Today Old Moor welcomed the Shropshire Ornithological Society – a group of canny birders who clearly know a good day when they see one!

Here’s the summary of sightings…

Not only were those four waxwings still around, near a certain supermarket, but today a black-necked grebe dropped into the main marsh at Wath Ings. Sadly, views of the grebe weren’t the best largely due to the sheer amount of sunlight reflecting off the water. I know, we are never happy eh? Still, it was great to see this rare bird with its odd, peaked head and golden ‘ear-tufts’.

On the far side of Wath Ings - the black-necked grebe!

In news from the Dearne Valley, at Edderthorpe the red-headed smew was still present along with a pintail, five little egret, four redshank, two oystercatcher and – overhead – a red kite. My thanks to Paul Dennis for those sightings.

At Adwick Washland, Nigel Smith provided a typically comprehensive list that included: six ringed plover, a dunlin, twenty-seven redshank, seven golden plover, two peregrine, two chiffchaff, three sand martin and an Egyptian goose. Nigel’s full tweets can be found here and here. Thanks Nigel.

From Gypsy Marsh, Adam Hutt reported a jack snipe with a group of common snipe. Sadly the bird flew and did not seem to return to the marsh. Eyes on Broomhill or Wombwell anyone?

The Egyptian goose at Adwick from Gary Stones. Thanks Gary.

Back at Old Moor there were more surprises in the form of small groups of sand martin flying through. They came in groups of three; twenty; and, later on, four. Throughout the day eagle-eyed watchers saw these miniature migrants heading northwards over the reserve.

If all that wasn’t enough (yes, there’s more), today a second adult Mediterranean gull arrived. If you remember, these birds bred at Old Moor last year for the first time since 2010. Will this be another good season for them?

One of at least four bittern flights seen by visitors today

A gentle tap on the glass of the ‘species-o-meter’ reveals that there were sixty-five bird species seen at Old Moor today! Spring migration has started at last. Willow warblers will be well on their way now, and how long I wonder until the first swallow returns to the valley?

As ever, watch this space. Until next time.