The Lake District National Park, which comprises almost all the Lake District, is the UK’s most visited national park with many opportunities for bird watching.

Lake Buttermere

Lakes, forests and mountains provide spectacular scenery as well as important wildlife habitats and it is a perfect location for a day out to watch birds or for a bird watching holiday.

Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and home to over a thousand ducks, geese and swans that live there all year round. In winter this more than doubles as birds fly in from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Keep your eye out for goldeneyes, cormorants, tufted ducks, coots, pochards and mergansers.

Tufted Duck

Sunbiggin Tarn is an important site for wildlife and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is a popular place to see waterfowl including mallards, teals, wigeons, gadwalls, pintails, goldeneyes, great crested grebes, coots, moorhens and water rails. Rural trails around nearby Orton are popular with bird watchers and home to a variety of songbirds and waders including curlews, redshanks, meadow pipits, skylarks and lapwings.


To see birds of prey head to Grizedale Forest, an area of woodland east of Coniston Water. Red kites were introduced to the forest in 2010 and can now be seen all over the UK. Buzzards and barn owls can also be spotted in the area.

Red Kite

Or visit the Lake Bird of Prey Centre in Lowther or Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass to get up close to large collections of hawks, eagles, falcons and owls from around the world and take part in flying demonstrations.

At the RSPB reserve at Haweswater, England’s only golden eagle can be spotted; a lone male displaying in the hope of attracting a mate. Other birds of prey circling overhead include buzzards, merlins and peregrine falcons while dippers can be seen by the lakes. The oak woodlands are home to a variety of small birds including redstarts, stonechats and pied flycatchers.


As well as an abundance of bird life the Lake District is also home to the largest population of red squirrels in England, as well as red and roe deer. Butterflies such as meadow downs, orange-tips and marsh fritillaries have been reintroduced and there are important colonies of liverworts, mosses and two carnivorous plants; sundew and butterwort.

Looking for a place to stay in the Lake District? Click here to find holiday cottages.

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