Top 5 Places in the UK for Beginner Birdwatchers

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The UK is a great place for beginner birdwatchers to observe some of the countries most stunning avian wildlife.

As a country we are lucky to have such varied natural landscapes which offer unique habitats for a variety of native and visiting birds.  Finding the ideal location to see these birds can be daunting for beginner birdwatchers.

There are however there are plenty of exciting destinations across the nation that offer a range of talks, walks, support and more.The best way to see birds in the UK is to get to know the birds in your local area, which will help with recognition of species.

Armed with a guide book and a visit to one of the top 5 UK destinations for beginner birdwatchers, it is possible to see some incredible birds and other wildlife. 

These 5 locations also offer beginner birdwatchers a chance to see rarer birds that are currently flourishing in their natural habitats. Here are the top 5 places in the UK for beginner birdwatchers.

RSPB Minsmere (Top Choice for Beginner Birdwatchers)

RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk was one of the first RSPB reserves in the UK and is one of the best destinations in the UK for beginner birdwatchers to visit.

Firstly, this beautiful nature reserve is perfect for beginner bird watchers as it offers lots of rare bird sightings.

Bearded Tit Minsmere
Image by Lynn via Flickr

Additionally, it offers opportunities to see other wildlife in their natural habitats.

The nature reserve includes a variety of landscapes including shallow lagoons, heathland and wet grassland which creates a variety of habitats perfect for many species of birds.

At Minsmere it is possible to see Avocets, Bearded Tits and Bitterns, and other wildlife including otters and red deer.

There are many hides and viewing points throughout the nature reserve that are open from dawn till dusk.

Four hides offer accessible access ensuring every visitor has the opportunity to spot some of the UK’s most spectacular wildlife.

Minsmere is a great destination for families as they offer nature trails, an education centre with lots of hands on activities for children and adults alike, and guided walks with experts year round.

Make the most of your day here and enjoy a bite to eat in their cafe, or explore the visitor centre to learn more about the birds and wildlife found in the reserve.

Farne Islands (Beginner Birdwatchers Favourite)

The Farne Islands are perhaps the most well-known UK birdwatching destinations and is one that is ideal for beginners.

Visit the Farne Islands through landing tours or ‘sail around’ boat tours with knowledgeable guides.

Here you will find an important breeding ground for around 23 species of sea birds.

The islands dramatic and rocky cliffs are home to approximately 43,000 breeding pairs of puffins.

Also, trips to the islands can reveal Arctic terns, guillemots and eider ducks.

Guillemot Farne Island
Image by Keith Simpson via Flickr

The best time of year for beginner birdwatchers to visit the Farne Islands is between May and July.

During this time puffins are nesting on the cliffs and are easily visible from the boats.

Visit the Farne Islands in June to see Pufflings, with older chicks taking their first flights towards the end of July.

Eider ducks also nest and breed on the cliffs of the island.

These beautiful birds are locally called ‘Cuddy’s Ducks’ after St Cuthbert.

St Cuthbert, a 7th century hermit known for living on the islands, is known for his kindness to birds particularly during the stormy weather that frequents the islands.

On ‘sail around’ tours you may spot puffins heading out to sea to fish and Arctic terns dive-bombing other birds.

These tours are ideal for beginners as they included commentary and information about the breeds visible during the trip.

Additionally these tours offer some of the best opportunities to see a wide variety of incredible seabirds up close.

Loch Garten

Loch Garten is an RSPB destination nestled inside the Abernethy Nature Reserve.

The landscape consists of the largest remaining Caledonian pine forest in Scotland.

Loch Garden features a contrasting landscape of of moorland, wetland and mountains.

These landscapes provide excellent habitats for a range of native birds and other wildlife.

During Spring and Summer pairs of breeding Osprey, Crested Tits, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Siskins nest in the forests.

Crested Tit Loch Garten
Image by Andrew Mckie via Flickr

Loch Garten is a haven for other wildlife too including common lizards, red squirrels and bank voles.

Dusk at Loch Garten is the best time to see Wild Greylag and Pink-footed Geese.

To make this a memorable destination for beginner birdwatchers of all levels, it is possible to hand-feed coal tits at the nature centre.

RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve

RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve is a great place for beginner birdwatchers to see some spectacular British birds.

The nature reserve features a variety of landscapes and habitats including shingle, wet grassland and wildflower meadows.

RSPB Dungeness is the ideal destination to spot migratory birds on their way to continental Europe and beyond.

Spring and autumn sees vast migrations of swallows, Martins and swifts.

This nature reserve is home to Marsh Harrier, Bittern and many sea birds.

Marsh Harrier Flying
Image by Phil Gower via Flickr

The winter months also offer ample opportunities to watch birds with wigeons, Teals and Tufted Ducks.

Haweswater Nature Reserve

Haweswater RSPB Nature Reserve is a beautiful Lake District destination for beginner birdwatchers to visit.

This nature reserve covers 30 square kilometres (11.58 square miles) of mossy woodland, heathland and moorland bogs.

Streams cross over the nature reserve creating a thriving habitat for a number of native birds.

This area of the Lake District is currently going through a rewinding program.

Osprey
Image by Dan via Flickr

Firstly, rewilding aims to restore the natural landscapes and habitats within the reserve.

Secondly, this process will increase the number of insects, wildlife and birds in the park.

Visit Haweswater during spring and summer for a chance to see an increased number of birds in breeding pairs.

Here you can find Osprey and Ring Ouzels flying over this dramatic forested mountain landscape.

The nature reserve has many hiking trains through ancient woodlands offering ample opportunities to see many beautiful birds.

There are also a number of wildlife hides where beginners can safely see native birds without the fear of scaring them away.

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