Nightjar habitat, 'Middle Moor', Thorne Moors




53o38´14´´N/00o53´50´´W Thorne Moors (centre) South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, Thorne Moors 2000ha, flat 4msl 
53o32´56´´N/00o55´52´´W Hatfield Moors (centre) South Yorkshire, Hatfield Moors 1463ha flat 6msl 
TOTAL RESERVE SIZE 3463ha (in management not all declared NNR) 
SPA, SAC, NNR, IBA, nominate RAMSAR 
Anytime (1974-2016)


Birding Site Guide


The Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve comprises two close but separate sites, Thorne and Hatfield Moors (please note there are separate written accounts for each on this website) which encompass most of the remaining (degraded) raised mire of the once much more extensive Humberhead Levels, they are the largest and second largest areas of lowland ombrotrophic (rain fed, though they were originally formed within a river flood plain) raised mire in Britain. They have low annual precipitation and share insect fauna affinities with counterparts in Poland, Germany and the Baltic States (Eversham 2000). They are considered to be western outliers of Continental type mires rather than the more usual Atlantic type found in Britain (Eversham 2000). As such, they are the only surviving mires of this type in Britain (Eversham, Skidmore and Buckland 1995). 


Thorne Moors comprises: Thorne Waste, Snaith & Cowick Moor, Rawcliffe Moor, Goole Moor and Crowle Moor, each defined by parish boundaries. All these areas are generally collectively referred to by just the largest of these parish moors as Thorne Moors (as will be followed here unless otherwise stated) and they are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). With the gradual cessation of peat extraction operations the Humberhead Peatlands NNR has expanded to include the whole of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. The Reserve is managed by Natural England, except Crowle Moor, which is administered by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Although all the areas are SSSI, not all are publicly owned and there are private sections particularly on Goole Moor comprising around 12 sections all N of Goole Moor Tram owned mostly by local farmers. These areas are easily identified as the blocks covered in birch scrub. The W end of Inkle Moor, the arrowhead, is owned by whoever owns the colliery area now and the shaft, or Long Meadow, is privately owned too. None of these areas are fenced or signed as private, but you should seek permission from the landowner before entering these areas (contact me via this website for information). The former colliery area is constantly in generally use as a sort of country park by locals walking dogs etc, and here presumed permissive access seems to be assumed. Applications as to recognition of this permissive access have been made to Doncaster Council (at least for the colliery road).

Thorne Moors is completely surrounded by intensive arable farmland, except for an area where the disused Thorne Colliery and associated spoil mound adjoin the village of Moorends. Additional to the NNR are adjacent conservation managed areas that are not NNR, either they have been recently acquired and not yet gone through the process or they are buffer zones such as agricultural land bought off farmers in mitigation of constant flooding.

Conservation managed land at Thorne Moors now stands at 2000ha of which 1918ha are NNR. 1550ha are owned and managed by Natural England (c.105ha not NNR but with c.45ha to be declared) and 450ha by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. For nature recording purposes the whole of the former colliery area, now demolished and wild, is included, which amounts to some additional 400ha (so the recording area for Thorne is 2400ha plus a reasonable distance across surrounding arable fields). Much of this colliery land has always been allotment gardens and the recreation grounds, some is colliery spoil mounds and flats with scrub and ponds and the rest is farmland or horse pasture.

Thorne and Crowle are on the route of the Peatlands Way, a 72 km circular walk which connects with the Trans Pennine Trail. 

ACCOMMODATION can be found for Thorne Moors at Moorends or a little farther away at Thorne. 

Thorne Moors qualifies as a Wetland of International Importance under the terms of the Ramsar Convention, 1971. Thorne Moors is a Special Area of Conservation (under the European Community Habitats & Species Directive, 1992) as a raised mire capable of regeneration. Similarly Thorne Moors is a Special Protection Area (under the European Community Birds Directive, 1979) because of the nationally important numbers of breeding European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus

ACCESS POINTS Note; Thorne Moors has dangers such as deep water ditches and Adders, also insects such as mosquitoes and horse flies can be about in large numbers in summer and ticks from deer and livestock may carry Lime's disease. The site is also very large and it is easy to walk along the paths and lose your sense of direction, maps and compass and notes of where you have turned would be useful and take enough water and wear suitable footwear. 

