St. Aidans has been an RSPB reserve for several years now. It was an opencast coal site, excavated by an enormous machine which is still present, though now it is behind a fence. The excavation left a massive depression which has been fashioned into several lakes with footpaths between them and around the whole site. It is now quite mature and attracts hundreds, if not thousands of breeding birds. By September that is all over, but the resident bird numbers are swelled by migrants moving through or staying for the winter.

Apart from descending into the bowl, all the paths are level, and should be dry. (In winter that can be different – last year several flooded.)

The route I propose is probably a couple of miles long, and should include dragonflies and other insects on the remaining summer flowers.

Meet  in the RSPB car park at 10.30.. Some people do park on the road outside as there is a parking charge for non-members.

To get there:

From Doncaster take the A1 north, leave at the A1246, which is the old A1. Turn off into Fairburn and drive through the village and on, past the RSPB Fairburn reserve. Keep going, and at the lights, go straight on in Allerton Bywater. At a roundabout  go right. Straight forward so far. The road goes up a hill, nearing the top, look out for Leeds Road, a left turn. After about a mile the RSPB car park is on the left. You will see the enormous mining machine looming ahead as you approach.

Bring your lunch and binoculars. Please let me know if you wish to come, and do let me know if you change your mind. Paul’s mobile number is: 07482110151.

Joyce Simmons

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