Longshaw Estate and Blackburn Meadows

Two very different places visited today!

I started the day with a trip to Padley Gorge and the Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire. It’s a crime I’ve never been here before, as it’s very easy to get to by train, being practically adjascent to Grindleford Station.

Padley Gorge

I was way too late in the year for Padley Gorge’s star species. If I’d have gone in May I’d have been surrounded by pied flycatchers, redstarts, wood warblers and tree pipits. However, at this time of year the wood is pretty much silent, and even when you do hear birds it’s near impossible to see them in the fully-leaved trees. At one point a mixed tit flock, with at least great tit, long-tailed tit, nuthatch and goldcrest could be heard mere metres away, but I couldn’t even get a glimpse of the birds in question!

I won’t be making the same mistake next year, and will visit a lot earlier. I did manage to see a dipper and grey heron on the stream, but that’s about as much as I got.

On to the Longshaw Estate, and I got a good mix of birds, including a singing skylark, a few jays, a green woodpecker yaffling in the distance, several chiffchaffs (including a juvenile cavorting near my head), hirundines and swifts and the common finches. There was also a vole (not sure of species) seen on the grass which sadly scarpered before I got chance to take a picture.

At the Longshaw visitors’ centre, there were plenty of birds on the feeders including goldfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches (including some juveniles), blue and great tits, a nuthatch, and best of all these siskins. I tend to think of siskins as winter birds, and it’s great to see them in the summer. I believe the second photo shows a juvenile siskin (the bottom photo also shows a juvenile chaffinch).



Chaffinch and Siskin

When I got back to Sheffield, I decided I didn’t really fancy going straight home and instead took a tram out to Meadowhall, and then a walk up Tinsley Canal and on to Blackburn Meadows.

Blackburn Meadows nature reserve

There wasn’t too much to see except for some singing reed buntings, a couple of little grebes, several bullfinches and a grey heron, but it really is a haven on the Sheffield/Rotherham border. The only issue I have is with the hides there. The first one today was dark, cold, cobwebby and with no seats and not very inviting at all, and the second – well the shrieking teenage voices coming from within didn’t make me feel much like venturing inside. The viewing screen as you enter the reserve is superb, and you wonder if it would better to get rid of the hides all together and replace them with more of these.

Adding to the annoyance was some kid on an off-road motorbike entering the reserve and proceeded to razz round it just as I was leaving. Idiot.

But, walking back to Meadowhall I got the best birds of the day. First not one but two kingfishers – the first flew down the canal, and the second I heard calling from the river and got there in time to see it take off from a branch and out of sight.

And secondly, I saw a bird of prey overhead near the Meadowhall South tram stop, which I first took to be a sparrowhawk. Then I realised the flight and shape was wrong and I was actually seeing a peregrine! And suddenly it was joined by a second bird, a rather raggedy individual I imagine was a molting adult. It’s always great to see urban peregrines, and even better to see two at once!


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My name is Pete

5 thoughts on “Longshaw Estate and Blackburn Meadows”

  1. Hi there, my name is John Lynch and I work for the wardens up at Longshaw. I’ve been asked to put together a monthly display board outside the visitors centre including various aspects of our work and general info about whats going on here. We’ve decided to do a wildlife section and to focus this month on Siskins and ravens in particular. Would it be ok with you if we used a couple of your photo’s off this page to put up there on the temporary board? The one of the Siskin would look really nice and tie in well with the wildlife bit.

    Kind regards, John.

  2. As I was volunteering with Heeley City Farm’s Stone Age Hut I got picked up by the group who drove to Blackburn Meadows. As all who visit know these are not meadows but a group of small lakes and very water – logged marshlands. We were there to cut reeds for the roundhouse (can be visited at the farm) and while I was there, scythe in hand, I saw a small, black/orange rodent quickly shuffle into the bank. I first thought it was a vole because of its velvety fur although it may have been a water vole. But this species is larger than the water mouse, more the size of a rat. What I saw was a mouse sized creature. Have you seen a vole down there? I am studying conservation and looking at the habitats of British Mammals. I thought I would pick the vole on this siting. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. I haven’t ever seen a vole down there, but I don’t frequent the place very often. The amount of kestrels and occasional reports of barn owls suggest a good rodent population, particularly voles. The orange fur and habitat would make me think bank vole was more likely, but to be honest voles aren’t really my forte. It may be worth giving the mammal section of Sorby NHS an email to see what they think for a more informed answer.

      Best wishes,


      1. Actually I think you may be doing the same course as me on the Cert for Environmental Conservation. Is it Gavin?

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