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West Yorkshire

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra ©David Mason Website

Birding West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county in England. It is located in the region of Yorkshire and the Humber with a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974. The county is landlocked and consists of five metropolitan boroughs (City of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, City of Leeds and City of Wakefield) and it shares borders with the counties of Derbyshire (to the south), Greater Manchester (to the south-west), Lancashire (to the north-west), North Yorkshire (to the north and east) and South Yorkshire (to the south-east).

It lies almost entirely on rocks of carboniferous age which form the southern Pennine fringes in the west and the Yorkshire coalfield further eastwards. In the extreme east of the metropolitan county there are younger deposits of magnesian limestone.

The Bradford and Calderdale areas are dominated by the scenery of the eastern slopes of the Pennines, dropping from upland in the west down to the east, and dissected by numerous steep-sided valleys. There is a close conjunction of large scale industry, urban areas and transport routes with open countryside. The dense network of roads, canals and railways and urban development, confined by valleys creates dramatic interplay of views between settlements and the surrounding hillsides.

The carboniferous rocks of the Yorkshire coalfield further east have produced a rolling landscape with hills, escarpments and broad valleys. In this landscape there is widespread evidence of both current and former industrial activity. There are numerous derelict or converted mine buildings and recently landscaped former spoil heaps. The scenery is a mixture of built up areas, industrial land with some dereliction, and farmed open country. Ribbon developments along transport routes including canal, road and rail are prominent features of the area although some remnants of the pre industrial landscape and semi-natural vegetation still survive. However, many areas are affected by urban fringe pressures creating fragmented and downgraded landscapes and ever present are urban influences from major cities, smaller industrial towns and former mining villages.

In the magnesian limestone belt to the east of the Leeds and Wakefield areas is an elevated ridge with smoothly rolling scenery, dissected by dry valleys. Here, there is a large number of country houses and estates with parkland, estate woodlands, plantations and game coverts.

The rivers Aire and Calder drain the area, flowing from west to east.

Top Sites

Fairburn Ings


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An extensive reserve of lagoons, pastureland and wooded colliery workings, easily accessible straight of the A1. Excellent for wildfowl and many common breeding species, it also sees raptors and terns in passage as well as a winter gull roost.

Leeds Area

Sites worth a visit include Ilkley moor (SE109467) for Red Grouse and Ring Ousel, Temple Newsam (SE370316) for woodland species and Eccup reservoir (SE297413) for winter gull roosts.

Southern Pennines

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Several interesting reservoirs in the area including Redmires (SE256857); Wintersett (SE374154) and Pugney's Country Park (SE325181)

County Recorder

County Recorder: Andy Jowett


Rarities to County Recorder or YNU Secretary Chris Robinson

01302 788304


Useful Reading

Best Birdwatching Sites Yorkshire

By Neil Glenn, with John Miles | Buckingham Press | 2017 | Paperback | 340 Pages | 120 Two-tone Maps |

ISBN: 9780956987679

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in Yorkshire

by John Mather | Christopher Helm | 2008 | Paperback | 320 pages, line drawings, maps |

ISBN: 9780713687828

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Yorkshire Bird Report 2011

Edited by Craig Thomas | Yorkshire Naturalists Union| 2013 | Paperback | 248 pages, colour photos, colour & b/w illustrations, colour maps, colour tables |

ISBN: #206948

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Chair of the YNU Rarities Committee

Garry Taylor 07970 714178

Yorkshire Ornithological Committee

Chairman: Craig Thomas 16 Scarborough Road, Filey, North Yorkshire, YO14 9EF, Tel: 01723 513055 e-mail craigcthomas@yahoo.co.uk Secretary: Jim Pewtress, 31 Piercy End, Kirkbymoorside, York, YO62 6DQ, Tel: 01751 431001 e-mail trivialis@operamail.com Elected members: Mike Pilsworth, Hillcrest, Whitgift, Goole, DN14 8HL, Tel: 01405 704082 e-mail: mikepilsworth@hotmail.com Protection Liaison Officer: D. J. Simpson, 51 Heather Way, Harrogate, HG3 2SH, Tel: 01423 538645 e-mail: doug@milvus.me.uk Representative on Humber Wildfowl Refuge Committee: Miss A Gowland


