August, 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

  • New neighbour!

    If you've visited Fairburn Ings recently you'll have seen the dry stone wall that Nick and Tanya have been building along the path to the visitor centre. The wall should provide some great habitat for insects, reptiles and mammals too as our volunteer Joe saw today when a bank vole popped out onto the path near the visitor centre before scampering round and straight back in!

    Also seen from the balcony was a kestrel perched on the telegraph pole over the road yesterday.

    Across the rest of the site today we've had Herons seen from Bob Dickens and Lin Dike, also from Lin Dike 5 greenshank and 2 spotted flycatcher and at the moat, just a bit further up the road were 5 snipe, 2 green sandpiper, 2 more greenshank and a ruff. At Pickup Ginny our ranger clocked up a list of 23 bird species, including reed and willow warbler, lapwing, pied wagtail and a wren flitting to and from the coot nesting platform in front of the hide. Lots of our visitors were also treated to glimpses of the weasel, once again chasing around the hide and discovery trail.

    Over the last couple of days we've had more greenshank, green sandpiper, buzzards and little egrets across the site. A grey partridge from the new path along the River Aire, willow tit and a treecreeper around the Discovery Trail. Across Spoonbil and Phalarope flashes have been gadwall, shoveller, common sandpiper, yellow wagtail, a fox, a peregrine, whinchat, linnets, chiff chaff and common tern.

    2 unusual sightings for Fairburn were a brown argus butterfly, seen right at the beginning of the New Path and a wood warbler on the Riverbank Trail.


    Andy Hay (

  • A week for wagtails

    Since Wednesday we've had yellow, grey, pied and even a possible sighting of a white wagtail - all from lin dike with the exception of the pied wagtails which seem to be cropping up all over the place, including our picnic area.  Lin dike has boasted a nice selection of waders over the last couple of days, including ruff, ringed plover, dunlin, greenshank, green sandpiper, lapwing and common sandpiper. Also down that end visitors have seen a spotted flycatcher (also seen from the discovery trail) a lesser whitethroat family with 5 young, water rail, little egret, linnets, and the lovely little grebe - also to be found fairly reliably on 'big hole' - the lake just up from the kingfisher screen.

    Walking back from lin dike along the River Aire the redstart is still around, seen yesterday, along with willow warbler, wren, common tern and 2 green woodpeckers.

     Technically, its not part of Fairburn Ings, but we love our local little owl and any glimpses we get, this time over the road at Newton Farm - so keep your eyes peeled while you drive safely between the visitor centre and lin dike!

    Back at base we've had several buzzard sightings, a marsh harrier and sparrowhalk flying over the visitor centre, whinchat, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat, bullfinch, coal tit, lots of long tailed tits, grey heron and last but not least, 2 kingfisher sightings around the discovery trail.

    For those of you who prefer your winged creatures a little daintier and less the feathers, meadow browns and gatekeepers are topping the butterfly charts, followed by speckled wood, common blue, and my favourites the peacock - 9 species to found all in all on Wednesdays survey. 7 species of dragonfly, by far the most abundant the common darter, a restless little orange dragonfly which can often be seen flitting to and from its various bankside perches.


  • From birds of prey to's been busy at the Ings

    We had a super weekend, with some lovely weather, and it really brought out the birds and insects on the reserve.  There seem to have been lots of birds of prey, with several sightings of buzzards over the visitor centre and Newfield plantation, plus marsh harrier, sparrow hawk and hobby from Pickup hide, and a kestrel at Lin Dike.  The kingfisher has been seen several times at Pickup hide and the Kingfisher screen throughout the weekend.  We’ve also had several sightings of Little Egrets at Lin Dike and Pickup Pool.  Other sightings of note include a snipe at The Moat, redstarts on the new path, pink footed goose at Big Hole to the right of Redshale road, a spotted flycatcher near the pond dipping platform, yellow wagtail at the Flashes, a ruff at New Flash and a wheatear on the fence near Pickup hide.  We’ve had lots of sightings of little ringed plovers and ringed plovers at Lin Dike, plus greenshank, dunlin, common sandpiper and green sandpiper.  There aren’t so many sightings of songbirds as we get into late summer, but some visitors have seen sedge warblers, willow tits and whitethroats

    We had a minibeast safari with Alan and Amanda on Sunday and the children got some great finds, including two six banded clear wing moths, which are fairly rare.  They feed on a wildflower called bird’s-foot trefoil, which we have plenty of on the reserve.  We also put out the moth trap on Saturday night and had a really interesting catch for this time of year.  We got 2 old lady moths, a blood vein – a white moth with a beautiful streak of red across it’s wings, 2 lesser swallow prominent, 6 flame shoulders, 6 yellow underwing, a canary shouldered thorn and a gold spot, which is the beautiful moth in the photo.

    If you visit the reserve don’t forget to drop into the visitor centre to let us know what you have seen, and write it in our sightings book.