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
Old world; in Europe breeds very locally in small colonies in lowland reedbeds, chiefly in the Netherlands, S. Spain, Hungary and countries bordering the Black Sea. Winters from Mediterranean south to W. Africa and east to India. In Britain and Ireland it is scarce on passage, with a few birds overwintering in milder parts. Was a former breeding species up to the 18th century; odd pairs have bred or shown interest in nesting on the North Sea coast in recent years.
Cornwall: ones and twos increasingly frequent in winter on larger estuaries, particularly the Lynher from late September to early March (Folland, 2008). Singles elsewhere on passage, rarely more but ten on the Camel in October 1997 and eight on the Lynher in October 2007. Our wintering birds must originate from the Dutch population, as shown by the presence of colour-ringed Dutch birds (from two different breeding sites) on the Lynher in winter 07/08. Isles of Scilly: Not even annual. Singles rare on passage chiefly in May and again in October/November.
Habitat & Ecology
In Cornwall a bird of estuaries, feeding at lower tides wading knee-deep along water' s edge, swinging head and bill from side to side. Roosts on saltings with waders at high tide; on the Lynher chiefly on Earth and Beggar' s Islands or on the saltmarsh to the west of Ince.
Loss of European breeding sites and foraging habitats through drainage, reedbed fires and human disturbance.
Most Cornish estuaries are protected as SSSI; the Lynher is within an AONB and is an SPA. As the Dutch breeding population increases we can expect a growth in the numbers wintering on Cornish estuaries.
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.