Places to see birds

Wadsley and Loxley Commons

Male green woodpecker feeding on ground
Green woodpecker Photo: RSPB

Wadsley and Loxley Commons lie 3.25 miles north-west of Sheffield city centre and have much to offer the visitor with an interest in birdwatching and wildlife in general. Loxley Common is the western part of the area with Wadsley Common forming the eastern part. Together, they cover 100 acres, divided in two by an east-west sandstone escarpment.

The Commons have four different habitats: meadowland, mature woodland, lowland heathland and silver birch scrub. The south-facing slope, below the escarpment, is heavily wooded and littered with boulders. The northern slope has areas of heather, oak, silver birch, bracken and grassland. This combination of habitats makes it a good place to see a large variety of birds and more than 78 species have been recorded iover the course of fifteen years.

In the woodlands on both sides of the escarpment can be found great tit, blue tit, coal tit, long-tailed tit, goldcrest, treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch - joined by willow warbler in summer. Areas of birch scrub hold song thrush and greenfinch, plus chiffchaff in summer, and there is always the chance of a green woodpecker.

The meadowland attracts meadow pipit, jay and mistle thrush, whilst the lowland heath hosts linnet, yellowhammer, skylark and the odd kestrel.

Other birds that we have seen here during our Group's walks have included redwing, lesser redpoll and a flock of lapwing flying overhead.

In summer, the Common is host to 53 species of moth, of which the orange underwing is the most common. Sixteen species of butterfly have been recorded with meadow brown and small tortoiseshell being the most abundant. There's also a good variety of mammals including field mouse, mole, weasel and fox.

A summer walk will reward you with a host of wild flowers of which 146 species have been recorded. Species include coltsfoot, dog violet, birds-foot trefoil, tufted vetch, common catsear and mallow. On the heathland, amongst the common heather and bell heather, can also be found bilberry, heath bedstraw and tormentil. Later in the year, a walk through the woods should produce good numbers of fungi of which puffball, birch bracket, fly agaric and blewits are common.

As well as wildlife, the area has a fascinating history and folklore, as well as commanding wonderful views. It belongs to Sheffield City Council but is overseen by Wadsley and Loxley Commoners - a voluntary group of mainly local people. The aims of the Commoners are to conserve the area, promote awareness and encourage enjoyment of it and to balance the pressure of visitor numbers with conservation. As well as providing lots of information about the area, the Wadsley and Loxley Commoners website (link below) has a downloadable map and comprehensive lists of birds, fungi, plants, butterflies and moths and other insects.

Wadsley and Loxley Commons are easily reached from the Hillsborough area of the city and lie between Long Lane in the west and Worral Road in the east, There is access with parking at both and an easy going trail runs all the way in-between. Other footpaths and bridleways cover the rest of the area, some of which are rough and narrow. The Rose and Crown and Wadsley Jack, both in Wadsley, are the nearest pubs and there is also a cafe at the Loxley Nurseries garden centre at the bottom of Long Lane. Buses connecting Wadsley with Hillsborough include the 57/57A and the 61 and 62.