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Birding Attractions And Landmarks Guide
Birders are among the most flexible travelers around, always ready to pick up at a moment's notice and fly off somewhere to spot a rare species. They also love to take birding tours to places like Costa Rica, Panama, the Galapagos, Trinidad, Alaska, and Colombia, where they can take it slow and add to their life lists.
Whether you're a dedicated birder or more of a devoted backyard birdwatcher who wants to learn more, you can be sure you'll find a birding tour that's just your speed.
To a dedicated birder, nothing is so thrilling as to search for -- and find! -- a new life bird. The search will bear any kind of difficulty, from getting up at 3 am to hiking through remote mountain jungles, just for the excitement and exhilaration … along with the sense of accomplishment. Novice birders can experience this same delight, reveling in the exquisite beauty of birds seen through binoculars and beginning to learn the basics of “field marks” and the overall gestalt of a bird (casually referred to as “jizz”).
A Worldwide Activity
One of the true benefits to birdwatching – and one reason why birding is one of the fastest growing sports today – is that birds can be seen anywhere. Hence, birdwatching can be combined with all other elements of exciting travel. Join a birding tour to Bhutan and celebrate the Black Crane festival with the King! Revel in the sight of magnificent Albatrosses soaring over peaks in Kauai; or wade through African swamps in Uganda to find the prehistoric-looking Shoebill.
You can watch birds at the Parthenon, and then travel with your guide to the smaller Greek islands to immerse yourself – literally alone! – in the beauty of ancient ruins, watching whimsical Hoopoes. Birding in India includes a visit to the Taj Mahal, followed by immersion in deeply mystical forests; Svalbard and the great northern forests are fantastic places to spot birds.
Bird photography can be especially difficult; birding tour guides (and other guests) can provide beneficial assistance and give pointers for managing to photograph birds hiding in elusive dark forests or winging through the skies. In general, having a telephoto lens will be extremely helpful to see farther away finds.
If you're lucky enough to get up close, a macro lens will capture beatuiful colors and detail! Because you will be outdoors, using a Neutral Density filter or Polarizing filter can help with glare, and make sure your subject doesn't become washed out. There are techniques for particular local conditions which can be gleaned from guides but may be more difficult to figure out for yourself.
Benefits of Using a Guide
When arriving in a new area, it can be extremely difficult (and disappointing) to try to figure out the likely locale and typical timing of local birds unless you are familiar with the ecosystem. These details can make or break a birding experience, and are very hard to glean from reading travel or birding books.
It’s hard to know which birds will respond to a playback; which birds are likely to be low in the understory or perched on tops of trees; even something as particular as which side of the road they like to frequent!
A local guide knows where to look, when to look, and how to look for each bird … and if he or she suddenly hears birdsong, will know which bird has vocalized (and can quickly find the proper playback for assistance).
Benefits of a Planned Tour
Although local bird guides for most areas can be found from an internet search, there are significant advantages to signing up for a tour package, both for experienced and novice birders. The tour will provide you with a guide who speaks your language, which is instrumental in finding birds.
Imagine trying to understand “it’s hidden behind a small branch on the left side of the ebony tree” in a foreign language. Even “see where my laser is pointing?” is difficult sometimes!
This leader will also arrange for additional local guides, to serve as an extra repository of knowledge and the latest details for rare or unusual birds sighted locally – and your leader will be able to communicate with them in their language in case you can’t!
The advantage of having hotels, meals, and travel logistics arranged cannot be overemphasized … leaving you free to enjoy the birds! This is exceptionally important if you want to travel around a destination to different birding ecosystems. It is a joy to have the arrangements made for you!
Another benefit from signing up for a birding tour is the other people on the tour itself. There is great pleasure in sharing the adventure; making new friends who have a common interest and expanding your network of connections.
Each night after a day of birdwatching, the group will gather and discuss the day’s sightings, cementing your memory of each bird. Photos will be shared; anecdotes related. Even a novice’s foibles will be fondly reminisced – the camaraderie of a group of like-minded individuals can be extraordinary!
Popular Birdwatching Spots:
Manu National Park, Peru; Cape May, U.S.; Kruger National Park, South Africa; Borneo, Malaysia; Panama Canal, Panama; Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan; Veracruz & Yucatan Peninsula; Mexico, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia; and Many More