10 best places in the UK to go birding in winter

Now the cold season has arrived, visit one of these top locations to see birds in spectacular numbers.

Avocets © Richard Chew
1

Caerlaverock Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), Dumfries & Galloway

Some 35,000 barnacle geese spend the winter on the Solway Firth, with many thousands of those at Caerlaverock, after spending their breeding season in Arctic Svalbard.

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2

Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland

Noted for offering a winter home to three-quarters of the world population of light-bellied brent geese, nearly 40,000 birds. Waders and wildfowl visit in huge numbers, too.

3

Budle Bay, Bamburgh

Large numbers of overwintering greylag and pink-footed geese, plus wildfowl such as wigeon and teal. Stag Rocks (below the lighthouse) known for its wintering divers and grebes.

4

RSPB Fairburn Ings, West Yorkshire

Autumn brings passage waders, while in winter you can watch goldeneye, smew and goosanders starting to pair up in preparation for the coming spring.

5

RSPB Parkgate / Dee Estuary, Cheshire

Autumn is a good time to see passage migrants such as black-tailed godwits and greenshank and also sees the arrival of the first pink-footed geese. Winter brings birds of prey such as hen harriers, merlin and short-eared owls.

6

RSPB Snettisham, Norfolk

Watch thousands of pink-foots leaving their night-time roost in The Wash any time from mid-November.

7

Shapwick Heath NNR, Somerset

Best-known for its starling roost – mainly visitors from continental Europe – but also an excellent place to see gadwall, shovellers and tufted ducks. Adjacent reserves such as Ham Wall worth visiting, too.

8

RSPB Pagham Harbour, West Sussex

A huge variety of birds, including large flocks of curlews, knot and bar-tailed godwits.

An impressive variety and numbers of waders spend the winter on the Exe Estuary – everything from avocets and bar and black-tailed godwits to curlews, dunlin and knot.

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10

Stodmarsh NNR, Kent

Great flocks of wildfowl, and a spectacular starling roost. A winter visit here could also be your best chance of seeing a bittern.