By an odd coincidence, two years ago on this date Old Moor also experienced a sudden cold snap. Back then, a drier autumn meant the water levels were low and the shallow waters froze, displacing many of the birds that feed in them. As you know, at the moment Old Moor is flooded so today’s first question was, ‘Would those flood waters now freeze?’

Here is the day's summary of sightings…

As recent experience has demonstrated, Old Moor is an active flood washland for the river Dearne. To alleviate potential flooding elsewhere, Old Moor can take on huge quantities of water, holding back that water until the river level subsides.

It will probably be no surprise that the latest hydrological outlook for the region is that river flows in central and north-eastern England are likely to be ‘above normal for November and over the next three months’.

Even without the effects of the recent flooding, Old Moor staff do try to maintain a deeper level of water in the winter months to benefit a number of species including fish, wildfowl and diving ducks. Deeper water provides protection against winter’s grip, with fewer frozen pools and therefore safer areas for wildlife to feed.

So, that’s the theory. With this morning's cold snap and the temperature below freezing, did it work?

The answer was clearly, yes. Though there was ice around some small puddles, the larger bodies of water were all ice-free!

The autumn spectacle on and behind the Mere today

And the result? Well, SIXTY-ONE species of bird were seen at Old Moor today including: goosander, goldeneye, pochard, shoveler, wigeon and teal!

Surprises today included a goldcrest in the Bird Garden; a barn owl sitting out on one of the reedbed nest boxes; a peregrine on the pylons; a drake pintail on the Field Pool; and five plus bearded tit on the Reedbed Trail.

By anyone’s standards, that is plenty to see!

One other piece of news before I sign off: the path to the Bittern Hide is now open once again. As long as you have wellies or waterproof boots, it is possible for visitors to reach the Bittern Hide and to get an elevated view of the reedbeds and the Mere. Sadly, Green Lane is still impassable for the time being though the flooding there is receding.

Until next time.

  • Interesting read the freezing/non-freezing at OM. 

    Out east of Doncaster today, I noticed large numbers of gulls on the flooded fields resulting from the high levels in the R Don. Thankfully, the river was a bit lower today but there is still quite a bit on the land.