Humpback Whales spend the northern winter in Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta, where on organised whale-watching trips it is also possible to see Bottlenose and Spotted Dolphins. Not much further south is the small state of Colima which together with parts of neighbouring Jalisco supports about 40 endemics including San Blas Jay, Aztec Thrush, Red Warbler and Orange-breasted Bunting, as well as Grey Silky, Chestnut-sided Shrike Vireo, many warblers including Colima and Golden-browed, and Red-breasted Chat. The smoking Volcan de Fuego is one of the best sites, although the vast flocks of Yellow-headed Blackbirds winter on the Ciudad Guzman Marshes. At the coast, boat trips can be arranged out of Manzanillo to a big rock called Piedra Blanca where Red-billed Tropicbirds breed. The best time to bird Western Mexico is January-February.

    Photograph of Tufted Jay

    The striking Tufted Jay at Reserva Chara Pinta by Nigel Voaden.

    Michigan - USA
    The rare Kirtland’s Warbler winters on the Bahamas and summers in the young jack pine forests on Michigan’s lower peninsula along with Cape May, Golden-winged and Mourning Warblers, as well as Upland Sandpiper, Henslow’s Sparrow and Evening Grosbeak. Kirtland’s Warbler is strictly protected and the best way to see it is on tours usually conducted by the Michigan Audubon Society in mid-May to early July. To look for migrant warblers and other passerines head to Tawas Point, a sandy spit on the shores of Lake Huron where many birds may seek food and shelter after a cold front in spring. Another famous Michigan ‘point’ is Whitefish at the southeast end of Lake Superior ten miles north of Paradise. Tens of thousands of migrant birds pass through, by or over in spring (mostly April when owls including Boreal and Northern Saw-whet may drop in) and autumn/fall. Lake Erie Metropark, about 20 miles south of Detroit, is one of the best Hawkwatch Sites in North America. Raptor numbers usually peak in mid-September but the greatest diversity occurs in October. The seasonal average of over 250,000 raptors was surpassed on the 17th of September 1999 when 547,000 flew over including over half a million Broad-winged Hawks!

    Fifty endemic birds and one of the best places in the world for Manta Rays.

    The boreal bogs and forests of northern Minnesota, especially Sax-Zim Bog and the Superior National Forest north of Duluth, are famous for Great Grey Owls, although there are not many of them and they can be difficult to find. It is probably easier to find them during the extremely cold winter months when it is also possible to see Boreal (Tengmalm's), Hawk and Snowy Owls, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, and Hoary (Arctic) Redpoll, as well as white Short-tailed Weasel (Stoat) at some of the several feeding stations. Looking for them in early June it is also possible to see over 20 species of warbler including Blackburnian, Canada, Cape May, Connecticut, Golden-winged, Magnolia and Mourning, all in full song and breeding plumage, as well as Sandhill Crane and Blue-headed Vireo. Resident species include Ruffed Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Grey Jay and Boreal Chickadee. Elsewhere in the state Maplewood State Park is a particularly good place for Golden-winged Warbler and out west in the Felton prairies Greater Prairie Chicken is possible. To the west lies North Dakota, described below.

    Photograph of Pine Grosbeak

    Pine Grosbeak in a snowy Minnesota winter by Chris Townend.

    Missouri - USA
    Missouri lies just east of the central United States. Rolling farmland and tiny remnants of prairie cover the north and west, and flat plains and the forested limestone hills and mountains of the Ozarks the south and southeast with the Mississippi River running south along the state’s eastern border with Illinois. In the Americas over 95% of tall-grass prairies have been cleared to make way for agricultural land and less than three percent of what once existed in Missouri remains. The largest and finest remnant is in Prairie State Park near Springfield in the southwest which supports Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Henslow’s Sparrow and Dickcissel, as well as Bison. Greater Prairie Chicken used to occur here. Up to 18 species of warbler including Cerulean, Kentucky and Nashville spend the northern summers in the Ozarks, most of which are best looked for when they are singing, especially during the middle two weeks of May which are also a good time to see the wide range of wild flowers. For breeding and migrant warblers head for Roaring River State Park or the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area (formerly White River Balds Natural Area) just west of Branson where the ‘balds’, forest glades, are good for warblers and Yellow-breasted Chat.

    (Republic of) Moldova
    A small country near the Danube Delta between Romania and Ukraine with woods, forests, farmland, orchards, vineyards, river valleys and some fine wetlands. A place where many species in steep decline elsewhere in Europe are still present in reasonable numbers, for example Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, European Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Roller, Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting. There are also plenty of raptors including Red-footed Falcon and waterbirds such as Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern and Whiskered Tern. On the steppes in the far south Saker Falcon is possible, along with Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle and Levant Sparrowhawk. It is possible to see about 140 species in a week. Few people visit but one tour company does, Oriole Birding, in late June.

    Moluccas (Maluku)
    There are more than 80 endemic bird species in the Moluccas, of which about 40% occur on the island of Halmahera and 60% on Ambon, Seram, Buru and the Kai Islands. North of Halmahera is the island of Morotai which has three potential endemic birds; a drongo, a white-eye and a friarbird, as well as endemic subspecies of Chattering Lory, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Paradise-crow and Dusky Myzomela, and other birds on the island include Violet-necked Lory, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Drab Whistler, Halmahera Golden Bulbul and Halmahera Flowerpecker. South of Halmahera lies the island of Obi, accessible by ferry from Ternate, where the total of two endemic birds is likely to rise to at least seven if the taxonomic trend to split everything on islands continues, with Carunculated Fruit Dove and Obi Golden Bulbul being joined by ‘distinctive’ forms of a whistler, a drongo, a fantail, a white-eye and a paradise-crow. However, Obi’s star avian attraction for many is Obi Woodcock which is known only from Obi and a single specimen collected on the adjacent island of Bacan. North Moluccan endemics present on Obi include Chattering and Scaled (Violet-necked) Lories, Blue-and-white Kingfisher, 'Bacan Myzomela' and North Moluccan Leaf Warbler, and other species on the island include Beach, Blue-and-white, Moluccan Dwarf and Common Paradise Kingfishers, Blyth’s Hornbill and Moluccan (Red-bellied) Pitta. Bacan supports two potential endemics; a drongo and a white-eye. To the south of Obi the forested island of Buru, accessible by ferry from Ambon, supports more than 20 endemic bird species including a racquet-tail parrot, a green pigeon, a dwarf kingfisher, a monarch, a cuckoo shrike, two fantails, a warbling flycatcher, a golden bulbul, a friarbird and an oriole. The rare ones are in the mountains as usual and include a mountain pigeon, a thrush, a grasshopper warbler, a leaf warbler, a honeyeater and a myzomela, as well as Australasian (Lesser) Masked Owl, a boobook which is probably endemic and three of the least known species in the whole of Indonesia; Black-lored Parrot, Buru Lorikeet and Madanga Pipit (formerly Rufous-throated Dark-eye). In addition, the island supports a form of Red-bellied Pitta sometimes split as Buru Pitta. To the east of Buru is the long island of Seram, accessible by ferry from Ambon. The island's well-forested mountainous spine within the Manusela National Park supports the vast majority of the 15 endemic birds including the rare Salmon-crested Cockatoo, the rare Purple-naped Lory, Seram Imperial Pigeon, Streak-breasted Fantail, Grey-hooded White-eye (Heleia), Rufescent Dark-eye (Heleia), Seram Honeyeater, Seram Oriole, Seram Friarbird and Seram Golden Bulbul, as well as potential new species such as Seram (Red-bellied) Pitta, Seram Grasshopper Warbler and Seram Leaf Warbler while other species present on the island include Lazuli Kingfisher, Blyth’s Hornbill and Long-crested Myna. The satellite island of Boana has a very rare endemic monarch as well as an endemic race of Common Paradise Kingfisher and Seram Fantail, and there are other islands off Seram with Forsten’s Scrubfowl and the possible nomadic Olive Honeyeater. The small mountainous island of Ambon next to Seram is the regional hub for the southern Moluccas. It supports one near-endemic, a white-eye, as well as Red Lory, Seram Fantail, Seram Golden Bulbul and Seram Flowerpecker, with one of the best protected breeding sites for Moluccan Scrubfowl on the adjacent island of Haruku. At the southeastern corner of the Moluccas west of the Aru Islands near New Guinea are the Kai Islands where most of the six endemic birds occur in remnant forest patches on the island of Kai Kecil including a coucal, a boobook, a monarch and a white-eye. Also present on this island is Papuan Pitta. Another white-eye as well as a leaf warbler live on the island of Kai Besar. The peak time to look for the birds of the Moluccas is August.

    Photograph of Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher

    The beautiful Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher taken on the island of Seram by Dubi Shapiro. This species also occurs on Buru and Kai Besar in the southern Moluccas.

    One of the last wild places, with Relict Gull, Oriental Plover and Great Gerbil.

    Montana - USA
    The sparsely populated (six to seven people per square mile) plains, rivers, lakes, marshes and mountains of the fourth largest of the United States support a wide range of birds and mammals. Prairie pot holes are an especially rich habitat, particularly at Freezeout Lake State Waterfowl Management Area and Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge where there are many ducks, White-faced Ibis, American White Pelican, Wilson's Phalarope, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt and Yellow-headed Blackbird with Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Chestnut-collared and McCown's Longspurs, Bobolinks and Lark Buntings in the surrounding grasslands. As for mountains they don’t get much more scenic than in Glacier National Park where Harlequin Duck, Varied Thrush, MacGillivray's, Townsend’s and Wilson’s Warblers, Grey-crowned Rosy Finch and Black Bears occur. Outside the park ‘Goat Lick’, a steep cliff and natural mineral lick above the Flathead River is where Mountain Goats gather during the spring. Grizzly Bears may be seen out on the prairie at Pine Butte Swamp and other mammals abound in the National Bison Range, particularly American Bison which roam among some of the last Palouse Prairie in western Montana. Other Montana mammals include Pronghorn, Elk, Bighorn Sheep and Black Bear, and other birds are Blue Grouse, Lewis' Woodpecker and Mountain Bluebird. The peak time to visit is the first week of June during the late spring when there is up to 15 hours of daylight.

    Montana also has the largest number (14) of breeding owl species of any U.S. state; Barn, Barred, Boreal, Burrowing, Eastern Screech, Western Screech, Flammulated, Great Grey, Great Horned, Hawk, Long-eared, Short-eared, Pygmy and Northern Saw-whet, while Snowy Owl is a regular winter visitor. The breeding species are best searched for during the second half of April.

    Boka Kotorska Bay, southern Europe’s longest and deepest fjord, is on the Adriatic coast of this small country but elsewhere along the coast there are beaches, sand dunes, saltpans and the delta of the River Bojana, important migration stopovers for shorebirds such as Marsh Sandpiper. Inland, Levant Sparrowhawks nest in woodlands while open country with olive groves and rocky outcrops is good for Rock Partridge, European Bee-eater, European Roller, (Eastern) Black-eared Wheatear, (Eastern) Olivaceous and (Eastern) Orphean Warblers, Western Rock Nuthatch, Lesser Grey Shrike and Black-headed Bunting. Between the mountains lies Lake Skadar, the largest freshwater lake in Europe, westernmost nesting site of Dalmatian Pelicans and home to thousands of Pygmy Cormorants as well as Whiskered Terns. The coniferous forests and open slopes of the relatively unspoilt rugged mountains, in Durmitor National Park for example, support Golden Eagle, Black and (Eurasian) Three-toed Woodpeckers, Eurasian (Spotted) Nutcracker, Alpine Chough, Sombre Tit, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting. Birding is best April-May but the later the better for a chance of Olive-tree Warbler.

    Morocco - Southern
    The richest birdlife in North Africa, from the Atlantic to the edge of the Sahara.

    Photograph of Bald Ibis

    Bald Ibis in Tamri National Park, Morocco, by Dubi Shapiro.

    See Moluccas, above.

    Manta Rays, Whale Sharks and spectacular birds such as African Pitta.

    Mull (and Scottish Highlands) - Scotland
    Otter, White-tailed and Golden Eagles, and Puffin.

