The landlocked county of Wiltshire consists of a rolling plateau of chalk downland bordered by lowland in the NW and SE. The chalk downland (an internationally threatened habitat) is split into two areas by the rich Vale of Pewsey. To the north are the smaller, higher Marlborough Downs, whilst to the south are the more extensive Salisbury Plain. The county is mainly agricultural with pasture for cattle, sheep or pigs, and large fields for cereals. The major rivers are the two Avons. The first of these runs westward through the county of Avon and into the Severn Channel. The second drains to the south into Hampshire and enters the English Channel at Bournemouth. Although the lack of proximity to the sea restricts the range of birds somewhat, for the careful birdwatcher there is still much of interest to be found.
This area of chalk downland (along with malborough Downs) takes up most of the area of Wiltshire. It is used extensively by the army for gunnery ranges and tank training grounds and as a result access is heavily restricted. Species include hen harriers Circus cyaneus, great grey shrike Lanius excubitor during winter and breeding quail Coturnix coturnix and stone curlews Burhinus oedicnemus.
Cotswold Water Park
This collection of water filled gravel pits lies on the border between Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Disturbance from water-sports can be a problem, but mostly the birds move from one pit to another so a continual sweep will generally produce a good variety of waterfowl and waders, including the occasional rarity.
A remnant of ancient woodland, with the resulting range of species. This wood is a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve, though the others nearby are also worthy of a look. The wood also contains a small lake that has been known to attract rarities on passage.
The By Brook
A picturesque valley much visited by tourists, but which contains some great woodland birds. The main attractions are the dippers Cinlus cinlus and kingfishers Alcedo atthis that breed here and that can afford some marvellous views. (The map ref here is for Castle Combe, just one of the places on the brook. but the one most likely to have parking)
Ancient oak woodlands which contain a better than average selection of woodland birds including nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, woodcock Scolopax rusticola and nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos.
Woods around Stourton
The woods by the National Trust village of Stourton are still relatively unexplored, but have been shown to contain a large selection of birds rare elsewhere in the county. Crossbills Loxia curvirostra, woodcock Scolopax rusticola, nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus, lesser spotted woodpeckers Dendrocopos minor, grasshopper warblers Locustella naevia and firecrests Regulus ignicapillus can all be found at various times of the year, though patience and thorough searching may be required!
This area of chalk downland takes up (along with Salisbury Plain) most of the area of Wiltshire. This site is more easily accessible of the two but suffers relatively more form human disturbance and contains less species.
14 Ethendum, Bratton, Westbury, Wilts. BA13 4RX
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 318
Where to Watch Birds in Somerset, Gloucestershire & Wiltshire
by Ken Hall & John Govett 3rd edition Helm ?Where to Watch? series. 2004 ?14.99p
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 0713666145Buy this book from NHBS.com
Stephen Palmer Paperback (November 1991) Wilts Co. Cncl, Lib. & Museum Service
ISBN: 086080223XBuy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Wiltshire
Wiltshire Ornithological Society 2007
ISBN: 0955527007Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
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
Heywood Holiday Cottages
We have 2 large cottages that each sleep 15 people. They are located in Rural Wiltshire, and the gardens are visited by woodpeckers (green and greater spotted) amongst many other things, deer, badgers and so on. There are woods all around…
Magnificent 17th Century self catering Holiday Cottage in quiet Wiltshire hamlet just 20 minutes from the City of Bath (click for map). Sleeps 16+2 in 8 bedrooms…
Widbrook Grange, home of resident owners Jane and Peter Wragg is an elegant 250 year old Georgian country house hotel peacefully located in 11 acres of grounds on the outskirts of the ancient medieval town of Bradford-on-Avon…
The Old Post House B&B
The Old Post House is a 350 year old Grade II listed character house situated in the village of Great Wishford, approximately half-way between Stonehenge (7 miles), and Salisbury (5 miles). The village is well away from the traffic and crowds in an area of greenbelt conservation and outstanding natural beauty…
Wiltshire Ornithological Society
We welcome anyone who has an interest in wild birds in Wiltshire regardless of ability and we particularly encourage more juniors to join to develop their interest in birds. The Outdoor Programme caters for all and such field trips are the perfect place to get to know other members… Membership Secretary: Maureen Millar email@example.com
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
The vision of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is a county richer in wildlife, managed on sustainable principles. We are Wiltshire`s largest independent voluntary organisation concerned for wildlife and countryside.
Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
The Society, which is a Registered Charity, administers its internationally important Museum and Library at Devizes. It arranges a summer programme of field meetings and excursions to interesting buildings, exhibitions and sites, as well as extended visits to historic centres in Britain, which in recent years have included York, Lincoln and Chester. In winter, a lecture programme covers archaeology, art, history and natural history…
Great Bustard Group
The Great Bustard Project - re-introduction into the UK…
RSPB - North Wiltshire Members Group
Welcome to the website of the North Wiltshire RSPB Local Group. This site is for you, especially if you are interested in birdwatching and conservation in Swindon, North Wiltshire and the surrounding areas…
Cotswolds Water Park
Created by extraction of the Cotswold Stone Gravel over 40 years, the area is being reclaimed for nature and leisure. Although continuously developing, and with 40 more years of reserves, the Park is already of national importance for wildlife, particularly over wintering wildfowl and contains twelve sites of Special Scientific Interest and numerous nature reserves.
National & Local Nature Reserves
English Nature manage 7 national reserves in Wiltshire, and six local ones…
Bob Philpott - Cotswold Water Park Sightings
This weblog covers sightings in the Cotswold Water Park irrespective of county. It is designed to record all recent sightings within the Cotswold Water Park and aims to increase reports of sightings for this area…
Malcolm Royal - Wiltshire Birder - A Birding Diary
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Malcolm Royal and I have lived in Chiseldon for over twenty years. I have been interested in birds for many years but have only been birding in the proper sense since 2008. I still class myself as a casual birder with a lot to learn. I have grandly titled this blog as wiltshirebirder but I know that I am only a minnow in the pool of fine birders of this county. So please forgive my delusions of grandeur…
Swindon Birds and Wildlife
Welcome to the Swindon Birds and Wildlife Blog. If you live within a 10 mile radius of Swindon and would like to share your sightings and photos of the birds and wildlife you have seen, then why not email them to Swindon Birds and Wildlife...
West Wilts Wildlife
…covers the area of Seend, Melksham and Devizes and hopes to enrich local knowledge of Wildlife species in our area. The website includes reports, sightings, photo galleries and will soon be expanded to include wildlife Webcams as well as Mini-Films…
This website features sightings and photos of birds and other wildlife, in and around the Swindon area. Please re-check the site regularly, as it is being updated and added to all the time…
Photographers & Artists
Artist - Susan Shimeld
Initially self-taught wildlife artist and life long lover of all things wild…
Artist - Jonathan Pomroy
Since leaving art college I have worked as a freelance wildlife and landscape artist. I have aimed to have three or four one man exhibitions each year and have really enjoyed exhibiting at such venues as Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserves Slimbridge, Arundel and The Wetland Centre at Barnes…