Welcome to the place to discover which species have recently been recorded in and around Sheffield and Rotherham.
We hope you’ll be inspired to note down what you spot on your walks or in your garden, and add your information too! Common or rare, record your wildlife sightings and help us build a better picture of the state of nature in Sheffield and Rotherham.
Our species recording page is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of Data for Nature. All records are added to the NBN Atlas, which is used to help inform national environmental policy.
February was certainly not a bleak month for you recorders. You sent in another 264 records. Great work gang!
253 of those records were birds with an astonishing 44 species. Not bad for a month with just 28 days in it! The most common birds were blue tits and wood pigeons, with garden favourites wrens, robins, blackbirds, bullfinches, great tits and long-tailed tits doing well too. Our birds of prey didn’t do too badly either, with buzzards, barn owls, sparrowhawk and kestrel all making an appearance this time.
A selection of birds for your viewing pleasure:
I’d always thought of cormorant as a bird of the sea, but your records keep proving me wrong. You can imagine my surprise when I saw one fishing on the ox-bow lake at Woodhouse Washlands recently! Other water birds were abundantly reported, with mallard, goosander, and the colourful teal and mandarin also seen. Speaking of colour this brings me to…
Surprise of the month: A black east indian duck (which I’d never heard of before) spotted by Chris Nicholson in the Porter Brook valley. From what I can find out, it is neither eastern or indian, or even black! it is however, definitely a duck. 1 out of 4 ain’t bad? These ducks are a domesticated variety of the common mallard but with an amazing iridescent dark green colour all over. I wonder if it’s an escapee?
Sighting of the month: For me this has to be the mountain hare – not just one but two of them! – seen by Wendy on the Midhope Moors. These gorgeous creatures are so rare in England, (the Peak District and moors to the west of Sheffield are the only places you can see them) but their precarious existence is at risk, due to increasingly intensive moorland management for grouse shooting, including Increasing persecution through the excessive use of snares, traps and stink pits. You can find out more about how we want to protect these precious habitats with Our Moors campaign.
Right, let’s see what March brings us!
Safe (and happy) spotting,
Happy New Year everyone!
199 records, so you all obviously put any time off over the holidays to good use!
Birds and lichens were the first spots of 2022 – 2 lichens, a buzzard and a long tailed tit were recorded on the first of the month. I’m not sure what that augurs for this coming year. The last eight records were all birds seen on the 31st and included a red kite, so let’s hope there’s more of that to come! Lots of BOPs this month, which always makes me happy, including 5 buzzards over a good geographical spread. I always think of them lazing around on thermals in the summer, but in winter they tend to hunt smaller prey from a perch.
Loads of blackbirds and blue tits, great tits, long-tailed tits and increasing numbers of bullfinch and greenfinch. Look at these proud specimens seen by Phil Jackson at Owlthorpe Fields.
Red listed lesser redpoll was seen at Porter Valley – where the kingfishers were out in force again too – huzzah! Also red-listed, the mistle thrush was spotted on two of our reserves – Centenary Riverside and Wyming Brook. Centenary Riverside was also host to a cormorant, a species I think of as coastal, but plainly some are inlanders – in fact there were 17 species of bird recorded at Centenary Riverside, so it’s obviously the place to be for birds of all varieties!!
A very, very early tortoiseshell butterfly made a brief appearance on 14th January – hope it didn’t catch a cold!
Just for a change, here are some mosses and lichens. Joshua got most of these in and around Greno Woods.
That’s it form me this month – happy hunting!
December as you would expect, is usually a bit quieter when it comes to recording. However, we received 153 This month’s top recorder award (there isn’t one, but there should be) goes to Phil Jackson with 19 records. In total we had sightings sent in by 30 hardy, dedicated recorders. Well done and thank you to all of you!
Almost all our sightings were birds – a total of 44 species. Proving that you can send in sightings from anywhere – and they are just as important to us – we had lots of garden bird sightings; robins, blackbirds, blue tits goldfinch and bullfinch. Sandra’s feeding method is paying off in some fantastic close up shots, like this nuthatch!
Along with some of the winter visitors like fieldfare, redwing, goosander, it’s good to see birds of prey including barn owls, kestrels and buzzards still being spotted.
A few mandarin were spotted too – which reminds me to mention that we want all species recorded. Sightings of introduced species are useful to see how far and how fast they are propagating, and what if any impact they may be having on native species.
A couple of kingfishers spotted- one near Porter Brook and one in the Rivelin Valley. Such beautiful birds, as this one caught on film by Robert. I always feel so privileged to have seen one. So much so I can remember where and when in each case!
Just the one water vole record – and although sadly it was only the remains, it’s still a really useful record. This fox fared better though – he looks in fine fettle on this image captured by Nick on his trailcam. Just goes to show an old Luddite like me that not all technology is bad – especially when it gives a glimpse into the world of animals we may not have suspected were there!
Finally, here are some more of my favourite images sent in to us this month:
112 bird records resulting in 33 species sightings. Well done everyone!
Lots of blue tits, long-tailed tits, great tits, coal tits, wrens robins and goldfinches showing up at bird feeders as the weather gets colder. Overwintering wildfowl are beginning to appear on wetlands.
Kingfishers may be easier to spot at this time as their bright colours are not masked by foliage. Such beautiful birds. And hurrah – we’ve had some records of woodpeckers, the great spotted variety 😊
The strangest record this month has to be that of a crowned crane – both the grey and the black species are native to Africa, and don’t migrate so that will be a turn-up for the books!