    Myanmar (Burma)
    Myanmar (Burma) has eight endemic bird species not including Gurney's Pitta which is almost extinct in Thailand; Burmese Collared Dove, Burmese Bushlark, Naung Mung Wren Babbler, White-throated Babbler, Hooded Treepie, Jerdon's (White-bellied) Minivet, Davison's (Pale-eyed/Stripe-throated) Bulbul and White-browed Nuthatch, ten including Burmese (Black-browed) Bushtit and Ayeyawady/Irrawaddy (Streak-eared) Bulbul. The lark, minivet, babbler and treepie occur on the plains along the banks of the Irrawaddy River (‘the road to Mandalay’) near Bagan (along with the rare White-rumped Falcon), and the tit and nuthatch not far away in Natmataung (Mount Victoria) National Park near Kanpetlet in the Chin Hills, steep mountains which form a southern extension of the Himalayas, where other birds very difficult to see elsewhere include Buff-breasted (Black-throated) and Spot-breasted Parrotbills, Mount Victoria (Chinese) Babax, Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Chin Hills (Long-tailed) Wren Babbler, Assam, Blue-winged, Brown-capped and Striped Laughingthrushes, Crimson-faced Liocichla, Rusty-capped Fulvetta, Rusty-fronted and Streak-throated Barwings, Grey Sibia, White-bellied Redstart, Grey-sided Thrush, Black-bibbed Tit, Crested Finchbill and Brown Bush Warbler, and more widespread goodies occur, such as Hodgson's Frogmouth, Black-eared, Black-headed and Green Shrike Babblers, Himalayan Cutia, Red-tailed Minla, and Fire-tailed and Gould's Sunbirds. In the east the virtually endemic Burmese Yuhina can be seen near Kalaw in the hills of Shan State along with Black-tailed Crake, Pin-tailed Green-pigeon, Slender-billed Oriole, Sapphire Flycatcher, Black-breasted Thrush, Martens’s Warbler, Dark-backed Sibia and Collared Myna while Jerdon's Bushchat and Chinese (Rufous-rumped) Grassbird (Babbler) occur by the huge, 45 square mile, shallow Inle Lake. Down south it is possible to see Spoon-billed Sandpipers on their wintering grounds; most of the remaining population (perhaps less than 200) probably winters on the Myanmar coast. Another very rare bird, Gurney's Pitta, occurs in Tenasserim in the far south, along with (Malayan) Banded, Blue-winged and Garnet Pittas, and Plain-pouched Hornbill. The best time to search for pittas is mid-March to mid-April when they are normally at their most vocal but seeing them will involve a organising a mini camping expedition from the coastal town on Myiek. Back in Yangon there is a roost of half a million or so Asian Wrinkle-lipped Bats at the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda. The best time for most birds 'up north' is November to March.


    Mammals including Black Rhinoceros, birds like White-tailed Shrike and some stunning desert scenery.

    Photograph of White-tailed Shrike

    A White-tailed Shrike or Ground Batis by Dubi Shapiro. This unique species occurs only in Namibia and Angola where this image was captured at Renato Grade.

    Nebraska (Platte River) - USA
    A resting and refuelling place for half a million migrating Sandhill Cranes during March.

    Indian Rhinoceros, Gharial, many amazing birds and the fantastic Himalayas.

    Nepal - Hange Tham
    Himalayan forests where Red Panda is probable not possible!

    Hundreds of thousands of geese, as well as swans and Smews wintering.

    New Brunswick-Nova Scotia (Eastern Canada)
    Fin, Northern Right and a chance of Humpback Whales, seabirds, shorebirds and warblers.

    Photograph of Cloven-feathered Dove

    The strange Cloven-feathered Dove occurs only on New Caledonia where this image was taken by Dubi Shapiro.

    New Caledonia
    The unique Kagu and other endemic birds including a tool-using crow.

    Newfoundland - Canada
    Humpback Whales and spectacular seabird colonies.

    New Mexico (Bosque del Apache) - USA
    Tens of thousands of Snow Geese and thousands of Sandhill Cranes wintering.

    New Zealand
    Sperm Whale, dolphins, close-up seabirds and over 45 endemic birds including kiwis.

    New Zealand - Subantarctic Islands
    Millions of marine mammals and birds, notably Royal Penguin and Shore Plover.

    In August 2018 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all but essential travel to Nicaragua because of prolonged political unrest. This has badly affected the economy and tourism which is a great shame because although the largest country in Central America has long been overshadowed by its southern neighbour Costa Rica as far as birding goes it still has swathes of good forest, especially in the Caribbean lowlands where the Indio Maiz Reserve and Rio Indio Lodge are situated. Elsewhere there are Pacific slope forests, highland forests and the huge Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) which together support the near-endemic Green-breasted Mountain-gem (El Jaguar private reserve), Nicaraguan Seedfinch and Nicaraguan Grackle, as well as Great Curassow, Agami Heron, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Green Ibis, Great Green and Scarlet Macaws, Resplendent Quetzal, trogons, Black-crested Coquette, Snowcap (Refugio Bartola), Turquoise-browed Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan, Ocellated Antbird, Three-wattled Bellbird, Long-tailed and Red-capped Manakins and Golden-cheeked Warbler, while mammals include Mantled Howler and Geoffrey’s Spider Monkeys, and Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth. Some of the best birding sites are Montibelli private reserve near Managua, Refugio Bartola on the Rio San Juan and El Jaguar private reserve. The rainy season normally runs from May to November when hurricanes are also possible. Hurricane Otto made landfall in November 2016 and affected the forests around Refugio Bartola and in the Indio Maiz Reserve.

    North Carolina
    During the summer, especially late May to early June, up to 40 miles off Cape Hatteras, where the warm waters of the Gulf Stream meet the cool waters of the Labrador Current, there is a considerable upwelling of nutrients which in turn provide a rich food supply for a wonderful selection of seabirds. Regular species are Black-capped Petrel, Audubon's, Cory’s (borealis and diomedea) and Great Shearwaters, Band-rumped (Grant's), Leach's and Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Bridled Tern and Pomarine Jaeger (Skua), less regular species include Manx Shearwater, South Polar Skua, Long-tailed Jaeger (Skua) and Sooty Tern, and rare species include Bermuda, Fea's and Herald (Trinidade arminjoniana race) Petrels. Whales, dolphins, turtles, flying fish and even Blue Marlin are also possible. The all-day pelagics are run by Seabirding. Along the coast and inland there are some great birds too, including Brown Pelican, a wide variety of herons, Clapper Rail, shorebirds including Piping Plover, Black Skimmer, Blue Jay and Seaside Sparrow, as well as Southeastern United States specialities such as Wilson’s Plover, Red-cockaded (Croatan NF) and Red-headed Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Swainson’s and Prothonotary Warblers, Summer Tanager, Bachman’s Sparrow and Painted Bunting.

    North Dakota
    The rolling grasslands and wetlands in prairie-pothole country near Jamestown in Kidder County on the Great Plains of eastern North Dakota are famous for nesting waterbirds, especially ducks (the region is often referred to as the 'Duck Factory' of North America), but also Western Grebe, American White Pelican (one of the continent's largest breeding colonies is at Chase Lake NWR), American Bittern, Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, American Avocet, Wilson's Phalarope, California and Franklin’s Gulls, and Black and Forster's Terns. The grasslands support the rare Sprague's Pipit and Baird's Sparrow, as well as Sharp-tailed Grouse, Ferruginous Hawk, Dickcissel, Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrows, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Bobolink and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Just to the east is Minnesota, described above. The peak time for birding is early June.

    Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland's largest seabird colony is on Rathlin Island off the north coast where there is a Seabird Centre, accessible by boat from Ballycastle. Breeding birds from late April to July include Manx Shearwater, Northern Fulmar, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin. On the mainland nearby is the famous Giant's Causeway where there are about 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns up to 1.8 m (6 ft) high on the coast of County Antrim and where birds include Purple Sandpiper and Red-billed Chough. There is a Bird Observatory on Copeland Island, accessible, with prior permission, by boat from Donaghadee, where rare North American birds recorded include a Red Fox Sparrow in 1961. The largest sea lough in the British Isles, Strangford Lough, is of international importance to wildfowl (25,000) and waders (50,000) during the winter, including Pale-bellied Brent Geese, the numbers of which usually peak at about 12,000 in October. Breeding species include Arctic Tern. Inland is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles, Lough Neagh, which with Lough Beg and associated wetlands is another important wetland in winter when the enormous rafts of birds include the largest concentrations of diving ducks in Britain and Ireland. Bird numbers may reach up to 100,000, including six per cent of the world's Whooper Swans and internationally significant numbers of Bewick's Swans. In the nearby Sperrin Mountains there are Red Grouse (Willow Ptarmigan).

    Northwest Territories - Canada
    The most famous place for wildlife in Canada’s Northwest Territories province is Wood Buffalo National Park where the spectacular Whooping Crane, one of the rarest birds in the world, nests and in 2017 there were a record number of nests; 98, which beat the previous record of 82 in 2014. The most recent total for all birds in Wood Buffalo is 329, an encouraging difference to the 21 birds left on Earth in 1941. The cranes usually return from their wintering grounds in Texas in mid-April and leave during September-October. The 45,000 sq km park also supports breeding American White Pelicans and American Avocets, up to a million wildfowl during the autumn/fall migration period, and mammals such as bison, bears, wolves, wolverines, lynx, moose and caribou but all, even the thousands of bison, can be extremely elusive in what is an area larger than Switzerland. To the north in the Yellowknife region boreal habitats in the Great Slave Lake area support Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Alder and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Grey Jay, Blackpoll, Orange-crowned, Tennessee and Wilson’s Warblers, Western Tanager and Rusty Blackbird. The best time of year to look for such birds is late June-early July.

    Norway (Arctic, and Finland)
    A good chance of Brown Bear, a chance of Wolverine, owls and other birds.

    Nova Scotia-New Brunswick (Eastern Canada)
    Fin, Northern Right and a chance of Humpback Whales, seabirds, shorebirds and warblers.

    Nunavut - Canada
    It is possible to fly to the town of Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island in the high Arctic of Canada from where visitors can travel by vehicle on a few roads and tracks to (i) the base of Mount Pelly where shorebirds including American Golden and Semipalmated Plovers, Baird’s, Semipalmated and Stilt Sandpipers, and Red-necked Phalarope nest alongside Long-tailed Skua, Arctic Tern, Horned Lark, and Lapland and Snow Buntings. Also possible is Yellow-billed Loon (White-billed Diver) and Muskox, and, if there are lots of lemmings, Snowy Owl and Pomarine Skua; (ii) Dease and Simpson Straits overlooking the Northwest Passage, a good place for Ringed Seals, and where the tundra supports breeding Bewick’s (Tundra) Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, Common and King Eiders, Long-tailed Duck and shorebirds which may include Buff-breasted, Pectoral and White-rumped Sandpipers; and (iii) the interior where nesting birds include Grey (Red) Phalarope and Sabine’s Gull. The best time is late June-early July.


    Oaxaca - Mexico
    There are probably more bird species in Oaxaca than any other Mexican state; nearly 700, and almost 100 of these are regional endemics. The area around the city of Oaxaca is also one of the richest regions in Mexico for endemic birds and many of these occur: on Cerro San Felipe (La Cumbre), notable for Dwarf Jay and lots of warblers including Red; along Route 175 North (the striking Slaty Vireo and, nearer the town of Valle Nacional, Tody Motmot); and at Monte Alban, home of the skulking Ocellated Thrasher. Other great birds around the city include Grey Silky and Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, with a chance of Aztec Thrush. Further afield, the Sierra Madre del Sur near Puerto Angel on the Pacific coast supports more endemics and Red-breasted Chat (most likely in Parque Nacional Huatulca), and on pelagic boat trips out of places such as Huatulca and Puerto Angel it is possible, on good days, to see Townsend’s Shearwater, as well as Audubon's (Galapagos) and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Black and Least Storm Petrels, and Nazca (Masked) Booby. At the far eastern end of the state, live two fantastic endemic birds; Orange-breasted and Rosita’s Buntings, which can be seen side-by-side in the Tapanatepec Foothills along with such birds as Citreoline Trogon, Russet-crowned Motmot and White-throated Magpie Jay. The endemic Giant Wren (a real giant!) occurs not far away, near the small town of Puerto Arista in the state of Chiapas, and beyond there in Chiapas lies the Biosphere Reserve Selva el Ocote (Nava's Wren), El Sumidero Canyon (Belted Flycatcher and a chance of Slender Sheartail) and the warbler-filled woods of San Cristobal de las Casas (Golden-cheeked and Pink-headed Warblers, and a chance of Blue-throated Motmot and Black-throated Jay). The best time to look for birds is January to April.

    Photograph of Rosita's Bunting

    Blue, blue, electric blue, that's the colour of a Rosita's or Rose-bellied Bunting. The superb image of this one was captured in the Tapanatepec Foothills of Oaxaca, Mexico, by Nigel Voaden, the same place the very colourful Orange-breasted Bunting occurs, both species being endemic to Mexico.

    See Moluccas, above.

