Bird Records For Thorne Moors 1991

Compiled by Peter C. Roworth and Janet M. Roworth


Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 
One pair observed on 27th April and single sightings on 17th March and 12th May at the Paraffin Works. One on the New Cut Drain 30th August.

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Five flew W over moors on 19th October.


Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Sightings of single birds flying over usually during spring and autumn. One was over the NNR on 18th July.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
One was flying SE over the NNR 16th March and one over the moors on 15th October.

Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus 
120 flying SW over the NNR 19th February. 90 flying NW over the NNR 4th March. 53 flying over the moors 5th November.

Common Teal Anas crecca 
Generally seen most months, usually flushed in small groups from drains in southern area of moors. Breeds in small numbers. 80 flew from Bell’s Pond on 2nd October, 32 disturbed from New Cut Drain 8th October and 60 flushed from Paraffin Works on one December.

Mallard A. platyrhynchos
Occasionally seen in small numbers, throughout the year. Twenty-five flew over Paraffin Works 6th August. 

Garganey A. querquedula 
A pair was disturbed from the Southern Boundary Drain 6th October (SH). This is a scarce visitor to the moors, with the last recorded sighting on 8th May 1983, when a male was seen in the Shoulder of Mutton area.

Common Pochard Aythya ferina 
A pair was seen on Bell’s Pond on 12th December. 

Goosander Mergus merganser
A male flew SW over the moors 7th November. 

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 
A male was observed hunting S of the NNR 9th May.

Hen Harrier C. cyaneus
04th January       1 male flying E over NNR
01st February       1 male near Cottage Dyke
19th February      1 male hunting over Pony Bridge Marsh
18th March          1 female hunting over eastern area of NNR
09th April             1 male was flying low and direct over NNR
30th August         1 female over ‘Middle Moor’
14th September    1 male flying south over NNR
23rd September    1 male being mobbed by Sparrowhawk east of NNR
22nd December    1 male flying over ‘Middle Moor’
27th December     1 male flying S over NNR

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Probably up to three pairs bred in woodland on the edge of moors. Birds observed most months. A male was seen to fly into a flock of Fieldfares and make a kill in Will Pits Wood on 28th November. 

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 
Breeds in woodland on edge of moors. Hunting regularly observed on NNR and over abandoned peat cuttings to the south.

Merlin F. columbarius 
Occasionally observed during the winter months. One male flushed from heather, along Mill Drain 17th January. One flying SE across southern area of moors 19th January. One male flying along northern boundary of NNR 11th February. One flying low along eastern boundary of NNR 20th September. One flushed from birch tree along southern boundary of NNR 10th November. One was flying SW over Shoulder of Mutton 10th December. 

Hobby F. subbuteo
This is a regular summer visitor.
21st May              2 disturbed from dead birch tree in ‘Middle Moor’
31st May              1 hawking for insects over Pony Bridge Marsh late evening
09th June            1 flew SW over NNR
30th June            1 flew NW to NNR from Pony Bridge Marsh area
14th July             1 over NNR
20th July             2 near Pony Bridge Wood 
23rd July             2 feeding over ‘Middle Moor’
28th July             5 adults feeding over NNR
31st July              1 flying SE over NNR
03rd August         1 flying along southern edge of moors
07th August         1 over NNR
08th August         1 flew from ‘Middle Moor’ to Will Pits
02nd September   1 flushed from edge of New Cut Drain
07th September    1 over NNR
17 September       1 over southern area of moors

Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus
One adult male was flying E near the colliery spoil heap on 11th January. One juvenile female disturbed from NNR 14th September, possibly the same bird also seen near Bell’s Pond on 20th September. 

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
Seen occasionally along the disused tramways during the summer. Breeding proven with c.4 pairs.

Grey Partridge Perdix perdix 
Breeds generally seen alongside old tramways. One pair with 9 young flushed from SE corner of NNR.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Birds generally widespread throughout the southern half of the moors, however numbers are exaggerated by locally released stock.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Birds flushed from the edge of Bell’s Pond: One on 14 July. Two were seen on 7th August. Three were seen on 27th August. One was seen on 29th August. One was seen on 23rd September. One bird flew from Cottage Dyke on 14th July. 

