November, 2011

Old Moor & Dearne Valley

Old Moor & Dearne Valley
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Dearne Valley

  • What's That ? .... Oh It's Just A Bittern ......

    Hello friends ...

    Here I am again to deliver today's sightings from your favorite reserve !!

    Beginning on Wath Ings .. 

    Reported from here were 3 shelducks and a sparrowhawk ..

    There were 3 lesser redpolls seen over by the Bittern Hide and goldcrests were seen again on Green Lane ..

    Over on the Mere were goosanders (no numbers today), 5 pochards and 10 grey partridges ..

    There was a kingfisher seen over by the Wildlife Ponds and 2 lesser black-backed gulls were seen passing over ..

    The Bird Garden was busy as usual with plenty of opportunities for budding photographers .. Seen here were a great spotted woodpecker, willow tits, long-tailed tits, bullfinches, chaffinches, great tits and blue tits ...

    They have bean bags in there you know .. I went in for a lie down the other day but was quite disappointed when I saw how tiny they were !!!

    Another sighting was a kingfisher which was reported from Wombwell Ings .. Nice to hear that the water level on there is getting better too ...

    I'm sure there was something else ..... Now what was it ?

    Ah yes ... The bittern flew into the reedbeds at 11am today ... ;-)

    Well ... Our mate the bittern is thrilling on a daily basis now ... Long may it continue of course !!!! 

    So there you have it chaps .. All done for today ..

    Apart from ....

    Did You Know ? 

    Long-tailed tits.. 

    The nest of the long-tailed tit is constructed from four materials - lichen, feathers, spider egg cocoons and moss, over 6000 pieces in all for a typical nest. The nest is a flexible sac with a small, round entrance on top, suspended either low in a gorse or bramble bush or high up in the forks of tree branches. The structural stability of the nest is provided by a mesh of moss and spider silk. The tiny leaves of the moss act as hooks and the spider silk of egg cocoons provides the loops; thus forming a natural form of velcro. The tit lines the outside with hundreds of flakes of pale lichens - this provides camouflage. Inside, it lines the nest with more than 2000 downy feathers to insulate the nest ..

    Outside the breeding season they form compact flocks of 3 to 30 birds, composed of family parties (parents and offspring) from the previous breeding season, together with any extra adults that helped to raise a brood. These flocks will occupy and defend territories against neighbouring flocks. The driving force behind the flocking behaviour is thought to be that of winter roosting, being so tiny they are susceptible to cold and so huddling increases survival through cold nights.

    In February–March, all members of the winter flock will pair and attempt to nest, with the males remaining within the winter territory and the females having a tendency to wander to neighbouring territories. The long-tailed tit's nests suffer a high rate of predation with only 17% success.

    Pairs whose nests fail have three choices: try again, abandon nesting for the season or help at a neighbouring nest. It has been shown that failed pairs split and help at the nests of male relatives, recognition being established vocally. The helped nests have greater success due to higher provisioning rates and better nest defence. At the end of the breeding season, in June–July, the birds reform the winter flocks in their winter territory.

    Clever stuff eh ??

    Night friends !

    Bert xx 




  • Third Day Running !!

    Evening viewers !

    Plenty to tell today ... 

    So here we go .. Straight into the Mere !!

    Sploooooooooooshhhhh !!!!  ;-) 

    Seen there were stock doves, linnets, jackdaws, 10 grey partridges, a green woodpecker and a goldeneye .. Thank goodness there was something on the water !!

    A sparrowhawk was seen near to the Visitor Centre and a weasel was spotted on the first bridge leading to the Wildlife Ponds ..

    Wath Ings had 5 dunlins, c2000 golden plovers, c300 lapwings and a flock of 45 linnets, one of which was leucistic ... 

    Great spotted woodpeckers (male and female) were seen in the Bird Garden along with bullfinches and a couple of pheasants ..

    Bullfinches were also seen on the car park feeders and there were 2 yellowhammers and a female reed bunting over by the Tree Sparrow Farm ..

    Goldcrests were seen along Green Lane and the Bittern Hide had a water  rail, another yellowhammer and .... the bittern !!

