But red campions are pink!

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

But red campions are pink!

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Wildflowers are looking more and more beautiful this time of year with forget-me-nots, cow parsley, herb robert, daisies and buttercups popping up all over the reserve. Hawthorn is now everywhere, if you were unsure of whether it was hawthorn before, now you’ll definitely be certain with their lovely snowy blossoms giving them all away! Horse chestnut or ‘conker trees’ are now also holding their distinctive white candy like flower spikes, these can be seen down the bank just before Village Bay hide. Red campion is perhaps the most common wildflower now dotted round the reserve. I have forever known these as pink campion (probably because of their pink petals!) so had quite a revelation this week to find out the proper name for them! With its pretty five pink petals, hairy green leaves and purple stems they are lovely additions to our wildflower family!


Red Campion – Andy Hay (RSPB-images)

Little gulls have been making a steady appearance this last week mainly on the Moat. These are the smallest of the gull family which have black heads during the winter but are white with a black stripe on their back this time of year. Speaking of gulls, kittiwakes have also been seen over village bay view point this week which will stay until the end of August once they finish breeding. We have had lots of exciting waders again this week with common sandpipers regularly seen ‘teetering’ over Main Bay with their short beaks and legs compared to other waders such as the long-legged godwit. Other small waders such as dunlins have also been spotted on Main Bay.

Common sandpiper – Andy Hay (RSPB-images)

I have been enjoying more common terns this week, especially over main bay looking from cut lane way. Watching them fish is a fantastic past time especially if you’re delaying getting back to do uni work at home cough cough! Their elegance whilst on the wing and their sharp precision when they dive into the water makes them stand out from similar sea birds. There have been so many new arrivals here at Fairburn especially mallard ducklings, goslings and coot chicks! It is such an exciting time to come to Fairburn with all the chicks out and in nests!

Reed warbler can be heard twittering in the reeds opposite the car park, so if you’re on your way to feed the ducks stop for a quick listen and maybe even you’ll get to see one. It’s quite hard to tell the difference between a sedge and reed warbler call, the wardens seem to have mastered it! The sedge warbler can be described as having a ‘scratchier’ sort of tinge to its call compared to a reed warbler which is slightly mellower in comparison. There are plenty of both warblers scattered around the reed-beds here at Fairburn and we are hoping for lots of nests too!


Reed warbler – John Bridges (RSPB-images)

Out on the water... a pair of garganeys were seen at Pylon pool over at Lin Dyke. These are really secretive birds so quite hard to spot, between a teal and a mallard in size, with a white stripe over the eye and pale blue forewing which is most easily seen when they fly. They arrived here in March and prefer the shallow water, flooded meadows and the quieter atmosphere over at Lin Dyke! Gadwall and pochard call still be seen around the reserve, mainly at Charlie’s hide which have been hanging on since winter. The pair of avocets are also still quite common over at Charlie’s hide too (it wasn’t me just being lucky!) We had a small copper added to the sightings book yesterday, so our butterflies are still most definitely out and about! Small coppers are fairly common and have brown/ grey wings with a very straight pointed top wing. Look out for these butterflies and others around the discovery trail!

Garganey – Mike Lagman (RSPB-images)

  • Very good blog Heather sorry forgot to say :)

  • Those avocets at Charlies keep mating but isnt it a bit late to be without eggs?  Also what are the rafts for by the islands on Main Bay? terns? They look full of blackheaded gulls!