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The Warwickshire recording area (area 38 in the Watsonian system) is the same as the ceremonial county of Warwickshire (abbreviation Warks). It is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. The county is largely rural; it has an area of 1,980 km2 (763 square miles and a population of over 600,000. Historically it included the city of Birmingham and some of the other large conurbations of West Midlands County.

The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton followed by Rugby, Leamington Spa, Bedworth and the world-famous Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The county is bordered by Leicestershire to the northeast, Staffordshire to the northwest, Worcestershire and the West Midlands to the west, Northamptonshire to the east and southeast, Gloucestershire to the southwest and Oxfordshire to the south.

The north of the county, bordering Staffordshire and Leicestershire, is mildly undulating countryside; the south of the county is largely rural and sparsely populated, and includes a small area of the Cotswolds Hills. There are several canal systems including an arm of the Grand Union Canal, the major river is the Avon which is navigable from just north of Stratford.

Birding Warwickshire

The county offers a limited range of habitats for birds being land-locked. So, for a county as far removed from the sea as Warwickshire, it may seem strange that the focus of birdwatching is around water. The main sites are found in the Tame, Avon and Leam valleys and have been shaped by mining subsidence, sand and gravel extractions and the need for drinking water. In the north, Alvecote Pools (a Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve) is the first in a series of waters with other key sites RSPB Middleton Lakes, Kingsbury Water Park (County Council) and Ladywalk Nature Reserve (West Midland Bird Club).

Near Coventry lies Brandon Marsh, headquarters of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and first breeding site in the region for Cetti’s Warblers. The vast expanse of Draycote Reservoir near Rugby can be good for passage waders and terns and is excellent in winter for scarce gulls, grebes, divers and sea-duck. In the south of the county are a couple of hills near the villages of Napton and Ilmington, which sometimes have small falls of migrants, with Icterine and Yellow-browed Warbler turning up in previous years.

There are numerous small nature reserves throughout the area, most of which are maintained by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. The majority of these sites are woodland and hedgerow, which are home to a range of species typical to those habitats. There are a few sites, which are good for over-wintering water birds. Draycote Water regularly holds over 50,000 roosting gulls in the winter and both Draycote and Coton Lakes regularly feature various scarcer species of ducks, grebes and Divers including Smew, Scaup, Goosander, Goldeneye, Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver.

Warwickshire is an ideal base for twitching, as any part of the mainland UK is reachable by car in a day. Making day trips to sites as far off as North Norfolk or the South Coast entirely feasible.

Top Sites
  • Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve

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    The reserve is owned and managed by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. It consists of a combination of scrubland, reed bed, ponds and lakes. There is an entrance charge of £2.00p for non-members and facilities include a cafeteria and toilets. A number of paths network the reserve and there are also hides overlooking the main lake. The most important summer residents of the reserve are a population of Cetti's Warblers. The best place to find them is at the start of the nature trails, near the reserve map from where their distinctive call should be heard in the bushes. The reserve is also home to Grasshopper Warblers, which can be heard in the reeds and scrub but seldom seen. Recent unusual sightings have included Osprey, Spoonbill and Great Grey Shrike. It is also well worth having a good look around the car park area as recent sightings here have included Black Redstart and Stonechat.
  • Coton Lakes

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    This site is best in the winter months when it is home to various species of wildfowl. Smew have been present here for several consecutive winters. Other regulars include Goldeneye and Goosander. A Ferruginous Duck was present for several years up to 1998. The lakes are all close to the road so just park off the road and viewing is straightforward.
  • Draycote Water

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    This large reservoir, owned by Severn Trent Water is probably the premier site in Warwickshire. The easiest way to watch birds here used to be to drive around the perimeter road (approx 5 miles) and stop at convenient viewing points - but this is no longer allowed. However, you can park in the nature trail car park and walk. The site is best in the winter months when a wide variety of species of wildfowl are present including Goldeneye, Goosander and Wigeon. Other occasional visiting species include Smew, Scaup and Common Scoter, Slavonian and Black-Necked Grebes. Four Great Northern Divers over-wintered here during 1998/99. The reservoir is also a roost for large numbers of Gulls (50,000+) and these frequently include Glaucous, Iceland, Mediterranean and Little Gulls. The gulls can be viewed from several points around the perimeter but the best bet is to look for the other birders who gather in the evening (about an hour before dark) in the hope of finding something special. A good telescope is essential for this as the birds are generally fairly distant. The reservoir is also a stop-off point for passage migrants both in spring in autumn with visitors typically including various Waders, Black and Arctic Terns and Osprey. Half of the perimeter of the water is grass, which is ideal for grazing geese and ducks. The other half is a man-made bank of boulders, which is home to all three common species of wagtails and to kingfishers. Outside the perimeter road are trees, shrubs and a hedgerow that provide a home for all the species one would expect including treecreeper, woodpeckers and warblers.
  • RSPB Middleton Lakes

    WebpageSatellite View
    Explore a landscape transformed from gravel pit to nature’s paradise. Open water gives way to wet grasslands and reedbeds, meadows and woodland that teem with life.
  • Colin Clark

    | colin.alex@easynet.co.uk

  • Simon Roper

    | s.roper@ntlworld.com

County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 333

    County Bird - White-tailed Plover Vanellus leucurus [as it was a UK first… …plus it was used for the now very rare Warwickshire Birders car stickers!]
Useful Reading

