Saturday, 30 October 2010

Destinations: Extremadura - Spain

Extremadura is a region in the west of Spain which stretches to the Portuguese border. Geographically and habitat-wise, it is a blend of mountains and grasslands and steppes. It is very rural and an ideal destination for travellers in search of wildlife, especially birds. There are White and Black Storks, Common Cranes, Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied and Pintailed Sandgrouse and a rich range of raptors including Montagu's Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Bonelli's EagleGriffon and Black Vultures, Lesser Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite. Indeed, this is without doubt one of the best places in Europe to watch birds of prey. It can be visited, and birds seen, at any time of year, though overall spring is probably best.
Monfragüe National Park, Sierra de San Pedro, Cáceres plains, 

Friday, 22 October 2010

Guide Books: Argentina

Though this 408-page Bradt guide to Argentina is not specifically focused on wildlife, it does include a wealth of information that visitors interested in wild things and wild places will find very useful. Indeed, there are background sections on Ecology, Flora, Fauna and Marine Ecosystems, and each chapter (which follow the country's regions) includes pages on National Parks and reserves. There is also a detailed appendix on Patagonian Wildlife. Many of the fine colour photos that embellish the book are also of animals (Elephant seal, Magellanic penguin, Southern right whale, Capybara, Magellanic woodpecker, Giant anteater and more) and habitats. All this is perhaps not surprising when we learn that the main author, Erin McCloskey, has a degree in conservation biology. All in all, this is essential reading for those visiting this remarkably rich and bio-diverse destination. ISBN 1 84162 138 2. 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Destinations: Corkscrew Swamp - Florida, USA.

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida, USA, is a reserve managed by the National Audubon Society. It is located northeast of Naples in Florida, in Collier County. Brown informational signs along Immokalee Road point to the sanctuary. A 2.25-mile raised boardwalk takes visitors through four environments: pine upland, wet prairie, cypress forest and a swamp. Interpretive signs along the boardwalk and a field guide and Children's Activity Book are available at the admissions desk in the Blair Center at the entrance, so visitors can do a self-guided tour. Benches and rain shelters are along the trail. Wildlife sightings vary, of course, upon the time of year, the weather, and even the time of day. Birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, and a variety of native plants including wild orchids may be seen from the boardwalk. The sanctuary is an important breeding area for the endangered Wood Stork with the largest colony in North America.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Destinations: Cape Kaliakra - Bulgaria

Cape Kaliakra (Nos Kaliakra) lies on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast about 75km north of Varna. It is a 2km long headland with scrub, steppe and rugged cliffs. Breeding birds include a range of shrikes, larks and wheatears, Alpine Swifts on the cliffs and European Shags on the rocks below. From August to October (with early September usually best) good passage of pelicans, storks, raptors and songbirds occurs here, too.