Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata ©Lee Dingain Website

The recording area of Surrey (are 17 in the Watsonian system) is co-terminus with the ceremonial county of the same name. Surrey is a county in the South East England and is one of the so-called ‘home’ counties. It shares borders with Kent to the east, Sussex to the to the south and southeast, Hampshire to the west and southwest, Berkshire to the northwest and Greater London to the northeast. With a resident population of c.1.2 million, and an area of under 1,700 km2 (650 square miles), Surrey is the most densely populated county in the South East region.  The largest settlement is Woking with well over 100,000 people, followed by Guildford (often regarded as the county town although the county is administered from Reigate), Walton-on-Thames, Erwell and Esher. uch of the north of the county forms part of the Greater London Built-up Area, which includes the suburbs within the M25 motorway as well as Woking, Guildford and Leatherhead. The west includes part of the Farnborough/Aldershot built-up area, which extends into Hampshire and Berkshire.

Surrey is divided in two by the chalk ridge of the North Downs, running east-west. The ridge is pierced by Surrey’s principal rivers, the Wey and the Mole, which are tributaries of the Thames, the river which formed the northern border of the county before modern local government reorganisations. To the north of the Downs the land is mostly flat, forming part of the basin of the Thames.

Much of Surrey is in the Metropolitan Green Belt and contains a good deal of mature woodland. Among its many notable beauty spots are Box Hill, Leith Hill, Frensham Ponds, Newlands Corner and Puttenham & Crooksbury Commons. It is the most wooded county in England, with over 22% coverage compared to a national average of under 12%. Box Hill has the oldest untouched area of natural woodland in the UK, one of the oldest in Europe. Surrey also contains England’s principal concentration of lowland heath, on sandy soils in the west of the county.

Agriculture not being intensive, there are many commons and access lands, together with an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways including the North Downs Way. Accordingly, Surrey provides much in the way of rural leisure activities, with a very large horse population. The highest elevation in Surrey is Leith Hill near Dorking c. 968 feet above sea level and is the second highest point in southeastern England.

Birding Surrey

However, Surrey’s landscape is dominated in the north by the ever-encroaching borders of London so much so that 20% of the old vice county of Surrey is now Suburbia. Yet amongst so much concrete many top birding spots can still be found mostly connected with the Water Industry – notably the reservoirs that straddle both sides of the Thames and the sewage farms such as Beddington. Away from city life the chalk North Downs are usually wooded so woodland species may be found, however the increased numbers of day trippers from London have, amongst other factors, brought about the decline of species such as Nightingale.

Along the western edge of the county are the many areas of heathland, most notably in the Frensham and Thursley area. Thursley also includes a large area of natural bog. Surrey, being a land-locked county, lacks the large variety of species that may be found in more coastal counties. This brings its own challenges and rewards, for the finding of passage migrants such as Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail can be as exciting as finding Red-backed Shrike or Wryneck at better coastal sites.

Top Sites
  • Barn Elms

    Satellite View
    WWT London Wetland Centre is a stunning nature haven in the heart of the city with beautiful walkways set amongst lakes, ponds, meadows and reedbeds. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife including over 180 species of birds, water voles, amphibians, bats, grass snakes, slow worms, butterflies and moths. A spectacular 105 acre reserve.
  • Beddington Sewage Farm

    Satellite View
    There is no public access to this site, but part of it (including the lake) can be viewed from the new public footpath from Beddington Park to Mitcham Common which passes along the western side of the sewage farm. It has hosted a number of national rarities, eg. Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Citrine Wagtail, Red-throated Pipits and Rustic Bunting.
  • Bookham Common

    Satellite View
    This woodland is the best site in Surrey for Nightingale with up to 12 singing males present in recent years. Recent winters have turned up Hawfinches (probably from East Horsley)
  • Devils Punch Bowl

    Satellite View
    This huge depression is covered by woods and is one of the best places in the county to catch up with Wood Warbler. Most other woodland species can be found here without too much effort, unless you have descended to the bottom and your car is at the top! Firecrest have often been found here as well.
  • Epsom Common

    Satellite View
    excellent site for Mandarin
  • Frensham Ponds

    Satellite View
    The ponds are about a mile apart and are separated by the Kings ridge and area of heath land (see below). The ponds hold good numbers of waterfowl in the winter including Smew. Also at this time a Bittern might be found at either pond, in fact dusk may be the best time to see one as it changes pond and flies over the ridge.
  • Mercers Lake

