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"View From The Pit Top"- Latest news from SK58 Birders
Updated 2 July, 2020


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News Archive

29/12/19 A further reminder to submit all your 2019 records to the recorder as soon as you can.

16/12/19 A reminder the January meeting is the groups Annual General Meeting. Currently all organisers are standing for reelection Current post & Incumbents. Although that's not to say we aren't looking for help. We do still have a vacancy for a secretary and Geoff Facer is looking for assistance with organising speakers for our indoor meetings. The AGM is brief and following this Brian Chambers will entertain us with a talk following a recent trip to Mongolia (unsure if Inner or Outer!).

15/12/19 On Saturday night 18 members enjoyed a three course meal at the groups Christmas meal at the Loyal Trooper. As well as the feasting were quizzes testing general knowledge and bird knowledge. A good time was had by all.

Members at the Christmas Meal @ The Loyal Trooper © Andy Hirst

10/12/19 Are you expecting a smart phone for Christmas? Did know SK58 Birders has it's own Bird News Service? We have a "WhatsApp" group dedicated to broadcasting immediate bird news to members. It works on either iPhone and Android phones. Simply search, download and install the free "Whats App" app from the store on your device- then let our Recorder have your mobile phone number. You'll be added to the group, and then you'll receive news and updates on SK58 Birds straight to your phone as well as being able to broadcast to other members, any good birds you find within the square.

11/11/2019 A while ago the reed screen at the side of the hide was destroyed. Thanks to The Conservation Volunteers, a stronger wicker style screen has been erected. Hopefully this will last a bit longer and provide protection from the elements and allow viewing without disturbing the wildlife on the scrape.

Screening @NAPT © Andy Hirst

Screening @NAPT © Andy Hirst

Also the very heavy rainfall has filled up the wader scrape. Lets see how long it lasts!

Wader Scrape @NAPT © Andy Hirst

Wader Scrape @NAPT © Andy Hirst

02/11/2019 Hoopoe at Brancliffe Grange, Turnerwood 30/10/19-01/11/2019
At 06:36 on Thursday 31st October a Hoopoe surfaced on the bird news services, found at Brancliffe Grange near Turnerwood the previous day. This was particularly galling for myself as I was at my parents for most of that day and could have quite easily nipped out. Never sure why a bird found one day is put out the next day- what's the delay? At the time of writing we don't know who the original finder was.

Anyhow the BirdGuides message was relayed to the SK58 What's App group. At work that day, I was unable to go and look for the bird, but during the day images and updates were received from members and visitors. The Hoopoe appeared very relaxed and was feeding at close quarters in the grounds of the hamlet at Brancliffe Grange in bright sunny weather.

That afternoon messages began to come through from a Hoopoe at Brands Lane, Woodsetts. But a final message that day (31st Oct) at 16:23 stated Hoopoe still present at Brancliffe Grange. Much discussion took place that evening over social media over the apparent second bird at Brands Lane, Woodsetts, which is a good few miles from Brancliffe Grange. It was thought an erroneous grid ref had been given and the news services had interpreted Brancliffe Grange as Brands Farm, as it was unlikely to be the same bird commuting such a distance. Later transpired that the news services used both Woodsetts and Shireoaks as the main locations so it would appear on county alerts for both Notts & S Yorks as Brancliffe Grange was right on the county borders, but a little confusing for visiting birders parking up in Woodsetts and being two miles away.

The following morning I was by the farm by 06:30, but the conditions were far from ideal. It was drizzly (heavy rain at times), dark, cold and murky. It took forever for dawn due to the greatly overcast conditions. A paddock looked the most favourable site to scan, plus walking around the path network around the hamlet scanning gardens and fields. After 90 mins the bird had not been located, but to be fair little was moving around. By now I was joined by Tom Marshall & Sarah Bird. We scanned the paddock again and still no sign. By 08:00 I had to depart for work in Bakewell, an hour's drive away. As I began the walk back to my car my phone rang- Tom and Sarah had the bird sat in an open barn window, drop down to the ground and began feeding. Hurriedly I retraced my steps. It appeared we had all turned up before the bird had left its roost in a dry barn, unlike ourselves who had been up hours trudging around in the rain. The bird was actively feeding, but looked bedraggled in the rain. A resident came towards us, pushing the bird our way through a short flight, revealing the broad black and white wings. The Hoopoe took off again and landed on the ledge of an open barn window affording excellent views. At this point I hurridly returned to my car and went to work, Tom & Sarah following a short time later.

