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Entry

Ten Bewitching Places For Twitchers

Nov 27th, 2007 09:41
jack jill, Harish Kohli, http://www.awimaway.com


There are over 10,000 species of birds in the world, including 1,000 
in Europe, 2000 in North and Central America and the Caribbean, 2,900 
in Asia, 2,300 in Africa and more than 3,200 species in the richest 
region of all, South America. 
Try as you may, you’ll never be able to see more than a tiny fraction 
of this number. But, if you are willing to go a little off the beaten 
track, the effort to see that tiny fraction will be rewarded over and 
over.
In Europe 
In Europe, the best place for birds is undoubtedly the Danube delta, 
where the river splits into numerous channels before entering the 
Black Sea. The Danube Delta Biospheres Reserve in Romania is 580,000 
hectares of pure heaven for birdwatchers and is the largest reed 
surface in the world, interrupted by lakes and channels. Here you will 
find Europe’s largest colony of pelicans, as well as herons, ibis, 
warblers, and ducks in their thousands. To see the birds at close 
range you need to get out on the water – a boat is also the only way 
to reach the Monastery of St Atanasie, where the monks live in wooden 
houses and live almost entirely off their own produce.
South of the delta is a reserve where you can see from the roadside 
thousands of water birds including 60 species of waders, terns, ducks, 
gulls, geese, cormorants, pelicans, herons and egrets. Piatra Craiului 
and Retezat mountains and the large Bicaz Gorges are large areas still 
untouched by human influence, offering spectacular birding.
On a comparatively tiny scale is the Oasi di Sant-Alessio, near Pavia, 
in northern Italy, a privileged habitat for birds, set in the grounds 
of one of the oldest castles in Europe. Covering only ten hectares, 
this spot in the Po valley counts kingfisher, stork, heron, ibis and 
cormorant among its delights. It also raises birds from endangered 
species and releases them into the wild. It is thought that nearly all 
storks in the southern Lombardy and southeaster Piedmont regions of 
Italy are direct descendants of those raised at the Oasi in the late 
1970s.
In India 
India may not be the first place you’d think of for birdwatching, 
unless you’re a dedicated old hand and you know that it has 2,060 
species of birds, in addition to its thousands of species of mammals, 
reptiles and insects. India has 11 national parks and 135 wildlife 
sanctuaries.
Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary (near Alwar, Rajasthan) is part of Project 
Tiger. Its rich avifauna includes more than 200 species of birds, 
among them the babbler (common, jungle & large grey), black-/red-
headed bunting, little brown dove, crested serpent eagle, pale harrier 
and dozens more. 
Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary (in Rajasthan, 176 km from Delhi), 
better known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, is regarded as the best bird 
marsh in the world, comprising 29 square km of marsh, woodland and 
scrub. Here you will find 330 species of both nesting indigenous and 
migratory water birds inhabiting or visiting this big, shallow lake. 
The Sanctuary is the wintering ground for about 52 of the 350 Siberian 
cranes left in the world.
Corbett (near Ramnagar, about 270 km from Delhi) is another great bird 
park, with over 600 species/subspecies of birds, more than the total 
number of bird species found in Europe. Of the 69 species of raptors 
found in India, 49 can be seen in Corbett. Bird diversity is at its 
peak in winter, when the keenest European birdwatchers visit. With 
luck and a keen eye, you may also spot rarer species such as oriental 
white-eye, jungle owlet, Himalayan swiftlet, lesser fish eagle or even 
the stork-billed kingfisher. Birds are not the end of the story here: 
the park hosts tiger, Indian elephant, chital, sambhar, muntjack 
(barking deer), hog deer and the common langur. The historic and 
heritage cities of Jaipur and Agra are near by.
In South And Central America 
Another glorious attraction for twitchers is Crooked Tree Sanctuary in 
Belize (on the west side of the Northern Highway at Mile 33), 
featuring 276 species of waterfowl, as well as Morelet’s crocodile, 
black bowler monkeys and otters and all Belize’s species of freshwater 
turtle. This mosaic of lagoons is partly surrounded by the largest 
continuous stand of logwood trees remaining in the country. Especially 
in the dry season, which peaks in April, double-crested cormorants, 
egrets, herons and various ducks can be seen. In November the jabiru 
stork, the largest bird in the Americas, may arrive to build stick 
nesting platforms and raise its young by June. Crooked Tree also hosts 
the peregrine, the world's fastest falcon, which is powerful enough to 
grab an adult coot right out of the water. The Sanctuary is open every 
day.
In The Rest Of Europe 
Extremadura in Spain is a vast area of grass- and woodland. The 
Spanish imperial eagle is endemic here and there are other raptors 
galore, including black, griffon and Egyptian vultures.
Isle of Mull, Scotland, is an ideal place for viewing the white-tailed 
sea eagle and the golden eagle, as well as colonies of puffins, 
kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and storm petrels. You are almost 
bound to see also otters, seals, dolphins and whales.
Hortobagy, a national park in Hungary, is a patchwork of marshes farms 
and fishponds, famous for its 70,000 common cranes and migratory 
geese. You may also catch sight of the rare great bustard and red-
footed falcon.
Lesbos, Greece, is the best place of all to watch the migration, 
between late April and early May, of bee-eaters, hoopoes, rollers and 
other birds flying in from Africa, pursued by impressive numbers of 
raptors. 
To find the best birdwatching holidays look for the UK-based operator 
AwimAway (020 7430 1766, www.awimaway.com) that offers experiential 
holidays including birdwatching holidays around the world, customised 
to suit your desires and your budget. 
Harish Kohli
http://www.awimaway.com
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