The Birds of Rushcliffe

Crakes and Waders

Water Rail Not common and infrequently seen on the margins of water bodies but there is a healthy population at Rushcliffe Country Park. Squealing piglet sounds from reedbeds are a sure indication of Water Rails.

Spotted Crake A very scarce passage migrant though many must get missed as they skulk in aquatic vegetation. Has occured at Holme Pierrepont.

Corncrake Once abundant in cornfields, Corncrakes are now very occasional migrants, though some may pass unnoticed. There are no recent records though one calling near Gunthorpe in May 1984 was close!

Moorhen Very common on even very small waterbodies including some farm ponds and ditches.

Coot Very common but requires larger bodies of water than Moorhen.

Common Crane A rare vagrant to the county, but sightings are becoming more frequent. One present around the gravel pits east of Nottingham between 18th and 30th October 1998 occasionally visited Holme Pierrepont. One at Tollerton and Holme Pierrepont on 15th April 2000. One at Bingham on 3rd November 2005 and one was present along the Trent valley in Autumn 2010 and was seen over Holme Pierrepont on September 25th. In 2011, there was one in the vicinity of Holme Pierrepont/Barton in Fabis in early May and in 2012 Rushcliffe's share of a bumper year in Notts (17 birds recorded) was one over Holme Pierrepont on 16th June

Little Bustard One was shot at Shelton in the autumn of 1842.

Oystercatcher Increasingly common since the eighties and now regular in small numbers at Holme Pierrepont where it has bred.

(Black-winged Stilt) Although this bird is the Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers emblem, because it bred in the UK for the first (and until 1987, only) time at Nottingham Sewage Farm in 1945, it has never been seen in Rushcliffe. (Though it must have flown over us!)

Avocet The status of Avocets in Nottinghamshire has changed dramatically since 2008 but this change has not been reflected in Rushcliife. In 2008 to 2010 its status in the county has changed from scarce passage migrant to summer visitor that has bred. During the same period there was a single at Holme Pierrepont on 20th March 2009. Latest news; one at Thrumpton, 04/04/13.

Stone-curlew Used to breed in central Notts in the 19th century but now extremely rare. One was unintentionally disturbed at Holme Pierrepont on the evening of 9th April 1988 from an area of sand and gravel that is now under the A52 pit.

Little Ringed Plover A summer visitor favouring barren stony ground preferably close to water for breeding. Has bred at East Leake gravel pit, Cotgrave CP and Holme Pierrepont.

Ringed Plover A passage migrant in very small numbers with the occasional bird (sometimes several) at Holme Pierrepont and East Leake GP.

Kentish Plover A rare passage migrant to Britain and very rare inland. One was at Holme Pierrepont on 8th April 1966

American Golden Plover A rare visitor to the UK. One was at Holme Pierrepont (and Hoveringham) 10th-12th May 1995.

Golden Plover Until the 1980's, wintering flocks of several hundred mixed with the similarly depleted Lapwings on the ploughed lands of the Wolds but with the switch to autumn sown cereals and improved drainage, Golden Plovers are now an infrequent sight.


Grey Plover A scarce passage migrant most likely in May and September at Holme Pierrepont.

Lapwing Breeding numbers as well as wintering populations of this once common and spectacular farmland bird are vastly reduced. A few still do breed and entertain with their wonderful display and eerie song. Gone too are the "cold-weather movements" when many thousands migrated across our skies when freezing weather moved in. However, favoured sites such as Barton-in-Fabis hold up to about 1,000 in winter.

Knot A very uncommon passage migrant. Once again, Holme Pierrepont is the only likely site but they are not annual even here.

Sanderling Holme Pierrepont (in particular the A52 pit) gets a representative sample of the few birds that migrate through Notts mainly in the spring. Winter records are even scarcer.

Little Stint An annual autumn migrant through Nottinghamshire and more common than the previous two species. Muddy, insect-rich margins of pools are favoured but they will tolerate the margins of gravel pits at a push.

