Bird Records For Thorne Moors 1980

This was originally a typed report by Terry J. Wells and it has been reformatted and word processed by Bryan P. Wainwright (2003) with additional records included from other sources, notably Limbert, M., Mitchell, R.D., and Rhodes, R.J. (1986) Thorne Moors Birds and Man. Doncaster and District Ornithological Society: London.

English and scientific names, and sequence of birds, follows the List of Birds of the Western Palearctic (British Birds Ltd, 1997). The RSPB species of conservation concern cannot be used retrospectively, and so has not been used. Exceptional records such as earliest dates refer to the period up to 1980 only.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Heard at Paraffin area during spring and summer (ML). An adult with two chicks was seen at Shoulder o’ Mutton 8th June (WHP) and a single chick Paraffin area on 12th June (JTB).

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Occurring as single birds but occasionally as pairs most months.
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus
Seven flew over Crowle Moor on 30th November (ML).
Whooper Swan C. cygnus
Parties of 25, 3 and 4 seen over the moors in January and November.
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus 
Parties of 25 and 77 seen flying over the moors in March, and 103 seen on a date in November.
Common Teal Anas crecca 
A resident and breeding species. No records in January, but 50 at Mill Drain Marsh on 13th February and 35 there on 17th February. 15 adults and six young were seen on 12th June and one adult and three young were seen on 26th July. Maximum was on 5th October (WHP) and there were c.80 at Shoulder o' Mutton on 23rd November (ML).
Monthly maxima were: January nc, February 50, March 18, April 10, May nc, June 21, July 4, August nc, September nc, October 150, November 80, December nc
Mallard A. platyrhynchos
Frequent in all months and breeding. Largest parties reported include c.100 at Mill Drain Marsh on 17th February, 25 on 8th March and 30 on 29th July. Appears to be an increase on previous year’s maxima: 28 in 1979, 45 in 1978 and 54 in 1977. Around 40 Mallard are known to have been released locally but thought to not affect 1980 counts.
Pintail A. acuta 

There were c.20 at Shoulder o' Mutton on 23rd November (ML).
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Two males were at Inkle Moor Pond and later at the Paraffin cuttings on 1st March (GG).
Tufted Duck A. fuligula 
Four (two pairs) near New Zealand pump on 7th April and 11th May, also a single female at Limberlost area on 5th July (CF).

Birds of prey
Sites given for raptors are general. Usually only the first area of observation is stated, except where sites were very far apart. A comma between records of the same date means separate records. Depending on views the same bird of prey may be recorded differently by different observers. For example with Marsh Harrier; recorded as a female by one observer or a cream-crown by another, therefore with the following records this is taken into account and only the minimum number of birds per day is taken. Totals are the minimum possible numbers, calculated for all areas, plumages and observers for that day. All are adult birds, unless otherwise stated. Some birds are not aged and sexed due to distance or poor views.


Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 
05th June   2 Canal Tow Path (TJW)
13th June   1 female Shoulder o' Mutton (SH)
05th July    1 male Canal Tow Path (CF)
14th July    1 female near junction of Cottage Dike and west boundary of Southern Canals (TJW)

Hen Harrier C. cyaneus 
Numerous sightings in winter months. There were 11 sightings in January, 8 sightings in February, 7 sightings in March, 6 sightings in April, 5 sightings in October, 13 sightings in November and 5 sightings in December. Most records were from Mill Drain Marsh and Canals area. Maximum was four birds in a single day.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk
 Accipiter nisus       
Individuals were seen hunting over and along boundaries of moors on several occasions in most months but with the greatest number of sightings being between October and March. Most records were of females.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo         
One was soaring over Pony Bridge Marsh on 3rd March (CF).

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 
Seen in most months hunting over or along boundaries of the moors. Notable records include four at Mill Drain Marsh on 1st March and there again on 27th July.

Merlin F. columbarius 
Wintering and passage birds seen frequently, particularly in Mill Drain Marsh area. A total of 26 individuals on six occasions in January, 11 on three occasions in February and six on three occasions in March. Only two records on separate days in April. Apart from that one bird seen on 24th August, October saw an increase in sightings with six on two days, 29 on six occasions in November and eight on 2 occasions in December. 

Red-legged Partridge
 Alectoris rufa
A resident and breeding species in small numbers mainly on the margins. Pair with young seen on 26th June.

Grey Partridge Perdix perdix 
A resident and breeding species, with a covey of 10 in fields south of Elmhirst on 26th January.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Resident and breeding, most frequent near the margins of the moors.

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus 
Records only of birds calling in winter months: one from Inkle Moor Pond on 3rd March (WHP), at Will Pits on 23rd November (ML) and Canal Tow Path on 29th November (WHP).

