This article is dedicated to the twitcher, aka bird watcher looking to collect sightings of rare birds. It would be a bit of a stretch for me to call bird watching a hobby of mine, but I have to admit, I'm fascinated by a number of bird species.
Eagles - absolutely love them. I think they are the most beautiful creature on earth. Most hawks are a close second. Penguins - with Antarctica being #1 on my own bucket list, penguins are just naturally part of this experience. Yes, I know they "stink", but what would seeing Antarctica be like without penguins? Blue footed boobies, kookaburras and other indigenous birds - because they make the experience in that location much more authentic and real.
Following are eight places around the world with unique bird species (some native only to these locations) that are also exceptional places to experience even without the birds!
Some 46 different bird species make Antarctica home, from albatross, cormorants and petrels to penguins including the Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo and emperor. With few people around, these penguins are not really fearful of you, and quiet observers can find themselves being approached by these curiosity seekers.
For stunning photos, include a visit to South Georgia where a half million pair of King penguins return each year to breed.
The wetlands of Kakadu National Park in Australia's Northern Territories is a bird watcher's paradise, home to 280 of Australia's 850+ species. Magpie geese, great-billed herons, comb-crested jacanas and black-necked storks are highly concentrated in this region.
The kookaburra is found in eastern Australia and Tasmania.
Just before reaching the Black Sea in Romania, the Danube forms into Europe's second largest and best preserved delta, 2200 square miles of marsh, lakes and reed islands. Europe's bird watching paradise. The area is teeming with Europe's highest concentration of bird colonies, with some 300 species calling the delta their home.
Where to start! Over 1600 species of birds are found in mainland Ecuador, in addition to those found in the Galapagos. Multiple types of woodpeckers, parakeets, doves, wrens, cuckoos and so much more. The Andean Condor, Ecuador's national bird, has a wing span up to 10 feet and is the largest flying bird in the world. Toucans and macaws are found in the more tropical parts of the country.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the world's best wildlife viewing destinations, and the variety of unique bird species is a big reason. Here you'll find blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies, flightless cormorants, a variety of frigate birds, Galapagos hawks, the short-eared owl and the Galapagos penguin.
Puffins can be found in British Columbia, Alaska, the British Isles, the Faroe Islands and Norway's arctic region, however the largest colonies are found in Iceland. If you want to see puffins though, plan accordingly, as breeding season is very short, from late May to early August. This is he only time they are actually on land.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
People visiting Kruger are generally on the hunt for the Big 5, but birdwatchers are looking for the Big 6: the southern ground hornbill, Pel's fishing owl, lappet faced vulture, the saddle-billed stork, the martial eagle and the Kori bustard.
New Zealand is known for it's unique wildlife, starting with the flightless kiwi bird, found on the North, South and Stewart Islands. Shy and nocturnal, kiwis are easier to observe in sanctuaries. The Kea parrot is found in the alpine regions of the South Island. They don't fear you, and don't let them get too close to your car. They love rubber and can cause extensive damage if your not watching out.
A number of penguins also call New Zealand home, including the world's rarest, the endangered yellow-eyed penguin, and the world's smallest, the Little Blue penguin.
The world's only mainland royal albatross nesting and breeding ground is located at the tip of the Otago Peninsula, just a short drive from Dunedin. These majestic birds are some of the largest in the world with wing spans of 9 feet plus!
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