Top 10 Bird Watching Vacations in Europe
From the high peaks of the Pyrenees in France to the warm archipelago of Greece and the forests of Bulgaria there is birdlife to explore in each region of Europe. Enjoy the nesting seabirds of the Scotland Islands, the Greater Flamingo’s of the Rhone delta or the Arctic nature of the Faroe Islands.
Orkney Islands, Scotland
This archipelago is particularly fertile and has an amazing number of birds. Get out your book and count off guillemot, razorbill, puffin, kittiwake, breeding fowl and the short-eared owl.
Camargue is a 210,000-acre national park in the vast Rhone delta, and teems with shorebirds, herons and gulls. It is also a major breeding area for the Greater Flamingo and a vital rest and refueling stop for millions of migrating birds.
Faroe Islands, Denmark
Birdlife is abundant on these 18 islands lying halfway between Iceland and Norway. Walk and sail among thousands of birds like puffins, guillemots, great skuas, oystercatchers and storm petrels. There are also quaint fishing villages enriched by Norse heritage to explore, rugged coastlines to walk and marine animals to watch for.
Yell, Shetland Isles
Remote and barely habited, this island is a perfect place for bird watching. It’s a haven for nesting seabirds on the cliffs and waders on the moorland that breed here in summer. Actually there are 4000 acres of moorland and you might see curlew, whimbrel, plover, dunlin, great skuas and merlin. Yell Sound and Bluemull Sound are busy flyways for seabirds such as black guillemots, common guillemots, razorbills, shags, kittiwake, puffins and arctic terns. Take a coastal walk by the bays and sandy beaches to watch for birdlife, otters, gray seals and porpoise.
Come for some high latitude birding in this land of shining fjords, glaciers and abundant natural beauty that also brims with bird life. It is home to towering cliffs that house seabird colonies such as Atlantic puffin, black guillemot and razorbill. There are enormous populations of waterfowl around Myvatn and plenty of arctic species. Keep an eye out for the national bird Gyrfalcon that is widespread in the north.
A great location for birdwatching, particularly in Spring as a nesting ground. In autumn migrating Asian birds pass here. But there’s plenty to see here year round thanks to the diverse ecology and more eco friendly farming than in Western Europe. The richest concentrations of birdlife are in the Rhodope Mountains, along the Black Coast and the floodplain of the River Danube.
Pembrokeshire is an absolute delight for birdwatching. It’s sparsely populated and almost surrounded by the ocean, providing a refuge for all kinds of wildlife. There are several island bird sanctuaries. There are sea cliffs, moorland, pastures and ancient woods to explore plus the island of Skomer, where puffins, razorbills, guillemots and other seabirds dwell.
The riot of islands, mountains and rugged coastlines of Greece have created diverse and alluring bird sites. In fact there are 196 important bird areas including freshwater lakes, coastal lagoons and the archipelago of more than 2000 islands are home to nesting seabirds and Eleonora’s Falcons. Some birds also stay the winter in Greece, a unique phenomena in Europe.
Surprisingly these brooding mountains that form a towering wall between France and Spain, are one of Europe’s great birding destinations. Combine the first rate birding with walks amid stunning scenery. Watch out for the endangered lammergeier, the elusive wallcreeper, short-toed eagle, European honey-buzzard, yellow-billed choughab and many others.
Spitsbergen, Svalbard Norway
Spitsbergen is the largest of Norway’s Arctic islands in the Svalbard archipelago and is a pristine wilderness area. Birdwatching is an amazing experience here surrounded by mountains, ice caps, glaciers and tundra. Abundant seabird colonies and species such as the ghostly ivory gull, barnacle geese, gray phalaropes, purple sandpipers and red-throated divers call this home.