    Satellite View
    wildfowl and gulls
  • PaperCourt GPs

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  • Staines Reservoirs

    Satellite View
    The reservoir is split into two basins imaginatively called North and South. Access is from either end of the dividing causeway parking is easier at the east end with a small car park having been built. During winter large numbers of wildfowl can be seen and more often than not a Peregrine spends the winter in the area, check the many Pylons. Amongst the wintering species Surrey rarities such as Great Northern Diver, and Long-tailed Duck may be found. Both Red-necked and Black - necked Grebes should be present for some of the winter. A large gull roost also occurs at Staines as well as most of the other Thames Reservoirs. In summer especially after a storm Black Terns can be found, also Little Gulls may also be present. On top of this the basins are periodically drained exposing large areas of mud. These will then act as a magnet to waders, which will appear in large numbers, by Surrey standards. During such times rarer waders such as Wilson`s phalarope have been found.
  • Stoke Water Meadows

    Satellite View
    Holds Water Rail, Snipe and Jack Snipe during winter though all are difficult to see and has breeding Common Terns. In 1997 Stoke held Surrey's first Red-rumped Swallow, which stayed for a week.
  • Thorpe Water Park

    Satellite View
    A good site for winter wildfowl and Surrey's most regular haunt for Smew since a flock has become established here. Park in layby on A320 near entrance. Pit on east side of road best in cold weather. Public footpath heads north-west through complex to Thorpe village.
  • Thursley Common

    Satellite View
    The heath land makes Thursley one of the most important site in the County with several waders breeding here and nowhere else in the county. The pine island in the centre of the bog is usually a good look out point for Hobby in the spring and summer with Redstart singing above. The heathland also holds Dartford Warbler (although numbers were much reduced by the hard winters of 2009-2010), Tree Pipit and Woodlark, at night Nightjar can be heard chirring at surprisingly long distances. Ockley Common is part of the Thursley complex. Nearby Hankley, or Frensham commons, hold similar birds with the exception of the waders. During the winter it is not uncommon for one of these to hold one or two Great Grey Shrikes. In the spring of 1999 Thursley also had a Woodchat Shrike for several days.
  • Tice's Meadow

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Tice's Meadow is a newly developed nature reserve on the site of the former Farnham Quarry, located between Badshot Lea and Tongham in Surrey, on the southern outskirts of Aldershot. The habitats on site consist of a mosaic of open water, gravel islands and scrapes, reedbeds, scrub, woodland, ephemeral ponds and wet and dry grassland. The site is widely considered one of the best inland sites to watch birds in the southeast of England. Please come and visit us!
  • Gary Honey

  • Shaun Peters


County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 341

Useful Reading

  • Birds Around Surrey

    | By Derek Belsey | Derek Belsey | 2002 | Paperback | 96 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9780953073436 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Surrey

    | By Jeffery J Wheatley | Surrey Bird Club | 2007 | Hardback | 696 pages, Col & b/w illus, graphs, maps, col photos | ISBN: 9780901963086 Buy this book from
  • Surrey Bird Atlas 2007-2012

    | By Surrey Bird Club| 2018 | Hardback | 398 pages, colour photos, colour distribution maps, colour tables | ISBN: 9780901963093 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in Surrey & Sussex

    | By Matthew Phelps & Ed Stubbs | Helm | 2024 | Paperback | 320 pages, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781399404235 Buy this book from
  • Where to watch birds in Kent, Surrey and Sussex

    | By Don Taylor, Jeffrey Wheatley & Paul James | Christopher Helm | 2009 | Paperback | 432 pages, 35 line illustrations, 54 maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781408105856 Buy this book from
  • RSPB Dorking & District Local Group

    The Group covers a large area of mid-Surrey but centered on Dorking, Leatherhead and The Bookhams. During the winter indoor meetings are held once a month. Bird-watching walks and related activities are organised at the weekends and mid-week: a coach is usually arranged for the more remote destinations. Most of the walks are fairly easy…
  • RSPB East Surrey Local Group

    The group's aim is to introduce new members to the RSPB and raise money to help our local nature reserves. We have a monthly indoor meeting on the second Wednesday of each month except August. We have monthly field trips by car and coach. We give talks to schools, youth groups and community groups by request…
  • RSPB Guildford Local Group

