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Old Moor - Brilliant Day out

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Old Saturday 20th March 2004, 09:46   #1
Henry H
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Old Moor - Brilliant Day out

If you are ever at a loose end in the Barnsley (Yorkshire) area I can recommend the newly re-vamped Old Moor RSPB reserve. As a Lancastrian stranded in Yorkshire for the day earlier this month I turned to birdwatching to pass the time.

I don't usually take notes, just photographs (not so brilliant at those either!) but on this occasion, being on my own I decided to note down the species I saw.

If you don't know Old Moor it is great for the less energetic or able-bodied birdwatchers, as it is quite flat and there are paths leading to the 5 or 6 hides, all of which are in fairly close proximity. And it is THE place to go for Tree Sparrows. As you arrive at the car park there are lots of hedges and you can hear numerous sparrows twittering as soon as you turn off the car engine.

By the Visitor Centre/Shop are a number of feeders in a small but secluded area with good views from the shop and the nearby hide. On and around the feeders were three varieties of Tit; three finch species, sparrows, pheasants and wood pigeons. (I missed the 58 Siskin that were recorded later in the morning).

In the second hide (well outside the hide really) I saw a variety of wildfowl including about 10 or 12 Ruddy Ducks, Gadwall, Grebes, plenty of Cormorant. Inside the hide I spotted a couple of elderly Yorkshiremen! They were very nice blokes actually. All this War of the Roses mentality must be in my genes!

Between the third and fifth/sixth hides runs a (man-made?) stream lined with hedges and filled with bullrushes. That was where I saw the pair of Yellowhammers (or as my partner once said "Look, a sparrow with a yellow head!") Well darling, I went one better as I saw a pair of sparrows with Black Heads! (Reed Bunting). The stream is right next to the path, you could probably paddle in it if you had a mind to!

Got to the fourth hide and saw a first for me, a large flock of Golden Plovers (about 150), lovely birds when the sun was shining on them. I spotted a Little Grebe and was tracking it through the binoculars (they don't stay on the surface much, do they?). Then the weather came to my rescue. The heavens opened and we had a five minute torrential downpour and the Dabchick made a run (swim/paddle) for it, right into the large tuft of reed/grass right in front of the hide, where it sat out the storm. I got a few pictures but the rain didn't help.

In the fifth hide I got chatting to a local family (Mr and Mrs and 4 kids; they were very well behaved - and the kids were good too!). I was surpised by the kids' enthusiam and birding knowledge, mum and dad are obviously doing a grand job there - I wish my parents had been into birdwatching.

Anyway, to cut a long story short (OK, I haven't really ,have I?) I had a great morning and wished I could have been stuck in Yorkshire for longer! My full list for the day is:-

Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, YellowHammer, Robin, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Cormorant, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Oystercatcher, Moorhen, Coot, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Redshank, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Grey Heron and Black Headed Gull. Heard a wren but could see it.

Then there was the Cafeteria. Unfortunately I had paccked a lunch and didn't want to be wasteful, but the smell of the food was mouth-watering. If (When) I go back they can do the catering. Overall, I could not find fault with the place. The staff were helpful, knowledgable and friendly, the place was spotless, even the toilets were nice. I consider myself priviledged to have had such a great day out.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 18:30   #2
birdman
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Glad you enjoyed it this side of border control Henry

Recently paid my first visit to Old Moor since the revamp, and as you say, definitely worth taking in if you are nearby.

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