There was a message on the news services the previous day about staying on rights of way and to respect resident's privacy. Having watched the bird a local came out and said many birders had been- expecting to hear the worst he was pleasantly complimentary regarding visiting birders and intimated his wife would be bring out refreshments for visiting birders during the day.

During the day reports and images of the bird continued to come through on social media during improving weather. The following day, the 2nd of November there was a report mid- morning stating no sign of the bird. Havng rested and fed well, it was assumed it had left the area. This record astonishingly constitutes the second Hoopoe of the year for SK58, following a fly through bird over Axle Lane on 22nd April, a bird only Mick Clay saw, despite extensive searching by a group of SK58 Birders. I thought that was that and I'd have to wait a very long time before another Hoopoe turned up in the square. Little could I have imagined watching one six months later in the mizzle of a dull November morning down the Chesterfield Canal. Andy Hirst 2nd November 2019

23/10/2019 To save a mad rush at the next indoor meeting, can anyone wishing to go to the Christmas meal in December kindly email their choices to Andy Hirst ASAP, that way at the indoor meeting we only have to collect the money- Many thanks.

19/10/2019 Our Conservation Officer has highlighted that Yorkshire Water have a new CEO, and now would be good time to ask Yorkshire Water to not allow Driven Grouse Shooting (DGS) on their land. The Grouse shooting industry has become very commercialised in recent years, to the point where every possible threat to the Grouse is controlled to maximise Grouse yield- some methods are currently legal (snares when set correctly, and some are not- 67% of wildlife crime prosecutions are against Gamekeepers and allied staff. This persecution against birds of prey in particular has been going on for decades and self regulation has failed.

If you want to write to the CEO and express your views please write or email

Liz Barber, CEO, Yorkshire Water,Western House, Western Way, Bradford, BD6 2SZ

Studies have shown, there available habitat in England should support 300 pairs of Hen Harrier- there are 10-15 only. The stats speak for themselves (stats from RSPB).

18/10/2019 With the demise of "Adobe Flash" on websites- the rotating logo that greeted you when you clicked on the home page has been consigned to history. The rotating logo was on the 'new website' back in the late 90's- so its been revolving and greeting visitors for over 20 years! Its been replaced with a large fixed logo and a line about who SK58 Birders are and the area we cover. I shall miss the old revolving logo.

27/09/2019 We have finalised the details of of the SK58 Christmas dinner. Following a poll amongst members, who overwhelmingly voted for the Loyal Trooper at South Anston, this year's Christmas meal will be held on Saturday 14th December (we had hoped for the 7th, alas fully booked), 1900 for 1930. Menu below. The cost is a very reasonable £17.95 for a three-course meal.

If you would like to go then please let Andy Hirst know your menu choices at the time of booking. Please note bookings/ choices to me no later than the November indoor meeting (27th).

To simplify the payment process, can we take full payment at time of booking, rather than just a deposit. You can drop cash/ cheques off with Jan our Treasurer, or Lyn, our Membership secretary as both can pay money in.

You can pay by bank transfer using account number 19816940, sort code 05-08-58. Just make sure you put your name in the reference box, so we know who's paid!

16/09/2019 Because of holidays, we've cancelled our monthly organisers meeting. However our monthly indoor meeting is going ahead as usual on Wednesday 25th September when Mike Price from the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group will talk to us about the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative.

The results are in! For our 2019 Christmas Meal we surveyed the membership as to where we should go. The clear winner was the Loyal Trooper in South Anston- this our spiritual home. We'll decide on a date soon. We usually have the first weekend in December, but this to be confirmed. Watch this space. There were two surveys- the second was to obtain support to use £2000 of group funds to help towards the overall costs of renovating the scrape at NAPT. The result was an almost unanimous yes. At this stage it's very much in the planning stage, but as and when developments occur, they'll be reported here.

