Carrion Crow Corvus corona ©Ashley Beolens Website
Birding Derbyshire

Derbyshire is a land locked, medium sized county in central England which encompasses the bulk of the Peak District. It is a county with a wide diversity of scenery and habitat and this makes Derbyshire an ideal place for birds and birdwatching. The diverse habitats range from high peat bogs to grit-stone edges, heather and heath to moorlands, and from dales and river valleys to ancient and new woodland with large areas of pasture and industrial areas too.Each habitat has its own particular bird life. Changes in the county have seen some species lost such as Black Grouse and Corn Crake, with Nightjars just holding on but very scarce. Grey partridge, Tree Sparrows and other farmland species are struggling due to modern intensive farming methods but such species as Common Buzzard, Peregrine and Raven have returned to the county.

Gravel Pit workings in the south of the county have created more water with marsh and reedbed areas for wildfowl, waders and warblers. The reclamation of the old colliery spoil heaps in the northeast has created several new nature reserves and woodland areas. The old railway lines and cuttings have been reclaimed creating trails with diverse habitats. The abundance of varied habitats accounts for the richness and variety of the bird species in the county. Above all, birdwatching in Derbyshire can be an excellent challenge at any time of the year, with the possibility of encountering a wide range of species. There are, of course, few counties in England that can boast such spectacular scenery.

Top Sites
  • Axe Edge Moor

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    Mainly grit-stone valley with large reservoirs, plantations and open moorland. Best in spring and summer for Red Grouse, Wheatear, Golden Plover Curlew, Whinchat, Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Wood Warbler Dipper, Pied Flycatcher and Red-breasted Merganser. Easily accessed from the old A6 Buxton - Manchester road, now the A5002 or from the A537 Buxton - Macclesfield road, there area several car parks in the valley.
  • Birdholme Wildfowl Reserve

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    A61 south of Chesterfield. N area of meadow, willow scrub, reedy marsh and a man-made lake. Kingfisher, winter wildfowl and summer warblers
  • Brinsley Flash/Erewash Valley

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    Shallow water flashes created by mining subsidence. Ongoing work to improve the site.
  • Carr Vale Nature Reserve

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    Carr Vale Nature Reserve, which was formed though subsidence in an old mining area, consists of open water fringed by reedmace, sedges and rushes surrounded by meadowlands with the river Doe Lea running along the south side. On the west is the M1. On the north side spoil heaps have been landscaped and is scrub. There are no hides but a viewing mound overlooks the area and has disabled access. It attracts winter wildfowl and large plover flocks. The nearby sewage works attracts Water Rail, Jack Snipe and Rock Pipit. Being part of the Rother valley means that it is a funnel for migration. Several county firsts have been recorded here including Common Rosefinch and Lesser Yellowlegs. It is also good for Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest, Wryneck etc. Access is off the A632 - from Chesterfield, continue over the roundabout then take the first right onto Villas Road, along which, at the sharp 90% bend, carry straight on to a rough track and follow this to a small car parking area near the entrance of the Nature Reserve. Alternatively you can turn right at the roundabout & follow the road to another carpark. From here the Nature Reserve is via a footpath over the old colliery tip. Disabled access has been incorporated into the planned changes to the Reserve.
  • Carsington Water

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    Carsington water is situated c.12 miles northwest of Derby and 4 miles northeast of Ashbourne set in countryside on the edge of the Peak District. It is surrounded by pasture with hedgerows of hawthorn and mature woodlands & younger plantation. The northern area of the reservoir is a wildlife zone with limited access. The rest of the reservoir is used for sailing and angling. There are now 4 hides, one at the Wildlife Centre near the visitor's centre, the other 3 are sign-posted & have good disabled access and can easily be accessed from the Sheepwash carpark. There is a parking charge for the Visitor's Centre carpark and at Millfields [both have toilets]. Anyone who has paid at the Visitor Centre carpark can obtain a token from the information desk for Millfields carpark too. Sheepwash carpark is free but the gates are locked at 1800hrs after the fishing season end. The Visitor Centre has refreshments and a shop with optical equipment, bird books, feeders etc.
  • Chatsworth Park

