Time has flown by – cliché I know, but I cannot believe it’s already time for me to say farewell to Fairburn. It’s been a joy to be surrounded by so many unique and inspiring people, each totally different but completely dedicated to the same cause and for their love of Fairburn.
The enthusiasm of everyone here is hardly contained and it’s completely contagious. There is always a buzz of excitement in the air and that made it so easy for me to want to learn and be involved.
I was only here part-time, but learnt so much. I now feel so much more comfortable speaking with people about wildlife; the down to earth and easy going attitude of the visitors, volunteers and staff here made it easy for me to soak up information like a sponge. Ultimately I am an incredibly shy person, but the people here made me want to engage in conversation and become more knowledgeable. It added further to my excitement about wildlife and general enjoyment of being outdoors; and now I want to pass that enjoyment onto others.
My favourite part about being here, besides the people, was watching how the landscape changed through the seasons. On my first day, I remember taking my first (of many) wanders around the reserve. My eyes were almost overwhelmed by the variation of colours and texture amongst the autumnal trees and undergrowth. It was on this day I realised that fungus is really, really cool.
On my final day, I took the same walk – the sky was clear and fresh in the wake of storm Doris and Spring was definitely on the horizon. The sun even felt a bit warm! I sat in a field and happily munched on some crisps, feeling glad I’d spent six months of my time at Fairburn.
Here's some more photographs I took whilst here :) all the lovely textures and light at Fairburn!
Family Volunteering was a great and luckily the rain held off all day. We started with a walk up to the heath land, a place visitors don’t normally get to see! It was such a treat to be up there and we immediately saw a great white egret, it flew over and landed in the top of a tree, in just the right spot for everyone to get a clear view.
Tools in hand, we traipsed through the mud, adding our footprints alongside those of roe deer and sheep, and finally arrived at a clearing of grass, dotted with young birch trees. The Assistant Warden Andy explained what we would be doing for the day and why; we would be cutting down the birch, to allow the area to become open heath land. This was so ground nesting birds can happily nest there, without coverage from the trees for predators such as foxes and larger birds.
With the task explained we got stuck in, and surprisingly for such a small group, we got through quite a lot of birch! We found a frog hiding among the long grass and some of the younger volunteers identified a skylark, fluttering above. We even spotted a marsh harrier and plenty of sheep.
Before lunch we took a walk to the edge of the hill, where we were treated to a unique view of the islands on the main bay. A group of lapwing circled overhead, and once again the younger volunteers impressed us all with their bird ID skills – recognising a crow to be on one of the islands, based on the way it hopped around.
On the way to get some much earned lunch, our eagle eyed volunteers spotted a kingfisher by the screen, as well as a heron and little egret.
After lunch the hard work continued, and so did the sightings. A kestrel and cormorants flew overhead, a group of long tailed tits and bullfinches were seen amongst the mature trees.
Once we’d finished it was a wonderful feeling to look around and to see the amount of work we had done, and to know the benefit it would have to ground nesting birds in the area! Everyone left a lot muddier but certainly feeling like they had really helped the wildlife at Fairburn.
This week the whole of Fairburn has been celebrating what it “loves” about the nature at Fairburn. You can help by coming along to our visitor centre and #showthelove by adding a leaf to our birch tree.
(Snow Drops, Andy Hay rspb-images)
As January draws to a close there are the very first signs of Spring in the air. Snowdrops are popping up amongst the undergrowth, skylarks have been heard singing on the Coal Tips Trail and I even heard a great spotted woodpecker drumming as I walked along the Discovery Trail, also hazel catkins.
(Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tom Marshall rspb-images)
A group of long tailed tits are making a lot of noise as they hop from tree to tree along the Riverbank Trail and are accompanied by a few goldcrests. Also seen in this area are redpolls, siskins and bullfinches. I was here yesterday afternoon and three roe deer crossed my path just 20 ft ahead of me, which was a very special moment – I’ve never been so close.
(Roe Deer, Andy Hay rspb-images)
The Kingfisher Screen has been a very interesting place to be over the past few months and it remains so, with the presence of a little egret; probably enjoying all those fish.
(Little Egret, Paul Chesterfield rspb-images)
Some very cheeky bank voles can be seen from the Pickup Hide, eating the food that’s dropped from the bird feeders. Reed buntin and willow tits are also in this area.
(Bank Vole, Ben Andrew rspb-images)
In the sightings book, there are entries from some of our younger bird watchers. Whilst out and about over the weekend, they spotted the little egret, mallards, two robins, long tailed tits and “much more”. It’s fab to hear from younger visitors, who are always much more knowledgeable than myself. Family Volunteer Day is a fab way for families to discover even more about the reserve and what work goes on to help the wildlife here. It’s a free event and there are still plenty of spaces, follow the link for details: http://bit.ly/2iD27dF
(Mallard, Ben Hall rspb-images)
(Ben Andrew rspb-images)
Leading up to half term, we’d love for you to share with us what it is you love about Fairburn. As part of the Climate Coalitions #showthelove campaign, it will help to raise awareness about climate change and how it directly affects Fairburn. To see details about how you can get involved and more about the campaign, follow the link: http://bit.ly/2jA0DTH
(Fairburn Ings, Nichola Emsley)