Because I get asked this a lot, here’s how to pack for a birding trip.

Places I go in the United States

South Texas

My favorite place in the United States to visit is the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. The day I’m tired of green jays is the day I need to hang up my binoculars. It’s a migratory hotspot, it gets birds coming over the border from Mexico, it has a wonderful birding community, it’s relatively inexpensive to stay there—it’s the total package for a birding getaway.

Favorite Parks:
Estero Llano Grande State Park
South Padre Island Convention Center
Birding Salineño, Texas.
Here’s an episode of Digiscoping with Clay and Sharon about Bentsen Rio Grande State Park
Favorite Place to Stay: Alamo Inn Bed and Breakfast

Florida

Florida is where the birds are chill and makes photography a breeze.

Favorite Parks:
Viera Wetlands.
Just about any gator farm rookeries

International Fun Birding Times (countries listed alphabetically)

Austria

Favorite spots:
Burgenland and Illmitz
Photo Album of Illmitz
Alpine Birding
Photo Album of Alpine Birding
Wallcreeper on a Castle
Photo Album of Lake Constance

Guatemala

 Fuego the Volcano, the view from a trail at Finca El Pilar in Guatemala.

Fuego the Volcano, the view from a trail at Finca El Pilar in Guatemala.

This lush Central American country was my first trip outside of the US and I at some of the best food of my life here. Sometimes I dream of taking a month and doing all my work from Los Andes organic tea farm. I heard my most favorite bird call ever in Guatemala--the brown backed solitaire. So much sticks with me from this trip the steep mountainous trails, the friends I got to hang out with, finding families doing their laundry in streams while birding in the forest, coffee shop birding and what I affectionately refer to as the Horned Guan Death March. I had been warned that this was going to be a rough climb and that was no exaggeration, especially to a low-elevation, lives in a mostly flat area gal like me. Was I glad I got to see the guan? I guess. Would I go again? No. I even created a Horned Guan Death March Facebook page because it traumatized me so much. 

I know I got a very specific view of this country but I would definitely go back to enjoy it again and soak int he culture as well as the birds. And I would hire Operador Latino--Hugo is a terrific guide. All of my Guatemala posts are here

Honduras

This is one of the most breathtaking landscapes I have ever birded in (both literally and figuratively). The birds are colorful, the mammals are fun (especially the bats) but the poverty will is a bit overwhelming. If you visit, you must see James Adams at Pico Bonito Lodge and be sure to stop at the fabulous hummingbird bar for hundreds of hummingbirds buzzing around you while you have a beer and watch for the endemic Honduran emerald. 

Israel

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File this trip as another country I thought would be cool to visit but not sure I would ever get there but someone I found myself watching birds outside of a mine field and around the Golan Heights. Because of it's proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, birds get funneled over the country during spring and fall migration including storks, herons, kites, eagles, larks and pelicans. The area is hotspot for common cranes and roughly 30,000 now winter in the Hula Valley. I've been to a lot of crane staging areas and the Hula Valley is one of the best crane watching experiences I've ever had. The cover photo to for this site (very top of the page) is an image I digscoped with my iPhone early one foggy morning in the Hula Valley. Other treats in Israel include mammals, we saw rock hyrax, Israeli wolf and jungle cat. For the record, the kingfishers in Israel are off the charts cool!

I felt very safe while I was in Israel and would consider visiting again. All my blog posts about Israel are here

 

Kazakhstan

This is someplace that I read about in books and magazines and thought, "Wow, I'd really love to visit but don't think that will happen in this life." And then I got an invitation to see the incredible habitat restoration of BirdLife International with the help of Swarovski Optik to help the critically endangered socialable lapwing and test out a new spotting scope. If you ever want to feel like the last person on the planet, Kazakhstan is the place to be, though even in the Tien Shan Mountains, I couldn't escape western pop culture. And for females planning to travel there...be prepared for little to no restrooms

I would go back to this ruggedly beautiful country again in a heartbeat. All the posts for Kazakhstan are here.