13/09/2019 Unfortunately we've had to cancel our monthly trip (22nd September) as several members are away that weekend, as a result of this there is nobody available to lead it. Apologies form the organisers.

06/09/2019 Our weekend trip to Spurn is going ahead, but will consist two day trips, as we've struggled to find accommodation nearby for a group. We'll be there all weekend, so feel free to come on either/ both days and enjoy this magical east coast birding hot spot. Let Andy Hirst know if you can offer or require a lift for either day.

30/8/2019 Just a reminder to members to send in their records if they find/ record anything of interest whilst out and about. Most members send in their records at the end of the year or end of each month, but it's useful to receive highlights as and when they happen- these are the records we use to keep the website up to date and relevant. You can use one of our monthly forms - this asks for all the relevant details, which can be completed and emailed back or simply email your records to us. Did you know we have a database, which we can give you a copy of. You enter your records then at the end of the year give the recorder a copy of the database. These records can then be uploaded directly into the master database.

28/07/2019 The weather forecast wasn't promising, but eager members met at rspb Frampton Marsh under the lure of White-rumped Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher. Walking down the main path towards the sea wall we scanned the main body of water, which was teeming with birdlife. Amongst the commoner species of wildfowl were good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit stopping off to feed on their way south. A surprise amongst the many Little Grebe were several Black-necked Grebe, with young having bred on the reserve for the first time.

Branching off we went towards the hide, beginning with the 360 hide. This was alive with waders and hundreds, if not thousands of Sand Martins, feeding up before their hazardous journey south. The number of Common Sandpiper was encouraging, with a single flock containing 7 birds. I t was also good to see large numbers of Avocet which appear to be doing very well here with many Green Sandpiper vocally making their presence felt.

From here we continued along the main hide where we had fleeting views of Kingfisher, although everything went up when a rather tatty Marsh Harrier drifted over the reserve looking for a meal. Bizarrely from here we had a female Goldeneye, a winter visitor which had arrived somewhat prematurely as had 2 female type Pintail.

Continuing round we walked atop the sea wall, stopping frequently to gaze at the myriad of waders. Here we picked up Hobby, Yellow Wagtail, a rather distant Short-eared Owl, Greenshank Spoonbill and several Spotted Redshank.

We made our way back towards the visitor centre, stopping for refreshment whilst overlooking the main area not before adding Little Stint & Water Rail to the days growing tally. Following lunch we made our way to the reservoir area. Alas we failed to locate any Turtle Dove on the outward leg, but by chance located a juvenile Turtle Dove on the return leg.

Typically the Long-billed Dowitcher had been relocated near the sea wall while we were as far away as you could get from that location. Walking briskly we retraced our steps to the sea wall, where glimpses of a very brick red bird, smaller than a godwit, gave tantalising views. This flew a short distance, but out of site. We repositioned ourselves on the sea wall. This gave great views of the Long-billed Dowitcher as it actively fed. News came though the White-rumped Sandpiper had been relocated at Freiston shore, but the group decided against making the journey a bit further south.

Retracing our steps slightly back along the sea wall we found small party of Wood Sandpiper- these representing some up on the unusually large numbers currently passing through the UK. We also added Whimbrel & Turnstone to the list as well as Wigeon and Knot. We returned wearily to the car park, having been out all day and recorded in excess of 81 species, declaring it a very successful day, we headed back home, eagerly awaiting out next jaunt here.

Geoff Facer, Mick Clay & Alfie Bloor @ rspb Frampton © Andy Hirst

19/07/2019 We're currently planning our now annual weekend to Spurn in October. Dates haven't been finalised yet, but probably the first or second weekend in October. Accommodation will probably be at Roos. Let Andy know if you want to go. We usually go early on Saturday morning, bird around Spurn, then head off to the accommodation (pub) and a have a meal in the evening- returning to the Spurn area the following day and head back home late afternoon. The accommodation is in chalets at the rear of the Roo's Arms and are new, but limited availability so we'll be booking soon!