We had 12 species of fungi this month.
Blushing rosette – does what it says on the tin whereas who decided to call the sordid blewit what they did? Did it get up to shenanigans? Etymology suggests it is so named just because it is a ‘dirtier’ colour than a wood blewit. Bah. And look at the fancy frills on the brown mottlegill!
This month we just had 3 mammal sightings; a water vole, a row deer and a mink.
Keep ’em coming!
There’s a definite autumnal feel to the records this month.
22 species of bird were recorded, including loads of Barn owl sightings, probably thanks to the Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnerships barn owl survey, and lucky Phil managed to spot a firecrest!
Our nature reserves continue to feature heavily in sighting locations. Joshua has been having a fine time finding fungi and slime mould in Greno Woods, Fox Hagg is always especially good for birds, and our more urban reserves such as Sunnybank and Centenary Riverside are havens to get a wild dose of nature – herons, kingfishers and even a stoat made an appearance!
As you’d expect, October is a mushroom month! Loads of fungi about including this very realistic looking beefsteak fungus, and a candlesnuff fungus which really does look like a snuffed wick! The brown birch bolete reminds me a little of a stone sarsen – maybe they were the inspiration for Stonehenge?
Here are some more fascinating fungi to cast your eye over!
Only four mammal records this moth but one of them was an otter so *squee*!
Finally, I leave you with this;
When Allen recorded this Clifden nonpareil moth on camera in Chapeltown, it caused quite a storm on social media! Our expert Ben says “This is a really rare moth and quite exceptional that it was recorded in Sheffield. The latter half of this year has been exceptional for larger moths- possibly down to unusual weather conditions and favourable winds.”
Great find Allen!
With just 87 records for September so far, so this is going to be a short one!
- 28 plants recorded
- 16 bird species
- A few butterflies and other insects
- 5 species fungi
- One very exciting (to me anyway) sighting of a red kite
We also had one barn owl sighting. I may have lamented earlier (and if not, just imagine I did) about the lack of barn owl records. I’m definitely hoping to get more sightings logged here soon as the Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership are asking for records too, to help with some exciting conservation work to help support their numbers in the area.
I might have previously mentioned that my knowledge of plants is limited. I’m kind of a ‘green side up’ gardener, but I can’t help but learn things doing this blog! Here is today’s lesson:
Other species of note:
Sessile earthstar – along with devils fingers, these are the most alien looking fungi I can think of. Do look out for them though, because they are absolutely stunning before they go over.
Hedge bedstraw – a new plant to me – looks like, and is in the same family as cleavers (or stickybuds as we called it) but smooth.
Finally, Julie managed to snap a shot of this rarely recorded wasp nest beetle Metoecus paradoxus (also known as the eyelash bug because of its feathery antennae).
Good luck, and happy hunting in October!
So, that was August. It wasn’t cold, or particularly wet, but apart from a few sunny days here and there it didn’t really feel like summer to me!
We still had 34 bird species recorded, with lots of records coming in from Blacka Moor including curlew, mistle thrush and lesser redpoll; all red list species.
The gang from Owlthorpe were putting in the hours again, with a good range of species recorded including 27 insects, 9 plants, 4 mammals and a mollusc! Do think about recording the wildlife in your favourite wild patch too if you don’t already. Evidence such as species records can play an important part in planning decisions.
I love it when you add photographs and I learn so much from them. Thank you to Joshua and Phil for this fascinating array of finds:
If you want a prime example of how human actions can interfere with species behaviour, the lesser sea spurry recorded by David is a prime example (in fact I think I remember one of my lecturers using it many, many moons ago). This unassuming little plant with pink and white flowers can be found along roads throughout the country. But unless you’re at the seaside, you’ll only see it on roads. This is because this coastal plant has slowly spread inland using the habitat change created by the winter salting of our roads. Our actions have affected a small part of the environment, and the lesser sea spurry has taken full advantage of it!
And finally, this unusual beetle does not (we hope) signify the start of a countrywide spread! Found walking along the pavement on Bole Hill, Treeton, the sun beetle Pachnoda marginata (not to be confused with the UK common sun beetle Amara aenea) is native to Africa. Our experts say: “The larvae of this beetle are sold as food for terrarium animals such as reptiles kept as pets. Presumably they will pupate and adults will emerge under the right conditions”. They are also apparently popular as pets themselves, so one way or another it probably escaped from a terrarium; but as a tropical species with a lifespan of 2-6 months hopefully we don’t need to worry about the odd escapee becoming a pest!
It’s been a bit quiet this month – I suspect many of you were on holiday getting records elsewhere!
Not a bad showing though – 38 bird species recorded, including 14 birds of prey. No owls though this time. Maybe they were on holiday too? It got me thinking about the solitary green woodpecker record we had sent in; we’ve only ever had 12 records of them sent in, and just two from this year. I’ve never seen one either, and they are supposed to be quite common. Where are they all?
12 butterfly species were recorded. Kudos to Phil for capturing this large skipper. I’ve tried getting pictures of these before and true to the name they never stay still long enough!
July was another good month for moths – 20 species this time, meaning almost every sighting was different! Again, I want to know what’s with the naming conventions for these critters? With fantastical names like ruby tigers, elephant hawk-moth and spotted magpie, they’d make great inspiration for a magical menagerie!
Our reserves continue to be great for spotting wildlife of all varieties. Our one reptile of the month was a slow worm found at Carr House Meadows. Treecreepers were recorded at Blacka Moor, and Fox Hagg and Wyming Brook had those plus willow warblers.
