Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti ©Steve Blain Website
Birding Bedfordshire

At some 123,000 hectares Bedfordshire is one of the smallest counties in England, though it can boast of being the home of both the RSPB and for many years of British Birds. Its geology, with four main strata of chalk, gault clay, lower greensand and Oxford clay traversing the county roughly from south-west to north-east ensures that it supports a diverse range of habitats even in a predominantly agricultural context, though some, such as heath-land, now occur only in small, isolated fragments. A total county list of some 280 species includes between 110 and 120 regularly breeding species: on average around 200 species are recorded in all each year.

Bedfordshire’s speciality used to be Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, which occurred on the greensand having spread from its original introduction at Woburn (also occurring just into Bucks). Sadly, the population of this extremely secretive and more often heard than seen bird has declined rapidly and is now presumed to have died out there.

Some popular sites for birdwatching – not implying any order of preference – are given below.

Top Sites
  • Blow's Downs

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    Famous for its migrant Ring Ousels in spring, as well as several other scarce migrant species, the details of which can be found regularly updated on the site's own website.
  • Harrold/Odell Country Park

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    for a variety of water birds and migrants.
  • Priory Country Park

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    where sightings in past years include Ferruginous Duck, Radde's Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler…
  • The Marston Vale Brick Pits

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    (from Brogborough to Elstow) which hold large numbers of roosting gulls, often including several white-winged gulls, in winter.
  • Additional Material


  • Andy Banthorpe


County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 291

    County Bird - Hobby Falco subbuteo
Useful Reading

  • The Birds of Bedfordshire

    | By Paul Trodd & David Kramer | Castlemead Publications | 1991 | Hardback | 376 pages, Illustrations | with 8 colour plates, line drawings and 113 distribution maps | ISBN: 9780948555152 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire & Oxfordshire

    | By Brian Clews, Andrew Herget & Paul Trodd | Christopher Helm | 2002 | Paperback | 320 pages, 69 maps, 30 line drawings | ISBN: 9780713640021 Buy this book from
  • BCNP - Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust

    We are the largest charity working for the conservation of wildlife and wild spaces within the three counties (including Beds). Based in five offices, the Trust campaigns for the sensitive and sustainable management of wildlife in the countryside and the urban landscape, manages thousands of hectares of land for wildlife and people, and carries out extensive educational work…
  • Bedfordshire Bird Club

    The Bedfordshire Bird Club was set up in 1992 by birdwatchers, from both inside and outside The Bedfordshire Natural History Society, to cater for their specialist needs. Its main functions are to record and document the avifauna within the County and to provide a forum for local birdwatchers
  • Bedfordshire Natural History Society

    he BNHS was founded in 1946, its main function to record the fauna and flora of Bedfordshire. The society is here to help, encourage and support those with an interest in wildlife. We endeavour to cover all branches of natural history particularly in relation to Bedfordshire

Abbreviations Key

  • Barton Hills National Nature Reserve

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    Barton Hills are situated southeast of the village of Barton-le-Clay in the English county of Bedfordshire. They are part of the Chilterns and hiking routes are marked on maps at the entrance to the hills. From the foot of the hillside, a spring (Barton Springs) marks the start of a chalk stream river. During the summer, Dartmoor ponies roam the hills.
  • Bird and Nature Reserves in Bedfordshire

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    The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire manages 126 nature reserves and 95% of our population lives less than five miles away from their nearest reserve. Use their interactive map to find a Wildlife Trust BCN nature reserve (shown with a badger flag) near you. Click on a number (indicating a cluster of reserves) to zoom in to show individual sites in this area.
  • Blow's Down Nature Reserve

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    Blow's Downs is now a well-known birdwatching site, particularly renowned for the regular appearance of Ring Ouzel on spring passage. Despite this species traditional use of the site many people visit Blow's but go away having not seen this elusive thrush. These notes aim to pass on some of the expertise that the locals have gained in locating them.
  • Flitwick Moor

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    An important wetland with an mix of fen, meadow, wet woodland and fragile peaty soils. In the heart of the Flit Valley, this wetland was left behind when peat was cut from the site as recently as the 1960s. The peat was used in the purification of natural gas. Long before that, the naturally iron-rich groundwater that bubbled up to the surface from springs was bottled and sold as a tonic for the blood.
  • Forest of Marston Vale (Marston Vale Millennium Park)

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    In the early 1990s, the government designated the 61 square mile area between Bedford and Milton Keynes a community forest and the forest of Marston Vale was born…
  • Great Bramingham Wood

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    Bramingham Wood is an area of natural woodland, located immediately to the north of the town of Luton in the County of Bedfordshire. In 1985, the Woodland Trust, a nation-wide charity now with in excess of 100,000 members, took over the management and subsequently the ownership of Bramingham Wood from the then private owners. Consisting of approximately 45 acres, the wood is classified as an ancient woodland in that it has known to have been in existence for at least 400 years and has probably been a woodland for much longer.
  • Pegsdon Hills

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    Steep hills and tranquil valleys in the Chilterns, with magnificent views of the countryside. One of the jewels of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Pegsdon Hills’ steep chalk hills offer some of the best views in the county. In spring, moschatel, or town-hallclock, named after the arrangement of its flowers, can be found in the woodland, while dingy and grizzled skipper butterflies flutter around in the grassland.
  • Priory Country Park

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    Priory Country Park is an established green area, of around 360 acres, made up of lakes, meadows and woodland, partially enclosed within a bend in the river Great Ouse.
  • RSPB Reserve - The Lodge

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    This reserve is a mixture of woodland, heathland and includes the formal gardens of the RSPB's UK headquarters…
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • BedsBirds

    Mailing List
    Birding in Bedfordshire, England. - Register here:
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birding Pal

    Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area
Other Links
  • Birdline East Anglia

    Birdline East Anglia What's about? Simply phone 09068 700245Please report your bird sightings to phone/text 07941333970 or e - Calls to 09068 700245 cost 60p/min from a BT landline other networks may vary
  • Naturenet - Bedfordshire

    Articles on reserves etc.
  • Opticron

    OPTICRON - P.O Box 370, Unit 21, Titan Court, Laporte Way, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU4 8YR, UK Telephone 01582 726522 Fax : 01582 723559 Email:
  • Lee G R Evans - Bedfordshire Birding Blog

    BEDFORDSHIRE BIRDING is a new site created by Lee G R Evans to cater for birders both within and outside this inland county.
  • Steve Blain - Bedsbirds Images

    Photoblog from a whole raft of good Beds photographer/birders…
Photographers & Artists
  • Bedfordshire Birds

    Flickr Gallery
    Collecting together photographs of all wild bird species taken in Bedfordshire, England.
  • Photographer

  • Photographer - Nigel Blake

    (Nothing posted for several years) Welcome to my website! I have been photographing wildlife for about 25 years. I have traveled extensively throughout Europe and Africa in search of subjects to photograph. Whilst birds are my preferred quarry I am attracted to anything that catches my eye, be that people, landscapes or anything with exceptional aesthetic appeal.
  • Photographer - Steve Blain

    Flickr Gallery
    Bird Porn - Steve Blain lives in Bedfordshire, loves digiscoping, local patching and county birding. Also enjoys the odd trip to far away lands to seek out mystical forest dwellers.

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