North Yorkshire

Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea ©Martin & Sue Timmins

The North Yorkshire recording area largely consists of the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire (areas 62 & 65 of the Watsonian scheme)), which is the largest local authority, by area, in England.

Birding North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire is predominantly rural with much of the land utilised for agriculture. There are large expanses of upland habitats in the Pennines supporting important populations of breeding waders plus Red Grouse and Ring Ouzel. The North York Moors National Park has the most extensive expanse of heather moorland in the UK hosting breeding Merlin, whilst the forests of Dalby and Wykeham are home to important populations of Nightjars, and rare raptors such as Goshawk and Honey Buzzard.

The important seabird colonies at Bempton and Flamborough Head are just across the border in East Yorkshire, but the North Yorkshire coast still supports good breeding populations of Kittiwake and Fulmar. In the right conditions sea-watching from Filey, Scarborough and the Whitby area can be rewarding. Although somewhat overshadowed by the migrant hotspots of Flamborough and Spurn, the North Yorkshire coastline is productive for the migrant hunter with Filey and the Scarborough and Whitby areas all offer excellent migrant watching in the right conditions.

Inland sites include the wildfowl havens of the Lower Derwent valley, the upland habitats of the Pennines, in particular Swaledale and Arkengarthdale and the excellent woodlands at Bolton Abbey.

Top Sites
  • Bolton Abbey Woods

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    Excellent for breeding woodland species including Pied Flycatcher, Common Redstart and Wood Warbler.
  • Castle Howard Lake

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    Attracts wintering wildfowl such as Pochard and Tufted Duck plus scarcer species in cold weather. Has breeding Reed Warbler, whilst Ospreys and Black Terns are sometimes seen during the spring and autumn.
  • Filey Brigg and Country Park

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    Sea watching yields shearwaters, skuas, terns, auks, but the bay is also good for divers, grebes and gulls, and is one of the most reliable site for Purple Sandpiper in the region. Migrant passerines occur in good numbers in the surrounding area, and this well-watched site is especially good in autumn. The nearby Filey Dams reserve (TA 107807) attracts small numbers of wildfowl and passage waders.
  • Forge Valley NNR

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    Woodland species. Dipper can be found on the river at Hilla Green. Nearby the lake at Hackness (SE 968901) is a reliable location for Mandarin Duck.
  • Long Nab, Burniston

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    The clifftop fields with hedgerows and scrub in this area are attractive to a variety of migrant passerines. Seawatching from the point at Long Nab can be rewarding and will produce a similar selection of species to Filey or Flamborough Head.
  • North Yorkshire Water Park

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    It is located at Wykeham between Scarborough and Thornton le Dale. It has its own website and any sightings are added daily to the Scarborough Birders blog. It is currently (Jan 24) hosting Smew, 5 Russian White-fronted Geese, Red throated Diver and Cetti's Warbler to name but a few. Entrance and parking is free and it is a good all year round venue, featuring several disused gravel pits and woodland.
  • Nosterfield Gravel Pits and LNR

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    Attracts significant numbers of wintering and migrant wildfowl and waders, including the occasional rarity.
  • Scalby Mills and Scalby Lodge Pond

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    This pond just inland from the Cleveland Way attracts small numbers of migrant waders and has wintering Wigeon. The rocks at Scalby Mills are attractive to wintering waders and gulls, sometimes including rarer species like Iceland and Glaucous Gull.
  • Scarborough Harbour & Castle Hill

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    The town of Scarborough offers some good birding, especially in the spring/autumn and winter. The cliffs at Castle Hill have breeding Kittiwakes, and the trees and scrub here attract interesting migrants. The harbour attracts gulls, sometimes including Iceland and Glaucous, and there is a regular roost of Purple Sandpiper.
  • Scarborough Harbour and Marine Drive

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    Excellent for seawatching in the right conditions.and the harbour itself can turn up some good local scarcities, particularly during the winter.
  • Skipwith Common

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    This used to be one of the best places in the region for Nightjar, at the northern edge of its range (but now only occasionally seen on passage), plus Woodcock and other heath and woodland species.
  • Swaledale and Arkengarthdale

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    Excellent in spring and early summer for species characteristic of the uplands, including Red and Black Grouse, Golden Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Dipper and Ring Ouzel.
  • Wheldrake Ings

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    This Yorkshire Wildlife Trust area forms part of the Lower Derwent Valley NNR and attracts huge numbers of winter wildfowl including Whooper and Bewick's swans, as well as an array of other species throughout the year. The car park is a favourite spot for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and a few pairs of Garganey are usually present through the summer months.
  • Wykeham Forest and Raptor Watchpoint

