Leach's Petrel Hydrobates leucorhous ©Steven Round Website

The recording region of Cheshire (area 58 in the Watsonian scheme) includes the ceremonial county of Cheshire (the unitary authorities of East Cheshire, West Cheshire, Halton, Warrington and Wirral (previously part of Merseyside). It is in North West England, bordering Lancashire and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south and Wales to the west. Cheshire’s county town is Chester; the largest town is Warrington.

Birding Cheshire

The county covers a boulder clay plain separating the hills of North Wales and the Peak District of Derbyshire (the area is also known as the Cheshire Gap). This was formed following the retreat of ice age glaciers which left the area dotted with kettle holes, locally referred to as meres.

To the west Cheshire is dominated by the estuaries of the Dee and Mersey. Hilbre Island and the RSPB reserve at Gayton Sands on the Dee are well known throughout the country for their vast flocks of waders and duck, but the Mersey, due to its difficult access is less well known yet can be every bit as good. Frodsham marshes in particular, at the confluence of the River Weaver and the Mersey estuary, is excellent.

Both Hilbre Island and the north Wirral coast are good spots for sea-watching with Leach’s Petrel a speciality. Cheshire is also blessed with a good variety of inland water, there are the rivers of the Dee, Mersey, Weaver, Dane, Bollin and Gowy, a good selection of canals and many meres, ranging from little more than small ponds to large lakes. Standing out of the rich farmland of the Cheshire plain are the Peckforton Hills and Beeston Crag. Well wooded and affording marvellous views of the Welsh hills they are the haunt of Peregrine Falcons and Ravens and still have Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler.

Further east the nature of the countryside changes, here the Cheshire border abuts the Peak District and this is a much wilder countryside with forests, rushing streams and desolate fells.

Top Sites
  • Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

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    Burton Mere Wetlands is an RSPB nature reserve on the Dee Estuary straddling the border between Cheshire, England and Flintshire, Wales. It is run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and incorporates the older Inner Marsh Farm reserve. Apart from wintering waterfowl, harriers, Merlin and other raptors, the reserve plays host to good numbers of waders species including breeding Avocets, and now has resident Great White Egrets and breeding Cattle Egrets in 2017.
  • Frodsham Marsh

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    The marsh is an area of sludge-beds from the River Weaver attracting an excellent range of both breeding and wintering birds, with a fair selection of rarities. Here too the embankments afford good views of the massed ranks of waders and duck on the Mersey estuary.
  • Gayton Sands - Parkgate RSPB

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    This RSPB reserve is famous for it's high tide bird-watches at Parkgate when hundreds of birders can turn up. They come to see the wheeling massed flocks of waders, pintail, wigeon and teal as well as short-eared owls and hen harrier.
  • Great Budworth Mere and Marbury Country Park

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    An attractive area of mixed wetland and woodland set between the village of Budworth and the river Weaver, with the Trent and Mersey Canal winding it's way through the middle. Great Crested Grebes breed on the mere and the woods and marshy areas attract can attract a good selection of species at any time of the year.
  • Hilbre Island

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    You can spend high tide on the island cut off by the sea then walk back at low water. Hilbre is a great place to observe the spring and autumn passage when both land and sea birds can be seen. Waders present during winter include Purple Sandpipers as well as the usual Oystercatchers, Dunlin and Knot…
  • Maccesfield Forest

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    An ancient forest which includes dark conifers, open moorland and reservoirs. Red Grouse and curlew breed on the moorland but sadly no more the Black Grouse.
  • North Wirral Coastal Park

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    The North Wirral Country Park from Meols to Leasowe is worth a mention, much the easiest place to see migrants...
  • Peckforton Castle

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    The castle sits on a range sticking sharply up from the Cheshire plain. The hills have a range of habitat including rocky outcrops, birch-wood, pine forest, hardwood plantations and heath-land. Breeding birds include pied flycatcher and nightjar.
County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 366

    County Bird - Leach's Storm Petrel Oceanodrama leucorhoa
    [because the Wirral coast (including Hilbre Island) is one of the best places in the country to see them - particularly in autumn].
Useful Reading