    Ohio - USA
    Crane Creek and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, along the Lake Erie shoreline about 15 miles east of Toledo, make up one of the best places in North America to see warblers during the spring, especially the middle two weeks of May when over 30 species may be seen and the The Biggest Week in American Birding, an annual event, is held. The birds stop to rest and refuel in the tiny stretch of woods here before making the 30-mile crossing to Ontario and often allow close-up views along with cuckoos, flycatchers, thrushes, vireos, tanagers and orioles. At nearby Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge it is possible to see a good variety of ducks, herons and shorebirds. Cerulean, Hooded and Yellow-throated Warblers, as well as birds such as Acadian Flycatcher and Wood Thrush more typical of the southern Appalachians can be seen in eastern Ohio in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

    Crab Plover, Sooty Falcon and a chance of Hypocolius in some splendid desert scenery.

    Ontario (Point Pelee) - Canada
    A migration bottleneck in spring, great for up to 30 species of New World warblers.

    Oregon - USA
    Because there are so many habitats in such a small area in Oregon there is a greater diversity of birds than in any other similar-sized area in the world at a similar latitude. The range of birds is impressive, whether it is the second half of May, the peak spring period when songbirds are singing and in spring plumage or the first two weeks of September when huge numbers of birds are passing through on southward migration, and includes Harlequin Duck, Mountain Quail, Bald Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Sandhill Crane, American Avocet, Wilson's Phalarope, several owls, Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds, lots of woodpeckers and flycatchers, Clark's Nutcracker, Wrentit, Mountain Bluebird, Varied Thrush, Lazuli Bunting and Evening Grosbeak, with trickier species including Yellow Rail (Klamath Marsh NWR), Tufted Puffin (Cape Kiwanda SNA), Great Grey Owl (sometimes nesting on known nesting platforms in the Blue Mountains near La Grande) and Tricoloured Blackbird. Mammals include several chipmunks and ground-squirrels, Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Pronghorn and Yellow-bellied Marmot. In addition, on full-day pelagic trips out of Newport in September it is possible to see Black-footed Albatross, Pink-footed Shearwater, Fork-tailed Storm Petrel and other seabirds such as Laysan Albatross.

    Outer Hebrides - Scotland
    Corn Crake, White-tailed and Golden Eagles, and a chance of Otter.


    (Western) Pacific Odyssey
    An incredible selection of seabirds including Short-tailed Albatross and New Zealand Storm Petrel.

    See Micronesia, above.

    Resplendent Quetzal, sloths, monkeys, Manta Rays and turtles.

    Pantanal (Southern Brazil)
    Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Hyacinth Macaws and Iguassu Falls make this A Top Ten Destination.

    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    Papua New Guinea
    Fantastic birds-of-paradise, including Blue, and some of the richest coral reefs in the world.

    Photograph of Rufous-bellied Kookaburra

    New Guinea is home to so much more than birds-of-paradise. The widespread Rufous-bellied Kookaburra for example is one of numerous spectacular endemics. Both males and females have massive white bills but males have blue tails and females rufous. This male was captured by Nigel Voaden.

    The vast plains of arid chaco (which make up more than 60% of the land area yet support less than 2% of the human population), cerrado and flooded grasslands together with pantanal wetlands and remnant Atlantic Forest of Paraguay support many rare and restricted-range species notably the 18 or so virtually endemic to the chaco and they include Chaco Nothura, Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Bare-faced Curassow, Spot-winged Falconet, Ocellated, Red-and-white (San Rafael, a very birdy area where about 430 bird species have been recorded) and Red-faced Crakes, Black-legged and Red-legged Seriemas, Giant Snipe, Chaco, Rusty-barred and Tawny-browed Owls, Scissor-tailed, Sickle-winged, Silky-tailed and White-winged Nightjars, Nacunda Nighthawk, Violet-crested Plovercrest, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanets, Toco Toucan, lots of woodpeckers including Black-bodied and Helmeted, lots of woodcreepers including Great Rufous, Crested Gallito, Lark-like Brushrunner, Cock-tailed, Sharp-tailed, Strange-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, Straneck's Tyrannulet, Greater Wagtail Tyrant, Bearded Tachuri, Crested and Dinelli's Doraditos, Russet-winged Spadebill, Rufous Gnateater, Chaco (Olive-crowned) and Collared Crescentchests, Sharpbill, Bare-throated Bellbird, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Band-tailed Manakin, Wing-barred Piprites, Curl-crested Jay, seedeaters, and Saffron-cowled and Scarlet-headed Blackbirds. This is a hard country to see mammals in - thick bush, few tracks - but persistence may pay off with Brazilian Tapir, Chaco Peccary, Plains Viscacha, Chaco Mara, Black Howler, Black-tailed Marmoset, Great Hairy Armadillo and even Jaguar, Puma, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, Margay and Geoffroy's Cat. The best time to visit Paraguay is mid-September to the end of October.

    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Pennsylvania - USA
    Every autumn/fall mainly September-October an average of 18,000 raptors pass over Hawk Mountain Sanctuary on the Kittatinny Ridge in the Appalachians about 25 miles north of Reading. Species with peak times in parentheses include Osprey (September), Bald Eagle (first half of September), Northern Harrier (October), Sharp-shinned Hawk (mid-September to the end of October), Cooper’s Hawk (October), Northern Goshawk (November), Red-shouldered Hawk (mid-October to mid-November), Broad-winged Hawk (September), Red-tailed Hawk (October-November), Rough-legged Hawk (November to mid-December), Golden Eagle (mid-October to mid-November), American Kestrel (September), Merlin (October), Peregrine (October-November). The Annual Autumn Hawk Watch takes place daily from mid-August to mid-December 9 am to 5 pm at North Lookout when an official counter and interpreters are on hand to point out and identify birds. There may not be many birds if the weather conditions are unsuitable though; it is best to visit on days immediately following the passage of a cold front when the wind blows from the northwest.

    An impressive diversity of flycatchers, vireos, warblers and sparrows breed in central Pennsylvania. Singing usually peaks in late May when males arrive and establish territories. There may be as many as five species of Empidonax flycatchers, Henslow's Sparrow is the star of the sparrows, the possible 25 species of warbler include Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Canada, Cerulean, Golden-winged, Magnolia, Mourning and Prothonotary, and Yellow-breasted Chat is also possible.

    Peru - Central
    Spectacular birds in spectacular mountain scenery, with a chance of 50 highland endemics and many other high elevation specialities including the flightless Junin Grebe (on National Park zodiac boat trips), Andean Ibis, Junin (Black) Rail, Diademed Sandpiper Plover (Marcapomacocha), Andean Lapwing, Puna Plover, Andean and Puna Snipes, Grey-breasted and Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes, ground doves, Oilbird (thousands in cave near Tingo Maria), hummingbirds such as Bronze-tailed Comet (Santa Eulalia Valley), Black-breasted Hillstar, Fire-throated Metaltail and Olivaceous Thornbill, Golden-headed Quetzal, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, White-bellied Cinclodes (Marcapomacocha and Ticlio Bog/Pass), Striated Earthcreeper, canasteros, Eye-ringed Thistletail, antpittas, tapaculos, chat tyrants, ground tyrants, tit tyrants, Many-coloured Rush Tyrant (Lake Junin), Bay-vented (Bosque Unchog) and White-cheeked (Andamarca Valley via Santa Eulalia Valley) Cotingas, Band-tailed, Barred, Green-and-black (Huanaco) and Masked Fruiteaters (all four along Paty Trail), White-eared Solitaire, White-collared Jay, brush finches, mountain tanagers including the endemic Golden-backed Mountain Tanager (Bosque Unchog), Golden-collared, Grass-green, Huallaga and Yellow-scarfed Tanagers, Rufous-browed Hemispingus (Bosque Unchog), Pardusco (Bosque Unchog), Giant Conebill, Tit-Like Dacnis, sierra finches, Plain-tailed and Rufous-breasted Warbling Finches, and Great and Rufous-backed Inca Finches. Not so many mammals though, probably Northern Viscacha and possibly Andean Fox, Andean Huemul and Vicuna. The best time to look for birds is June-July.

    Photograph of White-bellied Cinclodes

    A great photograph of a displaying White-bellied Cinclodes at Marcapomacocha by Dubi Shapiro. This photograph won the Critically Endangered Birds category in the 2013 international photo competition run by The World’s Rarest Birds project which aims to support BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme.

    Peru - Manu - Southern
    Clay-licks which attract many macaws, and many other birds such as Pale-winged Trumpeter.

    Peru - Northeastern (Iquitos)
    Over 600 bird species in a small area of Amazonia including Black-necked Red Cotinga.

    Peru - Northern
    Many hummingbirds including Marvellous Spatuletail and a chance of Long-whiskered Owlet.

    Photograph of Marvellous Spatuletail

    Marvellous Spatuletail by Ian Merrill, arguably the world's most spectacular hummingbird, found only in a few places in Northern Peru.

    Dugong, Manta Ray, Whale Shark, fabulous fish and around 200 endemic birds.

    Platte River (Nebraska) - USA
    A resting and refuelling place for half a million migrating Sandhill Cranes during March.

    Point Pelee (Ontario) - Canada
    A migration bottleneck in spring, great for up to 30 species of New World warblers.

    Ancient lowland forest and the largest inland wetland left in Europe.

    Lots of seabirds including White Tern, and endemic birds such as Tuamotu Sandpiper.

    Greater Flamingo, Azure-winged Magpie, bustards and Black-shouldered Kite.

    Poyang Hu - Eastern China
    The 'Birds of Heaven', that is cranes, lots of wintering cranes, including Siberian.

    Puerto Rico
    This small island supports an endemic monotypic bird family (Puerto Rican Tanager) and 16 other endemic birds; a lizard cuckoo, a screech owl, a nightjar (difficult to see), two hummingbirds, a tody, a woodpecker, a tyrant flycatcher, a vireo, Adelaide's and Elfin-woods Warblers, a spindalis, a bullfinch, a blackbird (only likely to be seen at La Parguera), an oriole and a parrot although this is very rare and unlikely to be seen even where most of the wild and released birds are, in the Caribbean National Forest (El Yunque) in the Sierra de Luquillo, particularly at Rio Abajo. Caribbean endemics include two more hummingbirds and Red-legged Thrush while other spectacular species present include White-tailed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird and wintering warblers from North America such as Prairie. It is possible to see all of the endemics except the parrot in a few days hence many birders combine a trip to this island with the Dominican Republic. Other natural wonders include the karst country of the northwest where there are many similar sized and shaped 100 ft (30 m) high hillocks or mogotes; the Rio Camuy Caves, also in the northwest, one of the largest cave systems on the planet covering 268 acres (110 ha); and Mosquito Bay on the island of Vieques which at night all year round glows blue-green thanks to the presence of millions of microscopic phosphorescent dinoflagellates, best experienced while swimming on a cloudy moonless night. The best time to look for birds is March-April.

    Photograph of Elfin-woods Warbler

    Elfin-woods Warbler at El Yunque by Dubi Shapiro.


    Quebec - Canada
    A good chance of Beluga, Blue, Fin, Humpback and Minke Whales by boat, zodiac and kayak where the Saguenay Fjord meets the St Lawrence out of the town of Tadoussac from mid-June to September, especially mid-September for Blue Whale. Also Laurentides Wildlife Reserve for Black Bear (from hides and vehicles), Matane Wildlife Reserve for Moose and the Gaspe Peninsula/Gaspesie National Park for (Woodland) Caribou and a colony of nearly 50,000 pairs of Northern Gannets, possibly the largest on Earth, on Bonaventure Island. Other birds possible include Bald Eagle, Ruffed and Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, up to 20 species of warbler, and Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, with Bicknell's Thrush at the top of Mount Saint Anne near Perce. During late September-early October, when the autumnal colours are usually at their peak, up to 50,000 migrating (Greater) Snow Geese and other waterfowl gather at the Cape Tourmente National Wildlife Area.

    Queensland (Eastern Australia)
    Platypus, Koala, the Great Barrier Reef and numerous birds including Southern Cassowary.


    Republic of the Congo
    See See (Republic of the) Congo, above

    See Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues, above

    See Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues, above

    Brown Bear and waterbirds galore in the Danube Delta, including pelicans.

    Russia - Arctic
    The richest tundra in the world, and birds such as Siberian Crane and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

    Russia - Kamchatka, and the Kuril and Commander Islands
    Whales, Brown Bear and zillions of seabirds possibly including Short-tailed Albatross.

    Mountain Gorilla and possibly Chimpanzee, plus Albertine Rift Endemic birds.

    Photograph of Mountain Gorilla

    A magnificent silverback Mountain Gorilla in Rwanda by Max Chiswick. Sometimes even fanatical birders have to admit the 'bird-of-the-day' is a mammal.


