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"View From The Pit Top"- Latest news from SK58 Birders
Updated 3 January, 2023


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est. 1992

website est. 1996



News Archive

17th December Firstly can we wish you all a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year! Just a few notes from an extra organisers meeting held on Wednesday 14th December:

  • AGM A reminder the January meeting is our AGM. Currently all the current organisers are standing for re-election. However, if you wish to become involved, please step forward. We have a long-term vacancy (Group Secretary), currently covered by our Recorder, Andy Hirst and Lyn Facer, our Membership Secretary has indicated she would like to step down at the end of 2023. We are always looking for help towards the running of the group, and not necessarily in an official role, more ad-hoc help is also welcome, so any time you can offer to the group would be greatly appreciated.
  • Subscriptions January is also the month when subscriptions are due. Following an organisers meeting last Wednesday and despite rising costs, (mostly speakers fees), it was decided to keep subscriptions and on the door charges at the same level for 2023. However, attendances at indoor meetings have dwindled recently, which is a shame because we have had some first-rate speakers recently. Make the most of your annual subscription and come along to the Loyal Trooper. As well as top notch speakers you can have a drink. The upstairs meeting room is warm and comfortable and makes an ideal venue. It also means with more attendees we can offset the speaker's costs which have increased sharply in recent years.
  • Indoor Meetings Speaking of which, following a few hiccups recently with the Loyal Trooper booking system (or lack thereof), it was decided to change our indoor meetings to the LAST TUESDAY, instead of the LAST WEDNESDAY. We've held our indoor meetings on the last Wednesday since our inception 30 years ago, however conflicts with the newly created pool team, who drink far more beer than us, have been given priority of the room. Alternative venues were looked into, but it's financially beneficial to the group, and to stretch our income further, it was fiscally and simpler to change our meeting day. SO, FROM OUR JANUARY MEETING ONWARDS, INDOOR MEETINGS WILL BE HELD ON THE LAST TUESDAY OF THE MONTH. We hope we don't lose any members who cannot make Tuesdays, but conversely, we hope to gain a few attendees who previously couldn't make Wednesdays. Our Speakers Organisers will be contacting all the speakers and rebooking them for the last Tuesday slots. If you are a guest speaker, already booked for 2023, Janet & Michael will be contacting you shortly to rebook. Please note however our 2 monthly Organisers meetings will still be held on the Wednesday before the indoor meeting.
  • Membership We are always open to new members. As highlighted above, we have noticed a dip in attendances at indoor meetings, and we are acutely aware we have an ageing membership. New blood is always welcome. To this end we have car stickers available to group members, to help promote the group when you are driving around. To get yours contact our Recorder. We did have 500 leaflets printed, but since we changed the day of our indoor meetings to Tuesdays, these are now obsolete. We will probably have amended leaflets printed in the near future. Our costs are set- speakers fees, insurance, running costs etc... Therefore it would be great to spread these costs amongst a greater membership, thus making members subscriptions go further. If you have a local friend or neighbour who has even a slight interest in birds or the local environment, why not bring them along to the next meeting.
  • 1992 to 2022- 30 Years of SK58 Birders 2023 is our 30th year. We've no firm plans yet to celebrate, but at our November meeting (30 years almost to the day), those who attended were treated to cakes and buns, courtesy of Janet Gray & Lyn Facer. Thanks to both for their excellent baking- can we have these at every meeting (ed)? One thing we would like to do, maybe in the spring, is have all the past and present chairpersons gather for a 30th anniversary photo; 1992-1997-Rob Hardcastle, 1997-2002- Andy Hirst, 2003-2016- Mick Clay & 2017 - on, Paul Tennyson.
  • Records As we approach a new year, can we remind everyone to submit their records ASAP, so they can be entered and reviewed. Don't forget, we have our own Access Database and Monthly Excel Recording sheet. This makes entering your records simpler as we can simply copy + paste rather than re-type. The Recording sheet is available here to download. If you wish to have copy of the database to enter your own records see our recorder.

28th November Our Conservation Officer Mick Clay certainly hasn't let the grass grow under his feet. Having recently moved, a Kestrel has been inspecting a recently erected nest box in Mick's new garden.

