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a birding holiday in 2020?

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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 12:55   #1
3Italianbirders
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a birding holiday in 2020?

We usually go on holiday in mid-June, having to wait until the schools close on June 10. This year it would have been different anyway as our daughter has exams and we would have had to go later in July or August, terrible months for birding, unless we travelled very far - Australia had come to mind. With Covid, the prospect of not being able to go anywhere is looming, even though we should be able to travel between regions as from June 3rd and it seems that some foreign travel will be allowed later on.

If it has to be a domestic holiday, we will presumably avoid the coast and head for the mountains, be it the Abruzzo NP with its wolves and bears or somewhere in the Alps.

But IF foreign travel should be permitted again, where to go, assuming that countries will accept the risk of tourists from countries with high rates if infection? Would early July be too late to go to Norway (i.e. Varangerfjord) or Iceland, two trips on our bucket list?

Or would it be better to wait until the start of the Autumn migration (school starts on September 15, so we have to be back by then) and go somewhere like Gibraltar?

Ideas? Do you have any plans yourselves?
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 13:15   #2
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Some years ago I went to Arctic Finland and Sweden in late June / early July - my main interest at the time was botany for which it was obviously a great time of year, but there was plenty of bird activity - Red-flanked Bluetail singing in Finland, Long-tailed Skuas flying over the tundra, and (checking notes) I found a Lapland Bunting's nest near Abisko in Sweden with young chicks on 2nd July.

I would imagine Varangerfjord, being further north, would be even better then.

I agree we also have to look not just at coronavirus in destination countries, but at what restrictions other countries place on us travelling there. Norway for example has had a strict and successful lockdown, and might not be keen on opening its borders to tourists from Britain or Italy (or Spain / Belgium etc.).

My partner has had a week's holiday booked in Portugal in July at an apartment we visit frequently, with a friend who would not be allowed to travel in any event because she has health problems and has been told to shield. I was thinking of going instead, but this presupposes that the Portuguese will let travellers in from Britain, and flights will operate (although she half-seriously floated the idea of driving there via Eurotunnel, 1750 miles / 28 hour journey...).
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 13:34   #3
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An issue likely to be bigger than if borders are open (as the EU is pushing to the removal of internal borders as summer progresses, and many EU nations are announcing borders will reopen, eg Austria/Greece, etc, said will in June) is whether sufficient flights will operate to effectively reach destinations - this due to remaining government restrictions, logistical issues and lack of demand. For example, our government has reopened the airport, but there is as of today still only one destination available (Frankfurt)! All added routes require government approval and also require demand, which there isn't. I don't know about other airlines, but both Air Baltic and FinnAir have announced they plan a very basic skeletal service to resume across their network in coming weeks, but thereafter it will be a very gradual expansion over months of routes and frequencies as demand and possibilities allow. They predict it will be autumn and on into next year before there is anything resembling a full network service.

I would be looking at a destination you can get to by car. I certainly would not buy an air ticket to anywhere much in advance - not only might it get cancelled, but still airlines can go bankrupt and then it is goodbye to your money. And because I suppose there are many who share the same view, demand is likely to remain low, hence more chance that flight options remain low. And so goes a vicious circle - no demand=no flights=no demand.

But if you can get there, Madeira for seabirds should be good in August ...and beaches for reluctant parties within the '3' of 3Italianbirders :)
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 13:40   #4
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Did have hopes for Texas, but long ago gave up on ideas beyond Europe for this summer. So I now have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and Plan E :)

A is stay at Labanoras forever :) B is a very long drive, E is a little bit shorter drive, while C is an optimistic return of flights to southern Spain and D is the 'something else' if unexpected possibilities suddenly appear :)
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 17:10   #5
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I have already given up all hope for foreign travel this year and just hope that in 2021 things will start getting back to normal. There is just too much uncertainty about possible 2nd wave, possible need for quarantine, borders closing (again), cancelled flights, getting stuck at your destination, etc.

So I just accept there probably won't be any new lifers for me this year
Just enjoying my home birds now.
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 17:28   #6
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No I certainly wouldn't want to book flights to anywhere, too much hassle and they are bound to be bloody expensive too. No to mention that there is a risk in case of new Covid clusters etc. of flights being cancelled, so we would drive (not to Iceland obvs ). Also, we don't mind very long drives.