    St Lucia
    This island in the Lesser Antilles is just 43 km (27 miles) long and 23 km (14 miles) wide. Its forested slopes support the richest avifauna in the Lesser Antilles including four endemic bird species; a parrot, a warbler, a black finch and an oriole, with three more possibles; the island forms of Rufous Nightjar, House Wren and Lesser Antillean Pewee. Another endemic, Semper’s Warbler, has not been seen since 1967 and is now thought to be extinct. There are also several Lesser Antillean endemics; Lesser Antillean Swift, Purple-throated Carib, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, Scaly-breasted and White-breasted Thrashers, Grey Trembler, Lesser Antillean Bullfinch and Lesser Antillean Saltator, and five more widespread Caribbean endemics; Bridled Quail Dove, Green-throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Rufous-throated Solitaire and Antillean Euphonia. Other spectacular species include Red-billed Tropicbird (most likely at Cape Moule à Chique at the southern tip of the island), Magnificent Frigatebird and Mangrove Cuckoo. The Des Cartiers Trail in Quilesse Forest Reserve, about two hours south of Anse Chastanet, is arguably the best forest trail on the island. On boat trips off Soufriere, Fraser's, Spinner and Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are possible and also offshore there are many coral reef fishes, and Green and Hawksbill Turtles. The best time to look for birds is February-April.

    Samoa (Western)
    Samoa consists of two large islands (Upolu and Savai’i) and eight islets and supports at least nine endemic bird species; Tooth-billed Pigeon (which is very rare and unlikely to be seen), a fruit-dove, Flat-billed Kingfisher, a honeyeater known as Mao, a whistler, a triller, a fantail, a flycatcher and a white-eye, with one more, Samoan Starling, confined to (Western) Samoa and American Samoa (see above). All but the white-eye occur on Upolu where White Terns, White-tailed Tropicbirds and Brown Noddies grace the skies and other landbirds include Blue-crowned Lorikeet, Pacific Imperial Pigeon, Many-coloured Fruit Dove, Cardinal Myzomela, Wattled Honeyeater, Pacific Robin, Polynesian Starling and Red-headed Parrotfinch. Several endemics can be seen at the botanical gardens and in Mount Vaea Scenic Reserve where Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, is buried. To see the rare white-eye it is necessary to hike high up Mount Silisili from the village of A'opo on the island of Savai'i. All of the other endemics occur here too. Seawatching may produce Grey-backed (Spectacled) Tern, as well as Red-footed Booby, Great Frigatebird and Black-naped Tern. The best time to look for the endemics is July to September.

    Photograph of Many-coloured Fruit Dove

    The pretty Many-coloured Fruit Dove can be seen on Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. Image by Simon Colenutt.

    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Sao Tome and Principe
    The two small islands of Sao Tome and Principe in the Gulf of Guinea, often included in, or offered as an extension to, tours to Gabon, support up to 30 endemic bird species and it is possible to see all of them during a short visit although some are very rare. The hardest to see on Sao Tome are (Dwarf) Olive Ibis, Bocage's Longbill (Sao Tome Short-tail) and, especially, Sao Tome Fiscal and Sao Tome Grosbeak. All four are most likely to be seen on a camping trip with local guides to the best remaining forest on Monte Carmo/Carvo in the remote south of the island. The other 13 endemics on Sao Tome are an olive pigeon (most likely high up on the trail to Lagoa Amelia), a green pigeon, a scops owl, Sao Tome (Malachite) Kingfisher, an oriole, a paradise flycatcher, a prinia, a speirops, a thrush, two sunbirds and two weavers. Some taxonomists believe the island forms of Lemon Dove, Chestnut-winged Starling and Sao Tome White-eye (which otherwise occurs only as another race on Principe) are also endemic bringing the total to 20. Other birds present on the island include Sao Tome Spinetail and Principe Seedeater (both of which otherwise occur only on Principe) as well as Island Bronze-naped Pigeon. As well as the island race of Sao Tome White-eye Principe supports as many as eight more endemics seven of which can be seen around the luxurious Bom Bom Island Resort which caters mainly for scuba diving and Marlin fishing; Principe (White-bellied) Kingfisher, Dohrn’s Thrush Babbler, a glossy starling, Principe (Velvet-mantled) Drongo, a sunbird, a speirops and a golden weaver. The tricky ones to see are the thrush and white-eye and it is necessary to travel by boat to the south of the island to look for these. Other species present on Principe include the dryas race of Blue-breasted Kingfisher and African Grey Parrot, both of which are still relatively 'common', as well as a possible new species of scops-owl. Boat trips can be arranged to look for seabirds on offshore islets and volcanic plugs, including White-tailed Tropicbird and Brown Noddy. The best time to visit the islands for birds is July-August. The best time for Green and Leatherback Turtles nesting on the beaches is December to March.

    The coastal lagoons, forests, limestone hills and mountains of this island in the Mediterranean support Barbary Partridge, Audouin’s Gull (Laguna di Nora in the south hosts the largest breeding colony in Italy), Marmora’s (in low scrub usually above 800 metres) and Moltoni’s (Subalpine) Warblers, Spotless Starling and Corsican (Citril) Finch (on Monte Albo), as well as Red-crested Pochard, Scopoli’s (Cory’s) and Yelkouan Shearwaters, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon, Slender-billed Gull, Alpine and Pallid Swifts, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Firecrest, Mediterranean (Spotted) Flycatcher (tyrrhenica), Woodchat Shrike (badius) and Common Rock Sparrow (on Monte Sa Pittada). Other wildlife includes the unique endemic cave salamanders with different species in separate mountain ranges, about 35 species of dragonfly including the endemic Island Bluetail, Copper Demoiselle, and Violet Dropwing, and 25 orchids. The best time for orchids is early April, for dragonflies early June and for birds late April - early May when migrants pass through.

    Saskatchewan - Canada
    In the first half of October small groups of Whooping Cranes and thousands of Sandhill Cranes, as well as tens of thousands of Canada and Snow Geese with fewer Greater White-fronted and Ross’s Geese, and lots of ducks, migrate south across southern Saskatchewan stopping to rest and refuel in pothole country east of Saskatoon, while in the boreal forest in Prince Albert National Park there is a chance of seeing Spruce Grouse, Northern Saw-whet Owl, (American) Three-toed, Black-backed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Grey Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, sparrows which could include Harris’s and, occasionally, Evening and/or Pine Grosbeaks, as well as Elk and Moose. Late May and June is the best time to enjoy the breeding birds of the vast prairie grasslands and wetlands of southern Saskatchewan including American White Pelican, Ferruginous Hawk, Yellow Rail (unlikely to be seen), Upland Sandpiper, Sprague’s Pipit, Baird’s Sparrow, Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspurs, and Yellow-headed Blackbird.

    Saudi Arabia
    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on a migratory flyway and serves as an important resting and refueling stopover for birds moving between Europe, Asia and Africa. In the east spring migration occurs between mid-February and mid-May usually peaking in April and autumn migration occurs between mid-August and early November but is less heavy than the spring migration. In the southwest ten of the eleven Arabian endemic bird species are present; Arabian (Red-legged) and Philby's Partridges, Arabian Woodpecker, Arabian Wheatear, Yemen Thrush, Yemen Warbler, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian and Yemen Serins, and Yemen Linnet, all of which may be seen in the Abha area of the Asif mountains, connected by air to both Jeddah and Riyadh. The one remaining species restricted to southwest Arabia, Arabian Accentor, occurs only in Yemen. Also present in this region are Arabian Scops Owl and Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak, as well as (Arabian) Green Bee-eater, the endemic asirensis race of Eurasian Magpie and many Afrotropical species such as Hamerkop, Spotted Thick-knee, Sooty Gull, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Grey-headed Kingfisher, White-throated Bee-eater, Abyssinian Roller and African Paradise Flycatcher. Also present along the Red Sea coast of the southwest are Crab Plover, and Saunders’s and White-cheeked Terns, while Black Bush Robin, Blackstart, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Arabian Warbler, Arabian Golden Sparrow, and Nile Valley and Palestine Sunbirds occur inland.

    Scotland - Highlands to Mull
    Otter, White-tailed and Golden Eagles, and Puffin.

    Scotland - Outer Hebrides
    Corn Crake, White-tailed and Golden Eagles, and a chance of Otter.

    Scotland - Shetland
    Otter, Red-necked Phalarope, seabird cliffs and a chance of Killer Whale.

    Photograph of Red-necked Phalarope

    The exquisite Red-necked Phalarope by Lars Petersson.

    Scotland - Wester Ross and Handa
    The wild northwest region of the Scottish Highlands in the Scourie-Clachtoll-Lochinver-Gairloch area supports Black-throated and Red-throated Divers, Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Merlin, Otter and Red Deer, and offshore are the seabird cities of Handa, an island with 123 metre high cliffs accessible by boat from Tarbet with Atlantic Puffins, Guillemots (over 50,000 birds during the last count in 2016), Razorbills, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Arctic Terns and incredibly nearly 300 pairs of Great Skuas. June is the best time to go but prepare to meet millions of midges.

    Waterbirds, bustards, Black Crowned Crane, Swallow-tailed Kite and Egyptian Plover.

    See Moluccas, above.

    This small country about the size of Portugal is mainly flat north of the capital Belgrade where large rivers including the Danube flow slowly across the Pannonian Plain while to the south there are hills and mountains. The best wetlands include Slano Kopovo NR (20,000 Common Cranes on passage, mostly March and November, and roosting geese during the winter); Rusanda Nature Park in Melenci (shorebirds and Red-footed Falcon); Beljarica floodplain of the Danube in Belgrade (nesting Black Stork and White-tailed Eagle); and fish farms along the River Tamis (breeding and migrant waterbirds, and possible wintering Greater Spotted Eagle). In gorges in the west of the country there are about 140 pairs of Eurasian Griffon Vultures (Tresnjica Gorge NR is the nearest colony to Belgrade and can be visited within a day). In the east Djerdap (Iron Gates) NP along the Danube supports Black and White-backed Woodpeckers, Crag Martin, Sombre Tit, and Ortolan and Rock Buntings. However, perhaps the most famous site for birds in Serbia is the town of Kikinda where in some winters over 700 Long-eared Owls roost! The best times to visit Serbia are April to May and November to January. In spring/early summer it is also possible to see Ferruginous Duck, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Collared Flycatcher, Savi’s Warbler, Lesser Grey Shrike, Rosy Starling (every few years) and Black-headed Bunting. During the winter tens of thousands of geese overwinter, twice as many when the Danube area is frozen solid, mostly Greylag and Greater White-fronted Geese (half of them at the Labudovo okno Ramsar site at the Danube) with the odd Lesser White-fronted and Red-breasted Geese. Other winter highlights include Pygmy Cormorant which can be seen year-round but in some winters the Belgrade population reaches up to 7000, 10% of the regional population.

    Rare endemic landbirds like a paradise flycatcher, and seabird colonies.

    Photograph of Seychelles Blue Pigeon

    Seychelles Blue Pigeon, one of several endemic landbirds on the Seychelles, by Brian Field.

    Shetland - Scotland
    Otter, Red-necked Phalarope, seabird cliffs and a chance of Killer Whale.

    Sichuan - China
    Many superb birds, not least colourful pheasants and Firethroat, and a good chance of Red Panda.

    This sunny, scenic, rugged island with smouldering Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano which rises to 3350 m (10,991 ft), plateaus, plains, orchards and coastal marshes is perhaps most famous amongst birders for the spring passage of migrant raptors across the Strait of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy. Birds move through from mid-March to May, as many as 40,000 or more of them, mostly European Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and Black Kites but also Pallid Harriers and Red-footed Falcons (mostly late April-early May) and rarities which have included Amur Falcon and Steppe Eagle. The island also supports the resident endemic whitaker race of Rock Partridge and a distinctive form of Long-tailed Tit, both of which may be separate species from their mainland relatives. These birds occur in the interior Madonie Mountains along with Lanner Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Rock Sparrow and Rock Bunting. During the second half of April it is possible to see a wide variety of passage migrant passerines especially on east coast headlands where migrant hot-spots include Capo Murro di Porco where the garrigue-covered cape provides refuge for birds such as Collared Flycatchers. Seawatching from such places and along the south coast may reveal Scopoli’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters, and Audouin’s Gull whereas coastal lagoons support a wide variety of waterbirds including Greater Flamingos, Ferruginous Ducks and passing shorebirds. Common birds include Spotless Starling while Richard’s Pipits are often present during the northern winter.

    Sierra Leone
    Monkeys, a chance of Chimpanzee and spectacular birds such as Egyptian Plover, Yellow-headed Picathartes and Emerald Starling.