17/07/2019 Following the attack on the hide, the South Yorkshire Community Woodlands volunteers have carried out repairs and have done a cracking job in not only repairing the damage, but given the hide a lick of paint too!

Hide repairs & painting @ NAPT © South Yorkshire Community Woodlands

02/07/2019 Today we received news that one of the Mute Swans at Langold Lake has been shot. At this moment in time we have no further news, so we don't know if it's wounded or killed.

26/06/2019 We've had a report from Geoff Facer, the hide at NAPT has been vandalised. It appears initially to be superficial, in so much as the notice board and some of the exterior cladding has been ripped off. The superstructure of the hide is a converted metal container, so pretty robust. If you see any vandalism, please do let us know. We might not already know about it. We tend to find vandalised sites attract more vandalism, so we hope this will be quickly repaired.

We've also had a reports from Gateford member Richard Platts, saying the lake at Gateford is now fully accessible and the temporary fencing has been removed. This looks a cracking little lake, which we hope will pull in a few migrants.

Gateford Lake @ Gateford © Richard Platts

Gateford Lake- wide angle @ Gateford © Richard Platts

24/06/2019 A reminder- our monthly walk, Wednesday 26th June- Nightjars- An evening trip to the Budby/ Clumber area looking for Nightjars, Woodcock and hopefully Long-eared Owl. 1900 at the Loyal Trooper car park. Leader: Andy Murray.

23/05/2019 Mick Clay our Conservation Officer, has acquired 45 more trees and would like a hand planting them along Axle Lane again. He's organised a Tree Planting session for Saturday 25th May, meet 1330 at Axle Lane. Bring a spade/ shears if you have them.

During the organisers meeting last night we discussed proposals put forward by our new Membership Development Officer Paul Bloor to promote the group and boost membership. We are acutely aware we have an ageing membership, so in a bid to address this Paul has come up with a strategy plan beginning with a poster campaign. I'm sure Paul would welcome any help with distributing these when designed and printed. Click here to email Paul.

07/05/2019 Just a reminder to those who haven't paid their subs this year, they fell due in April. If you haven't renewed, and wish to do so please contact Lyn Facer. Further information on our Join Us page.

29/04/2019 Yesterday nine members made the pilgrimage to the migration Mecca that is Spurn Point. The weather didn't look promising and upon arrival waterproof and windproof jackets were required. First part of our visit was undertaken along Beacon Lane. Here were good numbers of Whitethroat and several Lesser Whitethroat singing/ displaying from the dense cover. Towards Beacon Ponds were 2 lingering Brent Goose, as well Gadwall, Shelduck, Greylag Goose, 3 Common Sandpiper & a Greenshank. The sheep field held Wheatear and several Yellow Wagtail, feeding on insects disturbed by the sheep. Detouring to the Sounding Dish and on to Kilnsea Wetlands we had brief views of Short-eared Owl, as well as Buzzard over.

Peninsular @ Spurn © Andy Hirst

At Kilnsea Wetlands, the new hide offered much more room, from which we saw good numbers of Avocet, several Wigeon, 25+ Redshank and a smattering of other common birds. From here we checked out the new extension to Kilnsea Wetlands where we had 12 Curlew and 10 stunning Bar-tailed Godwit in summer plumage and Short-eared Owl, flushed from the dike. Then returning to the Bluebell area for much needed lunch. After lunch we ventured south to the Warren and then back up to cover the Triangle area. The tide was well in and the waders put on quite a show. Although the Triangle was pretty quiet, with little in the scrub/ hedges along the way, save for a few Reed Bunting and the addition of Sedge Warbler to the days list. Towards the Crown & Anchor, we picked several Grey Plover. By now the weather was much improved- the sun was shining, blue skies and a definite rise in temperature.

SK58 Birders @ Spurn © Andy Hirst

The final destination of the day, was the short drive to Sammy's Point. More Whitethroat greeted us as we checked out the scrub here. A female Ring Ouzel flew over as did a female Merlin, plus Grasshopper Warbler, adding to the days tally. Returning back to the cars we picked up a stunning male Redstart and male Marsh Harrier. These a fitting end to a great days birding at Spurn.