Kestrel box @ S. Anston © Mick Clayclick for pic

26th November Following discussions and site meetings, the group are objecting to the solar farm planning application, proposed for Common Farm by Dinnington Marsh. Following negotiations, there will be no dedicated set a side areas for Lapwing & Skylark and no wader scrape, therefore the losses far outweigh the gains especially for red and amber listed species such as Grey Partridge.

2nd November As you may be aware we had to cancel our October indoor meeting at the last minute and as a result our future at the Loyal Trooper looked in jeopardy. We found out a pool league was set to use our room on Wednesdays for their home fixtures.

We were to hold an extraordinary meeting this evening to discuss our options and come up with a plan going forward. Yesterday our Chairman had a meeting with the Landlady and as a result of these discussions, and with the pool league people, we have secured the last Wednesday for the foreseeable future for our indoor meetings. The pool league has agreed to move their fixtures if they clash with our meetings.

The organisers would like to thank all those members who took the time to research and to contact us suggesting alternative venues and of resolutions to the situation.

Now would be a good opportunity to remind folk about our indoor meetings. These are held during the winter and spring months, from September through to May. We have, as always, a diverse range of excellent speakers on subjects ranging from local birding to foreign destinations and other natural history subjects. We usually have a catch up with local bird news and events, all this and the opportunity to have a drink too. They are always a good night out, so if you aren't already a regular attendee, why not consider popping along on the last Wednesday of the month, except December (Christmas) and June, July & Aug. Click here for our programme of events.

28th October As some of you may be aware, we had to cancel our October indoor meeting at the very last minute as the Loyal Trooper hadn't put us in their diary. It transpired the future of SK58 at the Loyal Trooper is uncertain. An update below on a few matters:

  • Tetrad Atlas Survey- can those who've yet to return their results please send completed survey results to Andy ASAP.
  • Christmas Meal- following a survey of members it was decided to cancel the Christmas meal as a result of feedback from the online survey.
  • SK58 at the Loyal Trooper- on Wednesday we attended the Trooper as usual for our indoor meeting, only to find a party taking place in the upstairs meeting room. Our last Wednesday booking (same date/ time for 30 years) wasn't in the diary. As a result our meeting had to be cancelled. It transpired the newly installed pool table will be used in a pool league with players meeting on a Wednesday evening. As yet we don't know what Wednesdays. We have secured 30/11 for our November indoor meeting, but the organisers are meeting on 2/11 to discuss options and look at alternative venues as the pool league will take priority over SK58. The discussions will look at alternative venues, the big decider is cost. With room hire and speakers fees we'd be looking at £100 to run an indoor meeting (say £50 speaker fee and 3 hours at £15 ph for a room), x8 meetings = £800 per annum. We have 48 members, if they all paid £15 (no discounts) that leaves a shortfall of £80. We take £1 on the door but with average attendance's raising less than £15 per meeting we would barely break even, plus this doesn't account for other group running costs such as insurance on kit and events. We do have serious discussions to hold. We are looking at venues to run our indoor meetings and these will be discussed on the 2nd of November, but if you know of a village hall or community room that holds about 30 people, then do let us know. It was suggested we change dates to a Tuesday, but I know folk have commitments and we've had the last Wednesday of the month since the group started 30 years ago.

12th October Below a menu for our proposed Christmas meal. We don't have anyone to organise this just yet- any volunteers?!, but menu choices need to be with the Loyal trooper by mid-November.

7th October Our leaflets are back from the printers and they look pretty good! Do you know anywhere where we might place some? We've had 500 printed, so plenty to leave in shops, libraries, community centres, businesses etc... in and around SK58? Please take some at the next indoor meeting if you think you know somewhere where they can be displayed or given out. It would be good to attract more members. We are always looking for new members to help record, preserve and protect the areas birds and habitats as well as help run the group. With more members we can do more. It also means we have greater funds to pay for speakers, which is an ever increasing cost.

23rd September Did you know SK58 Birders are 30 years old in December! To promote the group and to celebrate the fact, we're producing a leaflet to be strategically distributed around SK58. Once printed, if you can take some it would be a great help. We're also having some car stickers made. We'll give every member one, and then extra car stickers can be purchased. All helps spread the word.

