March, 2011

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's
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Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

  • Cut Hide update

    Sorry to start on a low, but unfortunately Cut Hide was burnt down on Monday night. You can still walk down Cut Lane but the hide itself has been cordoned off. We aim to have the hide replaced as soon as possible and thank you for your patience while we get it sorted out.

    The fire service is investigating and leafleting the local area in case anybody saw anything. If anyone has any information that you think could help, please let us know at the visitor centre and we’ll pass it on.

    On a happier note, despite some grey days, we’ve had lots to see all over the site.

    Yesterday another water vole sighting was reported, this time from Cut Lane. 3 roe deer were spotted sauntering along the Riverbank Trail and green woodpeckers, kingfishers and buzzards seem to have been cropping up left right and centre for the past 3 days!

    A little gull was seen around the flashes on Monday, and again today over Spoonbill Flash. 9 Avocets back on Hickson’s.

    There is still a lesser redpoll hanging around the visitor centre feeders, stocking up before the trip back to Scandinavia for the summer!

    Events update: For anyone wanting to brush up on their bird song id skills, or just get out early for a bacon buttie reward, we have 2 dates for dawn chorus walks about to go on the website along with new butterfly walks and heron watch walks. And for those of you with little’uns to keep occupied, Easter Family Fun Day is on April 17th as well as all sorts of other stuff all on the main website –


  • Ratty!

    We knew we had water voles at Fairburn Ings but we think the population is small and sightings are rare, so you can imagine our delight when one was spotted paddling about just metres from the visitor centre! This little guy was seen by some of our visitors swimming in and out of the reeds just near our metal heron sculpture, from the boardwalk.

    Round the corner at the Kingfisher screen its namesake has been seen fishing from the various perches. Last week one luck visitor actually saw a pair of kingfishers perched together on a branch downstream, and even managed to get a photograph of the male feeding a fish to the female!

    A green sandpiper has been feeding along the spit in front of Cut Hide for the past couple of days, and if you're in that part of the reserve, keep an eye out for the magical displays of courting great crested grebes and goldeneyes.

    Over on the other side, 14 pink footed geese were seen from Lin Dike Hide and 6 Avocets have returned to Hicksons Flash, which you reach by carrying on from Lin Dike Hide towards the canal for anyone who hasn't been before. This seems to be their favoured spot when visiting Fairburn.

    Frog spawn is cropping up in all the ponds, the blackthorn's in flower and I'm seeing more and more butterflies with every sunshiney spell. Fingers crossed for more weather like we've had this week!


  • A Fond Fairwell to Fairburn!

    This is my last blog at Fairburn as I am moving to Arne in Dorset to work as an Information Assistant there. The bonus is that it is a paid contract but I am really going to miss the reserve here. My time here has been fantastic and I have had a great opportunity to get involved in all sorts of things. I arrived at the end of November as was greeted with heavy snow fall which stayed around for a couple of weeks. I think we got away fairly lightly here as the centre remained open through out but being from the south I am not really used to that much snow.  In my first couple of weeks I led some long eared owl walks to the roost at Lin Dyke. I had never seen these great birds before and at this time we had three regularly roosting. I have had fun getting my self on the radio several times and never missed a chance to chase fame, although some of the questions I was asked were a little bit odd. For example -  Will birds eat sausage rolls?  And how do fat pigeons fly? The most memorable interview was when we had to do an outside broadcast at 8 o'clock in the morning at the top of Redshale road in temperatures of -10. I even got myself on BBC Look North (if only for a few seconds) when they came to film a piece about the reserve being frozen solid for six weeks.

    I have had some great bird watching moments on the reserve and apart from the long eared owls highlights included the female smew that took up residence  at the Kingfisher screen during the really cold weather, this was another first for me. It was fantastic to see the water rails coming to the feeders on a daily basis and giving visitors brilliant views of a normally elusive bird. I was also lucky enough to watch a barn owl from the centre as it hunted across the fields in the snow. Some of the smaller birds are great too and being able to watch bullfinches, willow tits and redpolls on a daily basis from the balcony is a real treat.

    It is sad to leave and I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers for their help and support during my time here. Thanks for everything!

    I also got a chance to sample the new Fairburn Pie - which is available later this month!