    Photograph of Egyptian Plover

    The superb Egyptian Plover by Dubi Shapiro.

    Singapore is an island city and country, the second most densely populated (behind Monaco) on the planet and yet it is possible to see some very good birds in this metropolis. Changi International Airport is a massive transit point for people travelling between Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Australasia and any birders with more than a couple of hours to spare may wish to consider visiting Pasir Ris Park and the Botanic Gardens. Pasir Ris is a small park with a mangrove boardwalk and bird-viewing tower where it is possible to see, in season, Mangrove Pitta, Black-capped and Collared Kingfishers, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Laced Woodpecker, Asian Glossy Starling and Copper-throated Sunbird. The botanic gardens are usually very busy with people but it is still possible to see birds such as Red-legged Crake, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Lineated Barbet, as well as Yellow Bittern, Pink-necked Green Pigeon and Crimson Sunbird. Not far from the botanic gardens is Bukit Batok Nature Park where Straw-headed Bulbul occurs. In order to leave the airport during transit passengers will need (i) to request a landing card on-board and present it to immigration on arrival, and (ii) some Singaporean dollars to pay for taxis, trains and so on. Many birders stay longer, to visit Panti Forest Reserve, 90 minutes or so north in peninsular Malaysia, lowland dipterocarp rainforest which supports Rail-babbler, as well as Blyth’s Frogmouth, Malaysian Eared Nightjar, malkohas, Whiskered Tree Swift, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, trogons, hornbills, woodpeckers, Korean (Yellow-rumped) Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, babblers, broadbills, bulbuls, White-handed Gibbon, and Banded and Dusky Leaf Monkeys.

    This land-locked country of scenic meadows, mountains, forests, canyons, gorges, rivers and waterfalls at the heart of Europe supports Black Grouse, Black and White Storks, Golden, Eastern Imperial, Lesser Spotted and White-tailed Eagles, Saker Falcon, Corn Crake, marsh terns, all nine European woodpeckers and Wryneck, Barred and River Warblers, Eurasian (Spotted) Nutcracker and Citrine Wagtail. There is also a chance of seeing Eurasian Eagle, Eurasian Pygmy, Tengmalm’s and Ural Owls (all especially during the first half of May), as well as Hazel Grouse, Lesser Grey Shrike, Collared Flycatcher and Wallcreeper.

    Slovenia is a small, relatively unspoiled country lying where the Alps meet the Mediterranean with an array of natural wonders including the 21 km (13 miles) of passages, galleries and halls in the karst limestone Postojna Cave where in a small pool live pink Olms (Proteus anguinus), cave salamanders endemic to the Dalmatian coast. Breeding birds include White Stork, Golden Eagle, Corn Crake, Ural Owl, Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Eurasian (Spotted) Nutcracker, Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, White-winged Snowfinch and Rock Bunting, and there is a chance of seeing Rock Partridge, Ptarmigan, Black and Hazel Grouse, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, (Eurasian) Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers, Wallcreeper and Common Rosefinch. The alpine mountain slopes and steep-sided valleys thick with pine forests also support a rich flora of over 2900 species, many of which are restricted to the Julian Alps and include Edelweiss, Illyrian Gladiolus and Transylvanian Orchid. June is the best time to look for birds, flowers and some of the 181 butterflies recorded in the country such as Common Glider and Spotted Fritillary. In the southern Dinaric Alps region it is possible to visit specially designed photography hides to view and photograph Brown Bears, most likely in May.

    This island in the Arabian Sea off the Horn of Africa supports some superb dragon tree forests in spectacular scenery where 43 bird species are known to breed, nine of which are endemic; a buzzard, scops owl, cisticola, warbler, sparrow, starling, sunbird, bunting (Dixcem Plateau only) and golden-winged grosbeak. Other special birds which occur on and around the island include Jouanin’s Petrel, Persian Shearwater, Socotra Cormorant, Cream-coloured Courser, Sooty Gull, Saunders’s Tern, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Nubian Nightjar, Forbes-Watson’s Swift, Abyssinian (White-breasted) White-eye, Somali Starling and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, but in March 2018 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all travel to Yemen, including all islands which include Socotra.

    Photograph of Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak

    A male Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak at Wadi Ayhaft by Jon Hornbuckle.

    Solomon Islands
    There are more restricted-range bird species, that is species with ranges of less than 50,000 square kilometres, in the Solomon Islands than anywhere else on Earth. The number of endemics varies according to taxonomist but there are probably at least 80 and potentially lots more due to the presence of many subspecies, as well as at least 20 species which otherwise occur only on other islands in Melanesia. To stand a chance of seeing all the endemics visitors will need to take many internal flights and be prepared to sail several times in order to visit Guadalcanal (where the capital Honiara is situated and there are 2+ island endemics including Guadacanal Moustached Kingfisher, the first male of which was controversially 'collected' in 2015), Rennell (5+ island endemics including a shrikebill), Makira (12+), Malaita (3+), Santa Isabel (several endemics shared with Bougainville, including Fearful Owl, Solomons Frogmouth and Black-faced Pitta (all recently recorded near the village of Tirotonga, the single known site for the pitta), Kolombangara (2+ including the flightless Roviana Rail), Gizo (1+), Ranongga (1+), Vella Lavella (1+) and, in the Santa Cruz Islands at the southeastern end of the long archipelago, Nendo (1+) and Vanikolo (1+). Then there is Bougainville (4+ including the rarely reported Bougainville Moustached Kingfisher) at the northern end to consider, although this is politically part of Papua New Guinea. The endemics also include Sanford's Sea Eagle, Ducorp's Cockatoo, Ultramarine Kingfisher and several honeyeaters, myzomelas, fantails, monarchs, white-eyes and starlings, while there is also a good chance of seeing Heinroth's Shearwater, a rare near-endemic. As well as birds, the Arnavon Islands to the northwest of Santa Isabel support one of the most important rookeries in the west Pacific for Hawksbill Turtle and coral reefs surrounding many smaller islands are rich in marine life. The best time to look for birds is July to September.

    Somaliland (Somalia)
    The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Somalia, including Somaliland except for the cities of Hargeisa and Berbera to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel [mainly because] terrorists continue to plan attacks against westerners in Somalia and Somaliland and yet some tour companies insist Somaliland in northwest Somalia, a former British colony which has since 1991 been separated from the rest of Somalia as (internationally unrecognized) ‘The Republic of Somaliland’ is a largely peaceful pro-western Muslim country, a largely uninhabited wilderness of beaches, volcanic deserts and juniper forests, relatively safe to travel in and therefore making it possible to see many birds with restricted ranges even in the Horn of Africa, including Little Brown Bustard, Collared Lark, Somali Wheatear, Philippa’s (Short-billed) Crombec, Somali Thrush and Somali (Chestnut-winged) Starling, as well as Arabian and Heuglin’s Bustards, Somali Courser, White-cheeked Tern, Somali Bee-eater, Yellow-breasted Barbet, Blanford’s, Short-tailed and Somali Short-toed and Larks, Red-naped Bushshrike, Somali Fiscal, Sombre Rock Chat, Abyssinian Wheatear, Dodson’s Bulbul, Arabian Warbler, Somali Crombec, Yellow-vented Eremomela, Nile Valley Sunbird, Golden-breasted, Magpie, Shelley’s and White-crowned Starlings, Somali Sparrow, Ruppell’s Weaver, Northern Grosbeak-Canary and Brown-rumped Seedeater, while mammals include Beira Antelope, Gerenuk, Dorcas, Soemmering’s and Speke’s Gazelles, Speke’s Pectinator, Caracal, Desert Warthog and Somali Elephant Shrew.

    Somalia as a whole has a bird list of 660 or so species of which about 300 are resident and about 10 are endemic although like the rest of the wildlife, especially those which live in the woods and forests, many are likely to be suffering heavy losses since one environmental group warned, in 2002, that Somalia would be a country without trees if they were cut down at the then rate. The endemic birds are Archer’s (Augur) Buzzard, Somali Pigeon, Archer’s (Liben) (Heteromirafra archeri), Ash’s (Collared) (Mirafra ashi), Obbia (Spizocorys obbiensis) and Somali (Mirafra somalica) Larks, Lesser Hoopoe Lark, Somali Golden-winged Grosbeak and Warsangli Linnet, while the many near-endemics include Little Brown Bustard, Chestnut-naped Francolin, African White-winged Dove, Fischer’s Turaco, Forbes-Watson Swift, Mombasa Woodpecker, Blanford’s, Collared, Gillett’s and Rufous Short-toed Larks, Malindi Pipit, Pangani Longclaw, Somali Wheatear, Sombre Rock Chat, Somali Long-billed and Somali Short-billed Crombecs, Little Yellow Flycatcher, Violet-breasted Sunbird, Long-tailed Fiscal, Red-naped Bushshrike, Somali Chestnut-winged Starling, Arabian Golden and Swainson’s Sparrows, Juba Weaver, Fire-fronted Bishop, Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow Weaver, Northern Grosbeak Canary and Brown-rumped Seedeater.

    South Africa - Eastern
    Mammals including White and Black Rhinoceroses, and Meerkat, plus lots of birds.

    South Africa - Western
    Great White Shark, Southern Right Whale, Meerkat and endemic birds.

    South Georgia (and Antarctica and the Falklands)
    Whales, penguins, albatrosses in the most amazing settings on Earth make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Photograph of Black-browed Albatross

    Albatrosses in the Southern Ocean between The Falklands and South Georgia include the handsome Black-browed. Image by Jon Hornbuckle.

    South Korea
    This small country - slightly smaller than England - is almost as exciting for birds during the cold winters as Japan to the east what with such rare and range-restricted species as Swan Goose, Falcated and Mandarin Ducks, Baikal Teal (not always present but sometimes in huge flocks), Scaly-sided Merganser, Oriental Stork, Steller's Sea Eagle, Hooded, Red-crowned and White-naped Cranes, Solitary Snipe, Relict and Saunders's Gulls, Spectacled Guillemot, Ancient and Long-billed Murrelets, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Japanese Wagtail, Red-throated Thrush, Varied Tit and lots of buntings including Pallas's Reed. The best area for cranes is at Cheorwon where the vast majority forage in the Civilian Control Zone, an area used for farming only and accessible only with local guides or on local organized tours since it is next to the completely undeveloped Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Korea. During the summer, after late May-early June, it is possible to see Fairy Pitta in South Korea.

    Spain - Extremadura
    The best place in western Europe for bustards and raptors, including Spanish Eagle.

    Photograph of Montagu's Harrier

    Montagu's Harrier by Michael McKee, one of the many raptors in Spain and a feature of Extremadura.

    Spain - Northern
    Lammergeier, Wallcreeper and Snow Finch in the beautiful Pyrenees.

    Spain - Northwestern
    A very good chance of Wolf, as well as a chance of Brown Bear.

    Spain - Southern
    A good chance of Iberian Lynx, and the spectacular migration of storks and raptors.

    Spitsbergen (Svalbard)
    Polar Bear, Walrus and birds such as Ivory Gull in spectacular settings.

    Sri Lanka
    Blue Whale, Leopard and some terrific birds, not least Pied Thrush and about 30 endemics.

    Subantarctic Islands - New Zealand
    Millions of marine mammals and birds, notably Royal Penguin and Shore Plover.

    Sula Islands
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Sulawesi and Halmahera - Indonesia
    Tarsier, Bear Cuscus and spectacular birds such as Wallace’s Standardwing, Ivory-breasted Pitta and Knobbed Hornbill.

    Photograph of Ivory-breasted Pitta

    The amazing Ivory-breasted Pitta at Foli on the island of Halmahera by David Beadle.

    Sulawesi's satellites
    The largely deforested island of Sangihe lies between Sulawesi and the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Accessible via ferry from Manado, it supports an endemic hanging parrot, a scops owl and a sunbird which are widespread but it is necessary to climb Gunung Sahendaruman to stand a chance of seeing the very rare endemic Cerulean Paradise Flycatcher (actually more closely related to monarchs), as well as the endemic shrike thrush, the critically endangered Sangihe Golden Bulbul and the virtually unknown endemic white-eye. Distinctive races of Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher and Hooded Pitta also occur on this island along with Ruddy Kingfisher and the tiny mammal Sangihe Tarsier. To the east is the island of Talaud, accessible by air from Manado, where there are four endemics; Red-and-blue Lory and Talaud Kingfisher are relatively easy to see but the endemic bush-hen and rail are extremely shy and elusive. Other species present on this island are Rufous-tailed Bush-hen, Blue-backed, Blue-naped and Great-billed Parrots, Grey Imperial Pigeon, the inspeculata race of Red-bellied Pitta and Rufous Paradise Flycatcher.

