Birdwatching is popular around the world, with all types of people. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 20 per cent of Americans birdwatch, annually contributing $36bn to the economy through their hobby. Famous birdwatchers include people as varied as Aristotle, Theodore Roosevelt, Jarvis Cocker and Cameron Diaz.
And it follows that a property with interesting birdlife is likely to be a strong investment: not only will it provide entertainment but diverse wildlife suggests a remote and desirable setting. Here are five fantastic properties with birdwatching potential.
▲ Big Gooseberry Island, Canada, C$5.5m (approx £3.4m)
Where: Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, an hour’s drive from Halifax airport.
What: A 50-acre (20ha) island with four houses (total nine bedrooms), a boathouse, outbuildings, woodland and three beaches.
Why: Big Gooseberry is a good mix of Nova Scotia wilderness and civilisation, being a secluded island surrounded by wild sea, yet just a short boat ride from the village of Chester. To complement the pretty clapboard houses, there are a vast number of bird species, including hawks, ospreys, a wide array of waterfowl and even hummingbirds.
Who: Tradewinds Realty Inc, www.tradewindsrealty.com, tel: +1 902 275 7611 (Canada); +44 (0)20 7467 5330 (UK)
▲ Villa Krabi, Thailand, Bt150m (approx £3m)
Where: Phuket, Thailand, 40 minutes’ drive from Krabi airport.
What: A five-bedroom pavilioned villa.
Why: This area is more famous for the quality, rather than quantity, of birdlife. But away from Thailand’s thronging tourist zones, overlooking the Phang Nga bay, you’re more likely to see local birds such as the great knot, Nordmann’s greenshank, Chinese egret and mangrove pitta.
Who: Hunter Sotheby’s International Realty, www.sothebysrealtyphuket.com, tel: +66 (0)76 324 614
▲ Potter Hill, UK, £2.8m
Where: Nr Coulton, Yorkshire, in the Howardian Hills.
What: A nine-bedroom house with farm buildings, a flat, cottage and stables, in a 152-acre (62ha) private valley.
Why: The Howardian Hills are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and birds seen from the house’s own eyrie include woodpeckers, greenfinches, nuthatches, skylarks and chiffchaffs. There’s an indoor pool, billiard room, tennis court, woodland, lakes, gun room and a “family shoot”.
Who: Savills, www.savills.co.uk, +44 (0)1904 617820
▲ El Matuloso, Spain, €18m
Where: Andalucía, between Seville and Faro, both around 70 miles (110km) away.
What: A 19-bedroom, 2,285-acre (925ha) hunting estate, rebuilt in 2001.
Why: The home, made up of several bungalows and a seven-bedroom house, is situated on the estate’s highest hill, commanding majestic views. It’s the perfect spot from which to watch Montagu’s harriers, Rüppell’s vultures, crossbills, flycatchers, shrikes and many more. Hunters and wildlife lovers will enjoy the estate’s 700 deer, 250 mouflon (wild sheep) and 150 wild boar.
Who: Savills, www.savills.com/international, tel: +44 (0)20 7016 3740
Invereil House, Scotland, £3m ►
Where: Dirleton, East Lothian, 28 miles (38km) from the centre of Edinburgh.
What: A nine-bedroom mansion with outbuildings, woodland and landscaped gardens in 4.73 acres (1.9ha).
Why: There are stunning coastal views of Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth. With around 150,000 resident gannets, Bass Rock is the planet’s largest single rock colony of gannets, described by David Attenborough as “one of the 12 wildlife wonders of the world”. Puffins, guillemots, shags, kittiwakes and herons are also common. So intense is the seabird life here that the Scottish Seabird Centre has based itself two miles away. In the house, there’s a sauna where you can recover after cooler twitching sessions.
Who: Strutt & Parker, www.struttandparker.com, tel: +44 (0)131 226 2500