Old Moor – 19 Apr 2018

It was Old Moor that I visited today, on a scorching hot day. The temperature was up about 28°C and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was only about four weeks ago that we had heavy snow – what a contrast!

There were birds singing everywhere at Old Moor today; the mere was resounding to the raucous cacophony of hundreds and hundreds of Black Headed Gulls, (which have taken over every island on the main Mere, as per usual during their breeding season), and there were lots of small birds calling from the trees and bushes up Green Lane. I heard: Robin, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Willow Warbler and Blackcap for definite, and possibly some others too. I would have liked to have been able to add Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler to that list, but alas, not today.

Chaffinch

This Chaffinch was enjoyng the afternoon sunshine

I started my visit in the family Hide today, and surveyed the massed Black Headed Gulls first of all – what an absolute racket they make! There were a few other birds around: a couple of Tufted Ducks out on the water, and a lone, Lesser Black Backed Gull which was patrolling the mere, trying to avoid being harried by the smaller BH Gulls.

Moving to the Field Pool West Hide, I was amazed to discover how high the water levels currently are at Old Moor. The shore of the mere farthest from the hide was at least 150 yards farther away than usual, with no sign of the ‘beach’ that is usually there. The grasslands that are usually present are currently completely submerged.

A couple of Gadwall and a Little Grebe entertained me for a while, but it was just too hot to stay long in this hide today, with the sunshine streaming straight in the window!

Next I walked further up Green Lane and decided to visit Field Pool East Hide. Here the stars of the show today were a fabulous pair of Shelduck which were on the water, near the front of the hide. They looked great in the lovely sunshine as they lazily swam circles around each other. Not behaving with quite the same level of decorum were a trio of Coot, which were having something of a disagreement about who’s girlfriend was who’s, (or something like that!). With both male and female Coot having identical plumage, it was difficult to tell one from the other, and the spat, although brief, was quite ferocious while it lasted. In the end, one bird gave up the contest and swam off. Peace and calm returned to the Mere!

From Wath Ings Hide, I watched a drake Gadwall bathing and preening himself for at least fifteen minutes. There were a number of female Gadwall around, so I can only hope his endeavours met with their approval!

Next I visited the Wader Scrape Hide, which was once again, dominated by Black Headed Gulls. A few other birds were around, most noticeably a Cormorant which was fishing between the islands of the Mere, and a lone Canada Goose which was sitting-tight on its nest on a small island, which was otherwise covered in BH Gulls. I couldn’t help but wonder what the Canada Goose thought of its noisy neighbours! I can’t see the birds having a very easy time of it when they have a number of goslings to look after on this tiny, hopelessy-crowded island which was only about 20-30 square meters in size!

Magpie

“Oi mate, are you even listening to me?”

I spent a few minutes in the bird garden before I left Old Moor today, during which tine I photographed a few Chaffinches, a pair of Bullfinches and a Reed Bunting visiting the feeders.

A visit to Old Moor is always worthwhile. Next time I visit, I must head round the Reedbed Trail for a change – I’ll probably have more chance of seeing my favourite warblers amongst the reedbeds. I’ve read that the resident Bitterns are booming there nicely just now, and the Bearded Tits have been showing themselves recently. What more incentive would I need than that?

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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