Bradford Ornithological Group


Newly overhauled website -…We are pleased to welcome all birders whatever their interests and are particularly keen to attract young members. There is a wide-ranging spectrum of interests within the group. Regular surveys are carried out each year, giving opportunity for all to participate not just in the pursuit of rare species, but recording status and distribution of our common birds…

Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club


We are a club and registered charity for people interested in wild birdlife, local, national and international, and aim to offer something to birders of all levels of experience - from seasoned to newcomers.The Huddersfield area has nationally important breeding habitat for some of Britain's most endangered species. It attracts rare and scarce birds every year and offers interesting birding all year round - if you know where to look.

RSPB Airedale & Bradford Local Group


This is the website of the Airedale & Bradford 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 Huddersfield & Halifax Local Group


This is the website of the Huddersfield & Halifax 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 Leeds Local Group


The site covers both forthcoming trips and meetings of the local group along with articles and information relating to birding sites around Leeds…

Swillington Ings Bird Group


Welcome to the Swillington Ings Bird Group Website, the pages here describe the Group’s arrangements, the wildlife recording area, details of individual sites, historical records and current sightings.

Yorkshire Naturalists Union


The Yorkshire Naturalists' Union is devoted to studying and recording Yorkshire's flora and fauna. We are an association of amateur and professional naturalists covering a wide range of aspects of natural history. We are one of the country's oldest wildlife organisations, having celebrated our 150th anniversary in 2011.

Yorkshire Red Kites


The Yorkshire Red Kite Project was the fifth in this sequence and began at Harewood Estate in West Yorkshire in 1999. By this time, the newly established Chilterns population had been so successful that, up to 2003, it was able to supply a total of 68 young birds for release in Yorkshire…


Abbreviations Key

Breary Marsh


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Breary Marsh is a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest situated adjacent to Golden Acre Park in Leeds. As the name suggests, it includes an area of marshland, but also a wet alder valley wood and former birch coppice. It is said to be a representative example of a wet valley alderwood and associated flood plain fen communities and is the most diverse example known in the county.

Bretton Country Park


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The pleasure grounds and parkland around the hall were the work of landscape gardeners Richard Woods in the 18th century and Robert Marnock, the estate's head gardener, in the 1820s and 1830s.[5] The hall overlooks the River Dearne which flows in an easterly direction through the parkland. It is dammed to form two lakes. Oxley Bank, a linear earthwork forms the park's eastern boundary.

Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve


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Our Nature Reserve is designed to bring wildlife back into the Calderdale area. Created on old Gravel Pits it was filled in a good few years back. It is a recognised fly-way for many species of wildfowl and waders on migration flying over the Pennines. We have many habitats, Lagoon, Wet Woodland, Meadows, Bird Viewing Area, Woodland with hundreds of Orchids, Canal and The River Calder. We are very close to other amenities in Brighouse and Elland.

Denso Marston Nature Reserve


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Created in 1990 on Denso Marston washland for the benefit of wildlife, community enjoyment and education. An urban haven of woodland, meadows and pools with varied wildlife complement the other green areas in the wildlife rich Aire valley.

Hardcastle Crags


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Hardcastle Crags is a wooded Pennine valley in West Yorkshire, England, owned by the National Trust. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the town of Hebden Bridge and 10 miles (16 km) west of the town of Halifax.

Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve


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Only two miles from Leeds' bustling city centre and surrounded by both residential and commercial development, Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve is a surprisingly green, quiet and relatively undisturbed mix of wetland, meadow and young woodland copse with great views of the River Aire.

Marsden Moor Estate


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The Marsden Moor Estate is a large expanse of moorland in the South Pennines, between the conurbations of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester in the north of England. It is named after the adjacent town of Marsden, and is owned and administered by the National Trust

Ogden Water Local Nature Reserve - Calderdale, Halifax


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Ogden Water Local Nature Reserve offers a superb opportunity to escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Over 300,000 people visit Ogden Water every year for picnics, walking, feeding the ducks, family outings and nature activities.

