Well that one certainly blew away any cobwebs! It was a blustery winter’s day in the Dearne Valley today and one where it paid to keep a close eye on those dark clouds. But then, you’re never that far from shelter at Old Moor.

Here is today’s summary of sightings…

I began my visit today with a walk to the Reedbed Hide. Here, along the edge of the meadow, before the path turns a right-angle to the hide, were a mixed flock of thrushes. Mostly redwing and blackbird, but in among them was a single song thrush and – not far away – a solitary fieldfare.

One of the striking redwing on the path to the reedbeds this morning

Close to the corner of this trail, were three bearded tit calling as they worked their way through the reedbed. Later, I was told that two of these crackin’ little birds were “only a few feet from the Screen” today!

Reed bunting feeding in the channels today

The reedbeds may look a little battered at the moment from a succession of storms, but I walked the trail with a visitor who hadn’t been down for a while and was struck by the improvement to this part of the reserve. Apropos of nothing he turned the corner and exclaimed, “O, that’s much better.”

And it is. The fences are gone; new ditches are dug; and channels cut in the reeds, opening up new views.

Praise for much of the vision behind this work should go to Old Moor’s wardening team. So, it was with sadness that we said goodbye to one third of that team today. Karen Williams, Assistant Warden and force of Nature, enjoyed her last day at Old Moor today.

As one wry commentator put it, “Those are big wellies for someone to fill”. Not half! Karen’s cheery outlook, openess, wicked sense of humour and sheer hard graft will be missed by many. Including me. Best of luck with the next chapter mate!

A whistling wigeon on the Field Pool this morning