Birds you can spot on Marsden Moor

Find out about ten of the different birds that can be spotted on Marsden Moor.


    The twite is one of the rare birds that are known to nest on various areas of the estate. The breeding population has been in decline over the past 20 years. As a result of this, it is now a Red List species.

    At Marsden Moor, we are working with the RSPB and Pennine Prospects to help ensure we manage their habitat correctly in order to prevent further decline and loss of the breeding pairs on the estate.

    Red Grouse

    A red grouse hiding amonst the heather

    The red grouse, which is only found in Britain, is one of the few birds to remain on the moor throughout the year.

    The grouse will only live on heather moorland, and it nests within the heather. It needs young plants to provide food, and older heather plants for shelter and nesting.

    The grouse is distinctive when it is disturbed and flies out of the heather fast, calling and beating its wings.



    The curlew is perhaps one of the most distinctive moorland birds. It has a long curved beak and a recognisable call. It is a fairly large wading bird.

    In the winter it migrates to the coast, returning to the moors to breed.

    The curlew is another species that has been in decline over the past years. Changes in land use have led to fewer suitable areas for the curlew to breed.


    Image of a skylark

    The skylark may be best known for its song in flight, and less easy to spot while on the ground.

    The skylark is another ground nesting bird, and again, the numbers are in decline. The birds need to rear 2 - 3 sets of chicks each year to maintain the populations, but a lack of food is making this impossible.

    Meadow pipit

    Meadow pipit

    The meadow pipit is the most common songbird that can be found in upland areas.

    Like the skylark, it is a ground nesting bird. It has a distinctive flight call, but can be distinguished from the skylark by its smaller size.

    Golden plover

    Golden plover

    The golden plover breed on moorland and blanket bog during the summer months.

    In the summer, their plumage is gold and black, making them fairly easy to identify. Their plaintive call can be heard, especially when they are nesting.

    Carrion crow

    Carrion crow chicks in a nest in a wall

    A common, all year round species on the moors. They breed on rocky outcrops. They mainly feed on the eggs or small chicks of other birds.


    High above the cliff tops the kestrel hovers effortlessly, searching for its prey of small mammals and crickets

    The kestrel is easily distinguished by its hovering in the wind prior to diving on to its prey on the ground, normally voles or mice.

    And if you're lucky...

    You may spot:

    Pied and grey wagtails - found near fast-flowing mountain streams.

    Merlin - found on heather moorland.

    Peregrine - often seen near cliffs and rocky outcrops.

    Dunlin - found on peat bogs.

    Ring Ouzel - found in cloughs or on rocky outcrops

    Snipe - found on marshy ground.

    Reed bunting - also found on marshy ground, but flocks to areas of bracken during winter.

    Dipper - found in fast flowing streams.

    Wheatear - found in rocky areas, may nest under rocks or in rabbit burrows.