February, 2013

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

  • Latest sightings - 23rd Feb

    Highlight of the week has to be the male smew that has been hanging around the reserve, he has mostly been paddling around with two red head smews on Main bay near to the Village bay viewpoint but today (Saturday) decided to relocate himself to Spoonbill flash.


    Other highlights include a marsh harrier that was seen chasing a sparrowhawk in front of Pickup hide, oystercatchers near Village bay and little egrets on the flashes as were 2 mistle thrush.


    There has been regular sightings of buzzard over the visitor centre, Back Newton Lane and Newfield plantation, 2 red kites were also seen over Back Newton Lane and there has been a few sightings of flocks of between 10 & 20 golden plover flying over the reserve.


    Kingfishers have been reported from Cut lane and from Linn dike there has been sightings of pintail, curlew, little egrets, oystercatchers and redshanks along with 2 green woodpecker that were seen on the path as you approach the hide.

  • Snow to bird song in two days

    I had two days off last week, I left the reserve on Wednesday evening under several inches of snow, and when I came back yesterday it felt completely different, the sun was shining and it even felt slightly warm, plus the birds have started to sing!  A walk round the Discovery Trail is a delight, listening to robins, blue tits and great tits all blasting out their beautiful tunes.  Having spent the last two years working on RSPB reserves I have picked up a few different bird calls, I never thought I’d be the sort of person who would be able to identify a bird by its song, but it is surprisingly easy.  Robins have a beautiful melancholic song, one which you are as likely to hear in the evening as you are during the day.  Great tits call sounds like they are saying ‘teacher’ repeatedly.  If you want more information about bird calls the RSPB website http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/ has sound clips of most common British birds.

    We still have plenty of our winter visitors on the reserve, with regular sightings of bramblings and siskins at the feeders.  There have also been several sightings of goldeneyes and goosanders on Main Bay.  There has been a great deal of excitement here because we've got a male smew and two female smews on Main Bay, the male arrived on Saturday morning, and spent most of the day with the two females to the east of Bob Dickens hide, although he couldn't be seen from the hide, there are better views from the other side of Main Bay, from the new viewing platform.  The photo of the male smew was taken by Joe Seymour, one of our super volunteers., thanks Joe.

    Rob saw a water rail by the feeding platform this morning, it was his first sighting of a water rail, so he was pretty pleased, even though he only saw the back end of it!  There were also three little egrets down there.  Elsewhere on the reserve, there was a peregrine falcon and buzzard seen over the Flashes yesterday, plus a male pintail on New Flash.

    Don’t forget to let us know if you see anything whilst you're on the reserve, the sightings book is by the till in the visitor centre and we’re always happy to hear what you've seen during your visit.

  • Sunshine, cake and birdsong are back on the menu

    Greetings from a bright and sunny Fairburn Ings where the sky is blue, the breeze is gentle and the air is full of bird song, buds are forming on branches, snowdrops are in full bloom around the reserve and other spring bulbs are slowly stretching their necks up out of the ground after a wintery rest.

    Sightings from the last few days include siskin, coal tit, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, willow tit, bullfinch, reed bunting, goldfinch, tree sparrow, magpie, robin, nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker, song thrush, greenfinch, dunnock, blackbird, and collared dove all visiting the feeders around the centre and flying overhead was a buzzard.

    From Pickup hide there has been treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker, shelduck, shoveler, teal, siskin, tufted duck, goldeneye and brambling. The feeder screen has drawn in greenfinch, goldfinch, blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit, willow tit, chaffinch, tree sparrow, house sparrow, dunnock, blackbird, coot, moorhen, pheasant, and of course the always present mallards hoovering up any spilled seed.

    Spoonbill flash has had curlew, lapwing, cormorant, tufted duck, pochard, shoveler, mallard, wigeon, teal, goldeneye, great crested grebe, goosander, and pintail visiting recently and a smew was reported from New flash.

    Sparrowhawks and kestrels have been reported from various locations and on Main bay there has been reports of goldeneye, goosander, tufted ducks, coots and shelduck.

    Herons are starting to pair up and claim nest spots around the heronry, which we will be organising guided walks to visit in the near future.

    Oh and best of all, we have a range of new and delicious cakes available from the shop, so now you can sit with a brew and a slice of fresh cake and watch the birds feeding and listen to their song from the comfort of our balcony. Have a fantastic weekend and if visiting Fairburn Ings, do pop in to the visitor centre and have a chat with our lovely staff who are always glad to hear what you have seen be it birds, bugs, mammals or flowers.