From the W side, Moorends approaches, there are 3 official public access points, there are no public access points from Thorne, the only recognised Public Right of Way heading in the direction of the moors from Moor Edges Road towards Limberlost (called Moor Owner’s Road) falls short and is a dead-end. 1. Grange Road, 2. Wilkinson Avenue to Jone’s Cable, 3. Broadbent Gate Road to Moor Lane and Jone’s Cable.

1. Grange Road, as you enter Moorends over the railway-crossing look for a road on your left called Grange Road, the main access point is from the public right of way footpath, which is found at the far end of Grange Road. There is parking either in the street or at the Moorends recreation ground car park (closed at night). Walk along the footpath towards the colliery buildings and follow the path to the ‘T’ junction of the colliery road, go across and follow the wide track along the base of the colliery spoil mounds on your right and the fields on your left. After one and a half km you will reach the edge of the moors, continue along the path and over a metal footbridge. There is a Natural England (NE) sign and map here. Thorne Moors has at least 30km of footpaths, set on a large grid of raised pathways (trams) that were left after the dismantling of the narrow-gauge railway that was used for removing the peat.

2. Wilkinson Avenue is located off the main road through Moorends which is Marshland Road. At the end of Wilkinson Avenue go past the bollards and onto Moor Lane turning N (left) to the Public Right of Way called Jone’s Cable. After 1 mile you will reach the edge of the moors just past the colliery spoil mounds.

3. Broadbent Gate Road is located off the junction of the main road through Moorends and Thorne; Marshland Road which becomes King Edward Road after the only bend (Relay Corner). At the bend take Broadbent Gate Road to Moor Lane and N to Jone’s Cable Public Right of Way. After 1 mile you will reach the edge of the moors just past the colliery spoil mounds.

There are other access points from the E either private, such as along the Colliery Road and along a farm track to the Paraffin area. The former is widely used by locals as an unofficial public access.

From the E side, Crowle approaches, there is 1 official public access point along Dole Road leading to 3 car parks. From the W side of Crowle follow Newbrigg towards the moors, it becomes Moor Road and then Dole Road. Turning N at the junction off Dole Road at the moors’ edge leads up a rough track and eventually to a small grass car park, if it is not dry 4x4 may be required. Turning S at the same junction leads along a tarmac road to the council car park and the well signed new Public Right of Way onto Crowle Moor, or a little further along to another small grass car park. The council car park offers the most direct access onto Thorne Moors of these 3 via the bailey bridge over Swinefleet Warping Drain which is the only public crossing point (the drain is the county boundary).

Additional access points exist for official access only and a key for the gate to the moors is required for access by vehicle from Natural England. At least parts of these approaches are private so there is no public access by foot.

From the NW side, Rawcliffe Bridge approaches, there is 1 official access point (not public) along Moor Road leading to Creyke’s railway crossing and cottages. From the manual crossing the tarmac stops as does the public road and it is then a private track to the moors locked gate.

From the NE side, Swinefleet approaches, there is 1 official access point (not public) along King’s Causeway leading to any number of lanes towards the moors. Quay Lane then New Road then Crossmoor Bank to Reading Gate being the most direct then W to NE corner of Thorne Moors and the locked gate to Swinefleet Warping Drain bridge. 