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    Chatsworth Park is typical artificial parkland with large wooded and plantation areas of oaks and other trees and shrubs. The River Derwent runs through the park, which is to the west of the moor land, and is great for Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Goosander and Common Sandpiper. The whole park is private property, with the area to the south open all year round to the public. Access from the A6 Matlock - Bakewell road at Rowsley and onto the A623 Baslow road or from the A619 Bakewell to Baslow road.
  • Church Wilne Reservoir

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    Access to this site is strictly by permit only from the Severn Trent Water Plc and is via a minor road between Sawley and Breeston. It is a deep, steep concrete banked reservoir with adjacent grassed banks and scrub.
  • Cromford Canal

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    This is an area of some 3/4 miles of partially disused canal surrounded by deciduous woodland and riverside Meadows. The River Derwent runs almost adjacent to the canal for its whole length. All carparks are situated off the A6 Derby - Matlock road. The Wharf carpark is accessible off the A6 at Cromford but the other free carpark, which is probably best for birdwatching, is adjacent to the High Peak Junction and is sign-posted and has toilets.
  • Darley Park

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    The park is close to the village of Darley Abbey - in the suburbs of Derby) which sits along the River Derwent. The area constantly shows an excellent selection of woodland birds and other wildlife.
  • Drakelow Wildlife Reserve

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    Access via the A38 Derby – Lichfield road south of Burton on the Walton-on-Trent road. Entry is by permit only (available from the National Power, Drakelow Power Station, Burton-upon-Trent). The entrance to the reserve is 1 mile north of Walton village. There is a car park for birders. The habitat is disused gravel workings with open water, reedbeds and scrub.
  • Elvaston Castle Country Park

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    Old parkland with lake. Currently under threat of development email Graham Mansey, Secretary, Friends of Elvaston for details…
  • Foremark Reservoir

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    Access via the A514 Derby – Swadlincote road. At Ticknall take the road for Repton and after approx ½ mile turn left into the reservoir carpark, which is signposted. You can also take the Ticknall – Swadlincote road and turn right into the car park at Carvers Rocks. Carvers Rocks is a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reserve and is mainly woodland with bracken areas. The with farmland and a large coniferous plantation close by. The surrounding banks are steep and only the sandy shallow banks are exposed when the water level drops. The reservoir has a good list of county rarities.
  • Kedleston Park

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    Large country house with open parkland, lakes and woods with a variety of tree species. Access – see road map for different access points from the north and south.
  • Linacre Valley

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    Via B6050 has three reservoirs and a nature trail around all three. Good for winter wildfowl.
  • Longshaw Estate

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    Accessed off the Sheffield - Grindleford road or the Chesterfield - Hathersage road. Large areas of open moor land with and clumps of mixed woodland, which in some years attracts small parties of Crossbills.
  • Middleton Moor Lagoons

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    Access to this site is via the A623 Baslow – Buxton road, turning left at the junction sign-posted Cavendish Mill. To access the No.3 Lagoon, take the first left, follow the road (beware of heavy vehicles and machinery) until you approach a gate on your right-hand side. A notice says No Trespassing, but this is the entrance so follow the path to the hide. To access the No.4 Lagoon retrace your steps, turn left and the take the next two left turnings which will take you down an unsurfaced road to the Lagoon. Please park sensibly so as not to block any of the roads.
  • Moss Valley

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    B6056 at Marsh Lane; woodpeckers, warblers and finches.
  • Northeast Derbyshire Moors

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    The area comprises Beeley Moor (SK290700); East Moor (SK290700); Brampton East Moor, Gibbet Moor (SK270760) and Harewood Moor (SK300670). Access is via A619 from the North or B5057 in the South. This large area is mainly heath and bog and largely treeless. The most productive area is adjacent to Arkwright Plantation and from Beeley Triangle to Slagmill Plantation. It is terrific for raptors and the usual moorland species. Matlock Forest`s focal point is Flash Lane (SK300590) and holds woodcock and nightjar. Barbrook Reservoir on Big Moor attracts many migrants to its waters edge as well as interesting wintering finches and buntings.
  • Ogston Reservoir

