Trip reports

Visit to Old Moor

Dunnock on grass

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A party of some 15 members led by Robin Horner travelled across the Pennines to the R.S.P.B. Reserve at Old Moor in South Yorkshire. This landscape of fresh water pools with reed bed was created as a result of mining subsidence, and is now the home to many interesting birds that require this kind of habitat.
Our walk began at the reserve`s tree sparrow `farm` - this a small field of seed bearing vegetation within which there are nest boxes set on the top of several high poles, and all designed to encourage the breeding success of this now scarce species. Our patience was rewarded with good sightings of not only tree sparrow but also dunnock, greenfinch and house martin. A handsome male bullfinch flew past us as we moved on to the next area.
From the reed-fringed footpath a reed warbler was singing. Robin explained how the song of this bird differed from the very similar song of that other reed bed denizen - the sedge warbler. From the Family Hide that overlooks the main mere, we had excellent views of several gadwall, little grebe, and Canada geese (in this case with seven very young goslings). On a distant island, and with the aid of telescope, a turnstone could be seen rummaging amongst the pebbles of an embankment, and nearer to us a pair of little-ringed plovers were engaged in copulation. Many sand martins appeared to be making full use of an artificial nesting wall that was made of concrete. Considerably more martins came in to view when the heavens opened with a heavy shower of rain, we reckoned that this was because the rain was driving the birds` prey, airborne insects, closer to the surface of the water and so concentrating their feeding activity.
Later, looking out from the Wath Ings Hide we could see a pair of great crested grebe busily constructing their floating nest. Nearby an unsuspecting coot was having her nest investigated by a carrion crow, we had no doubt that this corvid, a potential nest robber, would return later in the day.
The laughing cry of a `yaffle` - a green woodpecker was heard several times and the sounds seemed to be coming from the far bank of the mere, however this bird failed to reveal itself. A couple of little grebes, unlike the woodpecker, were both seen and heard and their trilling calls were a delight. It was also pleasing to see a solitary dunlin looking quite dapper in its summer plumage, this bird was in the company of another little ringed plover.
On our journey home, we made an excursion to nearby Edenthorpe, where on another flooded area, good views were obtained (with the aid of a telescope) of shoveler, garganey, comorant and perhaps unusually, a wood sandpiper.
We would like to thank Robin Horner for taking us there and also for his informative comments and descriptions about what we were seeing.
Michael Gardner