    It was seen in the same area at about 11:00am ...

    This is becoming quite regular now so if you have never seen a bittern,  you could do far worse than taking a trip out here and speaking to the guys in the Visitor Centre to get some directions ..

    A nice report to finish on was a little owl which was seen on Broomhill Flash ... Always happy to see these 'wee' guys ..... 

    So .. There you go ... All done ...

    And now it's time for Educational Corner ...

    Did You Know ? 

    Leucism ..

    Leucism, or leukism, is an abnormal plumage condition caused by a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, particularly melanin, from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers. As a result, the birds do not have the normal, classic plumage colors listed in field guides, and instead the plumage have several color changes, including:
    White patches where the bird should not have any
    Paler overall plumage that looks faint, diluted or bleached
    Overall white plumage with little or no color discernable 

    Leucism is not to be confused with  Albinism though .... 

    Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism, the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire bird ..

    Just to keep it even more interesting there are also melonistic birds !! 

    Melanism, or melanosis, is a condition caused by a genetic mutation that gives a bird excess amounts of melanin in its feathers. This makes the feathers much darker than normal plumage, and many melanistic birds appear completely brown or black.

    If it isn't bad enough trying to learn the various plumage variations !!! 

    Night friends !!

    Bert xxx 



  • Bittern Encore !!

    Evenin all ...

    Here we are, most of the way through another Monday ...

    Good stuff to report again from Old Moor although we were lacking a report of the Cetti's today !

    The Mere had a female goldeneye, shelducks, mallards, gadwalls, teals, shovelers, great-crested grebes, wigeons, pochards and 4 common gulls ..

    There was a yellowhammer, a willow tit a and redwings seen on the Tree Sparrow farm ..

    Wath Ings had a dunlin and a shelduck and there there was a peregrine falcon and 10 grey partridges seen near to the entrance to the car park ..

    Willow tits, long-tailed tits, bullfinches and a great spotted woodpecker were all present in the Bird Garden and a weasel was seen outside the back door of the visitor Centre ..

    A final report was of our friend the bittern  .. It was again seen in the reedbeds to the left hand side of the viewing screen (but just a bit further along the path)  as yesterday at around 2:45 ..

    Nice !!!!!

    OK .. Keeping with tradition ..

    Did You Know ?? 


    Bitterns are a classification of birds in the heron family, they frequent reedbeds and similar marshy areas, and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish. The males make a remarkable far-carrying, booming sound in spring. Not unlike someone blowing across the neck of an empty milk bottle ! This sound can be heard up to 3 kilometers away ..

    These males are known as 'Boomers' funnily enough !  ;-)

    In particularly bad winter's small numbers of bitterns will fly to Britain from northern Europe .. The RSPB said that in 2009, 82 male birds were recorded across the country, but that it believes that in 2010, the influx from northern Europe, due to the freezing conditions on the Continent , the number could have been three times as many ! 

    Its dependence on reedbeds and very small population make it a Red List species - one of the most threatened in the UK. Owing to habitat loss and persecution by collectors and hunters, the bittern became extinct as a breeding bird in the UK in 1886. Early last century, the bittern returned and its numbers steadily increased to a peak of about 80 booming males in the 1950s. But then, further habitat loss, as the reed beds became dry and unsuitable, led to a second population crash. In 1997, just 11 booming males survived at seven sites around the country.

    On a brighter note, Conservationists said the results of the latest survey of ''booming'' males, which experts are able to count from their loud, distinctive boom-like call, revealed there were 104 birds across England, up from 11 just 15 years ago. The majority of the booming males (85%) in England were heard on nature reserves. This obviously underlines the importance of such places ..

    When frightened, the bittern stands perfectly still pointing its neck and bill skywards, to look just like a reed stalk. It's never an easy bird to see due to it's excellent camouflage and once it freezes it can just seem to disappear completely ..

    Yes folks, these guys have had it tough .. Lots of hard work has gone on (and still is going on) in order to try and help the bittern to enjoy continuing success ..

    Remember what you have learned today friends and the next time you see a bittern you will be excused for having a lump in your throat ....

    Have a great evening everyone !!

    Bert xxx