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