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Occasionally seen flying over moors. Maximum was 26 flying W 10th February. Breeding on Paraffin Works Cuttings with c.200 adults counted 26th May. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull L. fuscus 
Infrequently seen flying over moors. Seven NW 10th February. Two N over NNR 10th August. One flew NW on 7th September. Two flew over NNR on 1st December. 

Herring Gull L. argentatus 
One was flying NE over NNR 1st May. Four were flying W 26th May. Three were flying NW 11th June.

‘Comic’ Tern Sterna hirundo / paradisaea 
One ‘comic’ tern was flying SE over ‘Middle Moor’ 16th April.

Stock Dove Columba oenas 
Infrequently seen on the edge of moors most months. Four flew from Woodpecker Corner 7th September.


Wood Pigeon C. palumbus  
Regularly observed in the wooded areas of the moors. Large numbers roost in Will Pits and Pony Bridge Woods during the winter. 1000+ birds observed in two hours flighting to roost to Pony Bridge Wood 21st November.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
First sighting 26th May with two observed near Bell’s Pond. Breeds in woodland on edge of moors.

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
One calling in Will Pits Wood 27th April, last sighting was of one flying S over NNR 12th August. Regularly observed and heard over the moors during the summer months. Maximum was 11 birds observed 12th May.

Barn Owl Tyto alba 
A pair was observed in good evening light, hunting over old peat workings in the SE area of the moors 11th July (JM).

Little Owl Athene noctua
One was hunting at NE corner of moors near Top Moor Farm 8th May.

Tawny Owl Strix aluco
One was calling Will Pits Wood 11th June and one calling near Elmhirst Pump 16th June. 

Long-eared Owl Asio otus
An excellent view of a bird 10 yards from observer (SH, BPW) near Casson’s Garden 10th February. Two pairs proven breeding in the Green Belt area (N of rhododendron path) and Casson’s Garden area, the observer (BE) heard juveniles making the typical ‘rusty hinge’ hunger calls.

Short-eared Owl A. flammeus 
Two were hunting over Cottage Dyke, near the NNR 9th February. One flushed from ground cover on ‘Middle Moor’ on 25th October. 

European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus 
First heard churring 3rd June S of NNR, last sighting 17th September when one flew across Angle Drain near Pony Bridge Marsh. There were 46 churring males heard on the moors, in the most suitable habitat of birch, bracken and heather of old peat baulks.

Common Swift Apus apus
Regularly observed hawking for insects over the moors. Twenty flew over the NNR 14th May, and the last sighting was of several groups of birds feeding and moving E 12th August.

Green Woodpecker Picus viridis 
A pair proved breeding in oak tree on SW edge of moors. Occasionally observed on NNR when single adult birds are disturbed from standing dead birch trunks.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
One flushed from birch on NNR 12th August. One was near Nightjar Corner 20th October. One was flying over NNR 27th December. 

Sky Lark Alauda arvensis 
Breeds in small numbers on the open areas of old peat workings in the southern half of the moors. Birds occasionally seen on passage during the early spring and late summer. During a period of four hours a continuous movement of small groups of c.20 birds flying over moors, but not in any specific direction on 19th February. Two birds in song, over ‘Middle Moor’ 26th February. Twelve were flying SW over NNR 29th July.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 
Occurs in small numbers, usually mixed in with Swifts, feeding over moors. First sighting one to N of NNR 18th April. Last sighting three over NNR 17th September.


Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Three or four pairs usually breed amongst old peat workings. One was in song near NNR 25th April. Five were moving along S boundary of NNR 2nd September. 

Meadow Pipit A. pratensis
Seen most months and breeds in small numbers. Singles in song and displaying S and E of NNR 23rd April. A flock of 30 birds disturbed along S boundary of NNR 2nd September.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Singles flying over moors on 5th May, 12th May, 19th May. Three were feeding on side of track at N edge of moors.

