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Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society
The Trent Valley



OS Landranger 129

Trent Valley Pit
(Grid ref: SK 463 305)

Location/Access
Trent Valley Pit lies between the River Trent and the B6540, half a mile south-west of Sawley. Park in the lay-by on the B6540 by the Pitstop café, about 200 yards north-east of the A50/B6540 roundabout, and follow the signed footpath between two small pits to the River Trent. Turn right at the river and continue along the made up track to view the pits. The footpath runs alongside the Trent and then turns right at its confluence with the River Derwent. An angling club owns the whole area and, unfortunately, of the seven pits, only four are fully visible from the footpaths - the three others are, however, visible to some extent from the B6540. Three new pits are also at various stages of excavation towards Cavendish Bridge, and can be viewed with some difficulty

  The Main Pit © Rob Fray

The Shallow Pit © Rob Fray

from either the towpath or the lay-by off the old A6 at Cavendish Bridge. It is important to keep strictly to public rights of way at all times, as there has been some conflict between anglers and birders at this site.

Birds
Although located in probably the best migration route in the county, the level of disturbance at this site means that many migrant waders, terns etc pass overhead without stopping. However, the shallow pit closest to the gravel company's offices is relatively undisturbed, and it is usually here that waders are found. Green Sandpiper and Redshank winter, and small numbers of Jack Snipe are usually present in the boggy areas. Golden Plovers often gather in good numbers in late winter in the field opposite the layby. Spring sees the arrival of Little Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher, both of which regularly breed. Common Sandpipers are indeed common at this time of year, and have summered twice, whilst Dunlin are regular. Less usual species to have featured include Turnstone, Sanderling, Knot, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Wood Sandpiper. Autumn wader passage is, for some reason, more erratic, although Ruff and Greenshank are

  The M1 Pit © Rob Fray

The Old Oxbow © Rob Fray
   

more common, and Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Grey Plover have all been recorded. Tern passage is rarely as spectacular as at the reservoirs, but Black Terns are seen most years. Late summer and autumn sees quite a good pre-roost of gulls, which rest on the shallow pit before flying off to Church Wilne Reservoir in Derbyshire. Yellow-legged Gulls are relatively frequent amongst the Lesser Black-backs, and Mediterranean Gull has also been seen.

Resident species include Grey Partridge and Willow Tit, the former often in the long vegetation around the Cavendish Bridge new workings and the latter usually near the layby, whilst in the summer good numbers of Reed Warblers can be heard singing from the reedbed adjacent to the shallow pit. Gadwall and Tufted Duck usually breed.

Wintering wildfowl numbers are usually disappointing, mainly down to disturbance at the site. However, during particularly cold weather, the adjacent River Trent can hold large numbers of ducks, and Smew are found most winters in these conditions. Away from wildfowl, Water Pipits have wintered on a number of occasions, but can be extremely elusive, whilst Stonechats can often be found in areas of long vegetation.

The list of rarities is fairly impressive, and includes Laughing Gull, Lapland Bunting, Ring-necked Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Montagu's Harrier, Golden Oriole, Little Egret, Slavonian Grebe and Scaup.

  Ulley Gulley © Rob Fray
    Trent Valley Pit map
1. Main Pit
2. Ulley Gulley
3. Old Oxbow
4. M1 Pit
5. Shallow Pit
6. New Workings


   

Kings Mills
(Grid ref: SK 417 274)

Location/Access
Signed from the centre of Castle Donington: follow the minor road west from the traffic lights in Castle Donington for about a mile until the road descends sharply through a wood and stops at the Priest House Hotel. Parking is available in the hotel car park.

Birds
The woodland next to the hotel holds the usual species, including Nuthatch, Tawny Owl and Marsh Tit, and can be viewed from the roadside. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker has also been recorded. The stream next to the hotel has a resident pair of Grey Wagtails, and Kingfishers are frequent. The River Trent is wide and quick moving here, and as such can attract significant numbers of wildfowl during cold weather. Goosander and Goldeneye are regular, whilst in hard winters, species such as Scaup and Red-necked and Slavonian Grebe have been noted.



 

Sawley Marina Area
(Grid ref: SK 475 305)

Location/Access
This area of non-intensive farmland is approached by turning east off the B6540 onto the minor road at the Plank and Leggitt pub. The road winds its way through various fields and past a new borrow pit before rejoining the A50 near junction 24 of the M1. Various footpaths cross the area, including one to Lockington Marshes (now mainly dry and scrubby) and Trent Lock.

Birds
Best in the winter, when a number of stubble fields are usually left. These areas attract large finch flocks, which often include Corn Buntings and the occasional Brambling. Tree Sparrows are also usually present in good numbers, and large flocks of Stock Doves and Skylarks often roam the area. Merlin and Peregrine have both been seen during the winter months in recent years, and Stonechats are occasionally encountered, usually in the rough field opposite the marina.

The fields either side of the railway bridge are good places to see Grey Partridges in the spring, with four or five pairs usually present - dusk is best, when the birds often sing from exposed spots such as fence posts or earth mounds. Barn and Short-eared Owl have both been seen during the spring over the rough areas. Wheatears are regular on passage, and usually visit bare or ploughed fields. The summer months are generally fairly quiet, although good views of Reed Warblers can be obtained in the reedy ditch next to the road opposite the marina, and Corn Buntings often sing from the overhead wires either side of the railway bridge.



 

Willow Farm Business Park
(Grid ref: SK 445 287)

Location/Access
The site is signed off of the B6540, half a mile north of Castle Donington.

Birds
This industrial estate is still under construction, and contains a large area of regularly flooded waste ground. It is most attractive during the spring, when large numbers of pipits, wagtails and finches feed amongst the rubble and puddles. White Wagtails are regular amongst the Pieds, and there are usually a couple of pairs of both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers present. Other waders occasionally drop in, including Dunlin, Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. The field on the other side of the roundabout, opposite the entrance to the industrial estate, is a regular spring stop off point for large numbers of Golden Plovers, many of which are in summer plumage at this time of year.



 

Trent Farm Pool
(Grid ref: SK 434 286)

An excellent flash adjacent to the River Trent, just north of the Castle Donington Power Station site, but unfortunately on private farmland and not visible from any public rights of way. This is probably the best wader site in the Leicestershire section of the Trent Valley, but its lack of coverage and private nature has presumably resulted in many good birds being missed. Those that have been found include several Little Egrets, Garganey, Redstart, Yellow-legged Gull, Bewick's Swan and Wood Sandpiper.

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