March, 2012

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

  • Pollinators and the Ivy.....

    Hi there again, it’s now our 3rd post for you!

    This week has allowed us to appreciate the rocky road of “ups and downs” to Wildlife Gardening. As you already know, we planted a great shrub for our wildlife – the Pyracantha. We loved our new addition, unfortunately so did our furry friends the rabbits! Their tell-tale tracks and signs allowed us to conclude they enjoyed nibbling away at our newly planted beauty's. We do of course appreciate this happens, and have now learned of their canny ways.

    The garden itself is really coming to life now as spring has officially commenced, and the first views of our beautiful iris flowers are showing. We are sure with our continued nurturing you will really fall head over heels with the garden as we have.

    Gentle weeding and tidying of the beds, will help prevent any struggle for our up and coming flowers including daffodils and crocuses. The pond is also housing toads too, which will hopefully bring more life and activity to the habitat!

    What a busy and exciting period......spring is here!

    Please do get in touch with anything you think we could improve our garden with , and any comments you may have.

    Till our next update

    Teresa and Louise


  • What's about?

    We've been spoilt lately by the variety of wildlife which has chosen to visit us at Fairburn Ings. I spent a good ten minutes watching a wren from the boardwalk, buried away in the reeds but belting a song out like it was the size of a swan! Two minutes later a quiet rustling in the grasses turned out to be a common toad, followed by a pair on the opposite side of the boardwalk, and then another pair, and then another...! Thank you to everyone who's contributed to our sightings book in the visitor centre, it's great to hear about what you've all seen out and about.

     Today we've had two Siskin on the visitor centre feeders - a male and a female, with the male being described by one visitor as 'bright as a budgie'! We've also seen a Mediterranean Gull out on Main Bay. These gulls usually mix in with a flock of Black-headed Gulls on the south and east coasts, and look rather similar, except that a Mediterranean Gull has much more of a black head than a Black-headed Gull, which actually has a chocolate brown head (and the dark brown doesn't actually cover the whole head, either...).

    Pickup Hide had a few mentions in the book yesterday, with a female Pintail, Oystercatchers (making their metal detector-like sounds), a Redshank and a Little Egret all being mentioned. I've seen Little Egrets from Pickup a few times over the past week or so, and they still seem so elegant and gentle to watch; I'm just wondering how I can try to be like them...! And Oystercathcers are definitely one of my favourites; they're so amusing to watch! I can't believe they can balance with the huge size of their beaks, and because of the sounds they make, they just sound so excited when they find something to eat - I do have a bit of a soft spot for them. A Redshank was also seen on the flashes, which are the pools either side of the road down by the Lin Dike car park.

    Also seen here on Tuesday was a Ringed Plover and a Black-necked Grebe! Black-necked Grebes are a rare sight indeed, so of course I'm extremely jealous of anyone who's seen this! These small grebes have wonderful golden tufts of feathers on their face, contrasting wonderfully with a black head and neck.

    A Mediterranean Gull was seen from Bob Dickens Hide yesterday, and along the Riverbank Trail we had reports of a Goosander and a Chiffchaff - Chiffchaffs are normally only here in the summer, although the UK does have a few year-round. A lot of the signs of warmer weather have been popping up recently, with bees, butterflies and toadspawn all being seen around the reserve.


  • Mind That Toad!

    Spring is definitely in the air here today; Common Toads are absolutely everyewhere at the moment, with seemingly only one thing on their minds! Please be careful at the moment, as it can be very easy to find one is underneath your approaching shoe...

    Whilst pausing on the boardwalk to have a look at the bright sun and blue sky, I noticed a rustling in the reeds below. A few seconds later, a brown warty friend appeared, and lumbered out towards where I was standing. A few minutes later, after watching a Wren singing it's heart out in the reeds, a pair made themself obvious and soon looked as though they would like some privacy. Four feet away, a female was carrying a male into some reeds, and as I was walking back to the visitor centre a gentleman pointed out two toads just beside our owl sculpture. It certainly feels like Spring is here today!

    So, promptly after returning from my wander, I decided to read up about these little creatures. I soon found out that toads lay between 1,000 and 8,000 eggs - although adults spend most of their time on land, females enter ponds to lay these eggs (toadspawn) which form in strings, so we can tell them from frogspawn. This isn't why they form in strings; I just thought I should make that clear!

    If you'd like to help these lumpy bumpy lumberers at home, check out the RSPB's Homes for Wildlife webpages which have loads of ideas for people who'd like to garden for wildlife, such as building a hibernaculum (would you go to the website if I told you what one was?).