South Yorkshire

Bittern Botaurus stellaris ©David Mason Website

South Yorkshire is a geographic and ceremonial county (area 63 in the Watsonian system) and Mayoral Combined Authority within the Yorkshire & Humber Region of England. Administratively it is divided into four metropolitan boroughs centred on the main conurbations of Barnsley, City of Doncaster, Rotherham and City of Sheffield (the largest city). It is the southernmost county in the Yorkshire and the Humber region and had a population of 1.34 million in 2011. It has an area of 1,552 square kilometres (599 square miles). It was created in 1974. Lying on the east side of the Pennines, South Yorkshire is landlocked, and borders Derbyshire to the west and southwest, West Yorkshire to the northwest, North Yorkshire to the north, the East Riding of Yorkshire to the northeast, Lincolnshire to the east and Nottinghamshire to the southeast. The Sheffield Urban Area is the tenth most populous conurbation in the UK, and dominates the western half of South Yorkshire with over half of the county’s population living within it.

The metropolitan county lies largely on the carboniferous rocks of the Yorkshire coalfield which have produced a rolling landscape with hills, escarpments and broad valleys. In this landscape there is widespread evidence of both current and former industrial activity. There are numerous mine buildings, former spoil heaps and iron and steel plants. The scenery is a mixture of built up areas, industrial land with some dereliction, and farmed open country. Ribbon developments along transport routes including canal, road and rail are prominent features of the area although some remnants of the pre-industrial landscape and semi-natural vegetation still survive.

The west of the county is fringed by the Pennines and its foothills, most of which lie inside the Peak District National Park.  The Pennine range within the county is distinguished by the moorlands and plateaus of the Dark Peak while the Pennine fringes are distinguished by many steep valleys, and a transition from uplands and rural landscape to lowlands and urban landscape towards the east of the county where the Humberhead Peatlands lie, much of which is protected.

Major rivers which cross the area are the Dearne, Rother and Don. To the east, in the Doncaster area the landscape becomes flatter.

Birding South Yorkshire

Despite the urban and industrial areas there are a number of very important reserves in the area as well as other wildlife areas formed from restoration of former industrial or mineral extraction areas. Moreover, a green belt was established around each of the four urban areas.

In the greener areas arable land and improved grassland dominate although with 10% coverage there are decent areas of woodland. The restored areas include the Dearne Valley, a designated Nature Improvement Area where industrial sites have been cleared and community woodlands created.

Top Sites
  • Potteric Carr

    Satellite View
    A Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve, 2 miles from Doncaster, with areas of reed, open water and marshy woodland. Birds include Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Water Rail and Bittern.
County Recorder
Useful Reading

  • Birds of the Sheffield Area, including the NE Peak District

    | Edited by David Wood & Richard Hill | Sheffield Bird Study Group | 2013 | Hardback | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780907575382 Buy this book from
  • Discover Yorkshire's Wildlife

    | Your Guide to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Nature Reserves | Edited by Jonathan Leadley & Joanna Richards | Yorkshire Wildlife Trust | 2012 | Paperback | 232 pages, colour photos, colour maps | ISBN: 9780950946030 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in Yorkshire

    | By John Mather | Christopher Helm | 2008 | Paperback | 320 pages, line drawings, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713687828 Buy this book from
  • RSPB Airedale & Bradford Local Group

    This is the website of the Airedale & Bradford Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • RSPB Doncaster Local Group

    The local group is composed of local RSPB members who want to learn more about birds and conservation, go on visits and support the valuable work of the RSPB in various ways.
  • RSPB Sheffield Members Group

    This web site provides information for members and anyone who is interested in the work of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Sheffield Members Group…
  • Sheffield Bird Study Group

    Sheffield Bird Study Group was formed in December 1972 as a forum for birdwatchers in and around the city with an active interest in ornithology. The group's recording area, covering twelve 10km squares with the city roughly in the middle, is hugely diverse, stretching north to the outskirts of Barnsley, south to Chesterfield, east to the lowlands beyond Rotherham and Bolsover, and west to the highest tops of the Peak District National Park.
  • Sorby Natural History Society

    The Sorby Recorders who are responsible for organising surveys and collecting information on the local fauna. A list of interesting birds appears in each Newsletter, whilst reports on other groups appear in the Record
  • The Garganey Trust

    The Garganey Trust was set up in 1998 to secure the future of Broomhill Flash, a renowned wildlife site in South Yorkshire. Since then, we’ve built upon this foundation to help the fortunes of wildlife across Yorkshire.
  • Yorkshire Naturalists Union

    The YNU has four basic aims: To study the wildlife of Yorkshire. To record the results of these studies. To present these studies. To use the information for wildlife conservation
  • Yorkshire Red Kites

    The Yorkshire Red Kite Project was the fifth in this sequence and began at Harewood Estate in West Yorkshire in 1999. By this time, the newly established Chilterns population had been so successful that, up to 2003, it was able to supply a total of 68 young birds for release in Yorkshire
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

    Together with our supporters and volunteers, we are committed to creating a Yorkshire rich in wildlife for everyone. From saving our wildlife and wild places to bringing people closer to nature, we have a vision of a wilder future.

