This Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve is on the A6182 out of Doncaster, just over a large railway bridge. And trains form a backdrop to any trip here; indeed they even become part of the viewing from one of the hides. A visit is also a tale of routes, as befits the railway theme.
From the entrance I took the Green Route through some alders, where siskins called but wouldn’t show themselves. A boardwalk led me to a view over Decoy Marsh, which wasn’t too busy, being mid-August. One reed warbler chattered in the Phragmites.
Across a freight line the Yellow Route branched left to the Childers Hide, which looked over Low Ellers Marsh. In between, abundant trains on the East Coast Main Line provided some amusement and made the whole experience a little surreal. The birding was still a touch quiet though – even further round the Yellow Route, which traversed excellent varied habitat.
It was only at the Red Route junction, with its view over the East Scrape, that waders began to make the day interesting. From nearby West Scrape Hide and along the northern edge of Huxter Well Marsh, I logged avocet, ringed plover, lapwing, common sandpiper and oystercatcher. Other waterbirds included little egret, a Mediterranean gull and unseasonal pochards. Sand martins and house martins zipped over the surface of the water while swifts patrolled overhead.
This put me at the Field Centre for lunch at Low Ellers Junction Café. Birdfeeders here and at Willow Pool Hide attracted the usual tits, finches and so on. I hoped for the alleged willow tits but only heard one marsh tit.
I was back on the Green Route and completed its loop round Loversall Pool and back to the entrance via a bridge over the Mother Drain. I love that name: it sounds so Yorkshire and a fitting end to a few hours in the south of the county.