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    Ogston Reservoir lies 2 miles southwest of Clay Cross. 208 acres of water can easily be watched from the road side and carparks with a public hide in the west bank carpark. The reservoir is surrounded by pastures and mixed woodland. It is bound by steep banks on the eastern side, the dam wall at the southeast end and shallow banks elsewhere, presenting a multitude of diverse habitats along an important migration route. There are 3 hides for the Ogston Bird Club members to use. If you require an information pack please send an A4 SAE. to Bryan Hartley, 4 Rose Cottages, Smiths Lane, Stretton, Derbyshire DE55 6EU - tel 01246 865291 Mobile 07889 788787, email It is probably the best watched site in the county and has the longest bird list.
  • Padley Gorge

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    This is where moorland gives way to deciduous woodland in the gorge. The easiest access is from Grindleford Railway Station just off the north side of the B6521 at Nether Padley. Spring is the best time to visit when migration is in full swing for Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Wood Warbler, woodpeckers, warblers, Tree Pipit, Wheatear, Ring Ouzel and Cuckoo.
  • Pleasley Pit

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    Access off the A617 Roundabout Glapwell - Mansfield Road take the minor road to Pleasley. After leaving the roundabout take the first right almost immediately into Pit Lane opposite the bus stop. Drive up to the Pit gates and park avoiding blocking the gate and private drives. Walk through the gap at the right handside of the locked main gate. This is a young site with much potential. A typical local patch which if you put in the hours will reward your patience. There is a mix of habitats. Even the neighbouring arable fields are worth a listen for Quail in some summers. The sides of the tip were planted in 2000/01 with a mix of broadleafed trees. Large areas of grassland provide home to 50+ singing Skylark in the spring with Meadow Pipit and Lapwing enjoying the wide open spaces. A 3 hectare shallow pool dominates the site with spits and islands and water level control facility. This has been designed with waders in mind. It has already attracted some excellent birds including Wood Sandpiper, Knot, Temmincks Stint Little Stint Curlew Sandpiper. Please keep out of the fenced off areas.
  • Shiningcliff Wood

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    Access from A6 Derby - Matlock road, north of Ambergate. Mixed deciduous woodland and conifers along the side of the River Derwent. Species in summer include Wood Warbler, Redstart, and Pied Flycatcher. In winter holds good numbers of thrushes and finches.
  • Staunton Harold Reservoir

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    Access from the A514 Derby – Swadlincote road onto the B587 to Melbourne. Turn right after approx ½ mile into the pay-and-disoplay car park at the dam wall. Alternatively drive south for c.2 miles along the B857 and turn right into the carpark near Spring Wood at the south end of the reservoir. From this carpark, you can drive west and take the right turn at the first road junction to the carpark overlooking the southwest area of the reservoir. The reservoir lies in a natural valley surrounded by woodland and open farmland. The water is fairly shallow in places, with some gently sloping sandy banks. There is some disturbance from sailing and angling. The site is good at any time of the year with a long bird list.
  • Swarkestone Gravel Pits

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    Large lake, good for wildfowl in the winter.
  • The Derbyshire Dales

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    This area is known as The White Peak, where the underlying carboniferous limestone forms a gentle landscape of rolling hills with some deep valleys. The fast-flowing clear rivers hold Dippers. The woodlands are ash and alders but on the top of the valleys these are replaced by hawthorn scrub, gorse and broom. The most popular dales are Millers Dale (SK 1473); Monsal Dale (SK 1771); Cressbrook Dale (SK 1773) and Chee Dale (SK 1273).
  • The Upper Derwent Valley and Dams

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    This impressive area is easily reached via the A57 (Snake Pass) some 10 miles from Chesterfield, 16 miles from Sheffield and Manchester and is very popular with large numbers of visitors especially in the summer. The main features for birders are the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs. The reservoirs are deep with steep sides and the valley sides are mainly larch and pine, with some remnants of old oak woodlands. Above the plantations the slopes are generally grassland and mixed heather. The area is known as the Dark Peak because of blackness of the peat and the weathered grit stone. The main attraction for birders is Windy Corner overlooking the Derwent valley sides and Howden Reservoir for passing or thermalling raptors or by following the footpath at Kings Tree onto the open moorland.
  • Williamthorpe Ponds Nature Reserve