Not many foxes around this time, but there was a report of an otter in the Don. The surprise sighting of the month has to be a striped skunk caught on CCTV running through a car park. It is possibly an escaped pet; do let us know if you see it.
Finally, I’m going to leave you with this firework-like display of flowers captured by Sandra Fretwell-Smith, just because they are so spectacular; click on the thumbnails to see them in all their glory!
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”9″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″]Happy hunting!
As you’d expect the start of summer heralded an explosion in flowering plant records; 384 records covering a fantastic 135 species. Birds were also doing well with 50 different species recorded – including 14 nightjar recordings! Good news for this Red List species.
In the BOP (bird of prey) stakes we received reports of 5 barn owls, 2 buzzards, 4 kestrels, 1 long-eared owl, and 5 tawny owls. We never did get a bearded vulture record, but I’m sure you’ll come up with something fabulous in the coming year!
Star recorder Wendy Birks really had her eye in for woodcock in June recording 14 around reservoirs in the Sheffield Lakeland. Chiff chaffs were still going strong, and Wendy also spotted a red-listed grasshopper warbler at Loftshaw. Our reserves were doing well for warblers – with willow warblers at Wyming Brook, Greno Woods and Blacka Moor, and the red-listed wood warbler seen a couple of times at Wyming Brook. Skylarks were recorded at Woodhouse Washlands.
To round off the bird section; this fab shot of a blue tit feeding the chicks from Sandra’s nest-cam.
This month, mammal sightings included the brown hare, badger, fallow deer, roe deer (including one seen at the Cholera monument by Wendy – I’ll keep an eye out on my next stroll there). The 6 hedgehog reports were well distributed across the south-east of Sheffield. ‘Batty’ Claire Baker sent in records of common pipistrelle, noctule, soprano pipistrelle and a Natterers bat! There was a possible stoat sighting at Greno Woods. If you’re not sure which you have seen think about how they move: weasels run close to the ground, but stoats bounce; they look like they are having more fun!
Lots of pictures of beetles and fly species were sent in this month too, which is great as some of these can be notoriously hard to identify! 12 species beetle and 6 different species of fern – again, I didn’t know there were that many varieties! Hard fern and hart’s tongue fern are both considered ancient-woodland indicator plants.
11 butterfly species and 6 types of bees – not counting the bee moth (that’s a moth) and the lovely bee orchids (nice try, but we know you’re a flower) June was also good for orchids with common spotted variety and early purple being spotted at Carbrook, common spotted and marsh orchids recorded at Owlthorpe and the common twayblade at Blacka Moor. If you look closely at the flowers of common twayblade they look like little people!
Loads of moth records came in in June, totalling 22 species! Loads of which I’d never heard of, and like fungi moths come with some confusing names. The chimney sweeper moth is a lovely black day flying often confused for the small blue butterfly. The common emerald is pretty. The common swift is not a bird but a peppered moth. Interestingly, it’s often referred to as Darwin’s moth. In polluted industrial areas he discovered the moth was found with the colouring inverted so it wouldn’t show up against grimy surfaces, this is one of the best-known examples of evolution by natural selection. Finally, this beautiful white ermine just looks like it needs a cuddle. Click on the images to view them full size to make sure you can see the marvellous markings, fabulous floof and amazing antenna!
Til next time,
Well, that was a spectacularly soggy month, wasn’t it?
Still it didn’t seem to put off the amphibians; Shauny managed to spot a total of 23 newts, both smooth and great crested varieties at Woodhouse Washlands in the space of just one day. Top recording Shauny!
Our army of recorders (if you’ve ever sent us a record, that’s you that is) also sent in records of 45 bird species, from garden favourites like blackbirds, blue tits, and goldfinches to 10 birds of the highest conservation concern – the Red List species. These species are either globally threatened or suffering at least a 50% decline in UK breeding population; and some of the birds which make the list might surprise you. House sparrows, starlings and song thrushes are all in danger, so it’s just as important to record these species as the more unusual ones.
We want to know about all species – even introduced ones such as the mandarin duck. I had to include this picture of the female with her ducklings because a) we normally only see pictures of the showy male and b) it’s cute!
The rain didn’t seem to put off too many plants, ferns and trees from making an appearance, in all likelihood after such a dry April they really needed it! 24 species recorded, almost all of them from the crack team of Sandra and Phil, who have been dedicated to documenting the wide variety of wildlife to be found at Owlthorpe.
The wet weather may also explain why there were so few butterfly sightings – just five species of butterfly recorded, although the Wood White will be exciting if confirmed; it’s very unusual to find them this far north – and only 3 bee species. However on what must have been one of the few dry days in May, Andrew Keywood managed to snap this hummingbird hawk moth in action.
Finally, on to the mammals. Just one bat – a noctule – again probably because the rain reduced the amount of insects to be found. Deer (both roe and red), squirrel, fox and badger. The most numerous mammal spotted in May was the hedgehog, in a good range of locations along the west side of Sheffield.
Next month is set to be fair, so get outside with friends, family and a picnic to enjoy our glorious nature reserves, parks and gardens and get everyone involved in a wildlife recording session. It’s more fun than Twister (probably – it’s been a very long time since I played it)!
April 2021 was a very odd month for the weather – the sunniest on record (but not the warmest) for the UK, with the lowest average temperatures since 1922. So, bright days and some really cold nights. Sighting numbers were down to 143 this month, but there were still an impressive 82 species recorded – well done!
