Bird Records For Thorne Moors 1989

This was originally a typed report by P.C. Roworth and it has been reformatted and word-processed by Bryan P. Wainwright (2003) with additional records included from other sources, since a great many records were missed from the original due to no formal system being in place at that time.


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 1989 only.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Recorded from the Paraffin Cuttings and nearby flooded peat workings as on 5th November.

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
One immature was seen on 8th January, heading SE.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
One was seen on 29th September flying over E near Bells Pond.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
One on 18th August, flying over S near E boundary of Southern Canals (the area originally designated National Nature Reserve).

Tundra Swan C. columbianus
A group of 21 flew NW on 22nd January.

Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus

Two Skeins totaling 92 passed over on 22nd January, the first skein of 24 headed NW and the second skein of 68 went W (BPW, SH).

Greylag Goose A. anser
A pair was at the Paraffin Cuttings on 2nd April. One that had been shot was found in fields near the Paraffin area on 18th October.

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
Seen over the Canals area (no date).

Common Teal A. crecca 
There were several sightings most months on the Canals. Maximum was 32, on 4th November on New Cut.

Northern Shoveler A. clypeata
One was seen at the Paraffin area on 2nd August.

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
A pair was seen at the Paraffin area on 1st May, with a single at the same place on 2nd August.

Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
A female/immature was at Bell’s Pond on 5th October.

Goosander Mergus merganser 
Four were flying NW over Southern Canals on 13th December.

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
A cream-crown was seen on 19th August.

Hen Harrier C. cyaneus
05th October        1 male flying over N
07th December     1 male flying E from Southern Canals
08th December     1 female ‘Middle Moor’
13th December     1 female
28th December     1 male and 1 female Southern Canals

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Singles most months in SW area of moors. A pair was observed displaying on 14th June.

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 
Regularly seen. Maxima was three feeding over Southern Canals on 16th August and at least four over burnt area of moors on 21st September.

Hobby F. subbuteo
Regularly observed over Southern Canals area in June-August. First sighting on 29th June. Maximum was three on 12th July.

Red-footed Falcon F. vespertinus
A first-summer female was at the Canals on 25th to 29th May, and has been accepted by BBRC. This represents a new species for Thorne Moors.

Merlin F. columbarius
A winter visitor with a single seen, on 28th August for example.

Hobby F. subbuteo
One was observed on 22nd May, two were displaying on 26th May. Maximum was three on 25thJune and between 1st to 12th July, when two adult and later and an immature were involved.

Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus
A probable immature male was seen on 21st January, with an adult on 1st May and an immature /female on 28th October.

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
Released birds and shooting affect numbers, six were seen on 16th April with two at each of the following areas, colliery, adjacent fields and Elmhirst pump. Eight were seen flying from Durham’s Garden towards the Paraffin area on 21st September.

Grey Partridge Perdix perdix 
Occasionally seen along the edge of the moors. On 12th March two were at Shoulder o’ Mutton and a further two were at Elmhirst pump.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Singles seen and heard most months in the more wooded areas.

Common Coot Fulica atra
There were occasional records in winter, with six plus on 26th February. One was on the New Cut Drain, on 5th October. Breeding areas were Paraffin Cuttings, Shoulder o’ Mutton and Inkle Moor Pond.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 
One flushed from small area of water near Thorne colliery on 30th June.

Great Ringed Plover C. hiaticula
Present at Thorne colliery from mid-March to 26th July, with two adults and three juveniles seen in late May.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
Two were flushed from bare peat workings WNW of Shoulder o’ Mutton on 9th April.

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Seven were seen flying over NW on 19th June. Nineteen were flying over NE on 20th October.

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 
Sightings generally result from birds being flushed from boggy feeding areas.  Maximum was eight on 29th September.

Woodcock Scolopax rusticola 
Four were flushed at Swinefleet Warping Drain on 16th April and two were near Casson’s on 24th June.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Five flew overhead  (four heading WSW) on 9th July.

