Birding Tours in Europe/Western Palearctic

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Europe is the Earth’s second smallest continent with just 7% of the land area, but despite its small size, its population of 750 million people accounts for around 10% of the world’s human population. Europe is part of the wider Western Palearctic biogeographic realm (ecozone) which also includes North Africa and Western Asia.

Central Europe has a temperate climate which is sandwiched between the tundra and subarctic climates of the north and Mediterranean climate of the south, Europe even has a desert region in southeastern Spain. Europe’s mountainous areas include the Pyrenees, Alps, Carpathian, Scandes, and Appenine ranges and the continent also features large rivers, including the Volga, Danube, Elbe, Tagus, and Ebro. Key geographic features of the regions of the Western Palearctic, outside Europe, include the vast Sahara Desert in Africa, the Arabian Desert in Asia, the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, and the vast Ural River.

The bird list of Europe, following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy, v10.2 (December 2020), is 932 species, of these 65 are globally threatened. The bird list of the Western Palearctic (as outlined above) is 1,183 species, with 79 globally threatened species. Monotypic families in the Western Palearctic include Bearded Reedling, Wallcreeper, Crab-plover, Hamerkop, Streaked Scrub Warbler, and Grey Hypocolius. Yellow-breasted Chat and Egyptian Plover have also both been recorded accidentally.

Our exciting European and Western Palearctic tours have been totally revamped. These exciting tours are outlined below with links where you can find out more information (such as detailed itineraries, trip reports, and photo galleries etc.).

 

 Northern Europe Birding Tours

 

Iceland Birdwatching Tours

No country typifies the beauty of Northern Europe like Iceland. Its avifauna follows a similar trend with some of the continent’s most striking bird species found here, including King Eider, Harlequin Duck, Red-necked Phalarope, Gyrfalcon, Snow Bunting, and a myriad of breeding seabirds. Iceland is about so much more than just the birds, with some superb mammals like Blue Whale and Arctic Fox possible. The ever-changing volcanic landscape makes for a beautiful backdrop to this superb birding location and a tour here would suit birders and photographers alike.

United Kingdom Birdwatching Tours

We have two thrilling United Kingdom tours. Highlights of our winter tour in England include Pink-footed Goose, Taiga Bean Goose, Velvet Scoter, Hawfinch, Bohemian Waxwing, Bearded Reedling, Eurasian Bittern, and Black Grouse, while our spring tour will see us take a longer route through England and into beautiful Scotland. We will search for key breeding species like European Honey Buzzard, European Turtle Dove, Common Nightingale, Scottish Crossbill, Western Capercaillie, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Eurasian Dotterel, and European Crested Tit. Both tours will also see exciting common British birds like European Robin, Eurasian Bullfinch, Eurasian Blue Tit, Common Kingfisher, and Eurasian Nuthatch.

We now also offer a range of exciting UK day tours in Norfolk, full details of those here.

Norway and Finland Birdwatching Tours

The vast countries of Finland and Norway make up premier birding locations in Northern Europe. Our summer tour will see us encounter some wonderful birds, with standout species including Black-throated Loon (Diver), Pallid Harrier, seven owl species, multiple woodpecker species, Siberian Jay, Citrine Wagtail, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-flanked Bluetail, and Snowy Owl. We will also visit some of Norway’s most breathtaking seabird breeding colonies, an unforgettable experience! The vast forests are also home to large mammals like Moose (Elk) and (European) Brown Bear. We will also have the interesting experience of 24-hour daylight as our tour is timed with the period when the sun never sets!

 

Southern Europe Birding Tours

 

Spain Birdwatching Tours

Spain is considered by many as the premier birding location in Europe, and it is easy to see why. Our spring tour allows us to experience not just the wonderful birds, but also the fascinating culture, beautiful weather, breathtaking scenery, and fabulous food of this exciting country. With a typical list of over 220 species, highlights are many and include: Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Greater Flamingo, Little Swift, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Audouin’s Gull, 23 raptor species, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Iberian Grey Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Dupont’s Lark, Moustached Warbler, Wallcreeper, Black Wheatear, White-winged Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor, and Citril Finch.

