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Greater Manchester

Dunlin Calidris alpina ©Sue Tranter

The central part of the metropolitan area is made up of urban sprawl and industrial areas criss-crossed with canals and the River Mersey. There are one or two pairs of Black Redstarts in the city centre. Formerly nationally important numbers of Pochard and Tufted Duck were found in Salford Docks in winter but since the 'clean up' they are no longer present. However the main areas of interest for the birdwatcher are on the fringes of the region.

In the north are several reservoirs, in the east there is moor-land and the Peak District. In the south there is the Mersey valley and there are remnants of moss-land and flooded mine-workings in the west. Typically around 200 species are seen each year and the county list stands at 299.

Below are some of the top sites within the area and within easy reach of the city centre.

Top Sites

Pennington Flash


Satellite View

The premier site in the area with over 230 species recorded. A 200ha country park with diverse habitats including a large flooded lake used for various leisure activities so an early visit is recommended. Small car park fee. In winter large numbers of waterfowl including the rarer Grebes and Smew, also Long-eared Owl, Water Rail, and Willow Tit can be seen daily. Passage birds include various waders, Little Gull and Black Tern. Summer brings nesting Common Terns. The top rarity here was a Black-faced Bunting - the first for Britain.

Wigan Flashes


Satellite View

Similar to Pennington and birds interchange between the two. Bittern have been seen in winter in more secluded spots. Top rarity was a River Warbler which stayed for 32 days in the summer of 1995.

Hope Carr

Satellite View

A new reserve built on the site of Leigh sewage works. A favourite haunt of Water Pipit in past winters, but sadly not for some time.

Mersey Valley

Satellite View

The visitor centre has a notice-board with recent sightings. A small reserve at Broad Ees Dole (SJ801931) holds Snipe and Jack Snipe in winter but it has become overgrown. Nearby Chorlton Water Park (SJ820915) used to hold large numbers of duck in winter but these now seem to favour Salford Docks. All these areas are favourites with dog-walkers and day trippers so again an early visit is recommended.

Audenshaw Reservoir


Satellite View

A permit to Audenshaw Reservoir can now be obtained (via a long waiting list) from Ian Leech at ian.leech@uuplc.co.uk 01457 851080. A large Gull roost and a lot of passage migrants drop in, often only for an hour or two so this is an ideal patch.

Etherow Country Park


Satellite View

Ignore the feral wildfowl and head up to the weir for Dipper and Grey Wagtail. In summer roding Woodcock, Cuckoo, Redstarts and Pied Flycatcher. Small car park fee.

Hollingworth Lake


Satellite View

Large numbers of Goosander in winter, also various passage migrants. Car park fee.

Elton Reservoir


Satellite View

A well-watched patch with waterfowl in winter and a selection of passage migrants.

City Centre

Satellite View

Breeding Grey Wagtail, Peregrine and Black Redstart all in the very heart of the city centre!


Tony Coatsworth

Withington., Manchester


County Recorder

Ian McKerchar

42 Green Avenue, Astley. Greater Manchester. M29 7EH

01942 701758; 07958 687481


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 310

County Bird - Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus

Useful Reading

Where to watch birds in Cumbria, Lancashire & Cheshire

Jonathan Guest and Malcolm Hutcheson Christopher Helm due October 2007

ISBN: 9780713664218

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

WEA Adult Education classes

Local libraries or WEA District Office (0161 273 7652). Aimed at beginners but a chance to get out birdwatching with an experienced leader and useful if you don’t have transport.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

North West Birds


Welcome to our web site. We have a passion for birds and we would like to share it with you - by taking you birdwatching on the edge of the English Lake District. We run minibreaks for very small groups with all in accommodation on a house party basis, with guests joining us at our home, Barn Close.

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Trip Reports


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.


RSPB Manchester Members Groups

RSPB Groups in Greater Manchester

RSPB Greater Manchester Members Groups


Contact details, etc…

Leigh Ornithological Society


The society was formed in 1971 by a group of enthusiasts, some of whom had been observing and recording bird life in the area since the early part of the last century. They submitted records annually from the late 1940s to regional bodies, initially to the Lancashire & Cheshire fauna Society for possible inclusion in Lancashire bird reports and, since 1976, to the editor(s) of the Greater Manchester Bird Report.

North West Swan Study Group


The North West Swan Study was formed in 1988 to study the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) population of the North West of England. This area encompasses Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cumbria, Merseyside (north of the River Mersey) and the Isle of Man, a total of approximately 12,250 sq km.

RSPB Bolton Local Group


The group aims to be a focus for existing RSPB members in the Bolton area and also for those new to birdwatching. Our programme of indoor meetings attracts over 100 people each month and runs from September to April. We also have outdoor trips locally and further afield; some of these by coach…

Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester & North Merseyside


We are part of the Wildlife Trusts movement, the UK's leading conservation charity dedicated to all wildlife. We are your local charity, working hard to improve your local area for wildlife and for you. Since 1912, The Wildlife Trusts have been speaking out for nature in the UK. Our organisation is unique - while most of our work for wildlife takes place at local grassroots level, we have a national voice…


Broad Ees Dole Local Nature Reserve


Satellite View

Broad Ees Dole is an important wildlife refuge in the busy Sale Water Park site. Although there are no footpaths leading through the Dole, the footpaths around the perimeter of the site provide excellent viewpoints to watch the bird life for which the site is so important…

Dove Stone RSPB


Satellite View

A landscape that will take your breath away. Towering hills, sheer rock faces, swathes of open moorland, a picturesque reservoir - that's Dove Stone, the northern gateway to the Peak District National Park. Red Grouse, Raven, Peregrine, Golden Plover, Curlew etc.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Manchester Birding Forum



The Early Birder


My blog from the North West and beyond - I have lived in South Manchester, close to the Cheshire border since 2003. With so many good wildlife sites on my doorstep it was not too long before I picked up the camera to see what I could capture. Nothing too fancy, but it gives me great enjoyment. I hope you enjoy them too. Oh, and I do go out very early in the mornings…

Geek Teacher's Birding Scrapbook


An online diary, photo album and scrapbook about me and my birding exploits in Wigan and beyond…

Other Links

Mersey Birders


Birders Diaries, Bird news Bird sites, Weather and Travel, Photo Gallery, Gulls Page, Quick Reference, Bird Lists, articles…

Manchester Birding Forum


Birds, birders and birding in Greater Manchester - Welcome to my Greater Manchester County birding website, Manchester Birding, it is owned, designed, built and maintained by me, Ian McKerchar with the ever generous contributions from many county birders. Besides running this website I am also County Bird Recorder for Greater Manchester and one of the two administrators for the Greater Manchester Bird Recording Group…