Greece would be nice but too hot and not very birds in July and August I imagine. I wonder if Varangerfjord is too long a drive !
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 18:18   #7
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I wonder if Varangerfjord is too long a drive !
There is a nice place half way between Italy and Varanger that you could stop en route :)
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 18:52   #8
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There is a nice place half way between Italy and Varanger that you could stop en route :)
True, but wouldn't going via Sweden be quicker?
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 19:40   #9
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Actually, I have been thinking about somewhere which wouldn't require a 10 day drive each way, namely the Wadden Sea area, from Texel going eastwards into Germany and then north to Denmark. But I guess the best time to go would be later like in second half of August so as to catch some migration?
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 19:41   #10
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True, but wouldn't going via Sweden be quicker?
Not really
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 19:47   #11
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Or expand interest into butterflies ... Italian mountains are at their best in July
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 21:53   #12
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In April I would have had a weekend away in Aviemore and visit Loch Garten to see The Ospreys. Tonight I would have been in Portree on Isle Of Skye till Sunday then get the ferry and head back to Benbecula in The Outer Hebrides for a holiday, hopefully will get there later on in the year fingers crossed.
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 10:37   #13
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Not really
I guess you're right! I suppose one would have to allow at least 4 days each way. so 15-20 altogether...sounds feasible!
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Old Sunday 24th May 2020, 15:48   #14
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The French Pyrenees still have a lot to offer in September, PM me if you want more detail, it's the only place in the world that draws us back year after year. We should be there now and have a booking for two weeks August/September with fingers very firmly crossed. Friends from Milan joined us in 2015 and the drive was straightforward in one day with stop in Toulouse for the space museum.
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Old Sunday 24th May 2020, 16:34   #15
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I would echo the idea of Madeira, especially if you are up for doing pelagic trips such as those operated by Madeira Wind Birds - best towards the end of August.
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Old Monday 25th May 2020, 06:58   #16
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I would echo the idea of Madeira, especially if you are up for doing pelagic trips such as those operated by Madeira Wind Birds - best towards the end of August.
I did that when I was in Madeira I only did the half day Birding trip with Wind Birds and really enjoyed it.
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Old Monday 25th May 2020, 07:54   #17
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Hey, Jos's route also goes just around my house :) Buy July is a bit slow here. I was in Varanger beginning of June and it was perfect spring - but it was too early for Arctic Warbler (or however it's called in English), so later dates have something to them. The only downside is that by July, you will be able to watch a large number of other flying things, of the blood-sucking variety.

At this point however, there are plenty of obstacles. On this eastern road, I can see the biggest problem right now very easily, it's called Poland and if there is a country that will open it's borders the last, Poland is a safe bet, because the politics here is mental. The western road has Sweden though and I am a bit afraid that while entry there has never been closed, the chance of being able to freely leave Sweden any time soon is not very good.
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 07:06   #18
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Quote:
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Hey, Jos's route also goes just around my house :) Buy July is a bit slow here.
We could hold an international BF meeting! Actually we may be able to go before July as we have finally been told that the teenager's exams will be held on June 12-13, so we could leave as early as the 14, with the only drawback that it's very short notice, especially given that until the beginning of June it won't be clear if and which countries are opening their borders. We also need to buy a car in the meantime so that makes things even more complicated.

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I was in Varanger beginning of June and it was perfect spring - but it was too early for Arctic Warbler (or however it's called in English), so later dates have something to them. The only downside is that by July, you will be able to watch a large number of other flying things, of the blood-sucking variety.

At this point however, there are plenty of obstacles. On this eastern road, I can see the biggest problem right now very easily, it's called Poland and if there is a country that will open it's borders the last, Poland is a safe bet, because the politics here is mental. The western road has Sweden though and I am a bit afraid that while entry there has never been closed, the chance of being able to freely leave Sweden any time soon is not very good.
I admit that Varanger was a long shot and that a staycation in one of the places I mentioned above (Abruzzo NP or the Dolomites) will be the most probable output - if we do go anywhere at all that is. Also when I mentioned Sweden above, the extent of the disaster there wasn't clear yet.

Unless Germany opens its borders and we can go visit my half-sister in Düsseldorf (not very birdy probably) and then explore the Wadden Sea area and possibly Denmark. Or wait and go to Greece at the end of August - beginning of September hoping for milder temperatures and a bit of migration.

🤔
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 07:19   #19
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We could hold an international BF meeting! Actually we may be able to go before July as we have finally been told that the teenager's exams will be held on June 12-13, so we could leave as early as the 14, with the only drawback that it's very short notice, especially given that until the beginning of June it won't be clear if and which countries are opening their borders. We also need to buy a car in the meantime so that makes things even more complicated.



I admit that Varanger was a long shot and that a staycation in one of the places I mentioned above (Abruzzo NP or the Dolomites) will be the most probable output - if we do go anywhere at all that is. Also when I mentioned Sweden above, the extent of the disaster there wasn't clear yet.