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus   
Resident and breeding, but only in small numbers on moors and in dykes on surrounding farmland. Most records come from the main drains such as Swinefleet Warping Drain and Thorne Waste Drain east of Elmhirst pump and also the larger open water areas such as Inkle Moor Pond and Shoulder o’ Mutton.

Common Coot Fulica atra
There were fourteen records mainly of single birds. Most sightings were from flat area of colliery spoil tip, Inkle Moor Pond and Paraffin area. One juvenile was seen at Shoulder o’ Mutton on 15th July.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
One flew over on 23rd March.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 
There were nine sightings during the year, the earliest on 23rd April at Bell’s Pond. Other records in May, June and July were mainly of single birds, but with two on two occasions. 

Dotterel Charadrius morinellus
One appeared at Shoulder o’ Mutton on the tram and peat on 9th May with two there on 11th May.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria           
Local wintering and passage birds seen flying over the moors on three occasions.


Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Large wintering numbers on surrounding farmland with flocks of 500+ seen flying over the moors. Small numbers occasionally land, perhaps to roost, on bare peat areas. One pair appeared to be on territory between Shoulder o’ Mutton and Will Pits, with another pair on vegetated land near the colliery, but breeding was not confirmed.

Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus 
Two single birds, one at flat area of the colliery spoil, on 2nd November, and the other at the back of Bell’s Pond on 1st March.


Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 
Breeds and winters in small numbers on the moors. Maximum daily count was of 12.

Woodcock Scolopax rusticola 
Breeds and winters on the moors. There were a total of 14 records covering all months. Usually flushed as single birds or seen roding. Notable records include one heard roding over Rawcliffe Moor on 7th May, and an adult with two juveniles seen at Elmhirst pump on 11th May (ML).      

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
One flew over Shoulder o’ Mutton on 11th May.

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
One pair confirmed as breeding near the Shoulder o’ Mutton with two young seen on 12th June (TJW). This is only the second record of breeding in the last 20 years.


Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
First record was on 23rd June with two birds at Thorne Waste Drain at Woodpecker Corner. Thereafter a scatter of records in July, August and September from various open water areas and drains including Mill Drain Marsh, Bell’s Pond, Inkle Moor Pond, New Cut Drain, Shoulder o’ Mutton and again, Thorne Waste Drain. On 27th July there were nine separate records, with four at Thorne Waste Drain alone. Last record of the year was a single on 12th October.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Breeds in the vicinity of the peat cuttings and Shoulder o’ Mutton with maximum count of between 250 adults with 180 young. Outside breeding season small parties seen passing over the moors.
A pullus ringed here on 18th June 1980 was subsequently recovered at Davyhulme Farm, Greater Manchester on 17th October 1982.

Common Gull L. canus 
Small numbers do cross the moors most of the year. Largest flock 20+ 3rd February.


Lesser Black-backed Gull L. fuscus 
Small numbers are observed crossing the moors most of the year.


Herring Gull L. argentatus 
Small numbers do cross the moors most of the year. Largest flock 110 on 1st January. 

Great Black-backed Gull L. marinus
Small numbers do cross the moors at all times of the year. Largest flock 270 on 1st January. 

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
Single bird were seen from colliery spoil tip flying towards Humber (heading NE) on 27th August (WHP).

Stock Dove Columba oenas 
Occasionally seen passing over the moors or feeding on surrounding farmland.


Wood Pigeon C. palumbus 
Resident and breeding at or around periphery of the moors, and reported as roosting in winter in the vicinity of Will Pits, parts of Crowle Moor and Elmhirst pump wood. There were large flocks ofc.600 in January to March. 

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto                                    
Small numbers are sighted in the vicinity of larger wooded sections of the moors. Maximum was of five on 6th April. 

Turtle Dove S. turtur 
A common breeding species of birch scrub. First record on 1st May last on 24th August. Maximum count was of c.50 on 4th August.


Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
First record was on 27th April. Juveniles were seen near Shoulder o’ Mutton during August. 

Barn Owl Tyto alba 
One was seen at Bell’s Pond on 13th January (WHP, DB).

Tawny Owl Strix aluco
Two birds seen on 11th May and one on 3rd June near Elmhirst pump (CF).


Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus 
Recorded on eight occasions between January and April and November and December, from various localities around the moors usually as individuals but occasionally two are seen.

European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus 
On 19th May two males and one female at Rawcliffe Moor and six along Swinefleet Warping Drain between Pony Bridge and fire watch tower. Maximum count was 10+ between Elmhirst pump and Middle Moor Tram junction for Swinefleet. First date was 14th May with two sighted between Elmhirst pump and Pony Bridge. Last record was on 5th July when a pair was seen near Collis’s Tram. First date was 14th May, joint earliest ever year with 1976.


