The best birdwatching spots according to Birdgirl (Dreamstime)
List Words : Mya-Rose Craig | 08 June 2019

5 of the world's top birdwatching spots, according to Birdgirl

Mya-Rose has been birdwatching since she was nine days old. At 16, she became the youngest person in the world to see 5,000 bird species. So, we can all trust her picks for best birdwatching spots...

1. Manu Road, Peru

Andean cock-of-the-rock (Dreamstime)

Andean cock-of-the-rock (Dreamstime)

From 3600m in Cusco, in the high Andes of Central Peru, you travel through several high elevation passes before descending though different altitudinal cloud forests to 600m in the Peruvian Amazon. Each elevation is inhabited by different birds.

Highland birds include the enigmatic Andean condor. A special moment for me was while staying at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, at 5000m, watching male Andean cock-of-the-rock displaying with their bright red plumage.

The feeders are brilliant for spotted, speckled, and fawn-breasted hummingbirds, with a chance of brown capuchin and woolly monkey. Manu Road ends with a boat to Amazonia Lodge for rainforest specialities.

2. The Isles of Scilly, UK

A lesser kestrel in flight (Dreamstime)

A lesser kestrel in flight (Dreamstime)

Scilly is a stunning archipelago 28 miles off the tip of Cornwall, with blue shallow sea, white sandy beaches and a Mediterranean climate perfect for autumn birding.

It is the first land mass for birds blown across in Atlantic storms, so perfectly placed for rare birds.

I came here for family birding holidays and so the isles hold many happy memories. It was St Mary’s that my parents brought me when I was just nine days old, to see a lesser kestrel from Europe.

Top tip: If you get travel to the Isles of Scilly by Scillonian boat, go below deck. The bottom section has beds, and is best in bad weather.

3. South-east Arizona, USA

A broad-tailed hummingbird (Shutterstock)

A broad-tailed hummingbird (Shutterstock)

August is the best time to see hummingbirds on feeders. They're my favourite bird family. Start in Madera Canyon, where I once saw a colourful elegant trogon, then to hummingbird feeders at Santa Rita Lodge.

At the lodge, you can spot up to 15 species including berylline, calliope and broad-tailed hummingbird. Also worth visiting are Patton’s in Patagonia for violet-crowned hummingbird, Ash Canyon B&B for the rare lucifer sheartail and Hunter Canyon for white-eared hummingbird and blue-throated mountaingem.

Visit the Chiricahua Mountains for grace’s, olive and townsend’s warbler, and the Santa Catalina Mountains for magnificent hummingbird before finishing in desert for curve-billed thrasher. It really was a hummingbird dream.

4. Aragon, Spain

A Dupont’s Lark (Dreamstime)

A Dupont’s Lark (Dreamstime)

An amazing birding destination with beautiful mountains, and many elusive species hiding beneath them. From Madrid, drive north into Aragon, for dawn Steppe birding at El Planero,  where I was lucky enough to see the very rare Dupont’s lark as well as both black-bellied and pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

Then drive north focusing on birding in the Pyrenees, where I scoured sites for a beautiful wallcreeper, which I was elated to finally find. It was also exciting to see my 5,000th bird. The right binoculars and telescope make a huge difference, I saw the wallcreeper perfectly in the dull winter’s morning light.

5. Rift Valley, Kenya

A Goliath heron in Lake Naivasha (Shutterstock)

A Goliath heron in Lake Naivasha (Shutterstock)

The Rift Valley fault runs from Jordan to Mozambique, through Kenya, providing beautiful lakes and game filled savanna. Start in Nairobi National Park for big game and bird specialities like Shelley’s francolin and cuckoo-finch.

The Great Rift Valley Lakes are spectacular vast birding scenes. At the 2,000m Lake Naivasha, look for the enormous Goliath heron. Next visit Lake Nakuru National Park for the unforgettable views of millions of lesser and greater flamingo, and game such as black and white rhino.

Move on to Lake Baringo for Hemprich’s hornbill, with its impressively huge bill. Finally, Aberdare NP for highland species like aberdare cisticola and moorland chat.

Mya-Rose Craig is a 17-year-old birder, environmentalist and an official ambassador for Leica's Sport Optics.

She was listed with George Ezra and Maisie Williams as one of Bristol's most influential young people, by the Bristol European Green Capital in 2015.

Earlier this year, age 16, she became the youngest person to see 5,000 bird species in the world, when she saw a Rock Bunting at Castillo de Loarre in Aragon, Spain.

She hopes to see half the birds of the world in Brazil this summer. More information

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