Dearne Valley

Old Moor & Dearne Valley

Old Moor & Dearne Valley
Do you love visiting our Dearne Valley reserves? Share your thoughts with the community. Or if you're thinking about visiting and would like to find out more, ask away!

Dearne Valley

  • No Fooling - Sightings, 1 April.

    Hi Folks! Like Nicola last night, I too am glad that we are back up and running! I'm sorry we went 'off the air' so abruptly, apparently we are having some work done.

    Today was a squally, sunny one and the first of the new month certainly brought the famed April showers. Not that it dampened the spirits of the many folk who visited Old Moor and satellite reserves today. In fact, the sense of community was palpable as old and young engaged with all the holiday activities the reserve could offer.

    I started at Adwick Washland today so let’s start the sightings from there. At Adwick there were eight avocet, three dunlin, many redshank and a curlew along with meadow pipit, snipe, reed bunting and chiffchaff.

    One of Adwick's avocets today.

    From Old Moor, in the Bird Garden were yellowhammer (m & f), bullfinch, reed bunting (m & f), chaffinch, magpie, female great spotted woodpecker, woodpigeon, tree sparrow, mallard, collared dove, moorhen, great tit, blue tit, blackbird, robin, wren, four stock doves and a young rabbit.

    Early this afternoon, watchers at the Bird Garden were charmed by a pair of robins on the tree seat, busily feeding each other little titbits. Each romantic gesture was preceded by much fluttering and begging from the other in a display that was lovely to watch.

    Meanwhile, on the Mere were little egret, goldeneye (3m + 3f), black-headed gull, grey heron, Canada geese, gadwall, cormorant, mallard, great crested grebe, little grebe and two redshank.

    A beautiful shot of a little grebe by Roland Rogerson. Thanks Roland!

    Just outside the Family Hide today visitors were treated to some great views of a green woodpecker and from Field Pool West hide were sightings of little grebe, redshank, wigeon, teal and black-headed gull.

    The Wader Scrape watchers recorded fourteen goosander and four oystercatcher and those at Field Pool East saw wigeon, redshank, Canada geese, lapwing, woodpigeon and mute swans.

    At Wath Ings hide were sightings of shoveler, gadwall, mute swans, Canada geese, coot, moorhen, shelduck and the ubiquitous black-headed gulls. I'm sorry to say I had another gull ID crisis today at Wath Ings. Can you help with this one? Jo and Lauren at the visitor centre tried their best to pin this one down but we remained perplexed. We did narrow the choice to two possible birds. So, what do you think? Is this a lesser black-backed gull or a yellow-legged gull? Please post your answers below.

    All around the reserve there were signs of spring and several buff-tailed bumblebee queens were seen today. No wonder really, as there are so many wildflowers blooming. The marvellous Jo and I made a list of the main ones. So, right now in bloom at Old Moor you will find: ground ivy; cowslips; coltsfoot; marsh marigolds; violets; forget-me-not and lungwort. I shall finish tonight with a quick picture reference for these little treasures. If you are visiting this week, see if you can find all seven of these vital early bloomers and keep a look out for those bumblebees feeding from them.

    Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

    Cowslip (primula veris)

    Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

    Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)

    Violet (Viola riviniana)

    Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis)

    Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)

    Until next time.

  • “Spring”ing into action! …And… The cows will soon be back! Reserve team blog 8.

    (A slight delay in posting this blog whilst the website was updated and... it's looking good!)

    Sorry about the bad pun! But it’s here … almost. No doubt by the time this goes live we’ll have snow again!

    Over the winter we’ve had no major projects to work on, just smaller ones and maintenance and habitat management.

    In December we installed the “Willow Gymnasts” in the garden just outside the Visitor Centre…

    In January we had to repair the roof of the Garden Hide. The wind had ripped some of the felt off the roof but we also discovered that the front of the boarding was rotten in some places. A layer of new felt was put across the front of the roof as a temporary fix until we can come back to it later on in the year.

    In February we dug a trench and inserted a pipe between the Wildlife Pond nearest the path to the Bittern Hide and the one behind. This pond was isolated from the others and had nowhere to drain into, hence the pond-dipping platform there was constantly underwater in wet weather (most of the time!) It is now connected to the other Wildlife Ponds and they all drain mostly into the pool across the path from the Family Hide (see Blog 6 for more Old Moor Hydrology).

    We spent a fair amount of time in January and February scrub clearing across the reserve. Stuff grows!! I particularly like seeing the green shoots of the reeds develop into head high, or over, reed beds; they will be with us soon as spring progresses. However, willow isn’t particularly welcome in some (most) parts of the reserve. The picture below shows us removing willow from the fen area on Gypsy Marsh, again!

    If left, they would, in time, convert the wet fen habitat into woodland; this is not desirable as we are not a woodland reserve. You have to admire the tenacity of willow though, not only does it coppice very well but the cut branches continue to sprout and will readily produce roots if left anywhere near soil!

    Also in February, we started to repair some parts of the Bittern monitoring hide. This hide is not open to the public but can be seen from the Bittern Hide near to the pylon. New flaps on the windows were installed; the old ones were worn out and kept dropping off!

    We put in a different method of fastening as well; those of you who have used them will know that the old ones were inclined to trap your fingers!