Common Swift Apus apus
Large numbers may congregate to feed near open water areas such as Mill Drain Marsh, Will Pits and Inkle Moor Pond, where the largest record of 200+ was reported on 9th July (WHP). First and last dates were 4th May and 3rd September.

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 
Reported on three occasions near Elmhirst pump.

Green Woodpecker Picus viridis 

Resident but present in small numbers only. Most sightings were of single birds in the vicinity of Elmhirst pump, Woodpecker Corner and colliery area.


Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Frequently seen resident reported in all months.

Sky Lark Alauda arvensis 
Breeds in small numberswith flocks outside the breeding season on surrounding farmland, with a maximum of c.130 reported.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia 
This species was seen on a number of occasions, in summer months in parties of one to four. First date was 4th May.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 
Bred at the edge of the moor under bridge over Thorne Waste Drain. Large numbers of c.90 feed over the moors. First and last dates were 21st April and 12th October.

House Martin Delichon urbica
Occasional single birds and small parties of less than five reported feeding over moors. First and last dates were 4th May and 12th October.

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Seen in very low numbers with a maximum of eight plus on 25th May and 25th June.
First and last dates were end of April and 27th July.

Meadow Pipit A. pratensis
A breeding bird, which appears to be decreasing in numbers as more heath vegetation is removed from the moors. An average daily count can reveal around 15 to 20 birds, with a maximum of 80+ at the colliery spoil tip on 4th August. 

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
This species frequents the larger areas of open water. Maximum count was of 20+ at the colliery spoil tip on 27th July. First and last dates were end of April and a single at Bell’s Pond on 27th August.

Pied Wagtail M. alba
There seems to have been an apparent decline in this breeding species numbers on the moors perhaps brought about by the much faster removal of peat stacks, its favoured nesting sites. In the past these were left for a year or two to dry out, now they tend to be removed within six months or less. First record was on 7th March and subsequently seen throughout the summer, with a maximum of 15+ at Bell’s Pond on 27th August.

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Resident and breeding, an average day count of about 10 is usual. 

Hedge Accentor Prunella modularis 
Breeds on the edge of the moors but infrequently seen and certainly present in only low numbers.

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Occurs throughout the moors in small numbers but more particularly on the edges.

Rufous Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos 
There was a minimum of eight singing males and a maximum of 11 including birds singing on the southern edges of Crowle Moor. Locations of singing males were north of Limberlost Farm SE735134 (one), near Pony Bridge on 14th May, SE741141 (one), west side of Will Pits SE743160 (one), and at the east side of Will Pits near Mill Drain on 19th May, (one) SE746157, also on evening of 19th May one at Crowle Moor SE747145. Earlier on 8th May birds were recorded elsewhere on Crowle Moor at SE748143, SE749142, SE750137, SE750141 and SE753142. First dates 4th May at Bell’s Pond.  

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra    
Breeds widely on open moors and amongst sparse scrub, with a maximum of 37 reported on 15th June. First and last dates were 4th May and in September.

Common Stonechat S. torquata 
Only two records: a male and female near the watch tower at Swinefleet Warping Drain on 13th January (FW) and a single near Inkle Moor on 14th

October (TJW).

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Singles and a party of three seen on three occasions in May, most records were from the colliery area. First and last dates were near Bell’s Pond on 23rd April and four in September.

Blackbird Turdus merula 
Resident and breeder but in small numbers.

Fieldfare T. pilaris 
A roost near Mill Drain Marsh held around 120 birds in mid October, building to c.400 by 1st November, and remaining at this level until late November, after which date the roost dispersed. First and date was 40+ around Hawthorn bushes near Jones Cable on 12th October.


Song Thrush T. philomelos 
This is a resident breeder in small numbers on the edges of the moors.

Redwing T. iliacus 
A flock of c.4000 birds were seen with Fieldfares passing over Jones Cable on 12th October. Feeds on surrounding farmland throughout winter and probably roosts at the moors.

Mistle Thrush T. viscivorus   
Infrequently seen and then usually as small parties flying over. Four over flew the moors on 1st January. There were three in trees at Woodpecker Corner on 12th October.

Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia 
Maximum was 5 singing males heard on 5th May. First date was from the colliery area on 22nd April. 

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Breeds widely, maximum of 16 singing males on 25th May. First and last dates were 4th May and 15th July. 

Reed Warbler A. scirpaceus
Breeds in relative abundance in suitable habitat, it is an important host to Cuckoos and an adult was seen feeding a young Cuckoo near the north-west corner of the Southern Canals. Maximum was 23+. First and last dates were 21st April the earliest ever up to this year and 3rd September.


Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Recorded on three dates, 5th May at Inkle Moor Pond and on 11th and 25th May at colliery area.