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    Watchpoint for Goshawk and Honey Buzzard, also good for Crossbill and Turtle Dove. Nightjar is regular in the forest clearings during the summer, whilst Great Grey Shrikes may be present during the winter months.
  • Chris Bradshaw


County Recorder
Useful Reading

  • Birds in the Yorkshire Museum

    | By M L Denton | The Yorkshire Museum | 1995 | Paperback | 216 pages, no illustrations | ISBN: 9780905807102 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in Yorkshire

    | By John Mather | Christopher Helm | 2008 | Paperback | 320 pages, line drawings, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713687828 Buy this book from
  • Yorkshire Bird Report 2017

    | Edited by Geoff Dobbs | Yorkshire Naturalists Union | 2021 | Paperback | 304 pages, colour photos, colour & b/w illustrations, colour distribution maps, colour maps, colour tables | ISBN: Buy this book from
  • Filey Bird Observatory

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    Welcome to the website of Filey Bird Observatory & Group (FBOG). Our aims include the recording and studying of Filey’s birds, and protecting and enhancing local habitats for wildlife (including ownership and management of several nature reserves). Our work is entirely voluntary and reliant on our membership and their generosity. Members receive a range of benefits, as well as regular newsletters, the annual report, and the satisfaction of helping the study and protection of local wildlife.
Museums & Universities
  • Yorkshire Museum

    The biology collection does also have avian exhibits
  • East Dales Ringing Group

    The inaugural meeting took place on 26th August 1996. A constitution was drawn up and the group registered with the BTO. There are seven full members and four associate members. Full members are active in the club area and the associates help in the area when required. As well as group activities members have their own individual sites and projects. The group also help Robin Ward with his cannon netting on the Tees estuary or Seal Sands when required. He is also helping with projects within the group area…
  • East Yorkshire Ringing Group (Many sites in N Yorks)

    The Ringing Officer for the Group is the registered ringer in charge, and ultimately all responsibility as regards trapping and ringing birds in the area lies with him
  • Filey Brigg Ornithological Group

    Filey Town is situated on the east coast of North Yorkshire between the towns of Scarborough and Bridlington. Filey Brigg is a finger of limestone that juts almost half a mile out to sea. The Brigg to the north and Flamborough Head to the south, form the natural breakwaters for Filey Bay
  • RSPB Craven & Pendle Local Group

    Facebook Page
    Events, meetings etc.
  • RSPB York Local Group

    This web site aims to provide information for the members and for anyone who is interested the work of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, particularly in the York area in England…
  • Ryedale Natural History Society

    The area covered by the Ryedale Natural History Society extends from the Hambleton Hills in the west to the A169 Pickering to Whitby road in the east and from Bransdale Moor and the Lyke Wake walk in the north to the River Rye and its environs in the south, a total area of some 800 square kilometres.
  • Scarborough Field Naturalists

    Facebook Page
    Scarborough Field Naturalists' Society (SFNS) was founded in 1889. We are a group of amateur naturalists' with interests throughout the spectrum of natural history. There are members at all levels of knowledge, from interested beginners to those with specialist knowledge in their chosen fields. We would encourage anyone with an interest in the natural world around them to take a look at our Meetings web page, choose a talk that is of particular interest (or just the next one on the list), and come along to see what we are all about…
  • Wharfedale Naturalists Society

    Facebook Page
    The Society has reprinted NATURE TRAIL ON ILKLEY MOOR together with the equally popular GEOLOGY TRAIL ON ILKLEY MOOR, both of which are completely sold out. The leaflet, Birds of Ilkley Moor, is illustrated by John Busby and Jeremy Taylor. Each sells at 40p
  • York Ornithological Club

    Welcome to the YOCs website. Find out about the club, activities and the best sites for watching birds in the York recording area.
  • Yorkshire Naturalists Union

    The Yorkshire Naturalists' Union is devoted to studying and recording Yorkshire's flora and fauna. We are an association of amateur and professional naturalists covering a wide range of aspects of natural history. We are one of the country's oldest wildlife organisations, having celebrated our 150th anniversary in 2011.
  • Yorkshire Red Kites

    The Yorkshire Red Kite Project was the fifth in this sequence and began at Harewood Estate in West Yorkshire in 1999. By this time, the newly established Chilterns population had been so successful that, up to 2003, it was able to supply a total of 68 young birds for release in Yorkshire