Abbreviations Key

  • *Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust Reserves

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Managing 15 nature reserves
  • *Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

    WebsiteSatellite View
    We look after over 100 nature reserves across Yorkshire which are usually open all year. Discover one near you!
  • CP Rother Valley

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Rother Valley Country Park lies on the South Yorkshire / Derbyshire border. The site features regular updates of birds seen within the Country Park boundary, we also include a large selection of photos, all taken within the Park. Conservation has always played a part in the valley, with areas of open water and marshland alongside the Rother prior to open-casting. These attracted migrating birds which use the river for navigation as they travel north and south during the spring and autumn migrations…
  • LNR Broomhill Flash

    WebpageSatellite View
    Broomhill Flash is a remarkable place. Located in a former industrial area dominated by coal mines and colliery villages, it forms one of a ‘string of pearls’ of lakes, ponds and marshes along the valley of the River Dearne in Yorkshire.
  • LNR Clegg’s Meadow

    WebpageSatellite View
    Eleven acres of arable land on the west side of Broomhill Flash were converted into a hay-meadow using seed harvested from an ancient wildflower meadow in 2004.
  • LNR Denaby Ings

    WebpageSatellite View
    In an area shaped by mining and farming, you can still see evidence of this reserve’s past as you enjoy its diverse range of present-day wild wonders
  • LNR Potteric Carr Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Potteric Carr is one of over sixty reserves owned or leased by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. It is situated about 2 miles from the centre of Doncaster, close to the M18 and A6182. Its wide range of habitats from open water and marsh to woodland, covering an area of about 130 ha., give it an interesting diversity of wildlife. In addition, its paths through attractive scenery make it an ideal venue for all kinds of visitor ranging from those who simply enjoy the quiet of the countryside to the dedicated wildlife expert…
  • LNR Thunderbridge Meadows

    WebpageSatellite View
    Thunderbridge Meadows is found in the lovely wooded valley of the Thunderbridge Dyke, near Huddersfield. The reserve follows the western bank of the bubbling stream as it flows northwards, and consists of two ancient meadows connected by riverine woodlands and scrub.
  • RSPB Dearne Valley - Adwick Washland

    WebpageSatellite View
    Discover RSPB Adwick Washland, a jewel in the crown of the Dearne Valley Reserves. Former farmland in the Dearne Valley floodplain, Adwick Washland is now a thriving wetland and grassland habitat that hosts fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities year round.
  • RSPB Dearne Valley - Old Moor

    WebpageSatellite View
    Situated right at the heart of the Dearne Valley, Old Moor is a wonderful place to come and watch wildlife. The skies, fields and open water are teeming with birds throughout the year…
  • RSPB Dearne Valley - Wombwell Ings

    WebpageSatellite View
    Wander round this small but vibrant wetland reserve, enjoying the sights and sounds of Lapwings, Redshanks and Avocets.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • Barnsley Bird Sightings

    If you are interested in posting your own sightings to this blog then please get in touch with Mark D by clicking on his profile below and following the link to his email. Otherwise let Graham Speight know and between us we'll get an invite sent to you.
  • Barnsley Birders

    Twitter Page
  • South Yorkshire Birders

    Facebook Page
  • South Yorkshire birders

    Twitter Page
  • YorkshireBirds

    Mailing List
    Discussion Group - This list is for Yorkshire birders, birdwatchers, birdspotters, and related subjects in the Counties of North, East, South, and West Yorkshire England. The list is a forum for news of rare bird sightings in the four Counties. You may also make requests for bird-related information and information on local birdwatching sites. This is a public forum do not post details of species or sites that could help egg collectors identify nest sites. Do not send file attachments.
Other Links
  • Jon Hornbuckle

    Jon Hornbuckle saw 9,600 species of bird, more than anyone, ever. He was tough as nails. We were at Tangjiahe, Sichuan in May 2013. Our original five-man group was one short, but the park still wanted 10,000 yuan. Jon insisted on a prorated price of 8,000. The rep said no, and Jon said, “Tell her we’re leaving.” The rep gave in. Later, at the parking lot at the base of the mountain, the rep cheerfully announced that her boss had prepared a luncheon for us in a banquet hall nearby. “We’re not tourists,” Jon said.
  • SK58

    SK58 Birders were formed in December 1992, when several local birders met and decided to pool their resources time and experience to build up and share information on local birds and bird-related issues. Members are people who live in and around SK58, i.e. Dinnington, North and South Anston and the outlying villages who are interested in birds, especially local birds. Members range from people who enjoy watching and feeding birds from their homes to the ardent birder, who enjoys finding and watching birds at the highest level. Membership is open to anyone who has an interest in local birds at whatever level. Membership is
  • Sheffield Photographic Centre

    The premier independent dealer in Sheffield for Canon, Pentax, Minolta, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Kodak, Tamron, Mamiya, Fujicolor, Ilford, Ricoh, Lowepro, Samsung, Kowa, Opticron, Gossen, Meopta, Minox, Swarovski, Agfa, Fotospeed, Tetenal, Forte, Cobra, Metz, Courtenay, Paterson, Kentmere, Manfrotto, Polaroid, Digital Imaging, Used cameras and darkroom equipment, Monochrome products, Chemicals, optics, the list is endless
  • Barnsley Bird Sightings

    Bird & wildlife sightings from the Barnsley recording area
  • Doncaster Birding

    Daily update of birds reported in the Doncaster District
  • Hatfield Moors Birding BLOG

    Bird and other wildlife information service for Hatfield Moors, South Yorkshire
  • Of Birds and Pies

    The definitive site to Pie gobbling when birding
  • Sheffield Wildlife

    My name is Pete Mella. I
  • Steven Farley - Yorkshire Wild

    I consider my patch to be anywhere in the Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire area. My favourite places being, Bank Island, Wheldrake, Alkborough Flats, Spurn Point, North Cave Wetlands and the many other sites around the Humber.

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