SK58 BirdersSK58 Birders

"View From The Pit Top"- Latest news from SK58 Birders
Updated 5 January, 2021


Join Us


email SK58 Birders


© SK58 Birders 2024

est. 1992

website est. 1996


News Archive

25/12/2020 Mick Clay reported he picked up this character (Black-headed Gull - see below), from the main road in Thurcroft, after stopping the traffic to retrieve him/ her. Mick suspected it had been clipped by a car, but after resting in the warm and dry, was successfully released at Axle Lane the following morning.

Black-headed Gull recovered @ Thurcroft © Mick Clay

17/12/2020 January usually sees the group hold its AGM. Currently all meetings are limited to 6 people outside. However we'll let technology solve the issue and hold our first ever online AGM. The rules will still apply, we'll need a quorum of 15 members, and organisers will give reports. Details of how to attend and log on will be emailed out to members. As usual if you wish to stand for any post, then do let any of the organisers know ASAP. Currently there is a vacancy for Secretary.

16/12/2020 We hit a milestone today- the SK58 Records Database now holds over 200,000 records. Mick Clay left a 'dollop' of records which took us over the 200,000 mark. We won't know the exact figure just yet as we'll have to rinse out any duplicates.

08/12/2020 Thieves acquired a case of OCD by neatly parking the vans they stole and subsequently torched, in Harry Croft's Quarry recently.

Burnt out vans @ Harry Croft's Quarry © Mick Clay

07/12/2020 An easing of lockdown and return to tier 3, and the resumption of SK58 walks, following guidelines, saw three members walking along the mineral line at Dinnington to Thurcroft Pit Top. The weather was far from ideal, being wet and murky. But undeterred the group made their way along the old railway line. Along the line were good numbers of winter thrushes, particularly a lot more Blackbird than usual. A couple of Buzzard and some finch & tit flocks entertained the group as well as 3 Treecreeper, plus a Cormorant over and 2 Common Gull. Plenty of Bullfinch with 4 along the Mineral line and a flock of 8 at Thurcroft Pit Top. Also here were 12 Herring Gull, 8 Black-headed Gull and a Great Black-backed Gull, as well as 5 Snipe and a pair of Stonechat and an impressive 100+ Lesser Redpoll feeding on seed heads Walking back towards the Mineral Line, we flushed a Woodcock, topped off by a festive tree!

SK58 Birders @ Mineral Line © Andy Hirst

21/11/2020 With a different Christmas on the cards for 2020, something's never change, and that includes an SK58 Christmas Quiz. See Below- answers to by 23rd December- there is a terrific prize!

What are the proper names of these birds which have been known (or still are) by the following local or folk names?

1. Bull o' the mire / Bog drum.
2. Calloo / Coal-and-candlelight.
3. Chiswick flyover.
4. Coulter neb.
5. Devil-diver / Water witch.
6. Firetail.
7. Furze wren.
8. Goggle-eyed plover.
9. Gorse hopper.
10. Heather bleat.
11. Pyewipe.
12. Rain bird.
13. Rain goose.
14. Red-headed linnet.
15. Scribble lark.
16. Singing skyrocket / Nettle creeper.
17. Woodcock pilot.
18. Blue hawk.
19. Screamer of the woods.
20. Summer snipe.

In the early 20th century, what was the lowest number of breeding Red Kites in Britain feared to be?

17/11/2020 With the long winter nights ahead of us, I know, depressing isn't it. One thing we can do is look at developing the website, as it too dark to go birding after work. There is already a lot of information there, from site information to records and group information. Is there anything you'd like to see on the website or laid out differently? Do let our recorder know, your suggestion or idea maybe something we can incorporate as we develop the website over the winter. Don't be afraid, any suggestions welcome.

05/11/2020 Thurcroft Pit Top- Mick Clay visited recently and emailed the following. "They have also filled in more land to the north west and are putting up fencing on the south side, which could prevent access to the site of the existing pit top unless you turn left by the horse paddocks when you first enter the site from the road. They have also cut most of the grass down." The land is designated to be processed, so nothing to be done. Looks like we are losing another once great site.

02/11/2020 Following on from the governments national lockdown announcement, we've reluctantly cancelled our planned November walks. However at this time, subject to any changes to the month long lockdown, our December walks are still going a head. Keep up to date on our News & Events pages. If you have any questions or queries, then please contact any one of the group organisers.

