Birding sites around Doncaster


The Doncaster & District Ornithological Society study area comprises a circle with a 10 mile radius from Doncaster Museum, Chequer Road, Doncaster.

ADWICK WASHLANDS Directions: An RSPB reserve on the River Dearne to the NW of Mexborough which can be accessed at its eastern end where there is a car park on the route of the Trans-Pennine Trail between Harlington and Bolton-Upon-Dearne. Birds: the reserve has attracted White Stork, Great White Egret and Spoonbill in the past and is one of the favoured areas for the many Little Egrets which gather in the valley during the late summer. During the spring, summer and autumn when water levels allow waders such as Avocet, Ringed Plover, LRP, Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank and Green Sandpiper some of which stay to breed. Amongst the regular passerines on the reserve are Lesser Whitethroats and the occasional Redstart. In winter it is worthwhile keeping your eyes open for Jack Snipe.

BRODSWORTH COMMUNITY WOODLAND – Directions: When coming from Doncaster along York Road turn left onto Green Lane approximately 500 yards after you have passed Don Valley School, follow the lane for just over a mile until it goes down a steep hill and you can see the A1M ahead of you. There is a car park on the right about halfway down the hill (which lies alongside the old Brodsworth Pit Tipping area).  It is the old tip and adjacent disused quarry to the east which this Forestry Commission Communty Woodland is based upon. Birds: the tip is a regular wintering site for Long and Short-eared Owls, but has also held a Hen Harrier. Crossbills have been seen using the many Larch Trees during the winter and the tip’s high elevation may well attract migrants and so may well be worth a look during spring and autumn passage.

DENABY INGSDirections: Yorkshire Wildlife Trust lying at the mouth of the River Dearne where it flows into the the River Don north east of Mexbrough, accessed from a small car park north of the River Dearne off Pastures Road which runs north east off the A6023 at the north eastern outskirts of Mexbrough (Grid ref: SE4900). For more information see Birds: the reserve has been present for many years and over that period has attracted a number of rare birds including several Great White Egret, a Night Heron, several Bittern, an Alpine Swift as well as sub-rarities including Black Redstart, Twite and Fulmar.

HATFIELD MOORSDirections: a large National Nature Reserve run by Natural England, lying east of Lindholme Village and HM Prison Lindholme, north of Wroot and south west of Sandtoft village. There are several entrances to the Moors. The main car park is at Boston Park which lies at the south west corner of the reserve and is approached via a track running east from the A614 opposite Boston Park Farm and Great Gate Wood (Grid ref: SE6704). For more information see and also

There is another car park along the NW edge of the Moors near Ten Acre Lake, approached from the A614 at the northern end of Hatfield Woodhouse via Remple Lane, Hollinbridge Road (right at Hollinbridge Farm) and Moor Dyke Road (over the bridge by the sewage treatment works), past Whitebridge Farm and follow the road until you reach the gate to Lindholme Hall at the end of Lindholme Bank Road, the car park is on your right (Grid ref: SE6906).

Finally, there is a southern entrance in Wroot Village. At the western end of the village, there is a bridleway running off the main road north, park sensibly south of the River Torne (Grid ref: SE7003), then follow the bridleway north, when you reach the woodland (SE7004) you can take the track east (right) to the New Porters and New Moor areas of the reserve, or west (left) to Packards South, the Green Mile and Packards Heath.

Regular birds – Peregrine, Hobby, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Woodlark, Stonechat, Wheatear, Tree Pipit, Rock Pipit, Yellow Wagtail,

Scarce birds – Smew, Red-necked Grebe, Common Scoter, Osprey, Red-footed Falcon, Rough-legged Buzzard, Bittern, Dotterel, Honey Buzzard, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Purple Sandpiper, Wryneck, Barred Warbler, Wood Warbler, Firecrest, Water Pipit, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting.

Other things around the Moors

Cross Keys Inn, Wroot

Been for a long walk on Hatfield Moors? Or waiting to go on for Nightjars?

Why not call in for a drink at a real country pub, that doesn’t smell of chips! But has a very warm welcoming atmosphere instead.

Getting here: from Sand Lane exit from the Moors, turn left and follow the road half a mile and we are on the left, or from Alderfen/Tunnel Pits follow the road to the T junction in the village and on the right after 50 yards.

A fine range of ales including: Theakstons, Black Sheep, Hydes, John Smiths, Carling and Kalt Lagers, Strongbow and Guiness. We are open: Mon-Thurs 7pm-11.30pm, Fri 5pm-11.30pm, Sat 4pm-11.30 and Sun 12.00-11.30pm.

BROOMHILL FLASHDirections: usually considered part of the Old Moor complex it is NW of that reserve belongs to the Garganey Trust rather than the RSPB. It lies half a mile or so to the north West of Old Moor. To get there turn right at the roundabout outside Old Moor and when you reach the A6195 go straight across the roundabout onto the minor road known as Highgate, follow this to the pub and take the left hand turn on to Everill Gate Lane, follow the terraced houses on your left and when it ends drive about a further 200 yards or so and the car park is on your right. Birds: has attracted many good birds over the years though it seems to be less attractive now. It used to attract wintering and migrant Bewick’s Swan but those days seem long gone. However, it has had Whiskered Tern in recent years.