  • Birds in Cheshire & Wirral - A Breeding & Wintering Atlas

    | By David Norman | Liverpool University Press | 2008 | Hardback | 676 pages, 300 colour photos, distribution maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781846311529 Buy this book from
  • Lancashire Bird Report 2022|

    | edited by Steve J White | Lancashire & Cheshire Fauna Society | 2023 | Paperback | 166 pages, colour photos, colour tables | ISBN: 9781916903456 Buy this book from
  • Rare and Scarce Birds of Cheshire & Wirral

    | By Allan Conlin, Eddie Williams & Ray Scally | Conlin & Williams | 2017 | Hardback | 248 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781527212503 Buy this book from
  • Rostherne Mere – Birds of Mere and Margin

    | One Hundred and Thirty Years of Observations | By Steve Barber et al | Tom Wall (privately published) | 2019 | Paperback | 250 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations, colour maps | ISBN: 9781916043602 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in North West England & Isle of Man

    | By Allan Conlin, Dr J P Cullen, Pete Marsh, Tristan Reid, Chris Sharpe, Judith Smith & Stephen Williams | Christopher Helm | 2008 | Paperback | 287 pages, 30 line illustrations, 50 maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713664218 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • Cheshire & Wirral Bird Reports

    | By Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society - from D. Cogger, 113 Nantwich Road, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 9HD | Back copies also available |
  • Cheshire Barn Owl Group

    I am interested in setting up a voluntary Barn Owl group for the North Cheshire Area, If you are interested would you Email me or fill in the on line form, at the moment I am collecting names and will arrange a meeting at a later date…
  • Cheshire Wildlife Trust

    Cheshire Wildlife Trust's Homepage and Website. Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) are the premier conservation organisation within the county of Cheshire and are a subsidiary body of the Wildlife Trusts, this being the central organisation underpinning each of the regional Trusts around the country…
  • Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society

    The county society, that caters for the amateur and expert birdwatcher alike, has much to offer...A commitment to conservation issues, local bird studies, species recording, nationally acclaimed annual Bird Report. An unrivalled newsletter: BIRD NEWS. An acclaimed County bird atlas along with a winter programme of monthly illustrated talks.
  • Dee Estuary Birding

    The north Wirral shore - vast sand banks, promenades, embankments and sand dunes. The area is heavily used as a recreational area but despite this still holds huge numbers of birds. The sand banks are renowned for their large flocks of waders, especially Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit whereas inland a good variety of habitat includes sand-dunes, ponds, streams, reed-beds and un-spoiled meadows
  • Knutsford Ornithological Society

    A well presented site. It all began in September 1972, a short article in the Knutsford Guardian announced a series of evening classes organised by the Workers Education Association devoted to the subject of Ornithology. The tutor was the late Bill Mulligan, despite his advancing years a man of boundless enthusiasm and energy who managed over the next two years to transfer some of his immense knowledge to his band of disciples. Eventually Bill declared that he`d done as much as he could and it was now up to us! So early in 1974 the inaugural meeting of the Society took place, a constitution was drawn up and the first committee elected. Bill of course became a life member and the organisations first President.
  • Merseyside Ringing Group

    Not Updated since 2016! The Merseyside Ringing Group operates in Merseyside, Cheshire, Wirral and North Wales.
  • Mid Cheshire Barn Owl Conservation Group

    The barn owl is in decline throughout Great Britain
  • Mid-Cheshire Ornithological Society

    MCOS is one of the longest established ornithological societies in Cheshire catering for all tastes in bird watching and all level of skill. This home page is the entry to more information about our varied programme of meetings, both indoor and outdoor, and the role we and our members play in the Cheshire birding
  • RSPB Chester Group

    The Chester RSPB Members Group was formed in 1987. The membership numbers around 350 people.
  • RSPB Macclesfield Group

    This is the website of the Macclesfield 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 Wirral Local Group

    This is the website of the Wirral Local Group - Programmes, committee etc…
  • South Cheshire Barn Owl Group

    This group is working to save the barn owl in South Cheshire
  • South East Cheshire Ornithological Society

    In 2014 we celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the first SECOS meeting way back in 1964. We were fortunate to have two of the original founding members, Alan Goodin and Pat Whalley still attending our meetings. In a newspaper article at the time Alan Goodin is reported as saying “we intend to carry on for at least a year” – little did he know that it would still be running fifty years later. Also John Barker, who joined them at the second meeting, has had continuous membership ever since.
  • Wilmslow Guild Birdwatching Group

    The Birdwatching group is a friendly, active and enthusiastic mix of birdwatchers of varying abilities and experience. We welcome new members and visitors, whether as interested beginners or more experienced birdwatchers, to all our events. The group provides indoor and outdoor programmes throughout the year. A monthly illustrated newsletter is provided at all indoor meetings and by email.
  • Wirral Barn Owl Trust

    In 1999, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the R.S.P.B. and Wirral Ranger Service got together and invited interested people to the inaugural meeting of The Wirral & Ellesmere Port Barn Owl Group. The group had an initial membership of 33 people
  • Wirral Bird Club

    Wirral is the peninsula of land between the rivers Dee and Mersey in north west England. The area, particularly the Dee Estuary, is of national and international importance for thousands of birds in winter, species such as Redshank, Dunlin, Knot, Oystercatcher and Shelduck

