Old Moor – 28 Sep 2017

It was a beautiful, sunny, late-Summer day today and I was lucky enough to be able to spend an hour at Old Moor this afternoon.

With only an hour available to me, I had to choose between Green Lane and the Reedbed Trail. I was quite tempted by the Reedbed Trail because Kingfishers and Bearded Tits are still showing well from the Bittern and Reedbed Hides respectively, but, in the end it was Green Lane with its plethora of choices that won out. Being a big fan of waders, in particular, the Main Mere and the hides along Green Lane that serve it are an almost irresistible draw for me.

Grey Heron

A Grey Heron fishing near Wath Ings Hide

I called-in at the Family Hide first of all. As I sat down at the windows overlooking the mere, I immediately noticed that the water levels had sunk quite a bit since my last visit. The mud at the front of the hide is nicely exposed now, and looks ideal for waders. No longer dominated by Black Headed Gulls by this time of year, the predominant species here today was Lapwing – loads of them – and although they can make quite a racket in large numbers, they’re nowhere near as noisy as the gulls! A large number of Canada Geese were also present on the mere, and today only a single Cormorant was sunning itself on the rocks near the hide; normally, there are several of these strange, prehistoric-looking birds perched on the rocks here, drying out their wings.

Next, I walked up Green Lane, hearing a good many small birds singing in the trees as I went. Alas, as usual, the birds are much easier to hear than to see, let-alone take photographs of!

From Field Pool East, I could see my first Wigeon of the Autumn; a group of them were scratching about in the grass at the margins of the Main Mere. As I looked along to my left, I could make out a smallish wader amongst a large group of Lapwing. I decided I would see it much better from Wath Ings Hide, so I quickly relocated up there.

The hide was quite full, on my arrival, and there was some excited chatter going-on from the birders gathered there; they had also spotted the bird I had seen from Field Pool East, and it was a Curlew Sandpiper. I hadn’t seen one of those for quite some time and so I was pleased to take a few images of what turned  out to be a pair of them. Later-on, after I had departed, a total of three of them were reported on the blog later in the evening.

Another good sighting I had today, was of a number of Ruff, looking resplendent in the sunshine. I was very surpised when a fellow birder informed me that a recent count had found some 55 Ruff on the Main Mere – a record number for Old Moor.

The afternoon sunshine was just perfect as I realised a Grey Heron was fishing in the shallow water very close to my position. Over the next ten minutes or so, as I watched the bird, it caught several small fish, and then one fairly large one that I was able to identify as a perch. The bird was in no immediate rush to swallow its prey, and I was able to fire-off a sequence of images, with the unfortunate victim desperately-wriggling in the Heron’s beak, before it disappeared down the bird’s gullet. ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’, is an Alfred Lord Tennyson quotation that frequently comes to mind when I watch predatory birds catching and dispatching their prey. I know they’re only doing what comes naturally to them, but Herons, seem to be particularly and ruthlessly-efficient killers, who effortlessly catch and swallow a large variety of birds, fish and amphibians.

Heron with Perch

A writhing perch, soon to be no more…

Time was against me, so I made my way back to the car park, pleased with my visit once again. Old Moor never disappoints.

About Alan Gordon

I am a retired teacher and former RAF Musician. I live near Sheffield and enjoy taking photographs of wild birds throughout the UK.
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