For the last few years I have looked on in envy, at the impressive looking scrapes along the M18 between junctions 3 and 4. This of course is the infamous reserve that is Potteric Carr. Despite being less than thirty minutes away I have only visited the site on two occasions during my 27 years of birding and neither of these were proper visits. Jo, clearly confused with my apparent reluctance to visit such a good looking site, suggested that it would be good to have a look just to see what it's like.
So once Beth was at school we headed the short distance up the M18. First surprise was that this site is only 14 miles away and is in fact nearer and easier to get to than most sites on the west side of Sheffield. Disappointingly it doesn't open until 9am and there appears to be no other way of getting in and on arrival you feel as though you are attending some sort of corporate event as you enter through a rather vulgar looking modern office complex. Once through the visitor centre you walk out on to the reserve and it really does feel like a proper reserve where some areas even had the feel of the likes of Minsmere. We walked the whole reserve (c.9km) and wasn't disappointed with a single bit. This place has everything open water, reed beds, woodland and best of all some great new scrapes, that despite being new already not only pull in the birds but provide enough food to encourage them to stay as the three Avocets there testified.
The addition of a cafe halfway round is perfectly positioned to encourage you to fill up and thus stay that bit longer without the need for further sustinence. Sadly there were no pies on offer and the only savoury pastry items were a couple of overdone sausage rolls, we opted for a plate full of beans on toast for just two quid - proper birding food! Following this we had a look at the newly hatched Black-necked Grebes then set off to view the excellent scrapes. Unfortunately we were restricted by time and had to get back for Beth. However we had time to subscribe to the YWT before leaving and after falling in love with this site will return many many times.