Nowadays there are a number of opportunities to take package tours to many exciting and remote areas. You may try a tour organized by one of the travel operators who concentrate on ‘special interest’ tours, particularly those concerned with wildlife. You are usually accompanied by an expert who will help you get over all sorts of identification problems. They are often good value for money. Alternatively, you can take an ordinary package tour to some exotic place which provides the flight and hotel, and while you are there you can hire a car or use the local bus service to go out and search for birds.
You may well prefer to strike out on your own completely and here John Gooders’ book Where to Watch Birds in Britain and Europe becomes useful. However, in covering the whole of Europe, Gooders has not been able to describe the interesting areas in such detail as his book on British sites, Where to Watch Birds. Another useful book is A Guide to Birdwatching in Europe edited by J. Ferguson-Lees, Q. Hockliffe and K. Zweeres. Both, in their different ways, help you to start your search and from that point you can study such maps as you can obtain for the area concerned, picking out likely spots, for example, bays along peaceful coastlines, mountains, lakes, bogs and forests. Stanfords of Long Acre, London, as well as being the main agents for the Ordnance Survey, carry an enormous range of foreign maps. If you have access to a good ornithological library you might find some books or articles on the area you intend to visit.
If you happen to know someone who has visited the area or lives there, then this is an obvious source of information. Secretaries of local birdwatching societies and conservation bodies overseas usually only have voluntary staff and it is really unfair to expect them to have time to act as travel agents. The RSPB does have local representatives in a number of countries who have volunteered to give information to other members.
A final word on human behaviour. It surprises me how often a Briton abroad thinks that he is freed from all standards of good behaviour and that he can do what he likes and disregards the fact that in other countries, as in Britain, land is privately owned. Sometimes, too, he forgets the first part of the birdwatchers’ code, that the welfare of the bird must be his first concern.