Places to see birds

Rother Valley Country Park

Male wigeon swimming
Wigeon Photo: RSPB

Converted from former opencast mine workings, Rother Valley Country Park covers 750 acres and contains a wide variety of habitats including the River Rother, three lakes, woodland, hedgerows and grassland. As a result, it attracts many different bird species; more than 260 of which have been recorded in the 30 years since the Park opened.

Wildfowl can be found on all three lakes but the 'Nature Lake' - properly known as Meadowgate Lake - is the least disturbed. Species here can include mallard, wigeon, teal, pochard, tufted duck, gadwall, goldeneye, goosander, shelduck, shoveler, mute swan, great-crested and little grebes and Canada goose. Lapwing, little egret, snipe, cormorant and kingfisher can also be seen and the muddy edges of the lake may be fruitful, especially during passage times, for waders such as common sandpiper, redshank, oystercatcher and little ringed and ringed plovers. Scarcer species such as black-tailed Godwit, ruff, greenshank and green and wood sandpipers may drop in occasionally.

Other habitats consist of a mixture of trees, hedgerows and more open areas. Species here can include goldfinch, mistle thrush, bullfinch, song thrush, green and great spotted woodpeckers, long-tailed tit, lesser redpoll, yellowhammer, goldcrest, pied wagtail and siskin. Redwings and fieldfares can be present in large numbers in the winter months and the bird feeding station behind the main Visitor Centre courtyard occasionally attracts brambling. Spring migration sees the woodlands come alive with chiffchaff, willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat and sometimes even grasshopper warbler - which has bred here. Birds of prey are frequent with typical species being sparrowhawk, buzzard and kestrel but those who are both very lucky and observant might also pick up osprey as these can drift over occasionally during their spring and autumn migrations.

Further details of birds seen during our Group's visits to Rother Valley can be found in our Trip Reports for January 2015, February 2017 and November 2018.

Rother Valley Country Park lies about seven miles south-east of the centre of Sheffield between Killamarsh and the Mosborough townships. The main access is from the east, off the A618 Aston to Killamarsh road. A fee is payable to enter the site by car, though for those happy to walk in, parking can be found on surrounding roads, for example in Killamarsh to the south of the site. The main car park is near Bedgreave Mill on the shores of the main lake and here there are both toilets and the Stables Cafe. However, there is also parking closer to the 'Nature Lake' - on the left about half a mile from the entrance barrier.

Access around the area is generally good with many easy access paths but some other paths can be muddy after wet weather. It is worth noting that the Country Park can become extremely busy with a whole variety of activities, especially at weekends and during school holidays, so visiting 'off-peak' is often a better bet.