13th September We've had a few suspected cases of Avian Flu within SK58 and questions on where to report it- this is what we found:

Reporting dead wild birds-You should call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:

one or more dead bird of prey or owl
3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
5 or more dead birds of any species
Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. For further information see our advice to the public.

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

12th September It's been quite a good year for species within SK58, currently we've recorded 133 species. Quite a few folk do send in their records annually, which is greatly appreciated. However to keep the website fresh & up to date do please send in any records you note whilst out birding in SK58 to the recorder as soon as possible, as well as at the end of the month or year, that way we can keep the website up to date- Currently, very few members send in regular daily/ weekly records. You can do this via email, via our recording form or WhatsApp group- Many thanks.

13th August Our Conservation Officer Mick Clay, attended an on-site meeting with representatives of the Solar Farm project at Common Farm. Mick reported it was very positive. Mick made suggestions on how their plans could be more wildlife friendly, with wild flower/ seed areas for example. There are also a few major concessions for the group, which we can reveal later if and when they are included in the final master plan. But for now, it's looking quite positive.

2nd August We've heard the planning application for the Solar farm at Common Farm has been submitted. Once processed it should be on the RMBC planning website.

1st August Following a further appeal for a Speakers Organiser to take over from Geoff Facer, we can announce that Michael & Janet Gray have taken on the mantle. So our thanks from all the group organisers. This means we'll continue to have guest speakers at the indoor meetings. Of course Geoff and the rest of the organisers will be on hand to offer help, support and advice.

As a group we are always looking for helpers and volunteers to keep the group moving forward. If you have any spare time and want to get involved, then do please contact any of the group organisers.

23rd July This past week saw unprecedented temperatures arrive in the UK, with a max. of 40 degrees Celsius in many parts of the UK, including SK58. The ongoing arid conditions and lack of rain fall meant the area was bone dry and susceptible to a wildfire. Several fires did break out, the largest covering a swathe of cereal crops stretching from the outskirts of Dinnington/ Throapham to Firbeck.

Extent of the fire- (based on observations, and not hundred percent accurate).click for pic

The monetary cost can only be measured against the impact on wildlife, as the fire touched prime habitats including hedgerows and woodlands such as Long Thwaite Wood & Kings Wood.

Lingodell > Long Thwaite Wood © Andy Hirstclick for pic

There were of course many other smaller fires including at NAPT (Dinnington Community Woodland). Thankfully this was brought under control by locals and didn't affect the nature reserve, just a bank of leggy Gorse and a hedgerow (planted by SK58 Birders).

Kings Wood © Andy Hirstclick for pic

Non of these fires started on their own, speculating on the main fire around Long Thwaite Wood; a discarded cigarette end or glass bottle? At NAPT a discarded disposable BBQ, and glass bottles were found at the scene.

NAPT > N © Andy Hirstclick for pic

Of course the Emergency services performed heroically, but were spread thinly, and rightly so focussing where there was a threat to life and property. It was indeed locals who extinguished the NAPT fire. I wonder how many were parents of the youths who had discarded the BBQ and the umpteen bottles at the picnic site?

Main path, NAPT > N © Andy Hirstclick for pic

1st July With regard to the proposed Solar farm within the square, our Conservation Officer is setting up a meeting to discuss all the issues, from creating habitats, to mitigation for the loss of habitat for certain species. Watch this space!

15th June We've just found out the superb farmland around Common Farm, butting up to Dinnington Marsh, will have a planning application submitted to house ground based solar panels, this a significant sized development! This takes out another area of farmland with industrialisation encroaching even further into the green belt. This area is a haven for wildlife.

Common Farm- site plan of of proposed solar farm - Banks Renewables

The companies own map shows Common Farm as a green agricultural area surrounded by housing & industry; Rotherham to the N & NW,Thurcroft to the N, Laughton & Dinnington to the E, Aughton to the W and Todwick to the S. Will there be any green areas left??. The group has been watching this area for decades, so have thousands of records to prove what an excellent area this is for wildlife.

