Autumnal birdwatching at Sticklebarn

A whooper swan in the water

Our bird feeding station at Stickle Ghyll is hopping with activity; why not drop by and see how many different species you can spot? There's also plenty of opportunity to spot fantastic wild birds while you're out and about in Langdale this autumn and winter.

Autumn is a time of plenty for birds, by September the hedgerows are laden with berries, providing delicious pickings.

Winter in the Lake District is a great time to watch birds flocking together, sometimes in spectacular numbers.

The birds keep in touch with one another using short, quiet 'contact' calls to improve their chance of survival, because together they are far more likely to spot a predator before it's too late.

So what should you look out for this autumn? Here’s a list of the birds you’re most likely to hear and see on the fells of Great Langdale this autumn and wintertime.

Whooper swan

The slightly larger relative of the Bewick’s swan can be seen flying over the valley or taking a breather on one of the tarns. The name Elterwater is actually derived from the Norse word 'elter' meaning swan, referring to the Whoopers that once regularly roosted on the lake.

Whooper swans arrive 26 October, with peak counts occurring November to March.

Pink-footed goose

These small geese are regularly seen in flight, often in tens or hundreds. Other species of geese do pass over the Lake District in the wintertime, but if you see a very large flock (skein) of geese it’s most likely to be pink-footed geese.

They are seen from 15 September, with peak counts from January to March.

Snow bunting

The snow bunting breeds in small numbers in the mountain ranges of Scotland and further north but visits the Lake District in winter. It can occasionally be found on fell tops such as Esk Hause and Pike of Stickle, and is often quite approachable.

Snow buntings arrive in Langdale around 26 October.


The redwing is a member of the thrush family and can be identified by its reddish coloured under-wing that gives rise to its name.

It can be seen in large flocks from around 13 October.


Another member of the thrush family, the fieldfare (like the redwing) arrives in huge numbers to the Lakes, especially during hard winters in Scandinavia.

It may be seen from 20 September feeding either in treetops or on the ground, often with the smaller redwing.


The brambling is another winter visitor from Scandinavia and a member of the finch family, similar in size to the chaffinch. They often form large flocks in the winter and are most likely to be spotted in beech woodland.

Bramblings arrive in the Lakes around the 22 September.


Although the peregrine may be more regularly encountered around the coast during the winter, where estuary birds provide an abundant food supply, the peregrine is a year-round resident in the Langdale valley and can still be seen throughout the winter.

Watch for fledged peregrines screaming about the crags.


Another resident, the raven, can also be seen throughout the year.

This large member of the crow family is often given away by its 'kronk, kronk' call as it flies overhead.


The dipper can be regularly seen around the becks in Great Langdale throughout the year.

When seen in flight it often gives a repeated short, sharp 'zrik' call.


Another year-round resident, the buzzard can often be seen around the valley.

Mickleden is one of the best sites in Langdale to see this large bird of prey.