Nightingales breed in northwest Africa and Europe north to Britain, Germany and Poland, thence east through the Caucasus, Turkey and parts of the Middle East to Iran and western Mongolia. All Nightingales winter in sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal across to Kenya.
    In Britain they are absent from Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and most of England north and west of a line drawn from the Humber to the Severn. Within this range they have been steadily retreating to their main hot-spots in Sussex, Kent and Essex. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded that overall their range has contracted by 43% since the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas. Over the same period numbers in England are estimated to have fallen by 90%. The reasons for these decreases are not fully understood but are believed to include habitat loss due to factors such as increased browsing by an expanding deer population and the reduction in woodland coppicing.
    In Wiltshire the historical records suggest that Nightingales were fairly common in the 19th century, a situation that continued until the mid 20th century. The 1968-72 Breeding Atlas noted a marked decline after a peak reached in about 1950; it recorded Nightingales present in 28 of the county's 33 core 10km squares; this had dropped to 25 squares in the 1988-91 Breeding Atlas and 21 in Birds of Wiltshire in which Nightingales were recorded in 78 tetrads, with breeding in 39 of them. WTA2 recorded them in 39 tetrads with breeding in only 11, concentrated in just two areas, CWP and SPTA(Centre)

The following references are used throughout these species’ accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007: Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011”-– Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: The Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland. BTO Books. 
“WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.