6th June Despite the very cold and delayed spring due to the unfavourable winds from the N & E, summer migrants are all in, albeit in what appears to be in greatly reduced numbers. There appears to be very few hirundines & Swift around and many warblers are around in lower numbers, such as Willow Warbler & Whitethroat. Having said that the number of species recorded so far this year within SK58 is a very respectable 124 species. Birds seem to be well in, just in lower numbers. Lets hope this is just a one off year and not the start of a drastic downward spiral.

22nd May A few updates to catch up on:

  • Speakers Organiser- You may remember a while ago Geoff Facer, our Speakers Organiser indicated he wished to step down, well from 2023 we will need a new Speakers Organiser. From the end of 2022, Geoff is stepping down after twenty plus years organising the speakers for our indoor meetings. A huge thank you to Geoff for year on year, finding first rate speakers. The hunt is on for Geoff's successor! This is an important role within the group, but not too arduous. Without a Speakers Organiser, there are no indoor meetings! so it's vital we find someone to take over, and ideally a transition period so Geoff can pass on his wisdom. Email the following for details or further information:,
  • Remember our Great White Egret (leg ring AAU), Mick Clay photographed last autumn at Langold Lake - he returned to Somerset but has been back up north, this time to the NE. More information on the wandering Egret here:
  • Tetrad Atlas Survey- Ideally your first tetrad visits should be completed by now, with a gap of 3 weeks until your second visits.
  • SK58 Newsletters- It's come to light that some members haven't received all their newsletters over the past year or so. We send out the monthly newsletter in a mass emailing, usually the week before the indoor meeting. Sometimes overzealous spam / junk email filters block these from your inbox. So if you've not had your newsletter please check: 1). You are a current paid up member, 2). Check any junk email, spam folder in your email. 3). If you've still not received it, contact the recorder and we can send individual newsletters to you, or provide a disc/ memory stick with them all on from January 2017.

21st May If you haven't renewed your SK58 membership (due in January), the April newsletter was the last one you'll receive. You can of course still renew, it's not too late. Contact

23rd April Our Conservation Officer, Mick Clay, has been busy yet again! In conjunction with Bob Bellis, the Tropical Butterfly House at Anston and the TCV (The Conservation Volunteers), we've erected a pole mounted owl box at NAPT. Hopefully it wont be long before we hear the 'hissing' of owlets! The poles kindly supplied by the Tropical Butterfly House click for pic

19th April Our Conservation Officer, Mick Clay, has been busy again, this time installing the Willow Tit stump nest boxes he made earlier, at for pic

He's also been helping Tarmac erect "ground nesting breeding birds" warning signs at Harry Croft's for pic

11th April SK58 Birders walk at Langold Lake.
A Red Kite >E over the car park before 1000, eluding some members. Water birds counted were 7 Great Crested Grebe, 10 Mute Swan, 18 Greylag Goose, 56 Canada Goose, 14 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, 9 Moorhen and 10 Coot. 4 Buzzard were recorded and a Green Woodpecker called from the tip area. 2 Pied Wagtail were on the cricket pitch and a pair of Grey Wagtail were on the outflow from the lake. The spring migrants were represented by a single Swallow, 4 Blackcap and 13 Chiffchaff. Geoff and Lyn Facer.

10th April The landscape at NAPT has changed markedly over recent years, this involves the loss of quite a bit of habitat. The trees where our first Yellow-browed Warbler occurred have gone, but the new site owners have planted a new row of trees. Hopefully in a few yeas we'll be listening out for the distinctive call of a YBW! click for pic

10th April There is a little water remaining in the scrape at NAPT, so for the time being we will warden the hide at NAPT on Saturday mornings between 0800-1100, although if there's less water we will cancel these hide for picclick for pic

8th April Our Conservation Officer, Mick Clay, has been busy again, this time drilling out Willow Tit nest boxes. Willow Tits have undergone a massive decline locally and nationally. Hopefully this will help those remaining for pic

25th March With a higher than usual level of water in the scrape at NAPT, we'll be looking to warden the hide on Saturday mornings between 0800-1100. This has been on hold due to a combination of Covid and low water levels. Those who hold keys to the hide, I'll be putting together a hide duty rota.

