The Netherfield Lagoons Local Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire
The Netherfield Lagoons, Local Nature Reserve is situated on the Trent Valley Flood Plain in Nottinghamshire and has been partly used as a dump for coal slurry but with two remaining gravel ponds. The two slurry pits are separated by a raised causeway, which is elevated some 50 feet (15 m) above the pits, giving a commanding view of the area. The largest tank is virtually full but retains some water, with muddy edges attractive to waders and roosting gulls and terns. The smaller tank is mainly deep water, attracting good numbers of wildfowl, with smaller birds, especially warblers, feeding and breeding around the tank edges. The site consists roughly of three compartments, the Slurry Lagoon, the Deep Pit and the two Gravel Pits.
The Slurry Lagoon
The Slurry Lagoon at Netherfield is where the slurry pumped from Gedling pit arrived and was spread out to settle and the water drain off. The pit is virtually full and the surface of dark grey slurry is slowly being covered as plants gain a hold. Recently a large reed bed has developed and this is now accelerating and will eventually probably cover most of the area. Other parts of the slurry surface have been colonised by Southern Marsh, Spotted and Bee Orchids. The southwest end of the slurry has a permanent shallow water body, which attracts waders, gulls and ducks and has a good population of Black-tailed Skimmers. The reed beds often hold Bittern during the winter and have been visited by Bearded Tits on several occasions.
The Deep Pit
The Deep Pit has very steep banks and deep water at the bottom. There are tern rafts floating on its surface, which are used by a small colony of Common Terns. The banks are covered by a mixture of scrub and grassy areas and have a rich diversity of floral and insect interest. There are nine species of warbler that regularly nest around this pit.
The Gravel Pits
These two pits are situated amongst grassland, dotted with hawthorn and bramble scrub. The larger pit is fairly shallow and supports a large flock of Wigeon in the winter months. The smaller pit is deeper with a range of dragonfly species breeding in it, including Large and Small Red-eyed Damselflies.
Species found at the Netherfield Lagoons
Because of the largely temporary nature of the main slurry lagoon sites, much of the avian interest is restricted to passage and wintering birds. A railway embankment, which forms the western boundary of the site, holds Lesser Whitethroat and other warblers during the summer and occasionally Long-eared Owl in the winter. The scrubby banks of the gravel ponds are a frequent stopping-off point for small numbers of Whinchat and a regular wintering site for Stonechat. Cormorants roost on the electricity pylons and parties of wild swans sometimes feed on the extensive sewage farm fields to the east.
During the spring, pools created on the slurry attract most of the common species of wader, with Little Ringed Plovers being common from April to September. Regular species in autumn include Ruff, Dunlin, Greenshank, Redshank, Green and Common Sandpipers. In the late autumn up to 4, 000 Golden Plover and 1, 000 Lapwing use the pools as a roost site, along with several hundred Wigeon and smaller numbers of Teal, Shoveler and Pintail. The weedy banks and fields attract good numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, with Yellow Wagtails being common on passage.
A good selection of rare birds have been located at the Netherfield Lagoons through regular checking of the migrant waders and wildfowl and have included American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Bittern, Common Crane (twice), Gannet, Dotterel, Stonecurlew, Purple, Buff-breasted and Broad-billed Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Grey Phalarope (twice), Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, White-winged Black Tern, Little Swift, Dusky warbler, Great Reed Warbler and Marsh Warbler.
Timing at the Netherfield Lagoons
April to June is the best time for passage waders at the Netherfield Lagoons, with terns and gulls also moving through the area. In autumn, birds begin to arrive at the lagoons from early August onwards, with passage peaking in September and October. Winter produces good numbers of birds, especially gulls, when the pools freeze over in harsh conditions. Dawn and dusk are the best time to visit, but passage birds could drop in at any time of day.
October-March: Great Crested and Little Grebe, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Peregrine, Golden Plover, Jack Snipe, gull roost, Long-eared and Short-eared Owls.
April-June: Rarer grebes, Hobby, passage waders, gulls, terns, hirundines, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear, Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler and other passage migrants.
July-October. Wildfowl, Peregrine, Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpiper, gulls, terns passage migrants.
The Netherfield Lagoons are managed by The Gedling Conservation Trust.