HABITATS Around the moors intense arable agricultural drainage and encroachment have eaten away at the margins of the mire. While at the centre of Thorne Moors, located at SE730160, where the ground lies between 1-3m above mean sea level (Ordnance Survey ExplorerTM maps 280 and 291) large-scale commercial peat winning continued until 2001. All of the peat area has been worked at least once and sometimes several times as the water level was continuously lowered by pumping. In the buyout agreement it was agreed that for nature conservation purposes at least 0.5m of peat would be left to restore the bog, and this amount or less of peat was left before the handover to English Nature, much of which could not have been extracted anyway due to the huge number of ancient tree stumps (Oak and Scots Pine) in this basal layer. In some areas such as some of the deepest drains, even this basal layer of peat was removed and the ditch dug down into the silt layer below, affecting nutrient availability and hydrology. The only small area that has never been worked is Northern Goole Moor (c.17ha) which is in private ownership.

Thorne Moors comprises a range of habitat types, from the recently large bare boggy areas where peat winning occurred until recently which has now been colonised by Soft Rush Juncus effusus, cotton-grasses Eriophorum and sphagnum through to mature carr and other woodland, mainly on the edges. Drier areas, often former baulks of the ditch and stack method of peat winning, are colonised by heathers Ericaceae and much of these areas are dominated by birch Betula scrub that is in a stunted state due to the waterlogged nature of the terrain, and is constantly being cleared as part of the management program to reduce evapotranspiration. Around the edges of the moors are small areas of mature oak Quercus woodland as at Northern Goole Moor and Woodpecker Corner and some larger woods of birch Betula, Alder Alnus glutinosa and willow Salix, in parts overrun by rhododendron as at Pony Bridge Wood, Limberlost, Casson’s and Will Pits. Long abandoned manual ditch and stack peat diggings in the central areas of the moors have reverted back to semi-natural mire vegetation, interspersed with drier areas resembling heath creating a varied wildlife mosaic. 


BIRDING AREAS These will be given assuming access from the W side, Grange Road. There are many good birding areas all over the moors. As you walk along the public footpath past the disused colliery it is worth looking for Northern Wheatears, Redstart and Great Grey Shrike. Rarities here have included Black Redstart and Richard’s Pipit on the colliery spoil mounds. 
From the metal footbridge you can continue by several routes, if you take any route to the N you will after a short time come to Fison’s Limestone Road, which bisects the site E-W across the centre of the reserve. To the N there are a series of large shallow lagoons (flooded workings) made as part of the restoration project after peat extraction ceased in 2001 to provide optimal conditions for sphagnum growth and this gives this area a more open fenland type feel. The birding along the road and around the lagoons is good at any time of year and all day can be spent carefully checking this area using the raised paths for access and the peat observation mounds that dot the area. Along this road to your S there is Mill Drain running alongside with few crossing points to the heather and birch scrub and smaller pools beyond. Crossing points can be found at Green Belt at the W side (3) and at Middle Moor Tram where it meets the road and a further 2 crossing points in Will Pits (and the road to Will Pits Scrape). Around the edges of the moor are woodlands, mainly of mature birch (such as Pony Bridge Wood, Casson’s and Limberlost) with areas of Alder Alnus glutinosa (at the Alder woods on the NW side) which are good for Redpoll and Siskin. Sycamore woods at Bell’s, Oak at Northern Goole Moor and Oak and Beech at Woodpecker Corner. Will Pits is mainly five species of willow with Grey WillowSalix cinerea predominant but with some oddities (see flora below). 
North of the road depending on time of year many species can occur, in winter look for Hen Harrier and the occasional Marsh Harrier, though the latter are present all through summer. Check the often large gull roost for rarer species, and the large flocks of ducks, mainly Mallard, Teal, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon and Northern Pintail for other species. On passage there are large movements of Meadow Pipits, wagtails, hirundines and Common Swift, some remaining throughout summer. Along the road look for Whinchats and Stonechats and on summer nights try for European Nightjars (EN do guided nightjar walks see below). Rarities here have included Lesser Yellowlegs, White-rumped Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper and Caspian and Gull-billed Tern. Further N and a little E in this area, is the area known as Shoulder o’ Mutton, where in 1974 a Killdeer was found and watched by several observers. 