Our fall tour is designed to explore Spain’s most productive birding region, Andalusia, during the peak of raptor migration, and this will reward us with some fantastic birding experiences. Species we should come across include Eurasian Penduline Tit, Savi’s Warbler, White-rumped Swift, around 20 species of shorebird, Lesser Short-toed Lark, White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, Audouin’s Gull, Egyptian Vulture, Rüppell’s Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Northern Bald Ibis, Black Wheatear, and Bonelli’s Eagle. Two pelagic trips will feature a multitude of seabird and cetacean species including Cory’s Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Sperm Whale, Fin Whale, with a chance of Killer Whale (Orca).

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Greece Birdwatching Tours

We offer three exciting tours to Greece. Our spring mainland Greece tour also has the option of a wonderful 5-day extension to the island of Lesvos. On the mainland we will explore northern Greece’s productive birding areas along the coast of the Aegean Sea. Here we will search for the Near-threatened (BirdLife International) Dalmatian Pelican and a whole host of other superb species, including Great White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Alpine Chough, Sombre Tit, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Rüppell’s Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, and Cinereous Vulture. As well as excellent birding, we will also visit key historical locations in Athens, like the Parthenon. Our Lesvos extension will add further highlights like Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler, Krüper’s Nuthatch, and Cinereous Bunting.

Our Greece fall (autumn) tour offers a different look at this beautiful region, and a chance of some late-fall sun for visitors from cooler climates. Key species include Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Red-breasted Goose, Audouin’s Gull, Black-throated Loon (Diver), Velvet Scoter, multiple shorebird species, Black Redstart, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Eastern Imperial Eagle, and Hen Harrier.

 

Eastern Europe Birdwatching Tours

 

Poland Birdwatching Tours

Eastern Europe is an amazing area for birding, and Poland is one of the best countries to explore. We have two exciting tours here.

Our spring tour takes in eastern Poland at the height of the migration. We explore the vast marshes of the northeast, ancient forests, and the high peaks of the south. Over 200 species are likely on the tour, highlights include Black Stork, Ferruginous Duck, Great Snipe, White-winged Tern, Aquatic Warbler, River Warbler, Citrine Wagtail, Hazel Grouse, ten species of woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker, Collared Flycatcher, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Ural Owl, Wallcreeper, White-throated Dipper, and Alpine Accentor. We will also search for other iconic animals such as European Bison, Grey Wolf, (European) Brown Bear, and Eurasian Lynx.

Our Poland fall (autumn) tour will see us exploring the east of the country and the area bordering the Baltic Sea in the north. The focus on the coast will be on the fall migration and we should come across exciting migrants like vast numbers of wildfowl and shorebirds, migrating raptors, and interesting passerines like Red-throated Pipit, Twite, Yellow-browed Warbler, and huge flocks of finches, including gorgeous Brambling. Away from the coast, we will explore the ancient forests and lakes of northeast Poland, for species like Hazel Grouse, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker, European Crested Tit, Hawfinch, Greater Spotted Eagle, Great Grey Shrike, and Eurasian Eagle-Owl.

Bulgaria and Romania Birdwatching Tours

Bulgaria is another superb country and we have two exciting tours here. Our winter tour will focus on the Black Sea coast and the search for rare wildfowl like Red-breasted Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose, and White-headed Duck. It is also an excellent time for raptors like Rough-legged Buzzard and other key species include Dalmatian Pelican, Spotted Nutcracker, Sombre Tit, and Calandra Lark.

Our spring tour, which combines Bulgaria with neighboring Romania, covers much more of these amazingly birdy countries during the peak of the spring migration. The potential species list is huge and includes Broad-billed Sandpiper, Egyptian Vulture, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, European Roller, Wallcreeper, and many more!

 

Wider Western Palearctic Birdwatching Tours

 

Morocco Birdwatching Tours

Our spring tour to Morocco is one of the highlights of our tour calendar. This 15-day exploration of southern Morocco sees us explore the Atlantic coast, Atlas Mountains, and Sahara Desert in one trip. We will search for the common resident species here plus exciting migrant species and harder to find specials. Highlights include Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Houbara Bustard, Tristram’s Warbler, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Northern Bald Ibis, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Black-crowned Tchagra, Greater Hoopoe-Lark, Fulvous Babbler, African Crimson-winged Finch, and so many more. We will also experience a huge range of other birds, including the spectacle of migrating birds of prey over the high Atlas Mountains and migratory passerines in the Sahara Desert.