Grey Wagtail M. cinerea
Two were flying W over NNR 17th September.

Pied Wagtail M. alba
Generally observed on W edge of moors near Bell’s Pond, colliery spoil heap and the old Paraffin Works.
‘White’ Wagtail M.a. alba
One near Paraffin Ponds 12th May and one on peat bank near fire tower 26th May.

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Normally a common resident, but the severe cold spell in February has reduced numbers. One in song on the NNR on 1st March, on which only one pair bred compared with seven in 1990.

Hedge Accentor Prunella modularis 
Generally occurs on the edge of moors amongst scrub and woodland cover. Two were in Will Pits Wood 19th January. One disturbed from willows along N boundary of NNR 26th February. Five individuals recorded on moors on 3rd November. 

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Breeds in suitable scrub and woodland. One was in song on NNR 28th February. Maximum count of 12 observed on 17th March. An adult in full autumn song was heard in Pony Bridge Wood on 21st November. 

Rufous Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos 
The usual locations held territories giving a total of 10 pairs compared with 13 pairs in 1990. First heard in song 11th May, in Will Pits. A bird was observed flying from Will Pits into a hawthorn bush alongside Swinefleet Warping Drain on 12th May.

Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
One male flew along the S boundary of the NNR 2nd September.

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Birds breed amongst old peat workings in the southern area of the moors, the main stronghold being the NNR where nine pairs were recorded breeding. First observed on 14th April on the NNR and a last sighting of a male near Woodpecker Corner on 7th September.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Singles seen on passage on 9th April, 26th May, 4th June, 12th August.

Blackbird Turdus merula 
Occasionally observed along the edge of the moors, but numbers tend to increase throughout the area during the autumn with passage birds. There were four in Will Pits on 19th January, one male along the N boundary of the NNR 4th June and 12 near Bell’s Pond 11th November.

Fieldfare T. pilaris 
A large passage of birds flying to roost was observed on 11th January near Inkle Moor. Six were in Pony Bridge Wood 10th February. A good movement of birds was noted on 20th October with a total of c.1000 birds observed in small groups, all flying W.

Song Thrush T.  philomelos 
Infrequently observed, generally on edge of moors. One in song in Will Pits 17th June and another near Casson’s Garden 14th July. There were two single sightings at the NNR on 7th March and 30th August. 

Redwing T. iliacus 
Generally mixed with Fieldfares, c.150 were observed flying W on 20th October. Individual flocks recorded on 10th November include 24 at the Paraffin Works and 16 along Limberlost Tram.

Mistle Thrush T. viscivorus 
One singing on W edge of moors 12th May. One in willow scrub on NNR 4th June.

Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia 
Territories normally held in scrub near Will Pits, Inkle Moors and scrub near Bell’s Pond. First heard ‘reeling’ on 12th May.

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Two or three pairs usually breed in the area near to Bell’s Pond. Six recorded there on 12th May.

Reed Warbler A. scirpaceus
First heard near Bell’s Pond 12th May. One pair established territory and bred on the NNR.

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca 
One heard on W edge of moors near Woodpecker Corner 12th May.

Common Whitethroat S. communis 
Regularly observed throughout the southern half of the Moors. Two were calling on the NNR 14th May. Last sighting on 14th September with one in scrub near Angle Drain and two in Pony Bridge Wood. A site visit to the moors by one observer on 26th May recorded 33 birds.

Garden Warbler S. borin
Occasionally observed. One was in Will Pits 12th May, an adult in full song on 11th June along N boundary of NNR.

Blackcap S. atricapilla 
Occasionally heard and observed in woodland and scrub on the edge of moors. One male was singing in Will Pits 12th May.

Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
One in birch scrub along S boundary of NNR 2nd September.

Common Chiffchaff P. collybita
Small numbers usually heard and seen in woodland and scrub. One was singing 16th March near Bell’s Pond. A pair always holds territory at the western end of the rhododendron path and was noted by all observers. It was also here where the last sighting was recorded on 14th September. 

