Top ten places to see spring birds
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.
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.
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 often seen soaring around the parkland.
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.
Look out for the ravens “kronking” overhead, nuthatches in the garden, woodpeckers around the park and noisy oystercatchers nesting on the island.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.