On Thursday I visited Old Moor which is a nature reserve managed by the RSPB in the Dearne Valley near Barnsley. As well as Old Moor the RSPB also manages Wombell Ings, Bolton Ings and Gypsy Marsh which are right next door to Old Moor. They also look after Adwick Washlands which is a couple of miles east and Edderthorpe Flash which is a couple of miles north. There is also Broomhill Flash which is managed by The Garganey Trust and for the past few weeks a Hawfinch had been making regular visits to the trees round the car park at Broomhill Flash.
Old Moor itself is made up of reedbeds, grassland and meadow with several large lagoons. There are 3 trails - The Discovery Zone, Green Lane & Reedbed - the Discovery Zone is a short circular trail which has 1 hide next to the visitor centre, the Reedbed trail which has 2 hides and a viewing screen and takes you out into the reedbeds and finally the Green Lane trail has 6 hides and takes you north east into the grassland and lagoons.
It had been very wet in the few days prior to my visit but today the sun was out and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. As usual I headed for the hide next to the visitor centre and from here I spotted a lone Yellowhammer, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and a couple of Stock Doves and Collared Doves. Once I left the hide I headed through the Discovery Zone to the Bittern Hide.
Out on the water in front of the hide there were several Coots, a couple of Tufted Ducks and a single Great Crested Grebe with several Black Headed Gulls flying overhead. After a while I left the hide and followed the path round the reedbed till it turned into the reedbed and headed for the Reedbed Screen & Hide. I sat down at the Reedbed Screen and in the distance I could see a Coot, Shoveler and Gadwall in the water and I had only been there a few minutes when one of the reserves male Bitterns started to boom.
The Bittern would boom twice more before I made the short walk to the Reedbed Hide. In front of the hide there were Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Black Headed Gulls and another Great Crested Grebe. Over to the right at the waters edge there was an Oystercatcher and over to the left, close to the reeds there was a Little Grebe diving for food. A few minutes later another Little Grebe made its way from right to left in front of the hide and joined its compadre over to the left before they disappeared into the reeds.
It was now approaching midday so I started to make my way back to the visitor centre for lunch. As I walked past the Reedbed Screen the Bittern boomed again and as continued on through the reedbed a Marsh Harrier circled overhead. Just before I reached the visitor centre I went and had a look in the Tree Sparrow Farm which was very busy. There were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Reed Buntings, Bullfinches, a Coal Tit and the Yellowhammer was there again. There were also Magpies, Pheasants, Stock Doves and Wood Pigeons present and in the water nearby a lone male Mallard Duck was swimming across towards a patch of reeds.
The Yellowhammer spent most of its time feeding on the ground or hiding in the bushes and before I left a Tree Sparrow returned to its nest box with material for building its nest. After lunch at the visitor centres excellent cafe I headed out on the Green Lane Trail, arriving first at the Family Hide. In front of the hide on the Mere there were hundreds of Black Headed Gulls making a cacophony of noise. At the bottom of the bank, on which the hide sits, there were a couple of Gadwalls and further out on a mud bank amongst the Black Headed Gulls there was a single Mediterranean Gull.
On the grass bank at the far side of the Mere there were a few Canada Geese and several Jackdaws as well as more Black Headed Gulls. From here I moved on to the Field Pool West Hide which was quite quiet apart from a couple of Mallards, Lapwings and Crows although I did see a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly fly across in front of the hide. I now made my way to the Wader Scrape Hide which was again busy with hundreds of Black headed Gulls, but there were also a few Jackdaws and a single Moorhen.
A Kestrel flew overhead as I left the hide and headed for the Wath Ings Hide and as I approached the hide I saw a pair of Long Tailed Tits in the trees. The water in front of the Wath Ings Hide was still significantly higher than normal but I was still able to see Gadwalls, Mallards, Teals, Shovelers and Wigeons. Further out there were also Mute Swans, a pair of Lesser Black Backed Gulls and four Goldeneyes. At the final hide, the Field Pool East Hide, I saw the Lesser Black Backed Gulls again and, now in the far distance, the Goldeneyes too.
During my journey back along Green Lane to the visitor centre I spotted Robins, Dunnocks and Long Tailed Tits in the trees. Before I left I made another quick visit to both the Tree Sparrow Farm and the hide next to the visitor centre. From here there were now also Goldfinches, Blackbirds and gathering moss from a rock was a single Wren. The Wren then flew across to a pile of wood disappearing inside and for the next few minutes I saw it making brief appearances before it flew off.
Before I headed home I drove over to Adwick Washland, which is one of Old Moors satellite sites, as there had been a pair of Garganeys sited. I followed the path from the car park along the banks of the River Dearne until the path split and headed into the reserve and arrived at Lowfield Lane which splits the reserve. Here I walked a short distance to my right before turning north again following the path to the viewpoint in the middle of the reserve.
On a narrow water channel to my right a single Mute Swan swam along following me as I walked along the path. From the viewpoint I was able to see Little Egrets, Lapwings, Teals, Gadwalls, Mallards, Shovelers, Coots, Black Headed Gulls, Tufted Ducks and a lone Redshank wading along the water's edge. As I walked back down the path to Lowfield Lane I saw a Pied Wagtail, Long Tailed Tit and flying low over the bushes a Cetti's Warbler. It perched briefly on a bush before disappearing into the bush and then a few seconds later went flying back towards the viewpoint.
I now walked east along Lowfield Lane back towards the car park and in the trees I saw Reed Buntings, Dunnocks and a lone Robin. Flying over the path from one side to the other were a pair of Redshanks and in the water to the left there were Coots and Gadwalls. Over in the grassy fields beyond the water I could see a pair of Hares, one fast asleep and the other looking for food. On the field to the right there were a group of Greylag & Canada Geese and as I approached the car park I walked through a small wooded area where I could hear a Green Woodpecker calling.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to RSPB Old Moor and Adwick Washlands.