Left Norfolk early and arrived in Sheffield some time after 0900 hours. Met up with Matthew and, after collecting his car following a small repair, set off for the Dearne Valley.
It's always a pleasure to visit Broomhill Flash, Wombwell Ings and the RSPB Old Moor Reserve as, alongside Worsborough Reservoir, Wintersett Reservoir and "the moors" , it's where I first started birdwatching. The now renamed and expanded Old Moor area comprises the location formerly known as Wath Ings, which was very much the focal point in the late 1950's and 1960's for a group of birders from Barnsley, which included Dave Standring, Alan Archer, Mike Clegg, Colin Bower, David Ashurst and Malcolm Rhymer ( plus fledglings like me! ) and then , as now, produced some notable records. Since then several of Yorkshire's crack birders, who live locally, have ensured the area receives extensive cover with the result that a catalogue of valuable records has emerged. The value of the area doesn't stop there either. At more than a few foreign locations people have been reminded of the area's prominence via well located " Wath Ings Rules! OK? " statements.
Whilst today was rather quiet in some respects a good variety of birds was seen. Notable changes now include breeding Avocet, Bittern and Mediterranean Gull at Old Moor and the area goes from strength to strength. Developed initially by Barnsley MBC and designed by one of its Landscape Architects, Eric Bennett, it was intended to be part of a partnership initiative with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, but this fell through. Previous to my own retirement discussions were held with RSPB with the intention of the Society taking over the site. However, due to the intervention of RSPB's Marketing Department the initiative stalled. Thankfully common sense has now prevailed and the true potential of the site is being realised. RSPB has even enhanced the situation still further by purchasing various other small wetlands in the vicinity and consolidating the conservation value of the overall area. It's most recent initiative in this regard, but further to the north in the Aire valley, is in securing a similar site at St.Aidans near Leeds. This pursues the policy of gaining areas previously associated with industry that can be developed, or have already been partially developed, and improving them still further for conservation resulting in them becoming wildlife reserves nearby to high centres of population. Already known as a good birding spot I'm sure its future is even more assured and I shall look forward to making a visit at some point. Well done RSPB!
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