Will Pits wood, Thorne Moors

Heading further E you will reach the willow and birch carr woodland of Will Pits. There are many paths through here. In summer this is the best area for Common Nightingales and check the tit flocks for Lesser-spotted Woodpecker. At the east end of the wood you reach the ‘T’ junction of the road and the large Swinefleet Warping Drain. Going N you can pass the wood then take one of 2 trams back W to the lagoons, in the marsh alongside these trams good numbers of Jack Snipe winter. A Stone Curlew was found along here in recent years. If instead of going along the tram W you continue to the N edge you can walk along the peat birding the peripheral woodlands. From the road ‘T’ junction at Will Pits you can also head S, past the wood and EN maintenance shed to Will Pits Scrape, which is always worth a look (recently White-fronted Goose). Going further S takes you past an area of birch scrub called Pony Bridge Marsh, where Bluethroats (White-spotted) bred one year and males return for several other years in succession (bred 1996 returning the following 3 years). These are the extracts from the Annual Reports

1996 Bluethroat Luscinia svecica Listed by the Rare Breeding Birds Panel. On the late afternoon of 2nd June, Martin Limbert located, at first by a persistent ‘chip’ call, a male ‘White-spotted’ Bluethroat L.c. cyanecula at an area of stunted and burnt over birch scrub along a track on Pony Bridge Marsh close to Angle Drain. ML informed BPW who arrived alone at 19.30hrs, and immediately located the male close-by, a second much duller Bluethroat appeared some distance behind the first bird and on the very brief (unfocused) views was either another duller male or a female. PCR and JMR then arrived and viewed both birds. Further detailed observations revealed that two pairs were actually present and that both pairs raised two broods; there was also an unmated third male present. The last bird, which was a male, was seen on 31st July. This is the first known breeding of this race in Britain and the only known nesting of Bluethroats in England. A full account appears in Bluethroats at Thorne: an Observational Diary (ML & PCR). Obviously these Bluethroat records were not included in the printed reports of the time because of the species listing by the Rare Breeding Birds Panel. The records have been retro-fitted in.

Further S still is the flooded willow and birch area of Pony Bridge Wood at the SE corner. Here you can walk around the wood or take the tram on the N side heading back W. As you head W the wood becomes birch scrub, here and the central area towards the road are good for European Nightjars, and Long-eared Owls. Coming to the SW corner look out for the odd Tree Pipit, you will then reach the oak and lime wood of Woodpecker Corner, good for woodpeckers and Treecreeper. Along the boundary drain of the W edge heading back towards the colliery look for Green Sandpiper in the drain and marsh. Rarities here have included White-tailed Eagle and Night Heron. 
By now the colliery mounds will be in view and the large reedbeds and hawthorn scrub will produce a good selection of finches and thrushes (big roosts in winter), buntings, warblers and tits, including Willow Tit. Bullfinches are frequent here as are Reed Buntings along the field edges. 

From the metal footbridge at the entrance to the reserve an alternative route is to go straight E along a long tram for a couple of km until you reach the centre of the moors where there is a metal observation platform. This platform is very popular for watching raptors, especially the always entertaining Hobbies in summer, also in summer Marsh Harriers and quartering Long-eared Owls (at night mostly) are present. Any time of year can be good for Peregrine, though these are more often encountered around the lagoons, Common Buzzards are sometimes seen as well and Eurasian Sparrowhawks and Common Kestrel are frequent. In winter look out for Merlin and Hen Harrier.


This list follows The British List (British Birds, 2010) and includes all species acceptably recorded from the mid-eighteenth century to the end of 2012. There are 235 species. 

