• View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - END OF THE ROAD


    One of my favourite bands, KISS, is finally retiring. After 50 years of touring, they're calling it quits. They've named their final live dates 'The End of the Road Tour'.

    Dear reader, I'm not quite as old as those guys in the face paint but I too am calling time on my work. This week's blog will be the last, although, much like KISS after their numerous previous retirements, I wou…

    • 9 Nov 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - THAT'S NOT MY CHAFFINCH!


    Autumn is my favourite time of the year. Not only have we got rid of the stifling heat which makes it uncomfortable for all of us big blokes during peak summer sweaty season, but we also see much more variation in the colours of the trees around us. Their summer costume of uniform green has been replaced by reds, browns and yellows yet with still a bit of green to add variety to the view. And…

    • 2 Nov 2023
  • View From The Shed by Volunteer Shaun - ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT DREARY


    Many of you will recognise today's title as the opening line of that most Halloweeny of classic poems, THE RAVEN by Edgar Allan Poe. If you haven't read it yet, it's readily available online. Get comfortable and treat yourself. It's not an easy read – don't skim it – and it's not for everyone but if you "get it", if you have access to that darkness in your soul at which it probes and tickles…

    • 26 Oct 2023
  • View From The Shed by Volunteer Shaun - LAUGH, I NEARLY DID


    The world can be a pretty tough place to live in at the moment, even for us humans. Wars, political unrest and the decimation of the natural world dominate our news feeds and so many aspects of our everyday lives, it can all too easily get us down. These things are all important and it's right that we're aware of them, but sometimes we just need to lighten the mood with a little fun and frivolity …

    • 19 Oct 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - HOW DOES IT FEEL


    How has your week been? Good, I hope. Healthy, at least. If not, then you have my sympathy and my best wishes for the future.

    That's what we do, isn't it? We wish each other well. We hope that good things happen to people we like. We feel sad when things don't work out as we'd hoped for our loved ones and might even put our own lives on hold to help others who are in need. Sympathy. Empathy. Altruism…

    • 12 Oct 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - THE MORSE CODE BIRD


    You know how pedantic I am about getting the right word for the right occasion. 'It's and its', for example, or 'their, there and they're', to name just two of the obvious ones. Well, here I go again, using big words when a normal one would suffice. But it's important to keep the language going, to make use of the words that would otherwise become extinct. Use it or lose it. So...…

    • 5 Oct 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - IT'S A NUMBERS GAME


    I've written several times in these blogs about the wonderful Kingfishers that can be seen here at RSPB Old Moor. One of my earliest pieces was about why it's called the Halcyon Bird, I've written about how their feathers aren't really blue (honestly) and I will maintain until my final breath that, whatever else may happen, it's always a good day when you see a Kingfisher.

    • 28 Sep 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - IT'S NOT THERE


    I've recently been listening to an excellent podcast about an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the fabled Yeti, the Abominable Snowman. It's a great series but I don't think that I need a spoiler alert when I say that they don't come back with indisputable film, pelts or even a tame Yeti on a lead at the end of it. After all, that kind of thing would have been all over the media, don't you think…

    • 21 Sep 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - LOCAL HEROES


    Do not believe everything you read on the internet. I'm generally suspicious of any 'facts' I find on the 'net and I particularly always check online 'quotes' that are attributed to famous people. Case in point; I saw a meme this week quoting Benjamin Franklin as saying “If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

    As usual, I dug deep into this attribution and found…

    • 14 Sep 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - ADMIRING VANESSA


    I've recently noticed an increase in the number of Red Admiral butterflies around our Old Moor reserve and elsewhere on my walks. These easily-identified insects have suddenly seemed to spring up everywhere and a most welcome sight they are too. Quite large, mainly dark with a diagonal orange stripe across each wings and a series of symmetrical white blobs (that's a technical term) towards the outer upper…

    • 7 Sep 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - I NEED A HOLIDAY


    Have you been lucky enough to enjoy a Summer holiday this year? Two weeks abroad in the sun, maybe or perhaps enjoying travelling around our own beautiful island? My turn is yet to come. I'm sure I'll report about it in a later blog, though. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm not shy when it comes to talking about my travels.

    I, and many others, often say, “I need a holiday”, but do…

    • 31 Aug 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - THE WADERS ARE COMING! THE WADERS ARE COMING!


    Imagine arriving at the swankiest restaurant in town. The Maître d' directs you to the dining area. “Here we are sir, madame, our finest table.” You settle down to eat and... stuff your face straight into the ankle-deep mud. Seafood surprise is on the menu.