Unless Germany opens its borders and we can go visit my half-sister in Düsseldorf (not very birdy probably) and then explore the Wadden Sea area and possibly Denmark. Or wait and go to Greece at the end of August - beginning of September hoping for milder temperatures and a bit of migration.

��
The borders between the Baltic States are already open, but to Baltic States residents only. Finland is expected to join this bubble. Latvia has opened its borders to all EU, but non-Baltic residents néd to isolate for 14 days. The Polish-Lithuanian border has also opened, but not currently for tourists (business, education purposes allowed). Talks are underway regarding the possibility of Poland fully joining the bubble.

If nothing deteriorates, I would expect most of the borders in this northern part to be open by mid-June, but not sure the isolation requirements for non-bubble residents will be removed, which would obviously mean no practical trip can happen for non-bubblites.
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 07:25   #20
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Some years ago I went to Arctic Finland and Sweden in late June / early July - my main interest at the time was botany for which it was obviously a great time of year, but there was plenty of bird activity - Red-flanked Bluetail singing in Finland, Long-tailed Skuas flying over the tundra, and (checking notes) I found a Lapland Bunting's nest near Abisko in Sweden with young chicks on 2nd July.

I would imagine Varangerfjord, being further north, would be even better then.

I agree we also have to look not just at coronavirus in destination countries, but at what restrictions other countries place on us travelling there. Norway for example has had a strict and successful lockdown, and might not be keen on opening its borders to tourists from Britain or Italy (or Spain / Belgium etc.).

My partner has had a week's holiday booked in Portugal in July at an apartment we visit frequently, with a friend who would not be allowed to travel in any event because she has health problems and has been told to shield. I was thinking of going instead, but this presupposes that the Portuguese will let travellers in from Britain, and flights will operate (although she half-seriously floated the idea of driving there via Eurotunnel, 1750 miles / 28 hour journey...).
I don't think flights to Portugal from England ever stopped... There is still a Ryanair flight anyway.

That said the quarantine thing might be a problem.
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 07:29   #21
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Hey, Jos's route also goes just around my house :) Buy July is a bit slow here. I was in Varanger beginning of June and it was perfect spring - but it was too early for Arctic Warbler (or however it's called in English), so later dates have something to them. The only downside is that by July, you will be able to watch a large number of other flying things, of the blood-sucking variety.

At this point however, there are plenty of obstacles. On this eastern road, I can see the biggest problem right now very easily, it's called Poland and if there is a country that will open it's borders the last, Poland is a safe bet, because the politics here is mental. The western road has Sweden though and I am a bit afraid that while entry there has never been closed, the chance of being able to freely leave Sweden any time soon is not very good.
The mosquitos hit northern Lapland on the 19th June on our visit. Mentally, and physically, scarred....
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 07:36   #22
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Anyway, if Poland ever opens up, anyone is really welcome to meet for some birding! I can't offer accomodations (our flat has 17 sq. meters, you seriously don't want to stay here with us), but hotels are allowed to operate and I know endless spots for wild camping (set up in the evening, pack in the morning style).
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 07:37   #23
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The French Pyrenees still have a lot to offer in September, PM me if you want more detail, it's the only place in the world that draws us back year after year. We should be there now and have a booking for two weeks August/September with fingers very firmly crossed. Friends from Milan joined us in 2015 and the drive was straightforward in one day with stop in Toulouse for the space museum.
We are sort of expecting an ok summer season. The mountains seem to be the 'safest' place to go with beaches being a little more complicated.

I have driven, solo, to the alps a few times from here and whilst it's tough it's do-able in a day. Luz to Tignes is 9.5 hours and I used to drive through the night, after service (restaurant).

That said we also drove to Travemunde in a day which was less easy.

An interesting trip for you could be Italy to Camargue, Camargue Pyrenees, Pyrenees Monegros, Monegros Ebro, Barcelona, home....
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 08:23   #24
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Incidentally, Finland is reviewing its entry restrictions by June 14 and there are signs that the Baltic States might be allowed by/from that date. Norway however has currently imposed its restrictions to end only on August 20, though citizens of other Nordic/Baltic countries may get travel permission before that. It is probable that the Baltic States are allowed entry into both Finland and Norway before Sweden (due to their higher number of cases) and almost certainly before the rest of Europe. Don't think Italy will be first in line :)

But it's guesswork as governments are changing regulations frequently, I guess just stay flexible and plan at last minute.
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 14:46   #25
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On the way to Varanger, first stop at Opisska, second at Jos and third at me. I can heat the sauna.
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