Ten Rare Birds You Might Spot In UK Woodlands

If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…well, it most likely won’t be a teddy bear’s picnic that you stumble across, instead, the surprise might be that there simply aren’t as many woodland birds to spot with your best birdwatching binoculars as there used to be. 

Due to a loss of habitat and persecution, many of the delightful birds that used to make UK woods their home, are either gone for good, or have been placed on the Birds of Conservation Concern 4 Red List. However, with a lot of patience, it’s still possible for ardent birdwatchers to spot one of the following ten rare birds in British woodland:

  • Lesser spotted woodpecker

Now one of the UKs most rare birds, these charming little birds favour deciduous woodland, where if you’re lucky, you might spot one pecking away at trees in search of moths and beetle larvae. 

  • Hawfinch

As our largest finch, these are most likely to be spotted in mature woodland, but as many of them spend their time up in the canopy above our heads nowadays, their population is not only in decline, but they’re difficult to see even when they’re present. With a big and powerful bill, they’re able to split cherry stones open!

  • Nightingale 

Typically located in the UKs south east, this spring migrant with a hauntingly sweet song, loves thick vegetation and coppices, and despite its numbers being in decline, can still be heard in parts of Kent, Lincolnshire, Essex and Sussex.

  • Capercaillie

With many areas of Scotland no longer able to meet the habitat requirements of this iconic woodland grouse, this big bird can be spotted if you’re lucky, but with their population in decline, the chances are growing ever slimmer. 

  • Pied flycatcher

Colonising woods that are mature in the UKs west country, the pied flycatcher is a summer migrant that makes the long journey to West Africa every year, and can still be spotted by patient birders with a good pair of Vanguard binoculars

  • Nightjar

Living in open woodland, heaths and moors, nightjars are exceptionally rare and found largely in the south of England. While their numbers are recovering, this bird with its near mythical status is still tricky to spot. 

  • Spotted flycatcher

With its incredible ability to catch insects, this charming bird found in woods throughout the UK is a rare spot for even the most seasoned of birdwatchers, and its song is heard less and less. 

  • Wood warbler

Most prevalent in Wales, the bright green feathers of the wood warbler are a delight to see, if your birding efforts are rewarded, that is. Preferring woods comprised of oak and beech trees; its numbers are in steady decline. 

  • Willow tit

As one of the least commonly spotted woodland birds in the UK, this pretty little tit has dramatically reduced in numbers, and while experts don’t know the exact cause of this, many suspect that habitat changes and a rise in the number of predators, could be to blame. 

  • Goshawk

Displaying jaw dropping acrobatic displays as it hunts, the goshawk is a remarkable bird to see, but after being declared almost extinct during the 19th century, its numbers have sadly never recovered, and spotting one these days, is rare. 

Woods are wonderful places for seeing all sorts of birds and other wildlife, and if you haven’t yet experienced the calming influence of woodland, there’s no better time to grab your binoculars, pop on some camouflaged clothing, and see what rare birds you can spot!

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