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.
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.
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.
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’!
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.