October, 2015

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

  • Watching for nuthatches

    Yesterday I was lucky enough to see not one, but two nuthatches darting backwards and forwards from the shrubs to the feeders in the Wildlife Garden. I’d never seen a nuthatch before coming to Fairburn Ings, so I still find it very exciting when I see that flash of blue! I highly recommend sitting out on the balcony with a cup of tea for a while and keeping an eye out for them.

    Nuthatch - Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

    On the reserve, a great white egret was spotted flying over Big Hole, which always make for a lovely sight. From Pickup, snipe, pochards, shovelers, great crested grebes and little grebes are often being seen.

    Pochard - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

    Keep an eye out around Lin Dike for pintails. These elegant looking birds are especially easy to spot when in flight with their curved wings and of course that long tapered tail.

    Pintails - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

    There’ve been plenty of raptors spotted around the reserve this week. Since our exciting view of a red kite last week, these gorgeous birds have been spotted a few more times at all different points around the reserve, so keep your eyes open for them. Marsh harriers, buzzards and kestrel have also all been spotted.

    Marsh harrier - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

    - Laura

  • First two months at Fairburn Ings

    It’s really lovely to be on a wetland again. After spending the first six months of my warden internship in a woodland it’s great to hear the ducks, geese and waders again. Of which Fairburn Ings seems to have plenty. Something else it has which I’d never seen before was the gorgeous willow tit which Fairburn is very lucky to have on the feeders. Autumn is taking hold and signs can be seen everywhere but when I first arrived there were still lots of butterflies such as red admirals and large whites in flight and a couple of dragonflies that I spotted on the reserve:

    Brown hawker

    Migrant hawker

    Although I have only been here a couple of months I’ve been very busy doing all sorts of work. This has included strimming grass, cutting back hedges, play trail checks, identifying moths, chainsawing, scrub clearance and probably most exciting of all, going out on a boat! As it’s the end of the growing and breeding season it’s time to cut the vegetation on the islands in preparation for breeding waders next year. This involves going out on the Sea Nymph:


    It seemed especially adventurous with all the trailing willow getting in your face:


    Once there the vegetation was cut as low to the ground as possible with brushcutters:


     Me with brushcutter


    Then raked into piles and put out onto the water.

    Before and after.

    Like most RSPB reserves this work couldn’t get done without the massive army of volunteers and there’s a lot of them at Fairburn. Everyone has been very friendly and welcoming and seem to enjoy a good bit of banter which makes for a fantastic working environment. I’m looking forward to the next 4 months, getting to know the people and reserve more and seeing what surprises it has in store.

  • The day of the white buzzard

    We had a couple of interesting sightings one after the other yesterday. First up was the mythical sounding white buzzard. Yesterday afternoon, up went the cry of "white buzzard!", and so off everyone rushed to the front of the centre. With binoculars at the ready, we stood scanning the trees and sure enough, perched on a tree over the road from the visitor centre was a white (ish) buzzard! As we were trying to decide just how white the white buzzard was, we caught sight of a red kite swooping over the adjacent field. This was my first time seeing one so it was an exciting moment! They’re so much bigger than I thought and so graceful. I could have stood out there for hours just watching.

    Red kite - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

    A brambling was spotted in the Wildlife Garden this week. This finch is a winter migrant and can easily be mistaken for a chaffinch, especially since the two species often flock together.

    Redwings are being seen more and more frequently, and there are lots of great spotted woodpeckers and green woodpeckers around the reserve, especially on the Coal Tips trail. Out on the lagoons great crested grebes, little grebes and little egrets have all been spotted. 

    Little egret - Paul Chesterfield (rspb-images.com)

    - Laura