There’s no getting away from it – Old Moor was much changed today. The recent rains have altered the shape of the place. Green Lane is underwater beyond Field Pool West, as are the paths to the Bittern Hide and sections of the Reedbed Trail. Nevertheless, with a bit of ingenuity, much of the reserve can still be seen!

Here is the sightings summary…

But before we return to Old Moor, let’s start with Wombwell Ings and specifically the ‘Fleets’ – the area between Wombwell Ings and Broomhill Flash. Yes, you read that correctly, this afternoon two, first winter snow bunting were seen here!

I’m pretty sure the stats will be have been checked even as I type, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that I you’d have to go a fairly long way back in the records to find other sightings of snow bunting in the Dearne Valley!

Sadly the two were only picked up at about three o’clock. So, with little over an hour of light left, there was quite a scramble to see the pair before dark. Those that did, reported that both birds were still there as the sun set at 16.20.

The path to the Bittern Hide!

Back at Old Moor, the Reedbed Trail was only visible from the ‘Bus Stop’ today but nonetheless, five bearded tit were picked up briefly and at least one Cetti’s warbler was singing in the reeds to the left of the Bittern Hide.

Both the Café balcony and the Family Hide were good places to see onto the Mere and beyond. There two drake goldeneye and a single green sandpiper were recorded. Of note was an increase in the number of great crested grebe, attracted by the deeper water no doubt.

Always check those hedges!

And talking of which, eagle-eyed watchers spotted white painted posts around Old Moor that seemed to have appeared from nowhere. These are markers placed by the wardening staff to gauge the flood. The posts mark the extent of the water and show whether it is receding or increasing.

Visitors who can remember the floods of 2007 will recall that it happened as a result of two periods of intense rain. First the water level rose, and then it rose again. So, if you are visiting Old Moor at the moment, keep an eye on those water markers – and the weather forecast!

The view from Field Pool West today!

But it’s not all gloom. Many of Old Moor’s familiar species are still there - just moved to unfamiliar areas. There was even enough warmth today to encourage those last remaining dragonflies to take wing. In the case of the common darters, some were still mating!

Observant visitors today might have also noticed small, square rafts around the place with apples fixed to them. These are there to encourage sightings of water vole (who famously can’t resist a windfall) and who may have been displaced by the floods. And at least one of these charming and scarce mammals was seen today.  - Keep an eye on those rafts folks!

A great spotted woodpecker on its way to the Bird Garden this afternoon

And sadly, that’s it for this evening. Four hides may be inaccessible at present but there is still plenty to see and a whole new landscape to admire. Set those alarms early – sunrise is 07.21 and you never know, those snow buntings may still be there!

Until next time.