Common Whitethroat S. communis             
The maximum count for singing males was 45 on 25th May. First date was on 25th April. 

Garden Warbler S. borin
One near Bell’s Pond on first date and on 11th May with further single males at Elmhirst pump and the Pony Bridge area on the same date, 25th May. There were three at Will Pits on 13th July. First date was on 10th May.

Blackcap S. atricapilla           
A count of 16 was obtained on the first date, with a further 3 three on 11th May. No other records received but breeds widely. The first date was 5th May.  

Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Four were heard on the first date with a maximum of 6+ on 5th May. First and last dates were 6th April and two at the colliery area on 7th September. 

Willow Warbler P. trochilus
Over 40 were counted on 16th April building to a maximum of 160+ round the moors on 5th May. First and last dates were 6th April and three on 3rd September. 

Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Maximum was 11 on 23rd November (ML), and seven were counted on Crowle Moor on 30th November. First record was of five on 5th October. 

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Not recorded June to August, but seen occasionally in other months often in parties of 10-12.

Willow Tit Parus montanus 
Resident and breeding in small numbers, maximum was 15 on 17th November (ML).

Coal Tit P. ater
Probably only a winter visitor to wooded fringes of the moors with single birds seen on five occasions, and two together on only one occasion. With the exception of one record from Crowle Moor all records came from Woodpecker Corner.

Blue Tit P. caeruleus 
Small numbers seen most months but not recorded May to July, and the maximum count was 25 on 3rd February.

Great Tit P. major
Resident but with only small numbers reported most months with fewest records in summer, with an average of one or two on winter days. Maximum was seven on 23rd November (ML).

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
A breeding resident seen frequently in areas of more mature woodland along the moors edges, though probably nesting in the interior. Maximum count was 56 on 26th October, which was presumably associated with a roost.

Magpie Pica pica
Single birds and occasional pairs seen at Inkle Moor Pond and Will Pits.

Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula           
Two were recorded flying over the moors on 5th May.

Carrion Crow C. corone
Groups of 2-3 frequently seen in tree bordering the moors especially near Woodpecker Corner. Maximum count was of 40+ flying over the moors to roost on one occasion.

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Very few records of birds actually on the moors but abundant in nearby arable fields.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Seen chiefly near farm buildings around the moors, but there were significant counts elsewhere, with 100+ at Bell’s Pond on 27th July and 120+ at the colliery spoil tip and a further 60+ at Woodpecker Corner, on 26th October.

Tree Sparrow P. montanus
Found infrequently in small numbers around the moor’s edges especially in winter, notably in the area from the colliery area to Woodpecker Corner and along Jones Cable.

Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Seen chiefly at wooded areas on the moor’s edge, with a maximum count of seven near Swinefleet side of moors on 21st January (STH). Four were seen on 27th July at Thorne Waste Drain. Breeding took place at Woodpecker Corner.

Brambling F. montifringilla 
The only record was of 22 passage birds over flying Jones Cable on 12th October, and this is the earliest return date ever.
One ringed on the moors on 6th April 1974 was recovered at Schonhausen, near Magdeburg, German Democratic Republic on 16th March 1980. 

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Infrequent with most records being of single birds or small parties, but the maximum count was of 120+ in the colliery area on 29th March.

Goldfinch C. carduelis 
Seen occasionally flying over and more frequent in the colliery area with a maximum of 70+ at the colliery spoil tip, on 24th August.

Siskin C. spinus
Only records were of a single male at the edge of Crowle Moor on 30th November and a single on 28th December.

Linnet C. cannabina 
Generally only seen in small parties but with several large counts as follows. There were 70+ in fields near Woodpecker Corner on 21st March, 220+ (an all time maximum) at the colliery spoil tip on 24th August, 90+ in the colliery area on 5th October and 150+ in the same latter area on 1st November.

Common Redpoll C. flammea
Seen around the moors most days with a daily average of 15-20 birds. Larger counts included 40+ on 25th May, 40+ in the colliery area on 27th July, and the year’s maximum of 50+ there on 29th November. 

Common Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula 
Occurs widely in small numbers but records include 20+ on 3rd February and 15+ on 28th December.

Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
This species seems to be increasing and breeds widely on the moors. It can be seen in all months with highest counts being 144 at Jones Cable on 30th January increasing to 178 by 13th February.

Reed Bunting E. schoeniclus
A resident breeder over the whole moors, and winter flocks of 50+ may be seen on the moor edges, particularly along more vegetated drains.



List of Observers
J.T. Bassindale, David Beaumont, Clive Featherstone, Geof Grafton, Steve Hiner, S.T. Holliday, Martin Limbert, William H. Priestley, Bryan P. Wainwright, Jonathan M. Wainwright, Terry J. Wells.