Georgia Birdwatching Tours

We are really excited to offer two fantastic tours to wonderful Georgia. Our winter tour will explore the mighty Greater Caucasus Mountains and the birds here are magnificent. Interesting species in the mountains include Caucasian Grouse, Caucasian Snowcock, Alpine Chough, Mountain Chiffchaff, Güldenstädt’s Redstart, Wallcreeper, Red-fronted Serin, Great Rosefinch, and Bearded Vulture. We then move to the country’s eastern steppes where yet more incredible birds await, like Little Bustard, Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Pallas’s Gull, Pine Bunting, Krüper’s Nuthatch, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Pallid Harrier, and Saker Falcon.

Our fall (autumn) tour is a real spectacle as we explore the west of the country and the world-famous Batumi bottleneck. Every fall over one million raptors move south through the region! The species list is extensive, but the highlight of this period is the eagles with Steppe Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, and Eastern Imperial Eagle being the standout species. It is also the place in the western palearctic to catch up with Crested Honey Buzzard, a stunning species from Asia (and incredibly rare in Europe). We will also explore coastal sites for the shorebird, wildfowl, and passerine migration, and visit the ancient mountain region of Svaneti and the volcanic plateau of Javakheti for the specials of each area.

Azerbaijan Birdwatching Tours

Azerbaijan is a hidden gem and offers so many great birds. Our winter tour will explore the eastern extremities of the Western Palearctic and the birds here reflect this, with a quite different range of species to those occurring further west. Highlights include Red-fronted Serin, Black Lark, White-winged Lark, White-tailed Lapwing, Grey-headed Swamphen, Pallas’s Gull, Caspian Snowcock, Pallid Harrier, Black Francolin, and Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Israel Birdwatching Tours

Contact us for custom tours to Israel, a migration mecca and full of wonderful desert breeders, we have carried out a lot of birding here as part of our Champions of the Flyway birding exploits.

 

In addition to these incredible set departure tours, we can also arrange custom birdwatching holidays throughout Europe and the wider Western Palearctic (such as Sweden, France, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and many other destinations). We advise booking as far in advance as possible as our guides get fully booked quickly, often one to three years in advance.

Europe Gallery

Testimonials from our European birding tours

“Finland for bird photography:
About Finland I can tell you that we had very good opportunities to take photos. We got superb photos of species such as Western Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Great Grey Owl, Ural Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Pygmy-Owl, Short-eared Owl, Common Goldeneye, Whooper Swan, Common Crane, Parrot Crossbill, Red-flanked Blue-tail, Rustic Bunting, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit, Willow Tit, Honey-buzzard, Temminck’s Stint, Common Redshank, Baltic and Little Gulls, Eurasian Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Arctic Tern, Common Cuckoo, Three-toed Woodpecker and Pied Flycatcher.
We also take nice photos of Dotterel, Black-throated Diver, Ruff, Sedge and Icterine Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Fieldfare, Eurasian Wryneck, Common Redpoll and some other birds.
We missed Terek Sandpiper (we saw it but we can’t take any photos) but another group took very good photos of it before we arrived to the place where the bird was.
To me, it has been an excellent trip to take photographs, plenty of good chances. Undoubtedly it has been the best trip I have made ever in Europe from this point of view.”

Luis

“Our small group had a great trip birding Iceland with Andy Walker. Andy’s knowledge, tenacity, organizational skills, patience and fun personality allowed us to maximize this opportunity to see every possible bird within our range.
Because of Andy’s scientific knowledge as well as field skills I learned a great deal. His enthusiasm kept us going even when the weather attempted to dampen and freeze mine! Iceland is an awesome country and Ecotours did a great job of arranging an itinerary that provided excellent food and lodging along the way. Very well organized. I’d go with this company and guide again!”

Claudia