• View From the Shed by Shaun Finnie - YOU'RE GORGEOUS


    Regular readers will know that I like to put some cultural reference into the title of these blogs every now and again. So today's title relates not only to the creatures we find around our Dearne Valley reserves (and to you, if you need that personal affirmation) but to a local indie band who had a big hit single in 1996 with the title shared with this piece. Give yourself two points if you can remember…

    • 7 Jul 2022
  • View From the Shed by Shaun Finnie - WASHED IN PERSIL


    There have been some very clean white birds visible at RSPB Old Moor recently. And I mean HIGHLY visible, almost glow-in-the dark white. These birds are so clean that they look like herons that have been washed in Persil (other whiter-than-white washing products are available).

    We love our herons here at Old Moor, especially the small brown booming ones that cause us to close our reed beds off every year…

    • 30 Jun 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES


    You may have noticed that the RSPB has recently unveiled its latest logo. The only constant is change, as they say.

    One of the reason that we regularly (if infrequently) update our image is to keep us relevant and in tune with the attitudes of the day. What worked in the 'seventies, for example, doesn't always work now. Just look at some old sitcoms or clothes for proof. We need to get people's thoughts…

    • 23 Jun 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - OUR KIDS


    That's what I used to think my Granny was saying whenever she saw a particular flower. “I love our kids”. Well thanks Gran, of course you did. It took me years – I was a slow learner – to realise that what she was actually declaring her love for was flowers of the Orchidaceae family. That's common or garden orchids to you and me, although they're not very common and you won't usually find them in many Barnsley…

    • 16 Jun 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - DINNER WITH THE KIDS


    It's a great time to be a lover of nature. Everywhere you look there's new life springing up, be it colourful flowers or leaves on trees, dragonflies hatching and immediately pairing up to mate or parent birds constantly flying from food source to nest, frantically trying to get their young brood up to a weight and size where they can look after themselves.

    Conversely, it's a bad time to be…

    • 9 Jun 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - THE DEVIL'S BIRD


    I've mentioned before that my love of words just about matches my love of birds. I'm fascinated by unusual words, why they mean what they do and how they came into being. And they don't come much more weird and wonderful than the word, Onomatopoeia.

    Onomatopoeia roughly means 'a word that sounds like what it relates to'. In bird terms this can be frequently applied to bird names, for example…

    • 2 Jun 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - PAYING IT FORWARD


    This week's View From The Shed is a little different. In this piece I'm not so much looking out of RSPB Old Moor's Welcome Shed as into it. I'm focussing on the volunteers who work there and at lots of other points all around the reserve. You'll easily recognise us, all dressed in blue with the little Avocet logo on our chests. We usually have a name badge too. Don't be afraid to have a chat with us;…

    • 26 May 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE?


    We're just about at the end of the Award season in the worlds of the arts. We've had the OSCARS, TONYs, BAFTAs, BRITs and the GRAMMY award ceremonies, where the great and the good of stage, screen and music slap each other on the back and occasionally across the face too. It's all been a lot of fun but also a bit fake as losers put on their best “I'm seething that I lost but the cameras are…

    • 22 May 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - ON THE WATERFRONT


    Just about all birds can be described as birds of the air. They fly. Most of them are good at it. A few, like the recently-returned SWIFTS, SWALLOWS and SANDMARTINS are absolute masters of their crafts.

    But birds can be divided into more specialised groups when they land. For example, Passerines are, by definition, perching birds. When not airborne they spend much of their time balancing and clutching…

    • 15 May 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - NATURE RED IN BEAK AND CLAW


    One of the best things about being a Welcome Desk volunteer at RSPB Old Moor is seeing people enjoying themselves. I always make a point of asking if people have had a good time when they leave and almost invariably the answer is a resounding 'Yes'. It's that kind of place. If you want to have a good day out at our reserve, then you probably will.

    My personal favourite is the enthusiasm…

    • 5 May 2022
  • David Pritchard's Weird and Wonderful World of Dragonflies

    What Lies Beneath

    Hi, I am David Pritchard and if you have read my Weird and Wonderful World of Dragonflies series of blogs last year, then you know that I am a dragonfly and damselfly nut. I have dedicated over 10 years studying these fantastic creatures and these series of blogs, my photography and the newly created Dragonfly information trail boards at RSPB Old Moor are the result. I sincerely hope that my enthusiasm…

    • 2 May 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR WAGGING TAIL?


    If you discount the people most close to me, my two passions in life are birds and language. That comes in handy when I'm the writer of a weekly bird blog like this one.