Although there were not so many bird sightings as last month sent in, we still had almost 40 species recorded – including a white stork at Woodhouse Washlands! Birds on the Red List included pied flycatcher at Blacka Moor, curlew, grey wagtails, lapwing, lesser redpoll, mistle thrush, redwing, song thrush, and woodcock.
Mid April saw our first bat records of this year – two pipistrelles spotted by Megan at Deepcar. Thanks to your records we can see that this is a month later than our first records in 2020, and over time we’ll be able to see if there are any trends emerging. Other mammal sightings included fox, badger, hedgehog, wood mouse, squirrel, this fantastic picture of a rat, and a welcome sighting of water voles up at Redmires.
The sunshine brought in sightings of reptiles – a common lizard, and an adder – and a greater preponderance of insects. Butterflies including, brimstone, holly blue, orange tip, speckled wood, peacock and red admiral. Eight species of bee were recorded at Owlthorpe alone; red-tailed bumblebee, white-tailed bumblebee, western honey bee, common carder bee, tawny mining bee, mining bee, tree bumblebee and the buff-tailed bumblebee. There was even an early hummingbird hawk moth, which aren’t usually seen until May.
Our nature reserves accounted for 16% of the sighting locations, including the evocatively named melancholy thistle found on Blacka Moor. Maybe it’s sad because it lacks spines to defend itself? Wikipedia tells me it was once used to treat melancholia but I like my explanation better 🙂 It used to be common in traditional hay meadows, but as they’ve disappeared the purple shaving brush head of this plant can now be mostly be seen brightening up road verges. It is also a great plant for butterflies, being used by over 10 species including brown hairstreak, dark green fritillary, large heath, marbled white and the caterpillars of painted lady.
We also had some lovely spring flower pictures sent in by Sandra, so I’ll leave you with those to inspire and cheer. Safe sightings!
We received 539 records for March – as you might expect for the beginning of spring, the vast majority (444) of these were birds, although by the end of the month there were more butterflies and flowering plants appearing.
Blue tits and robins made up a decent percentage of the birds recorded early in the month. Not surprising as they are one of the first species to get busy nesting and mating. By March they are easy to see as they rush frantically between building nests and finding food.
Another sign of spring is the chiffchaff. Although in my case they are often more of a sound, with their distinctive song, than a sight – they seem to blend in terribly well with early leaf growth – luckily for me this one was photographed at Owlthorpe by Peter Jackson so at least I know they are real and not a figment of my aural imagination!
Curlew made a decent showing on the March lists, with Wendy Birks seeing them in ten different locations to the north-west of Sheffield over five different days. Here they are pictured at Wet Shaw. Other species recorded in similar locations were snipe and oystercatcher.
Some birds of prey were showing well around Sheffield throughout March, notably buzzard and kestrel. Sadly though, there were only three peregrine, two merlin, two owls (one barn, one tawny) a lone goshawk, one red kite, and a solitary sparrowhawk recorded. Numbers of skylark sightings increased throughout the month, which is a good thing to see as they are on the Red List. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Plantwise, the usual early spring suspects were found: blackthorn, cherry plum, lesser celandine and wood anemone, with wild garlic/ransoms making an appearance at the end of the month.
Coltsfoot, as captured by Sandra, above is another early plant, but it is unusual in that the bright yellow flowers bloom and die before the hoof-shaped leaves even get to make an appearance, which might explain why in some places it’s known as ‘son before the father’!
There was one fungi recorded hanging on into spring; a scarlet elfcup.
The first butterfly of the season to be recorded was a speckled wood found at Wadsley Common on the 9th March. As would be expected, the other frequently recorded butterflies were peacock and small tortoiseshell, with a couple of comma and a brimstone.
The other notable insects which I just had to include in the blog this month are 1) This incredibly funky looking caterpiller, which will eventually grow (shrink?) into a fox moth, and 2) this dark-edged bee fly. Not uncommon, but very striking, and apparently also very sneaky! They mimic bees, but what appears to be a long stinger is actually a tongue, which it uses to drink nectar from deep flowers.
We also had several sightings of brown hares in the first half of the month, along with foxes, badgers and mole. We also had a weasel (well spotted Rod!), a muntjac deer and a couple of hedgehogs. To round off this month’s blog on a high note, I leave you with news that Wendy spotted mountain hares at four different locations. I’ve never seen one in the wild so I’m green with envy!
December 2020-February 2021
Welcome back, Nature Counts fans!
It’s been a funny old winter – but at least briefly, it did feel like winter, with hard frosts and even some snow. Is it good or bad that we didn’t get snow days due to working and learning at home? I hope you are surviving the lockdown, and really hope that the light at the end of the tunnel means we can soon get out to our favourite places to see wildlife and nature in all it’s glorious aspects.
As befitted the season, the most common species recorded over winter was the humble robin – we had loads of fantastic pictures sent in of this feisty, cheery little bird
Birds by far made up the vast majority of sightings during this period; 297 out of the 333 records sent in, adding up to an impressive 71 species recorded in the area.
Garden birds made up a good proportion of these – blackbirds, blue tits, greenfinch, chaffinches and the like. A large number of the pictures sent in showed them on bird feeders, demonstrating that feeding the birds can be a real lifeline for them during the winter months.