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    Close to a large industrial complex the larger of the three ponds is surrounded by phragmites and sports an impressive bird list. It was reclaimed from colliery workings and has woodland and meadow too. It is good for many species but the large pond has many water edge specialities and holds the largest colony of reed warblers in the county.
  • Willington Gravel Pits

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    Willington Gravel Pits are approx 6 miles south west of Derby to the south west of Willington Village. Access is via the A38 taking the A5132 towards Willington Village. In the village take the B5008 to Repton. 100 meters past the church and 100 meters before the river bridge, the approach road runs southwest down to the pits with some parking (please park sensibly). This lane is the only public access where one can view the Pits. They extend along the Trent Valley floodplain and contain a variety of wetland habitats from large stretches of open water to small shallow pools fringed with Phragmites and willow scrub. There are several small areas of water meadow with sandy/gravel banks and mounds. There is no immediate woodland but the hedgerows along the approach road sustain a variety of trees along with blackthorn and gorse. This is certainly a site to visit at any time of the year. Close by is the Willington Power Station where a pair of Peregrines have nested on one of the water cooling towers viewed from the carpark. NOTE: Everything to the south between the track and the River Trent is owned by the Derbyshire Angling Club and is STRICTLY PRIVATE – please keep off at all times and do not climb over the fences or gates.
  • Wyver Lane

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    Access from the A6 at the north of Belper. Take the Ashbourne road; turn right after crossing the River Derwent and right again onto Wyver Lane. View from the lane over the water meadows, which run alongside the River Derwent. Whilst in the area especially in the winter visit the River Gardens for wintering wildfowl.
  • Terry B Bingham

    33 Penncroft Lane, Danesmoor, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S45 9HN |

County Recorder
  • Joint Recorder & Annual Report - Anthony Garton

    01283 544870

  • Rod Key

    3 Farningham Close, Spondon, Derby DE21 7DZ

    01332 678571 or 07710 770195

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 321

    County Bird - Curlew Numenius arquata
Useful Reading

  • The Birds of Derbyshire

    | By Roy Frost &‎ Steve Shaw | Liverpool University Press | 2014 | 350 Pages | Hardback | 376 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations, colour distribution maps, colour tables | ISBN: 9781846319563 Buy this book from
  • The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral

    | Narrated by Chris Packham | Ashley Sim | 2008 | DVD | Runtime: 35 min, rating: E | ISBN: 5060147170023 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in the East Midlands

    | By Rob Fray | Christopher Helm | 2006 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 320 pages, 33 line illustrations, 62 maps | ISBN: 9780713675306 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • Annual Report Editor

    Richard M R James, 10 Eastbrae Road, Littleover, Derby DE23 7WA 01332 771787
  • The Ranger Service

    23 Market Street, Clay Cross, Chesterfield, Derbyshire.Shop usually open Monday
  • Bakewell Bird Study Group

    Secretary - Cheryl Starr: 01298 79997
  • Carsington Bird Club

    Welcome to the Carsington Bird Club website, containing information about the club, Carsington Water, latest bird sightings and much more!
  • Derby Natural History Society

    Derby Natural history Society was founded just over 100 years ago. Today it is as active as ever, having a varied programme of lectures, activities and outdoor expeditions catering for all people in the Derby area of England who are interested in wildlife and geology. One of the more striking aspects of the Society is the wide age-range of its membership.
  • Derbyshire Ornithological Society

    The Derbyshire Ornithological Society was founded in 1954 and is the premier organisation within the County for the keen birdwatcher. The website has sitings, contacts details, top birding locations and much more. Steve Shaw - 01246 236090
  • Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

    The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust was founded 1962 and now has over 4000 members. We manage 40 nature reserves covering over 1000 acres of land, including examples of moor-land, limestone dales grassland and wood, grit-stone woods, old gravel workings, disused canal and railway sidings, and coal subsidence flashes.
  • Hope Valley Bird Watchers Club

