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Birding Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire is a land-locked county in East Anglia. It comprises the old counties of Cambridgeshire & the Isle of Ely and Huntingdon and the ‘Soke of Peterborough’. It is an East Anglian county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west.In medieval times, it contained a vast swamp, known as the fens, which was drained by the Dutch in the 1600s, rendering much of the county below sea level but leaving one small remnant at Wicken Fen. Large areas of the county are extremely low-lying and Holme Fen is notable for being the UK’s lowest physical point at 2.75 m (9 ft) below sea level. The highest point is in the village of Great Chishill at just 146 m (480 ft) above sea level.

Cambridgeshire has a maritime temperate climate which is broadly similar to the rest of the United Kingdom, though it is drier than the UK average due to its low altitude and easterly location, the prevailing southwesterly winds having already deposited moisture on higher ground further west. Average winter temperatures are cooler than the English average, due to Cambridgeshire’s inland location and relative nearness to continental Europe, which results in the moderating maritime influence being less strong. Snowfall is slightly more common than in western areas, due to the relative winter coolness and easterly winds bringing occasional snow from the North Sea. In summer temperatures are average or slightly above, due to less cloud cover.The Dutch also created a rich habitat called the Ouse Washes with breeding Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit. Welney (close by in Norfolk); a Mecca for wintering waterfowl, is situated on the washes as is the RSPB reserve at Welches Dam further south.

Wicken Fen Vision, an ambitious landscape-scale conservation project, is opening up new areas of land to explore. Its grazing herds of Highland cattle and Konik ponies are helping to create a diverse range of new habitats.

Other popular birding spots are Grafham Water in the west, Fen Drayton gravel pits, the Nene Washes near Peterborough, Fowlmere as well as a number of landfill sites with a fine parade of gulls.

The county is also home to the headquarters of Birdlife International and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The Cambridgeshire Bird Club and Peterborough Bird Club are both active with winter lectures and year-round outings. Records should be sent to RECORDER@CAMBRIDGEBIRDCLUB.ORG.UK

Top Sites
  • Castor Hanglands

    InformationSatellite View
    This ancient woodland, about five miles west of Peterborough is reached by leaving the A47 north at Ailsworth and following a minor road towards Helpston. Park at the north end of the wood by a bridle way approx. SP 1363. If you come to some crossroads, you have gone too far. Follow the bridle way into the wood. Best time to visit is in spring, either for the dawn chorus or towards dusk. Target species include Nightingale, Grasshopper Warbler, Woodcock and Long-eared Owl with a supporting cast of Turtle Dove, Hobby, Cuckoo and the occasional Quail. Beware; there have been a lot of cars broken into in the last year.
  • Eldernell

    Satellite View
    This is the back end of the Nene Washes and is the best approach to this reserve in winter as walking down the main drove means that you automatically break the skyline and spook the wildfowl. Access is from the A605 Whittlesey to March road. Just east of the village of Coates, turn north along Eldernell Lane and park in the car park at the end of the road. Much viewing can be done from the car park - indeed, due to flooding; you might well find that you can't go any further. The Nene Way footpath leads east and west but your best bet is to head west (turn left as you face the wash) and follow the path along the top of the bank. The pool and reed bed on your left sometimes holds a wintering Bittern. The wood on your right contains a large heronry, also Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker. As soon as you pass the wood, drop down to avoid flushing the wildfowl.
  • Ferry Meadows

    InformationSatellite View
    This country park is accessed from the A605, a couple of miles west of Peterborough city centre and is well signposted. This is a fair, all-round site with a good mix of habitats - river, lake, scrub, woodland etc -offering a good range of the commoner species - a visit in May could produce 50-60 species. The wader scrapes (two hides) no longer support breeding waders - the odd pair of Little Ringed Plovers - but there are good numbers of Common Terns around (peak 75 this year) with passage Arctic Terns. Black Terns and Little Gulls appear in suitable conditions. The site is at the junction of two main migration routes - the A1 and the River Nene so the odd unusual bird does turn up though it is usually early dates for migrants rather than major rarities. Winter sees the occasional scarce grebe or diver on the lake and there is a huge pre-roost gathering of corvids. Redpolls and Siskins are often in alders by the hides. Bluebell Wood holds all three woodpeckers though Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is getting very hard to find.
  • Little Paxton Gravel Pits

