Winter birding anywhere in the world has its own special charms. At a time of year when plant life is going through its annual dormant period in the north and rains are replenishing drier areas in the south, bird life continues but is often much easier to observe. Snowy landscapes bring out the beautiful plumage colours of many resident birds. And summer barrenness comes to life when rain falls on dry plains. Winter weather also attracts in flocks of migrants...
Winter birding anywhere in the world has its own special charms.
At a time of year when plant life is going through its annual dormant period in the north and rains are replenishing drier areas in the south, bird life continues but is often much easier to observe. Snowy landscapes bring out the beautiful plumage colours of many resident birds. And summer barrenness comes to life when rain falls on dry plains.
Winter weather also attracts in flocks of migrants to many areas, as well as the occasional rarity, bringing a whole new dimension to traditional summer birding locations, even if they are most familiar.
In northern countries, when the leaves are off the trees, you have a much greater chance of getting good views of winter birds going about their daily lives. When crops have been harvested, winter birding in stubble fields can be very rewarding. The final spilled seeds and remaining tops of crops such as sugar beet are welcome sustenance for hungry birds in chilly weather.
Colder temperatures change birds’ habits, too, and many species can be seen gathering in much greater numbers for protection and warmth. The thrilling sight of a Starling murmuration on a winter birding trip is surely hard to top. And the huge gatherings of European Cranes in their winter roosts are a birding experience not to be missed.
Winter is also a great time for avian movement, as birds migrate to warmer climes or gather for richer pickings in more fertile areas. Enormous numbers of raptor species stream across southern Spain and Portugal, for instance, and Bewick’s and Whooper Swans navigate impressive distances across northern Europe to relocate until the spring.
In southern regions, such as Australia and New Zealand, winter birding takes place between June and September when the cooler weather invites birds to appear out in the open more often.
The ‘green season’ in Africa can also be a rewarding time to go birdwatching as the rains wash the countryside clean of dust and gentler light gives good photo opportunities. Temperatures are also much more pleasant for being in the outdoors for extended periods of time, lengthening your chances of spotting that desirable but elusive species.
This time of year also tends to be less crowded with visitors so you can have more peace and quiet for your birding, even in the most popular tourist spots.
All in all, a winter birding trip is something every keen birdwatcher should consider and the tours listed below offer just such a memorable holiday with knowledgeable local guides to ensure you have the best experience.
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