Pugneys Country Park


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Pugneys Country Park is a 250-acre (1.0 km2) park located on the A636 between Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England and Junction 39 of the M1 motorway. It is a Local Nature Reserve.

Rodley Nature Reserve


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Created on a floodplain in Kirkstall Valley, a recognised ‘flyway’ for wildfowl and waders on migration, the wetland habitats constructed here complement the nearby River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

RSPB - Fairburn Ings


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With pond dipping, regular fun events and walks to help you get away from it all, RSPB Fairburn Ings is the ideal place for adults and children to find out more about wildlife…

RSPB - St Aidan's


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Just a stone’s throw from the centre of Leeds, St Aidan’s is a stunning park to explore. Whether you’re on foot, on your bike or have your camera at the ready, take advantage of the amazing views and wonderful wildlife including bitterns, avocets, black terns, skylarks and meadow pipits.

Stanley Marsh


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One and a quarter miles north of Wakefield city centre, Stanley Marsh consists of woodland, marsh, open water and grassland and is ideal for a quiet walk through the nature reserve to observe the wildlife

Walton Colliery Nature Park


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Located 3 miles south east of Wakefield, Walton Colliery Nature Park consists of lakes and ponds, woodland and grassland and also a section of the Barnsley Canal.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust


Interactive map - We look after over 100 nature reserves across Yorkshire. Discover one near you! Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is a local charity working to create a Yorkshire rich in wildlife for everyone. The Trust believes Yorkshire should be rich in wildlife for the benefit of everyone with more wildlife, more wild places and more people having a strong connection to nature.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Birdwatching in the County of Yorkshire

Mailing List

This list is for Yorkshire birders, birdwatchers, birdspotters, and related subjects in the Counties of North, East, South, and West Yorkshire England. The list is a forum for news of rare bird sightings in the four Counties.

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.

Places to Stay

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

Pinfold Guest House


Recently refurbished Victorian coaching inn with a warm and homely atmosphere. Hearty breakfasts available for all diets. The M62 motorway is 3 minutes away, yet Pinfold Guest House is within a village setting with beautiful views over the Calder Valley…


Bishop Burton College – Environmental Studies


Students are well prepared for a wide range of exciting careers in the environmental and conservation sector through a combination of practical studies, work experience placements and lectures by experts in their field.

Harewood House Bird Garden


Harewood Bird Garden is one of the country's premier avian collections. Over a hundred species of threatened and exotic birds are housed in sympathetic environments with the aim of promoting conservation and education. The Bird Garden is an active member of the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland, and participates in various captive breeding programmes…

University of Hull - School of Environmental Sciences


The school brings together our expertise in biology, geography and geology. It's home to internationally renowned authorities in climate change, renewable energy and biodiversity monitoring.




Notes & photos by Will Forrest, from YWT Bretton Lakes CP and beyond - this is one of two blogs dedicated to my passion for wildlife in general and bird photography in particular. Bluebirder will concentrate predominently on my local Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve at West Bretton plus reports of birding trips and holidays…

Brian Sumner - West Yorkshire Birding


I am based at Queensbury and bird a patch approx 7 mile by 7 mile incorporating 10 stretches of water, several plantations, a belt of woodland and good areas of moorland. I specialize in visible migration , upland birds and sky watching.any reports can be sent by text or call to 07771 705024 or see profile for e mail address. All images on this blog are copyright.(2017).

Laycock Birder


Last updated 2015 - Birding life in a West Yorkshire village… no updates since 2015

Pam's Place


I've been interested in birds and wildlife since I was a child when my parents took us on many local walks and my Dad especially taught us about what we were seeing. I've finally over the past year or so made more of an effort to rekindle these interests…

Steve Farley - Yorkshire Wild


A blog about the world of birding and the experience of birding mostly in Yorkshire. Lower Derwent Valley, Bank Island, Wheldrake, North Duffield Carr & the wider York Birding area.

Other Links

Food 4 Wildbirds


At food for wild birds we supply a wide range of quality wild bird food..

Photographers & Artists

B.O.G. Images


Last update 2013 - Images of birds and other wildlife from the Bradford area… Last updated 2013

Photographer - Sean Gray


Some great images from this local birder…