    WebsiteSatellite View
    One of the UK's best sites for seeing and hearing nightingales. See the Website below for further details.
  • Nene Washes

    WebpageSatellite View
    The main entrance to the Nene Washes is accessed from the B1040 Whittlesey to Thorney road. Leave the A47 at south at Thorney and continue until you cross the river. (On your right is a minor road with the Dog in a Doublet pub just along it. Park here and check the River Nene at the sluice for the occasional auk, shag etc.) Once you have crossed the river, continue until you see a track on your left by a row of trees at 90 degrees to the road. Follow this track (many potholes) as it doubles back on itself. Park when you come to the main drove and walk down the drove as far as you want (it is about three miles long) Best on a warm spring evening when there will be plenty of displaying waders - Redshank, Snipe, Lapwing, and the star bird, Black-tailed Godwit. Other waders can be seen on passage and you might see Barn and Long-eared Owls, Marsh Harrier and Hobby. Spotted Crakes are heard most years after dusk though there is no chance of seeing them.
  • Wicken Fen

    WebpageSatellite View
    A fen, dyke and woodland in a sea of farmland. Attracts bunting and finch flocks in winter. Good for marshloving species etc.
  • Dick Newell (Cambridgeshire)


County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 331

    County Bird - Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa [It used to be Ruff but that no longer breeds in the county. Cambridgeshire has an important breeding population of the nominate race of Black-tailed Godwit and get large numbers of migrant Icelandic birds]. The County Emblem is the Great Bustard - last confirmed breeding in 1831 and last recorded in 1902.
Useful Reading

  • Cambridgeshire Bird Atlas 2007-2011

    | By Louise Bacon, Alison Cooper & Hugh Venables | Cambridgeshire Bird Club | 2013 | Paperback | 294 pages, b/w illustrations, tables, 500 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780902038271 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Cambridgeshire

    | By PMM Bircham | Cambridge University Press | 2009 |Paperback | 296 Pages, Illustrations | ISBN: 9780521111720 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in East Anglia

    } By Peter & Margaret Clarke | Christopher Helm | 2002 | Edition 4 | Paperback | 270 pages, B/w illustrations, maps | ISBN: 0713658649 Buy this book from
  • Cambridge Conservation Forum

    Facebook Page
    Cambridge Conservation Forum endeavours to achieve its aims by: fostering contacts between people in different organisations; broadening awareness of the exceptional pool of local expertise and activities; and encouraging the development of joint initiatives aimed at tackling common problems
  • Cambridgeshire Bird Club

    We record the county's birds in our Annual Report, so we need your Records. We have a stunning Gallery, so we need your photos. We discuss things on Cambirds, we do Research, we have indoor Meetings, we have a Partnership with an African bird-club and we inform you with our regular Bulletins and lots more. Membership currently stands at over 350. General enquiries to: Records to:
  • Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust

    The Trust has managed nature reserves, right across the three counties, for many years. Now we’re connecting these reserves together.
  • Cambs Bird Club

    Twitter Website
    We promote the study, recording and conservation of birds and their habitats in Cambridgeshire. @CambsBirdClub
  • Peterborough Bird Club

    The aim of the PBC is to bring together all those with an interest in birds in the Peterborough area and to increase their knowledge and enjoyment of birds and other wildlife. We also aim to raise awareness of birds among the local people and to promote their conservation. Outdoor Meetings are held most months, with a healthy mix of visits to both local sites and reserves further a field. Our winter indoor programme runs from September to April (excluding December) on the last Tuesday of the month. Indoor meetings start at 7.30pm at the Post Office Sports and Social Club on Bourges Boulevard Peterborough PE1 2AU…
  • RSPB - Cambridge Local Group

    This is the website of the Cambridge 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 - Huntingdonshire Local Group

    This is the website of the Huntingdonshire Local Group.
  • Rockingham Forest Trust

    The Rockingham Forest is an area of some 200 square miles in North-East Northamptonshire, lying between the Rivers Welland and Nene and the towns of Stamford and Kettering. It has a rich and varied landscape, with farmland, open pasture, pockets of woodland and villages built from local stone
  • The Raptor Foundation

    We are in a purpose built centre near St Ives in Cambridgeshire England. Our address is: The Raptor Foundation, The Heath, St Ives Rd, Woodhurst, Cambs, PE28 3BT Tel (44) 01487 741140