27/10/2020 The organisers held a video meeting last week. We decided to review our indoor meetings later in the year, with the possibility of holding an online AGM in January. However, we have received positive feedback in relation to running our walks, so after a review, we’ve planned walks to the year end- subject to any changing Covid restrictions.

17/10/2020 As we submit group information to the "Birdwatchers Yearbook" (BYB), we are given a discount on the purchase price. Normally it's £19, and is a wealth of articles, reserves information,guides, groups, tables and logs, etc... in effect the 'Birders Bible. Its worth £19, but our contributors discount means as members we can purchase this useful tome for just £16 post free. If any member would like a copy, then let Andy Hirst know by the end of November and we'll send in a bulk order.

14/10/2020 Paul, our Chairperson, received an interesting letter from our local MP recently...

Letter of support from Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford

28/09/2020 Following a trip to Spurn last week, Geoff & Lyn Facer sent in a picture of the plaque, on the memorial bench in memory of the late "Big Phil" Ridsdale, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Plaque in memory of Big Phil Ridsdale @ Spurn Observatory © Geoff & Lyn Facer

26/09/2020 Perhaps the most bizarre record we received! A Manx Shearwater picked up in Woodsetts in the early hours by a milkman on the 8th September- this coming to us via Twitter & Facebook. An amazing record of a Manx Shearwater sat in the middle of the road between Dinnington & Woodsetts, picked up by an early morning milkman at around 0200. We believe it was taken into care and to the Butterfly House at Anston, before being taken by the RSPCA in Merseyside. An amazing first for SK58.

Manx Shearwater @ in care per Gareth Picton & Alfie Bloor

So what will the 200th SK58 species be? Big question, as we stand on the brink of 200 species. Suggestions include Cattle Egret, Spoonbill and Cetti's Warbler, but there's always the unexpected(see above)!

29/08/2020 The regular monthly Monday walk around Langold Lake has changed from Monday 14th September to Tuesday 15th September.

21/08/2020 On Wednesday night the group organisers held a video conference call to discuss how we proceed with group activities until the year end and beyond. Given that all group activities had been cancelled from initial lockdown due to CV19 in March- through to September. It was discussed and agreed as follows:

  • Indoor Meetings cancelled until the year-end- first indoor meeting will be the AGM on Wednesday 27th January 2021 (subject to restrictions in place at the time).
  • Field Trips- to resume local trips in September with restrictions in place (see Events). It was agreed to attend a walk, members should:
    • 1). Book in advance with the walk leader and not just turn up, so we can manage numbers in accordance with current guidance (currently a maximum of 6).If you turn up without booking, you may be turned away!.
    • 2). Leave contact phone numbers for track and trace purposes.
    • 3). Advise walk leader if they subsequently develop symptoms/ test positive for CV19. If such contact is made the walk leader to advise other walk participants, they need to self-isolate for 2 weeks.
  • Subscriptions- these were held from April but will commence from 1st Jan 2021. So subs for 2021 will need paying from January. Any subscriptions paid in early 2020 will be carried over to 2021 as a goodwill gesture.
  • Christmas Social- to be cancelled, with the option of a post CV19 meal/ picnic in the spring.

18/08/2020 At the end of March we had to convey the tragic news that member Philip Ridsdale had passed away. To commemorate"Big Phil's" love of all things natural history and to celebrate his life, a memorial bench constructed by Spurn regulars, will be unveiled at his beloved, almost second home of Spurn, at the observatory. This will take place on Saturday 12th September at 1700. Anyone who knew Phil and wishes to go along will be very welcome.

28/07/2020 To say it's been a challenging year so far, is a bit of an understatement. As I write, we appear to be over the worst and dare I say, looking forward to an excellent, unhindered autumn migration given the majority of the spring migration was under lockdown. SK58 Birders aimed to be back up and running by the end of September, although current regulations still dictate no gatherings of greater than six people and social distancing, so a conversation in the near future needs to take place amongst the organisers, to decide if we shelve everything until the New Year and start subscriptions/ meetings from 1st January 2021. As soon as this discussion has taken place, we'll advise everyone via the website and the next newsletter.

If you care to share your thoughts on the matter, then please do email and I'll disseminate any responses to the other organisers prior to any meeting.

