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West Yorkshire

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra ©David Mason Website

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


Satellite View

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

Satellite View

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 | Paperback | May 2017 | 340 Pages | 120 Two-tone Maps
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 9780956987679

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Rare and Scarce Birds in Yorkshire

Andrew Wilson & Russell Slack

ISBN: 0903793598

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds - Yorkshire

by John Mather A&C Black, 2009 [3rd Edition]

ISBN: 9780713687828

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Yorkshire Bird Report 2010

Yorkshire Naturalists Union - Available through their website: http://www.ynu.org.uk

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

Forums & Mailing Lists


Mailing List

Discussion Group - 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. You may also make requests for bird-related information and information on local birdwatching sites. This is a public forum do not post details of species or sites that could help egg collectors identify nest sites. Do not send file attachments.

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Yorkshire Rose Birding Tours

Tour Operator

This website aims to give you a little background of what the county of Yorkshire has to offer. Yorkshire is arguably the best county in Britain for birds and bird watching. It has England's largest mainland Gannettry, some wonderful habitats that provide homes to some extremely rare and scarce birds. Locally common, they prove to be extremely difficult to see elsewhere in the country. The Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow for example, in the right location can be easy to find. These and lots of other birds find a suitable home in Yorkshire…

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…


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 local birdwatching club and registered charity whose members meet regularly to discuss local sightings and enjoy presentations from guest speakers on a variety of interesting bird and wildlife topics. We are active in observing and recording the birdlife of the Club Area in and around Huddersfield and every year publish our own report Birds in Huddersfield, one of a number of Publications produced by the club. We also undertake bird surveys for external organisations (which have included Kirklees MC, the RSPB, National Trust, English Nature and Friends of Beaumont Park) and contribute to Kirklees MC’s conservation committees. If you would like to know more about the club, please contact us or see our Membership page for details of the benefits of membership and How to Join and become involved…

RSPB - Leeds Members Group


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

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.

Swillington Ings


Swillington Ings bird group… birding in the lower Aire Valley…

Yorkshire Naturalists Union


The YNU has four basic aims: To study the wildlife of Yorkshire. To record the results of these studies. To present these studies. To use the information for wildlife conservation…

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…


Bishop Burton College – Ornithology Degree Course


Aim - The aim of this major is to provide a high degree of scientific knowledge about birds, and an understanding of the conservation issues relating to them. Special Features - This course has a compulsory field study component. How you Study - Delivery of the course is through lectures, seminars, field and laboratory practicals and tutorials. Included in the course are field study courses. Students who wish to take an industrial year out are encouraged to do so but this is not a compulsory requirement…

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


If you want to develop your interest in birds academically while leaving your options open in Biology then this is the degree programme for you. Working in partnership with Bishop Burton College we have combined our areas of expertise to develop an exciting ornithology pathway that integrates with a broad based biology provision…


Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve


Satellite View

The idea for a Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve dates back to the Leeds City Council local plan in 1981, long before the Leeds Development Corporation was established. At this stage the Council resolved to establish a Kirkstall Valley Park along the River Aire, stretching from the Armley Mills Industrial Museum nearest the city centre, to the open countryside near Rodley…

Ogden Water Local Nature Reserve - Calderdale, Halifax


Satellite View

Ogden Water was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2003. The Estate comprises a 34 acre reservoir enclosed by woodland with open moor beyond. The heather uplands and peat moors form part of a Special Protection Area, that is of international importance for breeding birds…

RSPB - Fairburn Ings


Satellite View

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…




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…

BOG [Bradford Ornithological Group] Sightings


Bird sightings in the Bradford Ornithologist's recording area…

Laycock Birder


Birding life in a West Yorkshire village…

My birding starting September 2007


This is a blog that tells me what I have seen and when. It’s an internet record for me to go back on and remind me of what I have seen. Some of my favourite birds I have seen before will be at the start…

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…

Queensbury Birder


My patch is Queensbury, a hilltop village in West Yorkshire. Reports of birds seen within an approx 2-1/2 mile radius will be featured. I urge contributors to record entries on the Birdtrack database also…

Other Links

Avian Calling


Bird songs and calls from the Bradford Ornithological Group's recording area…

Food 4 Wildbirds


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

Photographers & Artists

B.O.G. Images


Images of birds and other wildlife from the Bradford area…

Photographer - Sean Gray


Some great images from this local birder…