    We cover South-West Surrey from Chobham, Woking, Guildford and Godalming through to Cranleigh and Haslemere and have about 600 members. We aim to interest and inform our members about the RSPB. We hold indoor meetings with illustrated talks twice a month from September to April and we have an extensive programme of over 50 walks and outings with occasional "weekends" away…
  • RSPB North West Surrey Local Group

    This is the website of the North West Surrey 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…
  • Surbiton & District Bird Watching Society

    Our Society has around 130 members and partakes in many activities including field outings and residential weekends. There are also several groups active in supporting the British Trust for Ornithology and RSPB in their various censuses. We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at Surbiton Library, at 8pm, except for August (no meeting) – all are welcome whether you are interested in joining or are just visiting the area.
  • Surrey Bird Club

    The Surrey Bird Club is a society of people interested in wild birds in the County of Surrey, England. Members include professional ornithologists, amateur birdwatchers, people who love nature and those who care about the future of birdlife in the County.
  • Surrey Wildlife Trust

    Surrey Wildlife Trust was formed in 1959. We work to protect wildlife for the future as one of 47 independent trusts and more than 100 urban wildlife groups across the country. Our strength comes from a combination of working nationally plus our local expertise

Abbreviations Key

  • *Surrey Wildlife Trust

    WebsiteSatellite View
    From heathland to wetland, stunning open spaces to hidden gems, discover our best sites for nature across Surrey
  • LNR Beddington Farmlands

    InformationSatellite View
    Beddington Farmlands, which incorporates Beddington Sewage Farm and Viridor waste management, is situated in Greater London / Surrey. Longitude: 00.11w- Latitude: 51.21N- Grid ref: TQ29766581. The site covers about 400 acres of mixed habitats. From two lakes, reed beds, scrubland, sludge beds, shallow pools, meadowland and eventually a flooded grassland area.
  • LNR Cucknell's Wood

    WebpageSatellite View
    You would be lucky to see a dormouse at any time of year, but you can often find evidence of one in the dead honeysuckle bark it strips to build its nest. Another elusive species is the long-billed woodcock, although if you wait until evening you may see it ‘roding’ or flying a regular circuit in a territorial display. Other birds are plentiful too, including the treecreeper, green and lesser spotted woodpecker, goldcrest, nuthatch, marsh tit, willow tit, tawny owl and a resident family of buzzards.
  • LNR Epsom Common

    WebsiteSatellite View
    In 1935 we purchased the Common and it remains in our ownership today. In the 1950s the Common was designated as a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI) and in 2001 was also designated a local nature reserve. We manage the Common to maintain and improve nature conservation whilst allowing public access. Further information about the Common and our grazing project can be found in the links below.
  • LNR Holmethorpe Lagoons Nature Reserve

    WepageSatellite View
    The Holmethorpe Sand Pits [or Holmethorpe Lagoons Nature Reserve to give it its full official name, part of the Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) Nutfield Marsh Nature Reserve restoration project...
  • LNR Norbury Park

    WepageSatellite View
    The woodland areas are awash with bluebells and other wildflowers in spring, providing habitat for dormice, roe deer, badgers and foxes and all three British woodpeckers.
  • LNR Nutfield Marshes

    WebpageSatellite View
    Although this reserve has no public access, a footpath transects the site. Situated along Redhill Brook, this 21 hectare wetland nature reserve floods from the Redhill Brook during winter and on occasions this creates one large lake, which the footpath crosses. When this happens you feel as if you are walking on water! Ducks such as mallard and teal flock to feed on the winter flood, whilst moorhen and the shy water rail also creep through the waterside vegetation. Grazed grassland also provides the right habitat for skylark and lapwing to nest. In autumn, snipe and other waders arrive for winter...
  • LNR Tice's Meadow

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Tice's Meadow is a newly developed nature reserve on the site of the former Farnham Quarry, located between Badshot Lea and Tongham in Surrey, on the southern outskirts of Aldershot. The habitats on site consist of a mosaic of open water, gravel islands and scrapes, reedbeds, scrub, woodland, ephemeral ponds and wet and dry grassland. The site is widely considered one of the best inland sites to watch birds in the southeast of England.
  • LNR Whitmoor & Rickford Commons

    WebpageSatellite View
    In the evening you may see bats and, if you’re lucky, hear Dartford warblers and the churring call of the nightjar.
  • LNR Wisley & Ockham Commons & Chatley Heath

    WepageSatellite View
    It is a nationally important site for dragonflies and damselflies, with twenty species recorded. It also attracts many rare birds, including the hobby, which is one of the few creatures that can actually catch dragonflies.
  • NNR Ashtead Common

