Dearne Valley

Old Moor & Dearne Valley

Old Moor & Dearne Valley
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Dearne Valley

  • Far from Mad Friday - Sightings, 19 Dec

    Hi Folks! Any ground feeding bird that took flight in the Dearne today did so vertically, propelled in a high arc by some pretty fierce winds. In fact, it made me wonder just how creatures that weight so little manage to make any headway at all in wind gusting at 35mph? Even those aerial experts, the lapwings, seemed to be having trouble.

    Despite all that, of course, the mood at Old Moor was one of festive bonhomie and there was plenty to see. Starting in the car park, there were redwing and fieldfare hurriedly trying to feed before the weather worsened. Later the redwing were sighted on Green Lane but the fieldfare seemed to have gone (for further afield fare perhaps?)

    In the Bird Garden today were stock dove, collared dove, wigeon(!), blackbird, chaffinch, goldfinch, robin, bullfinch, great tit, blue tit, greenfinch, goldfinch and pheasant. There were also sightings of a pied wagtail and, the increasingly bold, great spotted woodpeckers (m & f). Regular readers will know that recently, I have become accursed with bad luck in relation to one bird in the Bird Garden – the willow tit. Yes, it was there again today! Oh, it was just here you say? Really? Did I see it? Did I 'eck as like!

    Down the path at the Family Hide, were wigeon, teal, dunlin and lapwing. Meanwhile the Tree Sparrow Farm gave us great views of tree sparrows (naturally), goldfinch and yellow hammers.

    Outside the Bittern Hide a weasel was spotted. (We’ll be getting a striped one next!)

    There was a male and female goldeneye on the Mere and Field Pool East watchers saw that peacock fluttering about despite the squalls!

    On the Wader Scrape, were two dunlin, a 'plethora' of twenty goosander and a bird first identified as a “pointy-winged pigeon” that folk soon realised was in fact a very hungry peregrine! Later, a bittern was seen dropping into the reeds at the rear of the scrape!

    Before we even get to Wath Ings, on the footpath approaching it was a stoat with its prey. Sadly the recorder of that observation did not say what the prey item was but I think we might all have a guess.

    That, of course, takes us to the door of Wath Ings. Here were a redshank and four – no, two – no, eight – no, ten - snipe. Indeed snipe seemed to be being created from the clods of mud before our very eyes. Peter, with a characteristic twinkle, pointed out to the gullible that this is indeed how snipe breed – at the rate of about 2.5 an hour!

    Courtesy of the Barnsley Birders, from Broomhill Flash were reports of two goosander and two goldeneye. On Wombwell Ings were two shelduck and a barn owl while Bolton Ings gave us four goosander (three males) and two female goldeneye.

    Time to stop this rambling and turn to some photos from the day. Just to show that we did have a bit of sunshine here's a veiw from Wath Ings.

    While we were there, we played the 'spot the snipe' game...

    Here's those gorgeous goosanders...

    And, from Matt Mulcahy, here's a terrific photo of that charming great spotted woodpecker. Thanks Matt!

    Sadly, that's it for this evening. Until next time.

  • Drizzle and Dunlin - Sightings, 18 Dec

    Hi Folks! Yes, that was a surprise wasn’t it? There you were expecting the lovely Nicola and this ne’er-do-well turns up! Sadly, Nicola is feeling pretty crook at the moment so you’re stuck with me. I hope you’ll join me in wishing her a speedy recovery.

    Drizzle and cloud best characterise today in the Dearne but, thanks to the marvellous Craig and one of those new-fangled smartphone thingies, we do have some sightings for you.

    At Old Moor, but of no fixed abode, there were ten goosander flaunting their red and black heads respectively along with a female goldeneye and three dunlin. Fieldfare, redwing and grey heron were also recorded.

    From the mighty Wath Ings were reports of eighteen snipe and little else – she gets about a bit does Else.

    The Wader Scrape account was similarly thin with just two dunlin reported.

    From the Bird Garden we had more of a list. Here were bullfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch and goldfinches. With them were blue tits, great tits, blackbirds, robins, wren, dunnock and a great spotted woodpecker.

    I’m afraid that’s it for the book today, I turned the page and everything, but it was blank. Even the exceptional Barnsley Birders (@Barnsleybsg) could provide me with no more. So, in anticipation of a sunny day tomorrow and a bumper crop of sightings, here are a few pictures to whet the appetite.

    Will Webb posted this smashing picture of one of our more colourful residents to our RSPB Old Moor Flickr group (try saying that three times fast!). Thanks Will - brilliant work!

    The lightening reflexes of Alan Coe caught this handsome devil! Alan notes, that "this weasel was scrambling through the thick undergrowth by a footpath at the RSPB Old Moor reserve. It climbed up a tree and went into a nest box." Fantastic observation there Alan and amazing presence of mind. Thanks for the photo.

    And from me, here's that little dunlin in some golden light at Wath Ings. Have a good evening everyone. Until next time.

  • On the Rails - Sightings 17 Dec.

    Evening folks. Brilliant sightings from yesterday I’m sure you’ll agree but today, well, that was another matter and the book seems a bit sparse. ...Well, if truth be told, it’s non-existent. So, in true Old Moor style, I shall compile today’s sightings using reports from elsewhere. More of that in a mo.

    First, a hearty congratulations to our keen-eared listeners who correctly identified the mystery bird from last time as a ‘ghostly’ or ‘whistling’ wigeon. Well done to Bridgeman, Tom H and Redwolf! Excellent work chaps! That particular recording was made by me, leaning out of the Family Hide window, fluffy microphone aimed squarely at the horde of birds grazing to the right. They didn’t disappoint and peoow-ed away contentedly between beakfuls of grass. Mi’colleague Nicola always describes this as a happy sound and, if you can bear to listen again, I’m sure you’d agree.

    Just before I get to the sightings (patience, dear reader), may I say a tiny word of praise for the folk over at YWT’s Potteric Carr. Today, I wandered those lanes as well as those of the Dearne Valley and heard excited tales from John who had just seen excellent views of a kingfisher as it flew beneath the railway bridge there. A first for him apparently. It just goes to show that bird-folk are the friendliest folk in the world and always keen to share!

    Now, the sightings. My thanks go to those unstoppable Barnsley Birders for the info. From Broomhill there were reports of a little egret, two female goldeneye and two goosander (a male and female). On Bolton Ings were four more goldeneye this time two females and two males.

    Wombwell Ings gave us two shelduck, a pintail and three goosander and there were a further two pintails at Edderthorpe.

    Lastly, from Old Moor were 40 tree sparrows, a willow tit, two tawny owls, a peregrine and not one but two water rails!

    And that’s about it for sightings, unless of course, you know different. If you’d care to add any that you saw today please do so in the comments below.

    Today's first photo is of a cheeky robin spotted sitting on Carole Beavis' superb willow reindeer. Thank you to Delia Clifton for the photo!

    A second (and slightly more serious) picture of a beautiful blue tit comes from Kevin Wakelam. Thank you Kevin!

    Thanks to both for the pictures - keep 'em coming folks! Enjoy the evening and the lovely Nicola will bring you the sightings tomorrow. Until next time.