20/07/2020 We heard from Alfie Bloor that someone has been and removed the canes and covers from the trees planted at NAPT. This is quite disheartening, given the amount of effort it takes to plant them. We hope the trees themselves are fine and undamaged. I'm sure Alfie and others will be up there securing the canes and covers to protect the saplings from the increasing rabbit population.

Canes removed @ NAPT © Alfie Bloor

08/07/2020 There's a new video on YouTube showing the progression of work at Firbeck Hall- It's a major development! click here to view.

07/07/2020 Camera/ Laptop Bag For Sale- Jan and Dan Jarrold have a Lowepro Bag for sale

It's a hardly used Lowepro Tropolis 1200 17" Laptop/Camera Equipment Shoulder Bag Case, dimensions 17" Wide, 13" High + handle so overall 15.5", 6.5" Deep. Please email Den & Jan directly if interested and for prices:

19/05/2020 Following the receipt, review and acceptance, Common Scoter was added to the official SK58 list. This takes the tally to 198. I wonder what what the 200th species will be and when? Maybe a sweepstake to raise funds for the group?

12/05/2020 During the current CV19 pandemic, many of you have been birding locally whilst exercising daily, which is really great. As a result, we've been receiving loads of records, which is terrific. It looks like being one of the best springs for many, many years. Well done, keep it up!!

With the increased number of records, the work involved in updating the database and website has also increased substantially. It can take one- three hours a day to translate/ correct/ grammatically correct the records we receive. It would be immensely helpful if you could take a look at Latest page on the website and see the 'house style'. If you could follow this style and the few pointers below; this will help speed up the inputting & processing at my end.

* Please write in sentences- helps to copy and paste records to the web.
* Please capitalise bird names and places- so Great Tit not great tit, Langold Lake not langold lake.
* Please don't abbreviate bird names or places- we've only have to re-write them in full.
* Please check hyphens- some names are and some aren't hyphened- Great Crested Grebe, not Great-crested Grebe, also the name after a hyphen is lower case e.g. Lesser Black-backed Gull, not Lesser Black-Backed Gull. To check the spelling/ hyphenation, all bird names recorded in SK58 can be found on the Species List page.
* Please send emails in a single paragraphs for each day- when emailing, just write in a single paragraph for each days records, don't try to format text, it all gets lost in translation when added to the website and can cause errors in formatting on the web.
* Please include counts or estimates- 'Some' or 'many' isn't something I can log in a database. Can these counts go at the front of the record, e.g. 7 Tufted Duck, not Tufted Duck 7.

This all may seem picky and minor detail corrections, and we're definitely not moaning at anyone. At the end of the day we'd rather receive records in any format, than not receive them, but to convert the emails and notes we receive into the text you see on the web into the house style can take quite bit of time, particularly when we receive so many records a day, sometimes approaching a hundred, especially at weekends. Many thanks for your continued support and do please keep going out birding and sending in your records.

04/05/2020 We received some terrible news, the regularly nesting pair of Mute Swan at Turnerwood on the Chesterfield Canal, had been shot just before the weekend, as they sat incubating eggs. The female was shot dead and the male severely injured. Below, details taken from Facebook, posted by a resident at Turnerwood.

"1 May at 14:24 It is with great sadness that I have got to write this post but last night someone has shot and killed Hillary our resident swan at Turnerwood and they also shot her mate Stocky who at this moment is poorly. He has been taken to the Swan and Wildlife Rescue to see if he can be saved. There was also three dead male Mallards that had been shot as well. I am truly heartbroken there are some seriously disturbed people about that would do such a shocking thing to these beautiful swans ???? if anyone has any information please PM me police have been informed."

Update: "Would like to update everyone; Stocky has had a good rest and has now managed to stand and have something to eat. The reward as to who shot and killed his soul mate Hillary has now gone up to£3500. Please do the decent thing and msg me with information who did this heartbreaking thing to this beautiful pair of swans not forgetting the four Mallards ??"

Stocky, the male Mute Swan, recovering after being shot (image via Facebook)

28/04/2020 Have you heard of the website In a nutshell it's a mapping website and maps sites/ locations/ down to 3 square metres, but instead of giving it a complicated grid reference each square is given a unique set of three words. When these are typed in the website it takes you to a map of the exact spot. We've completed adding the three words links to the list of locations on our website- click here to try it. You can switch to satellite type map, or a choice of maps by clicking the link at the top of the map.