    The Hope Valley Bird Watchers Club welcomes anyone with an interest in birds and bird watching in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire. Whatever your age and skill level, there are activities to suit a range of interests and experience.
  • Ogston Bird Club

    Ogston Bird Club, Derbyshire. Description of site, how to join, how to find Ogston Reservoir, news & views, birdlist and more.
  • Pleasley Pit Nature Study Group

    Coal mining began at Pleasley in 1873 and ended in 1983.The waste rock which was excavated from the mine was tipped on nearby fields, eventually the soil covered 150 acres
  • RSPB Burton and South Derbyshire Local Group

    Our aim is to support the RSPB in their conservation work. and to introduce members of the public to all aspects of Flora and Fauna. We are a friendly group and do not have any membership fees. Do feel free to join us on our field trips and indoor meetings.
  • RSPB Chesterfield Local Group

    The RSPB Chesterfield Local Group exists to promote the aims of the RSPB in our local area in enjoyable ways. We do this by means of education, fundraising and practical conservation. We have illustrated talks about birds and a variety of other natural history subjects on the third (usually) Monday of the month. At least once a month we also have bird-oriented local guided walks or visits to nature reserves. We undertake surveys and other practical conservation at Linacre Reservoirs. To raise funds and awareness, we attend local shows and organise collections. So, contact us if you are in the Chesterfield area and want to help wild birds and learn more about them…
  • RSPB Derby Local Group

    Brian Myring - Meetings are held at: Lund Pavilion, Derbyshire Cricket Ground, Nottingham Road, Derby, Derbyshire, Tel: 01283 734851
  • RSPB High Peak Local Group

    This is the website of the High Peak 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.
  • Shipley Park Birdwatchers Group

    Welcome to the Shipley Birdwatchers web site - we are based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. If you are interested in wildlife why not come along and enjoy bird and wildlife talks and our local wildlife walks.

Abbreviations Key

  • Accessible Reserves

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    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.
  • DWT Carr Vale Nature Reserve

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    Carr Vale Nature Reserve, which was formed though subsidence in an old mining area, consists of open water fringed by reedmace, sedges and rushes surrounded by meadowlands with the river Doe Lea running along the south side. On the west is the M1. On the north side spoil heaps have been landscaped and is scrub. There are no hides but a viewing mound overlooks the area and has disabled access.
  • DWT Drakelow Nature Reserve

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    Drakelow Nature Reserve consists of old gravel pits and riverside meadow in the floodplain of the River Trent. It lies on a natural meander on the south side of the river just upstream of Burton on Trent. Its location has made it an extremely important flyway for birds for many years and it now forms a significant link in a chain of wetland reserves along the Trent Valley. The variety of habitat attracts a wide range of species including large numbers of wildfowl in the winter months, breeding and roosting cormorants and a range of smaller species including reed warbler in summer and water rail in winter. During summer the site is also rich in butterflies and dragonflies with all the commoner species being recorded here.
  • DWT Shipley Country Park

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    On the opposite side of the road to the Reservoir. An area of woodland with small pools where Teal are usually recorded. Also a good place to find the first Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler in the spring.
  • DWT Willington Gravel Pits

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    This former sand and gravel quarry provides a haven for wildlife in the Trent Valley
  • Derbyshire Peak District National Park

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    The park offers a wide variety of landscapes, from moorland, to grassy hills, craggy rocks, stone walls, lakes, streams and innumerable public footpaths…
  • Pleasley Colliery Nature Reserve

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    The wetlands attract shorebirds and wildfowl at anytime of the year. Obviously spring and autumn are good times to visit. The water features have been designed with shallow edges to provide refuelling stops for Plovers, Shanks and Sandpipers.
  • Rother Valley Country Park

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    Rother Valley Country Park lies on the South Yorkshire / Derbyshire border. The site features regular updates of birds seen within the Country Park boundary, we also include a large selection of photos,all taken within the Park. Conservation has always played a part in the valley, with areas of open water and marshland alongside the Rother prior to opencasting. These attracted migrating birds which use the river for navigation as they travel north and south during the spring and autumn migrations.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • DWT Recent sightings

