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Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society
Birding Sites

This is by no means an exhaustive guide to birding in the county - only the main sites are listed. Indeed it is partly because of the 'pulling power' of these top sites that much of the rest of the county goes largely unwatched. The more pioneering birder should note the large blank areas on the map with interest...


1. Trent Valley area

2. Sence Valley
Forest Park


3. Bardon Hill and Snibston

4. Charnwood Woods

5. Bradgate
Park and Cropston Res


6. Groby Pool

7. Swithland
Res



8. Belvoir

9. Soar Valley


10. Aylestone
Meadows


11. Rutland Water


12. Eyebrook Res


13. Stanford Res

14. Burbage Common/Woods
15. Fosse Meadows

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Leicestershire & Rutland - A Rough Guide
 

West and North West

1. The Trent Valley


2. Sence Valley Forest Park


14. Burbage Common and Woods

Dishley Pool and Loughborough Big Meadow
Around Loughborough, the Soar Valley is not as intensively watched as it is around Leicester, so there have been few exceptional records. Park at SK 523 215 for Dishley Pool, on the north west edge of Loughborough - the pool has had Ferruginous Duck, and an artificial Sand Martin bank is nearby at SK 523 218. Loughborough Big Meadow, managed by the Wildlife Trust, is the largest unimproved grassland in the East Midlands. The whole area warrants closer examination.

Saltersford Valley
A very pleasant area of mining flashes, the lakes being surrounded by lush vegetation. A few interesting birds have been recorded, but the wide range of dragonflies is perhaps more notable. There is a car park at SK 324 135. Nearby Willesley Flash, Wood and Lake are all also worth a look, with car parks at SK 329 141 and SK 338 144.

Bosworth Water Park

This is a relatively new site - a collection of small lakes privately owned and managed by Bosworth Water Trust. It has recently had Brent Goose and Osprey. The park lies west of Market Bosworth, just west of the minor road that goes south towards Far Coton, and just south of the B585, at SK 386 032.

Croft Hill
Whilst not huge, Croft Hill is quite prominent and migrants such as Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Wheatear and Pied Flycatcher have been seen.

Huncote Sand Pit
A working sand quarry, with a range of pools and scrub in varying stages of development. Regular Sand Martin colony. A footpath passes the site at SP 512 983.



 

Charnwood

3. Swithland Reservoir

4. Bradgate Park and Cropston Reservoir

5. The Charnwood Woods


6. Bardon Hill and Snibston


7. Groby Pool


Ulverscroft
Managed by the Wildlife Trust, Ulverscroft is a charming reserve with typical Charnwood habitat of mixed woodland and former heathland. Park on Whitcroft's Lane at SK 488 125.

Thornton Reservoir
Whilst often overshadowed by nearby Swithland Reservoir, Thornton is a pleasant and easily watched site, and has had its share of rarities over the years. Park at either end of the dam, at SK 470 074 or SK 476 072.

Quorn Borrow Pit
Between Loughborough and Quorn, this relatively new lake has great potential and several scarce birds have occurred. Unfortunately, there is no access to the site itself, but it may be viewed a little distantly from public footpaths at SK 553 183 and SK 556 177.



 

North East and East

8. The Belvoir area


11. Rutland Water


12. Eyebrook Reservoir


The Leighfield Forest
After Charnwood, the largest area of scattered woodland in the county, mainly lacking in just one thing - birders! The main woods are Launde Park Wood, Launde Big Wood, Owston Wood, Prior's Coppice, Wardley Wood, Tugby Wood and Loddington Reddish. Some of the nearby farmland is also quite attractive. Encouragingly, a single Nightjar was seen at Wardley in 2001, but have all the Nightingales and Redstarts really gone?

Launde
The upper Chater Valley between Sauvey Castle and Launde Abbey was one of the last reliable sites for Redstart in the county, but the species now seems to have gone even from here. The area could still be worth checking in spring though - perhaps they will return one year?

Priory Water and Kirby Lakes
An excellent complex of gravel pits in the Wreake Valley near Asfordby. Priory Water is mostly private (it is managed by wildfowlers as a refuge), but part of it can be viewed from a public footpath at SK 713 185. Kirby Lakes is a good site for Jack Snipe, and the sewage works have had Water Pipit and abietinus/tristis race Chiffchaffs in recent winters.

Melton Country Park
A variety of scarce birds has been found on the lakes, and the surrounding parkland is also quite productive. There is a car park at SK 758 209.

Edmondthorpe, Saltby, and Buckminster
This entire area has huge potential but remains very underwatched. Several owls are regular around Edmondthorpe, including occasional Short-eared Owls. Bramblings often winter, Curlews probably breed and Pied Flycatcher and Wheatear have been seen on migration at Saltby.

Exton Park and Fort Henry Ponds
Fort Henry Ponds are ancient fishponds that attract good numbers of wildfowl, incluing several rarities over the years, one or two of which have also been seen at nearby Rutland Water. The surrounding parkland holds Corn Buntings, and Quail are sometimes heard in summer. Singing Hawfinches have been observed around the ponds and in Tunneley Wood. The roads are private, so you'll have to explore this large area on foot from Exton.

Clipsham and Pickworth
Another very underwatched area with massive potential. Clipsham used to be the best place to see Hawfinches in the county, but there have been no reports for a few years now (has anyone looked?!). Try around the churchyard and Clipsham Hall. Pickworth has had several Hen Harriers in winter, whilst the woods have had Goshawk.

Cottesmore Airfield
This is yet another area that deserves much more attention. Trips of Dotterels were seen in the mid-1980s, but the use of the airfield as a major military base since then has put most birders off. Curlews breed, several owls are regular and Corn Bunting and Quail have been found recently in the surrounding countryside.



 

Central

9. The Soar Valley Gravel Pits


10. Aylestone Meadows


Stoughton Airfield
This airfield had excellent coverage in the 1980s and produced a string of interesting passage records, including Honey Buzzard, Pied Flycatcher, Ring Ouzel and Black Redstart. Wheatears are regular on migration, whilst winter has produced Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier, Merlin and large Brambling flocks. This was once a very good site for breeding Turtle Dove and Grasshopper Warbler.



 

South

13. Stanford Reservoir


Saddington Reservoir
This pleasant little reservoir can at times be quite disturbed by anglers, dog walkers and yachts, so is often lacking in wildfowl. However, several rarities have been found, and the surrounding countryside can be quite productive.

Frolesworth Manor Lake
A small new lake on farmland at SP 497 907. Good coverage has produced several interesting records over the past few years.

13. Fosse Meadows

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