The Forest of Bowland A.O.N.B. (Area of outstanding natural beauty) is one of Englands hidden gems with a rich diversity of unspoiled landscapes. Heather clad hills, with rare blanket bogs overlook wooded valleys, in all its moods the Forest of Bowland is a beautiful place to visit. Bird enthusiasts will know this is a strong hold of the majestic Hen Harrier.
Its also an excellent place for birdwatching generally with a variety of habitats that are easily accessible. Lapwings, oystercatchers, redshanks and curlews all breed here and on a damp day look out for Little Owls sat on drystone walls looking for prey (usually worms!).
Occasionally Ospreys stop off in early spring at Stocks Reservoir on their way to their breeding sites and this is an excellent place to watch gulls, geese, grebe and cormorants. The woods around Stocks and Gisburn Forest with its extensive network of footpaths and cycle ways, and fantastic views are a lovely place to walk and watch woodland birds such as nuthatches, treecreepers and woodpeckers.
The Trough of Bowland itself is a place to lookout for moorland birds like wheatears and stonechats bobbing amongst the rocks. Dusk especially is an excellent time to spot hares in fields as you drive past, and the last couple of years seem to have been very good for our stoat population.
Thirteen percent of the Forest of Bowland AONB is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI ) for its habitats and geological features.
The extensive heather moorlands of the fells are exceptionally important as a habitat for upland birds and have been designated as a Special Protection Area ( SPA ) under the European Birds Directive in recognition of this.
In partnership with RSPB, Natural England and United Utilities, Lancashire County Councils Countryside Service is playing host to the Bowland Hen Harrier Project at the Bowland Visitor Centre, Beacon Fell. Continuous footage of a Hen Harrier nest in the Bowland Fells can be viewed seven days a week at the Visitor Centre on Beacon Fell Country Park near Preston.
Gisburn Forest Guide (PDF 313kb)
Birding in Bowland Leaflet (PDF 5.5mb)
Common Crossbills can be seen at Beacon Fell Country Park. SD 566418
Nicky Nook and Grizedale Valley a firm favourite with birdwatchers looking for summer visitors such as Wood Warbler and Redstart.
Nicky Nook and Grizedale SD503489
Littledale home to a variety of special birds, including the rare hen harrier, the symbol of the Forest of Bowland AONB.
Littledale Walk (PDF 549kb)
Leighton Moss also for waders SD477749
Martin Mere for waders SD436108