18/04/2020 The SK58 Birders website has been up and running for 24 years now, although the face of it may have changed, a lot of the content hasn't. There's a News page and of course there's the Latest page with all the current bird news. But there's a whole archive of news and information, some of it going back to when the website began back in 1996. Below some pages you may not know about, but worth a look.

  • Bird News Archive- an archive of the Latest News page going back to 2001
  • News Archive- an archive of all the news items going back to 2001
  • Species List- a list of all the birds recorded since the groups inception
  • Species Per Year- going back to 1996
  • Rare Bird Descriptions- an archive of the descriptions accepted of rarities within SK58
  • Records & Species Per Year- a list of the number of species and number of records received since 1996
  • Gallery- an archive of varying images, from our successful photo competition winners, to trip reports and press clippings
  • Plus lots more! so why not delve into the website and discover a few hidden gems, you may find out something about the local area, the group, or birds you didn't now before. Happy browsing!

17/04/2020 Just because we're in lockdown, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on bird news and the latest developments within SK58. We have several active members who are out most days and sending in their records, so do keep checking the website as it's updated most days. We also have an SK58 Bird News Service, so if you have a smart phone, iPhone or Android, we can add you to the group, so you receive instant bird news within SK58. Just download the WhatsApp app, and pass your mobile number to our recorder so he can add you.

12/04/2020 We've taken the difficult decision to postpone this years Tetrad Atlas Survey. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in line with the ongoing lockdown protocol it wouldn't be safe or practical to commence the survey this year. Although many of you can cover the Tetrads as part of your permitted daily exercise, the more outlying Tetrads would involve non-essential car trips. So rather than have random, hit and miss coverage, it seems more logical to postpone until 2021. This in line with British Trust for Ornithology, who have also cancelled their surveys this year. My thanks to all those who have agreed to cover one or more of the 25 Tetrads, I hope you'll be able to cover them in 2021. I'm sure we'll come back bigger, better & stronger next year- Stay safe one and all.

10/04/2020 Unfortunately the trees several group members planted recently have suffered slightly. Someone has removed and dumped all the plastic tree protectors & supporting canes, so reports Alfie Bloor. Hopefully they can be replaced before the Rabbits nibble the saplings.

Tree Protectors & Canes uprooted @ NAPT © Alfie Bloor

09/04/2020 Just a reminder that any records submitted, should come from permitted exercise or from your garden.

29/03/2020 I was Informed late last night that Philip Ridsdale had died. I’d known Phil since he was a teenager. He was an SK58 Birder for many years & came on our weekend trips and all of my Gone Birding tours. A gentle lad, always good company and a pleasure to have along. Condolences to his family. Such a tragic loss of a young life.

Phil Ridsdale (4th in) SK58 25th Anniversary Tour to Suffolk @ rspb Minsmere © Andy Hirst

R.I.P. Phil.

17/03/2020 CORONA VIRUS- In response to, and in line with government guidelines we have taken the following steps:

  • Indoor Meetings- cancelled until September
  • Field Trips- cancelled until September
  • Hide Rota- (NAPT) cancelled until September
  • Subs- renewals cancelled until September
  • Tetrad Survey- still going ahead at this moment in time- to be reviewed in late March or Early April
  • Indoor & field meetings have been cancelled as this equates to gatherings and a potential spread of the disease, plus given the groups age range, would be an unnecessary risk. This also applies to the wardening the hide at NAPT.
  • Subscriptions are due in April. Given there will be no group events over the spring and summer so we're postponing the renewals until September. These will then run for a year and subs will fall due again in September 2021.
  • Tetrad Atlas Survey will go ahead at the moment unless we have some kind of lock down as we've seen on the continent. The survey takes place individually in mostly rural locations. A walk in the county for an hour may do more good than harm! We do still have 6 tetrads unallocated- A (Loscar Wood area), H (Butterfly House area), J (Slade Hooton area), K (Shireoaks/ Chesterfield Canal), Q (Gateford/ Sandy Lane) & W (South Carlton/ Wigthorpe area). If you have an hour to spare in late April/ May and again in June and can cover a tetrad do let the recorder know as we'd like 100% coverage.

