Girton Pits

Location here.

Girton Pits are perhaps most famous for hosting a Great Snipe in late August and early September 1989, which occupied a nettle bed next to the Trent (so I've been told); more recently, a White-winged Black Tern was found here in July 2004, the ninth record for the county.

The site lies just north of Girton village, to the west of the A1133, from which the site can be accessed - either along Trent Lane at the southern end (which is surfaced for part of its length before turning into a bumpy track), or along Meadow Lane at the northern end (which is a track). The site is bisected by Green Lane, a track which runs north from Trent Lane (past Girton Sailing Club), meeting with Meadow Lane (and continuing for some way further north, beyond the pit complex). There are four main parts to Girton Pits - the A1133 Pit, the Sailing Lake, North Pit, and Spalford Pit (not shown on the map, and discussed further below). There are a number of smaller pits as well, but none of these are particularly easy to access.

The A1133 Pit is best scanned from its southern end through the hedge on from Trent Lane, although it is possible to view sections from along Green Lane. This pit is fairly good for diving ducks, and held a Ferruginous Duck in January 2009, and most recently a wintering Great Northern Diver. 

The Sailing Lake is perhaps the best pit in the complex, and again is best viewed from its southern boundary on Trent Lane. The western part of the pit (behind the main island) is mainly obscured from view - and this tends to be where a lot of the birds hang out - especially when sailing is taking place, which can cause disturbance (with birds also shifting to the A1133 Pit). The best birds of the last few years include Green-winged Teal (January 2006) and a couple of Great Northern Divers. It has also hosted Common Scoters, Smew, Eurasian White-fronted Geese, and can be attractive to Black and Arctic Terns in the right conditions.

To the north of the A1133 Pit is North Pit, best viewed from the gate at the eastern end of Meadow Lane. This pit attracts the occasional wader, and can have good numbers of duck, including scarcities like Smew and Scaup.

The remaining pits are all small in size, and lack public access; Reed Pool is almost impossible to view now, and it has never been possible to get a proper look into Trent Pool. The South-west Pit can still just about be accessed from Trent Lane via a path that runs up from the south-west corner of the Sailing Lake, although this is dependent upon vegetation growth. The pit normally only holds small numbers of wildfowl, although it has proved attractive to Goosander in the past.

Several other parts of the site can be worth checking;  from the Fishermans' Carpark at the end of Trent Lane, the River Trent itself can be productive, and scanning the holmes beyond on the opposite side of the Trent can produce geese, with Pink-footed Goose recorded fairly frequently and Eurasian White-fronted Goose on occasion. To the south, Smithy Marsh is often fairly birdless, but can hold big numbers or Lapwing and Golden Plover when conditions are wet. The Sheep fields to the north of the Sailing Lake can be worth a look in autumn for things like Whinchat. The Old Works site, accessed by walking north from the fishermans' carpark along the Trent has a Sand Martin colony, although it is abused by off-road bikers.

Finally, Spalford Pit lies a short drive north of the main pit complex. This pit can be viewed from the quarry entrance, which is a ramp on the west side of the A1133  (just south of he junction of Sand Lane which leads east off the A1133 into Spalford village). This pit can be interesting, and most recently a Ferruginous Duck occupied this site at the end of December 2012 whilst a female Ring-necked Duck was recorded here in mid-November 2014. It can also be productive for gulls (including Yellow-legged and Caspian) at times, which come here from the nearby Spalford pig fields to wash and loaf.

For a map of the site, see below: