Posts Tagged ‘Whooper Swan’

‘Moor’ missing Hen Harriers?

January 2, 2015

A glorious day out on the moors, my first of 2015 …. bitter winds blowing from the west but that just adds to the experience and if common sense prevails it makes little difference if you’ve dressed as they say in Yorkshire, ‘like an onion’ (that is to say, with lots of layers).

Sphagnum sp. poss. fimbriatum

Sphagnum sp. poss. fimbriatum

There is still that wonderful feeling of space and of open skies, although in my opinion the views from the platform are no longer as pleasantly panoramic as they used to be.  Despite Thorne Moors being around 4700 acres, or 1900 hectares in today’s currency there is now a clear boundary which previously was not so drastically demarcated but rather a steady realisation.

Disappointingly no magnificent male Hen Harrier, so I made do happily enough with a distant Marsh Harrier seen from the viewing platform as it quartered the reedbeds to the south of Will Pitts.  The other species which is indicative of winter is Whooper Swan and a family party were seen from Bank Top ‘festive feasting’ on farmland just off the reserve.

Piptoporus betulinus , Birch Polypore or 'Razorstrop Fungus'.

Piptoporus betulinus , Birch Polypore or ‘Razorstrop Fungus’.

The ‘moor’ interesting observations were made out of the wind, good numbers of Carabus granulatus overwintering under salix bark along with similarly good numbers of the snail eating Silpha atrata.  But what was fascinating to find were two smooth newt efts.  The smallest you have to wonder about the chances of it surviving through the winter, particularly if it is a long cold season.  The larger of the two shown below is about the same size as one found on 20 October last year under an abandoned plastic piling remnant.

Lissotriton vulgaris

Lissotriton vulgaris

Are there fewer Hen Harriers about in their traditional lowland wintering areas?  What impact the 2013 failure to breed and just three pairs in 2014 bred in England?  Please pass details of any sightings to us via so the data can be used to monitor change.

For regular updates on what’s about on the Moors visit Thorne Moors Birding Blog 2015, and Hatfield Moors Birding Blog.

In case our recent recruits are not aware of the issues around the decline of the Hen Harrier, then a good source of information can be found via Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Standing up for Nature, Mark Avery’s excellent ‘campaigning’ blog.  Avery also created an online petition “Ban driven grouse shooting” any reader not having signed it already might consider doing so?

Signs of winter.

December 5, 2013


Winter is with us?  The herds of winter swans graze the low lying fields on the periphery of Hatfield Moors.  Amongst the Mute and Whoopers, moderate numbers of Bewick’s can be found.  At the moment there are in excess of a 100 Whoopers and amongst them a handful of Bewick’s present in an area known locally as Alderfen, on the eastern edge of Hatfield Moors.  See here for a more detailed account of numbers.

Whooper Swan herd 0097_lowrespcr

Other signs of winter aside from the obvious shortening of daylight hours and increased visitors to garden birds tables are the geometrid moths fluttering across the tracks alongside  Hatfield Chase drains where hedgerows and trees are still extant as field boundaries.


I mentioned in a recent post that Natural England had revoked the licence to cull badgers, but all the signs are that there is still intent to reconvene and revisit the killing fields.  So, can I ask readers to spare a thought for the ongoing ‘battle for the badgers’?  I am prompted to raise the matter again, in part, because I recently received a link to watch a u-tube upload of Bill Oddie  and Simon King at the recent Bristol badger march.  Bill’s was well, just what you’d expect from good old Bill, Simon’s erudite and eloquent but between them they pretty much summed up the situation.


Further to the videos might you consider ‘badgering your MPs’ if you’ve not already done so, would you ask them to sign EDM 661 ?  Interestingly it is sponsored by MPs from four parties!  Congratulations, does that means that common sense does exist in ‘the House’?  Conservation does not have to be party political …. it is good for all aspects of society, everyone benefits from a health environment and we are but one species in the mix that inhabits the planet.

WILDLIFE MP of 2013?

Mark Avery has posted an interesting survey on his excellent blog Standing up for Nature”, he asks readers to vote for the Wildlife MP of 2013, there are quite a number of comments and some quite interesting ones.  He has nominated six, and whilst these might be subjective choices they do make you think about what MPs do actually deliver for the environment, and surely that can only be good?

BIRDING SITE GUIDE - Birding Site Guide

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

Bird and other wildlife information service for Hatfield Moors, South Yorkshire, UK © HMBSG 17/11/2010

Mark Avery

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?