Sedge Warbler @ Spurn © John Gallagher

04/04/2019 You may have seen on the news, the practice of netting hedges and trees to prevent birds nesting to allow building development to take place. A hedge in Carlton in Lindrick, opposite the Co-op on the main A60, had such a hedge netted. Avant homes have permission to build on the site and had netted a section of hedgerow to prevent birds nesting, as this was to be the main access for the development. This caused quite a bit of upset locally, as the netting was poorly erected. Although centrally the netting was intact, both ends were open so birds could enter, but then be unable to escape. This was tantamount to illegal trapping.

Our Conservation Officer was quickly on the case and contacted Bassetlaw Planning Department to find out more. In the meantime the netting was removed by persons unknown. The developers moved in within two days (the day after we contacted Bassetlaw) and took out the section of hedge and began work, with our Conservation Officer on site. Walking around outside the immediate area of development, he did find two Lapwing nests with eggs and pointed these out to the developer's staff on site.

The netting of habitats is becoming more widespread and at best is sharp practice. If you come across any netting please check to ensure it is secure with no open ends, gaps, rips etc... that birds could enter through and also check to see if there are any birds trapped inside. Unless we hear otherwise we suggest contacting the RSPCA (Tel: 0300 1234 999) for advice on what to do if you discover birds trapped in this way.

02/04/2019 Just playing around with the database- there have been 148 species of bird recorded at North Anston Pit Top since the database was created in 1999. That's a pretty impressive tally at what is in effect a colliery spoil heap. Sweepstake on what the 150th species will be? Cetti's Warbler, Great White Egret?

25/03/2019 The field trip on March 24th was to RSPB St. Aidan's with 8 members in attendance.
The weather was dry and mainly sunny but with a cold westerly wind. The first job was to find the Little Owl(s) that nest in the dragline. One soon obliged.

SK58 Birders testing the water @ St Aidans © Pete Kenworthy

Walking down from the field centre, 30 Whooper Swans were seen on the flooded ridge and furrow along with many Greylag Geese and Canada Geese. A small flock of geese flew over our heads and settled on the hillside pasture giving us excellent views of half a dozen Pink-footed Geese and a single Bean Goose. On Astley Lake were 2 Avocets and 2 Oystercatchers and a small flock of Sand Martins feeding over the water with a Red Kite overhead. Around the wooded perimeter path Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap were singing and flock of House Martins were overhead.

Massive excavator @ St Aidans © Pete Kenworthy

Cutting back through the reedbeds, 4 pairs of Black-necked Grebes were found along with a drake Red-crested Pochard whilst 2 or 3 Bitterns were booming. Small passerines were hard to find in the strong wind but the group returned a total of 57 species (Geoff Facer).

Black-necked Grebe @ St Aidans © John Gallagher

16/03/2019 At NAPT the willows between Bluebell Wood Hospice and the sewage works have been removed- this should open the site up more and attract a few more species. Plus a seat has been installed at the top of the hill behind the hide- this should prove useful for migration watching if anyone cares to get up early! Also, the scrape has some water in it, so as of the weekend of 23/03/2019, the group will commence wardening the hide between 0800-1100 Saturday mornings.

Cleared Willows @ NAPT © Andy Hirst

New bench above hide, ideal for viz-migging @ NAPT © Andy Hirst

11/03/2019 It's not taken our Conservation Officer long to get stuck into jobs this year! Below the wader scrape at NAPT following works organised by Mick Clay, to reinstate clear areas for Little Ringed Plover to nest. The scrape had become overgrown and unsuitable, with no bird breeding plovers here for two years.

Wader Scrape cleared for LRP @ NAPT © Mick Clay

Wader Scrape cleared for LRP @ NAPT © Andy Hirst

Mick has been out again, this time with new Membership Development Officer Paul Bloor & his son Alfie. For Christmas Alfie didn't want the latest Xbox game or a new phone, no Alfie wanted some trees so he could plant them! So Alfie & Paul, along with Conservation Officer Mick Clay set to and planted the mix of 65 trees along the wall at Axle Lane. Well done all, especially Alfie!

