10 best places in the UK to go birding in winter

Now the cold season has arrived, visit one of these top locations to see birds in spectacular numbers.

Avocets © Richard Chew


1 Caerlaverock Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), Dumfries & Galloway

Some 35,000 barnacle geese spend the winter on the Solway Firth, with many thousands of those at Caerlaverock, after spending their breeding season in Arctic Svalbard. www.wwt.org.uk

2 Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland
Noted for offering a winter home to three-quarters of the world population of light-bellied brent geese, nearly 40,000 birds. Waders and wildfowl visit in huge numbers, too. www.strangfordlough.org

3 Budle Bay, Bamburgh
Large numbers of overwintering greylag and pink-footed geese, plus wildfowl such as wigeon and teal. Stag Rocks (below the lighthouse) known for its wintering divers and grebes. www.naturalbornbirder.com

4 Fairburn Ings RSPB, West Yorkshire
Autumn brings passage waders, while in winter you can watch goldeneye, smew and goosanders starting to pair up in preparation for the coming spring. www.rspb.org.uk

5 Dee Estuary – Parkgate RSPB
Autumn is a good time to see passage migrants such as black-tailed godwits and greenshank and also sees the arrival of the first pink-footed geese. Winter brings birds of prey such as hen harriers, merlin and short-eared owls. www.rspb.org.uk

6 Snettisham RSPB, Norfolk
Watch thousands of pink-foots leaving their night-time roost in The Wash any time from mid-November. www.rspb.org.uk

7 Shapwick Heath NNR, Somerset
Best-known for its starling roost – mainly visitors from continental Europe – but also an excellent place to see gadwall, shovellers and tufted ducks. Adjacent reserves such as Ham Wall worth visiting, too. www.naturalengland.org.uk

8 Pagham Harbour, West Sussex
A huge variety of birds, including large flocks of curlews, knot and bar-tailed godwits. www.rspb.org.uk

9 Dawlish Warren NNR, Devon
An impressive variety and numbers of waders spend the winter on the Exe Estuary – everything from avocets and bar and black-tailed godwits to curlews, dunlin and knot. www.dawlishwarren.info

10 Stodmarsh NNR, Kent
Great flocks of wildfowl, and a spectacular starling roost. A winter visit here could also be your best chance of seeing a bittern. www.naturalengland.org.uk

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