Places to see birds

Old Moor

Tree sparrow on twig
Tree Sparrow

Old Moor is a popular local reserve with interest throughout the year. It was designed with the aim of providing a year-round accessible wildlife spectacle across a range of habitats including reedbeds, lakes, wader scrapes, ponds, hedgerow, meadows and wet grassland - meaning that there is always something to see.

Star birds include bittern, bearded tit, kingfisher and tree sparrow. Sand martins arrive in spring to use the man-made nesting holes and peregrine is often present in search of a meal. Other birds seen by our Group on our most recent visit in May 2019 included oystercatcher, turnstone, redshank, dunlin, common sandpiper and whimbrel as well as dozens of swifts and a visiting black tern.

Old Moor is located approximately ten miles north-east of the centre of Sheffield, just off on the A633 Dearne Valley Parkway at Manvers. Facilities include a car park, cafe, shop, toilets, meeting room/classroom and a children's play area. It's well-worth looking at the reserve's blog if you're planning a visit to see what's about. This is frequently updated and accessible via the link below.

The trails are generally flat and easily accessible although there are occasional steeper slopes. From the Visitor Centre, two main routes head onto the reserve. The Green Lane Trail leads past the recently refurbished Family Hide to four further hides from which a wide range of wildfowl is easily seen; typical species including teal, gadwall, tufted duck and wigeon as well as little and great-crested grebes, geese and swans. Numbers of waders such as lapwing, golden plover, avocet, redshank, snipe, ruff and green sandpiper vary from season to season but these are most likely to be seen from Wath Ings Hide and the Wader Scrape Hide. Rarer species show up from time to time and, in recent years have included grey phalarope, curlew sandpiper, little stint and wood sandpiper.

As its name suggests, the Reedbed Trail leads into the reedbeds, ultimately ending up at the Reedbed Hide. This is the best area in which to see and hear reed buntings, reed and sedge warblers, bearded tit and bittern. Indeed, a significant section of this path is often closed in the summer to minimize disturbance to breeding birds. Even then, all is not lost as the Bittern Hide and Bittern Bus Stop both provide great views across the area.

Before or on the way back from these two trails, don't miss calling in at the Tree Sparrow Farm viewing scree from which a wide range of birds can be seen making use of the feeders including tree sparrow, yellowhammer and great spotted woodpecker. Brambling too can sometimes be seen in the winter months.

As well as Old Moor itself, the RSPB Dearne Valley reserve contains a number of satellite sites including Bolton Ings, Gypsy Marsh, Edderthorpe Flash and Adwick Washlands. A relatively flat, leisurely circular walk of nearly three miles length along the 'Trans Pennine trail' and 'Warbler Way', all the way around the external perimeter of Old Moor, takes in Bolton and Wombwell Ings. Also nearby is Broomhill Flash - an area of open water and its surroundings managed by the Garganey Trust.