West Yorkshire

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra ©David Mason Website

The West Yorkshire recording area (area 64 in the Watsonian system) is also a metropolitan county and ceremonial county located in the region of Yorkshire and the Humber with a population of 2.3 million. The county is landlocked and consists of five metropolitan boroughs (City of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, City of Leeds and City of Wakefield) and it shares borders with the counties of Derbyshire (to the south), Greater Manchester (to the southwest), Lancashire (to the northwest), North Yorkshire (to the north and east) and South Yorkshire (to the southeast).

It lies almost entirely on rocks of carboniferous age which form the southern Pennine fringes in the west and the Yorkshire coalfield further eastwards. The Bradford and Calderdale areas are dominated by the scenery of the eastern slopes of the Pennines, open moorland, wooded ravines and craggy outcrops, dropping from upland in the west down to the east, and dissected by numerous steep-sided valleys. There is a close conjunction of large-scale industry, urban areas and transport routes with open countryside. The dense network of roads, canals and railways and urban development, confined by valleys creates dramatic interplay of views between settlements and the surrounding hillsides.

The Yorkshire coalfield further east has a rolling landscape with hills, escarpments and broad valleys. In this landscape there is widespread evidence of both current and former industrial activity. There are numerous derelict or converted mine buildings and recently landscaped former spoil heaps. The scenery is a mixture of built up areas, industrial land with some dereliction, and farmed open country. Ribbon developments along transport routes including canal, road and rail are prominent features of the area although some remnants of the pre-industrial landscape and semi-natural vegetation still survive. However, many areas are affected by urban fringe pressures creating fragmented and downgraded landscapes and ever present are urban influences from major cities, smaller industrial towns and former mining villages.

To the east of the Leeds and Wakefield areas is an elevated ridge with smoothly rolling scenery, dissected by dry valleys. Here, there is a large number of country houses and estates with parkland, estate woodlands, plantations and game coverts. The rivers Aire and Calder drain the area, flowing from west to east.

Birding West Yorkshire

Given the topography there are good sites for upland birds as well as the usual farmland and water associated species.

Top Sites
  • Leeds Area

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    Sites worth a visit include Ilkley moor (SE109467) for Red Grouse and Ring Ousel, Temple Newsam (SE370316) for woodland species and Eccup reservoir (SE297413) for winter gull roosts.
  • RSPB Fairburn Ings

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    An extensive reserve of lagoons, pastureland and wooded colliery workings, easily accessible straight of the A1. Excellent for wildfowl and many common breeding species, it also sees raptors and terns in passage as well as a winter gull roost.
  • Southern Pennines

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    Several interesting reservoirs in the area including Redmires (SE256857); Wintersett (SE374154) and Pugney's Country Park (SE325181)
County Recorder
  • Vacant

Useful Reading

  • 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 NHBS.com
Museums & Universities
  • Bishop Burton College – Environmental Studies

    Students are well prepared for a wide range of exciting careers in the environmental and conservation sector through a combination of practical studies, work experience placements and lectures by experts in their field.
  • Harewood House Bird Garden

    Harewood Bird Garden is one of the country's premier avian collections. Over a hundred species of threatened and exotic birds are housed in sympathetic environments with the aim of promoting conservation and education. The Bird Garden is an active member of the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland, and participates in various captive breeding programmes…
  • Bradford Ornithological Group

    Newly overhauled website -
  • Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group

    We are a new group (Established in Nov 2011) and although our numbers are small (but steadily growing) our enthusiasm is great. Fund raising is a priority as we have many projects to tackle.
  • Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club

    We are a club and registered charity for people interested in wild birdlife, local, national and international, and aim to offer something to birders of all levels of experience - from seasoned to newcomers.The Huddersfield area has nationally important breeding habitat for some of Britain's most endangered species. It attracts rare and scarce birds every year and offers interesting birding all year round - if you know where to look.
  • RSPB Airedale & Bradford Local Group

    This is the website of the Airedale & Bradford 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 Huddersfield & Halifax Local Group

    This is the website of the Huddersfield & Halifax 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 Leeds Local Group

    The site covers both forthcoming trips and meetings of the local group along with articles and information relating to birding sites around Leeds…
  • Swillington Ings Bird Group

    Welcome to the Swillington Ings Bird Group Website, the pages here describe the Group’s arrangements, the wildlife recording area, details of individual sites, historical records and current sightings.
  • 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

  • *Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

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    Interactive map - We look after over 100 nature reserves across Yorkshire. Discover one near you! Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is a local charity working to create a Yorkshire rich in wildlife for everyone. The Trust believes Yorkshire should be rich in wildlife for the benefit of everyone with more wildlife, more wild places and more people having a strong connection to nature.
  • CP Bretton Country Park

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    The pleasure grounds and parkland around the hall were the work of landscape gardeners Richard Woods in the 18th century and Robert Marnock, the estate's head gardener, in the 1820s and 1830s.[5] The hall overlooks the River Dearne which flows in an easterly direction through the parkland. It is dammed to form two lakes. Oxley Bank, a linear earthwork forms the park's eastern boundary.
  • CP Pugneys

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    Pugneys Country Park is a 250-acre (1.0 km2) park located on the A636 between Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England and Junction 39 of the M1 motorway. It is a Local Nature Reserve.
  • LNR Adel Dam