Eurasian Curlew N. arquata 
A calling bird flew over and landed at Shoulder o’ Mutton on 2nd April. One was flying over moors on 26th July.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus 
One was recorded at peat workings near Paraffin area on 3rd August. One flew E over Bell’s Pond on 21st September. One was flushed with Common Snipe S of Southern Canals on 29th August.

Common Greenshank T. nebularia
Two flew overhead on 20th July.

Green Sandpiper T. ochropus
09th July             1
11th July             2 flying over near Thorne colliery
20th July             8 seen 
11th August         1 flushed from Cottage Dyke
04th October        1 feeding near Southern Boundary Drain
20th October        2 flying over E near Bell’s Pond

Wood Sandpiper T. glareola
Two or three were flushed from flooded peat workings next to the Paraffin area on 21st May.

Little Gull Larus minutus
A first-winter was present with four Black-headed Gulls at Shoulder o’ Mutton on 7th May.

Black-headed Gull L. ridibundus
Around 280 were present at the Paraffin Cuttings from 26th March. At Shoulder o’ Mutton a maximum of 45, were seen on 26th March but did not remain, possibly due to this area being drained. 

Common Gull L. canus 
A scarce species, occasionally seen over flying the moors singly or in small groups.


Lesser Black-backed Gull L. fuscus 
An adult and six immatures mingled with Black-headed Gulls at Paraffin Cuttings on 21st May.

Herring Gull L. argentatus
Two headed S on 12th November. 

Glaucous Gull L.  hyperboreus
An adult flew south on 26th November (AS) and was a new species for Thorne Moors.

Great Black-backed Gull L. marinus
Three passed E on 12th March.

Common/Arctic Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea
Two flew NW on 30th May.

Stock Dove Columba oenas 
Seen in the colliery area, one flew over here on 24th September, and two in the same area on 26th December for example.

Wood Pigeon C. palumbus        
Over 300 were seen on 22nd January.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
An uncommon breeding species, with two seen on 9th July.


Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Several sightings throughout summer months, one juvenile on 24th August.

Tawny Owl Strix aluco
Two flushed from sallow bush, along N boundary of Southern Canals on 25th September.

European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus 
Forty-four churring males were recorded on the moors. One female and juvenile flushed from W boundary of Southern Canals on 7th August. One juvenile flushed from W boundary of Southern Canals on 21st August.

Common Swift Apus apus
Regularly observed feeding over the moors during the summer, with a maximum of 400 over the Paraffin area on 2nd August. Last observed on 29th August.

Green Woodpecker Picus viridis 
Singles frequently observed in areas of birch on the moors. On 22nd January one was perched in a dead tree at Bell’s Pond with a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
One was near N boundary of Southern Canals on 16th August and on 5th October. One was near SW corner of Southern Canals on 7th December.

Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
Sometimes seen in small numbers, as on 2nd April when six were seen.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Over 80 flew NW with a passage of Common Swifts on 30th July.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 
Commonly feeds over the moors during the summer months. Over 50 passed S on 21st September and two were flying over SE on 29th September.

House Martin Delichon urbica
Over 20 headed S on 3rd June and 16 + were seen on 10th September. On 21st September at least five headed S.


Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
An uncommon species, one was seen at Elmhirst pump area on 11th June.


Meadow Pipit A. pratensis
Over 70 were counted on 26th March. Thirty were flying over E on 18th September near Thorne colliery. One hundred and forty flew W over Southern Canals in half an hour on 5th October.

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Regularly observed in areas of birch scrub and the edge of Phragmites beds. High counts were obtained on some dates, with 57 on 26th March, 46 on 2nd April, 51 on 9th July and 48 on 26th November.

Hedge Accentor Prunella modularis
Small numbers resident mainly around the moor’s edges, three were seen on 22nd January for example.

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Singles infrequently observed in scrubby thickets.

Rufous Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos 
Fifteen males recorded singing on the moors, equalling the all time record of 1987. Three were heard at Will Pits on 11th June. Some records were of singing birds from non-regular areas with a single at Inkle Moor and another at Pony Bridge. Also one was heard singing along N edge of Southern Canals on 15th June.

