In magnetic recording media, the grains or clusters reverse their magnetization over a range of reversal field, resulting in a switching field distribution. In order to achieve high areal densities, it is desirable to understand and minimize such a distribution. Clusters of grains which contain stacking faults (SF) or fcc phase have lower anisotropy, an order lower than those without them. It is believed that such low anisotropy regions reverse their magnetization at a much lower reversal field than the rest of the material with a larger anisotropy. Such clusters/grains cause recording performance deterioration, such as adjacent track erasure and dc noise. Therefore, the observation of clusters that reverse at very low reversal fields (nucleation sites, NS) could give information on the noise and the adjacent track erasure. Potentially, the observed clusters could also provide information on the SF. In this paper, we study the reversal of nucleation sites in granular perpendicular media based on a magnetic force microscope (MFM) methodology and validate the observations with high resolution cross-section transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) measurements. Samples, wherein a high anisotropy CoPt layer was introduced to control the NS or SF in a systematic way, were evaluated by MFM, TEM, and magnetometry. The magnetic properties indicated that the thickness of the CoPt layer results in an increase of nucleation sites. TEM measurements indicated a correlation between the thickness of CoPt layer and the stacking fault density. A clear correlation was also observed between the MFM results, TEM observations, and the coercivity and nucleation field of the samples, validating the effectiveness of the proposed method in evaluating the nucleation sites which potentially arise from stacking faults.