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    A little gem of a woodland and wetland nature reserve. Stroll among dramatic high canopy trees planted as a victorian garden, enjoy close up views of the bird feeding station, popular with woodpeckers and mandarin duck, then overlook the lake with an almost guaranteed sighting of the resident kingfishers.
  • LNR Breary Marsh

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    Breary Marsh is a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest situated adjacent to Golden Acre Park in Leeds. As the name suggests, it includes an area of marshland, but also a wet alder valley wood and former birch coppice. It is said to be a representative example of a wet valley alderwood and associated flood plain fen communities and is the most diverse example known in the county.
  • LNR Cromwell Bottom

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    Our Nature Reserve is designed to bring wildlife back into the Calderdale area. Created on old Gravel Pits it was filled in a good few years back. It is a recognised fly-way for many species of wildfowl and waders on migration flying over the Pennines. We have many habitats, Lagoon, Wet Woodland, Meadows, Bird Viewing Area, Woodland with hundreds of Orchids, Canal and The River Calder. We are very close to other amenities in Brighouse and Elland.
  • LNR Denso Marston

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    Created in 1990 on Denso Marston washland for the benefit of wildlife, community enjoyment and education. An urban haven of woodland, meadows and pools with varied wildlife complement the other green areas in the wildlife rich Aire valley.
  • LNR Hardcastle Crags

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    Hardcastle Crags is a wooded Pennine valley in West Yorkshire, England, owned by the National Trust. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the town of Hebden Bridge and 10 miles (16 km) west of the town of Halifax.
  • LNR Kirkstall Valley

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    Only two miles from Leeds' bustling city centre and surrounded by both residential and commercial development, Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve is a surprisingly green, quiet and relatively undisturbed mix of wetland, meadow and young woodland copse with great views of the River Aire.
  • LNR Marsden Moor Estate

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    The Marsden Moor Estate is a large expanse of moorland in the South Pennines, between the conurbations of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester in the north of England. It is named after the adjacent town of Marsden, and is owned and administered by the National Trust
  • LNR Meanwood Valley

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    The Meanwood Valley Local Nature Reserve runs from Meanwood into the more rural countryside around Adel and Alwoodley.
  • LNR Ogden Water

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    Ogden Water Local Nature Reserve offers a superb opportunity to escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Over 300,000 people visit Ogden Water every year for picnics, walking, feeding the ducks, family outings and nature activities.
  • LNR Rodley

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    Created on a floodplain in Kirkstall Valley, a recognised ‘flyway’ for wildfowl and waders on migration, the wetland habitats constructed here complement the nearby River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
  • LNR Stanley Marsh

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    One and a quarter miles north of Wakefield city centre, Stanley Marsh consists of woodland, marsh, open water and grassland and is ideal for a quiet walk through the nature reserve to observe the wildlife
  • LNR Turn on more accessible mode Skip to main content LEEDS.GOV.UKGO TO HOME PAGE Apply, report or pay Search... HomeParks and countrysideNature reservesMiddleton Woods Middleton Woods

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    Although oak dominates the woodland, a variety of other species including birch, hazel, elder, sycamore, beech and sweet chestnut can be found. However, it is not just living trees that are important - old, dying and dead trees, rotting, fallen timber and decomposing leaves all provide food and shelter for a wealth of invertebrates, particularly woodlice, spiders, millipedes and beetles. These in turn are eaten by mammals and birds including bats, mice and voles and woodpeckers and treecreepers.
  • LNR Walton Colliery

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    Located 3 miles south east of Wakefield, Walton Colliery Nature Park consists of lakes and ponds, woodland and grassland and also a section of the Barnsley Canal.
  • RSPB Fairburn Ings

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    With pond dipping, regular fun events and walks to help you get away from it all, RSPB Fairburn Ings is the ideal place for adults and children to find out more about wildlife…
  • RSPB St Aidan's

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    Just a stone’s throw from the centre of Leeds, St Aidan’s is a stunning park to explore. Whether you’re on foot, on your bike or have your camera at the ready, take advantage of the amazing views and wonderful wildlife including bitterns, avocets, black terns, skylarks and meadow pipits.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • West Yorkshire Birding

    WEST YORKSHIRE BIRDING. BRIAN SUMNER. I am based at Queensbury and bird a patch within a 10 mile range of home incorporating 16 stretches of water, several plantations, a belt of woodland, stretches of river and canal and good areas of moorland. I specialize in upland birds, reservoir and sky watching. My local patch is Fly Flatts reservoir. Any reports can be sent by text or call to 07771 705024 or see profile for e mail address. All images on this blog are copyright.(2023).
Other Links
  • Food 4 Wildbirds

    At food for wild birds we supply a wide range of quality wild bird food..
  • Brian Sumner - West Yorkshire Birding

    I am based at Queensbury and bird a patch approx 7 mile by 7 mile incorporating 10 stretches of water, several plantations, a belt of woodland and good areas of moorland. I specialize in visible migration , upland birds and sky watching.any reports can be sent by text or call to 07771 705024 or see profile for e mail address. All images on this blog are copyright.(2017).
  • Calderdale Birds

    BLOG & Bird news from the Ca,lderdale area
  • Pam's Place

    I've been interested in birds and wildlife since I was a child when my parents took us on many local walks and my Dad especially taught us about what we were seeing. I've finally over the past year or so made more of an effort to rekindle these interests…
  • Steve 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.

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