Snow? At the end of April! There has been every imaginable type of weather at Fairburn this week; rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, and a few rays of sunshine. There have also been some pretty nifty sightings, which is why we’re all here!
Swift, Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
First off, because it’s the thing I am absolutely the most excited about, is the return of the swifts. I am yet to see one, but there have been plenty of reports in the book. The first one appeared on Saturday morning and by the end of the day the final count clocked in at eight. They have been seen on the Flashes, on Cut Lane, on the Riverbank Trail and up near Big Hole, so more or less everywhere.
Swifts return to the UK on migration from Africa each year and only stay for a few short months. They scythe through the air on sharp, crescent wings, screaming as they go and catching insects up high. There aren’t many things better than lying back in the sunshine and watching swifts wheel in the air above.
Cuckoo, John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
The other big sighting over the past week has been the arrival of the cuckoos. There have been lots of sightings, both seen and heard, up on the Coal Tips trail, at least four birds on Friday. These gorgeous birds have suffered massive declines in recent years and they will be busy hunting for nests to lay their eggs in; they favour the nests of dunnocks, reed warblers and meadow pipits.
Whitethroat, John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
Otherwise, the warblers are here in full force! Sedge warblers are singing, Cetti’s warbler numbers have increased, we have had reports of whitethroats and lesser whitethroats. You can’t walk 10 paces through the reserve without being accosted by the sound of a singing chiffchaff or willow warbler! And up on the Coal Tips on Thursday our site manager, Darren, heard the first grasshopper warbler of the year.
Keep letting us know your sightings!
This is my first blog as the new visitor experience intern at Fairburn Ings. My name is Rachel and I have committed to volunteering here for the next six months. I am looking forward to getting stuck in and sharing my experiences with you over this period. I am originally from Essex and this is my first time visiting Yorkshire. The staff at Fairburn have been extremely friendly and helpful, and I am thrilled to be working with the RSPB and the giving nature a home campaign.
The amount of wildlife I have seen at the reserve already has been outstanding, including buzzards, great -crested grebe, nuthatch, and goldeneye. I have been keeping an eye out for the infamous kingfisher at the reserve’s kingfisher screen, nothing yet but I remain hopeful! I intend to spend some time down at Charlie’s and Pickup hide, as these are both excellent spots to see them.
Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
Cut lane has proved to be a beautiful spot for wildlife, and an excellent way to unwind after a day's work. I took this picture on my walk home on Saturday, watching the sun set over the water.
Cut Lane, Rachel Gooday
Spring is in full swing now; the first cuckoo has been heard! The sand martins, house martins, and swallows have now arrived and can be seen throughout the reserve. I will be on the lookout for swifts arriving soon, and saying goodbye to our migrating bramblings along the riverbank trail.
Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
I plan to keep you updated with all the recent wildlife sightings and upcoming events over the summer. I am especially excited about getting involved in the Big Wild Sleep Out at the end of July. This is an exciting opportunity to get stuck in and explore our reserve after dark, connecting with the nocturnal nature near you!
Rahul Thanki (rspb-images.com)
More migrants have been arriving this week and the air is beginning to fill with a greater variety of song. Up on the Coal Tips trail it is impossible to miss the erratic ascent of skylarks and their high, trilling song.
Willow warbler, John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
Across the reserve there are blackcap and willow warblers singing, and chiffchaffs seem to be all over the place. There are smart male Reed buntings all over the Coal Tips trail and do keep an ear out for the booming of the bittern.
A big sighting this week was the report of a male ring ouzel in the field near the Moat. It passed through briefly and this picture was snapped:
Ring ouzel - taken by Peter Maugham
Elsewhere on the reserve a female Wheatear was spotted on the path near Big Hole, and a little-ringed plover was seen on The Cut yesterday. There have been a number of curlew sightings around the reserve, particularly down at Lin Dike. And out on Main Bay there have been 3 Sandwich terns and a little gull out on the islands.