6 of the best places to go birdwatching in England in spring


Spring is an exciting time to go birdwatching in England. Summer migrants have arrived, the days are long and, generally, the weather is pleasant. Different habitats – and different parts of the country – will hold different species, making spring a great time to boost your year list. Spring migration can produce rare birds, too, so it's worth keeping up to date with the latest sightings via the BirdGuides app.

To make sure you see the best birds this spring, you'll need to go birdwatching at a variety of sites. But which ones will produce the best sightings? Read on to find out.


Where are the best places to go birdwatching in England in spring?

Naturally, nature reserves are among the best places to see birds. In Britain, the RSPB runs more than 200 reserves – this can make it hard to know where to go! Furthermore, other wildlife charities, such as The Wildlife Trusts, manage a range of locations, and there are bird observatories and local nature reserves to explore as well.

Here we have selected six different sites that will produce a nice range of bird species, including summer migrants and some of Britain's rarest breeding species. Wherever you live in England, you shouldn't be too far from at least one of these birdwatching hot-spots.


6 of the best places to go birdwatching in England in spring


Bempton Cliffs RSPB

Bempton Cliffs RSPB, situated along the breathtaking Yorkshire coast, boasts one of England's most captivating wildlife displays. From March to August, approximately half a million seabirds congregate here to rear their young amid towering chalk cliffs overlooking the North Sea.

The majestic cliffs of Bempton are awe-inspiring year-round. However, a spring visit between April and July unveils a remarkable sight: England's largest seabird colony. Here, Puffins, Northern Gannets, Kittiwakes, and Guillemots thrive on the precarious cliff edges. Witnessing the acrobatic dives of gannets plunging into the depths is an experience unparalleled on mainland England.

Puffin is a popular attraction at Bempton Cliffs (Bethan Clyne).

Yet, the allure of Bempton extends beyond its cliffs. During spring and summer, Corn Buntings, Eurasian Skylarks and Common Linnets breed in the grasslands and scrub where land meets sea. Meanwhile, Common Kestrels and Barn Owls gracefully hunt beneath expansive skies, sometimes accompanied by Long-eared Owls. Rare and scarce migrants can also appear from time to time, with easterly winds in May and June often producing exciting finds.

Bempton also offers great facilities, including a car park and a café, and is easy to access.


Pagham Harbour

Nestled within a sheltered inlet in West Sussex, Pagham Harbour is a globally significant wetland, boasting saltmarshes, mudflats, lagoons, reedbeds, farmland and a shingle beach, all of which support a variety of birds.

During the summer months, one of the main attractions at Pagham is a bustling tern colony on Tern Island. You can sit on one of the benches at Church Norton and gaze across the harbour to witness the lively activity unfolding on the island. The air is filled with the melodic chatter of terns mingled with the sharper calls of Black-headed Gulls and mewing of Mediterranean Gulls. Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, and Little Terns all breed and you can get good views of these species.

The lagoons and reedbeds hold Cetti's Warblers, waders and duck, while Western Cattle Egrets have recently begun to breed here. Pagham Harbour has a visitor centre and multiple car parks, allowing easy access.



Arne isn't just a fantastic spot for birdwatching in Dorset, it's also one of the few remaining places where you can encounter all six of the UK's native reptile species. Nestled on the shores of Poole Harbour and within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its diverse habitats provide a home for a remarkable array of wildlife.

Arne's unique habitats are carefully managed. The preservation of lowland heath is particularly crucial, as it is a threatened habitat in the UK. Rare bird species such as Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, and European Nightjar can be seen here. To maintain the open heathland, a variety of management techniques are employed, including controlled grazing by cattle, ponies, and pigs. 

The estuarine habitat supports a range of waterbirds, including Eurasian Spoonbills, terns and waders. There are lots of trails around the reserve, which has a sizeable car park and is well worth a visit in the spring.

You can see European Nightjar at Arne RSPB (Andreas Gullberg).


Leighton Moss RSPB

Leighton Moss boasts the largest reedbed in the north-west of England and supports a range of rare birds, including Bearded Tit, Eurasian Bittern and Western Marsh Harrier, all of which can be seen in spring. Nestled along the shores of Morecambe Bay in Lancashire, this reserve has a wide range of habitats including mudflats, coastal marsh and saltwater lagoons, plus woodland and grassland.

Water levels are carefully monitored and managed year-round. In recent years, the size of the reedbeds has been expanded by an additional 200 ha, while the inner marshes are grazed by cattle to maintain suitable conditions for bird populations throughout the year.

Leighton Moss boasts particularly good facilities and is easy to birdwatch.


Titchwell Marsh RSPB

Situated on the famous birding north coast of Norfolk, between the villages of Titchwell and Thornham, Titchwell Marsh is blessed with diverse habitats, including a sandy beach, reedbeds, saltmarsh and lagoons. The array of birds you can see in spring is exceptional, and included breeding Avocets and Western Marsh Harriers.

Avocet is easy to see at Titchwell Marsh (Christopher Bell).

An easy walk leads from the car park through woodland glades to the visitor centre. From here, the West Bank path opens up to wild landscapes of saltmarsh, reedbeds and freshwater lagoons fed by a natural spring and on to Titchwell's undeveloped beach. 

Titchwell is well-known for its café and visitor centre and these alone are good reasons to visit!


Langford Lowfields RSPB

Once a sand and gravel quarry, Langford Lowfields in Nottinghamshire has blossomed into a vibrant wetland sanctuary, centered around a reedbed. This reserve exemplifies the power of collaborative efforts in nature conservation, forged through a partnership between the RSPB and Tarmac

Spring heralds the breeding season and is the best time to listen to the variety of warbler species that thrive here (10 species in total), with Eurasian Hobby and Barn Owl also present. The extensive wetland habitat supports popular species such as Great Crested Grebe and Common Kingfisher, with good views of both possible.

Langford Lowfields has good parking facilities and is also wheelchair accessible.

Common Kingfisher, Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire (Paul Bateson).


Subscribe to BirdGuides to see more this spring

For all the latest sightings of birds in your area this spring, log on to www.birdguides.com/sightings – or buy a bird news subscription to keep up to speed with observations nationwide. New users are entitled to a one-month free trial.