    At Bunta on the north coast of Sulawesi’s ‘middle arm’ it is possible to charter a boat out to the island of Batudaka, the largest of the Togian (Togean) Islands, where it is possible to see the endemic boobook and white-eye, as well as a potential new taxon of Cyornis flycatcher, Great-billed Kingfisher, Knobbed Hornbill and Ashy Woodpecker.

    The island of Peleng in the Banggai Islands south of Sulawesi’s ‘middle arm’ is accessible by boat from Luwuk, reached by air from Makassar (Ujung Pandang) at the south end of Sulawesi. Birds present on this island include Banggai Crow, as well as Sula Scrubfowl, Sula Hanging Parrot, a ‘black pigeon’, Banggai (Maroon-chinned) Fruit Dove, a scops owl, Sula Pitta, Slaty Cuckoo Shrike, Red-and-black Thrush, an undescribed leaf warbler and Helmeted Myna, and other interesting species include a subspecies of Black-billed Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Ivory-backed Woodswallow, Henna-tailed Jungle Flycatcher and the tiny mammal Peleng Tarsier. On Peleng it is possible to charter a boat to get to the well-forested island of Taliabu in the Sula Islands, the westernmost of the Moluccas. This island shares many endemics with the Banggai Islands but also supports Meyer’s Goshawk, Sula Fruit Dove, the virtually unknown Taliabu Masked Owl, the sulaensis form of Moluccan Scops Owl, Sula Cicadabird, an undescribed form of Island Thrush, ‘Taliabu Bush Warbler’ (high mountains), ‘Taliabu Leaf Warbler’ (high mountains) and Bare-eyed Myna. The peak time to visit the islands above is mid-November to mid-December.

    Sumatra - Indonesia
    Orang-utan, Siamang, White-handed Gibbon and endemic birds including Sumatran Cochoa.

    Grey-winged Trumpeter and some great cotingas including a big Guianan Cock-of-the-rock lek.

    This landlocked, little kingdom between Mozambique and South Africa is one of the best places to look for the rare Blue Swallow, a few pairs of which occur between late September and March in Malalotja NR on the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment, and there and elsewhere in the western highlands it is also possible to see Southern Bald Ibis (at colonies June to October), Striped Flufftail, Denham’s Bustard, Black-winged Lapwing, Ground Woodpecker, Buff-streaked Chat, Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrushes, lots of cisticolas and Gurney’s Sugarbird, as well as Black Wildebeest, Blesbok and Oribi. In the north and east at places like Hlane NP and its surrounding reserves it is possible to see Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Rudd’s Apalis, Black-bellied Starling, Purple-banded Sunbird and Pink-throated Twinspot. Mlawula NR on the northeastern border with Mozambique supports White-backed Night Heron, African Finfoot, Bronze-winged Courser, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Black Coucal, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Grey Sunbird and Pink-throated Twinspot. A good place for mammals is Mbuluzi Game Reserve, part of the wider Lubombo Conservancy, where there are Nile Crocodiles, Hippos, Giraffes, Zebras and Nyalas, and the birds include White-crowned Lapwing, Purple-crested Turaco and Giant Kingfisher. December to February is probably the best time to visit, certainly for Blue Swallow, although it is also the time when resident species and inter-African migrants such as cuckoos, weavers and widowbirds are usually in full breeding plumage.

    During the cold, snowy winters of southern Sweden, especially during early February, it is possible to see Northern Hawk and Eurasian Pygmy Owls, Black, Grey-headed and Three-toed (where dying spruce trees harbour Spruce Bark Beetles) Woodpeckers, Siberian Jay and Eurasian Nutcracker (both at feeding stations), as well as large numbers of Long-tailed Ducks and Smews along the Baltic coast, Eurasian Capercaillie, Black Grouse, White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, Northern Goshawk, Crested Tit, white-headed caudatus Long-tailed Tits, white-breasted and bellied europaea Nuthatches and Great Grey Shrike with the additional possibility of Bohemian Waxwings, Arctic Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks in influx years while mammals may include Moose (European Elk) and a darker variant of Red Squirrel.

    Most people in search of owls (and bears) visit Finland though where Wolverine and Red-flanked Bluetail are also possible but if it's Cranes visitors are after then Sweden is the place to go. During the first half of April 20,000 or so gather at Lake Hornborga (Hornborgasjon) a few hours from Stockholm and in early September the same number come together at Bergslagen, along with up to 20,000 (Taiga) Bean Geese. This is also a good time to see Elk (Moose) because the bulls have a full rack of antlers ready for the autumn rut. Each autumn about 500 million birds migrate from Scandinavia to Europe and Africa, and four million are recorded annually at Falsterbo, a migration bottleneck at the southern tip of Sweden, a particularly good place to watch migration in action, involving, on good days, usually when a southwest wind blows, big numbers of raptors, (Common) Wood Pigeons and Blue Tits. Birds occurring in smaller numbers include Greater and Lesser Spotted Eagles, and (Eurasian) Nutcrackers. The best time to be at Falsterbo is from late August to October. Up north in southern Lapland the best time to look for Reindeer and birds such as lekking Great Snipe, Long-tailed Skua and Lapland Bunting is late May-early June. It is also possible to see Brown Bears in Sweden, at night in July, from luxurious purpose-built hides.

    The large limestone island of Gotland is a favourite summer holiday destination amongst the Swedish people but it remains remarkably unspoilt. During June it is possible to see Barnacle Goose, Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes, Golden and White-tailed Eagles (Gotland has the densest eagle population in Sweden), Montagu’s Harrier, Corn and Spotted Crakes, Common Crane, Ruff, Arctic and Caspian Terns, Thrush Nightingale, Barred, Greenish and River Warblers, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, and Red-backed Shrike, as well as 40-50 species of butterfly in a week, especially on the limestone pavements, and 15-20 dragonflies while the spectacular flora includes 37 of Sweden’s 40 orchids including all three Cephalanthera orchids; Long-leaved, Red and White Helleborines. Half an hour by boat offshore is the one kilometer square Stora Karlsö, an island with the Baltic Sea's largest seabird cliffs where 17,000 pairs of Common Guillemots, 10,000 pairs of Razorbills, Black Guillemots and fuscus ‘Baltic’ Lesser Black-backed Gulls raise their young. Gotland is also the home of one of if not thee best bird artists, Lars Jonsson, who has a public gallery/museum at Vamlingbo Prästgård in the south of the island.

    Photograph of Long-tailed Skua

    The elegant Long-tailed Skua by Simon Colenutt.

    One of the best areas for birds and butterflies in this beautiful country is the Valais region bordering Italy where based in the Val d’Hérens, a Parc Regional, it is possible to see nearly a hundred butterflies in a week during the second half of June including lots of blues, and birds such as Lammergeier (Derborence Valley), Golden Eagle, Alpine Swift, European Bee-eater (at a small breeding colony at the Leukerfeld), Eurasian Nutcracker, Alpine Chough (tame at the Gornergrat glacier at 3000m, reached via mountain railway up from Zermatt, where, if visibility is good, the spectacular views include the Matterhorn), Eurasian Crag Martin, Wallcreeper (Grande Dixence Dam), Red-backed Shrike, White-winged Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor (Gornergrat and Grande Dixence), Citril Finch (Derborence) and Rock Bunting. Many of these birds occur throughout the country of course along with mammals such as Alpine Marmot, Alpine Chamois and Alpine Ibex (Grande Dixence). Also in Valais is the Grosser Aletsch Glacier, the largest glacier in the Alps. Other birds present in Switzerland include the shy and rarely seen Rock Partridge, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Black, Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Water Pipit and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, with waterbirds at Lac de Neuchatel and the Swiss Bodenssee (Lake Constance) bordering Austria and Germany.


    This small, mountainous, subtropical island, less than 400 km (250 miles) long and 150 km (100 miles) wide, in the South China Sea, supports 20-30 endemic bird species and rising as taxonomists continue to split island forms of widespread species into full species and on Taiwan there are about fifty more endemic subspecies! Some of the most spectacular endemics are Mikado and Swinhoe’s Pheasants, Red (Maroon) Oriole, Taiwan Blue Magpie, Yellow Tit, Taiwan Cupwing, Black-necklaced and Taiwan Scimitar Babblers, Steere’s Liocichla, White-eared Sibia, Flamecrest and Collared Bush Robin, while endemic subspecies include Eurasian Nutcracker (owstoni), Golden Parrotbill (morrisoniana), Collared Finchbill (cinereicapillus) and Little Forktail (fortis). Other notables are headlined by the beautiful Fairy Pitta (in the western lowlands) but they also include Malayan Night Heron (which like the pitta is easier to see on Taiwan than anywhere else, even in Taipei Botanical Gardens), Chinese Egret, Black-faced Spoonbill (hundreds winter in the lowland wetlands of the southwest and many stay on until April) and Japanese Paradise Flycatcher (most likely on the island of Lanyu). Mammals such as Taiwanese (Rock) Macaque, Taiwan Serow, and Indian Giant Flying and Red-and-white Flying Squirrels are also possible, and other natural wonders include Taroko Gorge, a narrow chasm with vertical marble walls. The peak time to visit is the second half of April when newly-arrived Fairy Pittas are most likely to be located although rain and mist are to be expected at this time of the year. July is the peak time to try and see the endangered Chinese Crested Tern in the Matsu Archipelago accessible by air from Taipei. Due to the rapidly increasing popularity of bird photography across Asia, be prepared to see some birds in zoo-like conditions, at photographers' 'stake-outs' often complete with screens and many photographers.

    Photograph of Fairy Pitta

    The rare Fairy Pitta near the village of Huben on the island of Taiwan by Lars Petersson.

    This landlocked country, the smallest in central Asia, lying north of Afghanistan, dominated by the Pamir mountain range and rising to 7495 m (24,590 ft) is sprinkled with spectacular anemones, irises, tulips and so on during the first half of April, not the best time for birds which is late May to early June when it is possible to see Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeier, Hill Pigeon, White-winged Woodpecker, Streaked Laughingthrush, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, White-tailed Rubythroat, Blue-capped, Güldenstadt’s and Plumbeous Redstarts, Variable Wheatear, White-browed Tit Warbler, Large-billed Reed Warbler (riparian scrub along Panj River near Khorog, the main town in the Pamir mountain range), Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Black-breasted and Yellow-breasted (Azure) Tits, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Great Rosefinch, Plain Mountain Finch, White-winged Grosbeak and White-capped Bunting. Good birding sites include Iskender Kul, a large alpine lake at 2195 m (7200 ft) north of the capital Dushanbe in the Fann mountain range. Farther afield the Pamirs are home to Markhor, Marco Polo Sheep, Ibex, Urial Sheep and Snow Leopard which is most likely to be seen during the winter when they venture lower down.

    See Sulawesi's satellites, above.

    See Sulawesi's satellites, above.

    Tanimbar Islands
    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    Tanzania - Northern
    The greatest diversity and numbers of large mammals on Earth make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Tanzania - Southern
    Many mammals in some of the wildest places left on Earth.

    Tasmania (Southeastern Australia)
    Platypus, Koala, Tasmanian Devil, kangaroos, wombats and birds such as Plains-wanderer.

    Texas - USA
    Thousands of migrating hawks, shorebirds and small birds, especially colourful warblers, in spring.

    Photograph of Blackburnian Warbler

    A brilliant Blackburnian Warbler by David Beadle, one of many warblers possible on a good or even a bad day during the spring at High Island in Texas.

    Thailand - Northern
    Northern Thailand is different from the rest of the country. Mountain ranges support a more Himalayan avifauna and montane specialities at sites such as Doi Ang Khang, Doi Inthanon and Doi Lang include Hume’s Pheasant and Giant Nuthatch, as well as Rufous-throated Partridge, Crested Finchbill, Brown-breasted and White-headed Bulbuls, Silver-eared, White-browed and White-necked Laughingthrushes, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Spot-throated Babbler, Chestnut-fronted Shrike Babbler, Spectacled Barwing, Dark-backed Sibia, Striated Yuhina and Spot-breasted Parrotbill. There is even a chance of Black-tailed Crake, Hodgson's Frogmouth and Green Cochoa, with some of the shyest species such as Rusty-naped Pitta possible at feeding stations. Other spectacular species present include Collared Falconet, Black-headed Woodpecker, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Common Green Magpie, Slaty-bellied Tesia, White-crested Laughingthrush, Silver-eared Mesia, Himalayan Cutia and Gould's Sunbird, while in the lowlands the specialities include the rare Green Peafowl (at the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Project). December to March is the best time to visit, when resident species are joined by wintering birds from northeast Asia.