14/03/2020 CORONA VIRUS- At this moment in time our meetings are going ahead as per the diary. If the situation alters in regard to public gatherings/ meetings, or there are developments at the Loyal Trooper then we will email members, post on the website as well as social media. Although we would advise members to exercise discretion- if they have any symptoms or have underlying health issues, then we urge them to refrain from attending any events.

09/03/2020 The groups Conservation Officer, Mick Clay, does a lot more than just make nest boxes. Recently we were copied into several emails from the RMBC Ecologist relating to several planning enquiries Mick had raised. Firstly there is the development along the A57, near Lindrick Kennels, by Birket Wood. Quite major excavations are taking place. Secondly Mick is closely monitoring the developments at Dinnington Marsh. A large area has been cleared, but it appears some of the conditions associated with the planning permission have not been met. We'll keep you posted. If you see any developments taking place then by all means contact RMBC Planning Department- Enforcement Team, or let the RMBC Ecologist know, also copy SK58 Birders in so we are aware and can make representations.

20/02/2020 The group are already looking forward to the spring, so much so we're organising our rota to warden the hide at NAPT, subject to there being water in the scrape. Currently the scrape is holding plenty of water, so this should attract some birds. So from 7th March the hide will be wardened by members of SK58 Birders, who will be on hand to talk about the reserve, the group and help with identification and point out what's around. The hide is open on Saturday mornings between 0800-1100.

Scrape & Hide @ NAPT © Andy Hirst

16/02/2020 For the past twenty five years, every two years SK58 Birders have carried out a survey of the entire SK58 square. The last survey was 2018, so this year is Tetrad Atlas Survey year. This is something every member can participate in. The 10km x 10km SK58 square is divided into 25 squares (Tetrads). These 2km x 2km squares are chosen by members to visit. These can be near where they live, or somewhere they've never visited before in the area.

On two, one hour visits to each tetrad, all the adult birds are recorded. These when compared with other tetrads and the results from previous years, give us definitive trends in population. This is the most important project the group undertakes as it covers all species and the entire SK58 square, not just the hot spots or more unusual species. If you wish to take part, let Andy Hirst know. The survey will be launched at the February meeting, with tetrads open to allocation. Ideally, for consistency, we'd like the same observers to cover the same tetrads and routes as they did in previous years, but ths is ideal, not essential.

15/02/2020 Have you heard of the website In a nutshell it's a mapping website and maps sites/ locations/ down to 3 square metres, but instead of giving it a complicated grid reference each square is given a unique set of three words. When these are typed in the website it takes you to a map of the exact spot. We've begun adding the three words links to the list of locations on our website- click here to try it. You can switch to satellite type map, or a choice of maps by clicking the link at the top of the map.

13/02/2020 Given the rather dire weather forecast for Sunday we have decided to cancel the planned "Letwell Loop" walk. It was thought prudent to postpone the walk until another time given the gales and rain forecast- not ideal conditions to be out looking for woodland birds & raptors. Watch this space however, as we will reschedule this walk at a later date.

10/02/2020 Following the AGM in January, it was agreed to increase annual subscription rates to SK58 Birders: £15 individual: £20 family: £10 concession: Free - under 18. The new rates will take effect from April, when subscriptions are due.

21/01/20 A reminder of the groups AGM on the 29th. Don't be put off, the AGM only takes twenty minutes, then we have Brian Chambers talking about a recent trip to Mongolia. Below the Agenda for the 2020 AGM.


The meeting to be held at "THE LOYAL TROOPER" Inn on Wednesday 29th January 2020. The meeting to commence at 19.30, with a minimum of 15 members present.

  • 2019 MINUTES - Proposed & seconded
  • SECRETARYS REPORT- Position Vacant in 2019
  • CONSERVATION OFFICER- Position Vacant in 2018
  • ELECTION OF OFFICERS All incumbents willing to stand for a further year
  • PROPOSED INCREASE IN SUBSCRIPTIONS TO £15 (individual), £20 (family) & £10 (concession)

06/01/20 In the run up to Christmas our Conservation Officer Mick Clay, and a band of volunteers have been busy planting many hundreds of trees. Many were planted at Axle Lane, but the majority at NAPT. Thanks to Mick and the vols for undertaking this at short notice.

Tree Planting @ NAPT © Andy Hirst

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.

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

content & design by Andy Hirst