  • Birds of the Heart of England

    | (A 60-Year Study of Birds in the Banbury Area, covering North Oxfordshire, South Northamptonshire and South Warwickshire 1952-2011) | Edited by Trevor Easterbrook | Liverpool University Press | 2013 | Hardback | 202 pages, 70 colour photos, 30 colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781846318856 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The New Birds of the West Midlands

    | (covering Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the former West Midlands County) | Graham Harrison & Janet Harrison | West Midlands Bird Club | 2005 | 496 pages, colour photos, line drawings, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780950788128 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in West Midlands

    | By F Gribble, G Harrison, H Griffiths, J Winsper & S Coney | Christopher Helm | 2007 | Edition 3 | Paperback | 343 pages, 53 maps, 24 line drawings | ISBN: 9780713664195 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Banbury Ornithological Society

    Founded in 1952, the Banbury Ornithological Society (BOS) studies the bird life in the twelve 10km squares surrounding Banbury which includes parts of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire (see BOS area map). Fieldwork is the core of BOS activity but the Society also holds regular monthly meetings, publishes a monthly Newsletter and Annual Reports, manages seven bird reserves and is pro-active in local conservation matters. Guest speakers are invited to our scheduled indoor meetings and several outdoor meetings are arranged in the summer months. Overviews of local study data are presented in both visual and written formats published in the Newsletters and collated in the Annual Reports.
  • Nuneaton & District Birdwatchers' Club

    We are an independent birdwatcher’s club based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, founded in 1950. A small, friendly club, we have regular indoor and outdoor events, and are always keen for new members to join.
  • RSPB Coventry & Warwickshire 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. We have regular monthly indoor meetings locally throughout the year and monthly coach trips to reserves around the country with occasional day-trips to local nature reserves.
  • RSPB Kingsbury Kingfishers RSPB Wildlife Explorers

    RSPB Wildlife Explorers is the junior section of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Our group aims to involve and inspire children to take an interest in nature and the environment through a fun and enjoyable mixture of indoor and outdoor activities, games and projects covering Staffordshire, Warwickshire and East Birmingham areas.
  • Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

    Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is the leading local environmental charity, protecting wildlife and natural places throughout Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull.
  • West Midland Bird Club

    e-mail: secretary@westmidlandbirdclub.com - The WMBC serves birdwatchers and ornithologists in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the Metropolitan WM, with lectures, field trips, a bulletin and an annual report… - Local page for Tamworth: http://www.westmidlandbirdclub.com/tamworth

Abbreviations Key

  • *Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves

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    WWT has 59 nature reserves...
  • LNR Alvecote Pools

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    Look out for crested grebe, tufted duck, pochard, shelduck, little ringed plover and reed warblers on the pools. You may spot the flash of turquoise of a hunting kingfisher or a Great white egret spearing fish with its long, sharp beak.,
  • LNR Brandon Marsh SSSI Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre

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    Brandon Marsh Nature Centre is the headquarters of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Set in 220 acres, the Reserve, consists of large pools created by gravel extraction. The Visitor Centre is a great place to visit including a Tea Room and well stocked gift shop.
  • LNR Draycote Water

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    Site description, recordings, bird list, photos, contacts and more…
  • LNR Ladywalk Reserve

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    Ladywalk reserve is owned by E.on - formerly Powergen - and is leased to and under management of the West Midland Bird Club. The reserve is located behind the Hams Hall Distribution Park and sits in a loop formed by the River Tame. This reserve is an integral part of the important wildlife area known as the Middle Tame Valley and the site is comprised of lagoons that are the result of flooded gravel extraction workings. The large area of reedbed has become an important feature not just to this reserve but to the whole Middle Tame Valley and the entire region too. This area of reed has become associated with the occurrence of wintering Eurasian Bittern and the reserve has been identified as one of the foremost sites in the country to observe this bird. Tracts of Birch and Alder woodland add to the diversity of habitat and this attracts winter finch flocks. The reserve is also an excellent place to see Water Rail, Hobby is also a frequent summer visitor. A wide range of birds species can be found here year round and wetland birds are the predominant feature.
  • LNR Parkridge Centre, Brueton Park, Solihull

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    Set in the middle of Brueton Park, on the edge of Solihull Town Centre, the Parkridge Centre and its 5.5 acre nature area offer a tranquil setting for environmental education and information, plus a wide variety of nature conservation events and activities throughout the year. The Parkridge Centre is a short walk through a public park from the car park.
  • RSPB Middleton Lakes

    WebpageSatellite View
    Explore a landscape transformed from gravel pit to nature’s paradise. Open water gives way to wet grasslands and reedbeds, meadows and woodland that teem with life.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Draycotebirding

    Birds and birding at Draycote Reservoir Warwickshire UK with local patch sightings
  • Warwick Birding

    Bird news from Warwick and the immediate vicinity
  • Warwickshire Forum

    Bird Forum Warks page
Other Links
  • Draycote Birding

    Log book, access details, and much more.
  • Steven Haynes - Warwickshire Birding

    Twitter Website
    @Warksbirdobs All things birdy in Warwickshire including a species list and up to date information on sightings. VisMig and hedge bashing, Obs style. BarnOwl Champion, Ex-County Recorder, Ecologist, Villa fan & Birdseed entrepreneur. No Moths
  • Richard Harbird - Morton Bagot Birder

    I have been watching birds since I was four years old and am now retired, and concentrating on birds within 10kms of our house in Redditch. Married to Lyn, I have gravitated to patch birding after years of listing and recording birds mainly in the West Midlands. I admit to being a rotten photographer, and a lapsed field sketcher.
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Rosemarie Kearney

    A growing portfolio of bird pictures

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