Temminck's Stint Four have been recorded at Holme Pierrepont since 1974

Pectoral Sandpiper The most frequent vagrant wader to the UK and most often seen in September. Has been recorded at Holme Pierrepont.

Curlew Sandpiper As with nearly all the waders, there is no suitable habitat to attract and detain passage Curlew Sandpipers and ones and twos occasionally stay a short while at Holme Pierrepont.

Purple Sandpiper Quite a scarce wintering wader around UK coasts and very rare inland. Holme Pierrepont has hosted three, in September 1966, October 1972 and November 2004.

Dunlin One of the more common migrant waders (and abundant around our coast) up to about ten can occur at Holme Pierrepont in August with others at sites such as East Leake gravel pit.

Ruff A fairly common passage migrant but only at its favoured sites such as - yes ... Holme Pierrepont with ones and twos there in autumn.

Jack Snipe Because of its secretive nature, almost certainly more numerous than records suggest. It is a winter visitor and passage migrant, most likely in winter in damp or marshy, coarsely grassed areas along brook sides etc almost anywhere in the Borough, though most records come from the well-watched sites.

Common Snipe Never very common as a breeding bird and I know of none recorded as breeding in Rushcliffe since at least 1950. Wintering and passage numbers are now much reduced with just a handful at Holme Pierrepont where there were frequently over a hundred in the 1980s. Large numbers were also recorded at Barnstone. Away from the strongholds, Snipe can turn up at any boggy or wetland site especially when freezing weather forces them to seek out alternatives.

Great Snipe Just nine Notts records of this vagrant and just one was in Rushcliffe - at Hickling in October 1882!

Woodcock Widely but sparsely distributed in the winter across Rushcliffe in copses and wet, uncultivated areas. Used to breed in Cotgrave Forest and may still.

Black-tailed Godwit A scarce passage migrant, most likely in small flocks in April and July-August at Holme Pierrepont but not annual.

Bar-tailed Godwit Less frequent than Black-tailed Godwit and more likely in spring. There were 44 at Holme Pierrepont on 20th April 1974

Whimbrel Another scarce passage migrant but this species rarely lands in the county, so get familiar with the distinctive call that sounds like someone whistling their dog. A flock of eight flew over my Keyworth garden ahead of a storm on 7th July 1991.

Curlew May have bred along the valley of the River Soar in the mid 20th century but now the Curlew is a very scarce migrant. There was a highly notable flock of 200 flying west at Aslockton on 29th July 1977.

Spotted Redshank With an average of 4.5 birds per year in Notts over recent years and no reason for Holme Pierrepont to get more than a representative sample (such as the one there on 17th August 2008) a status of very rare passage migrant seems appropriate.

Common Redshank The commonest wader in winter and on passage in August-September but rarely to be seen away from Holme Pierrepont. Used to breed in scattered locations but now confined to Holme Pierrepont due to loss of suitable habitat.

Common Greenshank Apart from Snipe, this is the only wader that might well be found away from the Trent valley as they occasionally drop in on farm ponds and other bits of wetland whilst on passage through Rushcliffe mainly in August-September.

Lesser Yellowlegs A very scarce vagrant to the UK but one was at Holme Pierrepont from 25th November to 15th December 1995.

Green Sandpiper Fairly common and another one that might be found away from the gravel pits, mainly July to September.

Wood Sandpiper An uncommon passage migrant with occasional birds in some years at Holme Pierrepont

Common Sandpiper Another of the more common waders to pass through but really only likely at Holme Pierrepont

Spotted Sandpiper The only Nottinghamshire record of this North American species is one at Holme Pierrepont from 17th December 1994 to 5th January 1995.

Turnstone A very scarce passage migrant. Annual in the county but less than annual in Rushcliffe with Holme Pierrepont as the most likely venue.

Grey Phalarope The only species of phalarope to have graced Rushcliffe was this one which visited Holme Pierrepont on 6th November 2005