Abbreviations Key

  • LNR Barlow Common

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    There is a mosaic of habitats to explore on this former rubbish tip, which is now a flourishing wildlife rich brownfield site.
  • LNR Bassleton Wood and The Holmes

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    Bassleton Wood is an ancient woodland. The Holmes follows the course of the River Tees and provides a haven for wildlife such as roe deer have been seen within the nature reserve. Within The Holmes there is a wildlife pond that features some of the most rare species in northern England.
  • LNR Clifton Without

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    Birds that frequent the area include blackbird, blue tit, great tit, wren, dunnock, robin, common chaffinch, bullfinch, blackcap, whitethroat, willow warbler, fieldfare, redwing, heron, kingfisher and chiffchaff.
  • LNR Fen Bog

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    A unique reserve in the North York Moors, bounded by moorland streams at both ends, Fen Bog offers a winning combination of stunning views and some of Yorkshire’s best wildlife.
  • LNR Linthorpe Cemetery

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    Declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2003, it provides a semi-natural habitat that supports a range of wildlife, particularly birds, including tawny owl, great spotted woodpecker and treecreeper.
  • LNR Nosterfield Local Nature Reserve - Lower Ure Conservation Trust

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    Welcome to the Lower Ure Conservation Trust’s website.
LUCT is a small charity but with big successes; working hard to promote and support our local wildlife, whilst thinking big landscape scale. We manage Nosterfield Local Nature Reserve, generally acknowledged as North Yorkshire’s premier wetland grassland nature reserve… See also:
  • LNR Staveley

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    Staveley is a superb wetland reserve with something for everyone, from experienced birdwatchers to people who just fancy a leisurely stroll on its network of paths.
  • LNR Upper Dunsforth Carrs

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    In summer, the fen meadows are splashed with the pinks and purples of marsh orchids, purple loosestrife and ragged robin. You can enjoy the company of woodland and farmland birds like green woodpeckers and yellowhammers. Insects also abound – 120 beetle species have been recorded, including a nationally scarce diving beetle and a large click beetle.
  • NNR Duncombe Park

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    Located in Helmsley in the North York Moors National Park, the estate boasts over 450 acres of spectacular gardens, parklands and nature reserve.
  • NNR Ingleborough

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    Ingleborough National Nature Reserve (NNR) is managed by Natural England and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The reserve covers an impressive 1,014 hectares on some of the northern, north-eastern and eastern slopes surrounding Ingleborough, one of the famous Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales National Park
  • NNR Ling Gill

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    Ling Gill is a rare example of a sub-alpine ash woodland. The site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a national nature reserve, not open to the public...
  • NNR Malham Tarn

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    Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve (NNR) is part of the Malham Tarn Estate which is owned and managed by the National Trust in partnership with their tenant farmers. The NNR is also designated as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and it is a wetland of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention. The reserve consists of 147 hectares and is one of the best places to see a natural lime-rich lake (the tarn), raised bog, fen, willow carr and purple moor-grass and rush pasture in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
  • NNR New House Farm

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    New House Farm is a National Trust owned farm situated within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The farm consists of superb hay meadows, grazing pastures and limestone cliff on and around the farm and is so rich in flora that it was declared a National Nature Reserve in 2000.
  • NNR Raincliffe and Forge Valley Woods

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    Raincliffe and Forge Valley Woods are the largest community managed woodland in England. The woodland is one of North Yorkshire’s key living landscapes linking the river Derwent catchment with the north riding forests and the coast, and is part of a wider nature recovery network for the region. The 222 hectare woodland on the edge of Scarborough borders some of the most socio-economically deprived communities in North Yorkshire, yet comprises a National Nature Reserve, has extensive designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is home to nationally rare flora and fauna.
  • NNR Scoska Wood

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    Scoska Wood is an IUCN Category IV – habitat or species management area, a British national nature reserve (NNR), and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Littondale, North Yorkshire, England. It is a managed ancient woodland, known for its ash trees, grasses and moths. It was designated as an SSSI in 1975, and was awarded its IUCN status in 1992.
  • NNR Skipwith Common

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    Skipwith Common National Nature Reserve is one of the last remaining areas of northern lowland heath in England. An incredible variety of plants and animals depend on the Common for their survival. The 265 hectares of open heath, ponds, mire, fen, reed-bed, woodland and scrub are an ancient landscape, with its roots in pre-history.
  • NP North York Moors National Park