  • Mute Swan Cygnus olor
  • Black Swan Cygnus atratus
  • Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus
  • Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
  • Bean Goose Anser fabalis
  • Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus
  • White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons
  • Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus
  • Greylag Goose Anser anser
  • Canada Goose Branta canadensis
  • Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
  • Brent Goose Branta bernicla
  • Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
  • Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
  • Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
  • Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
  • Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
  • Gadwall Anas strepera
  • Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  • Pintail Anas acuta
  • Garganey Anas querquedula
  • Shoveler Anas clypeata
  • Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
  • Common Pochard Aythya ferina
  • Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
  • Greater Scaup Aythya marila
  • Common Eider Somateria mollissima
  • Common Scoter Melanitta nigra
  • Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis
  • Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
  • Smew Mergellus albellus
  • Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
  • Goosander Mergus merganser
  • Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
  • Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix
  • Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
  • Grey Partridge Perdix perdix
  • Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
  • Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
  • Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
  • Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
  • Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris
  • Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta
  • Great White Egret Ardea alba
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
  • Black Stork Ciconia nigra
  • White Stork Ciconia ciconia
  • Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
  • Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
  • Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
  • Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus
  • Black Kite Milvus migrans
  • Red Kite Milvus milvus
  • White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
  • Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
  • Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
  • Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
  • Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
  • Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
  • Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
  • Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus
  • Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
  • Osprey Pandion haliaetus
  • Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
  • Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus
  • Merlin Falco columbarius
  • Hobby Falco subbuteo
  • Gyr Falcon Falco rusticolus
  • Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
  • Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
  • Spotted Crake Porzana porzana
  • Corn Crake Crex crex
  • Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  • Common Coot Fulica atra
  • Common Crane Grus grus
  • Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
  • Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
  • Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
  • Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
  • Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
  • Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
  • Dotterel Charadrius morinellus
  • European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
  • Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
  • Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
  • Red Knot Calidris canutus
  • Sanderling Calidris alba
  • Little Stint Calidris minuta
  • Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii
  • White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis
  • Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos
  • Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
  • Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima
  • Dunlin Calidris alpina
  • Ruff Philomachus pugnax
  • Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus
  • Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
  • Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
  • Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
  • Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
  • Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
  • Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
  • Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
  • Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
  • Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
  • Greenshank Tringa nebularia
  • Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
  • Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
  • Common Redshank Tringa totanus
  • Turnstone Arenaria interpres
  • Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus
  • Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
  • Common Gull Larus canus
  • Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
  • Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus
  • Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides
  • Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
  • Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  • Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
  • Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus
  • Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
  • Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
  • Little Tern Sternula albifrons
  • Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
  • Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
  • Black Tern Chlidonias niger
  • Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
  • Common Tern Sterna hirundo
  • Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
  • Puffin Fratercula arctica
  • Pallas's Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus
  • Rock Dove Columba livia
  • Stock Dove Columba oenas
  • Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
  • Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
  • Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
  • Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
  • Barn Owl Tyto alba
  • Little Owl Athene noctua
  • Tawny Owl Strix aluco
  • Long-eared Owl Asio otus
  • Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
  • European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus
  • Common Swift Apus apus
  • Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
  • Hoopoe Upupa epops
  • Wryneck Jynx torquilla
  • Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
  • Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
  • Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
  • Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
  • Magpie Pica pica
  • Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
  • Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula
  • Rook Corvus frugilegus
  • Carrion Crow Corvus corone
  • Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
  • Goldcrest Regulus regulus
  • Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
  • Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
  • Great Tit Parus major
  • Coal Tit Periparus ater
  • Willow Tit Poecile montana
  • Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus
  • Woodlark Lullula arborea
  • Skylark Alauda arvensis
  • Sand Martin Riparia riparia
  • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  • House Martin Delichon urbicum
  • Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
  • Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
  • Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
  • Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
  • Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
  • Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
  • Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
  • Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
  • Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis
  • Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia
  • Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina
  • Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
  • Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
  • Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
  • Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
  • Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
  • Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  • Rose-coloured Starling Pastor roseus
  • Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus
  • Blackbird Turdus merula
  • Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
  • Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
  • Redwing Turdus iliacus
  • Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
  • Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
  • Robin Erithacus rubecula
  • Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
  • Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
  • Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
  • Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
  • Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
  • Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
  • European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
  • Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
  • Dunnock Prunella modularis
  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  • Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
  • Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
  • Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
  • Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba
  • Richards Pipit Anthus richardi
  • Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
  • Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
  • Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
  • Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus
  • Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
  • Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
  • Greenfinch Chloris chloris
  • Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
  • Siskin Carduelis spinus
  • Linnet Carduelis cannabina
  • Twite Carduelis flavirostris
  • Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret
  • Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea
  • Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni
  • Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
  • Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
  • Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
  • Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Lapland Bunting Calcarius lapponicus
  • Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
  • Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
  • Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra


Appendix. Category D and E (incomplete) The following are separate to the foregoing list and form no part of the Thorne Moors species total.

