Ring-necked Parakeet

West London Birding - Longer Trips

If you have more than one day free, you might like to go birding in another part of the UK. West London Birding can offer tours from 2 days to a week, taking in some of the best birding areas in the UK. Some examples of tours are given below:

Norfolk (East Anglia):

This is ideal for a two- or three-day trip. The saltmarshes of north Norfolk are a haven for birds and there are plenty of nature reserves to visit, both inland as well as on the coast. Speciality species that can be found all year round include (Pied) Avocet and Bearded Tit (Reedling).  In winter, large numbers of wildfowl, spectacular flocks of wintering shorebirds (including huge numbers of Red Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and European Golden Plover) and passerines such as Shore (Horned) Lark, Snow Bunting and Lapland Bunting are to be found here. Raptors are plentiful with Marsh Harriers and Hen (Northern) Harriers common. There is even the chance of a Rough-legged Buzzard or a Great Grey (Northern) Shrike. The east of the area gives way to the Broads and more open coastline. this area contains a wintering population of Common Crane and many sites hold resident populations of secretive marsh birds such as Eurasian Bittern. In summer there are plenty of breeding and over-summering waders and the reedbeds are alive with the songs of such species as Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler. Eurasian Spoonbill have recently started breeding. Other rare breeding birds can often be seen en-route, including Stone Curlew. Autumn is perhaps the most exciting time to be in East Anglia; the first geese and shorebirds arrive in numbers from their arctic breeding grounds, migrant thrushes from Scandinavia and, if the weather is right, you might be lucky enough to witness a huge fall of migrant passerines. As well as the redstarts, chats and flycatchers, these falls often include sub-rarities such as Barred, Yellow-browed and Pallasís Warblers,  Red-breasted Flycatchers and Wryneck, or perhaps something even rarer. Who knows?

Norfolk is about a 3 hour drive from London.  

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Yorkshire:

North Yorkshire is Englandís biggest county. Add to that East, South and West Yorkshire, and one has a huge area to explore for birds. This would be suitable for a three- or four-day trip, as there are such a wide and varied range of habitats that one really canít do justice to them in less time. From the coastal cliffs full of breeding auks, Northern Gannets, Black-legged Kittiwake and Northern Fulmars, to the rugged moorland of the Yorkshire Dales which hold Red Grouse, breeding Ring Ouzel and European Golden Plover and the wooded valleys full of Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Common Redstart, Yorkshire is a must in early summer. There may even be time to go and look for Black Grouse at a site slightly further north. Summer, though is not the only time to go to Yorkshire. With its long, east-facing coast autumn can be a very productive time for both common and scarce fall migrants (similar species as Norfolk, above) and also for seabirds such as skuas (jaegars), terns and shearwaters from one of the many coastal promontories, such as Flamborough Head, Spurn Point of Filey Brigg. There are also coastal estuaries and marshlands within the county, all which attract their own range of birds. 

North Yorkshire is about a 5 hour drive from London

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North Wales:

North Wales is one of the nearest places to London to see all the British crows, as the rocky headlands of Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula both support a number of Red-billed Chough, and there is often a Hooded Crow lurking around somewhere.  The sea cliffs hold breeding Atlantic Puffin, Common Guillemot (Murrre) and Razorbill in summer and  Black Guillemot is a resident which can be seen from sites on Anglesey. There is a sizeable tern colony on Anglesey which occasionally attracts Roseate Tern and the Inland Sea holds light-bellied Brent Geese in winter and Red-breasted Merganser are present all year round.  The island of Bardsey off the Lleyn Peninsula holds a colony of over 10,000 Manx Shearwater, which can often be seen from the mainland headlands on the Lleyn, and the island also has a bird observatory. Inland are the Cambrian mountains, which include Snowdon, Britainís second highest mountain. The high ground holds species such as breeding Ring Ouzel and oak woodlands and rivers coming down from the mountains hold the British form of (White-throated) Dipper (all year), Wood Warbler, Common Redstart and Pied Flycatcher (summer). There are also coniferous woodlands which are great for European Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Common Crossbill. The coast to the east includes sandy estuaries which attract waders at low tide and sea duck at high tide in winter and the Great and Little Ormes (limestone pavement outcrops) can be great for land-based sea-watching in autumn and often attract rare and scarce migrants. To the south the large bay area around Pwllheli  can be good for Common Scoter in winter as well as the odd rarity (the site attracted an Ivory Gull a few years back), and Walesí only Ospreys breed nearby. This site would be good for a trip lasting 4 days or longer.

