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.
A permit to Audenshaw Reservoir can now be obtained (via a long waiting list) from Ian Leech at email@example.com 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.
Breeding Grey Wagtail, Peregrine and Black Redstart all in the very heart of the city centre!
A well-watched patch with waterfowl in winter and a selection of passage migrants.
Etherow Country Park
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.
Large numbers of Goosander in winter, also various passage migrants. Car park fee.
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.
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.
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.
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
Where to watch birds in Cumbria, Lancashire & Cheshire
Jonathan Guest and Malcolm Hutcheson Christopher Helm due October 2007
ISBN: 9780713664218Buy this book from NHBS.com
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.
Forums & Mailing Lists
Manchester Birding Forum
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
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.
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.
Altrincham and District Natural History Society
The Altrincham and District Natural History Society provides a focus for natural history activities in the Altrincham area. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month, with evening walks in summer and illustrated talks in winter. Additional whole day events are organised periodically.
Leigh Ornithological Society
Leigh Ornithological Society (or L.O.S.) 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.
Rochdale Field Naturalists' Society
Rochdale Field Naturalists' is run by, and for its members, and we encourage everyone to plan and participate in our activities.
RSPB Bolton Local Group
This is the website of the Bolton Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
RSPB Stockport Local Group
This is the website of the Stockport Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
Stockport Bird Watching Society
We meet once a month at the Heatons Sports Club, Green Lane, Heaton Moor, Stockport, SK4 2NF. For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 432 9513 or 07790 377396.
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
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
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.
Geek Teacher's Birding Scrapbook
An online diary, photo album and scrapbook about me and my birding exploits in Wigan and beyond…
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…
Welcome to Manchester Birding, a site first published in September 2006 all about birds, birders and birding in the county of Greater Manchester and which is owned, designed, built and maintained by me, Ian McKerchar. Since those early days the site has evolved into a resource for way beyond those county boundaries and in January 2017 underwent a complete redesigned from the original Manchester Birding website into the site you are on today. Manchester Birding also includes the Manchester Birding Forum, one of the UK's top birding forums.
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…
Birders Diaries, Bird news Bird sites, Weather and Travel, Photo Gallery, Gulls Page, Quick Reference, Bird Lists, articles…