For the last few weeks, the team on the reserve have been getting very excited, and we can now finally officially confirm, Old Moor is to be one of the base sites for this years Autumnwatch. 

The RSPB’s dynamic Old Moor Nature Reserve, has been chosen to host Gillian Burke along with a small team from the hit BBC TV series . Gillian first showcased the Old Moor reserve back in 2018, sharing rare footage of the bitterns that breed on the reserve, which is nestled between Barnsley and Rotherham,

Gillian Burke (c) BBC

Filming over two weeks, Gillian and her eagle-eyed team will be looking to spot some of the reserve’s wild autumnal species that thrive in this ex-coal mining area of South Yorkshire. Beautiful bitterns and rare willow tits as well as brown hares, barn owls, waders and waterfowl could all join the cast of the show for a fortnight of seasonal wildlife highlights.

Bittern - Gerald Lax

Earlier this year, Springwatch brought viewers the beauty and distraction of nature during an unsettling time. This year, more than ever, BBC Autumnwatch and the RSPB are working to keep the UK connected to our native wildlife with an extraordinary double helping of live programmes. The series returns to BBC 2 from Tuesday Oct 27th for two weeks, with live broadcasts from the Dearne Valley featuring throughout the series, some visitors may have even seen some of the pre-recorded clips being made last week!

Jamie form the BBC getting some footage from Wath Ings - Lydia Tague

Emma Tuckey, Senior Site Manager at RSPB Old Moor said “It’s so exciting for us to be hosting part of BBC Autumnwatch this year. We won’t just be showcasing Old Moor, working with partners and funders, including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Biffa Award and the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, we have helped create an incredible network of nature reserves throughout the  Dearne valley. The valley is such a fantastic example of how wildlife can thrive in an area which has been heavily industrialised. Regeneration can be good news for wildlife as well as people, and we can prove that here.”

As well as Gillian Burke broadcasting from the heart of South Yorkshire, the stories of this autumn will be told by a raft of the BBC Natural History Unit’s finest wildlife presenters, based across the whole country. Viewers will join presenters Chris Packham, live from his New Forest patch, Michaela Strachan in the glorious Tentsmuir Forest in Fife and Iolo Williams at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.

Emma Tuckey added “We know that lots of people will be just as excited to see the BBC Watches crew on site as we are, but if you are thinking of visiting us at RSPB Old Moor during this time, please be aware that the reserve is likely to be very busy. We are committed to ensuring that everyone has a great time in a safe way and will be continuing to operate within our Covid-19 safe guidance. This includes working to a site capacity that will allow for required social distancing.”

We know from some of our other RSPB sites that have hosted Autumnwatch that visitor numbers will increase. Obviously we have a responsibility to our staff, volunteers and visitors to keep our fantastic reserve safe for everyone. If the reserve or car park reaches our pre-determined capacity, we will unfortunately have to turn people away. Depending on how busy we get, we may also look at bringing in a booking system which, if decided upon, will be communicated via our website and social media. Please keep an eye out for any updates!

This is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase the work that has taken place throughout the Dearne Valley along with our partners in the area, the history of community and partnership working within the valley has delivered a thriving series of nature reserve from a heavily industrialised past. As Emma said, regeneration can be good for wildlife as well as people, and we're excited to highlight our successes.