Thursday 23rd April
Up the hill to Eastern Moors RSPB Reserve with the continuing fabulous weather making the views lovely despite high pressure haze. Along a dry stone wall edge of the huge reserve I met one of the RSPB workers, Alex, working at removing old barb wire strands. He told me some of the things he knew about the reserve and pointed the way to the reserve offices. Through a gate and a push along a grassy path, I then met a couple of dog walkers, Graham and Gill, who obviously loved the area as they said they came regularly. Sam their dog loved it too, soaked and muddy and shaking it all over us all. Graham told me about one of the stone circles, yes one of them; there are a few around the moors and walked back with me to make sure I didn't miss the small path to the nearest one.
Walking and pushing the bike along the path a very small dark butterfly went past me. I thought it was a brown argus but couldn't re-find it to photograph and confirm.
The stone circle consisted of around 20 small rocks with a diameter of about 15 meters.
To the office where the RSPB project manager, Rachel and Danny the site manager were painting the walls of one of the offices.
Taken into another office for a coffee, Danny explained to me about the cooperative nature of the project, cooperation between the RSPB and The National Trust. Together they manage the Eastern Moors, a much larger area at almost 2,500 hectares than I'd thought with more upland areas coming into the management plans in November. I was given a booklet about the importance of the site and its future was fascinated by the prehistoric history as well as its natural.
Outside I went around to the site of a large damaged dam, breeched to remove the reservoir that used to be there a few years back. Not big enough to supply the water needs of nearby Sheffield, the dam had been opened up as maintaining it under EU laws was prohibitively expensive. Now there were just a couple of small pools with croaking frogs and a couple of reed buntings.
Down the path to head to the main road, I found a whinchat, bird number 190 for the year, and heard willow warblers in an area of birch trees. Away over the moor I counted 96 red deer and found 15 more later.
I met a birder, Pete who said that he regularly birded this path. Then it was to another stone circle with a large burial cairn behind it.
Down to the main road I met a birder who said he'd just had a female ring ouzel back at the dam. So cycling back along the main road back towards the offices, I went over the cattle grid, saw a male redstart here on a hawthorn and searched with Pete, who'd also come in search of the ouzel. We found 3 wheatears in the area but no ring ouzel. So ended my visit but it is definitely on my list of 'must go back to' reserves.
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