Abbreviations Key

  • Accessable Reserves

    WebpageSatellite View
    Each of the following links lead to a BFA assessment of the reserve by BFA members and others, using the BFA form. ALL types of mobility problem are assumed so there are details of path surfaces, gradients and distances as well as benches and hide details.
  • Cambrideshire Reserves

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Map with list of reserves and notes for each…
  • Great Fen Project

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Great Fen project will restore over 3,000 hectares of farmland situated between Huntingdon and Peterborough to fenland wildlife habitat. This will be achieved by connecting and enlarging, two existing vitally important National Nature Reserves. The project will combine nature conservation, tourism, education and local access…
  • LNR Paxton Pits

    WebpageSatellite View
    Paxton Pits are flooded gravel workings in southwest Cambridgeshire. Much of the former workings have been given over to wildlife and it is now an important haven for birds, mammals, flowers and insects. The pit complex is home to a quarter of the county's nightingales…
  • LWT Deepings Lakes

    Information PDFSatellite View
    The Deepings Pits comprise two old ballast pits which were dug for material for the construction of the railway which runs between them. They are The Mere and Dandridge`s Pit. Both are private and very difficult to work. The Mere can be viewed from the track which runs alongside the River Welland where, especially in the spring, excellent views can be had of the breeding herons and cormorants. The woodland area alongside the track is also excellent for general woodland species with woodpeckers, treecreepers, tits, etc…
  • NNR Wicken Fen

    WebpageSatellite View
    There is no higher recognition of ecological importance. These designations have been principally made on account of the open Fen habitats such as sedge beds, reed communities and Fen meadows. Aquatic habitats such as the dykes and pools are also very important. Dryer grassland and woodland also add diversity to the site but in the case of woodland, its expansion has often been at the expense of more valuable open Fen habitats.
  • NNR Woodwalton Fen

    InformationSatellite View
    Woodwalton Fen is one of Britain's oldest nature reserves and occupies a substantial site of 208ha north-east of Huntingdon…
  • RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes

    WebpageSatellite View
    This complex of lakes and traditional riverside meadows next to the River Great Ouse used to be gravel workings. It is a fantastic place to explore and watch birds with huge numbers of ducks, swans and geese on the lakes in winter. In summer, terns, hobbies and a variety of dragonflies are regularly seen. Otters also live here, but are rarely seen.
  • RSPB Fowlmere

    WebpageSatellite View
    Fowlmere's reedbeds and pools are fed by natural chalk springs and a chalk stream runs through the reserve. Special birds, include kingfishers and water rails, breeding sedge, reed and grasshopper warblers and a roost of corn buntings…
  • RSPB Nene Washes

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Nene Washes are a Flood Storage Reservoir for the River Nene and the grassland here is frequently flooded during the winter. It's an excellent spot to watch birds of prey - marsh harriers and hobbies in summer, and hen harriers and peregrines in winter.
  • RSPB Ouse Washes

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Ouse Washes is an excellent introduction to Fenland wildlife. In the winter, the reserve attracts thousands of ducks and swans; and redshanks, lapwings and snipe breed in the summer…
  • WWT Welney

    WebpageSatellite View
    Official WWT site. In winter, enjoy the magic of hundreds of Whooper and Bewick's Swans accompanied by flocks of thousands of ducks. During the day, carpets of Wigeon graze this precious wetland, while flocks of Pintail, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler dabble in the pools and lagoons. Late afternoon is a special time as necks of swans flight-in to claim their night roosting sites.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • CamBirds

    Mailing list for birdwatchers and ornithologists in the Cambridge, UK area. Apply here: cambirds-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.comsightings and other information of local interest. See:
  • Cambridgeshire Bird Club 'What's About'

    This page is maintained on behalf of the Club by Paul Rule and Peter Holt. This is a news page and the reports are not official records. If you have any general news then please e-mail Paul and Pete.
  • PeterBirder

    Mailing Group
    Birdwatching, birding, and ornithology, Peterborough. Peterborough Bird Club announcements and events
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Birding Pal

    Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area
Places to Stay

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • Spinney Abbey

    Spinney Abbey farm borders onto the celebrated Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve. The Reserve would have once formed part of the monastic lands surrounding the Abbey, and visitors to the reserve can see one of the very places where the ancient fen landscape is still relatively unchanged. The first monks at Spinney and many of those who came after them would have been all too familiar with the wetlands and swampy ground which is now almost all drained and converted to farmland. Alongside this landscape was an unique fenland way of life and remarkable wildlife.
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
  • Campkins Cameras

    We specialize in providing high-quality binoculars, telescopes, and spotting scopes from popular brands such as Zeiss, Swarovski and Opticron to name a few. Our selection of products is specifically curated to meet the needs of avid birders, and our team of experts is always on hand to provide expert advice and support
  • Deeping's Birding

    The Deepings Pits comprise two old ballast pits which were dug for material for the construction of the railway which runs between them. They are The Mere and Dandridge's Pit. Both are private and very difficult to work. The Mere can be viewed from the track which runs alongside the River Welland where, especially in the spring, excellent views can be had of the breeding herons and cormorants. The woodland area alongside the track is also excellent for general woodland species with woodpeckers, treecreepers, tits, etc….
  • Jono Leadleys Indybirder

    Photos, sightings, checklist and stuff around Graffam Water and Cambridgeshire
  • Kennedy Wild Bird

    The present day range of Anne Kennedy Aristocratic wild bird feeds are the result of over twenty years continuous research into the feeding of wildlife. Wild bird seed mixtures have been around for many years
  • Naturenet

    Directions to some of the sites etc.
  • Peckish

    At Peckish our aim is to develop the very best in quality garden bird food and to help bring more bird species to your garden, that
  • Brian Stone - The Natural Stone

    Mainly a pictorial nature diary - last updated 2016
  • Jonathan Taylors Nene washes

    Birds and wildlife of the Nene Washes…
  • Jophn Saunders - Hedgeland Tales

    Keen local birdwatcher with a love of the natural world, all that is beautiful and ugly and everything in between.
  • Katie Fuller - Bogbumper

    A well established birding blog from Peterborough, with a wildlife garden project and overseas trips - last updated 2014
  • Steve Dudley - Toadsnatcher

    I've created these pages to share my birding and wildlife interests with other like-minded souls…
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - David Hyde

    Born in Hitchin in Hertfordshire David is a self-taught artist who now lives and works in the historic town of St.Ives, on the banks of the river Great Ouse, in Cambridgeshire. He has, for many years, painted landscape and wildlife (particularly British birds) in both watercolour and acrylic. His work has been accepted by the Royal Institute of Watercolour Artists and sold by Christies of South Kensington…
  • Cambridgeshire Bird Club Gallery

    Welcome to the photo section of the Cambridgeshire Bird Club website. As well as featuring some superb photographs of birds regularly occurring in Cambridgeshire, this gallery also serves as a photographic record of some of the rarer and more interesting sightings from around the county.
  • Photographer - Amanda & Phil Ackerman

    This web page is just pictures taken by Amanda and Phil Ackerman, with few words I`m afraid. It is mostly of Birds with a few of Butterflies and the local landscape. My local patch is Langtoft Lakes and surrounding area, there are plenty of pictures of the area on our local patch web page
  • Photographer - Garth Peacock

    My interest in wildlife photography, (especially birds) really only began in 2004 after early retirement gave me the time and the opportunity to revisit my childhood interest of bird-watching
  • Photographer - Jeff Harrison

    Jeff is one of only a handful of photographers holding Schedule 1 Licences from Natural England to photograph both Kingfishers and Barn Owls at their nest sites and both of these species feature heavily on his website
  • Photographer - Josh Jones & Will Bowell

    This website is designed to display some of the two birder's best photography (including, birds, insects and landscapes). Latest photos can be found in the Diary whilst an index of all bird photos we have taken in Britain can be found in the Photo Gallery
  • Photographer - Neil Triggs

    Lots of wildlife pics including some very good shots of commoner UK birds
  • Photographer - Peter Beesley

  • Photographer - Rebecca Nason

    Welcome to my website! I hope you enjoy browsing through my image gallery. The photographs shown are only a small sample of an extensive high quality image library I have developed over the last few years. Please do not hesitate to contact me with image requests from the website or from my library stock
  • Photographer - Stuart Elsom

    Welcome to my website. Inside you will find photographs of birds, mammals, butterflies, assorted flora and fauna and landscapes from my travels within the UK and further afield

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