Old Moor (yet again)

Another trip to Old Moor yesterday. Lots of snipe around, at one point I was watching four sat together at the edge of one of the lakes. Also gadwall seem to have arrived, there’s quite a few, and I hadn’t noticed any there the last few weeks.

Today’s full list:

Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Coot, Cormorant, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Golden Plover, Great Crested Grebe, Green Sandpiper, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Jackdaw, Lapwing, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shoveler, Snipe, Starling, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Wigeon, Wren


A trip up north

Been away for the weekend to my girlfriend’s parents’ house in County Durham. The house is actually a B&B in Castleside, and sits in the middle of nowhere, overlooking fields and woods. A good sign was that as we drove down the path to the house, a little owl flew in front of us and perched on the wall next to us. It allowed us to inch the car right beside it, and stood staring us out for a good few minutes.

The birdtable by the window at the house is incredible. It’s visited by hordes of greenfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch and blue and great tits, and semi-regular visits from a great spotted woodpecker. There’s also dunnock, wrens, robins and various others skulking about the undergrowth.

We took an excursion to Low Newton By The Sea, a beautiful piece of Northumberland shoreline owned by the National Trust. The beach is beautiful, and there’s a small nature reserve with a hide overlooking a pool that houses a large amount of geese and ducks. There were huge flocks of curlews, lapwings and golden plovers, lots of different species of gull, cormorants flying low over the sea, and eiders bobbing about. There were also redshanks, oystercatchers and turnstones exploring the rocks.

Sadly another sight for the weekend was a roadkill badger, on the A1 near Corbridge. I’ve only ever seen two badgers in my entire lifetime, and both of them have been dead by the side of the road. Hopefully one day this will change.

The weekend’s full list:

Little Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Eider, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Magpie, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Starling

Recycle and be fined!

Oh dear, it seems Swansea Council have potentially put a vast swathe of people off recycling for good. A man – who also happens to be a journalist on the city’s local newspaper – has ended up being fined £200 for allegedly putting a junk mail letter in a recycling bag designed for bottles.

Now I have sympathy, and I’m sure recycling workers are sick to death of opening public recycling bags and finding whatever random rubbish, half-eaten takeaway or bodily fluid people have decided to throw in that week. But for the sake of the effort of removing a letter from a bin of bottles, this is ridiculous. I’m sure several people will now stop recycling for fear of an offending piece of rubbish sneaking in, and Daily Mail types will be snorting indignantly about the state of the country, and frothing about how environmental do-gooders should be lined up and shot.

For the full story check out BBC News

Old Moor (again)

Another trip to Old Moor on 15th October. Only spent a couple of hours there, and didn’t see anything I didn’t see the week before, but still some good spotting.

It’s a lot further to walk from Wombwell Station to the site than I thought. Bloody Sunday bus service.

Today’s full list:

Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Black-headed Gull, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose, Woodpigeon, Mute Swan, Magpie, Starling, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Reed Bunting

Old Moor

On 7th October I had a trip to Old Moor RSPB reserve near Wombwell, and it was great. Oh yes.

You can’t really beat RSPB reserves for birdwatching, and Old Moor is up there with the best. The Dearne Valley is home to several large, man-made lakes caused by mining subsidence, that are now a protected sanctuary for a staggering variety of birds. I counted thirty eight species, and I was only there for about three hours.

The hides are incredibly comfy, and were rammed with birdwatchers, ranging from pros with serious scopes, to small kids with tiny plastic binoculars. There’s about half a dozen hides, all giving different views over the lakes, except one that looks over the reserve’s birdfeeders, the highlight of which being the flock of tree sparrows.

Ducks, geese and swans were in abundance, as well as grebes, a small flock of cormorants, a group of herons, a few pheasants, and loads of passerines on the birdfeeders and in the bushes by the lakes. And some of the best birds of the day were waders. Among the vast flocks of lapwings and golden plovers were snipes, redshanks, dunlins, and common, green and curlew sandpipers. A good day’s birding in all.

All right, just saying “there’s vast flocks” of lapwings and golden plovers isn’t doing it justice. There’s thousands of both species, stood wading around as waders do. Some lapwings break off now and again to chase away a group of starlings for, I don’t know, just being small and annoying. In fact the lapwings seem like particularly tetchy birds, taking time off from general wading to see off the crows, the herons and anything else that disturbs them.

Then suddenly the golden plovers get spooked, by a heron flying through them or a passing helicopter, and they all fly off together, forming a big egg-shaped mass of birds in the sky which eventually decides its safe to come back to earth, but not before circling a couple of times first to check the coast is clear. Magnificent.

Anyway, a good day’s birding.

Today’s full list:
Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Redshank, Snipe, Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Ruddy Duck, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Pheasant, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Black-headed Gull, Kestrel, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Pied Wagtail, Starling, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow

Blackburn Meadows

On the 30th September I took a trip to Blackburn Meadows, the Sheffield Wildlife Trust reserve at Rotherham.
A former sewage works on the outskirts of Sheffield and Rotherham may not be the most obvious place for a wildlife reserve, but Blackburn Meadows is an oasis in the middle of the former industrial area. Its two lakes form a magnet for a number of bird species, and there’s hides facing out to view what’s out there.

There wasn’t too much to see on the day I went, a cold but fine Saturday afternoon. The lakes were home to mallards, moorhens and coots, and the trees filled with goldfinches, magpies, woodpigeons, blackbirds and robins. I do feel that an earlier start later in the season will yield better results. Other than the birds, there were plenty of rabbits, and some amazing dragonflies and butterflies.

The problem with the reserve is lack of seating in the hides. Kneeling on cold, dirty concrete doesn’t really encourage you to spend much time watching birds, and, sadly, one of the hides had obviously been used as a urinal judging by the smell. Luckily the best view of the lakes is via the “viewing sculpture”, a nice metal fence looking out over the water. I wouldn’t want to use it in bad weather, though, or try and cram in if there was a serious twitch going on.

The site links to the Sheffield Canal Walk, and I had a walk back to Meadowhall, seeing more mallards, some mute swans and a heron. One day I’ll see a kingfisher down the Sheffield Canal, but not this day. Bah.

Today’s full list:
Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Woodpigeon, Robin, Magpie, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Rabbit, various dragonflies and butterflies.