D. Species that would otherwise appear in the main list, except there is reasonable doubt that they have ever occurred in a natural state. E. Species that are escapes etc. and have not occurred in a wild state.

  • Black Swan Cygnus atratus
  • Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus

Only record on 6th December 1971.

  • Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

Only record on 14th and 2lst January 1996.

  • Harris Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus

Observed flying in 'Middle Moor' area in summer 2000, the bird had jesses (RW).

  • Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus

Only record on 26th December 1997.

  • Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulates

Only record one at Inkle Moor on an unrecorded date in 1970s.

  • Lovebird Agapornis spp.

At Will Pits Scrape on 10th August 2001, and provisionally identified as Nyasa Lovebird Agapornis lilianae.

  • Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild

Only record of a juvenile at west end of Jones Cable on 20th June 1983.

  • Oriole Icterus spp.


For both moors a total of 25 species of mammal have been recorded, 10 are RDB. Both moors are well known strongholds of the Water Vole, and studies and management work to help this fastest declining British mammal is on-going.

  • Western Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus
  • Common Shrew Sorex araneus
  • Pygmy Shrew Sorex minutus
  • Water Shrew Neomys fodiens
  • Mole Talapa europaea
  • Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus
  • Daubenton’s Bat Myotis daubentonii
  • Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus
  • Noctule Bat Nyctalus noctula
  • Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
  • Stoat Mustela erminea
  • Weasel Mustela nivalis
  • American Mink Mustela lutreola (introduced)
  • Badger Meles meles
  • Reeves’ Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi (introduced)
  • Red Deer Cervus elaphus
  • Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
  • Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis (introduced)
  • Bank Vole Clethrionomys glareolus
  • Water Vole Arviola terrestris
  • Field Vole Microtus agrestis
  • Harvest Mouse Micromys minutus
  • Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus
  • Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus
  • Brown Hare Lepus campensis
  • Rabbit Oryctolagus coniculus


  • Grass Snake Natrix natrix
  • Adder Vipera berus
  • Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara
  • Smooth Newt Triturus vulgaris
  • Great-crested Newt Triturus cristatus
  • Common Toad Bufo bufo
  • Common Frog Rana temporaria

Great-crested Newt is no longer found on either Moors. 

The following list of Thorne Moors fish is taken from THMCF Technical Report No. 13, by Martin Limbert. Many are introduced.

  • European Eel
  • Pike
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Goldfish
  • Carp
  • Common Bream
  • Roach
  • Rudd
  • Tench
  • Three-spined Stickleback
  • Ten-spined Stickleback
  • Eurasian Perch


The huge invertebrate list stands at near 5000 species (over a quarter of the British list), placing it 3rd highest in rank of species for Britain after the New Forest and Windsor Great Park. The list includes 250 scarce species and 30+ Red Data species (including Bembidium humeral (RDB1), Curimopsis nigrita (RDB1) and Phaonia jaroschewskii (RDB2)) (www.thmcf.org/index.htm).

A new book treats all the invertebrates of the area and is available from Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum. The book includes some excellent colour artwork by the author. Skidmore, P. (2007) An Inventory of the Invertebrates of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. Thorne and Hatfield Conservation Forum, Doncaster. £15.00


Around 674 (372 macro & 302 micro) species on Thorne. 


