I’m the new visitor experience intern at Fairburn Ings but I also happen to be quite a bird novice.  To help bring myself up to speed I’ve taken the past few weeks highlights from the sightings book and had a little read up about each species – so here goes!

It’s well into autumn here, and these past few weeks have seen pink footed geese flying overhead in their hundreds, as they make their yearly migration from Iceland and the North for winter.

Bearded tits have been heard and seen in the reedbeds and willow, along the Coal Tips Trail. They pass through the reserve over autumn, so keep an ear out the next time you’re here and you might catch a lucky sighting.

Bearded tit, Wayne Boyd

A great white egret has been on Spoonbill Flash recently, they tend to spend winters here in the UK, so it may be sticking around for a short time. It’s been seen flying from the Discovery Trail pools to Spoon Bill Flash.

Siskin and a lesser redpoll have been spotted on the feeders. I’ve been told it’s unusual to see redpoll using the feeders at Fairburn, as they normally prefer to stick to feeding in the trees.

There have been a few bittern sightings from the Coal Tips and over Hickson’s pool. Bittern were heard booming up there in the spring so it seems at least one is hanging around for the winter! There’s only a small bittern population in the UK and they can be quite tricky to see in the reedbeds, so it’s always a rewarding sight.

Goldeneye, Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

Goldeneye have been seen on Main Bay already. They spend the winter spread throughout the UK, having migrated from the Scottish Highlands and Northern Europe. Look out for their bizarre courtship dance early next year.

Firecrest, Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)

The reserve team are very excited to have seen a firecrest hanging around with a group of long tailed tits this week. It’s a super rare bird to see especially in the North of England. They’re only slightly bigger than a goldcrest and a lot more vibrant, making this a very special sighting indeed.  

Fly agaric, Sally Granger

Keep your eyes to the ground the next time you take a stroll along the Riverbank Trail, lots of vibrant red fly agaric mushrooms are sprouting up amongst the trees, which has to be one of my personal favourite things to see at this time of year.