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Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society
The Belvoir Area

Knipton Reservoir © Andy Mackay

OS Landranger 129 & 130

A large area of farmland and woods north of Melton Mowbray and south-west of Grantham (Lincs). The best places to watch for raptors are: overlooking Knipton Reservoir (SK 818 300); the Harston - Woolsthorpe (Lincs) road (SK 836 324); Windsor Hill (SK 814 324); the minor road one mile south-east of Barkestone-le-Vale (SK 791 334) - also good for Barn Owl, and the minor road one mile north of Branston (SK 804 314). The Belvoir Woods are also worth exploring on foot - the Jubilee Way runs the length of the woods from Stathern in the west to Blackberry Hill in the east. Park at SK 798 320 and follow the footpath in either direction. The whole area is relatively underwatched.


For several years, this was the most reliable place in the county to see Buzzards, but now that Buzzards can be seen anywhere, the area has become very underwatched. Raptors, including Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Peregrine may be seen, especially in the winter, and Rough-legged Buzzards have been recorded in at least two recent winters. Barn Owls are most often seen around Barkestone-le-Vale.


Belvoir is also one of the most reliable areas in the county for Quail, and often holds several singing males, even in years when there are very few elsewhere. The barley fields north of Branston, and along the Harston - Woolsthorpe road are the most regular sites.

Turtle Doves hang on here in reasonable numbers - the area around Stathern is perhaps the most reliable for them. The woods hold the expected woodpeckers, tits and warblers, but nothing particularly outstanding. There have been one or two unconfirmed reports of Hawfinch from the area.

Reed and Sedge Warblers can be found in good numbers along the Grantham Canal, the best area being around the Barkestone Bridge (SK 776 353) (also very good for dragonflies).

Knipton Reservoir is difficult to watch, but rarely has much of interest anyway - a few Goosanders winter here and on the nearby Belvoir Lakes, which can only be seen from within the grounds of Belvoir Castle.

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