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
Northern Europe and western Siberia; in Britain and Ireland 22,600 breeding pairs (chiefly in north); a declining relict population on Dartmoor (seven pairs in 1992) is the most southerly in the world. 310,000 winter in Britain and Ireland, a significant proportion of the world population.
Cornwall: two pairs present in potential breeding habitat on the east side of Bodmin Moor in 1976 and 1977 but breeding unproven. As many as 8000 may winter on upland fields in Cornwall, with some 5000 in Bodmin Moor area (of national Importance). Flocks resort to tidal flats to roost, with 23,000 regular on Lynher, Camel and Hayle estuaries (Jones, 1979). Isles of Scilly: regular passage in winter, but numbers small.
Habitat & Ecology
Breeds on moorland blanket bogs. Winters on short grassland, ploughed fields and firm estuarine mud in closely packed flocks, very loyal to defined fields and stretches of estuary over many years.
During periods of severe weather, massive influxes occur, forcing thousands more into Cornwall, where many perish if freezing temperatures persist.
Hayle estuary is an RSPB reserve. Formerly a quarry species, but now protected under Schedule 2, Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Annexe 1 of the European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. 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.