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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Golden Oriole

    The fabulous Golden Oriole is widespread across Europe during the northern summer. It is a shy bird though and difficult to see well, let alone photograph, hence this image, taken by Steve Fletcher, is remarkable.

    EUROPE

    The destinations listed and linked below are the ones we believe are the best in Europe. 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 then please feel free to 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.

    Destinations


    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.

    A

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

    Albania
    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.

    Andorra
    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.

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

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

    B

    Balearic Islands
    See Mallorca and Menorca, below

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

    Bosnia-Herzegovina
    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.

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

    C

    Corsica
    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.

    Croatia
    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.

    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.

    Cyprus
    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.

    E

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

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

    F

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

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

    G

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

    H

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

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

    Hungary
    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.

    I

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

    (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.

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

    L

    Latvia
    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.

    Lesvos
    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.

    Lithuania
    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!

    M

    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.

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

    Mallorca
    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.

    Menorca
    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.

    (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.

    Montenegro
    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.

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

    N

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

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

    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).

    O

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

    P

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

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

    R

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

    S

    Sardinia
    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.

    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.

    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.

    Serbia
    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.

    Sicily
    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.

    Slovakia
    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
    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.

    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.

    Sweden
    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.

    Switzerland
    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.

    U

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