North Wales is approximately a 5 - 6 hour drive from London

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Northumberland:

Northumberland is Englandís northernmost county. Like Norfolk and Yorkshire itís shoreline meets the North Sea. However, it differs from these other two sites by having a number of bird-rich islands offshore, many of which can be visited.  Lindisfarne (or Holy Island as it is sometimes called) is the northernmost and largest of these, and can be accesses by car during the 6-hour  low tide period. Its geographical location provides one of the first stop-overs for tired migrants during autumn migration, whilst in winter it is home to Britainís largest population of Light-bellied Brent Geese (sub-species hrota), as well as many waders and a selection of grebes and sea-duck that are generally only found in smaller numbers further south. The other main islands are the Farnes, some of which can be reached by boat in summer. These islands provide some of the best and closest encounters with auks, Common Eiders, European Shags on the East Coast. However the highlight is the large colony of Arctic Tern that breed here, which nest everywhere including on the path, and regularly dive-bomb visitors to the island. Bring your camera and a hat!!! The other island of note is Coquet island which has a small colony of Roseate Tern. However, this island is not accessible, but the terns can be viewed distantly from the shore, or occasionally on the pools at the local Nature reserves at Druridge Bay. The Northumberland coastline is fairly flat, so land-based sea-watching can be good from virtually any point and likewise can also attract autumn migrants. Inland, there are vast areas of moorland, and conifereous forest which, in summer can hold a number of scarce raptors with the large reservoirs attracting wildfowl. Northumberland would be best done on as a four- or more day trip, or can be added to the Yorkshire itinerary or as a stop-off point on the way to Scotland.

Northumberland is is approximately a 7 hour drive from London.

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Scotland:

Scotland is a hugely varied country and boasts mountains, inland and sea lochs, islands, stunning scenery and birds that you donít find anywhere else in the UK. As it is so diverse, two potentially excellent birding areas have been outlined here. But donít let that stop you from researching and suggesting other parts of this province.

    1. The Cairngorm Area:

    This is the main site for Britainís only endemic species, the Scottish Crossbill, which are resident in the Pinewoods of this area. But it is also host to a range of other speciality species including (Rock) Ptarmigan, Dotterel, one of the few sites to see Capercaillie in the UK, Osprey and another solely Scottish species, Crested Tit. The supporting cast includes Golden Eagle, Red-throated Diver (Loon), Slavonian (Horned) Grebe, and breeding waterfowl and waders that are difficult to see in other parts of the UK in summer (e.g. Common Goldeneye, Eurasian Wigeon, Dunlin).

    A minimum of 5 days would be suggested to do this area justice.

    2. The Islands of the West Coast:

    From the inshore islands of Islay, Skye, Mull and Arran to the Outer Hebrides (or Western Isles) of Harris, Lewis and the Uists, the problem here is where to start! Each island has itís own distinct flavour, and in some cases, birds. Islay is a prime spot in winter for thousands of  geese, but the supporting cast includes Hen (Northern) Harrier, Golden Eagle and plenty of diver and seaduck, whilst the Western Isles boast scarce summering species such as Corncrake, occasionally Red-necked Phalarope and two breeding species of Skuas; Arctic (Parasitic Jaegar) and Great Skua. Skye and Mull are famous for their White-tailed Eagles, whilst Tiree seems to be the new rare migrant hotspot, but also holds one of Britainís largest populations of Corncrake.  Sometimes northern larids such as Glaucous Gull over-summer on the islands and many of the outer islands hold the only truly wild, but resident British population of Greylag Geese.

     As both these areas are a significant drive from London (10+ hours) it is suggested that an overnight stop be made in another birding area on the way up.

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       Wintering European White-fronted, Pink footed &                 Dark-bellied Brent Geese in North Norfolk

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotius). An endemic British form of Willow Ptarmigan, common on the Yorkshire moors

(White-throated) Dipper can be found on fast-flowing rivers in the west and north of the UK.

Pair of Arctic Tern on the Farne Islands

Female Eurasian Wigeon and young in the Caingorms

White-tailed Eagle may well be seen on the Scottish Islands Tour