    News & Sightings
  • Derbyshire Bird news

    News & Su=ightings
    This is a news service only and the reports are unchecked. All records submitted via the "Submit record" page will be sent to the Bulletin Bird Notes Compiler and entered onto the DOS database even if they do not appear here. Please note that for obvious reasons we do not publish sightings of rare breeders such as Little Ringed Plover during the breeding season (unless obvious migrants)
Places to Stay

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

  • Bakewell Holiday Apartments

    Reservations taken from 1 night to 7 nights as high quality accommodation. Ideal for family or friends travelling together
  • Overdale Cottage - Youlgrave, Bradford Dale

    Overdale is a 200 year old former lead miner's cottage in the heart of the Peak District National Park. It is tucked away down a cobbled footpath on the side of Bradford Dale in the picturesque village of Youlgrave
  • Riverside House - Litton Mill

    Riverside House holiday house in the Derbyshire Peak District. 4 star rating, sleeps 9 + (up to 12), river views pet friendly, family friendly, log buring stove, local pubs one and two miles. Spectacular walks, activity holidays, attractions nearby
  • Underleigh House

    All rooms have superb views over the surrounding countryside or over the garden which, in summer, abounds with colourful tubs, hanging baskets, roses and fuschias.
Other Links
  • Birdnet Optics Ltd

    They say
  • Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project

    Three webcameras give intimate views into the private lives of these city-dwelling falcons. Cameras operate day and night, all year round. A project blog offers regular updates and includes numerous webcam videos plus images taken by local photographers. Good views of the peregrines can be had at almost any time from Cathedral Green in Derby city centre, but especially during the breeding season in May and June when watchpoints are run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (check blog for details). Cathedral Green is at the rear of Derby Cathedral, and has disabled access
  • Erewash Valley Wildlife

    A site to discuss and promote the extensive wildlife rich area of the Erewash Valley on the Derbyshire/Notts Border
  • Friends of Elvaston

    The Friends of Elvaston was formed in July, 2004, to fight the plans and proposals put forward by Derbyshire County Council to dispose of the Elvaston Castle Country Park and Estate, to a private real estate development company (or any other private business), for the purposes of turning it into an hotel and golf courses
  • Moors for the Future Partnership

    Moors for the Future is a new project to restore the Peak District moors and to enhance people's experience, understanding and care of this important landscape. Projects include 2004 Moorland Breeding Bird Survey - Peak District National Park
  • Webcam - Peregrines

    Derby City Webcam
  • Andy Butler - Darley Dale Wildlife

    Birds & other wildlife in the Derbyshire Peak District photoblog
  • Anna Simpson - Natural Wonders

    Last updated 2013 - Hi I'm a Derbyshire birdwatcher, and a wildlife enthusiast. I'm absolutely mad about the environment, and I hope to take it up as a career in years to come…
  • Tony Davison - SimplyBirdsandMoths

    From here you can navigate to my Blog Posts and my Photo GALLERIES. Use the Menus above to find information, images and other resources particularly on the Moths of Derbyshire and also British and European Butterflies.
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Dave Simmon - Birdpics UK

    Twitter A/C
    Welcome to my new website. My name is Dave Simmons and I have been interested in wildlife,especially wild birds, since I was a child. I started taking birding more seriously about 7yrs ago when I joined Ogston Bird Club based at Ogston Reservoir in Derbyshire.
My local patch around the village where I live is mainly farmland with some former mining areas now reclaimed for conservation. I also watch a local bridleway / footpath that was formerly the route of the local colliery railway line…
  • Photographer - Paul Hobson

    Excellent UK photographs and some for foreign trips
  • Photographer - Richard Pittam

    Welcome to the world of wildlife photographer Richard Pittam
  • Photographer - Tony Davidson - Simply Birds & Moths

    From here you can navigate to my Blog Posts and my Photo GALLERIES. Use the Menus above to find information, images and other resources particularly on the Moths of Derbyshire and also British and European Butterflies.

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