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

  • Little Bittern & American Wigeon Still!

    Hello! The good news is that we still have the little bittern and the American wigeon at Old Moor today!

    The little bittern wasn't seen until around 2:55 pm when it had a short flight over the reedbeds, but it's still with us. That makes it a whole week so far!

    Here's a photo from Peter Garrity (via Twitter) while it was giving excellent views in the tree behind the little pond on the way to the bittern hide on Sunday morning. Thanks Peter, fab pic!

    The American wigeon is also still with us and it's been on Wath Ings today.

    Also seen from Wath Ings today were; a kingfisher, a green sandpiper, pochard, tufted ducks + gorgeous little fluffy chicks and gadwall.

    On the Wader Scrape we had sightings of whimbrel, avocets, lapwings, lesser black back gulls, common tern and a  common sandpiper.

    A kingfisher was spotted from the Bittern Hide.

    Of no fixed abode we have sightings of a kestrel, a little egret, great crested grebes and reed bunting.

    On the Mere we had sand martins and cormorants.

    Over on the field pools we had sightings of greylag geese and a grey heron.

    Talking of greylag geese, I had a great time watching them preen and splash about in the water on Wath Ings at the weekend. My fav bit of this routine is when they seem to do an underwater roly-poly...

    1) Upside-down, leg waving in the air...

    2) Greylag with 3 legs?!

    3) Naa... 2 greylags doing a bit of synchronised roly-poly...

    Chiffchaff, willow warbler, reed warbler and blackcap were seen on Green Lane.

    There's a bit of an unusual sighting in the book today and that's of a wren in the field pool east hide.....hopefully some kind soul left the doors and windows open for a while so it could fly out.

    Bittern news today is that there have been a couple of sightings - one of which was from the Barnsley Birders via Twitter of one flying from the reedbeds across the Wader Scrape and over towards Bolton Ings. Another sighting reports it flying back to Old Moor!

    In the Bird Garden we had sightings of all the usual birdies.

    Butterflies seen today were; small tortoiseshell, ringlets, small skippers, meadow browns and gatekeeper.

    It was really lovely to see so many butterflies fluttering around at the weekend.

    Here's a photo from me of a meadow brown on the knapweed.

    We couldn't quite decipher all the dragonfly sightings today so apologies and do let us know if you are reading this!

    Common blue damselflies were seen as was a stinking iris plant by car park...I'm off to google that one! Interesting result, here's the link to the RHS webpage about this plant...It has a few names, one of which is roast beef plant....

    Anyone taken a good whiff of it? Do let us know....

    Finally for the weekend I had a walk around the field near Wombwell and ended up by the river under the road bridge. I was looking for banded demoiselles and had a wonderful time watching them! I think they are very gorgeous little creatures and I love watching them fly with their 'helicopter look-alike' wings! I also saw them from the bridge by the car park but there were more of them at the other site.

    Here's a pic of them just about to mate. The male is blue and the female is green...

    And here's one of them in the act :) 

    That's it for today unless you know any different. If you do, then please leave us a message via a comment below. :) 

  • Of Little Bittern, Bittern and Wasp Builders, 6 June

    Hi Folks! A beautiful morning gave way to a dreary afternoon but, in sun or rain, watchers were out in force at Old Moor today. In fact, the car park had burst its banks by nine or so this morning!

    What was all the fuss about? Yes, well 'bittern fever' continues to grip most visitors to the reserve and many today had travelled from Humberside and beyond to get a glimpse of the little bittern or bittern or indeed the sleepy American wigeon. All were out there just waiting to be seen and the thought was tantalising to many.

    In case any of you are missing them, here is a beautiful shot of a water rail chick by John Sanderson. Thanks John!

    So, early this morning the American wigeon began its day on the Wader Scrape but then moved over to Main Marsh (Wath Ings) for a siesta. It remained there and pretty clearly viewable throughout the day.

    Wath Ings hide also gave us sightings of common and green sandpiper together with a hobby.

    A reed warbler with grubs, seen today from the Bittern Hide.

    The Bittern Hide was a cosy place to be today. Snug, let’s say. From there were views of barn owl (6am), little bittern (7am), bittern (10am) as well as reed warbler, reed bunting, kingfisher, common tern, great crested grebe, little grebe, oystercatcher and cormorant.

    One of the many bittern seen today from the Bittern Hide.

