Top ten places to see spring birds

The Fieldfare, a winter migrant bird

Spring is the perfect time of year for bird spotting. You don’t need to be an expert, many of our places have bird spotter sheets so you can identify what you have seen, or you can download our bird spotter sheet before you go.

Here are our top ten places within our care for you to spot the feathery highlights of this season.

Longshaw Estate, Derbyshire

As the weather warms up and the days get longer, thousands of migrating birds pass over the Peak District. Winter migrants such as redwings and bramblings head north to Scandinavia and spring visitors such as redstarts, wood warblers and tree pipits are on their way from South and West Africa.

From April you can see pied flycatchers as they return from warmer African climes. Find out about the work we’re doing to create homes for these distinctive black and white birds here.

A pied flycatcher considering an uncorked nest box
Pied flycatcher
A pied flycatcher considering an uncorked nest box

Croome, Worcestershire

You will find Croome's bird hide in a quiet spot in the Church Shrubbery. A great place to hear birdsong and see woodpeckers, pheasants, nuthatches and treecreepers, as well as assorted finches and tits at the feeding stations.

Nuthatch feeding at Croome bird hide
Nuthatch feeding at Croome
Nuthatch feeding at Croome bird hide

Late spring sees many migratory birds returning to Croome. House martins and swallows return to their nests at the RAF buildings and the Court.  Swifts are also often seen soaring around the parkland. Learn more about the migration of swallows on the RSPB website.

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

The lake at Kedlestong is home to herons, coots, swans and of course those ever so fluffy ducklings. Most years, a pair of goosanders nest in a tree close to the lake too.

Swimming lessons on the lake
Duckling on the lake
Swimming lessons on the lake

Look out for the ravens “kronking” overhead, nuthatches in the garden, woodpeckers around the park and noisy oystercatchers nesting on the island.

Belton, Lincolnshire

Spring is an excellent time to see fascinating birds such as nuthatch, treecreepers and goldcrest at Belton, with their unique birdcalls and striking colours, you’ll hear them long before you can see where they are hiding.

There are kingfishers on the rivers - will you spot one today?
Kingfisher on branch by river in parkland at Charlecote Park
There are kingfishers on the rivers - will you spot one today?

On the river Witham there are a couple of nesting pairs of kingfishers (which can produce several broods a year). Once they’ve produced young look out for them on regular hunting expeditions along the river, or teaching their fledgelings to fly.

Charlecote Park, Warwickshire

Charlecote's riverside setting is a wildlife haven - did you know they have one of the largest heronries in Warwickshire?

Grey heron
Grey heron
Grey heron

From mid-May – August look out for spotted flycatchers, especially in the vicinity of the house. Charlecote is a traditional breeding site for this fast-declining sub-Saharan migrant. Their plumage may be unremarkable but you’ll be charmed by their insect-catching antics as they fly out from prominent perches to catch their food on the wing.  

Croft Castle and Parkland, Herefordshire

The bird feeders are busy at this time of year with goldfinches, long-tailed tits, nuthatches and siskins as they fill up on fuel to get them through the last of the colder weather.

Herons, moorhens, great spotted woodpeckers, sparrowhawks and many other native woodland birds can be spotted from the bird hide down at Fishpool Valley.

Brightly coloured goldfinch at the bird hide
Brightly coloured goldfinch
Brightly coloured goldfinch at the bird hide

Take a walk on Bircher Common and you may be rewarded with the sight and sound of resident breeders including skylark, stonechat and yellowhammer.  

Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd, Shropshire 

Carding Mill Valley is a true bird lovers haven. Wheatear, the first of the inter-continental migrants, pass through in numbers from mid-March onwards, Stonechat start nesting in mid-April and snipe, ring ouzel and hobbies in late April, whinchat in early May and, in an exceptional year, dotterel might be seen at this time too.

There are two types of Wheatear that arrive from warmer climes to call the UK home for spring and summer. Learn more about their journey here.

Will you see a wheatear on your next visit?
A wheatear perches on a rock
Will you see a wheatear on your next visit?

In March and April the upper valleys are also good for watching peregrine and merlin, plus you might even catch sight of hen harrier in early spring. Dippers and the colourful dart of the kingfisher can be seen in the stream at Carding Mill Valley.

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

In a quiet moment you may hear the unmistakeable call of the cuckoo calling out over the heaths, or the musical song of the wood larks and tree pipits displaying above the grasslands and the tell-tale sound of woodpeckers drumming echoing through the woods.

A rare sight of the elusive cuckoo in the UK
Cuckoo sitting in a tree
A rare sight of the elusive cuckoo in the UK

Down by the waterside tufted duck and gadwall ducklings and goslings can be seen venturing out onto the lake while others are still busy building nests and sitting on eggs.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

About a third of the parkland at Calke Abbey is a National Nature Reserve, recognised in 2004 due to the quality of its wood pasture, one of our rarest habitats.

Chaffinches are common but colourful birds
Chaffinch
Chaffinches are common but colourful birds

Bird hides located in the main car park and wetlands are the perfect places to seek out woodland birds such as chaffinch, siskin and, nuthatch. Rare species, such as a turtle dove, have also been spotted here.

Stoneywell, Leicestershire

Birds are incredibly busy as spring kicks in at Stoneywell: robins are twittering for mates, while blue tits and great tits are busy selecting their nest boxes and lining them with moss, twigs and feathers to create a cosy nest to raise their young.

Look out for Great Spotted Woodpeckers
Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding young at nest hole
Look out for Great Spotted Woodpeckers

If you hear a yaffling sound, it's probably the call of a green woodpecker, the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in Britain. Plus, as you explore the woodland, you're likely to hear the tap-tap of great spotted woodpeckers.

We love to hear about the birds you spot at the places we care for and see the photos you take. Please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.