IDLE VALLEY (AUSTERFIELD-IDLESTOP) – A large area of riverine habitat which in the past formed extensive winter floods, but was drained for agriculture in the 1980s, and though less attractive to birds than it used to be.

Directions: – The northern sites lie along a line marked out by the villages of Austerfield and Misson east of Bawtry, follow the A614 out of the town until you come to a sharp left hand turn in Austerfield, with the smaller Newington Road going off eastwards at the turn, follow this road and after about a quarter of a mile look out for a track off to the right (Hagg/Slaynes Lane, Grid ref: SK6794) which gives access to the river bank and some areas that continue to flood in winter. Another good area in winter is the area between Misson village (Grid ref: SK6995) and Idlestop (Grid ref: SK7195) which is approached from Bawtry Road at the NE of the village via Top Road and Dales Lane, follow the latter as far as the bridge over the river birding along the way.

The main site south of the river is the agricultural land around Gringley Carr, approached from the A631 ESE of Bawtry at the village of Gringley on the Hill (Grid ref: SK7390) take West Wells Lane then turn left onto Wood Lane follow this as far as you can (Grid ref: SK7194) and bird the fields on either side of the road.

Birds:  it still is a good place for raptors in winter, regularly has spring visits of Dotterel and has even held a Blyth’s Pipit for a few days in the early 2000s.

LAKESIDE – Directions: From M18 junction 3 follow White Rose Way straight over two roundabouts past the Yorkshire Outlet and if it is not matchday you can take the left hand turn at the next roundabout and drive about 150 yards and you can park for free in the Doncaster Rovers Car Park on your right. The lake is behind the embankment (Grid ref: SE5901).

Birds: in its early days the area used to attract waders and occasionally waders will call, have a look round and when finding that there is nowhere to feed continue on their journeys. When the lake was being constructed it did attract a Temminck’s Stint but these days it is more a place for ducks though there is a reasonably large Black-headed Gull roost which occasionally pulls in rarer species such as Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls. The lake also occasionally attracts Osprey on migration. There is a small Sand Martin colony. The hillsides constructed from soil removed when the lake was dug out are now well vegetated and these occasionally attract uncommon migrants such as Spotted Flycatcher, Black Redstart and has recently had a well watched Wryneck.

OLD MOORDirections: RSPB reserve lying between Mexbrough and Barnsley on the A633 Manvers Way just to the east of the junction with the A6195 (Grid ref: SE4202). For more information see

POTTERIC CARRDirections: Yorkshire Wildlife Trust lying to the south of Doncaster, between the town centre and the M18 Junction 3 on Mallard Way off White Rose Way (Grid Ref: SE5800). For more information see

SPROTBROUGH FLASHDirections: Yorkshire Wildlife Trust lying to the west of Doncaster, south of the village of Sprotbrough on Nursery Lane which runs off Mill Lane just north of the River Don (Grid ref: SE5301). Park by the canal close to the start of Nursery Lane and walk west towards the Boat Inn and take the track running along the canal to the hides or alternatively follow the track up the hill to view the woodlands north of the Flash. For more information see

Birds: attracts a good selection of common ducks and woodland birds, has attracted Spotted Crake, Barred Warbler and Bluethroat in the past and has recently held a Great White Egret which it shared with Denaby Ings and Potteric Carr, and Ravens are regularly seen passing over.

SOUTHFIELD RESERVOIRDirections: On the A614 Selby Road between Thorne and Rawcliffe (Grid ref: SE6518). Follow the main road from Thorne along the River Don until you cross the bridge over the Aire-Calder Canal, take the left hand turn (Between Rivers Lane) immediately after the two bridges, follow this until you come to a a sharp left hand bend in the road (Grid ref: SE6619) with a track going off to the right marked to a sailing club, follow the track to the club compound but beware there is a gate 2-300 yards from the compound which is locked in the evening, so if visiting at this time it is best to park outside the first gate. The northern end of the two reservoirs can be viewed by climbing the embankment.

The southern parts of the reservoirs can be viewed best by either walking south along the embankments or if pushed for time or unable to walk long distances then you can drive back to the road and turn right follow the road until you pass a farm on your left then a few hundred yards further on you will come to a small hump-back bridge (Grid ref: SE6618), do not cross the bridge, but instead take the rough track which runs off to the right immediately before the bridge. Follow the track until you reach the reservoir embankment, park here and climb the banking and follow the track on the bank top in either direction.

THORNE MOORS – A National Nature Reserve managed by Natural England lying just off the M18 to the north east of the town of Thorne.

Can be accessed on foot down Jones’ Cable in Moorends village. Leave Marshland Road at the brown sign and as you enter Broadbent Gate Road, take the left onto Moor Lane then right onto Jones’ Cable track, after a mile you will reach the edge of the reserve.

