RSPB Dearne Valley – Old Moor

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I spent a magical spring morning meandering along the various pathways through the wetlands and sitting comfortably in the various hides alternatively spotting and photographing the birds: swan, geese, gulls, cormorants, coots, lapwing and various ducks. It was great fun watching a pair of little grebes whizzing about as if motorised, bobbing beneath the water and popping up again several yards away. In the far distance I was able to spot a pair of great crested grebes performing their magical mating dance, beak to beak, lifting their heads and stretching up their necks in unison. A chilly wind blew up so after a great cup of tea and coffee and walnut cake served by friendly staff in the spacious cafe, I settled into the hide in the bird garden watching a tiny wren building its nest, whilst a variety of finches, collared doves, and a reed bunting took turns on the feeders. I didn't see the male bullfinch and did not see or hear the bittern boom, so I'm planning a return visit soon. I couldn't leave without browsing in the shop where I picked up a large bird feeder to replace one of my aging, wind-battered collection that cracked in recent storms. If you are new to bird-watching, or aiming to replace aging equipment, the shop carries an excellent stock of books, guides, binoculars and scopes as well as bird feeders, seeds and gifts. I visited on a weekday when it was relatively quiet. Check their website for the various activities run for families such as pond dipping and bat walks. One of the hides is specially designed for families. As a member of the RSPB, I am able to enjoy free entry into their Reserves but the entrance fee was only £4.00 or £2.00 for children over 5 and concessions. There is plentiful free parking and all the paths were accessible by wheelchair. They even have outdoor mobility scooters available to borrow for free.

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