Places to see birds

Adwick Washlands

Avocet wading in water
Avocet Photo: RSPB

As part of the RSPB's Dearne Valley reserve, Adwick Washlands is one of the satellite sites to Old Moor. Although smaller, it is well worth a visit as not only is it a beautiful place with wide-open skies but it is often better for waders than Old Moor and some of these (including avocets) can be seen really close to - without the aid of a hide.

A washland is an area adjacent to a river which is deliberately flooded at times when water-levels are high, to avoid flooding in residential or important agricultural areas. Here, what were once farmed fields have been transformed into water meadows and marshes, home to lots of fascinating wildlife - not only birds but also insects and mammals. The value of the site for birdwatching does tend to vary with the time of year and wetness or otherwise of the preceding weather and it is at its least good when prolonged periods of dry weather have caused the pools to dry up.

Breeding waders include redshank, snipe, lapwing, ringed and little ringed plover and avocet. In winter, the area is home to varying numbers of waterbirds including great-crested grebe, geese, shelduck, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, teal and tufted duck. In spring and autumn, passage waders may drop in. Grey heron is usually in residence.

As well as waterbirds, the grasslands are home to species that were once much more common in agricultural areas. These include numerous grey partridges and skylarks as well as abundant brown hares. Smaller birds include frequent long-tailed tit and reed bunting with warblers including sedge and reed warbler arriving in the spring. Corn buntings have also been seen.

Between the car park and the wetlands is an area of woodland and horse paddocks. These can support green woodpeckers joined by garden and willow warblers, chiffchaff and blackcap in the summer and redwing, fieldfare, tits and finches in the winter.

Adwick Washlands is approximately two miles east of Old Moor. Its car park is on Furlong Road - halfway between the villages of Adwick-upon-Dearne and Harlington. The RSPB discourages visitors from parking outside houses on Lowfield Road at the Bolton-upon-Dearne end of the site. This does however provide excellent access to the site for those using public transport as Bolton-upon-Dearne railway station is a short distance further up this road.

Much of the reserve has been fenced off to protect its birds. However, a flat and easily accessible bridleway (Lowfield Lane) runs east-west through the centre of the site between the reserve's car park and Bolton-upon-Dearne. About halfway along this, a short dead-end path heads northwards to a central viewing point. It's worth spending a good amount of time here as the longer you stay, the more you're likely to see. After this, retrace your steps to the junction and turn right alongside the rest of the pools to the edge of Bolton-upon-Deane. Here you have a choice. You can turn right to follow a further 1.5 miles of permissive paths around the site's northern perimeter before eventually rejoining the main track. Alternatively, retrace your steps to where (almost opposite the path to the viewing point) a grassy path heads off to the right to the floodbank of the River Dearne. Turn left along this and follow it back to the car park, keeping your eyes open for kingfishers as you do.

There are no toilets or refreshments in the immediate vicinity of the reserve. However, Harlington and Adwick both have pubs as does Bolton - which also has shops.