If you've ever felt the faintest flickering of excitement at the flapping of wings, a stirring of emotion at a sweet and unexpected chirrup in the shrubbery or did a night time bundu-bash searching for the source of that haunting hoot, I'm afraid you have all the trappings of a birder... and possibly a twitcher.
Yes, it's true. Soon your eyes will be fixed on the firmament and your best friend will be a pair of binoculars. Your bedside table will groan under the weight of Newman's bird guides and your backyard will become a minefield of coke bottle contraptions filled with a multitude of seeds. There really is no use trying to fight it, you may as well just let go and give in to the crazy right now.
After all, it might take you to some of the most picturesque and sought after locations on the planet - like the five international and five local spots we list below.
So, don't worry if they point, laugh or hoot because, as you know...
The Peruvian Amazon
If weird and wonderful, colourful and crazy, delightful and diverse is what you're after, this is your dream destination. With more than 560 neo-tropical bird species just waiting to be spotted, you'll have a ball of a time adding those firsts, lifers, cripplers and megaticks to your list.
Danube Delta, Romania
If you have a special interest in water birds such as pelicans, ducks, warblers and swans, taking a birdwatching boat cruise on Romania's Danube Delta will most definitely get your heartbeat escalating. Not only will you be in an environment completely devoid of the hustle and bustle of non-birders, but you will also be able to enjoy the antics of more than 300 species of winged ones in incredibly close proximity.
Much of this area on the Black Sea coast has been transformed into a biosphere reserve and named a UNESCO world heritage site to fight back against the sprawling human impact that has gone unchecked in the past few decades.
Located on Canada's Atlantic coastline, Newfoundland is a wonderland of vibrant ornithological life - ranging from sea birds to owls. If you're looking for specific reasons to go, however, we can give you two: the Snowy Owl and the Atlantic Puffin. Both are stunningly beautiful in their own way, somewhat elusive and unlike anything you'll ever see in the Southern Hemisphere.
Although New Zealand is also something of a sea bird paradise, the real reason to go twitching here, would be for the rare forest birds found nowhere else on earth. Of these birds the Kiwi is probably the most famous, but also the most endangered, and definitely worth spotting. There are four different types of Kiwi, of which the Rowi is the rarest with only 370 surviving in just one patch of forest in Okarito.
Other birds of interest include the incredibly beautiful Takahe, which is also a flightless bird that is infamously shy, the various species of parakeet, the endangered fairy tern and the Kokako. Apart from these there are also three different penguin species - the Snares, the korora and the Fiordland crested - making New Zealand the unofficial Penguin capital of the world.
Most famous for the annual wildebeest and zebra migration, the Serengeti is truly a buzzing hot spot for all kinds of animal life - including birds of all sorts. The Grey Breasted Spurfowl and the Fisher's Lovebird are two endemic species, that automatically make them something of a rare and exciting sighting, while the Ngorongoro crater bustles with more than 100 species not found elsewhere in the Serengeti.
Here at home:
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is one of South Africa's most incredible conservation areas, famously home to the big five, but also a mind-blowing array of other mammals, reptiles fish... and no less than 507 bird species. About as big as a small country, the park is divided into four different sections - South, central, North and Northernmost - each boasting their own species speciality. For instance, if a Fishing Owl is your dream sighting, head on through the Pafuri gate and keep your eyes peeled in the Northernmost region. Want to jet off there now? Check out our Kruger deals.
De Hoop Nature Reserve
De Hoop is a rich and diverse fynbos kingdom on the ocean, boasting a 19km Ramsar wetland site vlei and a 36 000 hectare reserve, which makes it both a unique and diverse spot for twitchers and seasoned ornithologists alike. The area boasts about 260 different bird species including several pairs of Fish Eagle, twelve waterfowl species, 13 species of migrant wader and all sorts of others
Sound exciting to you? We suggest you head on over there in November, as the De Hoop Collection will be hosting expert-led birding talks and offering birding enthusiasts a free birding walk and a free breakfast with every booking made. Check out the De Hoop Collection website for more details.
Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park
The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park is made up of a large lake (Lake St. Lucia) and around it many type of woodland habitats are to be found. The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park is a good area to see large amount of Flamingo and Pelican. The Pink-Throated Twinspot and the Neergaard's Sunbird also occur here!
Most of the spots listed so far have had some sort of wetland influence, however if you head out to the Namaqualand area, you will be treated to some of the most spectacular arid and dryland bird species. Two specialities to look out for would be Ludwig's Bustard or Burchell's Courser.
Not sure what to expect of this far-flung area? Take a look at Namaqualand: More than flowers.
Kariega game reserve
Kariega is a superb example of Eastern Cape bushveld and famous for it's various raptor species. They support breeding and nesting Martial Eagle, Crowned Eagle, African Fish Eagle and many Kingfisher species.