By car: Leave the M18 at junction 6 head into Thorne on the A614, after going under the bridge at Thorne North Railway Station take the left hand turn onto King Edward Road, follow this for about 2km and then turn right onto Grange Road (if you reach the railway line you have gone too far). Park at the Winning Post Centre or alternatively, park sensibly on Grange Road in Moorends. Follow the brown signs onto the track along the disused road then take first left. Follow this second track which will bring you to a metal footbridge at the edge of the NNR near to where Thorne Colliery once stood. For further information see

Cyclists can lock their bikes up in a provided rack. Further information can be found on the Natural England Humberhead Peatlands website at

Birds – A great place for ducks, raptors, particularly Harriers and Hobby but has also recorded White-tailed Eagle and Red-footed Falcons, and has also had some good waders in the past including Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs and White-rumped Sandpiper as well as several Red-backed Shrike and Wryneck over the years and in the 1990s for a short period it held a small breeding colony of White-spotted Bluethroat. So you could expect almost anything around the next corner, but the number of corners can cause a problem and the site can be very hard to work successfully without knowledge.

With this in mind Bryan Wainwright has supplied the following to aid those looking for Hen Harriers, which as he says can easily be missed:


Thorne Moors is a large and difficult place to bird watch at the best of times, and visitors who do not know the site are often frustrated in their visits by missing the key birds that appear on the blog. Time and place are everything, the vast and largely empty interior is most productive first thing in a morning and especially good on an evening. In the middle of the day it is usually dead and it can be more productive to stick to the woodland edge habitats.

Marsh Harriers are fairly numerous and 1 or 2 can usually be found throughout the day generally over the open areas north of Fisons’ Limestone Road, which cuts the site from West to East. North of the road, this open area of shallow scrapes and heathland balks is known as the flooded (former peat winning) workings. Hen Harriers seem mainly to remain off site during the day only coming in for the night roost. Individuals can have quite fixed habits and so it is possible to predict a little where and when they ought to arrive. The most reliable spot this winter for 2 individuals is along the limestone road at the point where the bridge to Middle Moor Tram crosses Mill Drain. This is often called Blue Bridge after the small wooden bridge nearby with the blue rail. Here there is a limestone parking area if you have access by car, if not this is where you need to stand to view. See link for map here on blog.

From 15.00 to very last light the Hen Harriers can appear, it probably depends how well they have fed. View north of the road towards Goole Moor, just N of Will Pits wood, but also keep checking S of the road from the edge of Will Pits wood (woodside) to Middle Moor and the area of the metal Observation Platform. Hen Harriers invariably come in very low, lower than Marsh Harriers and usually below the vegetation line, so check any movement. Mostly you will see Carrion Crows. They come from the NE generally, but sometimes N, so must be feeding along the Ouse/Humber and Trent River fields. If they come in N of the road over the flooded workings then even if they are low you should spot them. S of the road they come in just as low and skirting the edge of the line of trees along Mervyn’s Tram and can be easily missed. You need to be scanning constantly. Hen Harriers can move deceptively fast when they want to! Generally a male and female have been roosting this winter and there may be a third juvenile bird about.

If you are walking make sure you take a torch and warm clothes and be sure you know your way off! If you are in a vehicle, please drive carefully along the limestone road. Anyone wishing to be taken to see the Hen Harriers by (my) car can contact me (via ‘Contact Us’ on the Thorne Moors Birding Blog which can be accessed via the sidebar link under Doncaster) and we can arrange to meet (probably at the far end of Grange Road near the Recreation Ground) and go and try our luck. Good Luck!

THORPE MARSH – Directions: lies to the north of Doncaster and is approached via the A19 to Bentley, turn right at the mini-roundabout onto Arksey Lane, follow this until you leave the built up area, past the village of Almholme and about another mile or so further on look out for Marsh Lane on the left hand side running up towards the former power station’s cooling towers, take the first left onto W Circuit, at the end turn left onto Ash Fields Road, then take the first right onto Field Station Road, follow this until you reach the field station itself, the mere is on your left (Grid ref: SE5909).

Per Neil Shaw 11/12/2012 the above directions are no longer applicable see below

Just an update on your directions to get to Thorpe Marsh NR.  Your suggested route is no longer viable as there is a new gate between the old power station site and the way to the reserve blocking the Ash Field Rd approach.  At the moment there is still a small gap that is accesible with care, but you have to climb over a spoil heap to get to it.  Further, due to the work being carried out to construct a new railway flyover at Joan Croft Crossing, Field Station Rd up to the junction with Applehurst Lane is subject to Heavy Plant movement (it has also been widened to allow two way trafic).  Although this traffic has been absent when I have visited at weekends the roadway is becoming rutted.
Access is still possible from Fordsteads Lane via the small car park at Norwood Gate and over the Bailey bridge.

THRYBERGH RESERVOIR – lies to the SW of Doncaster between Conisbrough and Thrybergh village on the A630 (Grid ref: SK4795). For further information see

WOMBWELL INGSDirections: follow the directions to Broomhill Flash as far as the pub but instead of turning left onto Everhill Gate Lane, continue straight on to Broomhill Lane and the reserve is on the left. For further details see






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October 18, 2021