Welcome to VIEW FROM THE SHED, a new blog from the RSPB's Old Moor reserve in South Yorkshire. I'm Volunteer Shaun and each week I'll be providing my views, be they sightings around the reserve or my opinions based on them. They're my views and mine alone. I hope you enjoy them.

Come and have a chat with me at Old Moor's entrance courtyard. I'm there a few days each week. I'm the 'big-boned' guy with the big hat who you'll meet in front of the wooden shed as you arrive. Along with our other volunteers, I spend my day greeting visitors and pointing out what they might see on their visit to Old Moor – and they usually see a lot.

The current issue of Bird Watching magazine says that our reserve “offers some of the best birdwatching in Britain” and calls the surrounding Dearne Valley “an area not to be missed”. I agree with that 100% but then again I'm biased, having lived close by for over thirty years. I've seen it progress from industrial wasteland to the magnificent home for nature that it is today, a calming oasis and birdwatching haven for adults, as well as providing plenty to educate and entertain our younger conservationists of the future.

If you've never been before, come and see for yourself why this former mining area is so special. You won't be disappointed, unless you come to see a specific bird and you're particularly unlucky. We can't guarantee anything. Life – and birdwatching in particular – is like that.

At the end of this and every one of these blogs you'll find an up-to-date picture of our sightings board. This will show you what has been seen at Old Moor over the last few days. The actual whiteboard is located on the side of our Welcome Shed. I see some visitors ignore it as they wave their membership cards at me and hurry past onto the reserve 'proper'. But why the rush? Why not take a moment to look around the entrance drive and courtyard, and the skies above them? The birds certainly don't recognise the boundaries of our reserve fences. In just the last few days I've seen BITTERN, BARN OWL, SPARROWHAWK, PEREGRINE, REDWING and MARSH HARRIER in flight, all without moving a couple of steps away from my greeting area. I dipped out on the several WHOOPER SWAN flyovers though. Maybe next time.

So when you next visit Old Moor, make sure you take in everything around you as you enter the reserve. Stop for a chat with the friendly Welcome Volunteers. And definitely check out the latest sightings board. It currently looks like this...


  • Very true. There’s always birds buzzing about the entrance pathways and welcome hut and, over to the Tree Sparrow Farm area. Whenever I visit a reserve, I always check out their sightings board so I know what to expect and how to plan my visit.