24th March As mentioned previously, 2022 is Tetrad Atlas year. Quite a few tetrads have been allocated, but we still have a few left. We hope to allocate these at the March indoor meeting. If you want to to choose a tetrad, let out our recorder know ASAP.

15th March Our Conservation Officer, Mick Clay has been busy constructing Barn Owl boxes.

These are destined for sites at North Anston Pit Top (Dinnington Community Woodland, Kiveton Pit Top (Kiveton Community Woodland), Oldcotes and Harthill. click for pic

2nd March 2022 is Tetrad Atlas Survey year. We allocated about half of the 25 tetrads at the January indoor meeting, so still plenty to choose from. If you did a tetrad(s) in previous years, and want to take part again this year, can you let Andy Hirst know, so we can allocate you you the same squares as you had last time, for consistency in recording.

16th February At the AGM in January, Farrell Kent took over as Treasurer from Jan Jarrold. Farrell has been a member for a number of years and runs his own successful business, so well used to high finance, not that he'll need that with SK58. We welcome him as one of the group organisers, knowing the groups finances are still in safe hands.

Farrell advised that income from subscriptions has been quite low- can we remind folk that subscriptions now run from January to December. So were due on 1st Jan 2022. If you haven't renewed already, or wish to join, please contact Lyn Facer, our Membership Officer.

Also a reminder, following the cancellation of the Tetrad Atlas Survey for the past two years, it looks like 2022 will be fine for it to go ahead. Andy Hirst will go through the survey goals and guidelines at the February indoor meeting and allocate tetrads (2km x 2km squares) at the next few meetings. The survey begins in April. Ideally we'd like the same folk to cover the same squares as previous surveys for consistency, but not vital. If you want to get involved in this simple survey then get in touch with our Recorder; Andy Hirst.

26th January At the AGM, with falling attendance at indoor meetings, it was proposed and agreed to reduce the quorum of 15 to 10, the number of members required at the AGM. The minutes of the AGM will be circulated with the February newsletter.

17th January We've just updated the website with the latest records, so far this year we're up to 73 species, which isn't bad!

5th January Just a reminder that subscriptions to SK58 are now due. Because of Covid we decided not to take subs as we were not running any indoor meetings. However we have now started indoor meetings again and subs are due as of 1st January. You can contact our Membership Secretary here or by email: or pay at the next indoor meeting.

4th January A very Happy New Year! Just a few notes which won't wait until the Jan Newsletter at the end of the month.

  • Our AGM is held during the January indoor meeting- we need a quorum of 15 members to make/ vote on any changes/ approvals. Currently all current organisers are standing for re-election, although Jan Jarrold is stepping down and Geoff Facer would like step down ASAP, but we will need a successor for Geoff. If you can help with the running of the group, can you indicate your candidacy to any group organisers ahead of the AGM.
  • 2021 Records- can I ask everyone to send in their 2021 records as soon as possible, so we have an accurate report for the AGM, also any outstanding descriptions.
  • We have a FaceBook page- Lewis Sadler has kindly set up and will administer this page. It's open to anyone, so should hopefully be another avenue to promote our work and gain more members. For those on FB, the link is:
  • Organisers- Can I request all officer reports for the AGM are with me around the time of the Organisers meeting, to give me time to correlate them all to go out with the newsletter.

20th December A reminder the January meeting is our AGM. Please don't be put off by this, the formalities only take 20 minutes! At the time of writing all the current officers are willing to stand for 2022, BUT Geoff Facer would like to step down as Speakers Organiser, so we are seeking a replacement for him. Also Jan Jarrold is also wishing to step down, as Treasurer at the end of 2022. So we are quite desperate to seek replacements for these pivotal roles within the group. Any nominations for ANY post within the group (see contacts), to the chairman a week before the AGM (the night of the organisers meeting- 19/01/2022). An agenda and notes for the AGM will be sent out with the January Newsletter.

15th December Despite the current climate of Covid, 14 members attended the SK58 Annual Christmas meal, the first since 2019. Everyone enjoyed the evening along with an excellent meal, plus quizzes provided Geoff Facer and Paul Tennyson.

SK58 members enjoying their Christmas meal @ the Loyal Trooper © Lyn Facer click for pic

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

content & design by Andy Hirst