If you fancy going a little further afield than your nearest beach to observe our feathered friends, here are one or two locations to consider for truly awesome birding, all year round. Dust off that passport and go!
U.S.A. – FLORIDA
THE EVERGLADES/NAPLES AND MARCO ISLAND AREAS
TIGERTAIL BEACH PARK
This is just one of the amazing places to go birding at the beach, with its lush white sands and fabulous sunsets.
AUDUBON CORKSCREW SANCTUARY
Not far away is this managed wilderness, with a walkway through all the pinelands, the world’s largest virgin bald cypress forest and wet prairies. There, you can wander around the various types of songbirds and wading birds and more, which include, but are not limited to bald eagles, wood storks, raptors and err… ducks, to name but a few. Oh, and lest we forget…. yellow-bellied sap suckers…
NEWPORT BAY CONSERVANCY – (UPPER NEWPORT BAY)
Up to 30,000 birds a day can be seen here, including the California least tern, Ridgway’s rail, Beldings savannah sparrow, the Least Bell’s vireo (all endangered species) and nesting ospreys.
Newport Beach area can provide both seaside and nature trails for ardent birders who want both, out of a vacation.
Virginia Beach is home to top class beaches, and excellent sands for walking, picnicking, bathing and just idling. With so many sea birds gliding overhead, birding is a popular activity too. Sea birds are obviously top of the bill for spotting here. Some of the most obvious ones include pelicans (including brown ones) sanderlings, sea hawks, ospreys, boat tailed grackles, and a whole litany of terns (including royal and sandwich varieties).
Other than that, there are also mockingbirds, house finches, and swallows to look for.
While you’re in the region, here are some of the parks to check out.
- FIRST LANDING STATE PARK
- FALSE CAPE STATE PARK
- GREAT DISMAL SWAMP NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
- CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE TUNNEL
- BACK BAY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Just recently some of the species that have been sighted here include – willets, ring billed gulls, northern mockingbirds, black scoters, common loons, Carolina wrens, and black bellied plovers. These were sighted recently, just in the last few days (at the time of writing).
If you only pick one place in the United Kingdom to bird watch, then Titchwell in Norfolk is it!
Managed by the RSPB, this is a must see for birders.
This is where you can see avocets, black tail godwits, spoonbills, gannets, kittiwakes, red shanks, various ducks, geese, gulls, terns, marsh harriers, bearded tits, bitterns, and all types of wading birds.
Obviously, much will depend on which season you choose to visit. The winter brings the ducks, such as Eurasian wigeons and teals, mallards, goldeneyes and velvet scoters. Just for starters!
With its sandy beaches and lagoons, there is something for everyone, and you can even bring your dog – limited areas only though. Unlike some places on our list, this is accessible to wheelchair users, and comes equipped with a visitor’s center, which is open all year round, with a small charge for entry. Dogs must be kept on a lead.
DUNGENESS AND ROMNEY MARSH
Further down south, in the English county of Kent, is Romney Marsh. With its shingle beaches, sand dunes, saltmarshes, saline lagoons, and sand flats, this is a great place, to not only explore the local beaches, but also see a whole load of birds. These include farmland species such as: corn buntings, turtle doves, yellow wagtails, lapwings, linnets, grey partridges, and yellow hammers.
Unfortunately though, if you want to walk your dog on four of the beaches that make up the Romney Marshes, you will have to wait until the fall.
Depending on where you are in the world to begin with, Africa may be closer than, say the Caribbean, to experience some unbelievable birding. For European travellers, this may only be a few hours away by plane, and therefore, slightly more accessible.
Kotu is a highly popular area with holidaymakers, and situated right on the coast of the Gambia River. As well as formidable beach life, Kotu has the added advantage for birders of the Kotu Stream, in which over a hundred bird species can be seen, including kingfishers, birds of prey, various waders and whistling ducks!
As for beaches, take your pick! Kombo beach and Bungalow beach are only two of many.
State provided bird guides are on hand to help you in your quest to find as many species as possible, and learn about the area.
However, Kotu is far from the only place on the Gambia River, to see birds at the beach…
TANJI BIRD RESERVE
We couldn’t talk about the Gambia and not mention Tanji Bird Reserve, down the coast from Kotu.
This is a government protected conservation area. Because of the good mix of terrains, coastal woodlands, shorelines, and big grassy plains, it has become a pilgrimage for birds.
Feast your eyes upon species such as the African golden oriole, caspians, Vieillot’s barbet, the rare Audoin’s gull, sanderlings, whimbrels, plovers, ruddy turnstones, northern crombecs, double-spurred francolins, northern black flycatcher, grey and red-billed hornbills, various terns, and variable sunbirds.
For more information about the Gambia, check these out,
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Tobago has it all for the serious bird watcher. There’s wetlands, mangrove swamps, mud flats, rainforests, mountains and of course, lots and lots of coast and beaches. If you are on holiday with a non birder, there will be plenty of lush beaches to keep them happy, while you explore further.
The island of Little Tobago, in particular, is a mecca for birders, and is known as Bird of Paradise Island.
In the eighteenth century, this used to be a cotton plantation, but now, it is home to many diverse species such as: brown boobies, magnificent frigate birds, shearwaters, red-billed tropic birds, sooty terns, and laughing gulls.
Of course this is not the only part of the Caribbean to experience birding heaven, but it might be a good first port-of-call for the intrepid birder on their first foreign adventure. More than 430 bird species have been officially recorded, as being present on these islands, although the true figure may be nearer to 500.
When you’re not birding, it is also an excellent place for other beach themed delights, including diving, and just chilling in the beauty of the beach!