Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa ©Adrian Winter

During the changes of 1974 areas were lost in the north to Cumbria and in the south to Cheshire to create Merseyside and Greater Manchester, and also parts of West Yorkshire were added to Lancashire.

However, political and administrative boundaries come and go and biological records need to be consistent… so for birders this page covers Lancashire & North Merseyside (which includes Sefton, Liverpool, Knowsley and St Helens). Even so, some records that appeared in older county avifaunas of Lancashire are now lost to other counties. In the old Watsonian Vice County system Lancashire were areas 59 and 60. For our purposes the area is bounded to the north by Cumbria, to the northeast by North Yorkshire, to the east by West Yorkshire, to the southeast by Greater Manchester, to the south by Cheshire, and to the west by the Irish Sea.

Birding Lancashire

Lancashire is blessed with a wealth of estuaries from the Mersey in the south to Morecambe Bay in the north, taking in the Alt and Ribble in between. Together they hold hundreds of thousands of waders and tens of thousands of wildfowl.

Inland are a good selection of freshwater marsh sites with two in particular renowned nationally, Leighton Moss (RSPB) and Martin Mere (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust). Martin Mere stands in the middle of the south Lancashire moss-lands, winter home to over 25,000 Pinkfeet geese and several hundred Bewick and Whooper Swans.

Further east are the Pennine Hills which sweep close to the coast north of the Ribble. Here is a good selection of breeding moorland birds such as Hen Harrier, Golden Plover, Raven, Ring Ousel, Dunlin and Twite, with Dotterel seen on spring passage.

Top Sites
  • Forest of Bowland

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    An area of great scenic beauty with narrow valleys and steep fells. The fells are well stocked with Red Grouse along with Golden Plover, Curlew, Dunlin and Short-eared Owl. In the wooded riversides are breeding Oystercatcher, Snipe, Woodcock, Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander.
  • Lune Estuary

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    The estuary flows into Morecambe Bay and has several important roost sites for both waders and wildfowl. Good views can be had at Sunderland Point on the north shore and the footpath along a disused railway between Glasson Dock and Lancaster on the south shore.
  • Mere Sands Wood, Rufford

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    Nationally important for Teal and Gadwall, being in the fourth richest tetrad in the (provisional) Lancs Breeding Bird atlas. Annual records of Osprey, Quail, Bittern, etc. There is a Visitor Centre, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which gets 40,000 visitors a year.
  • Pendle Hill

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    Well known for it's spring passage of Dotterel, the birds arrive mid-April and usually stay for a month. Ring Ousel and Whinchat also pass through, more would stay but for disturbance from Ramblers. Grey Wagtail and Dipper breed in the streams
  • RSPB Leighton Moss

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    This RSPB reserve just a mile from Morecambe Bay is famous for it's breeding Bittern and Bearded Tit. Other breeding birds include Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, and five species of duck. Unusual migrants may occur in spring and autumn such as Osprey, Spotted Crake, Black Tern, Wood and Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Geenshank.
  • WWT Martin Mere

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    The grounds of this Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve include a large mere, several marshy fields flooded in winter and a varied collection of captive wildfowl. Over 10,000 Pinkfeet Geese roost here in the Autumn and in mid-winter the spectacular sight of hundreds of Bewick and Whooper Swans greet the visitor.
County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 354

    County Bird - Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus [… at least it is the logo of the county Bird Club]
Useful Reading

  • A Birdwatchers' Guide to Lancashire

    by Ken Lawson | Lancashire County Books | 1994 | Paperback | 124 pages, 26 b/w photos, 8 maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 1871236320 Buy this book from
  • Atlas of Breeding Birds of Lancashire and North Merseyside 1997-2000

    by Robert Pyefinch & Peter Golborn | Hobby Publications | 2001 | Hardback | 408 pages, 8 col plates, b/w illus, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 1872839088 Buy this book from
  • Birdwatching Walks Around Morecambe Bay

    | By John Wilson & David Hindle | Carnegie Publishing | 2007 | Paperback | 150 pages, Colour photos & B&W Illustrations | ISBN: 9781874181378 Buy this book from
  • Birdwatching Walks in Bowland

    | By John Wilson & David Hindle et al | Palatine Books | Edition 3 | 2016 | Paperback | 176 pages, 32 plates with colour photos; b/w photos, b/w illustrations, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781910837054 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
  • The Birds of Lancashire and North Merseyside

    | By Steve J White, Barry McCarthy & Maurice Jones | Hobby Publications | 2008 | Hardback | 460 pages, 311 photos, over 100 line drawings, distribution maps, diagrams | ISBN: 9781872839110 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 illus, 50 maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713664218 Buy this book from
Festivals & Bird Fairs
  • North West Bird Watching Festival

    From guest speakers and exhibitors to photography workshops and guided reserve walks, there’s a whole range of activities for you to enjoy for a full day out from dawn till dusk.
  • Heysham Bird Observatory

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    The observatory was set up in 1980. It involves ringing,'vis mig' counts (including seabirds) and general monitoring in the Heysham Nature reserve/power stations/harbour area…
  • Blackburn Bird Club