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    The North York Moors National Park is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, spectacular coast, ancient woodland and historic sites. It's a great place whatever time of year…
  • NP Yorkshire Dales National Park

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    Covering an area of 1,762 square kilometres (680 square miles), the National Park is located in the north of England, and straddles the central Pennines in the counties of North Yorkshire and Cumbria…
Sightings, News & Forums
  • NorthYorksBirdNews

    @nybirdnews - Rare and scarce bird news from North Yorkshire and a bit of other stuff if it's quiet
  • Scarborough Birders

    Activites, Sightings, annual reports, and more
Places to Stay
  • Marmion - Robin Hoods Bay

    Situated in the centre of the village of Fylingthorpe on the delightful Yorkshire Coast, 5 minutes walk from Robin Hoods Bay. Marmion is a substancial Victorian house, offering comfortable, well-equipped and spacious holiday self catering accommodation for up to seven people. Only 10 to 15 minutes walk from the beach, Marmion is in a pleasant position to absorb the character of the Robin Hoods Bay Area. Marmion has sea and countryside views, old beams, an open fire and a sunny patio
  • River View B&B

    River View B&B holiday accommodation is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, England, UK and is a famous area for a vacation, close to the market towns of Hawes, Sedbergh, and Ingleton. It is 3
Other Links
  • Nature in the Dales - Birds

    Facebook Page
    These pages include local information about 29 bird species found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, from curlew to cuckoos and lapwings to linnets. Why not use our A-Z of wildlife below or the general search box at the top of the page to quickly find the species you are looking for and then have the facts at your fingertips.
  • North York Moors Wildlife

    From moorland birds to minke whales, there’s a wealth of wildlife waiting to be discovered on the North York Moors. Here's a selection of spots that are easy to get to and where you've got a pretty good chance of seeing something.
  • Scarborough Birders

    Scarborough birders is a group of people interested in the birds of the Scarborough area, and provides a network and a voice for local birdwatchers. The group is self-administered and is for the benefit of anyone interested in wild birds.
  • Top 10 Wildlife Watching Spots

    Get closer to nature by discovering Yorkshire's wilder side! With rolling countryside, unspoilt habitat and the stunning Dinosaur Coast, Yorkshire is a perfect sanctuary for many of England's greatest species. Not to mention the keenest wildlife enthusiasts.
  • Yorkshire Coast Nature

    Learning bird song can be a daunting task. This tour focuses on birds of woodland and open country in North Yorkshire, getting to grips with a wide range of species from common warblers to finches. The North Yorkshire forests have a great variety of habitats from ancient deciduous to recent coniferous woodlands, containing specialist birds such as Crossbills, Redstarts and Tree Pipits. Close by in the heather of the North York Moors National Park, Whinchats and occasional Ring Ouzels reside.
  • Dave Craven - Why Watch Wildlife?

    A blog dedicated to watching birds and other wildlife in Yorkshire, and further afield
  • Jono Leadley - Birding Dad

    I am a birder from York, who became a Dad in April 2008 (and again in March 2010). I birded York until 1993 when I went off to UEA in Norwich. After spending some time in Madagascar and Indonesia, I ended up in Cambridgeshire. In May 2009 I moved away from one of the best inland birding patches, Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire, to live in Norfolk. I birded the mid-Yare Valley NNR (Strumpshaw - Buckenham - Cantley) for 18 months, but have now moved back to York, where I'm from.
  • Steven Farley - Yorkshire Wild

    I consider my patch to be anywhere in the Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire area. My favourite places being, Bank Island, Wheldrake, Alkborough Flats, Spurn Point, North Cave Wetlands and the many other sites around the Humber.
  • The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

    The North York Moors – forged by nature, shaped by generations. Come and explore our National Park – 554 square miles of secluded dales, magical moors, ancient woodland, historic sites and 26 miles of stunning coastline, all easily reached from York, Teesside and County Durham. Read about our work here, and then pay us a visit!
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - Robert E Fuller - A Day In the Life of a Wildlife Artist

    Robert E Fuller is one of Britain's foremost wildlife artists. His paintings sell all over the world and his trademark, highly-detailed images have been adopted at home by the RSPB and the National Trust. He has exhibited in wildlife galleries across Europe and up to 7,000 people visit his own gallery in North Yorkshire each year.
  • Photographer - Steve Mills

    Steve Mills is an award-winning photographer based in North Yorkshire, England. His image 'The Assasin' won the Birds: Behaviour category in the prestigious Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 and he was the only category winner from Britain.

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