Paul Bloor & Alfie Bloor tree planting @ Axle Lane © Mick Clay

20/02/2019 The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) have been busy again at NAPT. They've replaced the fencing by the hide, between the gate and the corner of the hide. This should act as a clear deterrent that it's out of bounds- Wildlife Only!

New fence @ NAPT (Dinnington Community Woodland) © TCV (The Conservation Volunteers).

17/02/2019 "Beautiful walk round Shireoaks Pit Top"

All photos @ Shireoaks © Pete Kenworthy

04/02/2019 At the end of January the group held it's indoor meeting & AGM. The AGM was brief and all the current post holders were reelected (click here to see who carries which role). We were delighted to elect Mick Clay to the role of Conservation Officer and Paul Bloor to the role of Membership Development Officer. Following the reports from the various group organisers Geoff Facer gave the group a wader ID masterclass, which seemed a popular format of question and answers, using various audio visual props. Something I'm sure we'll do again. We also welcomed six new members to the group.

22/01/2019 In an attempt to encourage Peregrines to nest in the area, Mick Clay constructed a nesting platform and sought permission to place it on the parapet at the church in South Anston. On Sunday several members helped Mick put the platform in position. Lets hope they make use of it!

Narrow stairway up the tower
Bells in tower dated 1871


Peregrine platform
South Anston Church

Mick & John
Mick placing platform in position


View >NW
View >SE

Graveyard from parapet- all photos © Andy Hirst

14/01/2019 We heard today that planning consent has been given for Firbeck Hall. Details of the development into apartments along with planning conditions/plans etc... can be found here

01/01/2019 A HAPPY NEW YEAR! A reminder the group holds it's AGM at the 30th January indoor meeting. Anyone wishing to stand or offer help with the running of the group should let the recorder- Andy Hirst know prior the the AGM. We currently have several positions to fill, covering the Secretary's role and Publicity/ Membership Development. And of course any help with general tasks would be greatly appreciated.

A further reminder to submit all of your 2018 records to the Recorder ASAP, so we can correlate and pass them on to the YNU. We have a database which you can use to enter your records, or an Excel spreadsheet, which means we can input your records directly in to the groups master database. However records are welcome in any format.

We've reviewed the list of species which require descriptions and have removed Marsh Harrier from this list. Given the increase of this species around SK58 (Idle Valley, Potteric etc...) the number of records will no doubt increase, making Marsh Harrier less scarce locally.

25/12/2018 Did you receive a smart phone for Christmas? Did know SK58 Birders has it's own Bird News Service? We have a "WhatsApp" group dedicated to broadcasting immediate bird news to members. It works on either iPhone and Android phones. Simply search, download and install the free "Whats App" app from the store on your device- then let our Recorder have your mobile phone number. You'll be added to the group, and then you'll receive news and updates on SK58 Birds straight to your phone as well as being able to broadcast to other members, any good birds you find within the square.

17/12/2018 Mick Clay informs us the farmer has planted 3 larger trees at Axle Lane and will look again in the spring to see if he needs to plant anymore. If you recall an overzealous employee chopped down all the trees the group planted a few years ago (scroll down for full story).

Don't forget at the January indoor meeting, we hold our brief AGM. At this moment in time, all the current incumbents in the various roles are willing to stand for another year. However we do have several vacancies within the group, so if you are interested in possibly becoming our Secretary, Publicity/ Membership Development Officer, or simply wish to offer some time towards group activities and events, then do please let Andy Hirst know before the AGM, ideally before the Organisers meeting on the 23rd January so we can ensure you make your intentions known at the AGM.

08/12/2018 Once again SK58 Birders have contributed a tree to the South Anston Methodist Church Tree & Light Festival. And once again, thanks to Susan Parker and Paul Tennyson we have adorned a tree, plus an environmental message reflecting the groups interests. click here for further details and opening times to view the trees and lights.

SK58 Christmas tree @ South Anston Methodist Church© Allan Parker ASP

A group focused on recording the bird life of a single 10km square between Sheffield, Rotherham & Worksop

content & design by Andy Hirst