Today I visited Dearne Valley, Old Moor RSPB reserve in South Yorkshire for the first time. I only had an hour or so to spare on the reserve itself but did manage to see a good selection of birds while there.
The place was alive with waders and wildfowl. Among the former were green and common sandpiper, greenshank, spotted redshank, ruff, ringed plover, golden plover, dunlin and even a turnstone.
The in-residence spoonbill put in an appearance, as did a little egret and I even got to see the back of a juvenile night heron's head. This bird has been around for a few weeks now and has been frequently playing hard to get, so I was pleased to have even shoddy views of the bird during my whistle-stop tour!
Once again I spent a good few hours trawling around the patch yesterday morning in the hope of turning up something autumnal. Unfortunately the blustery westerly winds were doing their best to make it feel like a total waste of time.
And to be honest, it just about was.
I could only find 2 green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools and none elsewhere around Aldcliffe. A few snipe were spotted here and there but otherwise it was a relatively wader-less vista. Of course the lapwing and curlew numbers continue to build up on the marsh and a handful of golden plover can be found here and there but there was no sign of anything off-passage.
There were still good numbers of phylloscs moving through and both chiffchaff and willow warblers were seen and heard all along the cycle track hedgerows.
The only thing really of note was a kingfisher that flew out from the trackside ditch near reedy corner and onto the Wildfowlers' Pools.
Up at Freeman's Pools coot numbers have started to increase notably, and wildfowl included 4 wigeon along with the expected mallard and teal.
It's a shame that mere anecdotal 'evidence' and a lack of basic predator/prey relationship understanding can help influence such Draconian thinking. If you wish to see just how keen this lot are on saving songbirds, have a look at their website and see what scientific papers and extensive research you can find to support a nationwide cull of raptors (good luck).
I'm not against pigeon racing particularly, nor am I especially for it, and I appreciate that it must be galling to have a prize bird scoffed by a wild predator but I find using the rather disingenuous argument that raptors are responsible for the decline in songbirds extremely frustrating. Not only does this theory have more holes in it than a secondhand dartboard but it also tries to patronisingly disguise the real reason that the RPRA are calling for the destruction of wild birds of prey; to protect their precious pigeons.