Abbreviations Key

  • CP North Wirral Coastal Park

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    Inland of the embankement, particularly the area between Dove Point and Leasowe Lighthouse, is some superb bird habitat with sand dunes followed by a series of small horse paddocks many surrounded by overgrown hedges. This habitat seems particularly attractive to spring migrants and we get Ring Ouzels, Yellow Wagtails, White Wagtails, Wheatears, Whinchats, Redstarts and a whole range of warblers. Lingham Lane, inland of the lighthouse, with it's tall hedges and the nearby River Birkett is a particularly good place to look for migrants.
  • CP Northwich Community Woodland

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    Walk amongst dragons and kings! Explore the walks and trails around Marbury Country Park, Anderton Nature Park, Dairy House and Witton Mill Meadows, which together form Northwich Community Woodlands…
  • Frodsham Marsh

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    Frodsham Marsh is a great birding site at any time of year but it’s also quite a size...
  • LNR Eastwood Nature Reserve

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    The reserve is open every Sunday to members of the R.S.P.B. and Cheshire Wildlife Trust as well as the general public from 10am to 4pm. Due to the sensitive nature of the site dogs and cycles are not allowed. Midweek there are usually working parties doing general maintainance and repairs. Eastwood has been owned by the R.S.P.B. since 1932 and is now managed by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust.
  • LNR Hatton's Hey Reserve

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    MCOS took out a lease on a stretch of the River Weaver near Kingsley in September 1986 and created the Society’s reserve called Hatton's Hey. The reserve covers 29 acres and includes a strip of woodland, drive scrub and extensive reed bed. A hide overlooks the open water lagoon. We have a very active nest box programme both on the reserve and in adjacent woodland. One of our members closely monitors nest box activity and a report is filed annually to the Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society records officer.
  • LNR Marbury Reedbed

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    A reedbed with boardwalk trail and woodlands, part of Budworth Mere at Marbury Country Park
  • LNR Moore Nature Reserve

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    Moore Nature Reserve is a 200-acre site in Warrington, north Cheshire. The reserve consists of five large lakes surrounded by extensive woodland, meadows and wetlands, made accessible by a network of paths and bird hides. Its many habitats provide a home for a variety of birds, mammals, insects, plants, amphibians and fungi. The reserve is open to the public at all times, 365 days a year…
  • LNR Red Rocks Marsh

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    Red Rocks Marsh is a nature reserve part of which maintained by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. It is a 28 acre site of brackish marsh and sand dunes open to the public…
  • LNR Sandbach Flashes SSSI

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    Sandbach Flashes are an SSSI managed by Natural England. The website was created by a few devotees interested in maintaining a photo gallery, latest news, sightings and year list information for the local flashes.
  • LNR Woolston Eyes Bird Reserve

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    The Woolston Eyes Reserve is situated to the east of Warrington between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal near Latchford Locks and the Thelwall Viaduct which carries the M6 Motorway over both the River. Access to Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve is by permit only. Permit holders have the loan of a key to negotiate the locked Reserve vehicle entrance and individual access gates on the open No.3 and No.4 beds. The Reserve is accessible, only with a key, 365 days a year during the open hours 08:00 to 20:00 from 1st April until 31st October and 08:00 to 16:00 from 1st November to 31st March. Beds No.2 and No.1 are working beds and are not accessible to any visitors.
  • NNR Rostherne Mere

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    Rostherne is the largest of the Cheshire meres and also the deepest, with the original basin having been deepened by salt subsidence.
  • NNR Wybunbury Moss

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    Wybunbury Moss NNR is situated in south Cheshire, at the centre of the ‘Meres and Mosses’ Natural Area, where it forms part of a series of peat bogs or ‘Mosses’.
  • RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands

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    The gateway to the Dee Estuary reserve, Burton Mere Wetlands straddles the border between England and Wales with a mosaic of freshwater wetland habitats, mixed farmland and woodland. The area is bursting with wildlife, hosting avocets, egrets, harriers, noisy redshanks, swallows and swifts.
  • RSPB Parkgate

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    The Parkgate reserve is a vast saltmarsh beside a former seaside promenade. This unique setting provides the perfect combination of stunning landscapes, rich wildlife and excellent eateries. Come at high tide if possible, when you can see the ducks, geese, wading birds and birds of prey up close.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • C & W Bird News

    Twitter Feed
    This is the place to share all your news,sightings and photos of birds in and around the Cheshire and Wirral area.
  • Cheshire & Wirral Birding News

    Welcome to Cheshire and Wirral birding.This blog will be updated with bird news from around the county on a daily basis.
  • Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society Bird News

    Newsletter Archive
    Thrice yearly newsletter
Guides & Tour Operators
  • North West Birds