Hesperiidae (skippers) 

  • Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
  • Large Skipper Ochlodes faunus/venata
  • Dingy Skipper Erynnis tages
  • Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae


Pieridae (whites and yellows)

  • Clouded Yellow Colias croceus
  • Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni
  • Large White Pieris brassicae
  • Small White Pieris rapae
  • Green-veined White Pieris napi
  • Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines

Lycaenidae (blues, coppers and hairstreaks) 

  • Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi
  • Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas
  • Silver-studded Blue Plebejus argus
  • Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus
  • Common Blue Polyommatus icarus
  • Brown Argus Aricia agestris

Nymphalidae (nyphalids-brush-footed butterflies) 

  • Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
  • Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
  • Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae
  • Peacock Inachis io
  • Comma Polygonum c-album
  • Dark-green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja

Satyridae (browns) 

  • Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
  • Wall Brown Lasiommata megera
  • Grayling Hipparchia semele
  • Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus
  • Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina
  • Small Heath Ceononympha pamphilus
  • Large Heath Ceononympha tullia
  • Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus


Aeshnidae (Hawkers) 

  • Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator
  • Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
  • Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea
  • Common Hawker Aeshna juncea
  • Scarce Hawker Aeshna mixta

Corduliidae (Emeralds) 

  • Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea

Libellulidae (Chasers, Darters, Skimmers) 

  • Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
  • Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
  • Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa
  • Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum
  • Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum
  • Black Darter Sympetrum danae
  • [White-faced Darter Leucorrhinia dubia


Coenagiidae (Damselflies) 

  • Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula
  • Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans
  • Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum
  • Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella
  • Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum

Lestidae (Damselflies) 

  • Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa
  • Agriidae (Damselflies) 
  • Banded Agrion Calopteryx splendens

Note: White-faced Dragonfly Leucorrhinia dubia no longer occurs on Thorne Moors. Emperor Dragonflies and others may be rare. In The Insects of Thorne Moors (Sorby Record No.23 Supplement 1985, Skidmore, Limbert and Eversham) the Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense is listed in square brackets, showing it to have been an erroneous or unproven record. 


Apidae (Bees) 

  • Bee Bombus lucorum
  • Bee Bombus terrestris
  • Bee Bombus (Melanobombus) lapidarius
  • Garden Bee Bombus hortorum
  • Bee Bombus subterraneus No longer occurs.
  • Heath Bee Bombus (Pyrobombus) jonellus
  • Early Bee Bombus pratorum
  • Common Carder Bee Bombus (Thoracobombus) pascuorum
  • Bee Psithyrus bohemicus
  • Bee Psithyrus campestris
  • Bee Psithyrus sylvestris
  • Bee Psithyrus vestalis


  • Honey Bee Apis mellifera introduced


For Thorne Moors 392 species of plant have been recorded, with at least 4 insectivorous species and 4 RDB (including one of the only sites in Britain for Greater Yellow Rattle).



283 species (up until 1987) have been recorded.

For further information about the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve and information on guided walks (European Nightjars included) please contact Natural England Senior Reserve Manager Julian Small, Humberhead Peatlands NNR, Unit 1a, Green Tree Warehousing, Tudworth Road, Hatfield, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN7 6HD. 

Eversham, B.C. (2000) SSSI boundaries of the Humberhead peatlands: ecological and geomorphological considerations in determining the boundaries of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest at Thorne and Hatfield Moors. Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum Technical Report No. 6. 

Eversham, B.C., P. Skidmore and P.C. Buckland (1995) Invertebrates as indicators of lowland bogs in eastern England: some British bogs in a European context. In: P.T. Harding and I. Valovirta (editors) 9th Colloquium of the European Invertebrates Survey: Bioindicators at a pan-European Level. Helsinki, 3rd-4th September 1993. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Abbots Ripton. 

Limbert, M. and Roworth, P.C. (1999) Bluethroats at Thorne: an Observational Dairy, Doncaster and District Ornithological Society, Doncaster. 


Penny Anderson Associates (2000) Consultant Ecologists. 

Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum 

Wainwright, B.P. (2004) Habitat Preferences of Rufous Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchus on Thorne Moors. Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum Technical Report No. 11. 

Author: B.P. Wainwright. All lists originally produced by B.P. Wainwright, unless otherwise stated.