    I love the names that we've given to birds. Many of them are ridiculously descriptive and blindingly obvious. Blackbird. Black Cap. Reed Warbler. Whitethroat. All of them are perfectly named. The words more than…

    • 28 Apr 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - JUST PASSING THROUGH


    Isn't migration wonderful? The mass movement of pretty much every creature in an entire species over many hundreds of miles from one area to another? It boggles my mind that, through the trial and error of evolution, migration has been proven to be the most energy-economic form of survival. If conditions aren't right for feeding and breeding in a certain area at a certain time of year, then the…

    • 21 Apr 2022
  • Wildlife Gardening - Pollinators

    Pollinators are a vastly important sector of creature that improves biodiversity and allows for growth and reproduction of many plants in a given habitat. There are many species of pollinators and they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Pollinators are hugely responsible for most of the plantlife we have today. A lot of habitats such as Woodland, Scrubland and Marshland rely on pollinators to fertilise other plants…

    • 18 Apr 2022
  • Nature and Mental Health - Rebecca Sills

    Hi My name is Rebecca, I am 23 years old and you may see me about RSPB Old Moor as a volunteer with my camera and camcorder walking around the reserve. I have been motivated to write this blog because of the positive impacts that nature has on people's mental health - definitely after the last few years with the pandemic. Nature has definitely been a source of relief for me personally and research carried out by the leading…

    • 15 Apr 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - ART FOR ART'S SAKE


    How good are you at art? Drawing and painting, that kind of thing.

    I'm rubbish, truth be told. I never really progressed much beyond the 'scribbling toddler holding a wax crayon in a closed fist' stage. Some of my best work was done on the living room wallpaper fifty-odd years ago (sorry Mum). I'm totally in awe of those people who can put pencil to paper and come up with something that looks even…

    • 14 Apr 2022
  • View from the Shed by Shaun Finnie. BIG BROWN BEASTIE, BIG BROWN FACE


    Those of you who are (like me) of a great age and a slightly hippy persuasion might recognise the title of this peace as a lyric from a Mike Oldfield single from back in the days when singles were a thing and Mike Oldfield was a household name. Youngsters, just ignore the reference and keep reading.

    Oldfield was singing about being On Horseback, but it's a rather different and much rarer…

    • 7 Apr 2022
  • Alex' Wildlife Gardening Blog#2 WATER

    Alex, our residential volunteer's Wildlife gardening Blog #2


    Water is the most valuable resource on the planet. There really isn’t much that can survive without it. If it wasn’t for water, we wouldn’t have what we have, we wouldn’t be here at all. Which is why habitats such as wetland, marshland and fenland are so important for our wildlife. These habitats lend a home to a whole bunch of well-known species such…

    • 4 Apr 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - LEPIDOPTERISMERISM


    I write regularly in this blog about the beauty of the birds that can be seen here at the RSPB Old Moor reserve in Barnsley. Seeing as the 'B' in 'RSPB' stands for 'Birds' then it's only to be expected that I place the emphasis firmly on our feathered friends. I, like most of you, am an RSPB member so they're usually the first things I notice on my wildlife walks. But sometimes it pays to look outside…

    • 31 Mar 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - EVERYTHING IS A HIGHLIGHT


    A mixed flock of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins so dense that I had to stand still for fear of damaging them as they swarmed around me, feasting on the fog of midges and other flying insects that were so abundant on a glorious summer's day. The air was thick with over a thousand hirundines, miraculously missing each other – and me – by millimetres as they swooped and screamed in their feeding…

    • 24 Mar 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - THE GULL OF MY DREAMS


    A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called WHEN IS A BLACKBIRD NOT A BLACKBIRD. In that piece I tried to show just how difficult it can be to identify a living, active bird when all you have to compare it against is a stationary picture in a guide book. Invariably the picture will show the species in clear side profile and perfect adult breeding plumage. That's a world away from the scabby juvenile individual…

    • 17 Mar 2022
  • Alex the Rezzie volunteer Old Moor Blog #1

    Hello, my name is Alex and I am a residential volunteer – a REZZIE for the RSPB at Dearne Valley Old Moor in South Yorkshire. In my blogs I will guide you through step-by-step processes of designing and materialising your own haven for wildlife, all in the space of your gardens, allotments or balconies. This series of blogs will detail lots of different habitats to which you can give a boost in your gardens…

    • 12 Mar 2022
  • View From The Shed by Shaun Finnie - THE AGE OF PLASTIC


    I know what you're thinking. You've read the title and thought, “Oh no, this is going to be one of those worthy but accusatory finger-pointing pieces where he bangs on about how we, mankind, have ruined the planet and how we're drowning in plastic and won't somebody please do something to save us?”

    Well yes, we have and yes we are and yes I wish that somebody could as well…

    • 10 Mar 2022
  • View from the Shed by Shaun Finnie - INTO THE VALLEY


    We've done some serious construction and remodelling at our Barnsley RSPB sites recently.

    Firstly and most important to me personally, we have a lovely new shed at the entrance to Old Moor. That's where me and the other welcoming volunteers are located. Please come and have a chat next time you're passing. It's good to be able to take refuge from the weather again. It's been a soggy few weeks.…

    • 3 Mar 2022
  • Jane Wilkinson's RSPB Dearne Valley 'Eye Opening' Blog #5

    Developments around the sites

    As many readers will know, the RSPB Dearne Valley secured a large fund from the National Lottery in 2019, with additional funding form Barnsley Council – totalling over £1million.   The plan for how the site could be developed began to be talked about as far back as 2015; and the application to the National Lottery took a long time to finalise and be approved – but this amazing…

    • 25 Feb 2022