    We have a passion for birds and we`d like to share it with you - by taking you birdwatching on the edge of the English Lake District. We run mini-breaks for very small groups with all in accommodation on a house party basis, with guests joining us at our home, Barn Close.
  • The Biggest Twitch

    Guided Birdwatching Trips and more with The Biggest Twitch!
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [12 December] - David Nixon

    ...On 16th December I set out to photograph woodpeckers and buzzards - both are common and overlooked in my opinion. Woodpeckers are spectacular and particularly photogenic, even in tough lighting conditions...
Other Links
  • Birding Frodsham Marsh

    Frodsham Marsh is my personal 'local patch', generally a local patch is an area where a single person or a group of birdwatchers choose to watch over a particular area in an attempt to see or record or even just chill out to watch its birds and/or the fauna and flora in that given area.
  • Birds along the Sandstone Trail

    Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail has long been popular with birdwatchers and nature lovers. The Trail traces the line of wooded sandstone hills that run roughly north to south across the county and crosses a variety of other habitats from marshland to lowland heath, which means you’re likely to spot a good variety of Cheshire birds.
  • Breeding Bird Atlas of Cheshire and Wirral Project

    Why are we doing this? The Breeding Bird Atlas of Cheshire and Wirral was published over 10 years ago (1992) based on fieldwork now 20 years old (1978-84). Nationally, those 20 years have seen perhaps the biggest changes ever in bird populations and distribution
  • Cheshire Falconry

    We are Cheshire Falconry. Prepare to be amazed as you get hands on with magnificent birds of prey in our range of truly incredible flying experiences
  • Dee Estuary Birding

    The Dee Estuary, on the North Wales/North-West England border, is one of the United Kingdom`s premier birding locations for wetland and shore birds. This Web site describes the best Dee Estuary birdwatching areas with detailed maps and latest bird news for dedicated twitchers and casual birdwatchers alike.
  • Nature Sign Design

    Nature sign maker and photographer
  • Red Barn Wild Bird Products

    Red Barn Wild Bird Products have been established in the garden centre and retail trade for 35 years and in the wild bird food trade for 6 years, and our extensive experience has enabled us to build up an enviable reputation and a broad customer base. We supply wild bird foods to retail/ garden centres nation-wide and we are noted for our excellent service and success in customer satisfaction.
  • Al Orton - Al Orton's Birding Blog

    Birding in Cheshire and the occasional twitch…
  • Andrew Fulton - Rambles with a Camera

    A blog of my rambles in the countyside - Welcome to my blog. I spend most of my leisure time walking in the countryside and only take photographs for memories although i do get real pleasure from some of my wildlife pictures…
  • Findlay Wilde - WildeAboutBirds

    Last updated 2020! I'm Findlay. I am really interested in wildlife, especially birds. I want to do everything I can to protect nature now and in the future, as well as enjoying it of course. Follow my birding journey..
  • Frodsham Marsh BirdBlog

    Frodsham Marsh is situated in the north-west of Cheshire, a county in the North West of England. Roughly half way down the west coast of the U.K. it is sandwiched between Liverpool and Manchester, and on the south banks of the Mighty River Mersey.
  • Mark Feltham - Moore Birds and Birding...

    The continuing tales of a Cheshire patcher - Birds & Birding at a Local Cheshire Spot - So, this is me… It said 'Description' in the box so here it is… About 5' 9". ~170lbs. Married. Old. 'Mad as a box of frogs', apparently. Loves his patch. Nuff Sed…
  • Mike Mottram - Diaries of a Cheshire Wildlife Watcher

    Hi my names Mike and I love to film and photograph wildlife of the uk. Heres abit of what I will be posting on this blog. I love to observe and film wildlife in my local area cheshire by using different ideas used by the pros and a few of my own ideas and inventions thrown in so I thought I would start a blog so I could share my wildlife encounters and storys with other nature lovers around the world…
  • Phil Woollen - A Wirral Birders Blog

    Welcome to my blog about birding on the Wirral, in Cheshire and beyond. This blog will be updated regularly to include photographs of birds (and other wildlife) I've photographed both in the UK and abroad
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - Chris Shields

    Chris has produced to date in excess of twenty thousand wildlife illustrations in over 300 books, numerous calendars, greeting cards, posters and jigsaw puzzles. He has exhibited his paintings widely in the UK and China and has paintings in public and private collections all over the world
  • Photographer - Andy Astbury - Wildlife in Pixels

    Still & Video Images of the Natural World
  • Photographer - Mike Atkinson

    Collection of images covering both common and scarce British birds. Many images are displayed full-screen
  • Photographer - Steven Round

    Some very nice images from an improving photographer

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