Great places to see birds

Cumbria has an array of birds that live here all year round, pass through on their migratory routes, breed or over-winter on our shores. You can see many of these at any number of our nature reserves, but here are our top 10 nature reserves for birds and what you might spot on each one.

South Walney

Dunlin. Photo Damian Waters/ Drum Images

In spring and summer, lookout for breeding gulls, eider, ringed plover, oystercatcher and skylark. Winter brings great gatherings of waders including redshank, greenshank, oystercatcher, knot and dunlin. Winter wildfowl include teal, tufted duck, pochard and red-breasted merganser. Other winter visitors include short-eared owl, merlin and twite. South Walney is very important for spring and autumn migrants when many chats, warblers, wheatear and other passerines pass through.

Dunlin. Photo: Damian Waters/Drum Images

Where? Near Barrow-in-Furness, GR: SD 255 620

Foulney Island

Look for breeding arctic, common and little terns as well as eider, ringed plover, oystercatcher, meadow pipit and skylark. Winter brings large numbers of curlew, dunlin, knot and oystercatcher. Offshore, look for great-crested grebe, red-breasted merganser, cormorant and common scoter.

Great-crested Grebe. Photo: Steve Waterhouse


Where? Near Barrow-in-Furness, GR: SD 246 640

Barkbooth Lot


On the open fell look for scrubland birds such as whitethroat, willow warbler, garden warbler, linnet, yellowhammer and tree pipit. Woodland-edge species include redstart and redpoll, while in the woodland there are great-spotted and green woodpeckers, pied flycatcher, nuthatch, buzzard and marsh tit. If you’re very lucky you may see a hawfinch.

Pied Flycatcher.  Photo: Margaret Holland


Where? Near Crosthwaite, GR: SD 418 909

Drumburgh Moss


Spot breeding waders, warblers, reed bunting, yellow hammer, linnet, cuckoo and other wildfowl. In the winter see hen harrier, short-eared owl, teal and snipe


Cuckoo: Photo Amy Lewis


Where? On the Solway, west of Carlisle, GR: NY 255 586

Thacka Beck

Kestrel:  Photo Elliott Neep


Watch large numbers of feeding swallows and martins, sparrow hawk, kestrel, reed bunting, finches and warblers including sedge warbler, garden warbler and whitethroat. Snipe, brambling and kingfisher head here in winter.

Kestrel: Photo Elliott Neep

Where? Gilwilly Industrial Estate, Penrith, GR: NY 507 306


Willow Tit credit Harry Hogg


Breeding warblers, willow tit and bullfinch; redwing and fieldfare feed here in winter.

Willow Tit.  Photo: Harry Hogg


Where? On the Solway, west of Carlisle GR: NY206 617.

Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood

Tawny Owl Steve Waterhouse


In spring and summer appreciate the pied fly catcher, redstart and wood warbler. There is also tawny owl.

Tawny Owl.  Photo:Steve Waterhouse

Where? Staveley, near Kendal, GR SD482 984

Eskmeals Dunes

Oystercatchers Steve Waterhouse


In the spring and summer you will find breeding ringed plover, oystercatcher, stonechat, grey partridge and skylark. In the colder months there is an array of wintering wildfowl and waders, like wigeon and goldeneye.

Oystercatchers.  Photo: Steve Waterhouse


Where?  Near Ravenglass GR: SD 082 950.

Foulshaw Moss


In winter, look for hen harriers and wintering snipe. Stonechat and tree pipit breed here and, in late spring, spot osprey.

Stonechat. Photo: Amy Lewis

Where? Near Witherslack GR: SD 458 837

Humphrey Head

Peregrine Falcon. Neil Aldridge


Peregrine regularly breed here. Look also for wintering waders, like shelduck, curlew and redshank on the salt marsh.

Peregrine. Photo: Neil Aldridge

Where? Near Grange-over-Sands, GR SD 388 746


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