    The roof was leaking as well, but we had to wait until March and the easing of wind and rain before we could tackle that!

    Just as a matter of interest, I’ll include a couple of photos from 2012 when we built the hide:

    The “stilt” base made from old sleepers, ready to be concreted in place. The cross pieces are made from wood we’re reusing from the “Lapwing” climbing frame that used to be in the playground.

    The hide itself is an old one that was falling down and was sited on the edge of the reed bed about 50 metres in front of where it is now. We refurbished it and hoisted it up onto the stilts. When the bittern first started breeding the year before, Dave, the warden, rigged up a large sheet of plywood with a hole in it and hid it in the bushes. With a chair behind it, this was the first years monitoring station! Uncomfortable and wet! This hide is luxury compared to that!

    Those of you who are missing the cows, here’s when the Highlands came to “help” us:

    I’m told, by the way, that new cows will be arriving in April, starting with Edderthorpe. Let’s hope that this years Old Moor ones are calmer and less inquisitive than last years!

    In anticipation of their arrival, some of the fencing around parts of the reserve has been repaired or replaced as here by the Reservoir;

    The post “knocker” on the back of the tractor has saved us a lot of time and manual effort over the past couple of years!

    At the Tree Sparrow screen, we made some changes to the lower “slots”, some are now blocked up others have flaps. This is to minimise the disturbance to the birds in this area when people walk up to the viewing slots.

    We also opened up some more of the slots to enable the larger camera lenses people have nowadays, to poke through. There will be some more changes to this area in the near future, including a disabled bay. A couple of bird boxes were moved away from the screen, before they could take up residence, in anticipation of these changes. The bird life in this area will taper off as spring advances and the birds go off their winter seed food and move onto their normal summer diet. So this work will be done when the birds have gone.

    Across the way from the screen some “tweaking” has been done on the photography hide, a few adjustments in the light of feedback from those who have used the hide;

    A solid, recycled plastic frame underneath the plywood floor has replaced the plastic shuttering that creaked as you walked across it;

    The inside of the hide has been painted, adjustments to the door handles have been made and this fence has replaced a gate. Some landscaping on the area between the hide and the screen will be undertaken in the near future to try to encourage more birds into the area.

    That’s it for stories from Old Moor for this time but I thought you might be interested in my neighbours’ garden! They have had Little Owls hanging about in their garden (a big garden with the top bit undisturbed and growing wild!) for a couple of weeks and so I made them a nest box to encourage the owls to stay!

    The entrance leads into a tunnel from which they can drop down into the nest area which is in darkness. Here is an inside view before it was finished;

    We shall see whether it’s successful in the next few weeks! If you feel like making a box, not necessarily for owls, then this box design came from the BTO and Barn Owl Trust websites.

    And so it’s bye from me for now, ‘til the next time.



    This afternoon (17th March) about 5000 Rudd were released into the reed beds and the same number into Bolton Ings. This is to supply the bitterns that will be around with plenty of food.

    The fish man.

    There is a gas cylinder on the back of the truck full of oxygen; this is pumped through the tanks whilst in transit otherwise, with the high density of fish in the tank, they would suffocate.

    Transferring from the tank to a bucket. 

    Releasing into the reed bed.

  • Hooray, we're back!

    Hello, we're back!  The community site has undergone maintenance and looks pretty good I reckon and so here's the first sightings blog for a few days... :) 

    In the bird garden we had all the usual birds which today included a great spotted woodpecker and those lovely long tailed tits.

    On Wath Ings we had sightings of  6 snipe, 9 shelduck, 8 linnets, a kestrel and a jay.

    Over on the Wader Scrape there were 2 pied wagtails and 2 oystercatchers.

    On the Mere were the med gull, 8 goldeneye (3 drakes & 5 females...), cormorants, 2 redshank and 4 lesser black backed gulls.

    Wigeon and teal were seen from the field pools and a chiffchaff was seen from the field pool west hide. Also seen today were 5 goosander and 2 sand martins.

    Talking of chiffchaff, it's lovely to hear them around OM again! Here's a photo of one on Green Lane taken by volunteer Paul Paddock. What a wonderful photo it is and thank you Paul!

    Another sound that I love to hear is the call of the little grebe. It seems to pierce the air as you walk around OM.

    Here's a pretty unusual photo of a little grebe, again taken by Paul Paddock. Maybe little grebes have a 'shout mode'...if they do, I reckon this is it! Thanks again Paul :)

    From the Barnsley Birders on Twitter we have sightings of an Egyptian goose, 4 shelduck, 62 wigeon and a female goosander on Wombwell Ings and from Edderthorpe there were sightings of 2 little egret, 4 shelduck, 14 redshanks, an oystercatcher and a ringed plover.

    That's it for the sightings today so here are a few photos...

    This rabbit entertained visitors in the bird garden at the weekend. It was gathering huge mouthfuls of nesting material. Thanks go to Martin Dodd for this photo.

    Also from the garden hide is this photo taken by Roland Rodgerson. A lovely blue tit, thank you Roland!

    Finally from me, a weasel wandering around on the lawn at the weekend. I was up on the balcony having a cuppa when it appeared so up went the camera, click, click and here we are! Coffee and a weasel? It does happen at Old Moor!

    Andrew tomorrow, have a lovely evening :)