The York Ornithological Club - birds and birdwatching in York and North Yorkshire

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Where to watch birds in and around York

Click on a birdwatching sitename on the map to visit a web site for that area.
Some links are better than others!

Yorkshire Birdwatching Map
For a more detailed map of our Recording Area (with birdwatching sites), click here. (Use your browser's 'back button' to return to this page).

Wheldrake Ings and the Lower Derwent Valley: A premier wetlands site (SSSI and RAMSAR site). Excellent winter site for waterfowl. Good breeding site for some water birds (including Black-necked Grebes in recent years) and Sedge and Reed Warblers. Interesting spring / autumn wader passage. Location: 8 miles SE of York. For news on bird survey work in the Lower Derwent Valley, click here.

The East Coast: The Yorkshire coast, containing some of the finest cliff scenery in England, is about 40 miles East of York (Spurn point is a little further). In the breeding season (April - July), Bempton Cliffs, North of Flamborough, is one of the UK's finest seabird colonies. Spurn Point, SE of Hull, can be excellent for spring and autumn migration, with both common and scarce birds turning up. Flamborough, Filey and Filey Brigg can produce some fine seawatching, especially with a bracing Easterly wind blowing!

The Humber Estuary: Blacktoft Sands, near Goole, has recently become famous for the first breeding Avocets in Yorkshire for 150 years. Marsh Harriers are also breeding on this RSPB Reserve, which normally holds interest throughout the year. The October irruption of Bearded Tits is worth watching. Apart from Blacktoft, there are many other sites around the Humber Estuary which are worth visiting, particularly in the winter months.

The North York Moors area: A wild, wide area, with Red Grouse, Merlin, Ring Ouzel higher up, Honey Buzzards in a few wooded areas, Dippers in some streams and a wide variety of birds in the lower regions. For good close-up photographic opportunities, try the feeding station in Forge Valley, West of Scarborough.

The Aire Valley: This area, about 15 miles South West of York, is a little industrial, but there are some good birding sites. Most notable are RSPB's Fairburn Ings Reserve (just West of the A1 near Castleford) - with extensive water areas and New Swillington Ings, near Oulton, Leeds. Both of these are water sites, which usually hold good numbers of common water birds, and which have attracted some scarcer species.

Other good areas: There's so much good birding in Yorkshire that it's impossible to give anything other than a sampler here. In the Yorkshire Dales area, both Bolton Abbey Woods and Upper Nidderdale (West of Pateley Bridge) are excellent, the former especially in the Spring and Summer, and the latter producing a wide variety of raptors near Gouthwaite Reservoir. And then there's Upper Wharfedale, Fountains Abbey, Swaledale (well, all of the Yorkshire Dales!) and some of the more industrial Southern sites such as Potteric Carr (Doncaster) and Pugneys Country Park (Wakefield). Tophill Low, in the Wolds, is a Yorkshire Water site that has produced some good migrant birds.

If you get into the Settle area of the Yorkshire Dales (west of Skipton), it's worth visiting the Yorkshire Dales Falconry and Conservation Centre on the main A65 road, a few miles NW of Settle (Tel 01729 822832). All the birds here have been reared from non-wild stock, and the Centre has a good conservation record. There are daily falconry displays

Close to York: If you cannot get far from York then, apart from the Lower Derwent Valley, some good local sites within a few miles from the centre of York include Skipwith Common (Nightjars in June), Strensall Common and Askham Bog. Ask at the Tourist Office for details on how to get to these nearby localities. To help you, we've provided a detailed map of the YOC Recording Area, showing the main sites near York

Where to Watch Birds in YorkshireAn excellent book: We've only been able to scratch the surface of good Yorkshire birdwatching sites here. For really excellent coverage of where to go, how to get there and what you are likely to see at different times of the year, you must get hold of a copy of "Where to Watch Birds in Yorkshire (Including the Former North Humberside)" by John R Mather. Click here for more details about this book, and how to order it over the Internet.

Further afield: Check out our listing of the "Where to Watch" bird guides. These will give you excellent information on all the main bird watching areas in Britain, Ireland - and many other parts of the world. And you can order any of them over the Internet, courtesy of our agreement with Amazon Books


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