Welcome to the SBSG website

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.

We aim to promote an interest in birds in the community, provide something of interest to all levels of birder, co-ordinate fieldwork and recording in the area, and work with and complement the work of like-minded local and national organisations for the benefit of birds. SBSG is registered charity No 510857. Click here for more.

Indoor Meetings & Field Trips

ZOOM Meeting - Weds 10th March - 7.30pm 

(Joining details will be sent to members via email)

Birds in the Sheffield Area 2020 & AGM

The AGM will take place (Document pack will be sent via the newsletter) followed by three presentations & the recorder's report.

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Richard Hill - Birds in the Sheffield Area 2020

Richard will take us through the birding highlights of 2020.

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Pete Brown - Birding Highs

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In his dotage, long-time SBSG member Pete Brown, clearly with too much time on his hands, has taken up 'Munro bagging', Munros are the Scottish mountains with summits greater than 3,000 feet (914.4 metres) in height. Pete's talk is in part a celebration of some of the birds encountered during those expeditions and is also a brief look at some of the species that he's come across in mountainous regions in Central America, South America and Africa.

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David Wood - All at Sea Down Under: The Stuff of Dreams

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Seawatching is often felt to be an acquired taste among birders: sitting on windswept clifftops while distant dots occasionally emerge from the troughs of waves is not everyone’s cup of tea.  However, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could fail to be converted – albeit temporarily – by a seabird bonanza in New Zealand.  In this short talk, David will share his experiences of two pelagics he enjoyed during a visit down under in January 2020.

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Ron Blagden - Recorders Report

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ZOOM Meeting - Weds 14th April - 7.30pm

(Joining details will be sent to members via email)

Ben Hatchwell - Long-tailed Tits


I first came to Sheffield to start a PhD in 1984, studying guillemots on Skomer Island. After completing my PhD and spending six years elsewhere doing post-doctoral research on dunnocks, alpine accentors and blackbirds, I was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Animal & Plant Sciences in 1993. Arriving back in Sheffield, my priority was to establish a research project investigating the evolution of animal societies. Long-tailed tits fitted the bill perfectly - a little was already known about their extraordinary social behaviour, and I was convinced that they could tell us much about social evolution. Little did I know when ringing my first pair in the Rivelin Valley in March 1994 that I would still be studying them with the same enthusiasm 27 years later. Along the way, I’ve had various other projects in ornithologically exciting parts of the world, but daily trips to the Rivelin Valley from March to June remain a non-negotiable fixture of my annual routine. 

In this talk, I will describe the extraordinary social system of long-tailed tits, in which failed breeders often become ‘helpers’ at a nest belonging to another pair. This cooperative helping behaviour is founded on kinship, but living alongside relatives also brings potential conflicts. I will describe how long-tailed tits maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of interacting with kin. 

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Coronavirus Update

Dear Members,

As 2020 draws to a somewhat shambolic close, I know I won’t be alone in raising a glass to mark the end of what has been a truly memorable year – for all the wrong reasons! From lockdowns to punch-ups over loo-roll, it’s been a challenging 12 months, but there’s no doubt that birding has just about got me through.

One of the biggest disappointments of this year has been the fact we’ve not been able to engage with SBSG members since the AGM in March. So, as we enter the New Year, I hope you enjoy your free roll-over membership for 2021 and can find time to join our remote programme of indoor meetings via Zoom, which will be the new normal for the time being.

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Robin x Corn Bunting hybrid - Chatsworth| Richard Hill

In the meantime, I hope you and your families have a great Christmas despite the current circumstances and enjoy a safe and bird-filled New Year.

With best birding wishes,

Richard Hill

Sheffield Bird Study Group – 24 December 2020

















Committee Nominations

Please submit your committee nominations as soon as possible before the AGM. If you are interested in joining the Committee then please contact us as soon as possible - see here for contact details.

SBSG Lockdown Birding

As lockdown continues, we’ve decided to introduce a couple of initiatives that will hopefully provide some positives (and some fun) for our members and beyond.