    Blackburn Bird Club was founded in 1991 for people with a shared interest in birds. The Club puts on a number of events every year to enable members to learn about and enjoy watching birds.
  • Chorley and District Natural History Society

    We are the Chorley and District Natural History Society. We are a charity operating in Chorley, Lancashire.
  • Cuerden Wildlife Explorers

    A Youth Group (8 to 14 years) involved in a variety of wildlife activities...
  • East Lancashire Ornithologists' Club

    Founded in 1955 the East Lancashire Ornithologists’ Club is the oldest in the county. We hold monthly meetings with a guest speaker and organise regular birding trips to many of the beautiful birding sites around Lancashire and adjoining counties.
  • Fylde Bird Club

    The Web Site of the Fylde Bird Club in West Lancashire. Includes Club details (membership meetings etc); Recent Reports, Site Guides & Surveys
  • Fylde Naturalists' Society

    Facebook Page
    The Fylde Naturalists' Society is a group of people from the Fylde area of Lancashire interested in the countryside and the study of it's Flora and Fauna.
  • Lancashire & Cheshire Fauna Society

    The society was formed in 1914 and has been a registered charity since 1971. Its aims are to record and publish data on all the faunal groups that occur in the region
  • Lancashire, Manchester & North Merseyside Wildlife Trust

    We hope you enjoy visiting the reserves listed below and wish to return in the future, especially if you would like to participate in active conservation work!
  • Lancaster & District Birdwatching Society

    Lancaster & District Birdwatching Society has a membership of about 200 and currently meets at the Unitarian Church, Scotforth Road, Lancaster. An Annual Report and a Winter Programme are sent to members in August/September. A programme of summer activities/ surveys/ census work is also circulated.
  • Merseyside Naturalists' Association

    Welcome to the website of the Merseyside Naturalists' Association Do you want to find out more about the wildlife of our area? Are you fascinated by birds, plants, mammals, marine life, insects, dragonflies or butterflies? Would you like to go on trips to see them accompanied by experts? The MNA offers a wide variety of outdoor meetings and coach trips allowing members to learn about wildlife in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
  • Preston Society - Birdwatching & Natural History

    We are a society that meets each Monday evening from September through to March to enjoy a programme of talks based around a wide variety of natural history subjects
  • RSPB Bolton Local Group

    This is the website of the Bolton 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 Lancaster Local Group

    The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society's conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. Regular field outings are held in a variety of locations in the Lancaster area, some jointly with the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society. So, if you would like to have fun and meet like minded people contact us and help make a difference for birds and wildlife…
  • RSPB Liverpool Local Group

    RSPB local groups are a perfect way to meet people with similar interests in natural history in a relaxed setting. Our indoor meetings, offer a varied programme of illustrated talks, not only about birds but also other wildlife related subjects around the world. We also have outdoor field trips each month visiting reserves, local sites and further afield.
  • RSPB Skipton Local Group

    This is the website of the Skipton Local Group local RSPB group for people in Craven (North Yorkshire), Pendle (East Lancashire) and surrounding area with an interest in birding and wildlife. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • RSPB Southport Local Group

    From all of us here at the Southport group, we wish you all the best for the festive season and the new year!
  • RSPB Wigan Local Group

    The Wigan group has members with all levels of knowledge from beginners to experts. We hold easy going walks at local bird sites on the second Wednesday and selected Saturdays of every month. Indoor meetings (illustrated talks about birds and environmental issues) at St. Anne's Parish Hall, Church Lane, Shevington, on the second Tuesday of each month from September to April at 7.45pm. Everybody is welcome at all of our events…
  • Rossendale Ornithologists' Club

    Programme of meetings etc.

Abbreviations Key

  • *Lancashire Wildlife Trust - Local Wildlife Sites

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    Local Wildlife Sites (LWS's) are wildlife-rich sites on land selected for their local nature conservation value. They vary in shape and size and contain important, distinctive and threatened habitats and species.
  • CP Worthington Lakes

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    Today Worthington Lakes are part of a 50 acre country park, with a nature reserve and accessible footpaths.
  • LNR Abram Flash & Lightshaw Meadows

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    Winter brings a fantastic influx of waterfowl and sees Abram Flash form part of a valuable roosting and feeding point for migrant waders including greenshank, dunlin and ruff: the latter beautiful even without its spectacular breeding plumage.
  • LNR Alkincoates Woodland

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    The Reserve is on the outskirts of Colne, Lancashire. The woodland was first planted in 1993. It was officially designated as Local Nature Reserve in 2006. There are 1.5 kilometres of multi-user paths It is now cared for by a group of volunteers.
  • LNR Boilton, Nab, Redscar and Tunbrook Woods

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    stunning birds of prey lay claim to one of the largest remaining areas of ancient, semi-natural, deciduous woodland in the North West
  • LNR Brockholes Nature Reserve

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    ...In May, whimbrel roost in large numbers, while throughout spring and summer swifts, sand martins and hobbies create fantastic aerial displays over the lakes. As the sun shines, the reserve literally buzzes with insects. Clouds of damselflies rest on leaves and paths, and dragonflies dart across the water...
  • LNR Lunt Meadows