    That's the mealtime technique of a wading bird, and many of them are starting to move around the…

    • 25 Aug 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - IT'S GETTING HOT IN HERE


    In days of yore Spoonbills bred quite happily in Britain; so much so that they were on the menu of every King, Lord and minor nobleman in the land. Want a fancy meal to impress your friends? Go catch ye a Spoonbill. Hmmm, no thanks. As is so often the case though, it would seem that those posh folks of the day got too greedy for by the year 1700 or so the baby Spoonbills of our isles were…

    • 17 Aug 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE


    If you read these blogs regularly you'll know that there are some funny ones, some serious ones and even some sad ones. There are some full of facts and some full of my own personal views (from the shed). Some are frivolous (because I do like a good frivol) and others are hard science that makes my head hurt. This week's is one of the latter. Make sure you read it somewhere nice and quiet because…

    • 10 Aug 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - FAQs - FUNNY ACTUAL QUESTIONS


    If you read these blogs regularly you'll know that they range wildly from serious scientific study to frivolous whimsy. One week I might be delving into the anatomy of a bird's eye, the next week I could be questioning how people expect to be well hidden in a deciduous forest when their camouflage gear depicts only coniferous trees. I do like to offer something for everybody, from ornithology…

    • 3 Aug 2023
  • View From the Shed by Shaun Finnie - HOW MUCH POO CAN A DINO DO?


    Most children go through a Dinosaur phase, and why shouldn't they? Dinosaurs are fascinating creatures. Many adults would benefit from going through a rediscovery of these terrible lizards of their own. For some people their passion for dino's is just a passing fancy; others might find it leads to a lifetime of palaeontological research. I'd love to have seen some of these behemoths in the…

    • 27 Jul 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - ONE FOR SORROW


    Our ancestors had many different ways of trying to predict the future and telling other people's fortunes. They studied the bones, guts and other parts of dead animals – or even those of their slain opponents in battle. They stared deep into flames, waves and clouds for inspiration, and they did other things that I can't even mention in a family-friendly blog like this one. I bet that, even if they were…

    • 20 Jul 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - WHO NEEDS CARROTS?


    You and I are mostly diurnal by nature. That means that we do most of day-to-day living in the hours of sunlight. If we were mainly active at dawn and dusk and resting when our surroundings are fully light or dark we could be described as having a crepuscular lifestyle. For many of us, diurnal and crepuscular will be new terms, but I suspect that we've all heard of the third alternative; nocturnal.…

    • 13 Jul 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - NOCTURNAL THRILLS


    Here in South Yorkshire's Dearne Valley we've been lucky enough to witness visits by many Heron species over the years. Grey Herons, Little Egrets and our beloved Bitterns are year-long residents at our reserves and it's not unusual for us to give temporary home to Great Egrets and, increasingly, Spoonbills too. A Cattle Egret has been enjoying the company of the cows on our Adwick Washlands site recently…

    • 6 Jul 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - AM I A RESPONSIBLE ADULT?


    When my nephew was very young I tried to take him into a shop but he paused at the doorway and would go no further. 'I can't go in there, Uncle Shaun', he said. When I asked why not he just raised his little arm and pointed at a sign on the shop doorway.

    Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.”

    Funny, for a six year old. Apparently I wasn't responsible…

    • 29 Jun 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - THE HOKEY COKEY


    Over the last few weeks we've had a lot of unusual visitors to our little patch of heaven here in Barnsley. Not the human visitors, they're always welcome, be they usual or otherwise. No, I mean the birds that have been to see us, the ones that we don't usually encounter in this part of the world. They've been here one minute, gone the next, then turning up at another stretch of water along the Valley…

    • 22 Jun 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun FInnie - CAN YOU HEAR ME AT THE BACK?


    It's a weird fact that you cannot lick your own elbow. You're probably trying to disprove it right now. Don't bother. Unless you're a contortionist, you won't manage it. If you really want to find out how elbow skin tastes, ask a friend. Just don't expect them to stay friends with you afterwards.

    Another strange biological fact is that no bird has visible ears. Even…

    • 15 Jun 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - WHEN HARRY MET MARSHA


    Marsh; (noun) a wet, boggy environment.

    Harry; (verb) to annoy or pester.

    Marsh Harrier; (noun) a large bird of prey that lives in a wet, boggy environment and annoys or pesters small creatures to death.

    That last definition may be my own but it's fairly accurate and I'm pleased enough with it. Let's try again, only this time let's make things a bit more personal.

    Marsha; from Mars…

    • 8 Jun 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

    5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

    Whether it's the old-school puppet version or the more recent animated reboot, most of us will have enjoyed the classic 'Thunderbirds' TV show at some time in our lives. As I child (and a bigger man-child) I remember being thrilled when, after the suspenseful countdown, the huge ships would take off and slowly but surely power into the sky. I know I don't look it but I'm old enough to remember…

    • 1 Jun 2023
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - RINGO'S OUR STAR


    Once upon a time there were Four Lads Who Shook the World. They were, in their day, the four most famous people on the planet. One of them took the name 'Ringo' as he famously sported unusual rings. If none of this means anything to you then I'm guessing that you're under forty. Get an old person to explain it to you.

    Once upon a different time there was a drake Ring-Necked Duck with…

    • 25 May 2023