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Regularly observed on Southern Canals. There was one juvenile on 11th August.

Common Stonechat S. torquata
Singles were recorded on 22nd and/or 28th January.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
A male was at Snaith & Cowick Moor on 12th March. One pair was near the watch tower on 25th August.

Blackbird Turdus merula 
A fairly common resident with 10 seen on 16th April, 23+ counted on 12th November and 40 on 25th December.

Fieldfare T. pilaris 

Thirty-five flew over Southern Canals on 29th October. Seventy-five flew over Southern Canals 15th November. Around 120 flying from Will Pits area on 8th December, with 200+ there, on 26th December.


Song Thrush T. philomelos
Two were in the colliery area on 21st September.

Redwing T. iliacus 
Six were flying over Southern Canals on 10th October and seven were counted on 26th December.

Mistle Thrush T. viscivorus
At least 10 were at the colliery buildings on 26th July.

Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia
This species is an uncommon summer visitor.

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
There were around five pairs in the Bell’s Pond area.

Reed Warbler A. scirpaceus
There were around four pairs on the Southern Canals.

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
One was seen on 9th July.

Common Whitethroat S. communis 
Singles along the N boundary of Southern Canals on 17th June and 19th June. On 9th July five young were seen.

Garden Warbler S. borin
This species is an uncommon summer visitor.

Blackcap S. atricapilla
Two were seen on 7th May at Will Pits.

Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Infrequently heard. One was calling on 25th September.

Willow Warbler P. trochilus
The first record of three on 2nd April was the earliest ever, recorded date. Last heard singing on 31st August.

Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Occasionally heard and seen. In the first part of the year one was seen at Pony Bridge area on 22nd January. Five plus recorded on 10th September were the earliest ever. Ten were along the Northern Boundary of Southern Canals on 10th October.


Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata 
One was near Southern Boundary Drain on 1st September.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Generally seen in roving flocks. Maximum was 52 in willow bushes near Bell’s Pond on 30th September. Around 36 were seen on 10th December.

Willow Tit Parus montanus 
Occasionally seen and heard, on 22nd January three were seen at Shoulder o’ Mutton.

Blue Tit P. caeruleus 
Singles infrequent during summer months but usually observed in small numbers during autumn. Around 40 were seen on 8th January, with a maximum of about 56 with a mixed tit flock of about 81 on 10th September, the final total for that day reached c.60.

Great Tit P. major
Singles infrequent during summer months but usually observed in small numbers during autumn.

Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
An over-wintering individual was seen on several dates from 11th December 1988 to 26th March 1989.

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
Three were near Casson’s on 14th September.

Magpie Pica pica
Largest count was of 20 or 21 birds on 24th September.

Rook Corvus frugilegus
A single was recorded on 26th March and two were seen on 9th April. 

Tree Sparrow Passer montanus



Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Observed around the colliery area, two were present there on 24th September. 

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Resident, most commonly seen in winter roost flocks, particularly in the colliery area. On 12th December, 18 were seen. 

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Observed around the colliery area, one was present there on 24th September.

Siskin Carduelis spinus
Two were in a mixed flock on 10th September. 

Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Over 16 were seen at Elmhirst pump on 21st September.

Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea
Twenty-five were feeding in birch trees near Southern Boundary Drain on 5th October.

Common Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Occasionally observed in small numbers, on 22nd January one was at Inkle Moor with a further two in the Paraffin area.

Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Fairly common, 10 were recorded at the Paraffin area on 2nd April for example.

Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Fairly common, a flock of 31 was at the Shoulder o’ Mutton on 22nd January.


List of observers

Clive Featherstone, Adrian Handley, Steve Hiner, Martin Limbert, Bill H. Priestley, J. Rogan, D. Robinson, Janet M. Roworth, Peter C. Roworth, Adrian Scutt, G. Silver, Bryan P. Wainwright, R. Welburne, Eric Wright.