Nearly a full coach for the MNA visit to Old Moor RSPB Reserve located in the DearneValley close to Barnsley, Yorkshire.The feeding station adjacent to the visitor centre was doing good business with Greenfinches, Chaffinches, a female Bullfinch feeding her two offspring, Blue and Great Tits, Robins and a Wren. A small pond held a number of Pond Skaters Gerris lacustris, a couple of aquatic Snails and a beautiful pink Water Lily.
Pink Water Lily
There were also White Water Lilies Nymphaea odorata, Branched Bur-reed Sparganium erectum, Bulrushes Typha latifolia, Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria and Water Mint Mentha aquatica growing in some of the newly created dragonfly ponds.A trail led to a number of hides overlooking shallow ponds with muddy wader scrapes and islands scattered around. This excellent habitat provided us with good views of a number of duck species mostly still in eclipse plumage with Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufties, Shoveler, Teal, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot. Plenty of Little Grebes, I counted nine along with two Great-crested Grebes. Waders included Lapwings, Dunlin some with the remnants of their black summer bellies, a Curlew Sandpiper seen by a few members, three Greenshank, two Black-tailed Godwits, a dozen or so Ruff and a few Green Sandpipers joining the ten Common Sandpipers. The islands held small birds feeding on insects or seeds in the grass with a female Wheatear, Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches and Pied Wagtails. A number of Swallows were flying around busy re-fuelling on insects for their journey south.
The strong winds kept the Insects and Butterflies to a minimum but a few Dragonflies braved the blustery conditions with Common Darters Sympetrum striolatum, Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis and Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta.
Female Common Darter
Male Common Darter
Bushes laden with berries included Hawthorns Crataegus monogyna, Dog Rose Rosa canina, Japanese Rose Rosa rugosa, Sea Buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides, Sloes on Blackthorn Prunus spinosa and Guelder Rose Viburnum opulus. I found a number of Robins Pincushion Galls a.k.a. Bedeguar Gall caused by a Gall Wasp Diplolepis rosae which lays its eggs in either the leaves or stem of the Dog Rose.
Robin’s Pincushion Gall
Artwork was varied on the reserve with a bird-themed play area for the kids, a small herb garden decorated with some amusing wildlife illustrations, aquatic creatures beside a pond-dipping pool and a number of wood carvings.
Wildlife illustration in the herb garden
I took quite a shine to a kids toy Rat hand puppet in the RSPB gift shop, John Clegg posed with it on his hand.