Willow Warbler P. trochilus
Regularly heard and observed throughout the moors. A bird was in full song on 12th April along the N boundary of the NNR. One was seen along E boundary of NNR 7th September.

Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Infrequently heard and seen. One was in Woodpecker Corner 10th February. A single bird was observed in a mixed flock of Tits in Will Pits 20th October. 

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata 
One in Pony Bridge Wood 14th July and one calling with food in bill on 28th August near to NE corner of NNR.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Generally observed with other tits in small flocks, foraging for food during early spring and autumn. Five near Casson’s Garden 10th February. Six were at Will Pits 20th October. 

Willow Tit Parus montanus 
Occasionally observed amongst birch and willow scrub on old peat cuttings. One was in song on NNR 14th May, three along S boundary of NNR 2nd September, four were at Inkle Moor 10th November.

Coal Tit P. ater
There were three in a mixed flock of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits in Will Pits 20th October.

Blue Tit P. caeruleus 
Scattered sightings throughout the southern areas of the moors. There were seven in Pony Bridge Wood 20th October.

Great Tit P. major
Infrequently observed, generally in woodland and well-developed scrub. Five were near Woodpecker Corner 10th February, five with other Tits 20th October.

Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
One was in alders near the Paraffin Works 26th May.

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
Single sightings most months of birds flying through woodland S of Cottage Dyke. Two were near Woodpecker Corner 17th July, two along northern boundary of NNR 25th August, five at NE corner of NNR 7th September.

Magpie Pica pica
There were occasional sightings of these birds, usually along the edge of the moors, or seen flying over the old peat workings. One disturbed along the N boundary of the NNR 23rd April, one over Pony Bridge Marsh 4th June, three over NNR flying S on 21st November. An unusual number of 16 birds were disturbed from Woodpecker Corner on 20th October.

Rook Corvus frugilegus
There were eight near Shoulder of Mutton 10th November.

Carrion Crow C. corone 
Singles occasionally seen flying over moors during most months. Pre-roost numbers of birds generally build up on the more open areas of peat during late autumn. Six on ‘Middle Moor’ 8th August. There were sixteen to NE of NNR 23rd September.


Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 
Three flying E over moors 16th March

Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
There were infrequent sightings throughout the year. One was calling along S boundary of NNR 12th August. Autumn flocks generally occur on arable fields along edge of moors.

Brambling F. montifringilla 
One 3rd November and two 19th November, both sightings of birds mixed in with Chaffinches.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris 
Five flew SW over the rhododendron path on 6th October. 

Goldfinch C. carduelis 
Six were along Limberlost Tram on 14th April.

Siskin C. spinus
Two near Woodpecker Corner 7th September, 12 near Bell’s Pond 20th September, eight flying E over Will Pits 16 October, one in birches near Paraffin Works 10th November.

Linnet C. cannabina 
Small numbers seen during most months with six near Pony Bridge 14th April, 10 flying W over NNR 7th August, 12 over ‘Middle Moor’ 8th August. A flock of c.40 birds were seen coming into roost near Bell’s Pond on 11th November.


Common Redpoll C. flammea
Five over NNR 11th March, 15 in flock flying over ‘Middle Moor’ 20th October. During a site visit on 3rd November, one observer recorded 42 birds.

Common Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula 
Infrequently observed. One pair along rhododendron path 12th May, one male disturbed along N boundary of NNR 14th May.

Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Scattered sightings throughout the year. Maximum count was of 21 birds recorded on 17th March.

Reed Bunting E. schoeniclus
Generally distributed throughout the southern half of the Moors. Four birds in willows near Angle Drain 14th September.



List of Observers

Brian Eversham, Ian Edwards, Clive Featherstone, Steve Hiner, Martin Limbert, John Mortimer, Doug Page, Bill H. Priestly, Janet M. Roworth, Peter C. Roworth, Adrian Scutt, Bryan P. Wainwright, Eric Wright.