It was yet another squally day in the Dearne Valley though there were some periods of spring-like sunshine too. With March only four days away, it seems that this year winter is reluctant to leave.

Here is today’s summary of sightings…

At Old Moor, most of the sightings came from the Wader Scrape today. Here once again an adult Caspian gull was recorded. Sadly, it wasn’t around for my visit but the larger gulls do seem to come and go quite frequently. That said, the solitary great black backed gull was there once again together with a striking pair of lesser black-backs and hundreds of black-headed gulls.

Black-headed pestering a smart, lesser black-backed gull this afternoon

The oystercatchers fed on the softened bank between the Mere and the Wader Scrape and seemed to be finding rich pickings here.

Not only were there more goldeneye about today but they were far more active. The drakes were displaying throughout the day. Their short flights around the Mere happened regularly - whatever the weather.

Shelduck were back on again and, though all the duck species were present still, there were noticeably fewer wigeon and teal.

I’ll finish up tonight with a view of one of the oddest ducks found in the valley at present – the shoveler. With a feeding action somewhere between a spoonbill and a platypus, there is fossil evidence that this species has been around for at least 200,000 years.

In the photo above, at the base of the bill, you can just make out those extraordinary ‘lamellae’ – the scientific term for the small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill that act like sieves. These allow the bird to skim for small insects, crustaceans, molluscs and seeds.

Until next time.