    Thailand - Southern
    White-handed Gibbon, many fabulous birds such as Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo and wintering shorebirds which include Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

    Photograph of Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo

    An extraordinary Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo in Khao Yai National Park, Southern Thailand, by Spider.

    Wild Ass, Tibetan Gazelle and birds like Tibetan Sandgrouse in phenomenal scenery.

    Timor/(Democratic Republic of) Timor-Leste
    The island of Timor is the largest and geographically most ancient of the Lesser Sundas islands of eastern Indonesia although the lowland forests and scrub resemble northern Australia which is not far away to the south. There are more endemic birds on this island than any other in the Lesser Sundas and they include such striking species as Banded (or Black-backed) Fruit-Dove, White-bellied Chat, Orange-banded Thrush, Timor Stubtail, Black-banded and Timor Blue Flycatchers, Flame-breasted Sunbird and Tricoloured Parrotfinch. It is usually possible to see these birds, all but 2-3 of the island's endemics or near-endemic birds actually, in West Timor (Indonesia) but Timor (Pheasant) Coucal is endemic to East Timor, Timor Green Pigeon is much more likely to be seen in the east because it is so heavily hunted in the west, and Iris Lorikeet is tricky to see in the west but easier in the east where there is less hunting. The lorikeet occurs in the hills above the capital Dili along with Olive-headed Lorikeet, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Timor Imperial Pigeon, Timor Stubtail, Buff-banded Bushbird (Thicket Warbler), Yellow-eared Honeyeater, Black-chested Myzomela, Spot-breasted Dark-eye, Mountain White-eye and Blood-breasted Flowerpecker. Nino Konis Santana National Park at the far eastern end of the island is the place for Timor Green Pigeon and Timor Coucal, as well as Yellow-crested Cockatoo (the park probably supports the largest remaining population of this critically endangered bird), Timor Black Pigeon, ‘Timor’ (Large-tailed) Nightjar, Timor Boobook, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Black-banded and Timor Blue Flycatchers, Timor Stubtail, ‘Timor’ Drongo, Timor Oriole, Timor Figbird and Flame-breasted Sunbird. Water bodies such as Lake Iralalaro support many Australasian species such as Australasian Darter, Pied Heron and Rainbow Bee-eater, as well as Saltwater Crocodiles.

    Togian (Togean) Islands
    See Sulawesi's satellites, above.

    Tonga is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to swim with Humpback Whales. Several operators run carefully organized tours within the Vava'u Islands when the whales are usually present from mid-July to late October, during the dry season. The endemic bird Tongan Whistler occurs only in the same island group, on A'a, 'Euakafa, Kapa, Pangaimotu, ‘Utungake and 'Uta Vava'u, as well as on the island of Late in northern Tonga. To see the other endemic bird, Tongan Megapode, it is necessary to fly to the northernmost island of all, Nuiafo'ou, where the birds can be seen at communal nesting grounds. Neither of the two endemic birds occur on the main island, Tongatapu, but birds such as Many-coloured Fruit Dove, Wattled Honeyeater, Polynesian Triller and Polynesian Starling can be seen in and near the capital Nuku'alofa. From the main island it is possible to travel by ferry to the island of 'Eua where seabirds such as White-tailed Tropicbirds, White Terns and Grey Noddies nest. The best time to look for birds is July to September.

    Trinidad and Tobago
    Nesting turtles and some fine birds, not least Scarlet Ibis and Oilbird.

    Photograph of Ruby Topaz

    A male Ruby Topaz hummingbird on the island of Trinidad by Steve Garvie.

    The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel and all but essential travel to parts of Tunisia, mainly in the west and far south, and state that there is a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Furthermore, a state of emergency was still in effect in the country in March 2018, imposed after a suicide attack on a police bus on 24 November 2015. Since the terrorist attack in Sousse in June 2015, which targeted tourists, the Tunisian government has improved protective security in major cities and tourist resorts but terrorists are still very likely to try to carry out attacks. Tunisia is though one of Africa’s most wealthy and developed countries and one with a wide range of habitats despite being only about 800 km from north to south and 300 km from west to east, with coastal wetlands, vast olive groves, central steppes and mountains, and Sahara Desert, in a climate which is hot and dry from May to September but rather cold and wet from November to March the best month to visit to search for species such as Yelkouan (Balearic) Shearwater (Cap Bon), Barbary Partridge, Marbled and White-headed Ducks, Greater Flamingos (two thirds of the Mediterranean population winters in Tunisia, mainly in the Gulf of Gabes), Long-legged Buzzard, Barbary Falcon, Eurasian Dotterel (wintering in Jebil NP), Cream-coloured Courser, Audouin’s Gull (Cap Bon), Black-bellied, Crowned, Pin-tailed and Spotted Sandgrouse, Egyptian and Red-necked Nightjars, Levaillant’s (Green) Woodpecker, Bar-tailed, Greater Hoopoe, Temminck’s and Thick-billed Larks, Black-crowned Tchagra, Moussier’s Redstart, Black, White-crowned Black and Red-rumped Wheatears, African Desert, Spectacled and Tristram’s Warblers, Fulvous Babbler, Spotless Starling and Desert Sparrow (Jebil NP). Endangered North African mammals include Addax, Scimitar-horned Oryx, Dama and Dorcas Gazelle, and the hamster-like Gundi, all of which occur in Bou Hedma NP.

    Some of the most exciting birding in the Western Palearctic, but Turkey is a huge country and to see all of its best birds it would be necessary to travel hundreds of miles, so most visitors opt to cover certain areas. The Bosphorus, especially in September, is a great place to watch the visible migration of tens of thousands of raptors including Lesser Spotted Eagles and Levant Sparrowhawks, along with huge numbers of White Storks and some Black Storks, on their way from Eurasia to Africa. The narrow strait between Europe and Asia is also regularly traversed by Yelkouan (Balearic) Shearwaters. In southwest (as well as southern and eastern) Turkey it is possible to see the likes of Dalmatian Pelican (Lake Karine near Bafa), Spur-winged Plover, Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfisher (scarce in the Dalyan Delta), Finsch’s Wheatear (Pamukkale area), White-throated Robin, Olive-tree (Pamukkale area), (Eastern) Orphean and Ruppell's Warblers, Sombre Tit, Kruper's and Rock Nuthatches, Masked Shrike, Black-headed, Cinereous (Pamukkale area) and Cretzschmar's Buntings, and Red-fronted Serin (Gulubeli Pass, east of Dalaman). The south coast is famous for the (Western) Brown Fish Owls at Oymapinar Barrage/Reservoir near Antalya and the chance of seeing the very elusive 'Lilford's' White-backed Woodpeckers at Akseki. East from there is where most of the regionally-endemic (or breeding-endemic) Western Palearctic specialities are though, including Caspian Snowcock, Radde's Accentor and (Asian) Crimson-winged Finch at Mount Demirkazik (along with Wild Goat (Bezoar Ibex) and Asia Minor Souslik). Caspian Snowcock and Caucasian Grouse occur in the far northeast near Sivrikaya and to the south it is possible to see Grey-necked Bunting and Mongolian Finch at Dogubeyazit.

    In April 2017 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office continued to advise against all travel farther southeast, specifically to within 10 km of the border with Syria and to the city of Diyarbakir, and against all but essential travel to the remaining areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Kilis and Hatay provinces, as well as Siirt, Tunceli and Hakkari. This region includes the Birecik area, a well-known birding hotspot where Pygmy Cormorant, See-see Partridge, Pallid (Striated) Scops Owl, Pied Kingfisher, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Menetries's Warbler, Iraq Babbler, Desert Finch, and Dead Sea, Pale Rock and Yellow-throated Sparrows occur (along with a feral colony of Northern Bald Ibises), with Red-wattled Lapwing near Batman to the east. The best time to look for most birds in Turkey is May.

    Photograph of White-throated Robin

    A singing male White-throated Robin at Seki in Turkey by Michael McKee.

    This country of mainly black sand desert east of the Caspian Sea between Kazakhstan to the north and Afghanistan and Iran to the south, supports Pander’s (Turkestan) Ground Jay and Zarudnyi’s (Desert) Sparrow (both in the Turkmenabat region), as well as Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Lammergeier, Macqueen’s Bustard, White-tailed Lapwing, Black-winged Pratincole, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, Pallid Scops Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-winged Woodpecker, Pied Bushchat, Finsch’s, Red-tailed and Variable Wheatears, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Asian Desert, Ménétries’s, Plain Leaf and Sykes’s Warblers, Cinereous Tit, Black-headed and White-crowned Penduline Tits, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Steppe Grey Shrike, Bimaculated Lark, Radde’s Accentor, Rosy Starling, Saxual Sparrow, Pale Rockfinch, White-winged Grosbeak, and Grey-necked and Red-headed Buntings. May is a good time for birds and some of the best sites are the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert, the Amu-Darya, Murgab and Tejen river valleys, the Kopet Dag ('Many Mountains'), and the Kugitang Mountains in the Tien Shan.


    Gorilla, Chimpanzee and many birds including Shoebill make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Demoiselle Crane, Saker, Great Bustard and Great Black-headed Gull.

    United Arab Emirates
    A midwinter trip to the city parks, dairy farms, fodder fields, deserts, rocky mountain ridges, coastal mudflats and beaches of this safe, accessible Middle Eastern country offers a fine selection of birds that includes Arabian and Sand Partridges, Socotra Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, Crested Honey Buzzard, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Grey-headed Swamphen, White-tailed Lapwing, Crab Plover, Cream-coloured Courser, Great Knot, Great Black-headed (Pallas's) and Sooty Gulls, Chestnut-bellied and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses, Pallid (Striated) Scops Owl, Desert (Pharoah) Eagle Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, ('Arabian' kalbaensis) Collared Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Bar-tailed, Bimaculated and Greater Hoopoe Larks, Oriental Skylark, Pale Crag Martin, Hooded, Hume’s, Red-tailed (Persian) and Variable Wheatears, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Plain Leaf Warbler, Arabian Babbler, Long-billed Pipit and Striolated Bunting with a chance of Grey Hypocolius. During the 'summer', mainly April to August, Persian Shearwater, and Bridled, Saunders's and White-cheeked Terns may be seen.

    This country’s coastal wetlands, grasslands and forested low mountains support a wide range of birds, the rarest in global terms being Greater Rhea, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Black-and-white Monjita, Chestnut, Dark-throated, Entre Rios and Marsh Seedeaters, Yellow Cardinal, Pampas Meadowlark and Saffron-cowled Blackbird although the wider list includes Spotted Nothura, Great Grebe, Black-necked and Coscoroba Swans, Chilean Flamingo, Maguari Stork, Southern Screamer, Cinereous and Long-winged Harriers, Red-legged Seriema, Giant Wood Rail, Wattled Jacana, Snowy-crowned Tern, Nacunda Nighthawk, Guira Cuckoo, Glittering-bellied Emerald, White-throated Hummingbird, Gilded Sapphire, White and White-spotted Woodpeckers, Sulphur-bearded Spinetail, Firewood-gatherer, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Spectacled Tyrant, White Monjita, Chestnut-backed and Diademed Tanagers, Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, Black-and-rufous Warbling Finch, Long-tailed Reed Finch and Scarlet-headed Blackbird, many of which can be seen within a day or two of the capital Montevideo along the coast of the Rio de la Plata and Atlantic, especially at Laguna de Rocha which has the highest known wintering population of Buff-breasted Sandpipers in South America, and the far eastern coastal strip and wetlands in a Ramsar Site known as Banados del Este where Black-and‐white Monjita, Yellow Cardinal, Saffron-¬cowled Blackbird and several species of seedeater occur. Lying south of the equator the best time to visit is probably during October-November;the southern spring. Most rain usually falls during the autumn and winter.

    USA - Alaska
    Grizzly Bear, Beluga, Moose and millions of seabirds on the Pribilof Islands.

    Photograph of Tufted Puffins

    Tufted Puffins are easy to see on the Pribilof Islands of Alaska. Image by Simon Colenutt.

    USA - Alaska - Southeast
    A chance to see Humpback Whales bubble-net feeding, as well as Grizzly and Black Bears.

    USA - Arizona - Southeast
    A greater variety of breeding birds than any other area of comparable size in the United States including Coppery-tailed (Elegant) Trogon.

    USA - Arkansas
    See Arkansas, above.

    USA - Bosque del Apache, New Mexico
    Tens of thousands of Snow Geese and thousands of Sandhill Cranes wintering.

    USA - California (Northern)
    The tallest, largest and oldest trees in the world, Humpback and possibly Blue Whales, and Yosemite.

    USA - California (Southern)
    See California (Southern), above.

    Photograph of Gambel's Quail

    Gambel's Quail at Grand Junction, Colorado, by Nigel Voaden. This great bird can be seen in the desert scrublands of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northwestern Mexico.