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”8″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″]Your records really do make a difference – having good data like yours is essential for assessing where species are doing well or badly. We’ve had quite a few records in of red listed species, including skylark, grey wagtail, mistle thrush, song thrush, lapwing, curlew, linnet and yellowhammer. Thanks to you we will be able to see if numbers are increasing or declining year on year, and where our conservation efforts are most needed.
I personally love seeing the records of birds of prey. Decades ago an old man in a local told me that “there used to be buzzards here, flyin’ upn’ dahn valley.” I still remember the thrill of seeing my first one. Whenever I hear their keening cry I instantly look up to find them. It makes me very happy that my home turf now supports a thriving population of these magnificent birds. Over winter we had a variety of BOP records – not vast numbers, but a decent range of species including kestrel, sparrow hawks, buzzards and even a couple of red kites. Excitingly, we also had reports of a merlin and a hen harrier – I can’t wait to see one of those in the wild! We also received records of barn and tawny owls. Wouldn’t it be grand to know numbers of those were going up too?
Foxes are also active in winter as their mating season begins, and we had these great pictures sent in by Roy and Phil. urban snaps like these from a phone camera or a motion detector are just as important as arty shots when it comes to recording. Urban wildlife needs love too!
It would appear that the colder months are good for spotting some mammals. We had 10 different species recorded, including otter and mountain hare; ours is the only population of mountain hares in England, and the species is teetering on the brink of extinction thanks to persecution and climate change.
Finally, I know grey squirrels can be a contentious subject for some, but I just had to include this fabulous photograph of one from Phil Jackson.
On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me, Thirty-three birds, eight mushrooms, six furry beasts, one sliiiime mould. Happy December! Now that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at last month’s sightings.
No rants about fungi this time, I promise! Did you know there’s a whole branch of fungi called fairy clubs? They do have some wonderfully descriptive names; Golden spindles, Apricot fairy club. I think my favourite this month is the Scarlett Caterpillar Club. Sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland. It is a bit gruesome though, as it parasitizes moth pupae, using the body of the beast as a food source before pushing up through the ground!
A couple of other notable entries are these beautiful waxcaps which look like ballet tutus and this Peppery roundhead fungus Stropharia pseudocyanea, which smells strongly of fresh ground black pepper, but is thought to probably be poisonous (unsurprisingly nobody is volunteering to find out).
Mammal records in November were made up of foxes, badgers, rabbits and one weasel. Lots of you are using motion activated cameras to record the wildlife in your garden and we love to see them! Just look at this inquisitive fox!
There was a good range of garden birds – blackbird, blue tit, coal tit, bull finch, greenfinch, goldfinch, robins, starlings, wren, magpies, pied wagtail. Feeding birds in winter is a good way to see species you may not normally associate with your garden, such coal tits and this lovely black cap (the female blackcap has a more ginger cap).
Of course, all these small garden birds make easy pickings for the sparrowhawk, who despite it’s name does not limit itself to sparrows! This beautiful specimen was captured on camera by Ann Ellis.
Red listed bird species this month included the endangered marsh tit – very hard to tell from willow tit; listen for its call ‘pitchoo’ which sounds like a sneeze. We also had a golden plover. These will be coming down from upland moorlands to lowland farmlands at the moment. We had a record of woodcock at Owlthorpe – these are very well camouflaged and hard to spot, so well done Sandra Fretwell-Smith! If you want to spot one try lurking around the edge of damp woodlands, If you happen to disturb one, it will fly off in a zig-zag pattern between the trees before dropping back to the ground and the safe, dense cover of the undergrowth.
We had a couple of records of mistle thrush. This bird really does love mistletoe – it will defend a berry-laden tree with extreme ferocity! The mistle thrush is also known as the ‘Rain Bird’ as it can be heard singing loudly from the tops of high trees after spring rains. Its close relative the song thrush rounds off our red-list sightings. As the cold weather hardens the ground they can’t get to their favourite snack of earthworms, and will take to eating snails instead, using a stone as an anvil to crack them.
We had one record of a red-legged partridge – an introduced widespread species, unlike the native grey partridge, which is rare and red-listed, so getting some records of those locally would be great news. And as this is the last blog until after Christmas, I’ll leave you with a some shocking seasonal news – the grey partridge is a ground dwelling species which prefers to run instead of fly, so you’re not likely to find one in a pear tree!
Have a lovely, safe festive season – and do let us know what you see on your Boxing Day walk!
As the weather turns, fewer records are coming in, so today’s blog is not going to be an epic! October saw 152 records – although this included an impressive 38 bird species and 35 fungi species.
As you’d expect, we’re seeing more migrant and winter visitors, including redwing, siskin and the pink footed goose. We also had a record of the endangered lesser redpoll. This bird can be resident in the UK but it is more likely to be a winter visitor in this region. Another red listed species spotted was the grey wagtail, a beautiful bright bird with a yellow belly sure to cheer you up when you see it.
Many of the fungi records came in from Moss Valley nature reserve. Having visited there recently I can see a) why it’s called Moss Valley Woodland, and b) why there’d be a lot of fungi there!
Given the number of waxcap records coming in from Owlthorpe, it looks like there’s a lot of unimproved grassland in the area. Waxcaps have come in all kinds of colours and varieties – this month we had butter, meadow, pink, snowy, and bright yellow one I don’t know the name of.
As I’ve said before, despite being a keen forager, I don’t pick mushrooms – and is it any wonder given how confusing their common names can be? Hen of the woods is not the same as chicken of the woods and can cause an allergic reaction, the stunning rosy bonnet is pretty but poisonous, the beautiful amethyst deceiver which looks like it ought to be poisonous, is, despite the name, edible.
