The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.
Range & Status
Palaearctic; in Britain and Ireland there are 300-500 breeding pairs (chiefly in Scotland); 426,000 winter.
Cornwall: midwinter peak of 3000 in most recent years, chief sites being Hayle (peak 1000-1500) and the Lynher peak 800-1100 in the 1990s, dropping to less than 300 by 2004. Numbers have greatly decreased since the mid 1960s, with the desertion of St. Johns Lake, which regularly held over 3000 (see Threats). No current sites are of National Importance. Isles of Scilly: very small numbers winter.
Habitat & Ecology
Feeds in tight flocks on tidal grasslands and mudflats, also on fields by inland waters.
Vulnerable to disturbance. Loss of Eelgrass Zostera spp. beds has more than halved numbers wintering on the Tamar complex, but this decrease underway before the Eelgrass was badly hit by disease. Other factors might be involved, e.g. disturbance by bait-diggers or the increasing number of wetland reserves further east in Britain holding birds which formerly reached the far west.
The main estuary sites are within the SSSI areas. The Tamar complex has been promoted for SPA status, part of it is a Cornwall Wildlife Trust reserve. Hayle estuary is an RSPB reserve. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).
I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.
The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.