It's New Year's Eve so I thought I'd reminisce over the past year at Fairburn Ings and share with you a few of my highlights. I've only worked at Fairburn since April so my favourite bits are a bit summer and autumn heavy - feel free to share your own highlights though and tell me what I missed in the early months of 2015!
First of all, I have to start with the avocet explosion of 2015! And by explosion I mean the largest number of avocet chicks the reserve has seen. This is my favourite photo (thanks to Joe Seymour for taking it) of the avocets and chicks. There are THREE chicks under that parent!
Big Wild Sleepout was our biggest event of the year with nearly 100 people camped out on the reserve overnight in August. We pond dipped, explored, made natural dyes and charcoal and painted with them, had a campfire and did a quiz around it. We found bats and frogs and barn owls. We did some stargazing and saw Saturn and the ISS! We even made bug homes to Give Nature a Home.
These photos from Big Wild Sleepout are thanks to Liberty Monkman:
I've really enjoyed the sunrises and sunsets more recently too and here are some of my favourites:
And then finally I've loved the sheer diversity of life to be found on the reserve. Here is some of the wildlife that has amazed me and many of our visitors over 2015! (The ruby tailed wasp is thanks to Joe Seymour)
As you may be aware, West Yorkshire, as well as many areas in the north of England, has experienced widespread flooding this week. At Fairburn Ings, we're thinking of everyone across the region who have been affected by the floods and hope you're all staying safe.
As a designated washland, Fairburn Ings is designed to flood when the water levels in the river Aire become too high. Because we take the excess water, urban areas like Castleford are largely protected. This is why it seems dry in Castleford and yet just up the road at Fairburn, there are floods.
The photos below show the car park under water and the road to the entrance to the car park.
This is the second flood we've had in two weeks, and water levels were still high when the latest water gushed onto the reserve. This meant that the reserve level was being "topped up" and so the flooding is deeper and more extensive than we've had earlier this month.
Even during times of environmental stress though, the reserve still provides places of refuge and home for the wildlife! The tiny beetles in this photo, are sheltering after the last flood, on one of our information boards.
When the amount of water in the Aire drops, water from the reserve can start to drain into the river. When that happens, and how quickly the water can drain, depends on conditions upstream. We'll reopen the visitor centre as soon as we're accessible and its safe for us to reopen. Please keep a look out on Facebook (RSPB West Yorks) and Twitter (@fairburnings) for updates.
And if you're missing Fairburn Ings, here's a lovely landscape of the reserve at dawn back in October to keep you going!
Sadly, this is going to be my final blog post as a Visitor Experience Intern at Fairburn Ings. I’m moving on to pastures new to start an actual grown up job in Leeds. I’ve had such as great time here and met some fantastic people, and I can’t quite believe it’s ending. Fairburn is only a quick trip over the M62 for me though, so I’m sure I’ll be back for a visit when I have a craving for some open space.
Here’s a quick rundown of my top 5 Fairburn moments:
Here are some of the more blurry pictures I’ve taken that never quite made it onto the social media accounts!
Walking around the Discovery trail with buckets of seed certainly catches the attention of the resident robins. All the way along I kept seeing flashes of red as they hopped alongside me in the bushes.
Great spotted woodpeckers were always a nice spot, this one was taken at the feeder screen.
One of my many attempts to get a good cobweb picture. Getting my phone to focus on the web and not the grass was no easy task.
And last but not least, this little guy. I spent far too long trying to get an artistic angle with my phone for this one.
Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year everyone! See you around!