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Bird-watching holidays


Buzzards to bee-eaters
Depending on where you go, you can see a lot more than buzzards or bee-eaters. Look out for avocets, Bonelli’s eagles, curlews, egrets, flamingos, golden eagles, hoopoes, kingfishers, marsh harriers, nightingales, ospreys, purple herons, redwings, storks, terns, vultures, warblers and much more besides. Highlights from our walking and cycling holidays include…


Flocks of flamingos in Catalonia
The Ebro Delta
With such strikingly different start and finish points, what makes A Meander along the Ebro so rewarding is the sense of journey – you follow the mighty River Ebro on its final leg, cycling from rugged limestone hills into a landscape of lagoons, rice fields, salt marshes and sand dunes. You are not the only ones on a journey – the Ebro Delta is a haven for 200 migratory species of bird, as well as 95 resident species, including herons, avocets, egrets, oystercatchers and other waders. Perhaps the most impressive of all is the flamingo – a large colony of these colourful birds nests on a peninsula here.
Migrating raptors over the Atlantic Pyrenees
Red kite
Our holiday in the Basque Pyrenees promises thrilling walking and gradually changing scenery as you descend to the coast through a unique corner of France characterised by whitewashed villages and a distinctive culture and cuisine. Travel in late summer and you’ll also witness the migration of hundreds of thousands of raptors as they fly south – a fantastic sight, even for non-bird-watchers. The spectacle starts in mid-August, with black kites and honey buzzards, followed by black storks, ospreys, hobbies and marsh harriers in September, then red kites, buzzards and sparrowhawks in October.
Exotic birds in India
Bird above the Himalayan foothills
Black drongo, chestnut-bellied rock thrush, pied bushchat, spot-winged grosbeak, grey-backed shrike, spotted nutcracker, white-capped water redstart… just the names add to the exoticism of a holiday in the Himalayas. These birds are among the 100-plus species that previous customers have told us they have sighted on our Himalayan Explorer holiday, on which you walk accompanied by your own local guide, who will help you to identify the wildlife you encounter (the mammals are equally exotic – if you are lucky, you may even glimpse a leopard) and offer insights into village life.
One of Europe’s largest griffon vulture colonies in Andalucía
Griffon vultures over the Garganta Verde
Andalucía is synonymous with white towns, beaches, flamenco and sherry. Our holidays in the Grazalema Sierra west of Ronda promise plenty of the first (in which there are bars serving the latter!) combined with one of Andalucía’s lesser-known features: its diverse wildlife. As you follow the inviting paths through this surprisingly verdant sierra, you may well spot griffon vultures gliding above the jagged limestone peaks – 200 pairs nest here. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for Bonelli’s, golden, booted and short-toed eagles – as well as the 130 or so other bird species found here.
Sea birds galore on the Lofoten Islands
Hamnoy, Lofoten Islands
To explore the Lofoten archipelago is to discover a land of stark beauty, where jagged mountains rise steeply above beaches of silver sand. Amid these untamed landscapes, all the more special when bathed in the Midnight Sun, you feel very close to nature. Along the coast, the air is filled with the cries of seabirds – eider ducks, common scoters, red breasted mergansers, goosanders and marauding seagulls which like nothing more than mobbing a sea eagle in the hope that it will drop its catch. Inland, the calls of ptarmigan, curlews, bluethroats and redwings echo across the moors.
Other ideas
France's Charente Maritime is a haven for waders
In Spain, listen for nightingales in the mountains of Alicante, which are also home to eagles, hoopoes, warblers and more; join your host on a bird-watching walk on our holiday in Green Spain; and sight birds ranging from blue rock thrushes to buzzards in the Catalan Pyrenees. In France, there are seabirds and waders aplenty on our Granite Coast of Brittany walk and Brittany’s Land’s End cycle. In Sicily, the Madonie Mountains shelter peregrine falcons, jays, golden and Bonelli’s eagles, or head to Germany's Kaiserstuhl area in mid-May to see the colourful bee-eaters.