Just to make it even more confusing, some are named in a perfectly sensible way – the turkey tail, or the candle snuff which as name suggests looks just like the wick of a snuffed out candle – and others are just downright ridiculous! Who decided to call this fungus the ‘golden-haired inkcap’ when it plainly looks like a jellyfish.
Finally, a mystery mushroom for you. This white bracket fungus is currently unidentified*; which given the level of expertise among you lot is unusual, so can you help?
*I’m betting it’s got a name like ‘The lovely horse fungus’ and makes anyone who touches it blind.
Bird reports started to pick up this month, with 35 distinct species being recorded, including a few on the red list – linnet and black redstart, and probably most astounding, a white-tailed eagle! It was most probably on passage rather than setting up a territory, but what a great sighting!
Whatever you see; from the UK’s largest bird, to the smallest goldcrest, we really do appreciate you sending in your records. Every single sighting helps to build up a better picture of the true state of nature in our area.
September was unseasonably warm, and we were still seeing lots of insects. 26 species in all ranging from beetles, butterflies – lots of speckled woods and tortoiseshells still around, dragonflies including the black darter – the only black dragonfly in the UK, moths, true bugs (Hemiptera) and true flies (Diptera). Pops of colour were provided by Autumn hawkbit, cat’s-ear, yellow loosestrife, goldenrod and devil’s-bit scabious.
Goldenrod and devil’s-bit scabious are both beneficial for late-season pollinators.
As you’d expect as the season becomes more autumnal, we’re getting more records of fungi – along with some beautifully atmospheric photographs! The poisonous panther cap (also known as the false blusher), the bitter bolete – which although it looks like the penny bun will totally ruin any meal, the stunning but toxic fly agaric, the edible-but-easily-confused-with-deathcaps Grisette, the inedible spiny puffball (Lycoperdon echinatum) which translates as the unappetising ‘wolf’s flatulence’ hedgehog’, and finally, amongst all that, one penny bun. Now you know why I do not forage for fungi! Thanks to Wendy Birks and Chris Doar for the photographs.
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September wasn’t a bad month for mammals. Nine species were recorded including brown hare, weasel, roe deer and this inquisitive badger captured on Phil Jackson’s trail cam. One record of an American mink outside the currently known range is cause for concern, due to their negative impact on native species such as water vole.
Finally, this great photograph of a Dor beetle – shiny on the outside, but as you can see in the itch inducing smaller picture, infested with mites on the inside – which explains why it’s also known as a ‘lousy watchman’!
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”3″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″]Until next time, safe sightings!
Well first and foremost I have to congratulate all of you recorders for helping us to smash through more than 30,000 recorded wildlife sightings on Nature Counts! Stars, the lot of you!
Bird reports were very low this month, not totally unexpected as many species were in the process of moulting and therefore staying out of the way of predators, like the one hobby which was recorded. However, there was a lot of buzz around sightings of another large bird; the bearded vulture on our doorstep made national news, yet we had no records of it sent to us – so if you did spot it please record when and where. We don’t reveal the location of birds of prey to the public, so your records and the birds are safe!
Still lots of plant records coming in – although we expect this to slow down as autumn approaches, we’re always happy to be surprised! Major kudos to Sandra Fretwell-Smith who sent in most of this month’s 150 flowering plant records! One which particularly stood out for me is the brilliantly named ‘Confused Michaelmas-daisy’ (aka New York Aster) which she spotted in Owlthorpe. It does look quite spectacular, normally blooming during September (29th September is St Michael’s Day for which it is named) and October, providing some welcome late colour.
As would be expected at this time of year, we had plenty of dragonfly sightings including the emperor, southern hawker, common darter, and large red damselfly. We also had a record of a black darter – the male of the species is the only black dragonfly in the UK, and they’re usually found in boggy moorland areas – so the area around Agden Bog nature reserve is perfect. Throw in the varied habitats around Agden reservoir and you can see why the area is such a good place to see Odonata; half the species recorded were seen in the vicinity.
There are still lots of butterflies around; mostly the common varieties such as large white, speckled wood, holly blue and common blue (both of these blue species may be common but I’ve never seen one), meadow brown, small copper, gatekeeper (aka hedge brown) and Essex skipper. We were still getting sightings in of purple emperor, and Wendy Birks got the only record of this beautiful wall butterfly which she caught on camera up at Redmires.
Finally, a big shout out to Claire Baker who’s been busy doing sterling work recording bat species over the last couple of months. Well done that woman! (should that be Bat Woman? Ed.)
Carry on counting!
Well done troops – you sent in 533 records, which under the circumstances is particularly good!
July was an excellent month for plant records, with 137 species recorded, including lots of lovely orchids. As you would expect for mid-summer, birds, butterflies and insects were all prominent too.
On interesting feature you can sometimes see on plants are galls, a usually harmless deformation of the plant caused by a parasite or predator. Sandra Fretwell-Smith sent in this picture of the Silk-Button Spangle Gall, which sounds like it ought to be the name of a 70’s glam rock band! This gall is caused by the small wasp Neuroterus numismalis. Interesting fact:this species has two generations per year. The first one is made up of male and females and causes blister galls on oak leaves. The second, agamic (all female which needs no male to reproduce) generation causes the silk button galls! Another common gall you might see is the Diplolepis rosae, better known as the Robin’s Pin-Cushion Gall which I think it looks like a tiny firework!