Garden Birding

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Many of us are spending more time than ever watching the birds in and from our homes and gardens. This is evident from the number of records from gardens across our area appearing on the recent sightings pages, with a good range of species already seen, but we want to see more! Please do submit your garden sightings to the website, and continue to do so when the breeding season gets under way. The aim is to see how many species we collectively see in and from gardens across our area, with updates to be provided via the Newsletter (feel free to send in your own contributions on this front): can we collectively see 50 species by the end of March? Will we manage 100 species over the year? And who will see the most species in and from their garden?

Birding During Local Exercise

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As you take your daily exercise under current lockdown rules, it’s a great chance to record what’s about in less visited areas close to home and help to build up a more complete picture of our local birdlife. Don’t forget to submit these records too, especially in relation to breeding activity, which is hugely under-recorded for most species. For those who want to add an extra dimension to this collaborative effort, keep a list of species you see within 3 km of home and send your ongoing highlights for inclusion in the Newsletter. You can find out what is within 3 km of home via a number of online resources, such as https://www.mapdevelopers.com/draw-circle-tool.php

(Don’t) get out and get lockdown recording!

Birds in the Sheffield Area 2018

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Editor: Richard Hill 

Birds in the Sheffield Area 2018 was published in December 2020 with help of the major sponsors The National Trust, Foothills and Sheffield Photographic Centre 

The cover of an Audouin's Gull at Norfolk Bridge was created by Paul Leonard and the text is interleaved with colour illustrations by Ben Green, Richard Dale and Paul Leonard. The colour photographs are courtesy of  C. Brelsford, A. Deighton, P. Garrity, R.D. Hill, M.N. Reeder, and M. Smethurst. It has a total of 195 pages. 

This edition is dedicated to the memory of Jon Hornbuckle - 1943 - 2018. 

Main Contents:

  • A review of the birding year, 2018
  • Systematic List of records for the year 2018
  • Arrival and departure dates of migrant species in 2018
  • Audouin's Gull at Norfolk Bridge - New for the Sheffield Area
  • Herring Gulls in Urban Chesterfield - A New Breeding Species
  • A Study of Breeding Sand Martins on the Lower Don 2018
  • Obituary - Jon Hornbuckle 1943 - 2018
  • A colour map of the SBSG recording area

The cost is £7 if collected, or £9.50 to include postage and packing. The report is free to qualifying members.

Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of this, or any other of our annual reports, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details.

If you shop online, don’t forget to support SBSG at no extra cost by channelling through easyfundraising or Smile Amazon - Here's how to do it


The Northumbrian Garden Parrot - Pete Brown


Pete has been a birder in the Sheffield area for over 40 years and an active and involved member of the SBSG for much of that time. The Northumbrian Garden Parrot draws considerably from that experience but reflects also on his affection for bird watching in his native North East as well as further afield. There is both serious content particularly in the field of conservation issues locally and nationally as well as a lighter look at birding and birders. The narrative ranges from efforts to combat raptor persecution in the Peak District to referencing the Monty Python dead parrot sketch, Fawlty Towers and the Muppet Show’s Swedish chef in his birding encounters. 

There are many references to Sheffield Bird Study Group and indeed around 20 members of the group past and present merit appreciative mentions in the text. Frequently  the narrative returns to Pete’s local Millhouses Park and Ecclesall Woods patch. And as befits his affection for the patch all profits from the sale of The Northumbrian Garden Parrot will go towards efforts by The Friends of Millhouses Park to raise the £25,000 needed to provide a new kiddies climbing frame in the Park. 

Pete is selling the book for £10 a copy ( a bargain at 350 pages he claims). If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy, Pete, in his new career as a door to door book seller, is happy to deliver anywhere in the SBSG area.  

You can contact Pete by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or text/call on 07789 441294


Good news for younger members

Free membership is now available for persons under the age of 25.  The age limit was previously 22.  And it’s available regardless of whether you’re in full time education or not.  Existing members should by now have received revised membership certificates from Martin Hodgson, the Membership Secretary.  If you haven’t but you think you ought to have, or if you are a paying member who now qualifies for free membership, please contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Help Sheffield University and SBSG support the Sheffield Peregrines

With your help we can provide more opportunities for people to learn more about these amazing birds as well as carry out important research. You can support the Sheffield Peregrines Project by donating through the Virgin Money Giving page.

Click on this link to learn more about the plans for the project and to donate: