May, 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

  • A touch of purple...

    As I cycled to work this morning along Newton Lane, I glanced across Cedric’s Flash (the pool on the left if you’re coming from Allerton Bywater) and saw a distinctly heron-shaped bird flap down onto the water. However, it was a lot darker than herons usually are (and in my early morning haze had to double check it wasn’t a cormorant or crow!). But no, it was definitely a heron.

    I didn’t give it much thought until John G, a member of the RSPB Fairburn Ings Advisory group, came excitedly into the visitor centre an hour and a half later to say he’d seen a purple heron that morning. Thankfully I’d had my morning cuppa by then and the cogs started to turn...after a quick google images search for “flying purple heron” I was able to confirm that was indeed what I’d seen too!

    Their grey cousins are more widespread in the UK, and purple herons are mostly found in Southern and Central Europe and Northern Africa. Purple herons don’t usually breed in the UK but last year saw the first known successful breeding pair, at RSPB Dungeness. There’s a theory that many birds who are used to warmer climes are migrating north more and more because of climate change.

    Other sightings this week include an osprey and a hobby on the flashes, as well as dunlins, redshanks and sanderlings. There have been loads of interesting things spotted at Lin Dike such as a peregrine and barn owl on Wednesday, redshanks and kestrels on Thursday and a little stint and ringed plover on Saturday. Kingfishers have been spotted every day this week, mostly at Pickup hide, and cuckoos have been heard from the visitor centre. We’ve also had lots of butterflies and dragonflies about, with many common blues being spotted as well as small coppers, large skipper, green veined white, and red admirals.

  • A new path to navigate!

    We have a new footpath on the reserve! The warden team have just installed a kissing gate to lead onto the new footpath linking the Riverbank Trail to the Lin Dike trail. This is really exciting as now you’re able to walk to Lin Dike from the main part of the reserve without having to drive down to the Lin Dike car park.

    Some of us on the reserve team went to explore it on Wednesday, and had a great time looking at what trees, wild flowers, butterflies and birds we could see en route. We spotted a cuckoo, sky larks, a marsh harrier, and a kestrel and heard loads of different warblers such as blackcaps, sedge and willow warblers and whitethroats. We also saw holly blue and small copper butterflies. 

    The path runs along the River Aire and at the end, you can either turn left onto the Lin Dike trail or continue to join the canal, which is beyond the boundary of the reserve.

    Underfoot it's still very bumpy and rough due to the wet then very dry weather, which means we’ve ended up with nice big mud ruts for you to navigate. But that shouldn’t put the more adventurous of you off giving it a bash!

    To get to the path from the reserve, you’ll need to walk past the kingfisher screen up Red Shale Road and go through the kissing gate at the top of the hill instead of curving to the left.
    Why not go for a wander and let us know what you think and what you see!

    Other sightings around the reserve include some redpolls, whitethroat, avocets, a marsh harrier over the stacks, a little ringed plover and pied wagtail at Lin Dike. We’ve had more sightings of kingfishers at the screen, the most being two seen together in the last couple of days. People have said they’ve seen tufted duck, pochard, lapwing, a jay, and another pied wagtail at Pick Up Hide. The sightings book has been looking a little empty in the last couple of days so please remember to come and tell us what you’ve seen at the end of your visit!

  • Dawn chorus delights...

    A glorious morning for an early start on the reserve and the wildlife didn't let us down!! The dawn chorus walk was cancelled last week due to bad weather and was rescheduled for this morning and we're really glad!!

    Lots of warblers singing their hearts out- willow warbler, chiffchaff, garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, reed warbler and sedge warbler.

    Birds of prey looked fantastic against the morning blue skies with great views of marsh harrier, hobby, kestrel, buzzard and a red kite was seen over the reserve near Fairburn village yesterday.

    A cuckoo was heard in the Pickup area and over the past few days it has been both seen and heard from Lin Dike.

    Also, seen/heard this morning was, great spotted woodpecker, songthrush, garganey, great crested grebe, common tern, red-legged partridge, tree sparrow and skylark.

    At the Kingfisher screen we had the most amazing experience- not only did we see one Kingfisher but we saw it teaching it's baby how to fish! This was also seen yesterday by a visitor and the day before someone actually watched a pair mating- a once in a lifetime encounter with nature I'd say!

    Lots reported on the reserve yesterday: garganey, willow tit, cuckoo, blackcap, whitethroat, grasshopper warbler, ringed plover, oystercatcher, redshank, little ringed plover, jackdaw, 2 yellow wagtail and shelduck.

    The crane seems to have left the area but keep your eyes peeled in case it comes back!