Birds of prey were reasonably well represented among the 42 bird records received; they included buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawks and barn owls. We even had one sighting each of a red kite and a goshawk! As for summer visitors, we only had one record of a swallow; is this because they are scarce, or are they just under-recorded? We did have a few linnet records – look out for more of these melodious song birds as winter comes along.
Lots of Lepidoptera all over our area this month. Lots of common species like peacock, tortoiseshell, gatekeepers (aka hedge brown), meadow brown, small skipper, green veined white, small copper and red admiral. We also had 14 reports of the purple hairstreak, and even a couple of white letter hairstreaks! Our Moss Valley Woodlands, Agden Bog and Woodhouse Washlands nature reserves seem to be popular with many of these species, as does Norfolk Heritage Park. We also had 16 different species of moth recorded, including this 5 spot burnet.
We had lots of other insect sightings too, including 18 species of hymenoptera. This month my favourite is this solitary ‘Plasterer Bee’ which Wendy Birks snapped in the gardens of the Trust HQ. The common name refers to the females who line their nest cells with a cellophane-like material to protect the eggs from rain and intruders. Generally, plasterer bees can be identified by a pale-banded abdomen and a heart-shaped face. This individual is an example of the species you are most likely to find in urban areas and gardens, Colletes daviesanus.
Finally, it’s great to see so many hedgehog reports – Owlthorpe appears to be a particularly good spot for them. What are they doing differently there, I wonder? Do tell us if you know!🦔
Thanks to you all for sending in your sightings – we couldn’t do this without you!
Well it’s probably safe to say that thanks to Covid-19 the last three months have been distinctly different. I hope you’ve all come out of it ok, and have adapted to the changes we’ve all had to make.
Thank you to everyone who took part in our #Backyard Bioblitz! As you probably know, on normal bioblitzes, we would have a team of fabulous volunteers out scouring a specific area for all the species within a particular genus (i.e.dragonflies or newts), but due to social distancing requirements this wasn’t possible. So we asked you to take your citizen science one step beyond while living la vida lockdown!
The challenge was for you to conduct your own bioblitz at home – indoors or out – and let us know what you found; you did not disappoint! We now have some great records of bugs, beetles, bees and butterflies, as well as some great garden bird sightings and even a few mammals.
June started off mostly warm and sunny. For that we were rewarded with loads of butterfly sightings like this beautiful tortoiseshell from Wendy. In fact, Wendy deserves a special mention because as I discovered going through the records to write this blog, she sent in over 100 of them in June alone – a round of applause for that woman! Among the records we received were 15 Hymenoptera (bee and wasp) species, and 18 Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species, as well as 12 different Coleoptera (beetles) species. Later on in the month we began to receive sightings of caterpillars, and we expect this will continue throughout the next month or so.
You can’t have your camera on standby all the time, so when Sarah saw a young mistle thrush in her garden she quickly got a snap of it with her phone – remember all photographs help with identification, they don’t have to be award winning!
Many of you made the most of your daily exercise allowance to take a walk, so even though our surveys were suspended, we had some lovely records coming in from our nature reserves, such as this lovely common spotted orchid on Blacka Moor, sent in by Susan – you can see from the picture she didn’t let the rain stop her getting a daily dose of nature.[picture to follow]
Very pleased to have received records for several red listed birds – that’s species of the highest conservation concern. They include curlew, skylark, tree pipit, yellowhammer, linnet, woodcock, song thrush, mistle thrush and lapwing. And very well done for those of you finding a nightjar – with their effective camouflage they really are hard to spot! We aslo had several goldcrest records (along with the firecrest it’s the UK’s smallest bird – even smaller than a wren). We only have one swallow recorded though – so if you saw one in June do let us know. Talking of birds, there have been several recent reports of a lammergeier in the Peak District close to Sheffield – if you have a confirmed sighting then we’d love you to add it to our records!
We’ll end this edition of the blog with the mammals – we love this screen grab of an inquisitive badger from Gail’s wildlife camera, and just look at the enormous bushy tail of this bold fox Dave caught strolling through his garden!
Finally, this wonderful trio of weasels from Sarah.
Thank you all for taking the time to send in your records. Keep up the good work and stay safe!
We’ve had lots of records sent in to wildsheffield.com/sightings in March– thank you! Every record, from a sparrow to a slug is important for us to assess the state of nature not just across Sheffield and Rotherham but for the country as a whole.
We are living in very unusual times, but no matter the circumstances #YouCantStopSpring! We had our first butterfly records of the season with small tortoiseshell, peacock and comma all making an appearance.
Chiffchaffs, those heralds of spring, have been making their voices heard in Loxley and Bolehills, with blackbirds, blue tits, goldfinch and greenfinch all being spotted across the region. Allen Holmes spotted this short eared owl to the east of the city, and we’re very excited to get reports of hen harrier and marsh harrier!
Our favourite (ok, only) flying mammal made its first appearance in our records in the middle of the month. Catherine recorded a pipistrelle bat in the south west of the area, and Keith Tomkins, the lucky man, has spotted three mountain hares while he’s been out walking. Meanwhile, Mary let us know about this cheeky little mouse munching its way through her bird feeder!
Nature is such a balm for the soul, and it’s everywhere. So, keep those sightings coming in!
January – February 2020
As you’d expect at this time of year, fewer people were out and about recording. Most of the records are bird species, especially the early nesting blue tit which is very visible as it collects nesting material. Other members of the tit family sent in were coal tit, long-tailed tit and a marsh tit (spotted at Porta Brook by our Keith Tomkins).
