The Birds of Rushcliffe

Auks, Doves, Owls, Swifts and Woodpeckers

Razorbill One record of a bird on the rowing course at Holme Pierrepont from 11th - 14th February 1984.

Little Auk A dead or exhausted bird was picked up at Bingham on 4th November 1995.

Puffin One was found dead at Ratcliffe on Soar in July 1991.

Pallas's Sandgrouse At the end of the 19th century this species used to irrupt in large numbers into Britain and in 1888 the species was seen at Clifton, Costock and Cropwell Bishop.

Rock Dove Feral town pigeons are descended from this species of which a few pure ones still inhabit rocky coasts.

Stock Dove This species is so easily overlooked but in practice they are very common and often occupy the Barn Owl nest boxes.


Wood Pigeon Very common. The most numerous species in the Rushcliffe countryside with big wintering flocks. It has now become a common garden bird and is achieving pest status among brassica-growing gardeners.

Collared Dove The first for Nottinghamshire was in 1958. Now a well known garden bird and renowned for its persistent song.

Turtle Dove Hard to find and getting harder as this lovely bird declines nationally. Last nested at Keyworth Meadow about 2010. In 2013 nested at just 3 sites in the whole of Notts.


Rose-ringed Parakeet Now well established in southern England, the first for Notts was at East Bridgford in 1968. It shows no sign of becoming established here though with birds staying only briefly except for one at Shelford in autumn 1981 and another at Ruddington in winter 1994-95.

Cuckoo The familiar harbinger of spring is disappearing from our countryside. In 2015, there were none around Keyworth for the second year running, none along a 20 mile stretch of Grantham Canal and just one at Holme Pierrepont.

Barn Owl Thanks to the Rushcliffe Barn Owl Project and grassy headlands around fields, Barn Owls are common in Rushcliffe again. The record low year of 2013 when the winter and spring were cold and wet and when the vole population was at an ebb, only a few dozen young were raised but this was followed in 2014 with a new record high of nearly 200 chicks being ringed.

Little Owl
Little Owl

Little Owl Hides away during the day (usually) but at dusk and dawn Little Owls can be seen and heard widely through the borough.

Tawny Owl More likely to be heard than seen but pretty numerous throughout though preferring woodland.

Long-eared Owl Probably under-recorded as it is secretive. Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers does not publish details of their roosts sites because they are loyal to these locations and suffer disturbance by human admirers. Likewise their breeding activities are deliberatly vague though the species does breed "in the south of the county" - Cotgrave Forest must be a likely location (and I don't think I've given anything away with that wild guess!).

Short-eared Owl A winter visitor in small numbers. Often hunts by day and most likely to be seen at Holme Pierrepont or over the moors at Bunny/Gotham.

Nightjar There is a healthy population in central Notts but Rushcliffe birds are on passage - one was roosting in a Bingham garden on the very late date of 10th October 1996 and another October record from Rushcliffe was of a bird roosting in a Keyworth garden (not mine, sadly) on 1st October 1995.


Common Swift The short-staying summer visitor that epitomises summer evenings with their exuberant noisy gangs.

Common Kingfisher Pretty common wherever there are water bodies. Given their bright colours they can be surprisingly easy to miss but their arrow-like flight and distinctive call helps.

Bee-eater Three were seen at East Leake quarry on 25th June 2017 and on the next day there were seven. Three pairs nested but the weather became very unsettled and although the eggs hatched, the parents and helper abandoned them before they could fledge. They were last seen at the nest site on 4th August though they were refound in Leicestershire a few days later and three or four were reported over Sutton Bonington on 13th August.

Hoopoe Just a few have turned up in Rushcliffe. The most recent are one at East Bridgford in April 2005 and another at Sutton Bonington/Ratcliffe on Soar in April 2006.

Wryneck Probably bred in the 19th century but no more. On passage they can (and do) turn up anywhere and such an unobstrusive bird must often get missed. Most are found in gardens and these are the Rushcliffe records since 2000: 2002; 1 Sept 12 (and possibly 2 weeks prior) Kinoulton, 1 Sept 29th Compton Acres (W Bridgford). 2003; 1 Sept 24th Cotgrave (garden). 2005; 1 Oct 2nd Tollerton (garden). 2006; 1 Apr 21st Wilford (garden). 2008; 1 May 20th Kinoulton (garden).

Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker Getting more and more common and often venturing into gardens now. More are detected by the loud yaffle call than by sight. For residents of Keyworth and others intrigued by our Nicker Hill, Nicker is an old local name for woodpecker.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Not at all uncommon and another occasional to regular garden visitor.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Now spotted much less than formerly; it has declined rapidly from a peak in the 1970-80s when dead elms helped them and they used to nest in Old Wood at Bunny.

Red-backed Shrike One was photographed along the Grantham Canal near Tollerton on 2nd September 2012. This species declined from being a fairly common breeding species in the 1960s to being extinct as a breeder by the 1990s and is now only seen as a scarce passage migrant.

Great Grey Shrike Almost certainly not the first in Rushcliffe but the first I can document is a bird in the rather unlikely habitat of arable farmland and canal at Owthorpe in early November 2017