Not-so-common snipe and curlews spotted

Wildside Common Snipe edit[1].jpg
Wildside Common Snipe edit[1].jpg

A little while back, during the bad weather, Jeff Hardy of Charnock, Sheffield sent in a photograph and some comments.

‘Hi Ian, thought you might be interested in the photograph that I have attached. I live in Charnock and am an ex-council worker, now with Amey, the company that has just taken over the Sheffield City Council’s highways contract.

‘Yesterday our management sent us out to the Strines. As we travelled on the A57, we were in the Moscar area when I spotted these birds and wondered what they were. So today, I took the camera and took this photograph – above.

‘Looking at my book when I got home, the only bird that it seems to be like is a Snipe. I was just wondering if you could confirm this.’

Yes, undoubtedly a common snipe, though these days, not so common. This species has suffered as a breeding bird due to a combination of the drainage of moors and bogs, and especially the loss of damp, rushy pastures.

Jeff continued: ‘In the same field, there were also curlews and something interesting as well.’ A couple of months earlier, Jeff had been told of oystercatchers in the area close by a small pond, but to be frank, he did not believe it. However, he decided to check the site, and took his binoculars with him. To his absolute surprise, ‘there alongside some mallards were a pair of oystercatchers’. Sometime after, the pair flew on to a nearby field where they spent the rest of the afternoon.

The Strines, Bradfield and Ewden areas are great for wildlife and for nature watching, and it is interesting to hear of oystercatchers coming down here to breed. For many decades, they have increased their tendency to nest inland in Scotland and seem to have been working their way down southwards towards us.

Well, as Jeff confirms, they are now here.

Formerly, they visited our region only as passage migrants and as winter visitors to reservoirs and such places.

Another bird spreading across the area is the pheasant, and J.M. Procter of Crow Lane, Unstone, recently spotted a pair in his garden.

A smaller, quail-like bird, which Mr Procter had not seen before, accompanied them. I suspect this was actually a grey partridge rather than a quail, which is a rare summer migrant visitor – nice to have in your garden though.

S Hockney of East Glade Close, Sheffield, sent in a picture of wood anemones in flower at Dowey Lumb in the Moss Valley. Her friend also had a redwing in the garden on April 14, so they are staying quite late. Finally, for this week, does anyone have advice on controlling moles in gardens? Please let me know so I can pass it on!

n Professor Ian D. Rotherham is a researcher, writer and broadcaster on wildlife and environmental issues.