It may have been cold in the Dearne Valley this morning but what the low winter sun lacked in warmth, it made up for in brilliance.

Here’s the summary of sightings from today…

It was good to see the Tree Sparrow Farm full of birds this morning. Partly this was because of that nearby field of teasels which was attracting a flock of thirty or so goldfinch. A smaller flock of long-tailed tits also provided great, close-up views as did those splendid bullfinch of course.

Sadly, on the Reedbed Trail though many visitors reported ‘hearing’ bearded tit, the stiff breeze made it very hard to actually see the birds. Determined, I did get a glimpse of them as they flew across the channel beside the Reedbed Screen. Four birds today; a male and three females.

A drake pochard from the Reedbed Hide today

On the Mere it was an exotic-looking female goldeneye and those elegant goosander that caught the eye. Whilst twenty more of the latter could be found on the Wader Scrape first thing.

But if I had to choose one ‘hotspot’ on the reserve today it would be Wath Ings. As well as more goldeneye, it was here that a pair of marsh harrier were seen this morning. With them were kestrel, sparrowhawk, two buzzards (one pale) and a peregrine (not the bird familair to visitors and known as 'Red').

In front of aghast watchers, the peregrine hunted and took a lapwing to the ground. The force of its strike meant a swift end to the unfortunate lapwing and for a few moments the peregrine feasted. Then, disturbed, it left as quickly as it had arrived.

In Nature, nothing is ever wasted and it wasn’t long before those ever-watchful opportunists, the magpies and the crows, came down to investigate what was left.

Odd bedfellows at Wath Ings this afternoon

At the other end of the day, a spectacle of a different sort unfolded when, in the dying light, several thousand starling took to the skies in an extended (if relatively small) murmuration. At each of their turns, new parties of birds arrived until, with all bonds renewed, the entire flock plummeted into the reedbed.

It was a satisfying end to another terrific day at Old Moor.

Until next time.