    The avocet with their young continued to show well on the Wader Scrape.

    In the sometimes overlooked Field Pool East hide the pace was a little more sedate; a chill-out room from the main party perhaps. Here were linnet, grey heron, two little egret, redshank, swift, sand martin, swallow, green sandpiper, gadwall with two chicks, a tufted duck family with four young, two mute swan, reed bunting, Canada and greylag geese and that fascinating wasp nest.

    Today the next 'layer' of the nest was almost complete! Remember, at this stage this is being built by a single animal. If wasps were human house builders, I'd certainly give 'em the job!

    In the Bird Garden today were some great views of fledgling bullfinch with their parents.

    Here he is! The extraordinary Little Bittern photographed by Tom Horne from Middlesbrough. Thanks so much Tom!

    Tonight Old Moor will close at 8pm, reverting to our normal closure arrangements. Visitors might note that the Visitor Centre, shop, café and toilets will close at 5pm with last order for food around four.

    Edit: From Tuesday to Friday this week Old Moor will continue to open from 6.30am as long as the little bittern stays on the reserve.

    Maybe this would perhaps be a place to reflect and your thanks to mine to Matthew and all the staff and volunteers at the reserve who have helped so many visitors over the last week to see these remarkable birds. Feel free to leave your messages in the comments below.

    And on that note of thanks, until next time.

  • “Half a heron” – Sightings, 5 June

    Hi Folks! The little bittern sightings continue as the bird seems to be making itself at home at Old Moor - and who wouldn’t? This morning, at 6.50am many visitors had truly excellent views as the bittern flew over the reedbeds in front of the Bittern Hide towards Bittern ‘Bus Stop’.

    At 7.13am then flew to the ponds ‘behind’ the Bittern Hide – those found on the right-hand side of the path after you have crossed the first footbridge. Here it landed in a tree for some minutes. Thanks to Joe Eckersley for the sighting details there.

    Our very own Nicola was on-hand to record the moment.

    A fantastic view of the Little Bittern and brilliant work as ever Nicola!

    When I asked Nicola for a sense of the scale of the bird she said without missing a beat, "Half a heron!"

    In the Bird Garden today were sightings of chaffinch, goldfinch, collared dove, magpie, robin, woodpigeon, tree sparrow, greenfinch and bullfinch.

    Other sightings today from Wath Ings included (he said casually) an American wigeon (eclipse drake), a green sandpiper, a common sandpiper and a kingfisher.

    The green sandpiper at Wath Ings today.

    A barn owl was seen on ‘the owl box’ today though the recorder doesn’t say which one.

    Another kingfisher sighting was recorded from the reedbed path, 'a little beyond the bittern bus stop', together with a water rail.

    A lesser whitethroat was seen on the path “between the bus stop and the reserve.” I think here the person recording this means an actual bus stop rather than our ‘bittern’ one.

    Those avocets were once again the darlings of the Wader Scrape today and on the path to the Bittern Hide Nicola recorded sightings of everybody’s favourite - the jewel wasps. Today, as well as the ruby tailed ones, some blue-green ones were seen.

    Thanks to the tutelage of Nicola here is my very first jewel wasp shot. I am so proud!

    Which takes me neatly to a rather fine list of butterflies and odonata submitted by Steve Warrilow. Today he saw: 29 ringlet butterflies; two meadow brown; four large skipper; two small skipper; an emerald damselfly; six male common blue damselfly; two male and one female azure blue damselfly; eleven male blue-tailed damselfly; a violescent female blue-tailed damselfly; one obselata; one typical; one common darter; and one four spotted chaser.

    Steve’s list was compiled on his walk between Wath Ings and the Visitor Centre. Top work there Steve!

    Here's a reward for all that hard work - an emerald damselfly from today!

    And finally, my own little contribution to today's excitement. Thanks to a hot tip I paid a visit to Field Pool East today armed with my trusty torch, brightening all the dark corners of the interior until I found this little marvel.

    This is a wasp's nest of course but look again at that image. Even allowing for my inept photography, I think you can just see the rings of different coloured 'paper' that this nest is being made from. That darker ring towards the centre is still damp as this is very much a nest 'in construction'. Finally, right in the centre, you may even be able to see some of the interior cells. I know the word is used a lot at the moment but I find this kind of intricate architecture quite awesome.

    And with that thought, until next time.