    WebpageSatellite View
    ...a national Nature Reserve; Ashtead Common is an absolute treasure, right on the doorstep of SW London. Wide grassy avenues, dormic...
  • NNR Chobham Common

    WebpageSatellite View
    Bring your binoculars and see how many you can spot of the 100 different bird species recorded here. These include the very rare Dartford warbler, the hobby and the nightjar.
  • NNR Frensham Little Pond

    InformationSatellite View
    Our pond and the surrounding grounds have become a haven for wildlife. We're home to a variety of water birds, tuneful birds and some rarer birds as well as reptiles and certain mammals.
  • NNR Thursley Common

    InformationSatellite View
    Thursley Common is an area of some 350 hectares of heathland in the southwest of Surrey, England. It is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and as a national nature reserve.
  • RSPB Farnham Heath

    WebpageSatellite View
    Farnham Heath has been transformed into a beautiful heathland with views across the Weald. Explore this abundant site, rich with Roe Deer, Crossbills, Nightjars, Woodcocks and Tree Pipits.
  • SSSI Staines Reservoir

    InformationSatellite View
    Officially called Staines Reservoir (in the singular), this site is actually two reservoirs (North Basin and South Basin) separated by a narrow causeway. They lie just north of Staines and Ashford and south-west of Heathrow Airport. The site has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, particularly for its wintering wildfowl. One of the best sites in London for rarities, Staines has attracted an impressive list of species over the years including waders such as Baird's Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, two Wilson's Phalaropes and three Lesser Yellowlegs. However, seeing any wader here usually requires one of the basins to be drained, which seems to happen every few years. Migrant waders can be found on the water's edge when both basins are full but there is usually very little variety.
  • Swan Sanctuary

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Welcome to the home page of The Swan Sanctuary's new web site. The Swan Sanctuary is a charity dedicated to the care and treatment of swans and waterfowl with an established reputation, not only within the British Isles but worldwide…
  • WWT London Wetland Centre

    WebpageSatellite View
    Twenty-five minutes from Westminster in the heart of London, the Wetland Centre is unique in being the first created wetland habitat (105 acres) to have been developed in any capital city throughout the world…
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Canons Farm & Banstead Woods

    Sightings & News
    Sightings from Canons Farm and Banstead Woods, Surrey.
  • Going Birding - Surrey Bird News

    Going Birding is a free, real-time, county-based bird news service. News can be submitted by any registered user (registration is free) and is instantly available to anybody via the web, mobile phones, email and Twitter. Each county has one or more administrators (usually the County Recorder or members of the county bird club). If you'd like a bird news website for your county please get in touch.
  • Surrey Birding

    Facebook Group
    Photos, sightings and birding adventures in the county of Surrey.
  • SurreyBirdClubNews

    News & Sightings Twitter Page
    Bird sightings and news from the Surrey Bird Club. Join the club at
Other Links
  • Mayford Bluetits

    In February 2001 we installed our first bluetit nest box )in a garden in Mayfield, Surrey) containing a video camera. Last year our diary gave details of the progress that our bluetits made with their nesting activities. We watched them nest building, egg laying, hatching and finally fledging. These details can be found by clicking on the 2001 link alongside. A new year sees a second nest box and this year we intend to monitor nesting progress in both. Hopefully, by summer time we shall have two broods of chicks to show you and details can be reached in the 2002 Diary alongside
  • Peter Alfrey - Non-Stop Birding

    This is my birding and nature blog/profile. I am based at Beddington Farmlands which is being developed into a nature reserve within the Wandle Valley Regional Park in South London. I live and work from Beddington Farmlands and operate Little Oak, an environmental management company that looks after green spaces in our local area.
  • Steve Gale - North Downs & Beyond

    Whilst looking at an OS map of northern Surrey, it struck me how all of my regular natural history patches were joined together by a geographical umbilical chord, running south-west to north-east over a distance of maybe 15 miles. Within this wiggling line can be found chalk downland, heathland, deciduous woodland, farmland, sand pits, rivers, sewage farm and urban sprawl. I like to think of it as one big - 'uber' - patch.
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Lee Dingain - Lee Dingain's Photostream

    Several of my friends have mentioned that they've never seen the photos I take on my travels, so in response I've decided to set up a Flickr account. So far I've only created a few photo sets (all of South America), with the Galapagos being the most complete set, but I'll be adding many more photos over the next few days and weeks…

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