Places to see birds

Sheffield General Cemetery

Great tit perched in small tree
Great Tit Photo: RSPB

Close to Sheffield city centre and busy Ecclesall Road, the General Cemetery is a green oasis and a great place to see wildlife. Occupying a north-facing hillside running down to the Porter Brook, the area is now a mixture of meadow and woodland.

The Cemetery opened in 1836 - becoming Victorian Sheffield's principal cemetery with more than 87,000 burials, including those of important local figures. After burials ceased in 1978, the area became rather neglected but is today both a Grade II listed landscape and a Local Nature Reserve. The City Council owns the land on which the cemetery is situated but the area is now looked after by Sheffield General Cemetery Trust who promote it both as a place of historical importance containing the largest collection of listed buildings and monuments in Sheffield and a haven for wildlife.

Species seen on our Group's May visits include a wide variety of everyday garden birds. As well as blackbird, robin, dunnock, wren and collared dove, the area supports blue, great and long-tailed tits and finches including chaffinch, goldfinch and bullfinch. The many mature trees attract a range of typical woodland species including nuthatch, treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker, jay, song thrush, goldcrest and sparrowhawk. The Porter Brook runs along the cemetery's lower edge, adding aallard, moorhen, grey wagtail and dipper into the mix.

In Spring, the songs and calls of these resident birds are joined by those of summer visitors - in particular chiffchaff, willow warbler and blackcap. From early May, the screech of swifts zooming overhead can also be heard. At the other end of the year, the berry-bearing trees on Cemetery Avenue, leading to the cemetery's main gate, can attract redwing, mistle thrush and sometimes waxwing.

The General Cemetery lies close to Ecclesall Road just over a mile south-west of the city centre. From Ecclesall Road, Cemetery Avenue leads directly to the cemetery's main gate at the bottom of the site. Alternative ways in can be found on Montague Street and on Cemetery Road - which runs along the cemetery's top edge. Once inside, a network of paths runs throughout the area.

Although there are no toilets or refreshments on the site, there are many in the surrounding area including at Waitrose (nearer to the city centre) and at the many pubs and eating places along Ecclesall Road.