    USA - Cape May, New Jersey
    See Cape May, above.

    USA - Colorado
    Seven species of displaying grouse in spring, plus Elk, Bighorn Sheep and Pronghorn.

    USA - Florida
    West Indian Manatee, waterbirds, Swallow-tailed and Snail Kites, and the endemic Florida Scrub Jay.

    USA - Hawaii
    Humpback Whale, Manta Ray, Bristle-thighed Curlew, seabirds and the endemic honeycreeper family.

    USA - Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania
    See Pennsylvania, above.

    USA - Idaho
    See Idaho, above.

    USA - Louisiana
    See Louisiana, above.

    USA - Maine
    See Maine, above.

    USA - Massachusetts
    Humpback Whales and seabirds during the summer.

    USA - Michigan
    See Michigan, above.

    Photograph of Black-capped Petrel

    A superb Black-capped Petrel about thirty miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, by David Beadle.

    USA - Minnesota
    See Minnesota, above.

    USA - Missouri
    See Missouri, above.

    USA - Montana
    See Montana, above.

    USA - North Carolina
    See North Carolina, above.

    USA - North Dakota
    See North Dakota, above.

    USA - Ohio
    See Ohio, above.

    USA - Oregon
    See Oregon, above.

    USA - Pennsylvania
    See Pennsylvania, above.

    USA - Platte River, Nebraska
    A resting and refuelling place for half a million migrating Sandhill Cranes during March.

    USA - Texas
    Thousands of migrating hawks, shorebirds and small birds, especially colourful warblers, in spring.

    Photograph of Hudsonian Godwit

    The numerous shorebirds migrating through Texas during the spring include Hudsonian Godwits, some of them in summer breeding plumage like this male by Michael McKee.

    USA - Virginia & West Virginia
    See Virginia & West Virginia, below.

    USA - Washington
    See Washington, below.

    USA - Wyoming (Yellowstone)
    Wolf, Grizzly Bears, Bison, Moose and geothermal phenomena such as geysers like Old Faithful.

    The desert, steppe, many Mulberry trees (used to feed silkworms and produce silk on the ‘Silk Road’), mountain meadows and slopes covered in junipers and coniferous forests below the snow-capped peaks of Uzbekistan support Pander’s (Turkestan) Ground Jay (in the Kyzyl-Kum Desert), as well as Marbled Duck, Macqueen’s Bustard, White-tailed Lapwing, Little (Hutton’s) Owl, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-winged Woodpecker, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Pied Bushchat, White-throated Robin, Blue-capped Redstart, Finsch’s and Variable Wheatears, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Asian Desert, Ménétries’s, Moustached, Sulphur-bellied, Sykes’s and Upcher’s Warblers, Black-breasted, Rufous-naped, Turkestan and Yellow-breasted (Azure) Tits, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Steppe Grey Shrike, Hume’s Lark, Desert Finch, and Red-headed and White-capped Buntings. Good birding areas include the Chatkal range of mountains (outliers of the Tien Shan near of the capital Tashkent), the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and wetlands around Bukhara. Mid-May is the peak time to look for birds.


    Photograph of Buff-bellied Monarch

    The Buff-bellied Monarch, endemic to Vanuatu, looks much better than it sounds as this superb image by Dubi Shapiro illustrates.

    The island of Efate is the gateway to Vanuatu but the island where all of the endemic bird species occur is Espiritu Santo. There are at least ten endemics but only five are relatively easy to see; Vanuatu Megapode/Scrubfowl (especially at Palikulo Point but also in Loru Conservation Area), Tanna Fruit Dove, Chestnut-bellied Kingfisher (a difficult forest skulker), Buff-bellied Monarch (a hyperactive forest skulker and sole member of its genus) and Yellow-fronted (Vanuatu) White-eye, all of which occur in the lowland forests along with the likes of Mackinlay's Cuckoo Dove, Red-bellied Fruit Dove, Pacific Imperial Pigeon, the juliae subspecies of Collared Kingfisher, Cardinal Myzomela, Long-tailed Triller, Melanesian (Golden) Whistler and Southern Shrikebill. At the slightly higher elevation reached via the Butmas Track the endemic Baker's Imperial Pigeon and Vanuatu Honeyeater become possible, but visitors must mount a mini-expedition with porters and camping equipment to much higher forest to try and see the endemic Santo (Guadalcanal) Thicketbird, as well as Palm Lorikeet, Santa Cruz Ground Dove and Rusty-winged Starling, all of which occur only in Vanuatu and the Santa Cruz Islands of the Solomon Islands. The other endemics are Mountain (Santo) Starling which is confined to the highest forests of Espiritu Santo and Royal (Red-headed) Parrotfinch which is rare and/or nomadic on Santo but apparently more numerous on the islands of Emae and Tongoa. Two other rare birds are Magnificent (Collared) and Vanuatu (White-necked) Petrels, although it is possible to see both at sea around Mota Lava and Vanua Lava in the Banks Islands. The coral reefs around the low-lying Maskelyne Islands are some of the best for scuba-diving and snorkelling and Mt Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna Island, is yet another natural wonder. The best time to look for the endemic birds is July to September.

    Venezuela - Eastern (Rio Grande-Escalera)
    Harpy Eagle, many cotingas including Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, and Angel Falls.

    Venezuela - Western (Llanos)
    Many spectacular birds, some in the amazing Llanos wetlands, not least Scarlet Macaw.

    Veracruz - Mexico
    The best raptor migration in the world, with 4-6 million birds each autumn/fall.

    Some of the world's most beautiful primates, including Buff-cheeked Gibbon, and endemic birds.

    Photograph of Bar-bellied Pitta

    The best place in the world to see the beautiful Bar-bellied Pitta is Vietnam, where this image was taken by Lars Petersson.

    Virginia & West Virginia - USA
    Possibly the greatest range of breeding warblers for such a small area of North America occurs from the rolling Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia across the Shenandoah Valley to the Allegheny and Cheat Mountains of West Virginia. At the end of May and early June the forested mountains resound with the songs of over 25 species of warbler including Blackburnian, Canada, Cerulean (especially in the oak woods of the Blue Ridge, Virginia), Chestnut-sided, Kentucky, Magnolia, Mourning, Prothonotary and Yellow-throated.


    This west coast state supports an impressive range of birds, whether it is the second half of May, the peak spring period when songbirds are singing and in spring plumage or the first two weeks of September when huge numbers of seabirds, shorebirds and songbirds are passing through on southward migration. The list includes Harlequin Duck, Bald Eagle, White-tailed Ptarmigan (Mount Rainier NP, along Skyline Trail near Panorama Point above Paradise, and along Mt Fremont Lookout Trail above Sunrise), Sandhill Crane, Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds (these, as well as Cassin's Finch, and Black-headed and Evening Grosbeaks, are attracted to the feeders at Mt Adams Lodge), Tufted Puffin (on Protection Island NWR, accessible via two-hour boat trips from Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula), lots of woodpeckers, Clark's Nutcracker, Varied Thrush, Mountain Bluebird, Lazuli Bunting and Grey-crowned Rosy Finch (Mt Fremont Lookout Trail above Sunrise in Mount Rainier NP). Mammals include Killer Whale (the waters around the San Juan Islands, accessible from Port Townsend, are some of the best in the world for this species), Black Bear, Elk and various chipmunks and ground-squirrels. During September Washington is not only a great place for rare shorebirds in North America it is where a wide range of seabirds gather offshore and on full-day pelagic trips out of Westport Harbor it is possible to see lots of Black-footed Albatrosses, as well as Buller’s and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Fork-tailed Storm Petrel and South Polar Skua. In addition, Laysan Albatross, Flesh-footed Shearwater and Tufted Puffin are seen on some trips and rarities have included the likes of Murphy’s Petrel.

    Photograph of Harlequin Duck

    The beautifully patterned and coloured Harlequin Duck is widespread across northwestern North America, as far south as Washington and Oregon where they usually spend the summers inland and the winters along the Pacific coast. This superb image was taken by Simon Colenutt in Alaska.

    Western Pacific Odyssey
    An incredible selection of seabirds including Short-tailed Albatross and New Zealand Storm Petrel.

    Western Sahara
    In this part of northwest Africa currently administered by Morocco it is possible to see a few birds which are difficult or impossible to see elsewhere in the Western Palearctic and a few mammals which are difficult or impossible to see anywhere else in the world. The main town Dakhla is accessible by air or road (over 1200 km south of Agadir) from Morocco. Birds in the huge Dakhla Bay include Royal Tern and a few Atlantic Humpback Dolphins survive in this bay. Inland, alongside the Dakhla-Aousserd Road it is possible to see Golden Nightjar (Oued Jenna) and Cricket Longtail (Oued Jenna), as well as Crowned and Spotted Sandgrouse, Dunn's Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Fulvous Babbler, African Desert Warbler and Desert Sparrow, and possibly Pharoah Eagle Owl and Sudan Golden Sparrow (especially at Oued Jenna). The numbers of birds in the often windy desert seems to depend on winter rainfall, with the highest numbers usually after plenty of rain. Mammals present alongside the same road include African Wild and Sand Cats, Golden Jackal, Fennec and Ruppell's Foxes, (Saharan) Striped Polecat, Desert Hedgehog and Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, all of which are most likely to be seen while spotlighting at night. The best time to visit is March to September.

    West Papua - Indonesia
    Fantastic birds-of-paradise including Wilson's, and the richest coral reefs in the world!

    Photograph of Victoria Crowned Pigeons

    New Guinea is not all about birds-of-paradise. The numerous other spectacular endemics include three species of huge crowned-pigeons including Victoria Crowned-Pigeon which inhabits the northern lowlands where this fantastic image was captured by Nigel Voaden at Nimbokrang in West Papua.

    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    Wyoming (Yellowstone) - USA
    Wolf, Grizzly Bears, Bison, Moose and geothermal phenomena such as geysers like Old Faithful.


    See Micronesia, above.

    Yellowstone (Wyoming) - USA
    Wolf, Grizzly Bears, Bison, Moose and geothermal phenomena such as geysers like Old Faithful.

    Yukon - Canada
    The Yukon is where Canada’s highest mountains are, as well as the largest non-polar icefields on Earth. There are not so many birds but the boreal forest and tundra alongside the 350-mile-long gravel road known as the Dempster Highway between Dawson City and Inuvik at 68°N 120 miles inside the Arctic Circle support Gyr Falcon, Long-tailed Skua, (Northern) Hawk Owl, Northern Wheatear, Smith’s Longspur and Grey-crowned Rosy Finch, as well as Black and Grizzly Bears, and Moose. The best time to be there is late May-early June.

    Yunnan - China
    Black-crested Gibbon, Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey and lots of superb birds and flowers.


    Many mammals, millions of bats and some great birds and Victoria Falls!

    Zimbabwe is one of the few places where it is possible to see African Pitta; in riverine thickets near Masoka Camp in the Lower Zambezi Valley from mid-November to mid-December/early January, along with African Crake, Lilian’s Lovebird, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Bohm’s Spinetail, Eastern Nicator, Livingstone’s Flycatcher and Arnott’s Chat. To the south, the wetlands around the capital Harare can be great for crakes and flufftails in January-February if there has been enough rain, including Streaky-breasted Flufftail and Striped Crake. There are some good stretches of Miombo woodland nearby where specialities include Miombo Rock Thrush, Boulder Chat and African Spotted Creeper. East of the Harare, remnant patches of montane evergreen forest amongst extensive banana, tea and tobacco plantations on the Vumba (Bvumba) Mountains support three near-endemics; Swynnerton’s Robin, Chirinda Apalis and Roberts’s Warbler (Prinia), as well as Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Livingstone’s and Purple-crested Turacos, Orange Ground Thrush, Barratt’s Warbler, Black-fronted and Olive Bush Shrikes, Blue Swallow (Oct-Mar), Red-faced Crimsonwing, Red-throated Twinspot and Grey Waxbill, while more rarely seen species include Buff-spotted and Striped Flufftails. The eastern lowlands support the rare and localized Zambezi (Green) Indigobird. To the south is Matobo National Park where the high concentration of raptors includes the highest density of Verreaux’s Eagle in the world and other birds include Freckled Nightjar and Boulder Chat. In the far west Hwange National Park supports Three-banded Courser, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Racket-tailed Roller, Bradfield’s Hornbill and Crimson-breasted Shrike, and a good variety of mammals such as Wild Dog, Black Rhino, Elephant, Giraffe, Kudu and Sable. Not far from there is the famous Victoria Falls. Another good place for African mammals is Mana Pools NP where Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Elephant, Buffalo and Hippo may be seen.