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    No matter the time of year, Lunt Meadows is brimming with brilliant birdlife.
  • LNR Marton Mere Local Nature Reserve

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    Marton Mere is a quiet refuge surprisingly situated on the outskirts of Blackpool. The reserve is an SSSI in recognition of its bird population, but it also supports important populations of dragonflies, butterflies, bats and orchids. The site contains open water, reed beds, grassland, scrub and some pockets of woodland. There are footpaths through the reserve providing access to the bird hides.
  • LNR Seaforth Nature Reserve

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    Nestled in the heart of the Liverpool Docks at the mouth of the Mersey, Seaforth, with its industrial charm, is an important part of the Mersey narrows special protection area and a major roosting site for a spectacular variety of waders, seabirds, ducks and small birds. From spring through to winter, life moves at a frenetic pace, and there is always something to see.
  • LNR Three Owls Bird Sanctuary

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    Wild Bird Hospital and Nature Reserve - Established 1962…
  • LNR Wigan Flashes

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    In spring and summer reed buntings, willow tits, reed warblers, sedge warblers, common terns and water rails breed across the reserve. In winter, the flashes swell with overwintering herons, tufted ducks, gadwall, great-crested grebes and pochard. If you’re lucky you may even spot an elusive bittern skulking through the reeds.
  • LWT Heysham Nature Reserve

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    Large numbers of migrant birds occur on the reserve in certain types of weather conditions, usually east or southeast winds with poor visibility. The number of migrants are certainly enhanced by the lighthouse effect produced by the power stations many floodlights…
  • LWT Mere Sands Wood

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    The reserve is owned and managed by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. The reserve covers 42 hectares (105 acres) and is made up of lakes, mature broadleaved and conifer woodland, sandy, wet meadows and heaths. Sand on the site proved to be of value for glass making and extraction companies quarried the site between 1974 and 1982. During this period, the Trust members and the local community worked with the County Council to require the extraction company to landscape the site into a nature reserve once the extraction was completed…
  • RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve

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    Leighton Moss is the largest reedbed in north-west England, and home to some really special birds such as breeding bitterns, bearded tits and marsh harriers. You might see deer too, not to mention butterflies aplenty.
  • RSPB Marshside

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    Part of the internationally important Ribble Estuary, Marshside has some of the best lowland wet grassland in the north-west of England. It is an important refuge in winter for pink-footed geese, wigeon, black-tailed godwits and golden plovers and in spring provides nesting places for lapwings and redshanks, which are declining elsewhere…
  • WWT Martin Mere

    WebpageSatellite View
    Step into a wilder world where wilderness and family-friendliness combine. Come and enjoy each season, from ducklings to migrating swans - you’ll be amazed at how close you can get to fantastic wetland wildlife
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Rossendale Birds Forum

    Sightings and discussion forum
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris

    Tour Operator
    Taking you to the best wildlife sites in Lancashire and beyond.
  • Another Bird BLOG

    Lancashire bordering BLOG with excellent pictures
  • Austin Morley - Austin's Birding Blog

    All the wonderful birds and wildlife of Lancashire, Cheshire, North Wales and further
  • Birds2blog - Pete Woodruff

    Accounts of my birding days mainly in Lancashire, with some posts relating to birds/birding issues, and with other aspects of wildlife covered on occasions, and all accompanied by excellent credited photographs
  • Dave Bickerton - Dave's Birding Blog

    Birding from Rishton, Lancashire and elsewhere in the north of England. Some foreign trips as well.
  • East Lancashire Ornithologists Club

    Not updated since 2022
  • Jon Carter - Birding Aldcliffe & Beyond

    Welcome to Aldcliffe - an area of the Lune Estuary in Morecambe Bay, North Lancashire….
  • Mike Watson Foto

    I manage to escape from the Birdquest client desk on two or three tours a year and apart from occasional private trips I spend most of my spare time birding in Bowland, 15 minutes from my home…
  • Nature's alive in Lancashire

    Multi contributor blog
  • The Hairy Birder

    Tales of birding, ringing and observing natural history around the north of England and beyond.
  • • St Helens Birds and Wildlife

    A multi-contributor blog covering all aspects of wildlife in St Helens. Please see the "Report a Sighting" tab or use the contact form if you would like to contribute.
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Aintright

    Twitter Page
    Lancashire-based, amateur photographer. Your daily fix of wildlife photos, especially birds.
  • Photographer - Gordon Yates

    Gordon is best known for his wildlife films and in the last thirty years he has produced thirty films on birds ranging from his local Pennines, to his beloved island of Islay in Scotland, Iceland and more recently Greenland and Spitzbergen. It was while in Spitzbergen in 1997, camping in search of the Ivory Gull, that he had a life and death encounter with a Polar Bear
  • Photographer - Scott Pollard Wildlife Photographer

    Hello there, fellow nature enthusiasts! I’m Scott, a hobbyist wildlife photographer based in the scenic landscapes of Lancashire. I invite you to join me on a journey of capturing the exquisite beauty of wildlife through my lens.
  • Photographer - Steve Round

    Twitter Page
    I am a full time wildlife photographer based in north west England.

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