Saturday morning saw us off yet again, this time relatively locally. In fact this visit was to an area, which has close family connections, ( see 13.3.2012 " Northward Ho...at least for me ) , and which has been the site for both Matthew and myself of much of our respective early birding. Worsborough Reservoir and Rockley evokes so many memories of people, birds and other wildlife, starting with when my father first took me out and showed me areas he used to visit, that any return visit nowadays carries an overwhelming aura of nostalgia. Sadly, due to the partisan affiliation by the Barnsley Council with angling interests, some of the past conservation interest has been damaged, although perhaps not irrevocably if good sense could still prevail. The reedbed on the main reservoir has been decimated, angling "stations" predominate and the tern rafts have disappeared. On the plus side the circular footpath around the reservoir "complex" is well maintained and allows those interested to interact at close quarters with a variety of habitats.
A full circuit of the reservoir and then entry around the flooded woodland to its rear showed little activity. Then, suddenly, a small form alighted on a tree. Our quarry, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (2013,177) quietly making its way up the underside of a branch and giving brilliant views at that, with a flash of red from its crown showing the bird to be a male. Not always an easy species to pin down , these views were a bonus indeed. A weak call from nearby, suggesting a female might also be present, coincided with the bird moving to a nearby tree. On landing, it opened its wings, showing the whole succession of markings and , at the same time, quivered them slightly which we took to indicate display. A few moments later it was gone, after giving a memorable and privileged view into its behaviour that certainly I had never seen before. Magic! Soon afterwards a pair of Goldcrest above our heads were equally as pleasing in some respects , but perhaps not quite as unique.
On to an area near Wortley where a couple of Mistle Thrush sang lustily in the cold air and titmice called from within the wood. A walk alongside the river, crunching through the stubborn layer of snow still present, didn't provide the anticipated views of Dipper or Grey Wagtail which will have to await a further visit.
After a late breakfast, a second and totally different aspect of the day locked in! Barnsley was playing Sheffield Wednesday at the latter's home ground nearby to where Matthew and Rose live. A local Derby with mounting passions clearly in evidence. The police were in evidence from before midday, road diversions in force and spectators arriving three hours before kick off!! Our approach was much more civilized in that we met with Matthew's friends and kin Barnsley supporters in a pub and then arrived closer to the action starting. It's a long time since I attended a game at this level. The noise is phenomenal, with no chance of hearing announcements! Chanting abuse at the opposition's supporters is of paramount importance and I did wonder how much of the match some had missed!! I did enjoy the drama, the match and the sheer passion coming through the whole episode, which, sadly, Barnsley lost about which no comment will be made!!! A great afternoon in so many different aspects. On our departure the Police presence was greater and quietly more resolute than I've seen at some similar key occasions within other countries, try the Urban Police in Venezuela for example ( not gentlemen to be grimaced at !! ) and, thankfully, all remained calm. The only argument I saw was between two Barnsley supporters......... I wouldn't have missed it, when's the next fixture?
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