Despite its being only about 20 miles away from home, it has been getting-on for two years since I last visited the RSPB’s Adwick Washlands reserve in the Dearne Valley, which is roughly midway between Barnsley and Doncaster, and is a satellite reserve of Old Moor.
It was an absolutely beautiful, sunny day today, with the temperature up around 26°c as I parked in the Furlong Road car park and walked along the path onto the reserve. The trees I passed were absolutely packed-full of singing birds. I tried my best to spot some of them, but it was nearly impossible with the trees now sporting their full Summer foliage, so I had to satisfy myself with trying to identify as many as I could by their singing alone. I was able to pick out Blackbird, Robin, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Chaffinch from amongst the chorus around me.
Approaching the start of the first lake, I became aware of a disturbance at the water’s edge; it was a pair of Redshank which were making quite a fuss with their noisy mating-display ritual. Nearby several Avocet were feeding in the shallow water and a variety of waterfowl were also present: Gadwall, Moorhen, Coot and Mallard.
As I continued up the path, a Sedge Warbler started-up its distinctive singing in a tree very close to my location. This time I was lucky-enough to capture a few good photographs of the bird, which was conveniently-perched, well clear of obscuring foliage (for once!).
By the time I had reached the mid-point of the reserve, I was actively scouring the area for any signs of Garganey. I first saw this rare, Summer-visiting duck at Adwick about three years ago, and have seen one only once more, at another reserve. Adwick has been fortunate-enough to have had Garganey visiting each Summer going back several years now, and from the Old Moor blog, I was aware that a pair of them were currently present on the reserve.
A fellow-birder directed me to a particular location on the reserve where he knew the birds had been sighted recently. Within five minutes of arriving at the spot, I did indeed catch a brief view of a handsome pair of Garganey which I was able to photograph, albeit from some distance, before they moved out of view.
I next walked-up the path which leads to the Central Viewing Point on the reserve. Adwick doesn’t have any hides, but the viewing point does afford a good view over a sizeable swathe of the reserve and is a good location for spotting a great variety of birds, given that it overlooks both water and farmland habitats.
At the viewing point today were two RSPB staff members who were doing a census of the birds around the reserve. After reporting my Garganey sightings to them, we got into a discussion about the organisation’s future plans for Adwick, Old Moor, and the RSPB’s latest reserve at Sherwood Forest. I can’t wait to visit the Sherwood Forest reserve, which is currently in preparation for ‘opening its doors’ to the public for the first time later this year, having been told about the rather ‘exotic’ list of bird species the forest has to offer: Common and Black Redstart, Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker, Nightjar and Woodlark – wow! The only one of those five species I’ve ever even seen before is the Common Redstart, and that was a very brief sighting of a distant bird. Let’s hope for exciting birding-times ahead then!
Walking back down the path again, I was treated to three really good sightings: a low-flying Grey Heron, which was beautifully-lit in the sunshine, a fabulous Kestrel which was soaring around just above my head, and a pair of Linnet which were perched on the fence as I passed and which didn’t seem at all perturbed by my presence.
A clear sighting of a lovely Willow Warbler, along with Goldfinch and Dunnock singing in the trees near the path rounded-out my visit to Adwick today. The Dearne Valley is really an exceptionally-good area to visit to watch and photograph birds of so many different species. I am very fortunate to live close to such great reserves.