Other species recorded included fieldfare, gull and robin.
The fungi with the funky names weren’t quite finished either; Nabil Abbas spotted a collared earthstar and a scarlet elfcup at Woodhouse Washlands and Blacka Moor nature reserves respectively.
October – December 2019
The later part of 2019 was amazing for mushrooms. We had a massive 552 records sent in for 128 different species of fungi – shout-out to Neil Barden for 665 individual reports! Many of these were found at Blacka Moor and Carr House Meadows, and there are some fabulous names; beefsteak fungus, candlesnuff, clustered bonnet,fragrant funnel and my personal favourite, the felted twiglet! Less thrilled about the name of the one record for slime mould though; dog’s vomit – charming! Many thanks to Caroline Egglestone for sending in so many great photographs (a small selection below); it’s great to receive these and they can also help us to identify a species if you’re not totally sure of what you’ve found.
Birds weren’t totally absent either, with 36 different species recorded. These ranged from garden birds like the blue tit through to raptors, including several buzzards. Richard Jacques captured this nice photo of a jay, a colourful member of the crow family which likes plenty of mature tree cover nearby.
Mammals were generally less abundant in this season; although we had 51 records, most of these were made up of harvest mice found on the survey at Woodhouse Washlands. The remaining six species were fox, roe deer, red deer, hedgehog, grey squirrel and mink.
There was a late outing for an amphibian though – this common lizard was found at Sick Brook in November!
Finally, a special mention has to go to our nature reserve at Agden Bog – for hosting 36 different species of moss!
The weather picked up for the last part of August, which may be why we had a few more butterfly and insect sightings. Peacock at Lodge Moor, a holly blue at the Botanical Gardens and darter dragonflies at our Kilnhurst Ings nature reserve.
This bounty of invertebrates seems to have brought out the bird life – the holly blue might have been eyed up by this robin, which was also spotted at the Botanical Gardens by Richard Jacques, while a kingfisher was seen at Woodhouse Washlands nature reserve. A great tit sighting has been sent in from Redmires reservoir, and our Data for Nature team were very happy to record a pair of nightjar on a recent bird survey.
September got off to a great start with a sighting of a weasel at Wyming Brook. These fierce little hunters are not afraid of anything – they mostly eat voles and mice but will happily take on prey several times larger than themselves. There’s even one observed instance of a buzzard who snatched up what it must have thought looked like a tasty snack, only to have the weasel turn the tables and bring down the bird!
Yolanda Thompson sent us a record of a hedgehog on the southern edge of the city. Mature females may have mated for a second time, and these late litters can struggle to gain enough weight for hibernation, so leave some suitable food out for them if you see them.
Andrew Waind found this newt in his garden in Crookes, something he’s never seen there before. After photographing it he returned it to the spot he found it. He sent us these great pictures along with his record which will help with confirming the identification.
We love seeing what you’ve discovered on your doorstep, so keep sending your sightings – I can’t wait to see how it changes over the autumn!
Until the next update, Claire.
Well so far August has been a bit of a mixed bag, bringing to mind the old adage “if you don’t like the weather wait ten minutes”!
This looks to have had a bit of an impact on the sightings we’ve been receiving; very few butterflies so far this month, just speckled wood and peacock. However we have had records of a long winged conehead and a Roesel’s Bush-cricket south of Rotherham; both species more commonly found in the south of the country. In fact until the early 20th century, the Roesel’s bush-cricket was was only found on the south-east coast, but there has been a rapid expansion of its range so we can probably expect to see more in future.
Rain notwithstanding, the Rivelin Valley has been the place to see birds – we received this beautiful photo of a grey heron from Richard Jacques, who also spotted a grey wagtail not too far away. The weather has been good for plantlife too – particularly the damp-loving species like hare’s-tail cotton grass, marsh violet and cranberry – all spotted on Blacka Moor.
Did you know…cranberries were originally known as fenberries in England, because they grew in fens and marshy ground?
I’ll leave you with a couple of mammals – a handsome red fox near the fabulously named Wisewood, and this little family of hedgehogs, caught on camera in a garden close to Swallownest.
Keep ‘em coming!
Before the deluge came (will it ever stop?) July had been a great month for butterflies. We’ve had sightings from all over Sheffield – including our own community garden at the Trust HQ in S2. Small whites, tortoiseshells, red admirals all abounded, with green veined whites, gatekeepers, meadow browns, ringlets and comma not too far behind. We even had a record of a holly blue from a butterfly fan called Ben!
A few amphibians sighted recently – mostly frogs and toads, and one reptile; a grass snake, seen at Woodhouse Washlands. Isabel sent us a great picture – please do add any photographs you’ve taken to your sighting, especially if you’re not 100% certain of which species you’ve found – they can help us to verify the record. We also had several hedgehog sightings sent in to us. They’re quite busy at the moment, you might even see hoglets out with their mother on a foraging trip!
With such warm weather it’s been a great time to be on or near water – and it seems the local flora and fauna agree! Sheffield and Tinsley canal has been a very fruitful place to see dragonflies, including the common hawker and golden-ringed dragonfly. We also received a record for the fringed water lily. Despite it’s name and appearance, this lovely water flower is actually related to much less glamorous sounding bog bean!
Finally, get yourself down to the Rivelin river, near the fire station, and you might see the characteristic bob of a dipper as it stands on a rock in the river. Sit long enough and you might even get to see it perform its party trick – walking into and under the water in search of food!
See you soon, Claire.