SUPER SNIPES @ RSPB OLD MOOR
On Saturday I visited Old Moor which is a nature reserve managed by the RSPB in the DearneValley 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.
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 was a cloudy day when I arrived at Old Moor and before I headed out onto the trails I walked round to the Tree Sparrow Farm hide. There are several feeders in front of this hide and they were very busy with Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Dunnocks and a Robin visiting regularly. After a few minutes a male Reed Bunting arrived at the feeders and it was soon joined by a male and female Bullfinch and then rather surprisingly a Reed Warbler as well.
From here I walked across to and through the discovery zone to the Bittern Hide where on the water in front of me it was very quiet with just the lone Little Grebe. Over to my right on the Mere I could see several Canada Geese and a pair of Common Terns. There was more noise within the reeds just in front of me with the distinctive pinging call of the Bearded Tit and a short time later I got a brief glimpse of two of them as they moved across a small gap in the reeds.
I left the hide and followed the path to the Reedbed trail and as I walked round towards the viewing screen I could still hear but not see the Bearded Tits in the reeds. Eventually I reached the Reedbed Hide which again was unusually quiet but a short time later a pair of Little Grebes swam from behind the reeds to my right. The Grebes spent a few minutes diving for food in front of the hide, gradually moving away towards the reeds at the far left hand side of the water and a few seconds later a Kingfisher flew fast over the water and over the hide.
It was now approaching midday so I started to make my way back along the trail towards the visitor centre. As I was walking along I could hearing the Bearded Tits calling and then saw one flying across the path disappearing in the reeds. It made a brief reappearance at the top of a reed before flying off and dropping down further into the reedbed. After lunch I headed along the Green Lane trail and the first hide I came to was the recently refurbished Family Hide which looks out over the Mere.
Out on the water were large numbers of Canada Geese as well as Tufted Ducks, a lone Great Crested Grebe and perched on a rock a few meters out were a pair of Pied Wagtails. Overhead were numerous Sand Martins whilst over to the far left were two Little Egrets and a few Greylag Geese. I moved on to the next hide which is the Field Pool West Hide where again there were large numbers of Canada Geese and in the water in front of the hide a pair of Little Grebes.
As I continued along the path towards the next hide there were several Sand Martins flying overhead as well as a few Swifts with flocks of Goldfinch flying low along the tops of the bushes. The next hide was the Wader Scrape Hide where again there were large numbers of Canada Geese as well as Lapwings, Cormorants, Tufted Ducks and in the distance four juvenile Shelducks. Even further away was a Common Sandpiper and after a few minutes it flew towards the hide and landed around twenty feet to my left.
It continued to move to the left as it was joined by a Little Egret wading through the shallow water. The hide at the furthest point on the Green Lane trail is the Wath Ings Hide where a Sanderling had been spotted earlier that day. There were Tufted Ducks, Coots, Black Headed Gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Dunlins, Lapwings and in the distance several Grey Herons. There was however a Grey Heron much closer at the edge of a strip of land which separates two large bodies of water.
As the Grey Heron edged its way into the water a Snipe flew low across the water and landed on the muddy ground just in front of me. After standing very still for a few minutes it began to move its way towards me, probing the mud with its long beak looking for food. The Snipe was now joined by three more Snipes, two of which landed out of view amongst the tall grass with the other close to the first Snipe. As I moved to the right hand the four Snipes flew off to the right, circling round over the water before landing close to where a trio of Dunlins were stood in shallow water.
A Goldfinch landed on the branch of a bush to my right, briefly looking around before moving to a thistle and picking at the flower head as a Marsh Harrier flew over the reeds at the far side of the water. After spending several minutes doing this it flew off as one of the Snipes had moved closer to the hide again and was making its way along the edge of the water. The last hide is accessed via a path which eventually loops back down to the GreenLane Trail and this is called the Field Pool East Hide. There was a Little Egret fishing at the edge of the water and closer to the hide was a Green Sandpiper with its beak tucked into it's feathers.
Over to the left there was a Tufted Duck with five juveniles being closely monitored by a Lesser Black Backed Gull. After a few minutes of this the adult Tufted Duck had had enough of the Gull and went for it, attacking it till it flew off. I now headed back down the trail with Sand Martins and Swifts still whizzing overhead and during a quick visit to the Wader Scrape Hide a flock of Linnets flew across the water and landed amongst the wild flowers and grass. Before I left I paid another quick visit to the Tree Sparrow Farm hide where there were still several Goldfinches and a pair of Greenfinches but no sign of the Bullfinches present when I first visited.
I have attached a full sightings list and a few photos from my visit to RSPB Old Moor.
RSPB OLD MOOR - 31/07/2021
2 BEARDED TITS 30+ BLACK HEADED GULLS
2 BLUE TITS 2 BULLFINCHES
300+ CANADA GEESE 1 COMMON SANDPIPER
4 COMMON TERNS 4 COOTS
6 CORMORANTS 3 DUNLINS
2 DUNNOCKS 2 GADWALLS
20+ GOLDFINCHES 1 GREAT CRESTED GREBE
2 GREAT TITS 1 GREEN SANDPIPER
2 GREENFINCHES 6 GREY HERONS
4 GREYLAG GEESE 1 KINGFISHER
10 LAPWINGS 6 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS
4 LINNETS 5 LITTLE EGRETS
4 LITTLE GREBES 2 MAGPIES
1 MARSH HARRIER 2 MOORHENS
10+ PHEASANTS 2 PIED WAGTAILS
1 REED BUNTING 1 REED WARBLER
20+ SAND MARTINS 4 SHELDUCKS
4 SNIPES 2 SWIFTS
20+ TUFTED DUCKS 2 WOOD PIGEONS